by Stephen Crane
DIGBY, LONG & CO.
18 Bouverie Street, Fleet Street, E. C.
THE SHRAPNEL OF
“AND IF HE
WILLS, WE MUST
OF FORTY FORT.
AND THE INDIANS.
OF FORTY FORT.
A TALE ABOUT HOW
GOT HIS HOLIDAY
A STREET SCENE
IN NEW YORK.
THE ROOF GARDENS
AND GARDENERS OF
IN THE BROADWAY
THE ASSASSIN IN
I.—AN OLD MAN
FOUR MEN IN A
HOW THE DONKEY
A MAN BY THE
NAME OF MUD.
A POKER GAME.
A SELF-MADE MAN.
A TALE OF MERE
AN EPISODE OF
THE VOICE OF THE
WHY DID THE
THE VICTORY OF
THE RELUCTANT VOYAGERS
Two men sat by the sea waves.
Well, I know I'm not handsome, said one gloomily. He was poking
holes in the sand with a discontented cane.
The companion was watching the waves play. He seemed overcome with
perspiring discomfort as a man who is resolved to set another man
Suddenly his mouth turned into a straight line. To be sure you are
not, he cried vehemently. You look like thunder. I do not desire to
be unpleasant, but I must assure you that your freckled skin
continually reminds spectators of white wall paper with gilt roses on
it. The top of your head looks like a little wooden plate. And your
For a time they were silent. They stared at the waves that purred
near their feet like sleepy sea-kittens.
Finally the first man spoke.
Well, said he, defiantly, what of it?
What of it, exploded the other. Why, it means that you'd look
like blazes in a bathing-suit.
They were again silent. The freckled man seemed ashamed. His tall
companion glowered at the scenery.
I am decided, said the freckled man suddenly. He got boldly up
from the sand and strode away. The tall man followed, walking
sarcastically and glaring down at the round, resolute figure before
A bath-clerk was looking at the world with superior eyes through a
hole in a board. To him the freckled man made application, waving his
hands over his person in illustration of a snug fit. The bath-clerk
thought profoundly. Eventually, he handed out a blue bundle with an air
of having phenomenally solved the freckled man's dimensions.
The latter resumed his resolute stride.
See here, said the tall man, following him, I bet you've got a
regular toga, you know. That fellow couldn't tell
Yes, he could, interrupted the freckled man, I saw correct
mathematics in his eyes.
Well, supposin' he has missed your size. Supposin'
Tom, again interrupted the other, produce your proud clothes and
we'll go in.
The tall man swore bitterly. He went to one of a row of little
wooden boxes and shut himself in it. His companion repaired to a
At first he felt like an opulent monk in a too-small cell, and he
turned round two or three times to see if he could. He arrived finally
into his bathing-dress. Immediately he dropped gasping upon a
three-cornered bench. The suit fell in folds about his reclining form.
There was silence, save for the caressing calls of the waves without.
Then he heard two shoes drop on the floor in one of the little
coops. He began to clamour at the boards like a penitent at an
Tom, called he, Tom
A voice of wrath, muffled by cloth, came through the walls. You go
The freckled man began to groan, taking the occupants of the entire
row of coops into his confidence.
Stop your noise, angrily cried the tall man from his hidden den.
You rented the bathing-suit, didn't you? Then
It ain't a bathing-suit, shouted the freckled man at the boards.
It's an auditorium, a ballroom, or something. It ain't a
The tall man came out of his box. His suit looked like blue skin. He
walked with grandeur down the alley between the rows of coops. Stopping
in front of his friend's door, he rapped on it with passionate
Come out of there, y' ol' fool, said he, in an enraged whisper.
It's only your accursed vanity. Wear it anyhow. What difference does
it make? I never saw such a vain ol' idiot!
As he was storming the door opened, and his friend confronted him.
The tall man's legs gave way, and he fell against the opposite door.
The freckled man regarded him sternly.
You're an ass, he said.
His back curved in scorn. He walked majestically down the alley.
There was pride in the way his chubby feet patted the boards. The tall
man followed, weakly, his eyes riveted upon the figure ahead.
As a disguise the freckled man had adopted the stomach of
importance. He moved with an air of some sort of procession, across a
board walk, down some steps, and out upon the sand.
There was a pug dog and three old women on a bench, a man and a maid
with a book and a parasol, a seagull drifting high in the wind, and a
distant, tremendous meeting of sea and sky. Down on the wet sand stood
a girl being wooed by the breakers.
The freckled man moved with stately tread along the beach. The tall
man, numb with amazement, came in the rear. They neared the girl.
Suddenly the tall man was seized with convulsions. He laughed, and
the girl turned her head.
She perceived the freckled man in the bathing-suit. An expression of
wonderment overspread her charming face. It changed in a moment to a
This smile seemed to smite the freckled man. He obviously tried to
swell and fit his suit. Then he turned a shrivelling glance upon his
companion, and fled up the beach. The tall man ran after him, pursuing
with mocking cries that tingled his flesh like stings of insects. He
seemed to be trying to lead the way out of the world. But at last he
stopped and faced about.
Tom Sharp, said he, between his clenched teeth, you are an
unutterable wretch! I could grind your bones under my heel.
The tall man was in a trance, with glazed eyes fixed on the
bathing-dress. He seemed to be murmuring: Oh, good Lord! Oh, good
Lord! I never saw such a suit!
The freckled man made the gesture of an assassin.
Tom Sharp, you
The other was still murmuring: Oh, good Lord! I never saw such a
suit! I never
The freckled man ran down into the sea.
The cool, swirling waters took his temper from him, and it became a
thing that is lost in the ocean. The tall man floundered in, and the
two forgot and rollicked in the waves.
The freckled man, in endeavouring to escape from mankind, had left
all save a solitary fisherman under a large hat, and three boys in
bathing-dress, laughing and splashing upon a raft made of old spars.
The two men swam softly over the ground swells.
The three boys dived from their raft, and turned their jolly faces
shorewards. It twisted slowly around and around, and began to move
seaward on some unknown voyage. The freckled man laid his face to the
water and swam toward the raft with a practised stroke. The tall man
followed, his bended arm appearing and disappearing with the precision
The craft crept away, slowly and wearily, as if luring. The little
wooden plate on the freckled man's head looked at the shore like a
round, brown eye, but his gaze was fixed on the raft that slyly
appeared to be waiting. The tall man used the little wooden plate as a
At length the freckled man reached the raft and climbed aboard. He
lay down on his back and puffed. His bathing-dress spread about him
like a dead balloon. The tall man came, snorted, shook his tangled
locks and lay down by the side of his companion.
They were overcome with a delicious drowsiness. The planks of the
raft seemed to fit their tired limbs. They gazed dreamily up into the
vast sky of summer.
This is great, said the tall man. His companion grunted
Gentle hands from the sea rocked their craft and lulled them to
peace. Lapping waves sang little rippling sea-songs about them. The two
men issued contented groans.
Tom, said the freckled man.
What? said the other.
This is great.
They lay and thought.
A fish-hawk, soaring, suddenly turned and darted at the waves. The
tall man indolently twisted his head and watched the bird plunge its
claws into the water. It heavily arose with a silver gleaming fish.
That bird has got his feet wet again. It's a shame, murmured the
tall man sleepily. He must suffer from an endless cold in the head. He
should wear rubber boots. They'd look great, too. If I was him,
He has partly arisen, and was looking at the shore.
He began to scream. Ted! Ted! Ted! Look!
What's matter? dreamily spoke the freckled man. You remind me of
when I put the bird-shot in your leg. He giggled softly.
The agitated tall man made a gesture of supreme eloquence. His
companion up-reared and turned a startled gaze shoreward.
Lord, he roared, as if stabbed.
The land was a long, brown streak with a rim of green, in which
sparkled the tin roofs of huge hotels. The hands from the sea had
pushed them away. The two men sprang erect, and did a little dance of
What shall we do? What shall we do? moaned the freckled man,
wriggling fantastically in his dead balloon.
The changing shore seemed to fascinate the tall man, and for a time
he did not speak.
Suddenly he concluded his minuet of horror. He wheeled about and
faced the freckled man. He elaborately folded his arms.
So, he said, in slow, formidable tones. So! This all comes from
your accursed vanity, your bathing-suit, your idiocy; you have murdered
your best friend.
He turned away. His companion reeled as if stricken by an unexpected
He stretched out his hands. Tom, Tom, wailed he, beseechingly,
don't be such a fool.
The broad back of his friend was occupied by a contemptuous sneer.
Three ships fell off the horizon. Landward, the hues were blending.
The whistle of a locomotive sounded from an infinite distance as if
tooting in heaven.
Tom! Tom! My dear boy, quavered the freckled man, don't speak
that way to me.
Oh, no, of course not, said the other, still facing away and
throwing the words over his shoulder. You suppose I am going to accept
all this calmly, don't you? Not make the slightest objection? Make no
protest at all, hey?
Well, II began the freckled man.
The tall man's wrath suddenly exploded. You've abducted me! That's
the whole amount of it! You've abducted me!
I ain't, protested the freckled man. You must think I'm a fool.
The tall man swore, and sitting down, dangled his legs angrily in
the water. Natural law compelled his companion to occupy the other end
of the raft.
Over the waters little shoals of fish spluttered, raising tiny
tempests. Languid jelly-fish floated near, tremulously waving a
thousand legs. A row of porpoises trundled along like a procession of
cog-wheels. The sky became greyed save where over the land sunset
colours were assembling.
The two voyagers, back to back and at either end of the raft,
quarrelled at length.
What did you want to follow me for? demanded the freckled man in a
voice of indignation.
If your figure hadn't been so like a bottle, we wouldn't be here,
replied the tall man.
The fires in the west blazed away, and solemnity spread over the
sea. Electric lights began to blink like eyes. Night menaced the
voyagers with a dangerous darkness, and fear came to bind their souls
together. They huddled fraternally in the middle of the raft.
I feel like a molecule, said the freckled man in subdued tones.
I'd give two dollars for a cigar, muttered the tall man.
A V-shaped flock of ducks flew towards Barnegat, between the
voyagers and a remnant of yellow sky. Shadows and winds came from the
vanished eastern horizon.
I think I hear voices, said the freckled man.
That Dollie Ramsdell was an awfully nice girl, said the tall man.
When the coldness of the sea night came to them, the freckled man
found he could by a peculiar movement of his legs and arms encase
himself in his bathing-dress. The tall man was compelled to whistle and
shiver. As night settled finally over the sea, red and green lights
began to dot the blackness. There were mysterious shadows between the
I see things comin', murmured the freckled man.
I wish I hadn't ordered that new dress-suit for the hop to-morrow
night, said the tall man reflectively.
The sea became uneasy and heaved painfully, like a lost bosom, when
little forgotten heart-bells try to chime with a pure sound. The
voyagers cringed at magnified foam on distant wave crests. A moon came
and looked at them.
Somebody's here, whispered the freckled man.
I wish I had an almanac, remarked the tall man, regarding the
Presently they fell to staring at the red and green lights that
twinkled about them.
Providence will not leave us, asserted the freckled man.
Oh, we'll be picked up shortly. I owe money, said the tall man.
He began to thrum on an imaginary banjo.
I have heard, said he, suddenly, that captains with healthy ships
beneath their feet will never turn back after having once started on a
voyage. In that case we will be rescued by some ship bound for the
golden seas of the south. Then, you'll be up to some of your confounded
devilment, and we'll get put off. They'll maroon us! That's what
they'll do! They'll maroon us! On an island with palm trees and
sun-kissed maidens and all that. Sun-kissed maidens, eh? Great!
He suddenly ceased and turned to stone. At a distance a great, green
eye was contemplating the sea wanderers.
They stood up and did another dance. As they watched the eye grew
Directly the form of a phantom-like ship came into view. About the
great, green eye there bobbed small yellow dots. The wanderers could
hear a far-away creaking of unseen tackle and flapping of shadowy
sails. There came the melody of the waters as the ship's prow thrusted
The tall man delivered an oration.
Ha! he exclaimed, here comes our rescuers. The brave fellows! How
I long to take the manly captain by the hand! You will soon see a white
boat with a star on its bow drop from the side of yon ship. Kind
sailors in blue and white will help us into the boat and conduct our
wasted frames to the quarter-deck, where the handsome, bearded captain,
with gold bands all around, will welcome us. Then in the hard-oak
cabin, while the wine gurgles and the Havana's glow, we'll tell our
tale of peril and privation.
The ship came on like a black hurrying animal with froth-filled maw.
The two wanderers stood up and clasped hands. Then they howled out a
wild duet that rang over the wastes of sea.
The cries seemed to strike the ship.
Men with boots on yelled and ran about the deck. They picked up
heavy articles and threw them down. They yelled more. After hideous
creakings and flappings, the vessel stood still.
In the meantime the wanderers had been chanting their song for help.
Out in the blackness they beckoned to the ship and coaxed.
A voice came to them.
Hello, it said.
They puffed out their cheeks and began to shout. Hello! Hello!
Wot do yeh want? said the voice.
The two wanderers gazed at each other, and sat suddenly down on the
raft. Some pall came sweeping over the sky and quenched their stars.
But almost the tall man got up and brawled miscellaneous
information. He stamped his foot, and frowning into the night, swore
The vessel seemed fearful of these moaning voices that called from a
hidden cavern of the water. And now one voice was filled with a menace.
A number of men with enormous limbs that threw vast shadows over the
sea as the lanterns flickered, held a debate and made gestures.
Off in the darkness, the tall man began to clamour like a mob. The
freckled man sat in astounded silence, with his legs weak.
After a time one of the men of enormous limbs seized a rope that was
tugging at the stern and drew a small boat from the shadows. Three
giants clambered in and rowed cautiously toward the raft. Silver water
flashed in the gloom as the oars dipped.
About fifty feet from the raft the boat stopped. Who er you? asked
The tall man braced himself and explained. He drew vivid pictures,
his twirling fingers illustrating like live brushes.
Oh, said the three giants.
The voyagers deserted the raft. They looked back, feeling in their
hearts a mite of tenderness for the wet planks. Later, they wriggled up
the side of the vessel and climbed over the railing.
On deck they met a man.
He held a lantern to their faces. Got any chewin' tewbacca? he
No, said the tall man, we ain't.
The man had a bronze face and solitary whiskers. Peculiar lines
about his mouth were shaped into an eternal smile of derision. His feet
were bare, and clung handily to crevices.
Fearful trousers were supported by a piece of suspender that went up
the wrong side of his chest and came down the right side of his back,
dividing him into triangles.
Ezekiel P. Sanford, capt'in, schooner 'Mary Jones,' of N'yack,
N.Y., genelmen, he said.
Ah! said the tall man, delighted, I'm sure.
There were a few moments of silence. The giants were hovering in the
gloom and staring.
Suddenly astonishment exploded the captain.
Wot th' devil he shouted, wot th' devil yeh got on?
Bathing-suits, said the tall man.
The schooner went on. The two voyagers sat down and watched. After a
time they began to shiver. The soft blackness of the summer night
passed away, and grey mists writhed over the sea. Soon lights of early
dawn went changing across the sky, and the twin beacons on the
highlands grew dim and sparkling faintly, as if a monster were dying.
The dawn penetrated the marrow of the two men in bathing-dress.
The captain used to pause opposite them, hitch one hand in his
suspender, and laugh.
Well, I be dog-hanged, he frequently said.
The tall man grew furious. He snarled in a mad undertone to his
companion. This rescue ain't right. If I had known
He suddenly paused, transfixed by the captain's suspender. It's
goin' to break, cried he, in an ecstatic whisper. His eyes grew large
with excitement as he watched the captain laugh. It'll break in a
But the commander of the schooner recovered, and invited them to
drink and eat. They followed him along the deck, and fell down a square
black hole into the cabin.
It was a little den, with walls of a vanished whiteness. A lamp shed
an orange light. In a sort of recess two little beds were hiding. A
wooden table, immovable, as if the craft had been builded around it,
sat in the middle of the floor. Overhead the square hole was studded
with a dozen stars. A foot-worn ladder led to the heavens.
The captain produced ponderous crackers and some cold broiled ham.
Then he vanished in the firmament like a fantastic comet.
The freckled man sat quite contentedly like a stout squaw in a
blanket. The tall man walked about the cabin and sniffed. He was
angered at the crudeness of the rescue, and his shrinking clothes made
him feel too large. He contemplated his unhappy state.
Suddenly, he broke out. I won't stand this, I tell you! Heavens and
earth, look at thesay, what in the blazes did you want to get me in
this thing for, anyhow? You're a fine old duffer, you are! Look at that
The freckled man grunted. He seemed somewhat blissful. He was seated
upon a bench, comfortably enwrapped in his bathing-dress.
The tall man stormed about the cabin.
This is an outrage! I'll see the captain! I'll tell him what I
He was interrupted by a pair of legs that appeared among the stars.
The captain came down the ladder. He brought a coffee pot from the sky.
The tall man bristled forward. He was going to denounce everything.
The captain was intent upon the coffee pot, balancing it carefully,
and leaving his unguided feet to find the steps of the ladder.
But the wrath of the tall man faded. He twirled his fingers in
excitement, and renewed his ecstatic whisperings to the freckled man.
It's going to break! Look, quick, look! It'll break in a minute!
He was transfixed with interest, forgetting his wrongs in staring at
the perilous passage.
But the captain arrived on the floor with triumphant suspenders.
Well, said he, after yeh have eat, maybe ye'd like t'sleep some!
If so, yeh can sleep on them beds.
The tall man made no reply, save in a strained undertone. It'll
break in about a minute! Look, Ted, look quick!
The freckled man glanced in a little bed on which were heaped boots
and oilskins. He made a courteous gesture.
My dear sir, we could not think of depriving you of your beds. No,
indeed. Just a couple of blankets if you have them, and we'll sleep
very comfortable on these benches.
The captain protested, politely twisting his back and bobbing his
head. The suspenders tugged and creaked. The tall man partially
suppressed a cry, and took a step forward.
The freckled man was sleepily insistent, and shortly the captain
gave over his deprecatory contortions. He fetched a pink quilt with
yellow dots on it to the freckled man, and a black one with red roses
on it to the tall man.
Again he vanished in the firmament. The tall man gazed until the
last remnant of trousers disappeared from the sky. Then he wrapped
himself up in his quilt and lay down. The freckled man was puffing
contentedly, swathed like an infant. The yellow polka-dots rose and
fell on the vast pink of his chest.
The wanderers slept. In the quiet could be heard the groanings of
timbers as the sea seemed to crunch them together. The lapping of water
along the vessel's side sounded like gaspings. An hundred spirits of
the wind had got their wings entangled in the rigging, and, in soft
voices, were pleading to be loosened.
The freckled man was awakened by a foreign noise. He opened his eyes
and saw his companion standing by his couch.
His comrade's face was wane with suffering. His eyes glowed in the
darkness. He raised his arms, spreading them out like a clergyman at a
grave. He groaned deep in his chest.
Good Lord! yelled the freckled man, starting up. Tom, Tom, what's
The tall man spoke in a fearful voice. To New York, he said, to
New York in our bathing-suits.
The freckled man sank back. The shadows of the cabin threw mysteries
about the figure of the tall man, arrayed like some ancient and potent
astrologer in the black quilt with the red roses on it.
Directly the tall man went and lay down and began to groan.
The freckled man felt the miseries of the world upon him. He grew
angry at the tall man awakening him. They quarrelled.
Well, said the tall man, finally, we're in a fix.
I know that, said the other, sharply.
They regarded the ceiling in silence.
What in the thunder are we going to do? demanded the tall man,
after a time. His companion was still silent. Say, repeated he,
angrily, what in the thunder are we going to do?
I'm sure I don't know, said the freckled man in a dismal voice.
Well, think of something, roared the other. Think of something,
you old fool. You don't want to make any more idiots of yourself, do
I ain't made an idiot of myself.
Well, think. Know anybody in the city?
I know a fellow up in Harlem, said the freckled man.
You know a fellow up in Harlem, howled the tall man. Up in
Harlem! How the dickens are we tosay, you're crazy!
We can take a cab, cried the other, waxing indignant.
The tall man grew suddenly calm. Do you know any one else? he
I know another fellow somewhere on Park Place.
Somewhere on Park Place, repeated the tall man in an unnatural
manner. Somewhere on Park Place. With an air of sublime resignation
he turned his face to the wall.
The freckled man sat erect and frowned in the direction of his
companion. Well, now, I suppose you are going to sulk. You make me
ill! It's the best we can do, ain't it? Hire a cab and go look that
fellow up on ParkWhat's that? You can't afford it? What nonsense! You
are gettingOh! Well, maybe we can beg some clothes of the captain.
Eh? Did I see 'im. Certainly, I saw 'im. Yes, it is improbable that a
man who wears trousers like that can have clothes to lend. No, I won't
wear oilskins and a sou'-wester. To Athens? Of course not! I don't know
where it is. Do you? I thought not. With all your grumbling about other
people, you never know anything important yourself. What? Broadway?
I'll be hanged first. We can get off at Harlem, man alive. There are no
cabs in Harlem. I don't think we can bribe a sailor to take us ashore
and bring a cab to the dock, for the very simple reason that we have
nothing to bribe him with. What? No, of course not. See here, Tom
Sharp, don't you swear at me like that. I won't have it. What's that? I
ain't, either. I ain't. What? I am not. It's no such thing. I ain't.
I've got more than you have, anyway. Well, you ain't doing anything so
very brilliant yourselfjust lying there and cussin'. At length the
tall man feigned to prodigiously snore. The freckled man thought with
such vigour that he fell asleep.
After a time he dreamed that he was in a forest where bass drums
grew on trees. There came a strong wind that banged the fruit about
like empty pods. A frightful din was in his ears.
He awoke to find the captain of the schooner standing over him.
We're at New York now, said the captain, raising his voice above
the thumping and banging that was being done on deck, an' I s'pose you
fellers wanta go ashore. He chuckled in an exasperating manner. Jes'
sing out when yeh wanta go, he added, leering at the freckled man.
The tall man awoke, came over and grasped the captain by the throat.
If you laugh again I'll kill you, he said.
The captain gurgled and waved his legs and arms.
In the first place, the tall man continued, you rescued us in a
deucedly shabby manner. It makes me ill to think of it. I've a mind to
mop you 'round just for that. In the second place, your vessel is bound
for Athens, N.Y., and there's no sense in it. Now, will you or will you
not turn this ship about and take us back where our clothes are, or to
Philadelphia, where we belong?
He furiously shook the captain. Then he eased his grip and awaited a
I can't, yelled the captain, I can't. This vessel don't belong to
me. I've got to
Well, then, interrupted the tall man, can you lend us some
Hain't got none, replied the captain, promptly. His face was red,
and his eyes were glaring.
Well, then, said the tall man, can you lend us some money?
Hain't got none, replied the captain, promptly. Something overcame
him and he laughed.
Thunderation, roared the tall man. He seized the captain, who
began to have wriggling contortions. The tall man kneaded him as if he
were biscuits. You infernal scoundrel, he bellowed, this whole
affair is some wretched plot, and you are in it. I am about to kill
The solitary whisker of the captain did acrobatic feats like a
strange demon upon his chin. His eyes stood perilously from his head.
The suspender wheezed and tugged like the tackle of a sail.
Suddenly the tall man released his hold. Great expectancy sat upon
his features. It's going to break, he cried, rubbing his hands.
But the captain howled and vanished in the sky.
The freckled man then came forward. He appeared filled with sarcasm.
So! said he. So, you've settled the matter. The captain is the
only man in the world who can help us, and I daresay he'll do anything
he can now.
That's all right, said the tall man. If you don't like the way I
run things you shouldn't have come on this trip at all.
They had another quarrel.
At the end of it they went on deck. The captain stood at the stern
addressing the bow with opprobrious language. When he perceived the
voyagers he began to fling his fists about in the air.
I'm goin' to put yeh off, he yelled. The wanderers stared at each
Hum, said the tall man.
The freckled man looked at his companion. He's going to put us off,
you see, he said, complacently.
The tall man began to walk about and move his shoulders. I'd like
to see you do it, he said, defiantly.
The captain tugged at a rope. A boat came at his bidding.
I'd like to see you do it, the tall man repeated, continually. An
imperturbable man in rubber boots climbed down in the boat and seized
the oars. The captain motioned downward. His whisker had a triumphant
The two wanderers looked at the boat. I guess we'll have to get
in, murmured the freckled man.
The tall man was standing like a granite column. I won't, said he.
I won't! I don't care what you do, but I won't!
Well, but expostulated the other. They held a furious debate.
In the meantime the captain was darting about making sinister
gestures, but the back of the tall man held him at bay. The crew, much
depleted by the departure of the imperturbable man into the boat,
looked on from the bow.
You're a fool, the freckled man concluded his argument.
So? inquired the tall man, highly exasperated.
So? Well, if you think you're so bright, we'll go in the boat, and
then you'll see.
He climbed down into the craft and seated himself in an ominous
manner at the stern.
You'll see, he said to his companion, as the latter floundered
heavily down. You'll see!
The man in rubber boots calmly rowed the boat toward the shore. As
they went, the captain leaned over the railing and laughed. The
freckled man was seated very victoriously.
Well, wasn't this the right thing after all? he inquired in a
pleasant voice. The tall man made no reply.
As they neared the dock something seemed suddenly to occur to the
Great heavens, he murmured. He stared at the approaching shore.
My, what a plight, Tommy, he quavered.
Do you think so? spoke up the tall man, Why, I really thought you
liked it. He laughed in a hard voice. Lord, what a figure you'll
This laugh jarred the freckled man's soul. He became mad.
Thunderation, turn the boat around, he roared. Turn 'er round,
quick. Man alive, we can'tturn 'er round, d'ye hear.
The tall man in the stern gazed at his companion with glowing eyes.
Certainly not, he said. We're going on. You insisted upon it. He
began to prod his companion with words.
The freckled man stood up and waved his arms.
Sit down, said the tall man. You'll tip the boat over.
The other man began to shout.
Sit down, said the tall man again.
Words bubbled from the freckled man's mouth. There was a little
torrent of sentences that almost choked him. And he protested
passionately with his hands.
But the boat went on to the shadow of the docks. The tall man was
intent upon balancing it as it rocked dangerously during his comrade's
Sit down, he continually repeated.
I won't, raged the freckled man. I won't do anything. The boat
wobbled with these words.
Say, he continued, addressing the oarsman, just turn this boat
round, will you. Where in the thunder are you taking us to, anyhow?
The oarsman looked at the sky and thought. Finally he spoke. I'm
doin' what the cap'n sed.
Well, what in th' blazes do I care what the cap'n sed? demanded
the freckled man. He took a violent step. You just turn this round
The small craft reeled. Over one side water came flashing in. The
freckled man cried out in fear, and gave a jump to the other side. The
tall man roared orders, and the oarsman made efforts. The boat acted
for a moment like an animal on a slackened wire. Then it upset.
Sit down, said the tall man, in a final roar as he was plunged
into the water. The oarsman dropped his oars to grapple with the
gunwale. He went down saying unknown words. The freckled man's
explanation or apology was strangled by the water.
Two or three tugs let off whistles of astonishment, and continued on
their paths. A man dosing on a dock aroused and began to caper. The
passengers of a ferry-boat all ran to the near railing.
A miraculous person in a small boat was bobbing on the waves near
the piers. He sculled hastily toward the scene. It was a swirl of
waters in the midst of which the dark bottom of the boat appeared,
Two heads suddenly came up. 839, said the freckled man, chokingly.
That's it! 839!
What is? said the tall man.
That's the number of that feller on Park Place. I just remembered.
You're the bloomingest the tall man said.
It wasn't my fault, interrupted his companion. If you hadn't
He tried to gesticulate, but one hand held to the keel of the boat, and
the other was supporting the form of the oarsman. The latter had fought
a battle with his immense rubber boots and had been conquered.
The rescuer in the other small boat came fiercely. As his craft
glided up, he reached out and grasped the tall man by the collar and
dragged him into the boat, interrupting what was, under the
circumstances, a very brilliant flow of rhetoric directed at the
freckled man. The oarsman of the wrecked craft was taken tenderly over
the gunwale and laid in the bottom of the boat. Puffing and blowing,
the freckled man climbed in.
You'll upset this one before we can get ashore, the other voyager
As they turned toward the land they saw that the nearest dock was
lined with people. The freckled man gave a little moan.
But the staring eyes of the crowd were fixed on the limp form of the
man in rubber boots. A hundred hands reached down to help lift the body
up. On the dock some men grabbed it and began to beat it and roll it. A
policeman tossed the spectators about. Each individual in the heaving
crowd sought to fasten his eyes on the blue-tinted face of the man in
the rubber boots. They surged to and fro, while the policeman beat them
The wanderers came modestly up the dock and gazed shrinkingly at the
throng. They stood for a moment, holding their breath to see the first
finger of amazement levelled at them.
But the crowd bended and surged in absorbing anxiety to view the man
in rubber boots, whose face fascinated them. The sea-wanderers were as
though they were not there.
They stood without the jam and whispered hurriedly.
839, said the freckled man.
All right, said the tall man.
Under the pommeling hands the oarsman showed signs of life. The
voyagers watched him make a protesting kick at the leg of the crowd,
the while uttering angry groans.
He's better, said the tall man, softly; let's make off.
Together they stole noiselessly up the dock. Directly in front of it
they found a row of six cabs.
The drivers on top were filled with a mighty curiosity. They had
driven hurriedly from the adjacent ferry-house when they had seen the
first running sign of an accident. They were straining on their toes
and gazing at the tossing backs of the men in the crowd.
The wanderers made a little detour, and then went rapidly towards a
cab. They stopped in front of it and looked up.
Driver, called the tall man, softly.
The man was intent.
Driver, breathed the freckled man. They stood for a moment and
The cabman suddenly moved his feet. By Jimmy, I bet he's a gonner,
he said, in an ecstacy, and he again relapsed into a statue.
The freckled man groaned and wrung his hands. The tall man climbed
into the cab.
Come in here, he said to his companion. The freckled man climbed
in, and the tall man reached over and pulled the door shut. Then he put
his head out the window.
Driver, he roared, sternly, 839 Park Placeand quick.
The driver looked down and met the eye of the tall man.
Eh?Oh839? Park Place? Yessir. He reluctantly gave his horse a
clump on the back. As the conveyance rattled off the wanderers huddled
back among the dingy cushions and heaved great breaths of relief.
Well, it's all over, said the freckled man, finally. We're about
out of it. And quicker than I expected. Much quicker. It looked to me
sometimes that we were doomed. I am thankful to find it not so. I am
rejoiced. And I hope and trust that youwell, I don't wish,
toperhaps it is not the proper time tothat is, I don't wish to
intrude a moral at an inopportune moment, but, my dear, dear fellow, I
think the time is ripe to point out to you that your obstinacy, your
selfishness, your villainous temper, and your various other faults can
make it just as unpleasant for your ownself, my dear boy, as they
frequently do for other people. You can see what you brought us to, and
I most sincerely hope, my dear, dear fellow, that I shall soon see
those signs in you which shall lead me to believe that you have become
a wiser man.
THE KICKING TWELFTH
The Spitzbergen army was backed by tradition of centuries of
victory. In its chronicles, occasional defeats were not printed in
italics, but were likely to appear as glorious stands against
overwhelming odds. A favourite way to dispose of them was frankly to
attribute them to the blunders of the civilian heads of government.
This was very good for the army, and probably no army had more
self-confidence. When it was announced that an expeditionary force was
to be sent to Rostina to chastise an impudent people, a hundred barrack
squares filled with excited men, and a hundred sergeant-majors hurried
silently through the groups, and succeeded in looking as if they were
the repositories of the secrets of empire. Officers on leave sped
joyfully back to their harness, and recruits were abused with
unflagging devotion by every man, from colonels to privates of
The Twelfth Regiment of the Linethe Kicking Twelfthwas consumed
with a dread that it was not to be included in the expedition, and the
regiment formed itself into an informal indignation meeting. Just as
they had proved that a great outrage was about to be perpetrated,
warning orders arrived to hold themselves in readiness for active
service abroadin Rostina. The barrack yard was in a flash transferred
into a blue-and-buff pandemonium, and the official bugle itself hardly
had power to quell the glad disturbance.
Thus it was that early in the spring the Kicking Twelfthsixteen
hundred men in service equipmentfound itself crawling along a road in
Rostina. They did not form part of the main force, but belonged to a
column of four regiments of foot, two batteries of field guns, a
battery of mountain howitzers, a regiment of horse, and a company of
engineers. Nothing had happened. The long column had crawled without
amusement of any kind through a broad green valley. Big white
farm-houses dotted the slopes; but there was no sign of man or beast,
and no smoke from the chimneys. The column was operating from its own
base, and its general was expected to form a junction with the main
body at a given point.
A squadron of the cavalry was fanned out ahead, scouting, and day by
day the trudging infantry watched the blue uniforms of the horsemen as
they came and went. Sometimes there would sound the faint thuds of a
few shots, but the cavalry was unable to find anything to engage.
The Twelfth had no record of foreign service, and it could hardly be
said that it had served as a unit in the great civil war, when His
Majesty the King had whipped the Pretender. At that time the regiment
had suffered from two opinions, so that it was impossible for either
side to depend upon it. Many men had deserted to the standard of the
Pretender, and a number of officers had drawn their swords for him.
When the King, a thorough soldier, looked at the remnant, he saw that
they lacked the spirit to be of great help to him in the tremendous
battles which he was waging for his throne. And so this emaciated
Twelfth was sent off to a corner of the kingdom to guard a dockyard,
where some of the officers so plainly expressed their disapproval of
this policy that the regiment received its steadfast name, the Kicking
At the time of which I am writing the Twelfth had a few veteran
officers and well-bitten sergeants; but the body of the regiment was
composed of men who had never heard a shot fired excepting on the
rifle-range. But it was an experience for which they longed, and when
the moment came for the corps' cryKim up, the Kickersthere was
not likely to be a man who would not go tumbling after his leaders.
Young Timothy Lean was a second lieutenant in the first company of
the third battalion, and just at this time he was pattering along at
the flank of the men, keeping a fatherly lookout for boots that hurt
and packs that sagged. He was extremely bored. The mere far-away sound
of desultory shooting was not war as he had been led to believe it.
It did not appear that behind that freckled face and under that red
hair there was a mind which dreamed of blood. He was not extremely
anxious to kill somebody, but he was very fond of soldieringit had
been the career of his father and of his grandfatherand he understood
that the profession of arms lost much of its point unless a man shot at
people and had people shoot at him. Strolling in the sun through a
practically deserted country might be a proper occupation for a
divinity student on a vacation, but the soul of Timothy Lean was in
revolt at it. Some times at night he would go morosely to the camp of
the cavalry and hear the infant subalterns laughingly exaggerate the
comedy side of the adventures which they had had out with small patrols
far ahead. Lean would sit and listen in glum silence to these tales,
and dislike the young officersmany of them old military school
friendsfor having had experience in modern warfare.
Anyhow, he said savagely, presently you'll be getting into a lot
of trouble, and then the Foot will have to come along and pull you out.
We always do. That's history.
Oh, we can take care of ourselves, said the Cavalry, with
good-natured understanding of his mood.
But the next day even Lean blessed the cavalry, for excited troopers
came whirling back from the front, bending over their speeding horses,
and shouting wildly and hoarsely for the infantry to clear the way. Men
yelled at them from the roadside as courier followed courier, and from
the distance ahead sounded in quick succession six booms from field
guns. The information possessed by the couriers was no longer precious.
Everybody knew what a battery meant when it spoke. The bugles cried
out, and the long column jolted into a halt. Old Colonel Sponge went
bouncing in his saddle back to see the general, and the regiment sat
down in the grass by the roadside, and waited in silence. Presently the
second squadron of the cavalry trotted off along the road in a cloud of
dust, and in due time old Colonel Sponge came bouncing back, and
palavered his three majors and his adjutant. Then there was more talk
by the majors, and gradually through the correct channels spread
information which in due time reached Timothy Lean.
The enemy, 5000 strong, occupied a pass at the head of the valley
some four miles beyond. They had three batteries well posted. Their
infantry was entrenched. The ground in their front was crossed and
lined with many ditches and hedges; but the enemy's batteries were so
posted that it was doubtful if a ditch would ever prove convenient as
shelter for the Spitzbergen infantry.
There was a fair position for the Spitzbergen artillery 2300 yards
from the enemy. The cavalry had succeeded in driving the enemy's
skirmishers back upon the main body; but, of course, had only tried to
worry them a little. The position was almost inaccessible on the
enemy's right, owing to steep hills, which had been crowned by small
parties of infantry. The enemy's left, although guarded by a much
larger force, was approachable, and might be flanked. This was what the
cavalry had to say, and it added briefly a report of two troopers
killed and five wounded.
Whereupon Major-General Richie, commanding a force of 7500 men of
His Majesty of Spitzbergen, set in motion, with a few simple words, the
machinery which would launch his army at the enemy. The Twelfth
understood the orders when they saw the smart young aide approaching
old Colonel Sponge, and they rose as one man, apparently afraid that
they would be late. There was a clank of accoutrements. Men shrugged
their shoulders tighter against their packs, and thrusting their thumbs
between their belts and their tunics, they wriggled into a closer fit
with regard to the heavy ammunition equipment. It is curious to note
that almost every man took off his cap, and looked contemplatively into
it as if to read a maker's name. Then they replaced their caps with
great care. There was little talking, and it was not observable that a
single soldier handed a token or left a comrade with a message to be
delivered in case he should be killed. They did not seem to think of
being killed; they seemed absorbed in a desire to know what would
happen, and how it would look when it was happening. Men glanced
continually at their officers in a plain desire to be quick to
understand the very first order that would be given; and officers
looked gravely at their men, measuring them, feeling their temper,
worrying about them.
A bugle called; there were sharp cries, and the Kicking Twelfth was
off to battle.
The regiment had the right of line in the infantry brigade, and the
men tramped noisily along the white road, every eye was strained ahead;
but, after all, there was nothing to be seen but a dozen farmsin
short, a country-side. It resembled the scenery in Spitzbergen; every
man in the Kicking Twelfth had often confronted a dozen such farms with
a composure which amounted to indifference. But still down the road
came galloping troopers, who delivered information to Colonel Sponge
and then galloped on. In time the Twelfth came to the top of a rise,
and below them on the plain was the heavy black streak of a Spitzbergen
squadron, and behind the squadron loomed the grey bare hill of the
There was a little of skirmish firing. The Twelfth reached a knoll,
which the officers easily recognised as the place described by the
cavalry as suitable for the Spitzbergen guns. The men swarmed up it in
a peculiar formation. They resembled a crowd coming off a race track;
but, nevertheless, there was no stray sheep. It was simply that the
ground on which actual battles are fought is not like a chess board.
And after them came swinging a six-gun battery, the guns wagging from
side to side as the long line turned out of the road, and the drivers
using their whips as the leading horses scrambled at the hill. The
halted Twelfth lifted its voice and spoke amiably, but with point, to
Go on, Guns! We'll take care of you. Don't be afraid. Give it to
them! The teamslead, swing and wheelstruggled and slipped over the
steep and uneven ground; and the gunners, as they clung to their
springless positions, wore their usual and natural airs of unhappiness.
They made no reply to the infantry. Once upon the top of the hill,
however, these guns were unlimbered in a flash, and directly the
infantry could hear the loud voice of an officer drawling out the time
for fuses. A moment later the first 3·2 bellowed out, and there could
be heard the swish and the snarl of a fleeting shell.
Colonel Sponge and a number of officers climbed to the battery's
position; but the men of the regiment sat in the shelter of the hill,
like so many blindfolded people, and wondered what they would have been
able to see if they had been officers. Sometimes the shells of the
enemy came sweeping over the top of the hill, and burst in great brown
explosions in the fields to the rear. The men looked after them and
laughed. To the rear could be seen also the mountain battery coming at
a comic trot, with every man obviously in a deep rage with every mule.
If a man can put in long service with a mule battery and come out of it
with an amiable disposition, he should be presented with a medal
weighing many ounces. After the mule battery came a long black winding
thing, which was three regiments of Spitzbergen infantry; and at the
backs of them and to the right was an inky square, which was the
remaining Spitzbergen guns. General Richie and his staff clattered up
the hill. The blindfolded Twelfth sat still. The inky square suddenly
became a long racing line. The howitzers joined their little bark to
the thunder of the guns on the hill, and the three regiments of
infantry came on. The Twelfth sat still.
Of a sudden a bugle rang its warning, and the officers shouted. Some
used the old cry, Attention! Kim up, the Kickers!and the Twelfth
knew that it had been told to go on. The majority of the men expected
to see great things as soon as they rounded the shoulder of the hill;
but there was nothing to be seen save a complicated plain and the grey
knolls occupied by the enemy. Many company commanders in low voices
worked at their men, and said things which do not appear in the written
reports. They talked soothingly; they talked indignantly; and they
talked always like fathers. And the men heard no sentences completely;
they heard no specific direction, these wide-eyed men. They understood
that there was being delivered some kind of exhortation to do as they
had been taught, and they also understood that a superior intelligence
was anxious over their behaviour and welfare.
There was a great deal of floundering through hedges, climbing of
walls and jumping of ditches. Curiously original privates tried to find
new and easier ways for themselves, instead of following the men in
front of them. Officers had short fits of fury over these people. The
more originality they possessed, the more likely they were to become
separated from their companies. Colonel Sponge was making an exciting
progress on a big charger. When the first song of the bullets came from
above, the men wondered why he sat so high; the charger seemed as tall
as the Eiffel Tower. But if he was high in the air, he had a fine view,
and that supposedly is why people ascend the Eiffel Tower. Very often
he had been a joke to them, but when they saw this fat, old gentleman
so coolly treating the strange new missiles which hummed in the air, it
struck them suddenly that they had wronged him seriously; and a man who
could attain the command of a Spitzbergen regiment was entitled to
general respect. And they gave him a sudden, quick affectionan
affection that would make them follow him heartily, trustfully,
grandlythis fat, old gentleman, seated on a too-big horse. In a flash
his tousled grey head, his short, thick legs, even his paunch, had
become specially and humorously endeared to them. And this is the way
But still the Twelfth had not yet come to the place where tumbling
bodies begin their test of the very heart of a regiment. They backed
through more hedges, jumped more ditches, slid over more walls. The
Rostina artillery had seemed to be asleep; but suddenly the guns
aroused like dogs from their kennels, and around the Twelfth there
began a wild, swift screeching. There arose cries to hurry, to come on;
and, as the rifle bullets began to plunge into them, the men saw the
high, formidable hills of the enemy's right, and perfectly understood
that they were doomed to storm them. The cheering thing was the sudden
beginning of a tremendous uproar on the enemy's left.
Every man ran, hard, tense, breathless. When they reached the foot
of the hills, they thought they had won the charge already, but they
were electrified to see officers above them waving their swords and
yelling with anger, surprise, and shame. With a long murmurous outcry
the Twelfth began to climb the hill; and as they went and fell, they
could hear frenzied shoutsKim up, the Kickers! The pace was slow.
It was like the rising of a tide; it was determined, almost relentless
in its appearance, but it was slow. If a man fell there was a chance
that he would land twenty yards below the point where he was hit. The
Kickers crawled, their rifles in their left hands as they pulled and
tugged themselves up with their right hands. Ever arose the shout, Kim
up, the Kickers! Timothy Lean, his face flaming, his eyes wild, yelled
it back as if he were delivering the gospel.
The Kickers came up. The enemythey had been in small force,
thinking the hills safe enough from attackretreated quickly from this
preposterous advance, and not a bayonet in the Twelfth saw blood;
bayonets very seldom do.
The homing of this successful charge wore an unromantic aspect.
About twenty windless men suddenly arrived, and threw themselves upon
the crest of the hill, and breathed. And these twenty were joined by
others, and still others, until almost 1100 men of the Twelfth lay upon
the hilltop, while the regiment's track was marked by body after body,
in groups and singly. The first officerperchance the first man, one
never can be certainthe first officer to gain the top of the hill was
Timothy Lean, and such was the situation that he had the honour to
receive his colonel with a bashful salute.
The regiment knew exactly what it had done; it did not have to wait
to be told by the Spitzbergen newspapers. It had taken a formidable
position with the loss of about five hundred men, and it knew it. It
knew, too, that it was great glory for the Kicking Twelfth; and as the
men lay rolling on their bellies, they expressed their joy in a wild
cryKim up, the Kickers! For a moment there was nothing but joy, and
then suddenly company commanders were besieged by men who wished to go
down the path of the charge and look for their mates. The answers were
without the quality of mercy; they were short, snapped, quick words,
No; you can't.
The attack on the enemy's left was sounding in great rolling
crashes. The shells in their flight through the air made a noise as of
red-hot iron plunged into water, and stray bullets nipped near the ears
of the Kickers.
The Kickers looked and saw. The battle was below them. The enemy
were indicated by a long, noisy line of gossamer smoke, although there
could be seen a toy battery with tiny men employed at the guns. All
over the field the shrapnel was bursting, making quick bulbs of white
smoke. Far away, two regiments of Spitzbergen infantry were charging,
and at the distance this charge looked like a casual stroll. It
appeared that small black groups of men were walking meditatively
toward the Rostina entrenchments.
There would have been orders given sooner to the Twelfth, but
unfortunately Colonel Sponge arrived on top of the hill without a
breath of wind in his body. He could not have given an order to save
the regiment from being wiped off the earth. Finally he was able to
gasp out something and point at the enemy. Timothy Lean ran along the
line yelling to the men to sight at 800 yards; and like a slow and
ponderous machine the regiment again went to work. The fire flanked a
great part of the enemy's trenches.
It could be said that there were only two prominent points of view
expressed by the men after their victorious arrival on the crest. One
was defined in the exulting use of the corps' cry. The other was a
grief-stricken murmur which is invariably heard after a fightMy God,
we're all cut to pieces!
Colonel Sponge sat on the ground and impatiently waited for his wind
to return. As soon as it did, he arose and cried out, Form up, and
we'll charge again! We will win this battle as soon as we can hit
them! The shouts of the officers sounded wild, like men yelling on
ship-board in a gale. And the obedient Kickers arose for their task. It
was running down hill this time. The mob of panting men poured over the
But the enemy had not been blind to the great advantage gained by
the Twelfth, and they now turned upon them a desperate fire of small
arms. Men fell in every imaginable way, and their accoutrements rattled
on the rocky ground. Some landed with a crash, floored by some
tremendous blows; others dropped gently down like sacks of meal; with
others, it would positively appear that some spirit had suddenly seized
them by their ankles and jerked their legs from under them. Many
officers were down, but Colonel Sponge, stuttering and blowing, was
still upright. He was almost the last man in the charge, but not to his
shame, rather to his stumpy legs. At one time it seemed that the
assault would be lost. The effect of the fire was somewhat as if a
terrible cyclone were blowing in the men's faces. They wavered,
lowering their heads and shouldering weakly, as if it were impossible
to make headway against the wind of battle. It was the moment of
despair, the moment of the heroism which comes to the chosen of the
The colonel's cry broke and screeched absolute hatred; other
officers simply howled; and the men, silent, debased, seemed to tighten
their muscles for one last effort. Again they pushed against this
mysterious power of the air, and once more the regiment was charging.
Timothy Lean, agile and strong, was well in advance; and afterwards he
reflected that the men who had been nearest to him were an old grizzled
sergeant who would have gone to hell for the honour of the regiment,
and a pie-faced lad who had been obliged to lie about his age in order
to get into the army.
There was no shock of meeting. The Twelfth came down on a corner of
the trenches, and as soon as the enemy had ascertained that the Twelfth
was certain to arrive, they scuttled out, running close to the earth
and spending no time in glances backward. In these days it is not
discreet to wait for a charge to come home. You observe the charge, you
attempt to stop it, and if you find that you can't, it is better to
retire immediately to some other place. The Rostina soldiers were not
heroes, perhaps, but they were men of sense. A maddened and
badly-frightened mob of Kickers came tumbling into the trench, and shot
at the backs of fleeing men. And at that very moment the action was
won, and won by the Kickers. The enemy's flank was entirely crippled,
and, knowing this, he did not await further and more disastrous
information. The Twelfth looked at themselves and knew that they had a
record. They sat down and grinned patronisingly as they saw the
batteries galloping to advance position to shell the retreat, and they
really laughed as the cavalry swept tumultuously forward.
The Twelfth had no more concern with the battle. They had won it,
and the subsequent proceedings were only amusing.
There was a call from the flank, and the men wearily adjusted
themselves as General Richie, stern and grim as a Roman, looked with
his straight glance at a hammered and thin and dirty line of figures,
which was His Majesty's Twelfth Regiment of the Line. When opposite old
Colonel Sponge, a podgy figure standing at attention, the general's
face set in still more grim and stern lines. He took off his helmet.
Kim up, the Kickers! said he. He replaced his helmet and rode off.
Down the cheeks of the little fat colonel rolled tears. He stood like a
stone for a long moment, and wheeled in supreme wrath upon his
surprised adjutant. Delahaye, you dd fool, don't stand there staring
like a monkey! Go, tell young Lean I want to see him. The adjutant
jumped as if he were on springs, and went after Lean. That young
officer presented himself directly, his face covered with disgraceful
smudges, and he had also torn his breeches. He had never seen the
colonel in such a rage. Lean, you young whelp! youyou're a good
boy. And even as the general had turned away from the colonel, the
colonel turned away from the lieutenant.
THE UPTURNED FACE.
What will we do now? said the adjutant, troubled and excited.
Bury him, said Timothy Lean.
The two officers looked down close to their toes where lay the body
of their comrade. The face was chalk-blue; gleaming eyes stared at the
sky. Over the two upright figures was a windy sound of bullets, and on
the top of the hill Lean's prostrate company of Spitzbergen infantry
was firing measured volleys.
Don't you think it would be better began the adjutant, we might
leave him until to-morrow.
No, said Lean. I can't hold that post an hour longer. I've got to
fall back, and we've got to bury old Bill.
Of course, said the adjutant, at once. Your men got intrenching
Lean shouted back to his little line, and two men came slowly, one
with a pick, one with a shovel. They started in the direction of the
Rostina sharpshooters. Bullets cracked near their ears. Dig here,
said Lean gruffly. The men, thus caused to lower their glances to the
turf, became hurried and frightened merely because they could not look
to see whence the bullets came. The dull beat of the pick striking the
earth sounded amid the swift snap of close bullets. Presently the other
private began to shovel.
I suppose, said the adjutant, slowly, we'd better search his
Lean nodded. Together in curious abstraction they looked at the
body. Then Lean stirred his shoulders suddenly, arousing himself.
Yes, he said, we'd better see what he's got. He dropped to his
knees, and his hands approached the body of the dead officer. But his
hands wavered over the buttons of the tunic. The first button was
brick-red with drying blood, and he did not seem to dare touch it.
Go on, said the adjutant, hoarsely.
Lean stretched his wooden hand, and his fingers fumbled the
blood-stained buttons. At last he rose with ghastly face. He had
gathered a watch, a whistle, a pipe, a tobacco pouch, a handkerchief, a
little case of cards and papers. He looked at the adjutant. There was a
silence. The adjutant was feeling that he had been a coward to make
Lean do all the grizzly business.
Well, said Lean, that's all, I think. You have his sword and
Yes, said the adjutant, his face working, and then he burst out in
a sudden strange fury at the two privates. Why don't you hurry up with
that grave? What are you doing, anyhow? Hurry, do you hear? I never saw
Even as he cried out in his passion the two men were labouring for
their lives. Ever overhead the bullets were spitting.
The grave was finished. It was not a masterpiecea poor little
shallow thing. Lean and the adjutant again looked at each other in a
curious silent communication.
Suddenly the adjutant croaked out a weird laugh. It was a terrible
laugh, which had its origin in that part of the mind which is first
moved by the singing of the nerves. Well, he said, humorously to
Lean, I suppose we had best tumble him in.
Yes, said Lean. The two privates stood waiting, bent over their
implements. I suppose, said Lean, it would be better if we laid him
Yes, said the adjutant. Then apparently remembering that he had
made Lean search the body, he stooped with great fortitude and took
hold of the dead officer's clothing. Lean joined him. Both were
particular that their fingers should not feel the corpse. They tugged
away; the corpse lifted, heaved, toppled, flopped into the grave, and
the two officers, straightening, looked again at each otherthey were
always looking at each other. They sighed with relief.
The adjutant said, I suppose we shouldwe should say something. Do
you know the service, Tim?
They don't read the service until the grave is filled in, said
Lean, pressing his lips to an academic expression.
Don't they? said the adjutant, shocked that he had made the
Oh, well, he cried, suddenly, let uslet us say somethingwhile
he can hear us.
All right, said Lean. Do you know the service?
I can't remember a line of it, said the adjutant.
Lean was extremely dubious. I can repeat two lines, but
Well, do it, said the adjutant. Go as far as you can. That's
better than nothing. And the beasts have got our range exactly.
Lean looked at his two men. Attention, he barked. The privates
came to attention with a click, looking much aggrieved. The adjutant
lowered his helmet to his knee. Lean, bareheaded, stood over the grave.
The Rostina sharpshooters fired briskly.
Oh Father, our friend has sunk in the deep waters of death, but his
spirit has leaped toward Thee as the bubble arises from the lips of the
drowning. Perceive, we beseech, Oh Father, the little flying bubble,
Lean, although husky and ashamed, had suffered no hesitation up to
this point, but he stopped with a hopeless feeling and looked at the
The adjutant moved uneasily. And from Thy superb heights he
began, and then he too came to an end.
And from Thy superb heights, said Lean.
The adjutant suddenly remembered a phrase in the back part of the
Spitzbergen burial service, and he exploited it with the triumphant
manner of a man who has recalled everything, and can go on.
Oh God, have mercy
Oh God, have mercy said Lean.
Mercy, repeated the adjutant, in quick failure.
Mercy, said Lean. And then he was moved by some violence of
feeling, for he turned suddenly upon his two men and tigerishly said,
Throw the dirt in.
The fire of the Rostina sharpshooters was accurate and continuous.
* * * * *
One of the aggrieved privates came forward with his shovel. He
lifted his first shovel-load of earth, and for a moment of inexplicable
hesitation it was held poised above this corpse, which from its
chalk-blue face looked keenly out from the grave. Then the soldier
emptied his shovel onon the feet.
Timothy Lean felt as if tons had been swiftly lifted from off his
forehead. He had felt that perhaps the private might empty the shovel
onon the face. It had been emptied on the feet. There was a great
point gained thereha, ha!the first shovelful had been emptied on
the feet. How satisfactory!
The adjutant began to babble. Well, of coursea man we've messed
with all these yearsimpossibleyou can't, you know, leave your
intimate friends rotting on the field. Go on, for God's sake, and
The man with the shovel suddenly ducked, grabbed his left arm with
his right hand, and looked at his officer for orders. Lean picked the
shovel from the ground. Go to the rear, he said to the wounded man.
He also addressed the other private. You get under cover, too; I'll
finish this business.
The wounded man scrambled hard still for the top of the ridge
without devoting any glances to the direction from whence the bullets
came, and the other man followed at an equal pace; but he was
different, in that he looked back anxiously three times.
This is merely the wayoftenof the hit and unhit.
Timothy Lean filled the shovel, hesitated, and then in a movement
which was like a gesture of abhorrence he flung the dirt into the
grave, and as it landed it made a soundplop. Lean suddenly stopped
and mopped his browa tired labourer.
Perhaps we have been wrong, said the adjutant. His glance wavered
stupidly. It might have been better if we hadn't buried him just at
this time. Of course, if we advance to-morrow the body would have
Damn you, said Lean, shut your mouth. He was not the senior
He again filled the shovel and flung the earth. Always the earth
made that soundplop. For a space Lean worked frantically, like a man
digging himself out of danger.
Soon there was nothing to be seen but the chalk-blue face. Lean
filled the shovel. Good God, he cried to the adjutant. Why didn't
you turn him somehow when you put him in? This Then Lean began to
The adjutant understood. He was pale to the lips. Go on, man, he
cried, beseechingly, almost in a shout. Lean swung back the shovel. It
went forward in a pendulum curve. When the earth landed it made a
THE SHRAPNEL OF THEIR FRIENDS.
From over the knolls came the tiny sound of a cavalry bugle singing
out the recall, and later, detached parties of His Majesty's 2nd
Hussars came trotting back to where the Spitzbergen infantry sat
complacently on the captured Rostina position. The horsemen were well
pleased, and they told how they had ridden thrice through the
helterskelter of the fleeing enemy. They had ultimately been checked by
the great truth, and when a good enemy runs away in daylight he sooner
or later finds a place where he fetches up with a jolt, and turns face
the pursuitnotably if it is a cavalry pursuit. The Hussars had
discreetly withdrawn, displaying no foolish pride of corps at that
There was a general admission that the Kicking Twelfth had taken the
chief honours of the day, but the artillery added that if the guns had
not shelled so accurately the Twelfth's charge could not have been made
so successfully, and the three other regiments of infantry, of course,
did not conceal their feelings, that their attack on the enemy's left
had withdrawn many rifles that would have been pelting at the Twelfth.
The cavalry simply said that but for them the victory would not have
Corps' prides met each other face to face at every step, but the
Kickers smiled easily and indulgently. A few recruits bragged, but they
bragged because they were recruits. The older men did not wish it to
appear that they were surprised and rejoicing at the performance of the
regiment. If they were congratulated they simply smirked, suggesting
that the ability of the Twelfth had been long known to them, and that
the charge had been a little thing, you know, just turned off in the
way of an afternoon's work.
Major-General Richie encamped his troops on the position which they
had from the enemy. Old Colonel Sponge of the Twelfth redistributed his
officers, and the losses had been so great that Timothy Lean got
command of a company. It was not much of a company. Fifty-three smudged
and sweating men faced their new commander. The company had gone into
action with a strength of eighty-six. The heart of Timothy Lean beat
high with pride. He intended to be some day a general, and if he ever
became a general, that moment of promotion was not equal in joy to the
moment when he looked at his new possession of fifty-three vagabonds.
He scanned the faces, and recognised with satisfaction one old sergeant
and two bright young corporals. Now, said he to himself, I have here
a snug little body of men with which I can do something. In him burned
the usual fierce fire to make them the best company in the regiment. He
had adopted them; they were his men. I will do what I can for you, he
said. Do you the same for me.
The Twelfth bivouacked on the ridge. Little fires were built, and
there appeared among the men innumerable blackened tin cups, which were
so treasured that a faint suspicion in connection with the loss of one
could bring on the grimmest of fights. Meantime certain of the privates
silently readjusted their kits as their names were called out by the
sergeants. These were the men condemned to picket duty after a hard day
of marching and fighting. The dusk came slowly, and the colour of the
countless fires, spotting the ridge and the plain, grew in the falling
darkness. Far-away pickets fired at something.
One by one the men's heads were lowered to the earth until the ridge
was marked by two long shadowy rows of men. Here and there an officer
sat musing in his dark cloak with a ray of a weakening fire gleaming on
his sword-hilt. From the plain there came at times the sound of battery
horses moving restlessly at their tethers, and one could imagine he
heard the throaty, grumbling curse of the drivers. The moon died
swiftly through flying light clouds. Far-away pickets fired at
In the morning the infantry and guns breakfasted to the music of a
racket between the cavalry and the enemy, which was taking place some
miles up the valley.
The ambitious Hussars had apparently stirred some kind of a hornet's
nest, and they were having a good fight with no officious friends near
enough to interfere. The remainder of the army looked toward the fight
musingly over the tops of tin cups. In time the column crawled lazily
forward to see.
The Twelfth, as it crawled, saw a regiment deploy to the right, and
saw a battery dash to take position. The cavalry jingled back grinning
with pride and expecting to be greatly admired. Presently the Twelfth
was bidden to take seat by the roadside and await its turn. Instantly
the wise menand there were more than threecame out of the east and
announced that they had divined the whole plan. The Kicking Twelfth was
to be held in reserve until the critical moment of the fight, and then
they were to be sent forward to win a victory. In corroboration, they
pointed to the fact that the general in command was sticking close to
them, in order, they said, to give the word quickly at the proper
moment. And in truth, on a small hill to the right, Major-General
Richie sat on his horse and used his glasses, while back of him his
staff and the orderlies bestrode their champing, dancing mounts.
It is always good to look hard at a general, and the Kickers were
transfixed with interest. The wise men again came out of the east and
told what was inside the Richie head, but even the wise men wondered
what was inside the Richie head.
Suddenly an exciting thing happened. To the left and ahead was a
pounding Spitzbergen battery, and a toy suddenly appeared on the slope
behind the guns. The toy was a man with a flagthe flag was white save
for a square of red in the centre. And this toy began to wig-wag
wag-wig, and it spoke to General Richie under the authority of the
captain of the battery. It said: The 88th are being driven on my
centre and right.
Now, when the Kicking Twelfth had left Spitzbergen there was an
average of six signalmen in each company. A proportion of these
signallers had been destroyed in the first engagement, but enough
remained so that the Kicking Twelfth read, as a unit, the news of the
88th. The word ran quickly. The 88th are being driven on my centre and
Richie rode to where Colonel Sponge sat aloft on his big horse, and
a moment later a cry ran along the column: Kim up, the Kickers. A
large number of the men were already in the road, hitching and twisting
at their belts and packs. The Kickers moved forward.
They deployed and passed in a straggling line through the battery,
and to the left and right of it. The gunners called out to them
carefully, telling them not to be afraid.
The scene before them was startling. They were facing a country cut
up by many steep-sided ravines, and over the resultant hills were
retreating little squads of the 88th. The Twelfth laughed in its
exultation. The men could now tell by the volume of fire that the 88th
were retreating for reasons which were not sufficiently expressed in
the noise of the Rostina shooting. Held together by the bugle, the
Kickers swarmed up the first hill and laid on the crest. Parties of the
88th went through their lines, and the Twelfth told them coarsely its
several opinions. The sights were clicked up to 600 yards, and, with a
crashing volley, the regiment entered its second battle.
A thousand yards away on the right the cavalry and a regiment of
infantry were creeping onward. Sponge decided not to be backward, and
the bugle told the Twelfth to go ahead once more. The Twelfth charged,
followed by a rabble of rallied men of the 88th, who were crying aloud
that it had been all a mistake.
A charge in these days is not a running match. Those splendid
pictures of levelled bayonets, dashing at headlong pace towards the
closed ranks of the enemy are absurd as soon as they are mistaken for
the actuality of the present. In these days charges are likely to cover
at least the half of a mile, and to go at the pace exhibited in the
pictures a man would be obliged to have a little steam engine inside of
The charge of the Kicking Twelfth somewhat resembled the advance of
a great crowd of beaters who, for some reason, passionately desired to
start the game. Men stumbled; men fell; men swore; there were cries:
This way! Come this way! Don't go that way! You can't get up
that way! Over the rocks the Twelfth scrambled, red in the face,
sweating and angry. Soldiers fell because they were struck by bullets,
and because they had not an ounce of strength left in them. Colonel
Sponge, with a face like a red cushion, was being dragged windless up
the steeps by devoted and athletic men. Three of the older captains lay
afar back, and swearing with their eyes because their tongues were
temporarily out of service.
And yet-and-yet, the speed of the charge was slow. From the position
of the battery, it looked as if the Kickers were taking a walk over
some extremely difficult country.
The regiment ascended a superior height, and found trenches and dead
men. They took seat with the dead, satisfied with this company until
they could get their wind. For thirty minutes purple-faced stragglers
rejoined from the rear. Colonel Sponge looked behind him, and saw that
Richie, with his staff, had approached by another route, and had
evidently been near enough to see the full extent of the Kickers'
exertions. Presently Richie began to pick a way for his horse towards
the captured position. He disappeared in a gully between two hills.
Now it came to pass that a Spitzbergen battery on the far right took
occasion to mistake the identity of the Kicking Twelfth, and the
captain of these guns, not having anything to occupy him in front,
directed his six 3·2's upon the ridge where the tired Kickers lay side
by side with the Rostina dead. A shrapnel came swinging over the
Kickers, seething and fuming. It burst directly over the trenches, and
the shrapnel, of course, scattered forward, hurting nobody. But a man
screamed out to his officer: By God, sir, that is one of our own
batteries! The whole line quivered with fright. Five more shells
streaked overhead, and one flung its hail into the middle of the 3rd
battalion's line, and the Kicking Twelfth shuddered to the very centre
of its heart, and arose, like one man, and fled.
Colonel Sponge, fighting, frothing at the month, dealing blows with
his fist right and left, found himself confronting a fury on horseback.
Richie was as pale as death, and his eyes sent out sparks. What does
this conduct mean? he flashed out between his fastened teeth.
Sponge could only gurgle: The batterythe batterythe battery!
The battery? cried Richie, in a voice which sounded like pistol
shots. Are you afraid of the guns you almost took yesterday? Go back
there, you white-livered cowards! You swine! You dogs! Curs! Curs!
Curs! Go back there!
Most of the men halted and crouched under the lashing tongue of
their maddened general. But one man found desperate speech, and yelled:
General, it is our own battery that is firing on us!
Many say that the General's face tightened until it looked like a
mask. The Kicking Twelfth retired to a comfortable place, where they
were only under the fire of the Rostina artillery. The men saw a staff
officer riding over the obstructions in a manner calculated to break
his neck directly.
The Kickers were aggrieved, but the heart of the colonel was cut in
twain. He even babbled to his major, talking like a man who is about to
die of simple rage. Did you hear what he said to me? Did you hear what
he called us? Did you hear what he called us?
The majors searched their minds for words to heal a deep wound.
The Twelfth received orders to go into camp upon the hill where they
had been insulted. Old Sponge looked as if he were about to knock the
aide out of the saddle, but he saluted, and took the regiment back to
the temporary companionship of the Rostina dead.
Major-General Richie never apologised to Colonel Sponge. When you
are a commanding officer you do not adopt the custom of apologising for
the wrong done to your subordinates. You ride away; and they
understand, and are confident of the restitution to honour. Richie
never opened his stern, young lips to Sponge in reference to the scene
near the hill of the Rostina dead, but in time there was a general
order No. 20, which spoke definitely of the gallantry of His Majesty's
12th regiment of the line and its colonel. In the end Sponge was given
a high decoration, because he had been badly used by Richie on that
day. Richie knew that it is hard for men to withstand the shrapnel of
A few days later the Kickers, marching in column on the road, came
upon their friend the battery, halted in a field; and they addressed
the battery, and the captain of the battery blanched to the tips of his
ears. But the men of the battery told the Kickers to go to the
devilfrankly, freely, placidly, told the Kickers to go to the devil.
And this story proves that it is sometimes better to be a private.
AND IF HE WILLS, WE MUST DIE.
A sergeant, a corporal, and fourteen men of the Twelfth Regiment of
the Line had been sent out to occupy a house on the main highway. They
would be at least a half of a mile in advance of any other picket of
their own people. Sergeant Morton was deeply angry at being sent on
this duty. He said that he was over-worked. There were at least two
sergeants, he claimed furiously, whose turn it should have been to go
on this arduous mission. He was treated unfairly; he was abused by his
superiors; why did any damned fool ever join the army? As for him he
would get out of it as soon as possible; he was sick of it; the life of
a dog. All this he said to the corporal, who listened attentively,
giving grunts of respectful assent. On the way to this post two
privates took occasion to drop to the rear and pilfer in the orchard of
a deserted plantation. When the sergeant discovered this absence, he
grew black with a rage which was an accumulation of all his
irritations. Run, you! he howled. Bring them here! I'll show them
A private ran swiftly to the rear. The remainder of the squad began to
shout nervously at the two delinquents, whose figures they could see in
the deep shade of the orchard, hurriedly picking fruit from the ground
and cramming it within their shirts, next to their skins. The
beseeching cries of their comrades stirred the criminals more than did
the barking of the sergeant. They ran to rejoin the squad, while
holding their loaded bosoms and with their mouths open with aggrieved
Jones faced the sergeant with a horrible cancer marked in bumps on
his left side. The disease of Patterson showed quite around the front
of his waist in many protuberances. A nice pair! said the sergeant,
with sudden frigidity. You're the kind of soldiers a man wants to
choose for a dangerous outpost duty, ain't you?
The two privates stood at attention, still looking much aggrieved.
We only began Jones huskily.
Oh, you 'only!' cried the sergeant. Yes, you 'only.' I know all
about that. But if you think you are going to trifle with me
A moment later the squad moved on towards its station. Behind the
sergeant's back Jones and Patterson were slyly passing apples and pears
to their friends while the sergeant expounded eloquently to the
corporal You see what kind of men are in the army now. Why, when I
joined the regiment it was a very different thing, I can tell you. Then
a sergeant had some authority, and if a man disobeyed orders, he had a
very small chance of escaping something extremely serious. But now!
Good God! If I report these men, the captain will look over a lot of
beastly orderly sheets and say'Haw, eh, well, Sergeant Morton, these
men seem to have very good records; very good records, indeed. I can't
be too hard on them; no, not too hard.' Continued the sergeant: I
tell you, Flagler, the army is no place for a decent man.
Flagler, the corporal, answered with a sincerity of appreciation
which with him had become a science. I think you are right, sergeant,
Behind them the privates mumbled discreetly. Damn this sergeant of
ours. He thinks we are made of wood. I don't see any reason for all
this strictness when we are on active service. It isn't like being at
home in barracks! There is no great harm in a couple of men dropping
out to raid an orchard of the enemy when all the world knows that we
haven't had a decent meal in twenty days.
The reddened face of Sergeant Morton suddenly showed to the rear. A
little more marching and less talking, he said.
When he came to the house he had been ordered to occupy the sergeant
sniffed with disdain. These people must have lived like cattle, he
said angrily. To be sure, the place was not alluring. The ground floor
had been used for the housing of cattle, and it was dark and terrible.
A flight of steps led to the lofty first floor, which was denuded but
respectable. The sergeant's visage lightened when he saw the strong
walls of stone and cement. Unless they turn guns on us, they will
never get us out of here, he said cheerfully to the squad. The men,
anxious to keep him in an amiable mood, all hurriedly grinned and
seemed very appreciative and pleased. I'll make this into a fortress,
he announced. He sent Jones and Patterson, the two orchard thiefs, out
on sentry-duty. He worked the others, then, until he could think of no
more things to tell them to do. Afterwards he went forth, with a
major-general's serious scowl, and examined the ground in front of his
position. In returning he came upon a sentry, Jones, munching an apple.
He sternly commanded him to throw it away.
The men spread their blankets on the floors of the bare rooms, and
putting their packs under their heads and lighting their pipes, they
lived in easy peace. Bees hummed in the garden, and a scent of flowers
came through the open window. A great fan-shaped bit of sunshine smote
the face of one man, and he indolently cursed as he moved his primitive
bed to a shadier place.
Another private explained to a comrade: This is all nonsense
anyhow. No sense in occupying this post. They
But, of course, said the corporal, when she told me herself that
she cared more for me than she did for him, I wasn't going to stand any
of his talk The corporal's listener was so sleepy that he could only
grunt his sympathy.
There was a sudden little spatter of shooting. A cry from Jones rang
out. With no intermediate scrambling, the sergeant leaped straight to
his feet. Now, he cried, let us see what you are made of! If, he
added bitterly, you are made of anything!
A man yelled: Good God, can't you see you're all tangled up in my
Another man yelled: Keep off my legs! Can't you walk on the floor?
To the windows there was a blind rush of slumberous men, who brushed
hair from their eyes even as they made ready their rifles. Jones and
Patterson came stumbling up the steps, crying dreadful information.
Already the enemy's bullets were spitting and singing over the house.
The sergeant suddenly was stiff and cold with a sense of the
importance of the thing. Wait until you see one, he drawled loudly
and calmly, then shoot.
For some moments the enemy's bullets swung swifter than lightning
over the house without anybody being able to discover a target. In this
interval a man was shot in the throat. He gurgled, and then lay down on
the floor. The blood slowly waved down the brown skin of his neck while
he looked meekly at his comrades.
There was a howl. There they are! There they come! The rifles
crackled. A light smoke drifted idly through the rooms. There was a
strong odour as if from burnt paper and the powder of fire-crackers.
The men were silent. Through the windows and about the house the
bullets of an entirely invisible enemy moaned, hummed, spat, burst, and
The men began to curse. Why can't we see them? they muttered
through their teeth. The sergeant was still frigid. He answered
soothingly as if he were directly reprehensible for this behaviour of
the enemy. Wait a moment. You will soon be able to see them. There!
Give it to them. A little skirt of black figures had appeared in a
field. It was really like shooting at an upright needle from the full
length of a ball-room. But the men's spirits improved as soon as the
enemythis mysterious enemybecame a tangible thing, and far off.
They had believed the foe to be shooting at them from the adjacent
Now, said the sergeant ambitiously, we can beat them off easily
if you men are good enough.
A man called out in a tone of quick, great interest. See that
fellow on horseback, Bill? Isn't he on horseback? I thought he was on
There was a fusilade against another side of the house. The sergeant
dashed into the room which commanded that situation. He found a dead
soldier on the floor. He rushed out howling: When was Knowles killed?
When was Knowles killed? Damn it, when was Knowles killed? It was
absolutely essential to find out the exact moment this man died. A
blackened private turned upon his sergeant and demanded: How in hell
do I know? Sergeant Morton had a sense of anger so brief that in the
next second he cried: Patterson! He had even forgotten his vital
interest in the time of Knowles' death.
Yes? said Patterson, his face set with some deep-rooted quality of
determination. Still, he was a mere farm boy.
Go in to Knowles' window and shoot at those people, said the
sergeant hoarsely. Afterwards he coughed. Some of the fumes of the
fight had made way to his lungs.
Patterson looked at the door into this other room. He looked at it
as if he suspected it was to be his death-chamber. Then he entered and
stood across the body of Knowles and fired vigorously into a group of
They can't take this house, declared the sergeant in a
contemptuous and argumentative tone. He was apparently replying to
somebody. The man who had been shot in the throat looked up at him.
Eight men were firing from the windows. The sergeant detected in a
corner three wounded men talking together feebly. Don't you think
there is anything to do? he bawled. Go and get Knowles' cartridges
and give them to somebody who can use them! Take Simpson's too. The
man who had been shot in the throat looked at him. Of the three wounded
men who had been talking, one said: My leg is all doubled up under me,
sergeant. He spoke apologetically.
Meantime the sergeant was re-loading his rifle. His foot slipped in
the blood of the man who had been shot in the throat, and the military
boot made a greasy red streak on the floor.
Why, we can hold this place, shouted the sergeant jubilantly. Who
says we can't?
Corporal Flagler suddenly spun away from his window and fell in a
Sergeant, murmured a man as he dropped to a seat on the floor out
of danger, I can't stand this. I swear I can't. I think we should run
Morton, with the kindly eyes of a good shepherd, looked at the man.
You are afraid, Johnston, you are afraid, he said softly. The man
struggled to his feet, cast upon the sergeant a gaze full of
admiration, reproach, and despair, and returned to his post. A moment
later he pitched forward, and thereafter his body hung out of the
window, his arms straight and the fists clenched. Incidentally this
corpse was pierced afterwards by chance three times by bullets of the
The sergeant laid his rifle against the stone-work of the
window-frame and shot with care until his magazine was empty. Behind
him a man, simply grazed on the elbow, was wildly sobbing like a girl.
Damn it, shut up, said Morton, without turning his head. Before him
was a vista of a garden, fields, clumps of trees, woods, populated at
the time with little fleeting figures.
He grew furious. Why didn't he send me orders? he cried aloud. The
emphasis on the word he was impressive. A mile back on the road a
galloper of the Hussars lay dead beside his dead horse.
The man who had been grazed on the elbow still set up his bleat.
Morton's fury veered to this soldier. Can't you shut up? Can't you
shut up? Can't you shut up? Fight! That's the thing to do. Fight!
A bullet struck Morton, and he fell upon the man who had been shot
in the throat. There was a sickening moment. Then the sergeant rolled
off to a position upon the blood floor. He turned himself with a last
effort until he could look at the wounded who were able to look at him.
Kim up, the Kickers, he said thickly. His arms weakened and he
dropped on his face.
After an interval a young subaltern of the enemy's infantry,
followed by his eager men, burst into this reeking interior. But just
over the threshold he halted before the scene of blood and death. He
turned with a shrug to his sergeant. God, I should have estimated them
at least one hundred strong.
WYOMING VALLEY TALES
I.THE SURRENDER OF FORTY FORT.
Immediately after the battle of 3rd July, my mother said, We had
best take the children and go into the Fort.
But my father replied, I will not go. I will not leave my property.
All that I have in the world is here, and if the savages destroy it
they may as well destroy me also.
My mother said no other word. Our household was ever given to stern
silence, and such was my training that it did not occur to me to
reflect that if my father cared for his property it was not my
property, and I was entitled to care somewhat for my life.
Colonel Denison was true to the word which he had passed to me at
the Fort before the battle. He sent a messenger to my father, and this
messenger stood in the middle of our living-room and spake with a
clear, indifferent voice. Colonel Denison bids me come here and say
that John Bennet is a wicked man, and the blood of his own children
will be upon his head. As usual, my father said nothing. After the
messenger had gone, he remained silent for hours in his chair by the
fire, and this stillness was so impressive to his family that even my
mother walked on tip-toe as she went about her work. After this long
time my father said, Mary!
Mother halted and looked at him. Father spoke slowly, and as if
every word was wrested from him with violent pangs. Mary, you take the
girls and go to the Fort. I and Solomon and Andrew will go over the
mountain to Stroudsberg.
Immediately my mother called us all to set about packing such things
as could be taken to the Fort. And by nightfall we had seen them within
its pallisade, and my father, myself, and my little brother Andrew, who
was only eleven years old, were off over the hills on a long march to
the Delaware settlements. Father and I had our rifles, but we seldom
dared to fire them, because of the roving bands of Indians. We lived as
well as we could on blackberries and raspberries. For the most part,
poor little Andrew rode first on the back of my father and then on my
back. He was a good little man, and only cried when he would wake in
the dead of night very cold and very hungry. Then my father would wrap
him in an old grey coat that was so famous in the Wyoming country that
there was not even an Indian who did not know of it. But this act he
did without any direct display of tenderness, for the fear, I suppose,
that he would weaken little Andrew's growing manhood. Now, in these
days of safety, and even luxury, I often marvel at the iron spirit of
the people of my young days. My father, without his coat and no doubt
very cold, would then sometimes begin to pray to his God in the
wilderness, but in low voice, because of the Indians. It was July, but
even July nights are cold in the pine mountains, breathing a chill
which goes straight to the bones.
But it is not my intention to give in this section the ordinary
adventures of the masculine part of my family. As a matter of fact, my
mother and the girls were undergoing in Forty Fort trials which made as
nothing the happenings on our journey, which ended in safety.
My mother and her small flock were no sooner established in the
crude quarters within the pallisade than negotiations were opened
between Colonel Denison and Colonel Zebulon Butler on the American
side, and Indian Butler on the British side, for the capitulation of
the Fort with such arms and military stores as it contained, the lives
of the settlers to be strictly preserved. But Indian Butler did not
seem to feel free to promise safety for the lives of the Continental
Butler and the pathetic little fragment of the regular troops. These
men always fought so well against the Indians that whenever the Indians
could get them at their mercy there was small chances of anything but a
massacre. So every regular left before the surrender; and I fancy that
Colonel Zebulon Butler considered himself a much-abused man, for if we
had left ourselves entirely under his direction there is no doubt but
what we could have saved the valley. He had taken us out on 3rd July
because our militia officers had almost threatened him. In the end he
had said, Very well, I can go as far as any of you. I was always on
Butler's side of the argument, but owing to the singular arrangement of
circumstances, my opinion at the age of sixteen counted upon neither
the one side nor the other.
The Fort was left in charge of Colonel Denison. He had stipulated
before the surrender that no Indians should be allowed to enter the
stockade and molest these poor families of women whose fathers and
brothers were either dead or fled over the mountains, unless their
physical debility had been such that they were able neither to get
killed in the battle nor to take the long trail to the Delaware. Of
course, this excepts those men who were with Washington.
For several days the Indians, obedient to the British officers, kept
out of the Fort, but soon they began to enter in small bands and went
sniffing and poking in every corner to find plunder. Our people had
hidden everything as well as they were able, and for a period little
was stolen. My mother told me that the first thing of importance to go
was Colonel Denison's hunting shirt, made of fine forty linen. It had
a double cape, and was fringed about the cape and about the wristbands.
Colonel Denison at the time was in my mother's cabin. An Indian
entered, and, rolling a thieving eye about the place, sighted first of
all the remarkable shirt which Colonel Denison was wearing. He seized
the shirt and began to tug, while the Colonel backed away, tugging and
protesting at the same time. The women folk saw at once that the
Colonel would be tomahawked if he did not give up his shirt, and they
begged him to do it. He finally elected not to be tomahawked, and came
out of his shirt. While my mother unbuttoned the wristbands, the
Colonel cleverly dropped into the lap of a certain Polly Thornton a
large packet of Continental bills, and his money was thus saved for the
Colonel Denison had several stormy interviews with Indian Butler,
and the British commander finally ended in frankly declaring that he
could do nothing with the Indians at all. They were beyond control, and
the defenceless people in the Fort would have to take the consequence.
I do not mean that Colonel Denison was trying to recover his shirt; I
mean that he was objecting to a situation which was now almost
unendurable. I wish to record also that the Colonel lost a large beaver
hat. In both cases he willed to be tomahawked and killed rather than
suffer the indignity, but mother prevailed over him. I must confess to
this discreet age that my mother engaged in fisticuffs with a squaw.
This squaw came into the cabin, and, without preliminary discussion,
attempted to drag from my mother the petticoat she was wearing. My
mother forgot the fine advice she had given to Colonel Denison. She
proceeded to beat the squaw out of the cabin, and although the squaw
appealed to some warriors who were standing without the warriors only
laughed, and my mother kept her petticoat.
The Indians took the feather beds of the people, and, ripping them
open, flung the feathers broadcast. Then they stuffed these sacks full
of plunder, and flung them across the backs of such of the settlers'
horses as they had been able to find. In the old days my mother had had
a side saddle, of which she was very proud when she rode to meeting on
it. She had also a brilliant scarlet cloak, which every lady had in
those days, and which I can remember as one of the admirations of my
childhood. One day my mother had the satisfaction of seeing a squaw
ride off from the Fort with this prize saddle reversed on a small nag,
and with the proud squaw thus mounted wearing the scarlet cloak, also
reversed. My sister Martha told me afterwards that they laughed, even
in their misfortunes. A little later they had the satisfaction of
seeing the smoke from our house and barn arising over the tops of the
When the Indians first began their pillaging, an old Mr. Sutton, who
occupied a cabin near my mother's cabin, anticipated them by donning
all his best clothes. He had had a theory that the Americans would be
free to retain the clothes that they wore. And his best happened to be
a suit of Quaker grey, from beaver to boots, in which he had been
married. Not long afterwards my mother and my sisters saw passing the
door an Indian arrayed in Quaker grey, from beaver to boots. The only
odd thing which impressed them was that the Indian had appended to the
dress a long string of Yankee scalps. Sutton was a good Quaker, and if
he had been wearing the suit there would have been no string of scalps.
They were, in fact, badgered, insulted, robbed by the Indians so
openly that the British officers would not come into the Fort at all.
They stayed in their camp, affecting to be ignorant of what was
happening. It was about all they could do. The Indians had only one
idea of war, and it was impossible to reason with them when they were
flushed with victory and stolen rum.
The hand of fate fell heavily upon one rogue whose ambition it was
to drink everything that the Fort contained. One day he inadvertently
came upon a bottle of spirits of camphor, and in a few hours he was
But it was known that General Washington contemplated sending a
strong expedition into the valley, to clear it of the invaders and
thrash them. Soon there were no enemies in the country save small
roving parties of Indians, who prevented work in the fields and burned
whatever cabins that earlier torches had missed.
The first large party to come into the valley was composed mainly of
Captain Spaulding's company of regulars, and at its head rode Colonel
Zebulon Butler. My father, myself, and little Andrew returned with this
party to set to work immediately to build out of nothing a prosperity
similar to that which had vanished in the smoke.
II.OL' BENNET AND THE INDIANS.
My father was so well known of the Indians that, as I was saying,
his old grey coat was a sign through the northern country. I know of no
reason for this save that he was honest and obstreperously minded his
own affairs, and could fling a tomahawk better than the best Indian. I
will not declare upon how hard it is for a man to be honest and to mind
his own affairs, but I fully know that it is hard to throw a tomahawk
as my father threw it, straighter than a bullet from a duelling pistol.
He had always dealt fairly with the Indians, and I cannot tell why they
paled him so bitterly, unless it was that when an Indian went foolishly
drunk my father would deplore it with his foot, if it so happened that
the drunkenness was done in our cabin. It is true to say that when the
war came, a singular large number of kicked Indians journeyed from the
Canadas to re-visit with torch and knife the scenes of the kicking.
If people had thoroughly known my father he would have had no
enemies. He was the best of men. He had a code of behaviour for
himself, and for the whole world as well. If people wished his good
opinion they only had to do exactly as he did, and to have his views. I
remember that once my sister Martha made me a waistcoat of rabbits'
skins, and generally it was considered a great ornament. But one day my
father espied me in it, and commanded me to remove it for ever. Its
appearance was indecent, he said, and such a garment tainted the soul
of him who wore it. In the ensuing fortnight a poor pedlar arrived from
the Delaware, who had suffered great misfortunes in the snows. My
father fed him and warmed him, and when he gratefully departed, gave
him the rabbits' skin waistcoat, and the poor man went off clothed
indecently in a garment that would taint his soul. Afterwards, in a
daring mood, I asked my father why he had so cursed this pedlar, and he
recommended that I should study my Bible more closely, and there read
that my own devious ways should be mended before I sought to judge the
enlightened acts of my elders. He set me to ploughing the upper twelve
acres, and I was hardly allowed to loose my grip of the plough handles
until every furrow was drawn.
The Indians called my father Ol' Bennet, and he was known
broadcast as a man whose doom was sealed when the redskins caught him.
As I have said, the feeling is inexplicable to me. But Indians who had
been ill-used and maltreated by downright ruffians, against whom
revenge could with a kind of propriety be directedmany of these
Indians avowedly gave up a genuine wrong in order to direct a fuller
attention to the getting of my father's scalp. This most unfair
disposition of the Indians was a great, deep anxiety to all of us up to
the time when General Sullivan and his avenging army marched through
the valley and swept our tormentors afar.
And yet great calamities could happen in our valley even after the
coming and passing of General Sullivan. We were partly mistaken in our
gladness. The British force of Loyalists and Indians met Sullivan in
one battle, and finding themselves over-matched and beaten, they
scattered in all directions. The Loyalists, for the most part, went
home, but the Indians cleverly broke up into small bands, and General
Sullivan's army had no sooner marched beyond the Wyoming Valley than
some of these small bands were back into the valley plundering outlying
cabins and shooting people from the thickets and woods that bordered
General Sullivan had left a garrison at Wilkesbarre, and at this
time we lived in its strong shadow. It was too formidable for the
Indians to attack, and it could protect all who valued protection
enough to remain under its wings, but it could do little against the
flying small bands. My father chafed in the shelter of the garrison.
His best lands lay beyond Forty Fort, and he wanted to be at his
ploughing. He made several brief references to his ploughing that led
us to believe that his ploughing was the fundamental principle of life.
None of us saw any means of contending him. My sister Martha began to
weep, but it no more mattered than if she had began to laugh. My mother
said nothing. Aye, my wonderful mother said nothing. My father said he
would go plough some of the land above Forty Fort. Immediately this was
with us some sort of a law. It was like a rain, or a wind, or a
He went, of course. My young brother Andrew went with him, and he
took the new span of oxen and a horse. They began to plough a meadow
which lay in a bend of the river above Forty Fort. Andrew rode the
horse hitched ahead of the oxen. At a certain thicket the horse shied
so that little Andrew was almost thrown down. My father seemed to have
begun a period of apprehension at this time, but it was of no service.
Four Indians suddenly appeared out of the thicket. Swiftly, and in
silence, they pounced with tomahawk, rifle, and knife upon my father
and my brother, and in a moment they were captives of the
redskinsthat fate whose very phrasing was a thrill to the heart of
every colonist. It spelled death, or that horrible simple absence,
vacancy, mystery, which is harder than death.
As for us, he had told my mother that if he and Andrew were not
returned at sundown she might construe a calamity. So at sundown we
gave the news to the Fort, and directly we heard the alarm gun booming
out across the dusk like a salute to the death of my father, a solemn,
final declaration. At the sound of this gun my sisters all began newly
to weep. It simply defined our misfortune. In the morning a party was
sent out, which came upon the deserted plough, the oxen calmly
munching, and the horse still excited and affrighted. The soldiers
found the trail of four Indians. They followed the trail some distance
over the mountains, but the redskins with their captives had a long
start, and pursuit was but useless. The result of this expedition was
that we knew at least that father and Andrew had not been massacred
immediately. But in those days this was a most meagre consolation. It
was better to wish them well dead.
My father and Andrew were hurried over the hills at a terrible pace
by the four Indians. Andrew told me afterwards that he could think
sometimes that he was dreaming of being carried off by goblins. The
redskins said no word, and their mocassined feet made no sound. They
were like evil spirits. But it was as he caught glimpses of father's
pale face, every wrinkle in it deepened and hardened, that Andrew saw
everything in its light. And Andrew was but thirteen years old. It is a
tender age at which to be burned at the stake.
In time the party came upon two more Indians, who had as a prisoner
a man named Lebbeus Hammond. He had left Wilkesbarre in search of a
strayed horse. He was riding the animal back to the Fort when the
Indians caught him. He and my father knew each other well, and their
greeting was like them.
What! Hammond! You here?
Yes, I'm here.
As the march was resumed, the principal Indian bestrode Hammond's
horse, but the horse was very high-nerved and scared, and the bridle
was only a temporary one made from hickory withes. There was no saddle.
And so finally the principal Indian came off with a crash, alighting
with exceeding severity upon his head. When he got upon his feet he was
in such a rage that the three captives thought to see him dash his
tomahawk into the skull of the trembling horse, and, indeed, his arm
was raised for the blow, but suddenly he thought better of it. He had
been touched by a real point of Indian inspiration. The party was
passing a swamp at the time, so he mired the horse almost up to its
eyes, and left it to the long death.
I had said that my father was well known of the Indians, and yet I
have to announce that none of his six captors knew him. To them he was
a complete stranger, for upon camping the first night they left my
father unbound. If they had had any idea that he was Ol' Bennet they
would never have left him unbound. He suggested to Hammond that they
try to escape that night, but Hammond seemed not to care to try it yet.
In time they met a party of over forty Indians, commanded by a
Loyalist. In that band there were many who knew my father. They cried
out with rejoicing when they perceived him. Ha! they shouted, Ol'
Bennet! They danced about him, making gestures expressive of the
torture. Later in the day my father accidentally pulled a button from
his coat, and an Indian took it from him.
My father asked to be allowed to have it again, for he was a very
careful man, and in those days all good husbands were trained to bring
home the loose buttons. The Indians laughed, and explained that a man
who was to die at Wyallusingone day's marchneed not be particular
about a button.
The three prisoners were now sent off in care of seven Indians,
while the Loyalist took the remainder of his men down the valley to
further harass the settlers. The seven Indians were now very careful of
my father, allowing him scarce a wink. Their tomahawks came up at the
slightest sign. At the camp that night they bade the prisoners lie
down, and then placed poles across them. An Indian lay upon either end
of these poles. My father managed, however, to let Hammond know that he
was determined to make an attempt to escape. There was only one night
between him and the stake, and he was resolved to make what use he
could of it. Hammond seems to have been dubious from the start, but the
men of that time were not daunted by broad risks. In his opinion the
rising would be a failure, but this did not prevent him from agreeing
to rise with his friend. My brother Andrew was not considered at all.
No one asked him if he wanted to rise against the Indians. He was only
a boy, and supposed to obey his elders. So, as none asked his views, he
kept them to himself; but I wager you he listened, all ears, to the
furtive consultations, consultations which were mere casual phrases at
times, and at other times swift, brief sentences shot out in a whisper.
The band of seven Indians relaxed in vigilance as they approached
their own country, and on the last night from Wyallusing the Indian
part of the camp seemed much inclined to take deep slumber after the
long and rapid journey. The prisoners were held to the ground by poles
as on the previous night, and then the Indians pulled their blankets
over their heads and passed into heavy sleep. One old warrior sat by
the fire as guard, but he seems to have been a singularly inefficient
man, for he was continuously drowsing, and if the captives could have
got rid of the poles across their chests and legs they would have made
their flight sooner.
The camp was on a mountain side amid a forest of lofty pines. The
night was very cold, and the blasts of wind swept down upon the
crackling, resinous fire. A few stars peeped through the feathery pine
branches. Deep in some gulch could be heard the roar of a mountain
stream. At one o'clock in the morning three of the Indians arose, and,
releasing the prisoners, commanded them to mend the fire. The prisoners
brought dead pine branches; the ancient warrior on watch sleepily
picked away with his knife at the deer's head which he had roasted; the
other Indians retired again to their blankets, perhaps each depending
upon the other for the exercise of precautions. It was a tremendously
slack business; the Indians were feeling security because they knew
that the prisoners were too wise to try to run away.
The warrior on watch mumbled placidly to himself as he picked at the
deer's head. Then he drowsed again, just the short nap of a man who had
been up too long. My father stepped quickly to a spear, and backed away
from the Indian; then he drove it straight through his chest. The
Indian raised himself spasmodically, and then collapsed into that camp
fire which the captives had made burn so brilliantly, and as he fell he
screamed. Instantly his blanket, his hair, he himself began to burn,
and over him was my father tugging frantically to get the spear out
My father did not recover the spear. It had so gone through the old
warrior that it could not readily be withdrawn, and my father left it.
The scream of the watchman instantly aroused the other warriors,
who, as they scrambled in their blankets, found over them a terrible
white-lipped creature with an axean axe, the most appallingly brutal
of weapons. Hammond buried his weapon in the head of the leader of the
Indians even as the man gave out his first great cry. The second blow
missed an agile warrior's head, but caught him in the nape of the neck,
and he swung, to bury his face in the red-hot ashes at the edge of the
Meanwhile my brother Andrew had been gallantly snapping empty guns.
In fact he snapped three empty guns at the Indians, who were in the
purest panic. He did not snap the fourth gun, but took it by the
barrel, and, seeing a warrior rush past him, he cracked his skull with
the clubbed weapon. He told me, however, that his snapping of the empty
guns was very effective, because it made the Indians jump and dodge.
Well, this slaughter continued in the red glare of the fire on the
lonely mountain side until two shrieking creatures ran off through the
trees, but even then my father hurled a tomahawk with all his strength.
It struck one of the fleeing Indians on the shoulder. His blanket
dropped from him, and he ran on practically naked.
The three whites looked at each other, breathing deeply. Their work
was plain to them in the five dead and dying Indians underfoot. They
hastily gathered weapons and mocassins, and in six minutes from the
time when my father had hurled the spear through the Indian sentinel
they had started to make their way back to the settlements, leaving the
camp fire to burn out its short career alone amid the dead.
III.THE BATTLE OF FORTY FORT.
The Congress, sitting at Philadelphia, had voted our Wyoming country
two companies of infantry for its protection against the Indians, with
the single provision that we raise the men and arm them ourselves. This
was not too brave a gift, but no one could blame the poor Congress, and
indeed one could wonder that they found occasion to think of us at all,
since at the time every gentleman of them had his coat-tails gathered
high in his hands in readiness for flight to Baltimore. But our two
companies of foot were no sooner drilled, equipped, and in readiness to
defend the colony when they were ordered off down to the Jerseys to
join General Washington. So it can be seen what service Congress did us
in the way of protection. Thus the Wyoming Valley, sixty miles deep in
the wilderness, held its log-houses full of little besides mothers,
maids, and children. To the clamour against this situation the badgered
Congress could only reply by the issue of another generous order,
directing that one full company of foot be raised in the town of
Westmoreland for the defence of said town, and that the said company
find their own arms, ammunition, and blankets. Even people with our
sense of humour could not laugh at this joke.
When the first two companies were forming, I had thought to join
one, but my father forbade me, saying that I was too young, although I
was full sixteen, tall, and very strong. So it turned out that I was
not off fighting with Washington's army when Butler with his rangers
and Indians raided Wyoming. Perhaps I was in the better place to do my
duty, if I could.
When wandering Indians visited the settlements, their drunkenness
and insolence were extreme, but the few white men remained calm, and
often enough pretended oblivion to insults which, because of their
wives and families, they dared not attempt to avenge. In my own family,
my father's imperturbability was scarce superior to my mother's
coolness, and such was our faith in them that we twelve children also
seemed to be fearless. Neighbour after neighbour came to my father in
despair of the defenceless condition of the valley, declaring that they
were about to leave everything and flee over the mountains to
Stroudsberg. My father always wished them God-speed and said no more.
If they urged him to fly also, he usually walked away from them.
Finally there came a time when all the Indians vanished. We rather
would have had them tipsy and impudent in the settlements; we knew what
their disappearance portended. It was the serious sign. Too soon the
news came that Indian Butler was on his way.
The valley was vastly excited. People with their smaller possessions
flocked into the block-houses, and militia officers rode everywhere to
rally every man. A small force of Continentalsregulars of the
linehad joined our people, and the little army was now under the
command of a Continental officer, Major Zebulon Butler.
I had thought that with all this hubbub of an impending life and
death struggle in the valley that my father would allow the work of our
farm to slacken. But in this I was notably mistaken. The milking and
the feeding and the work in the fields went on as if there never had
been an Indian south of the Canadas. My mother and my sisters continued
to cook, to wash, to churn, to spin, to dye, to mend, to make soap, to
make maple sugar. Just before the break of each day, my younger brother
Andrew and myself tumbled out for some eighteen hours' work, and woe to
us if we departed the length of a dog's tail from the laws which our
father had laid down. It was a life with which I was familiar, but it
did seem to me that with the Indians almost upon us he might have
allowed me, at least, to go to the Fort and see our men drilling.
But one morning we aroused as usual at his call at the foot of the
ladder, and, dressing more quickly than Andrew, I climbed down from the
loft to find my father seated by a blazing fire reading by its light in
Son, said he.
Go and fight.
Without a word more I made hasty preparation. It was the first time
in my life that I had a feeling that my father would change his mind.
So strong was this fear that I did not even risk a good-bye to my
mother and sisters. At the end of the clearing I looked back. The door
of the house was open, and in the blazing light of the fire I saw my
father seated as I had left him.
At Forty Fort I found between three and four hundred under arms,
while the stockade itself was crowded with old men, and women and
children. Many of my acquaintances welcomed me; indeed, I seemed to
know everybody save a number of the Continental officers. Colonel
Zebulon Butler was in chief command, while directly under him was
Colonel Denison, a man of the valley, and much respected. Colonel
Denison asked news of my father, whose temper he well knew. He said to
meIf God spares Nathan Denison I shall tell that obstinate old fool
my true opinion of him. He will get himself and all his family
butchered and scalped.
I joined Captain Bidlack's company for the reason that a number of
my friends were in it. Every morning we were paraded and drilled in the
open ground before the Fort, and I learned to present arms and to keep
my heels together, although to this day I have never been able to see
any point to these accomplishments, and there was very little of the
presenting of arms or of the keeping together of heels in the battle
which followed these drills. I may say truly that I would now be much
more grateful to Captain Bidlack if he had taught us to run like a wild
There was considerable friction between the officers of our militia
and the Continental officers. I believe the Continental officers had
stated themselves as being in favour of a cautious policy, whereas the
men of the valley were almost unanimous in their desire to meet Indian
Butler more than half way. They knew the country, they said, and they
knew the Indians, and they deduced that the proper plan was to march
forth and attack the British force near the head of the valley. Some of
the more hot-headed ones rather openly taunted the Continentals, but
these veterans of Washington's army remained silent and composed amid
more or less wildness of talk. My own concealed opinions were that,
although our people were brave and determined, they had much better
allow the Continental officers to manage the valley's affairs.
At the end of June, we heard the news that Colonel John Butler, with
some four hundred British and Colonial troops, which he called the
Rangers, and with about five hundred Indians, had entered the valley at
its head and taken Fort Wintermoot after an opposition of a perfunctory
character. I could present arms very well, but I do not think that I
could yet keep my heels together. But Indian Butler was marching upon
us, and even Captain Bidlack refrained from being annoyed at my
The officers held councils of war, but in truth both fort and camp
rang with a discussion in which everybody joined with great vigour and
endurance. I may except the Continental officers, who told us what they
thought we should do, and then, declaring that there was no more to be
said, remained in a silence which I thought was rather grim. The result
was that on the 3rd of July our force of about 300 men marched away,
amid the roll of drums and the proud career of flags, to meet Indian
Butler and his two kinds of savages. There yet remains with me a vivid
recollection of a close row of faces above the stockade of Forty Fort
which viewed our departure with that profound anxiety which only an
imminent danger of murder and scalping can produce. I myself was never
particularly afraid of the Indians, for to my mind the great and almost
the only military virtue of the Indians was that they were silent men
in the woods. If they were met squarely on terms approaching equality,
they could always be whipped. But it was another matter to a fort
filled with women and children and cripples, to whom the coming of the
Indians spelled pillage, arson, and massacre. The British sent against
us in those days some curious upholders of the honour of the King, and
although Indian Butler, who usually led them, afterwards contended that
everything was performed with decency and care for the rules, we always
found that such of our dead whose bodies we recovered invariably lacked
hair on the tops of their heads, and if worse wasn't done to them we
wouldn't even use the word mutilate.
Colonel Zebulon Butler rode along the column when we halted once for
water. I looked at him eagerly, hoping to read in his face some sign of
his opinions. But on the soldierly mask I could read nothing, although
I am certain now that he felt that the fools among us were going to get
us well beaten. But there was no vacillation in the direction of our
march. We went straight until we could hear through the woods the
infrequent shots of our leading party at retreating Indian scouts.
Our Colonel Butler then sent forward four of his best officers, who
reconnoitered the ground in the enemy's front like so many engineers
marking the place for a bastion. Then each of the six companies were
told their place in the line. We of Captain Bidlack's company were on
the extreme right. Then we formed in line and marched into battle, with
me burning with the high resolve to kill Indian Butler and bear his
sword into Forty Fort, while at the same time I was much shaken that
one of Indian Butler's Indians might interfere with the noble plan. We
moved stealthily among the pine trees, and I could not forbear looking
constantly to right and left to make certain that everybody was of the
same mind about this advance. With our Captain Bidlack was Captain
Durkee of the regulars. He was also a valley man, and it seemed that
every time I looked behind me I met the calm eye of this officer, and I
came to refrain from looking behind me.
Still, I was very anxious to shoot Indians, and if I had doubted my
ability in this direction I would have done myself a great injustice,
for I could drive a nail to the head with a rifle ball at respectable
range. I contend that I was not at all afraid of the enemy, but I much
feared that certain of my comrades would change their minds about the
expediency of battle on the 3rd July, 1778.
But our company was as steady and straight as a fence. I do not know
who first saw dodging figures in the shadows of the trees in our front.
The first fire we received, however, was from our flank, where some
hidden Indians were yelling and firing, firing and yelling. We did not
mind the war-whoops. We had heard too many drunken Indians in the
settlements before the war. They wounded the lieutenant of the company
next to ours, and a moment later they killed Captain Durkee. But we
were steadily advancing and firing regular volleys into the shifting
frieze of figures before us. The Indians gave their cries as if the
imps of Hades had given tongue to their emotions. They fell back before
us so rapidly and so cleverly that one had to watch his chance as the
Indians sped from tree to tree. I had a sudden burst of rapture that
they were beaten, and this was accentuated when I stepped over the body
of an Indian whose forehead had a hole in it as squarely in the middle
as if the location had been previously surveyed. In short, we were
doing extremely well.
Soon we began to see the slower figures of white men through the
trees, and it is only honest to say that they were easier to shoot. I
myself caught sight of a fine officer in a uniform that seemed of green
and buff. His sword-belt was fastened by a great shining brass plate,
and, no longer feeling the elegancies of marksmanship, I fired at the
brass plate. Such was the conformation of the ground between us that he
disappeared as if he had sunk in the sea. We, all of us, were loading
behind the trees and then charging ahead with fullest confidence.
But suddenly from our own left came wild cries from our men, while
at the same time the yells of Indians redoubled in that direction. Our
rush checked itself instinctively. The cries rolled toward us. Once I
heard a word that sounded like Quarte. Then, to be truthful, our line
wavered. I heard Captain Bidlack give an angry and despairing shout,
and I think he was killed before he finished it.
In a word, our left wing had gone to pieces. It was in complete
rout. I know not the truth of the matter; but it seems that Colonel
Denison had given an order which was misinterpreted for the order to
retreat. At any rate, there can be no doubt of how fast the left wing
We ran away too. The company on our immediate left was the company
of regulars, and I remember some red-faced and powder-stained men
bellowing at me contemptuously. That company stayed, and, for the most
part, died. I don't know what they mustered when we left the Fort, but
from the battle eleven worn and ragged men emerged. In my running was
wisdom. The country was suddenly full of fleet Indians, upon us with
the tomahawk. Behind me as I ran I could hear the screams of men
cleaved to the earth. I think the first things that most of us
discarded were our rifles. Afterward, upon serious reflection, I could
not recall where I gave my rifle to the grass.
I ran for the river. I saw some of our own men running ahead of me
and I envied them. My point of contact with the river was the top of a
high bank. But I did not hesitate to leap for the water with all my
ounces of muscle. I struck out strongly for the other shore. I expected
to be shot in the water. Up stream, and down stream, I could hear the
crack of rifles, but none of the enemy seemed to be paying direct heed
to me. I swam so well that I was soon able to put my feet on the
slippery round stones and wade. When I reached a certain sandy beach, I
lay down and puffed and blew my exhaustion. I watched the scene on the
river. Indians appeared in groups on the opposite bank, firing at
various heads of my comrades, who, like me, had chosen the Susquehanna
as their refuge. I saw more than one hand fling up and the head turn
sideways and sink.
I set out for home. I set out for home in that perfect spirit of
dependence which I had always felt toward my father and my mother. When
I arrived I found nobody in the living room but my father seated in his
great chair and reading his Bible, even as I had left him.
The whole shame of the business came upon me suddenly. Father, I
choked out, we have been beaten.
Aye, said he, I expected it.
London at first consisted of a porter with the most charming manners
in the world, and a cabman with a supreme intelligence, both observing
my profound ignorance without contempt or humour of any kind observable
in their manners. It was in a great resounding vault of a place where
there were many people who had come home, and I was displeased because
they knew the detail of the business, whereas I was confronting the
inscrutable. This made them appear very stony-hearted to the sufferings
of one of whose existence, to be sure, they were entirely unaware, and
I remember taking great pleasure in disliking them heartily for it. I
was in an agony of mind over my baggage, or my luggage, or myperhaps
it is well to shy around this terrible international question; but I
remember that when I was a lad I was told that there was a whole nation
that said luggage instead of baggage, and my boyish mind was filled at
the time with incredulity and scorn. In the present case it was a thing
that I understood to involve the most hideous confessions of imbecility
on my part, because I had evidently to go out to some obscure point and
espy it and claim it, and take trouble for it; and I would rather have
had my pockets filled with bread and cheese, and had no baggage at all.
Mind you, this was not at all a homage that I was paying to London.
I was paying homage to a new game. A man properly lazy does not like
new experiences until they become old ones. Moreover, I have been
taught that a man, any man, who has a thousand times more points of
information on a certain thing than I have will bully me because of it,
and pour his advantages upon my bowed head until I am drenched with his
superiority. It was in my education to concede some licence of the kind
in this case, but the holy father of a porter and the saintly cabman
occupied the middle distance imperturbably, and did not come down from
their hills to clout me with knowledge. From this fact I experienced a
criminal elation. I lost view of the idea that if I had been
brow-beaten by porters and cabmen from one end of the United States to
the other end I should warmly like it, because in numbers they are
superior to me, and collectively they can have a great deal of fun out
of a matter that would merely afford me the glee of the latent butcher.
This London, composed of a porter and a cabman, stood to me subtly
as a benefactor. I had scanned the drama, and found that I did not
believe that the mood of the men emanated unduly from the feature that
there was probably more shillings to the square inch of me than there
were shillings to the square inch of them. Nor yet was it any manner of
palpable warm-heartedness or other natural virtue. But it was a perfect
artificial virtue; it was drill, plain, simple drill. And now was I
glad of their drilling, and vividly approved of it, because I saw that
it was good for me. Whether it was good or bad for the porter and the
cabman I could not know; but that point, mark you, came within the
pale, of my respectable rumination.
I am sure that it would have been more correct for me to have
alighted upon St. Paul's and described no emotion until I was overcome
by the Thames Embankment and the Houses of Parliament. But as a matter
of fact I did not see them for some days, and at this time they did not
concern me at all. I was born in London at a railroad station, and my
new vision encompassed a porter and a cabman. They deeply absorbed me
in new phenomena, and I did not then care to see the Thames Embankment
nor the Houses of Parliament. I considered the porter and the cabman to
be more important.
The cab finally rolled out of the gas-lit vault into a vast expanse
of gloom. This changed to the shadowy lines of a street that was like a
passage in a monstrous cave. The lamps winking here and there resembled
the little gleams at the caps of the miners. They were not very
competent illuminations at best, merely being little pale flares of gas
that at their most heroic periods could only display one fact
concerning this tunnelthe fact of general direction. But at any rate
I should have liked to have observed the dejection of a search-light if
it had been called upon to attempt to bore through this atmosphere. In
it each man sat in his own little cylinder of vision, so to speak. It
was not so small as a sentry-box nor so large as a circus tent, but the
walls were opaque, and what was passing beyond the dimensions of his
cylinder no man knew.
It was evident that the paving was very greasy, but all the cabs
that passed through my cylinder were going at a round trot, while the
wheels, shod in rubber, whirred merely like bicycles. The hoofs of the
animals themselves did not make that wild clatter which I knew so well.
New York, in fact, roars always like ten thousand devils. We have
ingenuous and simple ways of making a din in New York that cause the
stranger to conclude that each citizen is obliged by statute to provide
himself with a pair of cymbals and a drum. If anything by chance can be
turned into a noise it is promptly turned. We are engaged in the
development of a human creature with very large, sturdy, and
It was not too late at night, but this London moved with the decorum
and caution of an undertaker. There was a silence, and yet there was no
silence. There was a low drone, perhaps a humming contributed
inevitably by closely-gathered thousands, and yet on second thoughts it
was to me silence. I had perched my ears for the note of London, the
sound made simply by the existence of five million people in one place.
I had imagined something deep, vastly deep, a bass from a mythical
organ, but found, as far as I was concerned, only a silence.
New York in numbers is a mighty city, and all day and all night it
cries its loud, fierce, aspiring cry, a noise of men beating upon
barrels, a noise of men beating upon tin, a terrific racket that
assails the abject skies. No one of us seemed to question this row as a
certain consequence of three or four million people living together and
scuffling for coin, with more agility, perhaps, but otherwise in the
usual way. However, after this easy silence of London, which in numbers
is a mightier city, I began to feel that there was a seduction in this
idea of necessity. Our noise in New York was not a consequence of our
rapidity at all. It was a consequence of our bad pavements.
Any brigade of artillery in Europe that would love to assemble its
batteries, and then go on a gallop over the land, thundering and
thundering, would give up the idea of thunder at once if it could hear
Tim Mulligan drive a beer waggon along one of the side streets of
cobbled New York.
Finally, a great thing came to pass. The cab horse, proceeding at a
sharp trot, found himself suddenly at the top of an incline, where
through the rain the pavement shone like an expanse of ice. It looked
to me as if there was going to be a tumble. In an accident of such a
kind a hansom becomes really a cannon in which a man finds that he has
paid shillings for the privilege of serving as a projectile. I was
making a rapid calculation of the arc that I would describe in my
flight, when the horse met his crisis with a masterly device that I
could not have imagined. He tranquilly braced his four feet like a
bundle of stakes, and then, with a gentle gaiety of demeanour, he slid
swiftly and gracefully to the bottom of the hill as if he had been a
toboggan. When the incline ended he caught his gait again with great
dexterity, and went pattering off through another tunnel.
I at once looked upon myself as being singularly blessed by this
sight. This horse had evidently originated this system of skating as a
diversion, or, more probably, as a precaution against the slippery
pavement; and he was, of course, the inventor and sole proprietortwo
terms that are not always in conjunction. It surely was not to be
supposed that there could be two skaters like him in the world. He
deserved to be known and publicly praised for this accomplishment. It
was worthy of many records and exhibitions. But when the cab arrived at
a place where some dipping streets met, and the flaming front of a
music-hall temporarily widened my cylinder, behold there were many
cabs, and as the moment of necessity came the horses were all skaters.
They were gliding in all directions. It might have been a rink. A great
omnibus was hailed by a hand under an umbrella on the side walk, and
the dignified horses bidden to halt from their trot did not waste time
in wild and unseemly spasms. They, too, braced their legs and slid
gravely to the end of their momentum.
It was not the feat, but it was the word which had at this time the
power to conjure memories of skating parties on moonlit lakes, with
laughter ringing over the ice, and a great red bonfire on the shore
among the hemlocks.
A terrible thing in nature is the fall of a horse in his harness. It
is a tragedy. Despite their skill in skating there was that about the
pavement on the rainy evening which filled me with expectations of
horses going headlong. Finally it happened just in front. There was a
shout and a tangle in the darkness, and presently a prostrate cab horse
came within my cylinder. The accident having been a complete success
and altogether concluded, a voice from the side walk said, Look
out, now! Be more careful, can't you?
I remember a constituent of a Congressman at Washington who had
tried in vain to bore this Congressman with a wild project of some
kind. The Congressman eluded him with skill, and his rage and despair
ultimately culminated in the supreme grievance that he could not even
get near enough to the Congressman to tell him to go to Hades.
This cabman should have felt the same desire to strangle this man
who spoke from the side walk. He was plainly impotent; he was deprived
of the power of looking out. There was nothing now for which to look
out. The man on the side walk had dragged a corpse from a pond and said
to it, Be more careful, can't you, or you'll drown? My cabman
pulled up and addressed a few words of reproach to the other. Three or
four figures loomed into my cylinder, and as they appeared spoke to the
author or the victim of the calamity in varied terms of displeasure.
Each of these reproaches was couched in terms that defined the
situation as impending. No blind man could have conceived that the
precipitate phrase of the incident was absolutely closed. Look
out now, cawnt you? And there was nothing in his mind which approached
these sentiments near enough to tell them to go to Hades.
However, it needed only an ear to know presently that these
expressions were formulæ. It was merely the obligatory dance which the
Indians had to perform before they went to war. These men had come to
help, but as a regular and traditional preliminary they had first to
display to this cabman their idea of his ignominy.
The different thing in the affair was the silence of the victim. He
retorted never a word. This, too, to me seemed to be an obedience to a
recognised form. He was the visible criminal, if there was a criminal,
and there was born of it a privilege for them.
They unfastened the proper straps and hauled back the cab. They
fetched a mat from some obscure place of succour, and pushed it
carefully under the prostrate thing. From this panting, quivering mass
they suddenly and emphatically reconstructed a horse. As each man
turned to go his way he delivered some superior caution to the cabman
while the latter buckled his harness.
There was to be noticed in this band of rescuers a young man in
evening clothes and top-hat. Now, in America a young man in evening
clothes and a top-hat may be a terrible object. He is not likely to do
violence, but he is likely to do impassivity and indifference to the
point where they become worse than violence. There are certain of the
more idle phases of civilisation to which America has not yet
awakenedand it is a matter of no moment if she remains unaware. This
matter of hats is one of them. I recall a legend recited to me by an
esteemed friend, ex-Sheriff of Tin Can, Nevada. Jim Cortright, one of
the best gun-fighters in town, went on a journey to Chicago, and while
there he procured a top-hat. He was quite sure how Tin Can would accept
this innovation, but he relied on the celerity with which he could get
a six-shooter in action. One Sunday Jim examined his guns with his
usual care, placed the top-hat on the back of his head, and sauntered
coolly out into the streets of Tin Can.
Now, while Jim was in Chicago some progressive citizen had decided
that Tin Can needed a bowling alley. The carpenters went to work the
next morning, and an order for the balls and pins was telegraphed to
Denver. In three days the whole population was concentrated at the new
alley betting their outfits and their lives.
It has since been accounted very unfortunate that Jim Cortright had
not learned of bowling alleys at his mother's knee nor even later in
the mines. This portion of his mind was singularly belated. He might
have been an Apache for all he knew of bowling alleys.
In his careless stroll through the town, his hands not far from his
belt and his eyes going sideways in order to see who would shoot first
at the hat, he came upon this long, low shanty where Tin Can was
betting itself hoarse over a game between a team from the ranks of
Excelsior Hose Company No. 1 and a team composed from the habitues
of the Red Light saloon.
Jim, in blank ignorance of bowling phenomena, wandered casually
through a little door into what must always be termed the wrong end of
a bowling alley. Of course, he saw that the supreme moment had come.
They were not only shooting at the hat and at him, but the low-down
cusses were using the most extraordinary and hellish ammunition. Still,
perfectly undaunted, however, Jim retorted with his two Colts, and
killed three of the best bowlers in Tin Can.
The ex-Sheriff vouched for this story. He himself had gone headlong
through the door at the firing of the first shot with that simple
courtesy which leads Western men to donate the fighters plenty of room.
He said that afterwards the hat was the cause of a number of other
fights, and that finally a delegation of prominent citizens were
obliged to wait upon Cortright and ask him if he wouldn't take that
thing away somewhere and bury it. Jim pointed out to them that it was
his hat, and that he would regard it as a cowardly concession if he
submitted to their dictation in the matter of his headgear. He added
that he purposed to continue to wear his top-hat on every occasion when
he happened to feel that the wearing of a top-hat was a joy and a
solace to him.
The delegation sadly retired, and announced to the town that Jim
Cortright had openly defied them, and had declared his purpose of
forcing his top-hat on the pained attention of Tin Can whenever he
chose. Jim Cortright's plug hat became a phrase with considerable
meaning to it.
However, the whole affair ended in a great passionate outburst of
popular revolution. Spike Foster was a friend of Cortright, and one
day, when the latter was indisposed, Spike came to him and borrowed the
hat. He had been drinking heavily at the Red Light, and was in a
supremely reckless mood. With the terrible gear hanging jauntily over
his eye and his two guns drawn, he walked straight out into the middle
of the square in front of the Palace Hotel, and drew the attention of
all Tin Can by a blood-curdling imitation of the yowl of a mountain
This was when the long-suffering populace arose as one man. The
top-hat had been flaunted once too often. When Spike Foster's friends
came to carry him away they found nearly a hundred and fifty men
shooting busily at a markand the mark was the hat.
My informant told me that he believed he owed his popularity in Tin
Can, and subsequently his election to the distinguished office of
Sheriff, to the active and prominent part he had taken in the
The enmity to the top-hat expressed by the convincing anecdote
exists in the American West at present, I think, in the perfection of
its strength; but disapproval is not now displayed by volleys from the
citizens, save in the most aggravating cases. It is at present usually
a matter of mere jibe and general contempt. The East, however, despite
a great deal of kicking and gouging, is having the top-hat stuffed
slowly and carefully down its throat, and there now exist many young
men who consider that they could not successfully conduct their lives
without this furniture.
To speak generally, I should say that the headgear then supplies
them with a kind of ferocity of indifference. There is fire, sword, and
pestilence in the way they heed only themselves. Philosophy should
always know that indifference is a militant thing. It batters down the
walls of cities, and murders the women and children amid flames and the
purloining of altar vessels. When it goes away it leaves smoking ruins,
where lie citizens bayoneted through the throat. It is not a children's
pastime like mere highway robbery.
Consequently in America we may be much afraid of these young men. We
dive down valleys so that we may not kow-tow. It is a fearsome thing.
Taught thus a deep fear of the top-hat in its effect upon youth, I
was not prepared for the move of this particular young man when the
cab-horse fell. In fact, I grovelled in my corner that I might not see
the cruel stateliness of his passing. But in the meantime he had
crossed the street, and contributed the strength of his back and some
advice, as well as the formal address, to the cabman on the importance
of looking out immediately.
I felt that I was making a notable collection. I had a new kind of
porter, a cylinder of vision, horses that could skate, and now I added
a young man in a top-hat who would tacitly admit that the beings around
him were alive. He was not walking a churchyard filled with inferior
headstones. He was walking the world, where there were people, many
But later I took him out of the collection. I thought he had
rebelled against the manner of a class, but I soon discovered that the
top-hat was not the property of a class. It was the property of rogues,
clerks, theatrical agents, damned seducers, poor men, nobles, and
others. In fact, it was the universal rigging. It was the only hat; all
other forms might as well be named ham, or chops, or oysters. I
retracted my admiration of the young man because he may have been
merely a rogue.
There was a window whereat an enterprising man by dodging two
placards and a calendar was entitled to view a young woman. She was
dejectedly writing in a large book. She was ultimately induced to open
the window a trifle. What nyme, please? she said wearily. I was
surprised to hear this language from her. I had expected to be
addressed on a submarine topic. I have seen shell fishes sadly writing
in large books at the bottom of a gloomy aquarium who could not ask me
what was my nyme.
At the end of the hall there was a grim portal marked Lift. I
pressed an electric button and heard an answering tinkle in the
heavens. There was an upholstered settle near at hand, and I discovered
the reason. A deer-stalking peace drooped upon everything, and in it a
man could invoke the passing of a lazy pageant of twenty years of his
The dignity of a coffin being lowered into a grave surrounded the
ultimate appearance of the lift. The expert we in America call the
elevator-boy stepped from the car, took three paces forward, faced to
attention, and saluted. This elevator-boy could not have been less than
sixty years of age; a great white beard streamed towards his belt. I
saw that the lift had been longer on its voyage than I had suspected.
Later in our upward progress a natural event would have been an
establishment of social relations. Two enemies imprisoned together
during the still hours of a balloon journey would, I believe, suffer a
mental amalgamation. The overhang of a common fate, a great principal
fact, can make an equality and a truce between any pair. Yet, when I
disembarked, a final survey of the grey beard made me recall that I had
failed even to ask the boy whether he had not taken probably three
trips on this lift.
My windows overlooked simply a great sea of night, in which were
swimming little gas fishes.
I have of late been led to wistfully reflect that many of the
illustrators are very clever. In an impatience, which was denoted by a
certain economy of apparel, I went to a window to look upon day-lit
London. There were the 'buses parading the streets with the miens of
elephants. There were the police looking precisely as I had been
informed by the prints. There were the sandwich-men. There was almost
But the artists had not told me the sound of London. Now, in New
York the artists are able to pourtray sound, because in New York a dray
is not a dray at all; it is a great potent noise hauled by two or more
horses. When a magazine containing an illustration of a New York street
is sent to me, I always know it beforehand. I can hear it coming
through the mails. As I have said previously, this which I must call
sound of London was to me only a silence.
Later, in front of the hotel a cabman that I hailed said to meAre
you gowing far, sir? I've got a byby here, and want to giv'er a bit of
a blough. This impressed me as being probably a quotation from an
early Egyptian poet, but I learned soon enough that the word byby was
the name of some kind or condition of horse. The cabman's next remark
was addressed to a boy who took a perilous dive between the byby's nose
and a cab in front. That's roight. Put your head in there and get it
jammeda whackin good place for it, I should think. Although the tone
was low and circumspect, I have never heard a better off-handed
declamation. Every word was cut clear of disreputable alliances with
its neighbours. The whole thing was as clean as a row of pewter mugs.
The influence of indignation upon the voice caused me to reflect that
we might devise a mechanical means of inflaming some in that
constellation of mummers which is the heritage of the Anglo-Saxon race.
Then I saw the drilling of vehicles by two policemen. There were
four torrents converging at a point, and when four torrents converge at
one point engineering experts buy tickets for another place.
But here, again, it was drill, plain, simple drill. I must not
falter in saying that I think the management of the trafficas the
phrase goesto be distinctly illuminating and wonderful. The police
were not ruffled and exasperated. They were as peaceful as two cows in
I remember once remarking that mankind, with all its boasted modern
progress, had not yet been able to invent a turnstile that will commute
in fractions. I have now learned that 756 rights-of-way cannot operate
simultaneously at one point. Right-of-way, like fighting women,
requires space. Even two rights-of-way can make a scene which is only
suited to the tastes of an ancient public.
This truth was very evidently recognised. There was only one
right-of-way at a time. The police did not look behind them to see if
their orders were to be obeyed; they knew they were to be obeyed. These
four torrents were drilling like four battalions. The two blue-cloth
men manoeuvred them in solemn, abiding peace, the silence of London.
I thought at first that it was the intellect of the individual, but
I looked at one constable closely and his face was as afire with
intelligence as a flannel pin-cushion. It was not the police, and it
was not the crowd. It was the police and the crowd. Again, it was
I have never been in the habit of reading signs. I don't like to
read signs. I have never met a man that liked to read signs. I once
invented a creature who could play the piano with a hammer, and I
mentioned him to a professor in Harvard University whose peculiarity
was Sanscrit. He had the same interest in my invention that I have in a
certain kind of mustard. And yet this mustard has become a part of me.
Or, I have become a part of this mustard. Further, I know more of an
ink, a brand of hams, a kind of cigarette, and a novelist than any man
living. I went by train to see a friend in the country, and after
passing through a patent mucilage, some more hams, a South African
Investment Company, a Parisian millinery firm, and a comic journal, I
alighted at a new and original kind of corset. On my return journey the
road almost continuously ran through soap.
I have accumulated superior information concerning these things,
because I am at their mercy. If I want to know where I am I must find
the definitive sign. This accounts for my glib use of the word
mucilage, as well as the titles of other staples.
I suppose even the Briton in mixing his life must sometimes consult
the labels on 'buses and streets and stations, even as the chemist
consults the labels on his bottles and boxes. A brave man would
possibly affirm that this was suggested by the existence of the labels.
The reason that I did not learn more about hams and mucilage in New
York seems to me to be partly due to the fact that the British
advertiser is allowed to exercise an unbridled strategy in his attack
with his new corset or whatever upon the defensive public. He knows
that the vulnerable point is the informatory sign which the citizen
must, of course, use for his guidance, and then, with horse, foot,
guns, corsets, hams, mucilage, investment companies, and all, he hurls
himself at the point.
Meanwhile I have discovered a way to make the Sanscrit scholar heed
my creature who plays the piano with a hammer.
NEW YORK SKETCHES
STORIES TOLD BY AN ARTIST IN NEW YORK
A TALE ABOUT HOW GREAT GRIEF GOT
HIS HOLIDAY DINNER.
Wrinkles had been peering into the little dry-goods box that acted
as a cupboard.
There are only two eggs and a half of a loaf of bread left, he
Heavens! said Warwickson, from where he lay smoking on the bed. He
spoke in his usual dismal voice. By it he had earned his popular name
of Great Grief.
Wrinkles was a thrifty soul. A sight of an almost bare cupboard
maddened him. Even when he was not hungry, the ghosts of his careful
ancestors caused him to rebel against it. He sat down with a virtuous
air. Well, what are we going to do? he demanded of the others. It is
good to be the thrifty man in a crowd of unsuccessful artists, for then
you can keep the others from starving peacefully. What are we going to
Oh, shut up, Wrinkles, said Grief from the bed. You make me
Little Pennoyer, with head bended afar down, had been busily
scratching away at a pen and ink drawing. He looked up from his board
to utter his plaintive optimism.
The Monthly Amazement may pay me to-morrow. They ought to.
I've waited over three months now. I'm going down there to-morrow, and
perhaps I'll get it.
His friends listened to him tolerantly, but at last Wrinkles could
not omit a scornful giggle. He was such an old man, almost
twenty-eight, and he had seen so many little boys be brave. Oh, no
doubt, Penny, old man. Over on the bed Grief croaked deep down in his
throat. Nothing was said for a long time thereafter.
The crash of the New York streets came faintly. Occasionally one
could hear the tramp of feet in the intricate corridors of this
begrimed building that squatted, slumbering and aged, between two
exalted commercial structures that would have had to bend afar down to
perceive it. The light snow beat pattering into the window corners, and
made vague and grey the vista of chimneys and roofs. Often the wind
scurried swiftly and raised a long cry.
Great Grief leaned upon his elbow. See to the fire, will you,
Wrinkles pulled the coal-box out from under the bed and threw open
the stove door preparatory to shovelling some fuel. A red glare plunged
in the first faint shadow of dusk. Little Pennoyer threw down his pen
and tossed his drawing over on the wonderful heap of stuff that hid the
table. It's too dark to work. He lit his pipe and walked about,
stretching his shoulders like a man whose labour was valuable.
When dusk came it saddened these youths. The solemnity of darkness
always caused them to ponder. Light the gas, Wrinkles, said Grief.
The flood of orange light showed clearly the dull walls lined with
scratches, the tousled bed in one corner, the mass of boxes and trunks
in another, the little fierce stove, and the wonderful table. Moreover,
there were some wine-coloured draperies flung in some places, and on a
shelf, high up, there was a plaster cast dark with dust in the creases.
A long stove-pipe wandered off in the wrong direction, and then twined
impulsively toward a hole in the wall. There were some extensive
cobwebs on the ceilings.
Well, let's eat, said Grief.
Later, there came a sad knock at the door. Wrinkles, arranging a tin
pail on the stove, little Pennoyer busy at slicing the bread, and Great
Grief affixing the rubber tube to the gas stove, yelled: Come in!
The door opened and Corinson entered dejectedly. His overcoat was
very new. Wrinkles flashed an envious glance at it, but almost
immediately he cried: Hello, Corrie, old boy!
Corinson sat down and felt around among the pipes until he found a
good one. Great Grief had fixed the coffee to boil on the gas stove,
but he had to watch it closely, for the rubber tube was short, and a
chair was balanced on a trunk, and then the gas stove was balanced on
the chair. Coffee making was a feat.
Well, said Grief, with his back turned, how goes it, Corrie?
How's Art, hey? He fastened a terrible emphasis upon the word.
Crayon portraits, said Corinson.
What? They turned towards him with one movement, as if from a
lever connection. Little Pennoyer dropped his knife.
Crayon portraits, repeated Corinson. He smoked away in profound
cynicism. Fifteen dollars a week or more this time of year, you know.
He smiled at them like a man of courage.
Little Pennoyer picked up his knife again. Well, I'll be blowed,
said Wrinkles. Feeling it incumbent upon him to think, he dropped into
a chair and began to play serenades on his guitar and watch to see when
the water for the eggs would boil. It was a habitual pose.
Great Grief, however, seemed to observe something bitter in the
affair. When did you discover that you couldn't draw? he said
I haven't discovered it yet, replied Corinson, with a serene air.
I merely discovered that I would rather eat.
Oh! said Grief.
Hand me the eggs, Grief, said Wrinkles. The water's boiling.
Little Pennoyer burst into the conversation. We'd ask you to
dinner, Corrie, but there's only three of us and there's two eggs. I
dropped a piece of bread on the floor, too. I'd shy one.
That's all right, Penny, said the other; don't trouble yourself.
You artists should never be hospitable. I'm going anyway. I've got to
make a call. Well, good night, boys. I've got to make a call. Drop in
and see me.
When the door closed upon him, Grief said: The coffee's done; I
hate that fellow. That overcoat cost thirty dollars, if it cost a red.
His egotism is so tranquil. It isn't like yours, Wrinkles. He
The door opened again and Corinson thrust in his head. Say, you
fellows, you know it's Thanksgiving to-morrow?
Well, what of it? demanded Grief.
Little Pennoyer said: Yes, I know it is, Corrie, I thought of it
Well, come out and have a table d'hote with me to-morrow night.
I'll blow you off in good style.
While Wrinkles played an exuberant air on his guitar, little
Pennoyer did part of a ballet. They cried ecstatically: Will we? Well,
I guess yes?
When they were alone again, Grief said: I'm not going, anyhow. I
hate that fellow.
Oh, fiddle, said Wrinkles. You're an infernal crank. And besides,
where's your dinner coming from to-morrow night if you don't go? Tell
Little Pennoyer said: Yes, that's so, Grief. Where's your dinner
coming from if you don't go?
Grief said: Well, I hate him, anyhow.
* * * * *
AS TO PAYMENT OF THE RENT.
Little Pennoyer's four dollars could not last for ever. When he
received it he and Wrinkles and Great Grief went to a table d'hote.
Afterwards little Pennoyer discovered that only two dollars and a half
remained. A small magazine away down town had accepted one out of the
six drawings that he had taken them, and later had given him four
dollars for it. Penny was so disheartened when he saw that his money
was not going to last for ever, that even with two dollars and a half
in his pockets, he felt much worse than when he was penniless, for at
that time he anticipated twenty-four. Wrinkles lectured upon Finance.
Great Grief said nothing, for it was established that when he
received six dollar cheques from comic weeklies he dreamed of renting
studios at seventy-five dollars per month, and was likely to go out and
buy five dollars' worth of second-hand curtains and plaster casts.
When he had money Penny always hated the cluttered den in the old
building. He desired to go out and breathe boastfully like a man. But
he obeyed Wrinkles, the elder and the wise, and if you had visited that
room about ten o'clock of a morning or about seven of an evening you
would have thought that rye bread, frankfurters, and potato salad from
Second Avenue were the only foods in the world.
Purple Sanderson lived there too, but then he really ate. He had
learned parts of the gasfitter's trade before he came to be such a
great artist, and when his opinions disagreed with that of every art
manager in New York, he went to see a plumber, a friend of his, for
whose opinion he had a great respect. In consequence, he frequented a
very great restaurant on Twenty-third Street, and sometimes on Saturday
nights he openly scorned his companions.
Purple was a good fellow, Grief said, but one of his singularly bad
traits was that he always remembered everything. One night, not long
after little Pennoyer's great discovery, Purple came in, and as he was
neatly hanging up his coat, said: Well, the rent will be due in four
Will it? demanded Penny, astounded. Penny was always astounded
when the rent came due. It seemed to him the most extraordinary
Certainly it will, said Purple, with the irritated air of a
superior financial man.
My soul! said Wrinkles.
Great Grief lay on the bed smoking a pipe and waiting for fame. Oh,
go home, Purple. You resent something. It wasn't me, it was the
Try and be serious a moment, Grief.
You're a fool, Purple.
Penny spoke from where he was at work. Well, if those Amazement
Magazine people pay me when they said they would I'll have money
So you will, dear, said Grief, satirically. You'll have money to
burn. Did the Amazement people ever pay you when they said they
would? You're wonderfully important all of a sudden, it seems to me.
You talk like an artist.
Wrinkles, too, smiled at little Pennoyer. The Established
Magazine people wanted Penny to hire models and make a try for them
too. It will only cost him a big blue chip. By the time he has invested
all the money he hasn't got and the rent is two weeks' overdue, he will
be able to tell the landlord to wait seven months until the Monday
morning after the publication. Go ahead, Penny.
It was the habit to make game of little Pennoyer. He was always
having gorgeous opportunities, with no opportunity to take advantage of
Penny smiled at them, his tiny, tiny smile of courage.
You're a confident little cuss, observed Grief, irrelevantly.
Well, the world has no objection to your being confident also,
Grief, said Purple.
Hasn't it? said Grief. Well, I want to know.
Wrinkles could not be light-spirited long. He was obliged to despair
when occasion offered. At last he sank down in a chair and seized his
Well, what's to be done? he said. He began to play mournfully.
Throw Purple out, mumbled Grief from the bed.
Are you fairly certain that you will have money then, Penny? asked
Little Pennoyer looked apprehensive. Well, I don't know, he said.
And then began that memorable discussion, great in four minds. The
tobacco was of the Long John brand. It smelled like burning mummies.
A DINNER ON SUNDAY EVENING.
Once Purple Sanderson went to his home in St. Lawrence county to
enjoy some country air, and, incidentally, to explain his life failure
to his people. Previously, Great Grief had given him odds that he would
return sooner than he had planned, and everybody said that Grief had a
good bet. It is not a glorious pastime, this explaining of life
Later, Great Grief and Wrinkles went to Haverstraw to visit Grief's
cousin and sketch. Little Pennoyer was disheartened, for it is bad to
be imprisoned in brick and dust and cobbles when your ear can hear in
the distance the harmony of the summer sunlight upon leaf and blade of
green. Besides, he did not hear Wrinkles and Grief discoursing and
quarrelling in the den, and Purple coming in at six o'clock with
On Friday afternoon he discovered that he only had fifty cents to
last until Saturday morning, when he was to get his cheque from the
Gamin. He was an artful little man by this time, however, and it is
as true as the sky that when he walked toward the Gamin office
on Saturday he had twenty cents remaining.
The cashier nodded his regrets, Very sorry, Mr.erPennoyer, but
our pay-day, you know, is on Monday. Come around any time after ten.
Oh, it don't matter, said Penny. As he walked along on his return
he reflected deeply how he could invest his twenty cents in food to
last until Monday morning any time after ten. He bought two coffee
cakes in a third avenue bakery. They were very beautiful. Each had a
hole in the centre, and a handsome scallop all around the edges.
Penny took great care of those cakes. At odd times he would rise
from his work and go to see that no escape had been made. On Sunday he
got up at noon and compressed breakfast and noon into one meal.
Afterwards he had almost three-quarters of a cake still left to him. He
congratulated himself that with strategy he could make it endure until
Monday morning any time after ten.
At three in the afternoon there came a faint-hearted knock. Come
in, said Penny. The door opened and old Tim Connegan, who was trying
to be a model, looked in apprehensively. I beg pardon, sir, he said
Come in, Tim, you old thief, said Penny. Tim entered slowly and
bashfully. Sit down, said Penny. Tim sat down and began to rub his
knees, for rheumatism had a mighty hold upon him.
Penny lit his pipe and crossed his legs. Well, how goes it?
Tim moved his square jaw upward and flashed Penny a little glance.
Bad? said Penny.
The old man raised his hand impressively. I've been to every studio
in the hull city, and I never see such absences in my life. What with
the seashore and the mountains, and this and that resort, I think all
the models will be starved by fall. I found one man in up on
Fifty-seventh Street. He ses to me: 'Come around TuesdayI may want
yez and I may not.' That was last week. You know, I live down on the
Bowery, Mr. Pennoyer, and when I got up there on Tuesday, he ses:
'Confound you, are you here again?' ses he. I went and sat down in the
park, for I was too tired for the walk back. And there you are, Mr.
Pennoyer. What with trampin' around to look for men that are thousand
miles away, I'm near dead.
It's hard, said Penny.
It is, sir. I hope they'll come back soon. The summer is the death
of us all, sir; it is. Sure, I never know where my next meal is coming
until I get it. That's true.
Had anything to-day?
Yes, sir, a little.
Well, sir, a lady gave me a cup of coffee this morning. It was
good, too, I'm telling you.
Penny went to his cupboard. When he returned, he said: Here's some
Tim thrust forward his hands, palms erect. Oh, now, Mr. Pennoyer, I
Go ahead. What's the odds?
Go ahead, you old bat.
When Tim was going out, he turned to grow eloquent again. Well, I
can't tell you how much I'm obliged to you, Mr. Pennoyer. You
Don't mention it, old man.
THE SILVER PAGEANT.
It's rotten, said Grief.
Oh, it's fair, old man. Still, I would not call it a great
contribution to American art, said Wrinkles.
You've got a good thing, Gaunt, if you go at it right, said little
These were all volunteer orations. The boys had come in one by one
and spoken their opinions. Gaunt listened to them no more than if they
had been so many match-peddlers. He never heard anything close at hand,
and he never saw anything excepting that which transpired across a
mystic wide sea. The shadow of his thoughts was in his eyes, a little
grey mist, and, when what you said to him had passed out of your mind,
he asked: Whaaat? It was understood that Gaunt was very good to
tolerate the presence of the universe, which was noisy and interested
in itself. All the younger men, moved by an instinct of faith, declared
that he would one day be a great artist if he would only move faster
than a pyramid. In the meantime he did not hear their voices.
Occasionally when he saw a man take vivid pleasure in life, he faintly
evinced an admiration. It seemed to strike him as a feat. As for him,
he was watching that silver pageant across a sea.
When he came from Paris to New York somebody told him that he must
make his living. He went to see some book publishers, and talked to
them in his manneras if he had just been stunned. At last one of them
gave him drawings to do, and it did not surprise him. It was merely as
if rain had come down.
Great Grief went to see him in his studio, and returned to the den
to say: Gaunt is working in his sleep. Somebody ought to set fire to
It was then that the others went over and smoked, and gave their
opinions of a drawing. Wrinkles said: Are you really looking at it,
Gaunt? I don't think you've seen it yet, Gaunt?
Why don't you look at it?
When Wrinkles departed, the model, who was resting at that time,
followed him into the hall and waved his arms in rage. That feller's
crazy. Yeh ought t' see and he recited lists of all the wrongs that
can come to models.
It was a superstitious little band over in the den. They talked
often of Gaunt. He's got pictures in his eyes, said Wrinkles. They
had expected genius to blindly stumble at the perface and ceremonies of
the world, and each new flounder by Gaunt made a stir in the den. It
awed them, and they waited.
At last one morning Gaunt burst into the room. They were all as dead
I'm going to paint a picture. The mist in his eyes was pierced by
a Coverian gleam. His gestures were wild and extravagant. Grief
stretched out smoking on the bed, Wrinkles and little Pennoyer working
at their drawing-boards tilted against the tablewere suddenly frozen.
If bronze statues had come and danced heavily before them, they could
not have been thrilled further.
Gaunt tried to tell them of something, but it became knotted in his
throat, and then suddenly he dashed out again.
Later they went earnestly over to Gaunt's studio. Perhaps he would
tell them of what he saw across the sea.
He lay dead upon the floor. There was a little grey mist before his
When they finally arrived home that night they took a long time to
undress for bed, and then came the moment when they waited for some one
to put out the gas. Grief said at last, with the air of a man whose
brain is desperately driven: I wonderIwhat do you suppose he was
going to paint?
Wrinkles reached and turned out the gas, and from the sudden
profound darkness, he said: There is a mistake. He couldn't have had
pictures in his eyes.
A STREET SCENE IN NEW YORK.
The man and the boy conversed in Italian, mumbling the soft
syllables and making little, quick egotistical gestures. Suddenly the
man glared and wavered on his limbs for a moment as if some blinding
light had flashed before his vision; then he swayed like a drunken man
and fell. The boy grasped his arm convulsively, and made an attempt to
support his companion so that the body slid to the side-walk with an
easy motion like a corpse sinking into the sea. The boy screamed.
Instantly people from all directions turned their gaze upon that
figure prone upon the side-walk. In a moment there was a dodging,
peering, pushing crowd about the man. A volley of questions, replies,
speculations flew to and fro among all the bobbing heads.
What's th' matter? what's th' matter?
Oh, a jag, I guess!
Aw, he's got a fit!
What's th' matter? what's th' matter?
Two streams of people coming from different directions met at this
point to form a great crowd. Others came from across the street.
Down under their feet, almost lost under this mass of people, lay a
man, hidden in the shadows caused by their forms, which, in fact,
barely allowed a particle of light to pass between them. Those in the
foremost rank bended down eagerly, anxious to see everything. Others
behind them crowded savagely like starving men fighting for bread.
Always, the question could be heard flying in the air. What's th'
matter. Some, near to the body, and perhaps feeling the danger of
being forced over upon it, twisted their heads and protested violently
to those unheeding ones who were scuffling in the rear: Say, quit yer
shovin', can't yeh? What do yeh want, anyhow? Quit!
Somebody back in the throng suddenly said: Say, young feller,
cheese that pushin'! I ain't no peach!
Another voice said: Well, dat's all right
The boy who had been with the Italian was standing helplessly, a
frightened look in his eyes, and holding the man's hand. Sometimes he
looked about him dumbly, with indefinite hope, as if he expected sudden
assistance to come from the clouds. The men about him frequently
jostled him until he was obliged to put his hand upon the breast of the
body to maintain his balance. Those nearest the man upon the sidewalk
at first saw his body go through a singular contortion. It was as if an
invisible hand had reached up from the earth and had seized him by the
hair. He seemed dragged slowly, pitilessly backward, while his body
stiffened convulsively, his hands clenched, and his arms swung rigidly
upward. Through his pallid, half-closed lids one could see the
steel-coloured, assassin-like gleam of his eye, that shone with a
mystic light as a corpse might glare at those live ones who seemed
about to trample it under foot. As for the men near, they hung back,
appearing as if they expected it might spring erect and grab them.
Their eyes, however, were held in a spell of fascination. They scarce
seemed to breathe. They were contemplating a depth into which a human
being had sunk, and the marvel of this mystery of life or death held
them chained. Occasionally from the rear a man came thrusting his way
impetuously, satisfied that there was a horror to be seen, and
apparently insane to get a view of it. More self-contained men swore at
these persons when they tread upon their toes.
The street cars jingled past this scene in endless parade.
Occasionally, down where the elevated road crossed the street, one
could hear sometimes a thunder, suddenly begun and suddenly ended. Over
the heads of the crowd hung an immovable canvas sign: Regular Dinner
The body on the pave seemed like a bit of debris sunk in this human
But after the first spasm of curiosity had passed away, there were
those in the crowd who began to bethink themselves of some way to help.
A voice called out: Rub his wrists. The boy and a man on the other
side of the body began to rub the wrists and slap the palms of the man.
A tall German suddenly appeared, and resolutely began to push the crowd
back. Get back thereget back, he repeated continually while he
pushed at them. He seemed to have authority; the crowd obeyed him. He
and another man knelt down by the man in the darkness and loosened his
shirt at the throat. Once they struck a match and held it close to the
man's face. This livid visage suddenly appearing under their feet in
the light of the match's yellow glare, made the crowd shudder. Half
articulate exclamations could be heard. There were men who nearly
created a riot in the madness of their desire to see the thing.
Meanwhile others had been questioning the boy. What's his name?
Where does he live?
Then a policeman appeared. The first part of this little drama had
gone on without his assistance, but now he came, striding swiftly, his
helmet towering over the crowd and shading that impenetrable police
face. He charged the crowd as if he were a squadron of Irish Lancers.
The people fairly withered before this onslaught. Occasionally he
shouted: Come, make way there. Come, now! He was evidently a man
whose life was half-pestered out of him by people who were sufficiently
unreasonable and stupid as to insist on walking in the streets. He felt
the rage toward them that a placid cow feels toward the flies that
hover in clouds and disturb its repose. When he arrived at the centre
of the crowd he first said, threateningly: What's th' matter here?
And then when he saw that human bit of wreckage at the bottom of the
sea of men, he said to it: Come, git up out that! Git out a here!
Whereupon hands were raised in the crowd and a volley of decorated
information was blazed at the officer.
Ah, he's got a fit, can't yeh see?
He's got a fit!
What th'ell yeh doin'? Leave 'im be!
The policeman menaced with a glance the crowd from whose safe
precincts the defiant voices had emerged.
A doctor had come. He and the policeman bended down at the man's
side. Occasionally the officer reared up to create room. The crowd fell
away before his admonitions, his threats, his sarcastic questions, and
before the sweep of those two huge buckskin gloves.
At last the peering ones saw the man on the side-walk begin to
breathe heavily, strainedly, as if he had just come to the surface from
some deep water. He uttered a low cry in his foreign way. It was like a
baby's squeal or the side wail of a little storm-tossed kitten. As this
cry went forth to all those eager ears the jostling, crowding
recommenced again furiously, until the doctor was obliged to yell
warningly a dozen times. The policeman had gone to send the ambulance
Then a man struck another match, and in its meagre light the doctor
felt the skull of the prostrate man carefully to discover if any wound
had been caused by his fall to the stone side-walk. The crowd pressed
and crushed again. It was as if they fully expected to see blood by the
light of the match, and the desire made them appear almost insane. The
policeman returned and fought with them. The doctor looked up
occasionally to scold and demand room.
At last, out of the faint haze of light far up the street, there
came the sound of a gong beating rapidly. A monstrous truck loaded to
the sky with barrels scurried to one side with marvellous agility. And
then the black waggon, with its gleam of gold lettering and bright
brass gong, clattered into view, the horse galloping. A young man, as
imperturbable almost as if he were at a picnic, sat upon the rear seat.
When they picked up the limp body, from which came little moans and
howls, the crowd almost turned into a mob. When the ambulance started
on its banging and clanging return, they stood and gazed until it was
quite out of sight. Some resumed their way with an air of relief.
Others still continued to stare after the vanished ambulance and its
burden as if they had been cheated, as if the curtain had been rung
down on a tragedy that was but half completed; and this impenetrable
blanket intervening between a sufferer and their curiosity seemed to
make them feel an injustice.
MINETTA LANE, NEW YORK.
ITS WORST DAYS HAVE NOW PASSED AWAY. BUT ITS INHABITANTS STILL
INCLUDE MANY WHOSE DEEDS ARE EVIL.
THE CELEBRATED RESORT OF MAMMY ROSS.
Minetta Lane is a small and becobbled valley between hills and dingy
brick. At night the street lamps, burning dimly, cause the shadows to
be important, and in the gloom one sees groups of quietly conversant
negroes, with occasionally the gleam of a passing growler. Everything
is vaguely outlined and of uncertain identity, unless, indeed, it be
the flashing buttons and shield of the policeman on his coast. The
Sixth Avenue horse-cars jingle past one end of the lane, and a block
eastward the little thoroughfare ends in the darkness of M'Dougall
One wonders how such an insignificant alley could get such an
assuredly large reputation, but, as a matter of fact, Minetta Lane and
Minetta Street, which leads from it southward to Bleecker Street, were,
until a few years ago, two of the most enthusiastically murderous
thoroughfares in New York. Bleecker Street, M'Dougall Street, and
nearly all the streets thereabouts were most unmistakably bad; the
other streets went away and hid. To gain a reputation in Minetta Lane
in those days a man was obliged to commit a number of furious crimes,
and no celebrity was more important than the man who had a good honest
killing to his credit. The inhabitants, for the most part, were
negroes, and they represented the very worst element of their race. The
razor habit clung to them with the tenacity of an epidemic, and every
night the uneven cobbles felt blood. Minetta Lane was not a public
thoroughfare at this period. It was a street set apart, a refuge for
criminals. Thieves came here preferably with their gains, and almost
any day peculiar sentences passed among the inhabitants. Big Jim
turned a thousand last night. No-Toe's made another haul. And the
worshipful citizens would make haste to be present at the consequent
As has been said, Minetta Lane was then no thoroughfare. A peaceable
citizen chose to make a circuit rather than venture through this place,
that swarmed with the most dangerous people in the city. Indeed, the
thieves of the district used to say: Once get in the lane and you're
all right. Even a policeman in chase of a criminal would probably shy
away instead of pursuing him into the lane. The odds were too great
against a lone officer.
Sailors, and any men who might appear to have money about them, were
welcomed with all proper ceremony at the terrible dens of the lane. At
departure they were fortunate if they still retained their teeth. It
was the custom to leave very little else to them. There was every
facility for the capture of coin, from trap-doors to plain ordinary
And yet Minetta Lane is built on the grave of Minetta Brook, where,
in olden times, lovers walked under the willows on the bank, and
Minetta Lane, in later times, was the home of many of the best families
of the town.
A negro named Bloodthirsty was perhaps the most luminous figure of
Minetta Lane's aggregation of desperadoes. Bloodthirsty supposedly is
alive now, but he has vanished from the lane. The police want him for
murder. Bloodthirsty is a large negro, and very hideous. He has a
rolling eye that shows white at the wrong time, and his neck, under the
jaw, is dreadfully scarred and pitted.
Bloodthirsty was particularly eloquent when drunk, and in the
wildness of a spree he would rave so graphically about gore that even
the habitated wool of old timers would stand straight.
Bloodthirsty meant most of it, too. That is why his orations were
impressive. His remarks were usually followed by the wide, lightning
sweep of his razor. None cared to exchange epithets with Bloodthirsty.
A man in a boiler iron suit would walk down to City Hall and look at
the clock before he would ask the time of day from the single-minded
and ingenuous Bloodthirsty.
After Bloodthirsty, in combative importance, came No-Toe Charley.
Singularly enough, Charley was called No-Toe Charley because he did not
have a toe on his feet. Charley was a small negro, and his manner of
amusement befitting a smaller man. Charley was more wise, more sly,
more round-about than the other man. The path of his crimes was like a
corkscrew in architecture, and his method led him to make many tunnels.
With all his cleverness, however, No-Toe was finally induced to pay a
visit to the gentlemen in the grim, grey building up the riverSing
Black-Cat was another famous bandit who made the land his home.
Black-Cat is dead. Jube Tyler has been sent to prison, and after
mentioning the recent disappearance of Old Man Spriggs it may be said
that the lane is now destitute of the men who once crowned it with a
glory of crime. It is hardly essential to mention Guinea Johnson.
Guinea is not a great figure. Guinea is just an ordinary little
crook. Sometimes Guinea pays a visit to his friends, the other little
crooks who make homes in the lane, but he himself does not live there,
and with him out of it there is now no one whose industry's
unlawfulness has yet earned him the dignity of a nickname. Indeed, it
is difficult to find people now who remember the old gorgeous days,
although it is but two years since the lane shone with sin like a new
head-light. But after a search the reporter found three.
Mammy Ross is one of the last relics of the days of slaughter still
living there. Her weird history also reaches back to the blossoming of
the first members of the Whyo gang in the Old Sixth Ward, and her mind
is stored with bloody memories. She at one time kept a sailors'
boarding-house near the Tombs prison, and the accounts of all the
festive crimes of that neighbourhood in ancient years roll easily from
her tongue. They killed a sailor man every day, and pedestrians went
about the streets wearing stoves for fear of the handy knives. At the
present day the route to Mammy's home is up a flight of grimy stairs
that are pasted on the outside of an old and tottering frame house.
Then there is a hall blacker than a wolf's throat, and this hall leads
to a little kitchen where Mammy usually sits groaning by the fire. She
is, of course, very old, and she is also very fat. She seems always to
be in great pain. She says she is suffering from de very las' dregs of
de yaller fever.
During the first part of a reporter's recent visit, old Mammy seemed
most dolefully oppressed by her various diseases. Her great body shook
and her teeth clicked spasmodically during her long and painful
respirations. From time to time she reached her trembling hand and drew
a shawl closer about her shoulders. She presented as true a picture of
a person undergoing steady, unchangeable, chronic pain as a patent
medicine firm could wish to discover for miraculous purposes. She
breathed like a fish thrown out on the bank, and her old head
continually quivered in the nervous tremors of the extremely aged and
debilitated person. Meanwhile her daughter hung over the stove and
placidly cooked sausages.
Appeals were made to the old woman's memory. Various personages who
had been sublime figures of crime in the long-gone days were mentioned
to her, and presently her eyes began to brighten. Her head no longer
quivered. She seemed to lose for a period her sense of pain in the
gentle excitement caused by the invocation of the spirits of her
It appears that she had had a historic quarrel with Apple Mag. She
first recited the prowess of Apple Mag; how this emphatic lady used to
argue with paving stones, carving knives, and bricks. Then she told of
the quarrel; what Mag said; what she said. It seems that they cited
each other as spectacles of sin and corruption in more fully
explanatory terms than are commonly known to be possible. But it was
one of Mammy's most gorgeous recollections, and, as she told it, a
smile widened over her face.
Finally she explained her celebrated retort to one of the most
illustrious thugs that had blessed the city in bygone days. Ah says to
'im, ah says: 'Youyou'll die in yer boots like Gallopin'
Thompsondat's what you'll do. You des min' dat', honey. Ah got o'ny
one chile, an' he ain't nuthin' but er cripple; but le'me tel' you,
man, dat boy'll live t' pick de feathers f'm de goose dat'll eat de
grass dat grows over your grave, man.' Dat's what I tol' 'm. Butlaw
sakehow I know dat in less'n three day, dat man be lying in de gutter
wif a knife stickin' out'n his back. Lawd, no, I sholy never s'pected
noting like dat.
These reminiscences, at once maimed and reconstructed, have been
treasured by old Mammy as carefully, as tenderly, as if they were the
various little tokens of an early love. She applies the same
black-handed sentiment to them, and, as she sits groaning by the fire,
it is plainly to be seen that there is only one food for her ancient
brain, and that is the recollection of the beautiful fights and murders
of the past.
On the other side of the lane, but near Mammy's house, Pop Babcock
keeps a restaurant. Pop says it is a restaurant, and so it must be one;
but you could pass there ninety times each day and never know you were
passing a restaurant. There is one obscure little window in the
basement, and if you went close and peered in you might, after a time,
be able to make out a small, dusty sign, lying amid jars on a dusty
shelf. This sign reads: Oysters in every style. If you are of a
gambling turn of mind, you will probably stand out in the street and
bet yourself black in the face that there isn't an oyster within a
hundred yards. But Pop Babcock made that sign, and Pop Babcock could
not tell an untruth. Pop is a model of all the virtues which an
inventive fate has made for us. He says so.
As far as goes the management of Pop's restaurant, it differs from
Sherry's. In the first place, the door is always kept locked. The
wardmen of the Fifteenth precinct have a way of prowling through the
restaurant almost every night, and Pop keeps the door locked in order
to keep out the objectionable people that cause the wardmen's visits.
He says so. The cooking stove is located in the main room of the
restaurant, and it is placed in such a strategic manner that it
occupies about all the space that is not already occupied by a table, a
bench, and two chairs. The table will, on a pinch, furnish room for the
plates of two people if they are willing to crowd. Pop says he is the
best cook in the world.
When questioned concerning the present condition of the lane, Pop
said: Quiet! Quiet! Lo'd save us, maybe it ain't. Quiet! Quiet! His
emphasis was arranged crescendo, until the last word was really a vocal
explosion. Why, dish er' lane ain't nohow like what it uster beno,
indeed it ain't. No, sir. 'Deed it ain't. Why, I kin remember when dey
was a-cuttin' an' a-slashin' long yere all night. 'Deed dey wos. My-my,
dem times was different. Dat der Kent, he kep' de place at Green Gate
cou't down yer ol' Mammy'san' he was a hard baby'deed he wasan'
ol' Black-Cat an' ol' Bloodthirsty, dey was a-comin' round yere
a-cuttin', an' a-slashin', an' a-cuttin', an' a-slashin'. Didn't dar'
say boo to a goose in dose days, dat you didn't, less'n you lookin' fer
a scrap. No, sir. Then he gave information concerning his own prowess
at that time. Pop is about as tall as a picket of an undersized fence.
But dey didn't have nothin' ter say ter me. No, sir, 'deed dey didn't.
I would lay down fer none of 'em. No, sir. Dey knew my gait, 'deed dey
did. Man, man, many's de time I buck up agin 'em.
At this time Pop had three customers in his place, one asleep on the
bench, one asleep on two chairs, and one asleep on the floor behind the
But there is one who lends dignity of the real bevel-edged type to
Minetta Lane, and that man is Hank Anderson. Hank, of course, does not
live in the lane, but the shadows of his social perfections fall upon
it as refreshingly as a morning dew.
Hank gave a dance twice in each week at a hall hard by in M'Dougall
Street, and the dusky aristocracy of the neighbourhood know their
guiding beacon. Moreover, Hank holds an annual ball in Forty-fourth
Street. Also, he gives a picnic each year to the Montezuma Club, when
he again appears as a guiding beacon. This picnic is usually held on a
barge, and the excursion is a very joyous one. Some years ago it
required the entire reserve squad of an up-town police precinct to
properly control the enthusiasm of the gay picnickers, but that was an
exceptional exuberance, and no measure of Hank's ability for
He is really a great manager. He was Boss Tweed's body-servant in
the days when Tweed was a political prince, and any one who saw Bill
Tweed through a spy-glass learned the science of leading, pulling,
driving, and hauling men in a way to keep the men ignorant of it. Hank
imbibed from this fount of knowledge, and he applied his information in
Thompson Street. Thompson Street salaamed. Presently he bore a proud
title: The Mayor of Thompson Street. Dignities from the principal
political organisations of the city adorned his brow, and he speedily
Hank knew the lane well in its direful days. As for the inhabitants,
he kept clear of them, and yet in touch with them, according to a
method that he might have learned in the Sixth ward. The Sixth ward was
a good place in which to learn that trick. Anderson can tell many
strange tales and good of the lane, and he tells them in the graphic
way of his class. Why, they could steal your shirt without moving a
wrinkle on it.
The killing of Joe Carey was the last murder that happened in the
Minettas. Carey had what might be called a mixed-ale difference with a
man named Kenny. They went out to the middle of Minetta Street to
affably fight it out and determine the justice of the question.
In the scrimmage Kenny drew a knife, thrust quickly, and Carey fell.
Kenny had not gone a hundred feet before he ran into the arms of a
There is probably no street in New York where the police keep closer
watch than they do in Minetta Lane. There was a time when the
inhabitants had a profound and reasonable contempt for the public
guardians, but they have it no longer apparently. Any citizen can walk
through there at any time in perfect safety, unless, perhaps, he should
happen to get too frivolous. To be strictly accurate, the change began
under the reign of police Captain Chapman. Under Captain Groo, a
commander of the Fifteenth precinct, the lane donned a complete new
garb. Its denizens brag now of its peace, precisely as they once
bragged of its war. It is no more a bloody lane. The song of the razor
is seldom heard. There are still toughs and semi-toughs galore in it,
but they can't get a chance with the copper looking the other way. Groo
got the poor lane by the throat. If a man should insist upon becoming a
victim of the badger game, he could probably succeed, upon search in
Minetta Lane, as indeed, he could on any of the great avenues, but then
Minetta Lane is not supposed to be a pearly street of Paradise.
In the meantime the Italians have begun to dispute the possession of
the lane with the negroes. Green Gate Court is filled with them now,
and a row of houses near the M'Dougall Street corner is occupied
entirely by Italian families. None of them seem to be over fond of the
old Mulberry Bend fashion of life, and there are no cutting affrays
among them worth mentioning. It is the original negro element that
makes the trouble when there is trouble.
But they are happy in this condition are these people. The most
extraordinary quality of the negro is his enormous capacity for
happiness under most adverse circumstances. Minetta Lane is a place of
poverty and sin, but these influences cannot destroy the broad smile of
the negroa vain and simple child, but happy. They all smile here, the
most evil as well as the poorest. Knowing the negro, one always expects
laughter from him, be he ever so poor, but it was a new experience to
see a broad grin on the face of the devil. Even old Pop Babcock had a
laugh as fine and mellow as would be the sound of falling glass, broken
saints from high windows, in the silence of some great cathedral's
THE ROOF GARDENS AND GARDENERS OF
A PHASE OF NEW YORK LIFE AS SEEN BY A CLOSE OBSERVER.
When the hot weather comes the roof gardens burst into full bloom,
and if an inhabitant of Chicago should take flight on his wings over
this city, he would observe six or eight flashing spots in the
darkness, spots as radiant as crowns. These are the roof gardens, and
if a giant had flung a handful of monstrous golden coins upon the
sombre-shadowed city he could not have benefited the metropolis more,
although he would not have given the same opportunity to various
commercial aspirants to charge a price and a half for everything. There
are two classes of menreporters and central office detectiveswho do
not mind these prices because they are very prodigal of their money.
Now is the time of the girl with the copper voice, the Irishman with
circular whiskers, and the minstrel who had a reputation in 1833. To
the street the noise of the band comes down on the wind in fitful
gusts, and at the brilliantly illuminated rail there is suggestion of
many straw hats.
One of the main features of the roof garden is the waiter, who
stands directly in front of you whenever anything interesting
transpires on the stage. This waiter is three hundred feet high and
seventy-two feet wide. His finger can block your view of the
golden-haired soubrette, and when he waves his arm the stage
disappears as if by a miracle. What particularly fascinates you is his
lack of self-appreciation. He doesn't know that his length over all is
three hundred feet, and that his beam is seventy-two feet. He only
knows that while the golden-haired soubrette is singing her
first verse he is depositing beer on the table before some thirsty New
Yorkers. He only knows that during the third verse the thirsty New
Yorkers object to the roof-garden prices. He does not know that behind
him are some fifty citizens who ordinarily would not give three whoops
to see the golden-haired soubrette, but who, under these
particular circumstances, are kept from swift assassination by sheer
force of the human will. He gives an impressive exhibition of a man who
is regardless of consequences, oblivious to everything save his task,
which is to provide beer. Some day there may be a wholesale massacre of
roof-garden waiters, but they will die with astonished faces and with
questions on their lips. Skulls so steadfastly opaque defy axes, or any
of the other methods which the populace occasionally use to cure
Between numbers on an ordinary roof-garden programme, the orchestra
sometimes plays what the more enlightened and wary citizens of the town
call a beer overture. But, for reasons which no civil service
commission could give, the waiter does not choose this time to serve
the thirsty. No; he waits until the golden-haired soubrette
appears, he waits until the haggard audience has goaded itself into
some interest in the proceedings. Then he gets under way. Then he comes
forth and blots out the stage. In case of war, all roof-garden waiters
should be recruited in a special regiment and sent out in advance of
everything. There is a peculiar quality of bullet-proofness about them
which would turn a projectile pale.
If you have strategy enough in your soul you may gain furtive
glimpses of the stage, despite the efforts of the waiters, and then,
with something to engage the attention when the attention grows weary
of the mystic wind, the flashing yellow lights, the music, and the
undertone of the far street's roar, you should be happy.
Far up into the night there is a wildness, a temper to the air which
suggests tossing tree boughs and the swift rustle of grass. The New
Yorker, whose business will not allow him to go out to nature, perhaps,
appreciates these little opportunities to go up to nature, although
doubtless he thinks he goes to see the show.
One season two new roof gardens have opened. The one at the top of
Grand Central Palace is large enough for a regimental drill room. The
band is imprisoned still higher in a turreted affair, and a person who
prefers gentle and unobtrusive amusement can gain deep pleasure and
satisfaction from watching the leader of this band gesticulating upon
the heavens. His figure is silhouetted beautifully against the sky, and
every gesture in which he wrings noise from his band is interestingly
The other new roof garden was Oscar Hammerstein's Olympia, which
blazes on Broadway.
Oscar originally made a great reputation for getting out
injunctions. All court judges in New York worked overtime when Oscar
was in this business. He enjoined everybody in sight. He had a special
machine madeDrop a nickel in the judge and get an injunction. Then
he sent a man to Washington for twenty-two thousand dollars' worth of
nickels. In Harlem, where he then lived, it rained orders of the court
every day at twelve o'clock. The street-cleaning commission was obliged
to enlist a special force to deal with Oscar's injunctions. Citizens
meeting on the street never said: Good morning, how do you feel
to-day? They always said: Good morning, have you been enjoined yet
to-day? When a man perhaps wished to enter a little game of draw, the
universal form was changed when he sent a note to his wife: Dear
Louise, I have received an order of the court restraining me from
coming home to dinner to-night. Yours, George.
But Oscar changed. He smashed his machine, girded himself, and
resolved to provide the public with amusement. And now we see this
great mind applying itself to a roof garden with the same unflagging
industry and boundless energy which had previously expressed itself in
injunctions. The Olympia, his new roof garden, is a feat. It has an
exuberance which reminds one of the Union Depot train-shed of some
western city. The steel arches of the roof make a wide and splendid
sweep, and over in the corner there are real swans swimming in real
water. The whole structure glares like a conflagration with the
countless electric lights. Oscar has caused the execution of decorative
paintings upon the walls. If he had caused the execution of the
decorative painters he would have done better; but a man who has
devoted the greater part of his life to the propagation of injunctions
is not supposed to understand that wall decoration which appears to
have been done with a nozzle is worse than none. But if carpers say
that Oscar failed in his landscapes, none can say that he failed in his
measurements of the popular mind. The people come in swarms to the
Olympia. Two elevators are busy at conveying them to where the cool and
steady night-wind insults the straw hat; and the scene here during the
popular part of the evening is perhaps more gaudy and dazzling than any
other in New York.
The bicycle has attained an economic position of vast importance.
The roof garden ought to attain such a position, and it doubtless will
soonas we give it the opportunity it desires.
The Arab or the Moor probably invented the roof garden in some
long-gone centuries, and they are at this day inveterate roof
gardeners. The American, surprisingly belatedfor him, has but
recently seized upon the idea, and its development here has been only
partial. The possibilities of the roof garden are still unknown.
Here is a vast city in which thousands of people in summer half
stifle, cry out continually for air, fresher air. Just above their
heads is what might be called a county of unoccupied land. It is not
ridiculously small when compared with the area of New York county
itself. But it is as lonely as a desert, this region of roofs. It is as
untrodden as the corners of Arizona. Unless a man be a roof gardener,
he knows practically nothing of this land.
Down in the slums necessity forces a solution of problems. It drives
the people to the roofs. An evening upon a tenement roof with the great
golden march of the stars across the sky, and Johnnie gone for a pail
of beer, is not so bad if you have never seen the mountains nor heard,
to your heart, the slow, sad song of the pines.
IN THE BROADWAY CARS.
PANORAMA OF A DAY FROM THE DOWN-TOWN RUSH OF THE MORNING TO THE
UNINTERRUPTED WHIRR OF THE CABLE AT NIGHTTHE MAN, AND THE WOMAN, AND
The cable cars come down Broadway as the waters come down at Lodore.
Years ago Father Knickerbocker had convulsions when it was proposed to
lay impious rails on his sacred thoroughfare. At the present day the
cars, by force of column and numbers, almost dominate the great street,
and the eye of even an old New Yorker is held by these long yellow
monsters which prowl intently up and down, up and down, in a mystic
In the grey of the morning they come out of the up-town, bearing
janitors, porters, all that class which carries the keys to set alive
the great down-town. Later, they shower clerks. Later still, they
shower more clerks. And the thermometer which is attached to a
conductor's temper is steadily rising, rising, and the blissful time
arrives when everybody hangs to a strap and stands on his neighbour's
toes. Ten o'clock comes, and the Broadway cars, as well as elevated
cars, horse cars, and ferryboats innumerable, heave sighs of relief.
They have filled lower New York with a vast army of men who will chase
to and fro and amuse themselves until almost nightfall.
The cable car's pulse drops to normal. But the conductor's pulse
begins now to beat in split seconds. He has come to the crisis in his
day's agony. He is now to be overwhelmed with feminine shoppers. They
all are going to give him two-dollar bills to change. They all are
going to threaten to report him. He passes his hand across his brow and
curses his beard from black to grey and from grey to black.
Men and women have different ways of hailing a car. A manif he is
not an old choleric gentleman, who owns not this road but some other
roadthrows up a timid finger, and appears to believe that the King of
Abyssinia is careering past on his war-chariot, and only his opinion of
other people's Americanism keeps him from deep salaams. The gripman
usually jerks his thumb over his shoulder and indicates the next car,
which is three miles away. Then the man catches the last platform, goes
into the car, climbs upon some one's toes, opens his morning paper, and
When a woman hails a car there is no question of its being the King
of Abyssinia's war-chariot. She has bought the car for three dollars
and ninety-eight cents. The conductor owes his position to her, and the
gripman's mother does her laundry. No captain in the Royal Horse
Artillery ever stops his battery from going through a stone house in a
way to equal her manner of bringing that car back on its haunches. Then
she walks leisurely forward, and after scanning the step to see if
there is any mud upon it, and opening her pocket-book to make sure of a
two-dollar bill, she says: Do you give transfers down Twenty-eighth
Some time the conductor breaks the bell strap when he pulls it under
these conditions. Then, as the car goes on, he goes and bullies some
person who had nothing to do with the affair.
The car sweeps on its diagonal path through the Tenderloin with its
hotels, its theatres, its flower shops, its 10,000,000 actors who
played with Booth and Barret. It passes Madison Square and enters the
gorge made by the towering walls of great shops. It sweeps around the
double curve at Union Square and Fourteenth Street, and a life
insurance agent falls in a fit as the car dashes over the crossing,
narrowly missing three old ladies, two old gentlemen, a newly-married
couple, a sandwich man, a newsboy, and a dog. At Grace Church the
conductor has an altercation with a brave and reckless passenger who
beards him in his own car, and at Canal Street he takes dire vengeance
by tumbling a drunken man on to the pavement. Meanwhile, the gripman
has become involved with countless truck drivers, and inch by inch,
foot by foot, he fights his way to City Hall Park. On past the Post
Office the car goes, with the gripman getting advice, admonition,
personal comment, an invitation to fight from the drivers, until
Battery Park appears at the foot of the slope, and as the car goes
sedately around the curve the burnished shield of the bay shines
through the trees.
It is a great ride, full of exciting actions. Those inexperienced
persons who have been merely chased by Indians know little of the
dramatic quality which life may hold for them. These jungle of men and
vehicles, these cañons of streets, these lofty mountains of iron and
cut stonea ride through them affords plenty of excitement. And no
lone panther's howl is more serious in intention than the howl of the
truck driver when the cable car bumps one of his rear wheels.
Owing to a strange humour of the gods that make our comfort, sailor
hats with wide brims come into vogue whenever we are all engaged in
hanging to cable-car straps. There is only one more serious combination
known to science, but a trial of it is at this day impossible. If a
troupe of Elizabethan courtiers in large ruffs should board a cable
car, the complication would be a very awesome one, and the profanity
would be in old English, but very inspiring. However, the combination
of wide-brimmed hats and crowded cable cars is tremendous in its power
to cause misery to the patient New York public.
Suppose you are in a cable car, clutching for life and family a
creaking strap from overhead. At your shoulder is a little dude in a
very wide-brimmed straw hat with a red band. If you were in your senses
you would recognise this flaming band as an omen of blood. But you are
not in your senses; you are in a Broadway cable car. You are not
supposed to have any senses. From the forward end you hear the gripman
uttering shrill whoops and running over citizens. Suddenly the car
comes to a curve. Making a swift running start, it turns three
hand-springs, throws a cart wheel for luck, bounds into the air, hurls
six passengers over the nearest building, and comes down a-straddle of
the track. That is the way in which we turn curves in New York.
Meanwhile, during the car's gamboling, the corrugated rim of the
dude's hat has swept naturally across your neck, and has left nothing
for your head to do but to quit your shoulders. As the car roars your
head falls into the waiting arms of the proper authorities. The dude is
dead; everything is dead. The interior of the car resembles the scene
of the battle of Wounded Knee, but this gives you small satisfaction.
There was once a person possessing a fund of uncanny humour who
greatly desired to import from past ages a corps of knights in full
armour. He then purposed to pack the warriors into a cable car and send
them around a curve. He thought that he could gain much pleasure by
standing near and listening to the wild clash of steel upon steelthe
tumult of mailed heads striking together, the bitter grind of armoured
legs bending the wrong way. He thought that this would teach them that
war is grim.
Towards evening, when the tides of travel set northward, it is
curious to see how the gripman and conductor reverse their tempers.
Their dispositions flop over like patent signals. During the down-trip
they had in mind always the advantages of being at Battery Park. A
perpetual picture of the blessings of Battery Park was before them, and
every delay made them fumemade this picture all the more alluring.
Now the delights of up-town appear to them. They have reversed the
signs on the cars; they have reversed their aspirations. Battery Park
has been gained and forgotten. There is a new goal. Here is a perpetual
illustration which the philosophers of New York may use.
In the Tenderloin, the place of theatres, and of the restaurant
where gayer New York does her dining, the cable cars in the evening
carry a stratum of society which looks like a new one, but it is of the
familiar strata in other clothes. It is just as good as a new stratum,
however, for in evening dress the average man feels that he has gone up
three pegs in the social scale, and there is considerable evening dress
about a Broadway car in the evening. A car with its electric lamp
resembles a brilliantly-lighted salon, and the atmosphere grows just a
trifle strained. People sit more rigidly, and glance sidewise, perhaps,
as if each was positive of possessing social value, but was doubtful of
all others. The conductor says: Ah, gwan. Git off th' earth. But this
is to a man at Canal Street. That shows his versatility. He stands on
the platform and beams in a modest and polite manner into the car. He
notes a lifted finger and grabs swiftly for the bell strap. He reaches
down to help a woman aboard. Perhaps his demeanour is a reflection of
the manner of the people in the car. No one is in a mad New York hurry;
no one is fretting and muttering; no one is perched upon his
neighbour's toes. Moreover, the Tenderloin is a glory at night.
Broadway of late years has fallen heir to countless signs illuminated
with red, blue, green, and gold electric lamps, and the people
certainly fly to these as the moths go to a candle. And perhaps the
gods have allowed this opportunity to observe and study the
best-dressed crowds in the world to operate upon the conductor until
his mood is to treat us with care and mildness.
Late at night, after the diners and theatre-goers have been lost in
Harlem, various inebriate persons may perchance emerge from the darker
regions of Sixth Avenue and swing their arms solemnly at the gripman.
If the Broadway cars run for the next 7000 years this will be the only
time when one New Yorker will address another in public without an
excuse sent direct from heaven. In these cars late at night it is not
impossible that some fearless drunkard will attempt to inaugurate a
general conversation. He is quite willing to devote his ability to the
affair. He tells of the fun he thinks he has had; describes his
feelings; recounts stories of his dim past. None reply, although all
listen with every ear. The rake probably ends by borrowing a match,
lighting a cigar, and entering into a wrangle with the conductor with
an abandon, a ferocity, and a courage that do not come to us
when we are sober.
In the meantime the figures on the street grow fewer and fewer.
Strolling policemen test the locks of the great dark-fronted stores.
Nighthawk cabs whirl by the cars on their mysterious errands. Finally
the cars themselves depart in the way of the citizen, and for the few
hours before dawn a new sound comes into the still thoroughfarethe
cable whirring in its channel underground.
THE ASSASSIN IN MODERN BATTLES.
THE TORPEDO BOAT DESTROYERS THAT PERFORM IN THE DARKNESS. AN ACT
WHICH IS MORE PECULIARLY MURDEROUS THAN MOST THINGS IN WAR.
In the past century the gallant aristocracy of London liked to
travel down the south bank of the Thames to Greenwich Hospital, where
venerable pensioners of the crown were ready to hire telescopes at a
penny each, and with these telescopes the lords and ladies were able to
view at a better advantage the dried and enchained corpses of pirates
hanging from the gibbets on the Isle of Dogs. In those times the dismal
marsh was inhabited solely by the clanking figures whose feet moved in
the wind like rather poorly-constructed weather cocks.
But even the Isle of Dogs could not escape the appetite of an
expanding London. Thousands of souls now live on it, and it has changed
its character from that of a place of execution, with mist, wet with
fever, coiling forever from the mire and wandering among the black
gibbets, to that of an ordinary, squalid, nauseating slum of London,
whose streets bear a faint resemblance to that part of Avenue A which
lies directly above Sixtieth Street in New York.
Down near the water front one finds a long brick building,
three-storeyed and signless, which shuts off all view of the river. The
windows, as well as the bricks, are very dirty, and you see no sign of
life, unless some smudged workman dodges in through a little door. The
place might be a factory for the making of lamps or stair rods, or any
ordinary commercial thing. As a matter of fact, the building fronts the
shipyard of Yarrow, the builder of torpedo boats, the maker of knives
for the nations, the man who provides everybody with a certain kind of
efficient weapon. One then remembers that if Russia fights England,
Yarrow meets Yarrow; if Germany fights France, Yarrow meets Yarrow; if
Chili fights Argentina, Yarrow meets Yarrow.
Besides the above-mentioned countries Yarrow has built torpedo boats
for Italy, Austria, Holland, Japan, China, Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica,
and Spain. There is a keeper of a great shop in London who is known as
the Universal Provider. If a general conflagration of war should break
out in the world, Yarrow would be known as one of the Universal
Warriors, for it would practically be a battle between Yarrow,
Armstrong, Krupp, and a few other firms. This is what makes interesting
the dinginess of the cantonment on the Isle of Dogs.
The great Yarrow forte is to build speedy steamers of a tonnage of
not more than 240 tons. This practically includes only yachts,
launches, tugs, torpedo boat destroyers, torpedo boats, and of late
shallow-draught gunboats for service on the Nile, Congo, and Niger.
Some of the gunboats that shelled the dervishes from the banks of the
Nile below Khartoum were built by Yarrow. Yarrow is always in action
somewhere. Even if the firm's boats do not appear in every coming sea
combat, the ideas of the firm will, for many nations, notably France
and Germany, have bought specimens of the best models of Yarrow
construction in order to reduplicate and reduplicate them in their own
When the great fever to possess torpedo boats came upon the Powers
of Europe, England was at first left far in the rear. Either Germany or
France to-day has in her fleet more torpedo boats than has England. The
British tar is a hard man to oust out of a habit. He had a habit of
thinking that his battleships and cruisers were the final thing in
naval construction. He scoffed at the advent of the torpedo boat. He
did not scoff intelligently but because, mainly, he hated to be forced
to change his ways.
You will usually find an Englishman balking and kicking at
innovation up to the last moment. It takes him some years to get an
idea into his head, and when finally it is inserted, he not only
respects it, he reveres it. The Londoners have a fire brigade which
would interest the ghost of a Babylonian, as an example of how much the
method of extinguishing fires could degenerate in two thousand years,
and in 1897, when a terrible fire devastated a part of the city, some
voices were raised challenging the efficiency of the fire brigade. But
that part of the London County Council which corresponds to fire
commissioners in United States laid their hands upon their hearts and
solemnly assured the public that they had investigated the matter, and
had found the London fire brigade to be as good as any in the world.
There were some isolated cases of dissent, but the great English public
as a whole placidly accepted these assurances concerning the activity
of the honoured corps.
For a long time England blundered in the same way over the matter of
torpedo boats. They were authoritatively informed that there was
nothing in all the talk about torpedo boats. Then came a great popular
uproar, in which people tumbled over each other to get to the doors of
the Admiralty and howl about torpedo boats. It was an awakening as
unreasonable as had been the previous indifference and contempt. Then
England began to build. She has never overtaken France or Germany in
the number of torpedo boats, but she now heads the world with her
collection of that marvel of marine architecturethe torpedo boat
destroyer. She has about sixty-five of these vessels now in commission,
and has about as many more in course of building.
People ordinarily have a false idea of the appearance of a
destroyer. The common type is longer than an ordinary gunboata long,
low, graceful thing, flying through the water at fabulous speed, with a
great curve of water some yards back of the bow, and smoke flying
horizontally from the three or four stacks.
Bushing this way and that way, circling, dodging, turning, they are
The best kind of modern destroyer has a length of 220 feet, with a
beam of 26½ feet. The horse-power is about 6500, driving the boat at a
speed of thirty-one knots or more. The engines are triple-expansion,
with water tube boilers. They carry from 70 to 100 tons of coal, and at
a speed of eight or nine knots can keep the sea for a week; so they are
independent of coaling in a voyage of between 1300 and 1500 miles. They
carry a crew of three or four officers, and about forty men.
They are armed usually with one twelve-pounder gun, and from three
to five six-pounder guns, besides their equipment of torpedoes. Their
hulls and top hamper are painted olive, buff, or preferably slate, in
order to make them hard to find with the eye at sea.
Their principal functions, theoretically, are to discover and kill
the enemy's torpedo boats, guard and scout for the main squadron, and
perform messenger service. However, they are also torpedo boats of a
most formidable kind, and in action will be found carrying out the
torpedo boat idea in an expanded form. Four destroyers of this type
building at the Yarrow yards were for Japan (1898).
The modern European ideal of a torpedo boat is a craft 152 feet
long, with a beam of 15¼ feet. When the boat is fully loaded a speed of
24 knots is derived from her 2000 horse-power engines. The destroyers
are twin screw, whereas the torpedo boats are commonly propelled by a
single screw. The speed of twenty knots is for a run of three hours.
These boats are not designed to keep at sea for any great length of
time, and cannot raid toward a distant coast without the constant
attendance of a cruiser to keep them in coal and provisions. Primarily
they are for defence. Even with destroyers, England, in lately
reinforcing her foreign stations, has seen fit to send cruisers in
order to provide help for them in stormy weather.
Some years ago it was thought the proper thing to equip torpedo
craft with rudders, which would enable them to turn in their own length
when running at full speed. Yarrow found this to result in too much
broken steering gear, and the firm's boats now have smaller rudders,
which enable them to turn in a larger circle.
At one time a torpedo boat steaming at her best gait always carried
a great bone in her teeth. During manoeuvres the watch on the deck of a
battleship often discovered the approach of the little enemy by the
great white wave which the boat rolled at her bows during her headlong
rush. This was mainly because the old-fashioned boats carried two
torpedo tubes set in the bows, and the bows were consequently bluff.
The modern boat carries the great part of her armament amidships and
astern on swivels, and her bow is like a dagger. With no more
bow-waves, and with these phantom colours of buff, olive, bottle-green,
or slate, the principal foe to a safe attack at night is bad firing in
the stoke-room, which might cause flames to leap out of the stacks.
A captain of an English battleship recently remarked: See those
five destroyers lying there? Well, if they should attack me I would
sink four of them, but the fifth one would sink me.
This was repeated to Yarrow's manager, who said: He wouldn't sink
four of them if the attack were at night and the boats were shrewdly
and courageously handled. Anyhow, the captain's remark goes to show
the wholesome respect which the great battleship has for these little
The Yarrow people say there is no sense in a torpedo flotilla attack
on anything save vessels. A modern fortification is never built near
enough to the water for a torpedo explosion to injure it, and, although
some old stone flush-with-the-water castle might be badly crumpled, it
would harm nobody in particular, even if the assault were wholly
Of course, if a torpedo boat could get a chance at piers and dock
gates they would make a disturbance, but the chance is extremely remote
if the defenders have ordinary vigilance and some rapid fire guns. In
harbour defence the searchlight would naturally play a most important
part, whereas at sea experts are beginning to doubt its use as an
auxiliary to the rapid fire guns against torpedo boats. About half the
time it does little more than betray the position of the ship. On the
other hand, a port cannot conceal its position anyhow, and searchlights
would be invaluable for sweeping the narrow channels.
There could be only one direction from which the assault could come,
and all the odds would be in favour of the guns on shore. A torpedo
boat commander knows this perfectly. What he wants is a ship off at sea
with a nervous crew staring into the encircling darkness from any point
in which the terror might be coming.
Hi, then, for a grand, bold, silent rush and the assassin-like stab.
In stormy weather life on board a torpedo boat is not amusing. They
tumble about like bucking bronchos, especially if they are going at
anything like speed. Everything is battened down as if it were
soldered, and the watch below feel that they are living in a football,
which is being kicked every way at once.
And finally, while Yarrow and other great builders can make torpedo
craft which are wonders of speed and manoeuvring power, they cannot
make that high spirit of daring and hardihood which is essential to a
That must exist in the mind of some young lieutenant who, knowing
well that if he is detected, a shot or so from a rapid fire gun will
cripple him if it does not sink him absolutely, nevertheless goes
creeping off to sea to find a huge antagonist and perform stealthily in
the darkness an act which is more peculiarly murderous than most things
If a torpedo boat is caught within range in daylight, the fighting
is all over before it begins. Any common little gunboat can dispose of
it in a moment if the gunnery is not too Chinese.
I.AN OLD MAN GOES WOOING.
The melancholy fisherman made his way through a street that was
mainly as dark as a tunnel. Sometimes an open door threw a rectangle of
light upon the pavement, and within the cottages were scenes of working
women and men, who comfortably smoked and talked. From them came the
sounds of laughter and the babble of children. Each time the old man
passed through one of the radiant zones the light etched his face in
profile with touches flaming and sombre until there was a resemblance
to a stern and mournful Dante portrait.
Once a whistling lad came through the darkness. He peered intently
for purposes of recognition. Good avenin', Mickey, he cried
cheerfully. The old man responded with a groan, which intimated that
the lamentable reckless optimism of the youth had forced from him an
expression of an emotion that he had been enduring in saintly patience
and silence. He continued his pilgrimage toward the kitchen of the
The kitchen is a great and worthy place. The long range with its
lurid heat continually emits the fragrance of broiling fish, roasting
mutton, joints, and fowl. The high black ceiling is ornamented with
hams and flitches of bacon. There is a long, dark bench against one
wall, and it is fronted by a dark table, handy for glasses of stout. On
an old mahogany dresser rows of plates face the distant range, and
reflect the red shine of the peat. Smoke which has in it the odour of
an American forest fire eddies through the air. The great stones of the
floor are scarred by the black mud from the inn yard. And here the
gossip of a country-side goes on amid the sizzle of broiling fish and
the loud protesting splutter of joints taken from the oven.
When the old man reached the door of this paradise, he stopped for a
moment with his finger on the latch. He sighed deeply; evidently he was
undergoing some lachrymose reflection. For somewhere overhead in the
inn he could hear the wild clamour of dining pig-buyers, men who were
come for the pig fair to be held on the morrow. Evidently in the little
parlour of the inn these men were dining amid an uproar of shouted
jests and laughter. The revelry sounded like the fighting of two mobs
amid a rain of missiles and crash of shop windows. The old man raised
his hand as if, unseen there in the darkness, he was going to solemnly
damn the dinner of the pig-buyers.
Within the kitchen Nora, tall, strong, intrepid, approached the
fiery stove in the manner of a boxer. Her left arm was held high to
guard her face, which was already crimson from the blaze. With a
flourish of her apron she achieved a great brown humming joint from the
oven, and, emerging a glowing and triumphant figure from the steam and
smoke and rapid play of heat, she slid the pan upon the table, even as
she saw the old man standing within the room and lugubriously cleaning
the mud from his boots. Tis you, Mickey? she said.
He made no reply until he had found his way to the long bench. It
is, he said then. It was clear that in the girl's opinion he had
gained some kind of strategic advantage. The sanctity of her kitchen
was successfully violated, but the old man betrayed no elation. Lifting
one knee and placing it over the other, he grunted in the blissful
weariness of a venerable labourer returned to his own fireside. He
coughed dismally. Ah, 'tis no good a man gits from fishin' these days.
I moind the toimes whin they would be hoppin' up clear o' the wather,
there was that little room fur thim. I would be likin' a bottle o'
Niver fear you, Mickey, answered the girl. Swinging here and there
in the glare of the fire, Nora, with her towering figure and bare
brawny arms, was like a feminine blacksmith at a forge. The old man,
pallid, emaciated, watched her from the shadows at the other side of
the room. The lines from the sides of his nose to the corners of his
mouth sank low to an expression of despair deeper than any moans. He
should have been painted upon the door of a tomb with wringing willows
arched above him and men in grey robes slowly booming the drums of
death. Finally he spoke. I would be likin' a bottle o' stout, Nora, me
girrl, he said.
Niver fear you, Mickey, again she replied with cheerful obstinacy.
She was admiring her famous roast, which now sat in its platter on the
rack over the range. There was a lull in her tumultuous duties. The old
man coughed and moved his foot with a scraping sound on the stones. The
noise of dining pig-buyers, now heard through doors and winding
corridors of the inn, was a roll of far-away storm.
A woman in a dark dress entered the kitchen and keenly examined the
roast and Nora's other feats. Mickey here would be wantin' a bottle o'
stout, said the girl to her mistress. The woman turned towards the
spectral figure in the gloom, and regarded it quietly with a clear eye.
Have yez the money, Mickey? repeated the woman of the house.
Profoundly embittered, he replied in short terms, I have.
There now, cried Nora, in astonishment and admiration. Poising a
large iron spoon, she was motionless, staring with open mouth at the
old man. He searched his pockets slowly during a complete silence in
the kitchen. He brought forth two coppers and laid them sadly,
reproachfully, and yet defiantly on the table.
There now, cried Nora, stupefied.
They brought him a bottle of the black brew, and Nora poured it out
for him with her own red hand, which looked to be as broad as his
chest. A collar of brown foam curled at the top of the glass. With
measured moments the old man filled a short pipe. There came a sudden
howl from another part of the inn. One of the pig-buyers was at the
head of the stairs bawling for the mistress. The two women hurriedly
freighted themselves with the roast and the vegetables, and sprang with
them to placate the pig-buyers. Alone, the old man studied the gleam of
the fire on the floor. It faded and brightened in the way of lightning
at the horizon's edge.
When Nora returned, the strapping grenadier of a girl was blushing
and giggling. The pig-buyers had been humorous. I moind the toime
began the man sorrowfully. I moind the toime whin yea was a wee bit of
a girrl, Nora, an' wouldn't be havin' words wid min loike thim buyers.
I moind the toime whin yea could attind to your own affairs, ye
ould skileton, said the girl promptly. He made a gesture, which may
have expressed his stirring grief at the levity of the new generation,
and then lapsed into another stillness.
The girl, a giantess, carrying, lifting, pushing, an incarnation of
dauntless labour, changing the look of the whole kitchen with a
moment's manipulation of her great arms, did not heed the old man for a
long time. When she finally glanced toward him, she saw that he was
sunk forward with his grey face on his arms. A growl of heavy breathing
ascended. He was asleep.
She marched to him and put both hands to his collar. Despite his
feeble and dreamy protestations, she dragged him out from behind the
table and across the floor. She opened the door and thrust him into the
The illimitable inventive incapacity of the excursion companies has
made many circular paths throughout Ireland, and on these well-pounded
roads the guardians of the touring public may be seen drilling the
little travellers in squads. To rise in rebellion, to face the superior
clerk in his bureau, to endure his smile of pity and derision, and
finally to wring freedom from him, is as difficult in some parts of
Ireland as it is in all parts of Switzerland. To see the tourists
chained in gangs and taken to see the Lakes of Killarney is a sad
spectacle, because these people believe that they are learning Ireland,
even as men believe that they are studying America when they
contemplate the Niagara Falls.
But afterwards, if one escapes, one can go forth, unguided, untaught
and alone, and look at Ireland. The joys of the pig-market, the
delirium of a little tap-room filled with brogue, the fierce excitement
of viewing the Royal Irish Constabulary fishing for trout, the whole
quaint and primitive machinery of the peasant lifeits melancholy, its
sunshine, its humourall this is then the property of the man who
breaks like a Texan steer out of the pens and corrals of the tourist
agencies. For what syndicate of maiden ladiesit is these who
masquerade as tourist agencieswhat syndicate of maiden ladies knows
of the existence, for instance, of Ballydehob?
One has a sense of disclosure at writing the name of Ballydehob. It
was really a valuable secret. There is in Ballydehob not one thing that
is commonly pointed out to the stranger as a thing worthy of a
half-tone reproduction in a book. There is no cascade, no peak, no
lake, no guide with a fund of useless information, no gamins practised
in the seduction of tourists. It is not an exhibit, an entry for a
prize, like a heap of melons or cow. It is simply an Irish village
wherein live some three hundred Irish and four constables.
If one or two prayer-towers spindled above Ballydehob it would be a
perfect Turkish village. The red tiles and red bricks of England do not
appear at all. The houses are low, with soiled white walls. The doors
open abruptly upon dark old rooms. Here and there in the street is some
crude cobbling done with round stones taken from the bed of a brook. At
times there is a great deal of mud. Chickens depredate warily about the
doorsteps, and intent pigs emerge for plunder from the alleys. It is
unavoidable to admit that many people would consider Ballydehob quite
Nobody lives here that has money. The average English tradesman with
his back-breaking respect for this class, his reflex contempt for that
class, his reverence for the tin gods, could here be a commercial lord
and bully the people in one or two ways, until they were thrown back
upon the defence which is always near them, the ability to cut his skin
into strips with a wit that would be a foreign tongue to him. For amid
his wrongs and his rights and his failureshis colossal failuresthe
Irishman retains this delicate blade for his enemies, for his friends,
for himself, the ancestral dagger of fast sharp speaking from fast
sharp seeingan inheritance which could move the world. And the Royal
Irish Constabulary fished for trout in the adjacent streams.
Mrs. Kearney keeps the hotel. In Ireland male innkeepers die young.
Apparently they succumb to conviviality when it is presented to them in
the guise of a business duty. Naturally honest, temperate men, their
consciences are lulled to false security by this idea of hard drinking
being necessary to the successful keeping of a public-house. It is very
But they invariably leave behind them capable widows, women who do
not recognise conviviality as a business obligation. And so all through
Ireland one finds these brisk widows keeping hotels with a precision
that is almost military.
In Kearney's there is always a wonderful collection of old women,
bent figures shrouded in shawls who reach up scrawny fingers to take
their little purchases from Mary Agnes, who presides sometimes at the
bar, but more often at the shop that fronts it in the same room. In the
gloom of a late afternoon these old women are as mystic as the
swinging, chanting witches on a dark stage when the thunder-drum rolls
and the lightning flashes by schedule. When a grey rain sweeps through
the narrow street of Ballydehob, and makes heavy shadows in Kearney's
tap-room, these old creatures, with their high mournful voices, and the
mystery of their shawls, their moans and aged mutterings when they are
obliged to take a step, raise the dead superstitions from the bottom of
a man's mind.
My boy, remarked my London friend cheerfully, these might have
furnished sons to be Aldermen or Congressmen in the great city of New
Aldermen or Congressmen of the great city of New York always take
care of their mothers, I answered meekly.
On a barrel, over in a corner, sat a yellow-bearded Irish farmer in
tattered clothes who wished to exchange views on the Armenian
massacres. He had much information and a number of theories in regard
to them. He also advanced the opinion that the chief political aim of
Russia at present is in the direction of China, and that it behoved
other Powers to keep an eye on her. He thought the revolutionists in
Cuba would never accept autonomy at the hands of Spain. His pipe glowed
comfortably from his corner; waving the tuppenny glass of stout in the
air, he discoursed on the business of the remote ends of the earth with
the glibness of a fourth secretary of Legation. Here was a little
farmer, digging betimes in a forlorn patch of wet ground, a man to whom
a sudden two shillings would appear as a miracle, a ragged, unkempt
peasant, whose mind roamed the world like the soul of a lost diplomat.
This unschooled man believed that the earth was a sphere inhabited by
men that are alike in the essentials, different in the manners, the
little manners, which are accounted of such great importance by the
emaciated. He was to a degree capable of knowing that he lived on a
sphere and not on the apex of a triangle.
And yet, when the talk had turned another corner, he confidently
assured the assembled company that a hair from a horse's tail when
thrown in a brook would turn shortly to an eel.
III.THE ROYAL IRISH CONSTABULARY.
The newspapers called it a Veritable Arsenal. There was a
description of how the sergeant of Constabulary had bent an ear to
receive whispered information of the concealed arms, and had then
marched his men swiftly and by night to surround a certain house. The
search elicited a double-barrelled breech-loading shot-gun, some empty
shells, powder, shot, and a loading machine. The point of it was that
some of the Irish papers called it a Veritable Arsenal, and appeared to
congratulate the Government upon having strangled another unhappy
rebellion in its nest. They floundered and misnamed and mis-reasoned,
and made a spectacle of the great modern craft of journalism, until the
affair of this poor poacher was too absurd to be pitiable, and
Englishmen over their coffee next morning must have almost believed
that the prompt action of the Constabulary had quelled a rising. Thus
it is that the Irish fight the Irish.
One cannot look Ireland straight in the face without seeing a great
many constables. The country is dotted with little garrisons. It must
have been said a thousand times that there is an absolute military
occupation. The fact is too plain.
The constable himself becomes a figure interesting in its isolation.
He has in most cases a social position which is somewhat analogous to
that of a Turk in Thessaly. But then, in the same way, the Turk has the
Turkish army. He can have battalions as companions and make the
acquaintance of brigades. The constable has the Constabulary, it is
true; but to be cooped with three or four others in a small
white-washed iron-bound house on some bleak country side is not an
exact parallel to the Thessalian situation. It looks to be a life that
is infinitely lonely, ascetic, and barren. Two keepers of a lighthouse
at a bitter end of land in a remote sea will, if they are properly let
alone, make a murder in time. Five constables imprisoned 'mid a folk
that will not turn a face toward them, five constables planted in a
populated silence, may develop an acute and vivid economy, dwell in
scowling dislike. A religious asylum in a snow-buried mountain pass
will breed conspiring monks. A separated people will beget an egotism
that is almost titanic. A world floating distinctly in space will call
itself the only world. The progression is perfect.
But the constables take the second degree. They are next to the
lighthouse keepers. The national custom of meeting stranger and friend
alike on the road with a cheery greeting like God save you is too
kindly and human a habit not to be missed. But all through the South of
Ireland one sees the peasant turn his eyes pretentiously to the side of
the road at the passing of the constable. It seemed to be generally
understood that to note the presence of a constable was to make a
conventional error. None looked, nodded, or gave sign. There was a line
drawn so sternly that it reared like a fence. Of course, any police
force in any part of the world can gather at its heels a riff-raff of
people, fawning always on a hand licensed to strike that would be
larger than the army of the Potomac, but of these one ordinarily sees
little. The mass of the Irish strictly obey the stern tenet. One hears
often of the ostracism or other punishment that befell some girl who
was caught flirting with a constable.
Naturally the constable retreats to his pride. He is commonly a
soldierly-looking chap, straight, lean, long-strided, well set-up. His
little saucer of a forage cap sits obediently on his ear, as it does
for the British soldier. He swings a little cane. He takes his medicine
with a calm and hard face, and evidently stares full into every eye.
But it is singular to find in the situation of the Royal Irish
Constabulary the quality of pathos.
It is not known if these places in the South of Ireland are called
disturbed districts. Over them hangs the peace of Surrey, but the word
disturbance has an elastic arrangement by which it can be made to cover
anything. All of the villages visited garrisoned from four to ten men.
They lived comfortably in their white houses, strolled in pairs over
the country roads, picked blackberries, and fished for trout. If at
some time there came a crisis, one man was more than enough to surround
it. The remaining nine add dignity to the scene. The crisis chiefly
consisted of occasional drunken men who were unable to understand the
local geography on Saturday nights.
The note continually struck was that each group of constables lived
on a little social island, and there was no boat to take them off.
There has been no such marooning since the days of the pirates. The
sequestration must be complete when a man with a dinky little cap on
his ear is not allowed to talk to the girls.
But they fish for trout. Isaac Walton is the father of the Royal
Irish Constabulary. They could be seen on any fine day whipping the
streams from source to mouth. There was one venerable sergeant who made
a rod less than a yard long. With a line of about the same length
attached to this rod, he hunted the gorse-hung banks of the little
streams in the hills. An eight-inch ribbon of water lined with masses
of heather and gorse will be accounted contemptible by a fisherman with
an ordinary rod. But it was the pleasure of the sergeant to lay on his
stomach at the side of such a stream and carefully, inch by inch, scout
his hook through the pools. He probably caught more trout than any
three men in county Cork. He fished more than any twelve men in the
county Cork. Some people had never seen him in any other posture but
that of crowding forward on his stomach to peer into a pool. They did
not believe the rumour that he sometimes stood or walked like a human.
IV.A FISHING VILLAGE.
The brook curved down over the rocks, innocent and white, until it
faced a little strand of smooth gravel and flat stones. It turned then
to the left, and thereafter its guilty current was tinged with the pink
of diluted blood. Boulders standing neck-deep in the water were rimmed
with red; they wore bloody collars whose tops marked the supreme
instant of some tragic movement of the stream. In the pale green
shallows of the bay's edge, the outward flow from the criminal little
brook was as eloquently marked as if a long crimson carpet had been
laid upon the waters. The scene of the carnage was the strand of smooth
gravel and flat stones, and the fruit of the carnage was cleaned
Far to the south, where the slate of the sea and the grey of the sky
wove together, could be seen Fastnet Rock, a mere button on the moving,
shimmering cloth, while a liner, no larger than a needle, spun a thread
of smoke aslant. The gulls swept screaming along the dull line of the
other shore of roaring Water Bay, and near the mouth of the brook
circled among the fishing boats that lay at anchor, their brown,
leathery sails idle and straight. The wheeling, shrieking tumultuous
birds stared with their hideous unblinking eyes at the Capersmen from
Cape Clearwho prowled to and fro on the decks amid shouts and the
creak of the tackle. Shoreward, a little shrivelled man, overcome by a
profound melancholy, fished hopelessly from the end of the pier. Back
of him, on a hillside, sat a white village, nestled among more trees
than is common in this part of Southern Ireland.
A dinghy sculled by a youth in a blue jersey wobbled rapidly past
the pier-head and stopped at the foot of the moss-green, dank, stone
steps, where the waves were making slow but regular leaps to mount
higher, and then falling back gurgling, choking, and waving the long,
dark seaweeds. The melancholy fisherman walked over to the top of the
steps. The young man was fastening the painter of his boat in an iron
ring. In the dinghy were three round baskets heaped high with mackerel.
They glittered like masses of new silver coin at times, and then other
lights of faint carmine and peacock blue would chase across the sides
of the fish in a radiance that was finer than silver.
The melancholy fisherman looked at this wealth. He shook his head
mournfully. Ah, now, Denny. This would not be a very good kill.
The young man snorted indignantly at his fellow-townsman. This will
be th' bist kill th' year, Mickey. Go along now.
The melancholy old man became immersed in deeper gloom. Shure I
have been in th' way of seein' miny a grand day whin th' fish was
runnin' sthrong in these wathers, but there will be no more big kills
here. No more. No more. At the last his voice was only a dismal croak.
Come along outa that now, Mickey, cried the youth impatiently.
Come away wid you.
All gone now. A-ll go-o-ne now! The old man wagged his grey head,
and, standing over the baskets of fishes, groaned as Mordecai groaned
for his people.
'Tis you would be cryin' out, Mickey, whativer, said the youth
with scorn. He was giving his basket into the hands of five incompetent
but jovial little boys to carry to a waiting donkey cart.
An' why should I not? said the old man sternly. Mein want
As the youth swung his boat swiftly out toward an anchored smack, he
made answer in a softer tone. Shure, if yez got for th' askin', 'tis
you, Mickey, that would niver be in want. The melancholy old man
returned to his line. And the only moral in this incident is that the
young man is the type that America procures from Ireland, and the old
man is one of the home types, bent, pallid, hungry, disheartened, with
a vision that magnifies with a microscope glance any fly-wing of
misfortune, and heroically and conscientiously invents disasters for
the future. Usually the thing that remains to one of this type is a
sympathy as quick and acute for others as is his pity for himself.
The donkey with his cart-load of gleaming fish, and escorted by the
whooping and laughing boys, galloped along the quay and up a street of
the village until he was turned off at the gravelly strand, at the
point where the colour of the brook was changing. Here twenty people of
both sexes and all ages were preparing the fish for market. The
mackerel, beautiful as fire-etched salvers, first were passed to a long
table, around which worked as many women as could have elbow room. Each
one could clean a fish with two motions of the knife. Then the washers,
men who stood over the troughs filled with running water from the
brook, soused the fish until the outlet became a sinister element that
in an instant changed the brook from a happy thing of gorse and heather
of the hills to an evil stream, sullen and reddened. After being
washed, the fish were carried to a group of girls with knives, who made
the cuts that enabled each fish to flatten out in the manner known of
the breakfast table. And after the girls came the men and boys, who
rubbed each fish thoroughly with great handfuls of coarse salt, which
was whiter than snow, and shone in the daylight from a multitude of
gleaming points, diamond-like. Last came the packers, drilled in the
art of getting neither too few nor too many mackerel into a barrel,
sprinkling constantly prodigal layers of brilliant salt. There were
many intermediate corps of boys and girls carrying fish from point to
point, and sometimes building them in stacks convenient to the hands of
the more important labourers.
A vast tree hung its branches over the place. The leaves made a
shadow that was religious in its effect, as if the spot was a chapel
consecrated to labour. There was a hush upon the devotees. The women at
the large table worked intently, steadfastly, with bowed heads. Their
old petticoats were tucked high, showing the coarse brogans which they
woreand the visible ankles were proportioned to the brogans as the
diameter of a straw is to that of a half-crown. The national red
under-petticoat was a fundamental part of the scene.
Just over the wall, in the sloping street, could be seen the
bejerseyed Capers, brawny, and with shocks of yellow beard. They paced
slowly to and fro amid the geese and children. They, too, spoke little,
even to each other; they smoked short pipes in saturnine dignity and
silence. It was the fish. They who go with nets upon the reeling sea
grow still with the mystery and solemnity of the trade. It was
Brittany; the first respectable catch of the year had changed this
garrulous Irish hamlet into a hamlet of Brittany.
The Capers were waiting for high tide. It had seemed for a long time
that, for the south of Ireland, the mackerel had fled in company with
potato; but here, at any rate, was a temporary success, and the
occasion was momentous. A strolling Caper took his pipe and pointed
with the stem out upon the bay. There was little wind, but an ambitious
skipper had raised his anchor, and the craft, her strained brown sails
idly swinging, was drifting away on the first oily turn of the tide.
On the top of the pier the figure of the melancholy old man was
portrayed upon the polished water. He was still dangling his line
hopelessly. He gazed down into the misty water. Once he stirred and
murmured: Bad luck to thim. Otherwise he seemed to remain motionless
for hours. One by one the fishing-boats floated away. The brook changed
its colour, and in the dusk showed a tumble of pearly white among the
A cold night wind, sweeping transversely across the pier, awakened
perhaps the rheumatism in the old man's bones. He arose and, mumbling
and grumbling, began to wind his line. The waves were lashing the
stones. He moved off towards the intense darkness of the village
SULLIVAN COUNTY SKETCHES
FOUR MEN IN A CAVE.
LIKEWISE FOUR QUEENS, AND A SULLIVAN COUNTY HERMIT.
The moon rested for a moment on the top of a tall pine on a hill.
The little man was standing in front of the campfire making orations
to his companions.
We can tell a great tale when we get back to the city if we
investigate this thing, said he, in conclusion.
They were won.
The little man was determined to explore a cave, because its black
mouth had gaped at him. The four men took lighted pine-knot and
clambered over boulders down a hill. In a thicket on the mountainside
lay a little tilted hole. At its side they halted.
Well? said the little man.
They fought for last place and the little man was overwhelmed. He
tried to struggle from under by crying that if the fat, pudgy man came
after, he would be corked. But he finally administered a cursing over
his shoulder and crawled into the hole. His companions gingerly
A passage, the floor of damp clay and pebbles, the walls slimy,
green-mossed, and dripping, sloped downward. In the cave atmosphere the
torches became studies in red blaze and black smoke.
Ho! cried the little man, stifled and bedraggled, let's go back.
His companions were not brave. They were last. The next one to the
little man pushed him on, so the little man said sulphurous words and
cautiously continued his crawl.
Things that hung seemed to be on the wet, uneven ceiling, ready to
drop upon the men's bare necks. Under their hands the clammy floor
seemed alive and writhing. When the little man endeavoured to stand
erect the ceiling forced him down. Knobs and points came out and
punched him. His clothes were wet and mud-covered, and his eyes, nearly
blinded by smoke, tried to pierce the darkness always before his torch.
Oh, I say, you fellows, let's go back, cried he. At that moment he
caught the gleam of trembling light in the blurred shadows before him.
Ho! he said, here's another way out.
The passage turned abruptly. The little man put one hand around the
corner, but it touched nothing. He investigated and discovered that the
little corridor took a sudden dip down a hill. At the bottom shone a
The little man wriggled painfully about, and descended feet in
advance. The others followed his plan. All picked their way with
anxious care. The traitorous rocks rolled from beneath the little man's
feet and roared thunderously below him. Lesser stone, loosened by the
men above him, hit him on the back. He gained seemingly firm foothold,
and, turning half-way about, swore redly at his companions for dolts
and careless fools. The pudgy man sat, puffing and perspiring, high in
the rear of the procession. The fumes and smoke from four pine-knots
were in his blood. Cinders and sparks lay thick in his eyes and hair.
The pause of the little man angered him.
Go on, you fool, he shouted. Poor, painted man, you are afraid.
Ho! said the little man. Come down here and go on yourself,
The pudgy man vibrated with passion. He leaned downward. Idiot!
He was interrupted by one of his feet which flew out and crashed
into the man in front of and below. It is not well to quarrel upon a
slippery incline, when the unknown is below. The fat man, having lost
the support of one pillar-like foot, lurched forward. His body smote
the next man, who hurtled into the next man. Then they all fell upon
the cursing little man.
They slid in a body down over the slippery, slimy floor of the
passage. The stone avenue must have wibble-wobbled with the rush of
this ball of tangled men and strangled cries. The torches went out with
the combined assault upon the little man. The adventurers whirled to
the unknown in darkness. The little man felt that he was pitching to
death, but even in his convolutions he bit and scratched at his
companions, for he was satisfied that it was their fault. The swirling
mass went some twenty feet, and lit upon a level, dry place in a
strong, yellow light of candles. It dissolved and became eyes.
The four men lay in a heap upon the floor of a grey chamber. A small
fire smouldered in the corner, the smoke disappearing in a crack. In
another corner was a bed of faded hemlock boughs and two blankets.
Cooking utensils and clothes lay about, with boxes and a barrel.
Of these things the four men took small cognisance. The pudgy man
did not curse the little man, nor did the little swear, in the
abstract. Eight widened eyes were fixed upon the centre of the room of
A great, grey stone, cut squarely, like an altar, sat in the middle
of the floor. Over it burned three candles, in swaying tin cups hung
from the ceiling. Before it, with what seemed to be a small volume
clasped in his yellow fingers, stood a man. He was an infinitely sallow
person in the brown-checked shirt of the ploughs and cows. The rest of
his apparel was boots. A long grey beard dangled from his chin. He
fixed glinting, fiery eyes upon the heap of men, and remained
motionless. Fascinated, their tongues cleaving, their blood cold, they
arose to their feet. The gleaming glance of the recluse swept slowly
over the group until it found the face of the little man. There it
stayed and burned.
The little man shrivelled and crumpled as the dried leaf under the
Finally, the recluse slowly, deeply spoke. It was a true voice from
a cave, cold, solemn, and damp.
It's your ante, he said.
What? said the little man.
The hermit tilted his beard and laughed a laugh that was either the
chatter of a banshee in a storm or the rattle of pebbles in a tin box.
His visitors' flesh seemed ready to drop from their bones.
They huddled together and cast fearful eyes over their shoulders.
A vampire! said one.
A ghoul! said another.
A Druid before the sacrifice, murmured another.
The shade of an Aztec witch doctor, said the little man.
As they looked, the inscrutable face underwent a change. It became a
livid background for his eyes, which blazed at the little man like
impassioned carbuncles. His voice arose to a howl of ferocity. It's
your ante! With a panther-like motion he drew a long, thin knife and
advanced, stooping. Two cadaverous hounds came from nowhere, and,
scowling and growling, made desperate feints at the little man's legs.
His quaking companions pushed him forward.
Tremblingly he put his hand to his pocket.
How much? he said, with a shivering look at the knife that
The carbuncles faded.
Three dollars, said the hermit, in sepulchral tones which rang
against the walls and among the passages, awakening long-dead spirits
with voices. The shaking little man took a roll of bills from a pocket
and placed three ones upon the altar-like stone. The recluse looked
at the little volume with reverence in his eyes. It was a pack of
Under the three swinging candles, upon the altar-like stone, the
grey beard and the agonised little man played at poker. The three other
men crouched in a corner, and stared with eyes that gleamed with
terror. Before them sat the cadaverous hounds licking their red lips.
The candles burned low, and began to flicker. The fire in the corner
Finally, the game came to a point where the little man laid down his
hand and quavered: I can't call you this time, sir. I'm dead broke.
What? shrieked the recluse. Not call me! Villain! Dastard! Cur! I
have four queens, miscreant. His voice grew so mighty that it could
not fit his throat. He choked, wrestling with his lungs for a moment.
Then the power of his body was concentrated in a word: Go!
He pointed a quivering, yellow finger at a wide crack in the rock.
The little man threw himself at it with a howl. His erstwhile frozen
companions felt their blood throb again. With great bounds they plunged
after the little man. A minute of scrambling, falling, and pushing
brought them to open air. They climbed the distance to their camp in
The sky in the east was a lurid yellow. In the west the footprints
of departing night lay on the pine trees. In front of their replenished
camp fire sat John Willerkins, the guide.
Hello! he shouted at their approach. Be you fellers ready to go
Without replying, they stopped and debated among themselves in
Finally, the pudgy man came forward.
John, he inquired, do you know anything peculiar about this cave
Yes, said Willerkins at once; Tom Gardner.
What? said the pudgy man.
Well, you see, said Willerkins slowly, as he took dignified pulls
at his pipe, Tom Gardner was once a fambly man, who lived in these
here parts on a nice leetle farm. He uster go away to the city orften,
and one time he got a-gamblin' in one of them there dens. He wentter
the dickens right quick then. At last he kum home one time and tol' his
folks he had up and sold the farm and all he had in the worl'. His
leetle wife she died then. Tom he went crazy, and soon after
The narrative was interrupted by the little man, who became
possessed of devils.
I wouldn't give a cuss if he had left me 'nough money to get home
on the doggoned, grey-haired red pirate, he shrilled, in a seething
sentence. The pudgy man gazed at the little man calmly and sneeringly.
Oh, well, he said, we can tell a great tale when we get back to
the city after having investigated this thing.
Go to the devil, replied the little man.
THE MESMERIC MOUNTAIN.
A TALE OF SULLIVAN COUNTY.
On the brow of a pine-plumed hillock there sat a little man with his
back against a tree. A venerable pipe hung from his mouth, and
smoke-wreaths curled slowly skyward. He was muttering to himself with
his eyes fixed on an irregular black opening in the green wall of
forest at the foot of the hill. Two vague waggon ruts led into the
shadows. The little man took his pipe in his hands and addressed the
I wonder what the devil it leads to, said he.
A grey, fat rabbit came lazily from a thicket and sat in the
opening. Softly stroking his stomach with his paw, he looked at the
little man in a thoughtful manner. The little man threw a stone, and
the rabbit blinked and ran through an opening. Green, shadowy portals
seemed to close behind him.
The little man started. He's gone down that roadway, he said, with
ecstatic mystery to the pines. He sat a long time and contemplated the
door to the forest. Finally, he arose, and awakening his limbs, started
away. But he stopped and looked back.
I can't imagine what it leads to, muttered he. He trudged over the
brown mats of pine needles, to where, in a fringe of laurel, a tent was
pitched, and merry flames caroused about some logs. A pudgy man was
fuming over a collection of tin dishes. He came forward and waved a
plate furiously in the little man's face.
I've washed the dishes for three days. What do you think I am
He ended a red oration with a roar: Damned if I do it any more.
The little man gazed dim-eyed away. I've been wonderin' what it
That road out yonder. I've been wonderin' what it leads to. Maybe,
some discovery or something, said the little man.
The pudgy man laughed. You're an idiot. It leads to ol' Jim Boyd's
over on the Lumberland Pike.
Ho! said the little man, I don't believe that.
The pudgy man swore. Fool, what does it lead to, then?
I don't know just what, but I'm sure it leads to something great or
something. It looks like it.
While the pudgy man was cursing, two more men came from obscurity
with fish dangling from birch twigs. The pudgy man made an obviously
herculean struggle and a meal was prepared. As he was drinking his cup
of coffee, he suddenly spilled it and swore. The little man was
He's gone to look at that hole, cried the pudgy man.
The little man went to the edge of the pine-plumed hillock, and,
sitting down, began to make smoke and regard the door to the forest.
There was stillness for an hour. Compact clouds hung unstirred in the
sky. The pines stood motionless, and pondering.
Suddenly the little man slapped his knee and bit his tongue. He
stood up and determinedly filled his pipe, rolling his eye over the
bowl to the doorway. Keeping his eyes fixed he slid dangerously to the
foot of the hillock and walked down the waggon ruts. A moment later he
passed from the noise of the sunshine to the gloom of the woods.
The green portals closed, shutting out live things. The little man
trudged on alone.
Tall tangled grass grew in the roadway, and the trees bended
obstructing branches. The little man followed on over pine-clothed
ridges and down through water-soaked swales. His shoes were cut by
rocks of the mountains, and he sank ankle-deep in mud and moss of
swamps. A curve just ahead lured him miles.
Finally, as he wended the side of a ridge, the road disappeared from
beneath his feet. He battled with hordes of ignorant bushes on his way
to knolls and solitary trees which invited him. Once he came to a tall,
bearded pine. He climbed it, and perceived in the distance a peak. He
uttered an ejaculation and fell out.
He scrambled to his feet, and said: That's Jones's Mountain, I
guess. It's about six miles from our camp as the crow flies.
He changed his course away from the mountain, and attacked the
bushes again. He climbed over great logs, golden-brown in decay, and
was opposed by thickets of dark-green laurel. A brook slid through the
ooze of a swamp; cedars and hemlocks hung their sprays to the edges of
The little man began to stagger in his walk. After a time he stopped
and mopped his brow.
My legs are about to shrivel up and drop off, he said.... Still
if I keep on in this direction, I am safe to strike the Lumberland Pike
He dived at a clump of tag-alders, and emerging, confronted Jones's
The wanderer sat down in a clear place and fixed his eyes on the
summit. His mouth opened widely, and his body swayed at times. The
little man and the peak stared in silence.
A lazy lake lay asleep near the foot of the mountain. In its bed of
water-grass some frogs leered at the sky and crooned. The sun sank in
red silence, and the shadows of the pines grew formidable. The
expectant hush of evening, as if some thing were going to sing a hymn,
fell upon the peak and the little man.
A leaping pickerel off on the water created a silver circle that was
lost in black shadows. The little man shook himself and started to his
feet, crying: For the love of Mike, there's eyes in this mountain! I
feel 'em! Eyes!
He fell on his face.
When he looked again, he immediately sprang erect and ran.
The mountain was approaching.
The little man scurried, sobbing through the thick growth. He felt
his brain turning to water. He vanquished brambles with mighty bounds.
But after a time he came again to the foot of the mountain.
God! he howled, it's been follerin' me. He grovelled.
Casting his eyes upward made circles swirl in his blood.
I'm shackled I guess, he moaned. As he felt the heel of the
mountain about crush his head, he sprang again to his feet. He grasped
a handful of small stones and hurled them.
Damn you, he shrieked loudly. The pebbles rang against the face of
The little man then made an attack. He climbed with hands and feet
wildly. Brambles forced him back and stones slid from beneath his feet.
The peak swayed and tottered, and was ever about to smite with a
granite arm. The summit was a blaze of red wrath.
But the little man at last reached the top. Immediately he swaggered
with valour to the edge of the cliff. His hands were scornfully in his
He gazed at the western horizon, edged sharply against a yellow sky.
Ho! he said. There's Boyd's house and the Lumberland Pike.
The mountain under his feet was motionless.
THE SQUIRE'S MADNESS.
Linton was in his study remote from the interference of domestic
sounds. He was writing verses. He was not a poet in the strict sense of
the word, because he had eight hundred a year and a manor-house in
Sussex. But he was devoted, at any rate, and no happiness was for him
equal to the happiness of an imprisonment in this lonely study. His
place had been a semi-fortified house in the good days when every
gentleman was either abroad with a bared sword hunting his neighbours
or behind oak-and-iron doors and three-feet walls while his neighbours
hunted him. But in the life of Linton it may be said that the only part
of the house which remained true to the idea of fortification was the
study, which was free only to Linton's wife and certain terriers. The
necessary appearance from time to time of a servant always grated upon
Linton as much as if from time to time somebody had in the most
well-bred way flung a brick through the little panes of his window.
This window looked forth upon a wide valley of hop-fields and
sheep-pastures, dipping and rising this way and that way, but always a
valley until it reached a high far away ridge upon which stood the
upright figure of a windmill, usually making rapid gestures as if it
were an excited sentry warning the old grey house of coming danger. A
little to the right, on a knoll, red chimneys and parts of red-tiled
roofs appeared among trees, and the venerable square tower of the
village church rose above them.
For ten years Linton had left vacant Oldrestham Hall, and when at
last it became known that he and his wife were to return from an
incomprehensible wandering, the village, which for four centuries had
turned a feudal eye toward the Hall, was wrung with a prospect of
change, a proper change. The great family pew in Oldrestham church
would be occupied each Sunday morning by a fat, happy-faced, utterly
squire-looking man, who would be dutifully at his post when the parish
was stirred by a subscription list. Then, for the first time in many
years, the hunters would ride in the early morning merrily out through
the park, and there would be also shooting parties, and in the summer
groups of charming ladies would be seen walking the terrace, laughing
on the lawns and in the rose gardens. The village expected to have the
perfectly legal and fascinating privilege of discussing the
performances of its own gentry.
The first intimation of calamity was in the news that Linton had
rented all the shooting. This prepared the people for the blow, and it
fell when they sighted the master of Oldrestham Hall. The older
villagers remembered then that there had been nothing in the youthful
Linton to promise a fat, happy-faced, dignified, hunting, shooting
over-lord, but still they could not but resent the appearance of the
new squire. There was no conceivable reason for his looking like a
gaunt ascetic, who would surprise nobody if he borrowed a sixpence from
the first yokel he met in the lanes.
Linton was in truth three inches more than six feet in height, but
he had bowed himself to five feet eleven inches. His hair shocked out
in front like hay, and under it were two spectacled eyes which never
seemed to regard anything with particular attention. His face was pale
and full of hollows, and the mouth apparently had no expression save a
chronic pout of the under-lip. His hands were large and raw boned but
uncannily white. His whole bent body was thin as that of a man from a
long sick-bed, and all was finished by two feet which for size could
not be matched in the county.
He was very awkward, but apparently it was not so much a physical
characteristic as it was a mental inability to consider where he was
going or what he was doing. For instance, when passing through a gate
it was not uncommon for him to knock his side viciously against one of
the posts. This was because he dreamed almost always, and if there had
been forty gates in a row he would not then have noted them more than
he did the one. As far as the villagers and farmers were concerned he
never came out of this manner save in wide-apart cases, when he had
forced upon him either some great exhibition of stupidity or some faint
indication of double-dealing, and then this smouldering man flared out
encrimsoning his immediate surrounding with a brief fire of ancestral
anger. But the lapse back to indifference was more surprising. It was
far quicker than the flare in the beginning. His feeling was suddenly
ashes at the moment when one was certain it would lick the sky.
Some of the villagers asserted that he was mad. They argued it long
in the manner of their kind, repeating, repeating, and repeating, and
when an opinion confusingly rational appeared they merely shook their
heads in pig-like obstinacy. Anyhow, it was historically clear that no
such squire had before been in the line of Lintons of Oldrestham Hall,
and the present incumbent was a shock.
The servants at the Hallnotably those who lived in the
country-sidecame in for a lot of questioning, and none were found too
backward in explaining many things which they themselves did not
understand. The household was most irregular. They all confessed that
it was really so uncustomary that they did not know but what they would
have to give notice. The master was probably the most extraordinary man
in the whole world. The butler said that Linton would drink beer with
his meals day in and day out like any carrier resting at a pot-house.
It didn't matter even if the meal were dinner. Then suddenly he would
change his tastes to the most valuable wines, and in ten days would
make the wine-cellar look as if it had been wrecked at sea. What was to
be done with a gentleman of that kind? The butler said for his part he
wanted a master with habits, and he protested that Linton did not have
a habit to his name, at least, none that could properly be called a
Barring the cook, the entire establishment agreed categorically with
the butler. The cook didn't agree because she was a very good cook
indeed, which she thought entitled her to be extremely aloof from the
other servants' hall opinions.
As for the squire's lady, they described her as being not much
different from the master. At least she gave support to his most
unusual manner of life, and evidently believed that whatever he chose
to do was quite correct.
Linton had written
The garlands of her hair are snakes,
Black and bitter are her hating eyes,
A cry the windy death-hall makes,
O, love, deliver us.
The flung cup rolls to her sandal's tip,
Whereupon his thought fumed over the next two lines, coursing like
greyhounds, after a fugitive vision of a writhening lover with the foam
of poison on his lips dying at the feet of the woman. Linton arose, lit
a cigarette, placed it on the window ledge, took another cigarette,
looked blindly for the matches, thrust a spiral of paper into the flame
of the log fire, lit the second cigarette, placed it toppling on a book
and began a search among his pipes for one that would draw well. He
gazed at his pictures, at the books on the shelves, out at the green
spread of country-side, all without taking mental note. At the window
ledge he came upon the first cigarette, and in a matter of fact way he
returned it to his lips, having forgotten that he had forgotten it.
There was a sound of steps on the stone floor of the quaint little
passage that led down to his study, and turning from the window he saw
that his wife had entered the room and was looking at him strangely.
Jack, she said in a low voice, what is the matter?
His eyes were burning out from under his shock of hair with a
fierceness that belied his feeling of simple surprise. Nothing is the
matter, he answered. Why do you ask?
She seemed immensely concerned, but she was visibly endeavouring to
hide her concern as well as to abate it.
II thought you acted queerly.
He answered: Why no. I'm not acting queerly. On the contrary, he
added smiling, I'm in one of my most rational moods.
Her look of alarm did not subside. She continued to regard him with
the same stare. She was silent for a time and did not move. His own
thoughts had quite returned to a contemplation of a poisoned lover, and
he did not note the manner of his wife. Suddenly she came to him, and
laying a hand on his arm said, Jack, you are ill?
Why no, dear, he said with a first impatience, I'm not ill at
all. I never felt better in my life. And his mind beleaguered by this
pointless talk strove to break through to its old contemplation of the
poisoned lover. Hear what I have written. Then he read
The garlands of her hair are snakes,
Black and bitter are her hating eyes,
A cry the windy death-hall makes,
O, love, deliver us.
The flung cup rolls to her sandal's tip,
Linton said: I can't seem to get the lines to describe the man who
is dying of the poison on the floor before her. Really I'm having a
time with it. What a bore. Sometimes I can write like mad and other
times I don't seem to have an intelligent idea in my head.
He felt his wife's hand tighten on his arm and he looked into her
face. It was so alight with horror that it brought him sharply out of
his dreams. Jack, she repeated tremulously, you are ill.
He opened his eyes in wonder. Ill! ill? No; not in the least!
Yes, you are ill. I can see it in your eyes. Youact so
Act strangely? Why, my dear, what have I done? I feel quite well.
Indeed, I was never more fit in my life.
As he spoke he threw himself into a large wing chair and looked up
at his wife, who stood gazing at him from the other side of the black
oak table upon which Linton wrote his verses.
Jack, dear, she almost whispered, I have noticed it for days,
and she leaned across the table to look more intently into his face.
Yes, your eyes grow more fixed every dayyouyouyour head, does it
Linton arose from his chair and came around the big table toward his
wife. As he approached her, an expression akin to terror crossed her
face and she drew back as in fear, holding out both hands to ward him
He had been smiling in the manner of a man reassuring a frightened
child, but at her shrinking from his outstretched hand he stopped in
amazement. Why, Grace, what is it? tell me.
She was glaring at him, her eyes wide with misery. Linton moved his
left hand across his face, unconsciously trying to brush from it that
which alarmed her.
Oh, Jack, you must see some one; I am wretched about you. You are
Why, my dear wife, he said, I am quite, quite well; I am anxious
to finish these verses but words won't come somehow, the man dying
Yes, that is it, you cannot remember, you see that you cannot
remember. You must see a doctor. We will go up to town at once, she
'Tis true, he thought, that my memory is not as good as it used
to be. I cannot remember dates, and words won't fit in somehow. Perhaps
I don't take enough exercise, dear; is that what worries you? he
Yes, yes, dear, you do not go out enough, said his wife. You
cling to this room as the ivy clings to the wallsbut we must go to
London, you must see some one; promise me that you will go, that
you will go immediately.
Again Linton saw his wife look at him as one looks at a creature of
pity. The faint lines from her nose to the corners of her mouth
deepened as if she were in physical pain; her eyes, open to their
fullest extent, had in them the expression of a mother watching her
dying babe. What was this strange wall that had suddenly raised itself
between them? Was he ill? No; he never was in better health in his
life. He found himself vainly searching for aches in his bones. Again
he brushed away this thing which seemed to be upon his face. There must
be something on my face, he thought, else why does she look at me with
such hopeless despair in her eyes; these kindly eyes that had hitherto
been so responsive to each glance of his own. Why did she think
that he was ill? She who knew well his every mood. Was he mad?
Did this thing of the poisoned cup that rolled to her sandal's tipand
her eyes, her hating eyes, mean that hisno, it could not be. He
fumbled among the papers on the table for a cigarette. He could not
find one. He walked to the huge fireplace and peered near-sightedly at
the ashes on the hearth.
What, what do you want, Jack? Be careful! The fire! cried his
Why, I want a cigarette, he said.
She started, as if he had spoken roughly to her. I will get you
some, wait, sit quietly, I will bring you some, she replied as she
hastened through the small passage-way up the stone steps that led from
Linton stood with his back still bent, in the posture of a man
picking something from the ground. He did not turn from the fireplace
until the echo of his wife's foot-fall on the stone floors had died
away. Then he straightened himself and said, Well, I'm damned! And
Linton was not a man who swore.
* * * * *
A month later the Squire and his wife were on their way to London to
consult the great brain specialist, Doctor Redmond. Linton now believed
that something was wrong with him. His wife's anxiety, which she
could no longer conceal, forced him to this conclusion; something was
wrong. Until these few last weeks Linton's wife had managed her
household with the care and wisdom of a Chatelaine of mediæval times.
Each day was planned for certain duties in house or village. She had
theories as to the management and education of the village children,
and this work occupied much of her time. She was the antithesis of her
husband. He, a weaver of dream-stories, she of that type of woman who
has ideas of the emancipation of women and who believe the problem
could be solved by training the minds of the next generation of
mothers. Linton was not interested in these questions, but he would
smile indulgently at his wife as she talked of the equality of mind of
the sexes and the public part in the world's history which would be
played by the women of the future.
There was no talk of this kind now. The household management fell
into the hands of servants. Night and day his wife watched Linton. He
would awaken in the night to find her face close to his own, her eyes
burning with feverish anxiety.
What is it, Grace? he would cry, have I said anything? What is
the reason you watch me in this fashion, dear?
And she would sob, Jack, you are ill, dear, you are ill; we must go
to town, we must, indeed.
Then he would soothe her with fond words and promise that he would
go to London.
This present journey was the outcome of those weeks of watching and
fear in Linton's wife's mind.
* * * * *
Linton's wife was trembling violently as he helped her down from the
cab in front of Doctor Redmond's door. They had made an appointment, so
that they were sure of little delay before the portentous interview.
A small page in blue livery opened the door and ushered them into a
waiting-room. Mrs. Linton dropped heavily into a chair, looking with a
frightened air from side to side and biting her under lip nervously.
She was moaning half under her breath, Oh, Jack, you are ill, you are
A short stout man with clean-shaven face and scanty black hair
entered the room. His nose was huge and misshapen and his mouth was a
straight firm line. Overhanging black brows tried in vain to shadow the
piercing dark eyes, that darted questioning looks at every one, seeming
to search for hidden thoughts as a flash-light from the conning tower
of a ship searches for the enemy in time of war.
He advanced toward Mrs. Linton with outstretched hand. Mrs.
Linton? he said. Ah!
She almost jumped from her chair as he came near her, crying, Oh,
doctor, my husband is ill, very ill, very ill!
Again Doctor Redmond with his eyes fixed upon her face ejaculated,
Ah! Turning to Linton he said, Please wait here, Squire; I will
first talk to your wife. Will you step into my study, madam? he said
to Mrs. Linton, bowing courteously.
Linton's wife ran into the room which the doctor pointed toward as
Linton waited. He moved softly about the room looking at the
photographs of Greek ruins which adorned the walls. He stopped finally
before a large picture of the Gate of Hadrian. He travelled once more
into his dream country. His fancy painted in the figures of men and
women who had passed through that gate. He had forgotten his fear of
the blotting out of his mind that could conjure these glowing colours.
He had forgotten himself.
From this dream he was recalled to the present by a hand being
placed gently upon his arm. He half turned and saw the doctor regarding
him with sympathetic eyes.
Come, my dear sir, come into my study, said the doctor. I have
asked your wife to await us here. Linton then turned fully toward the
centre of the room and found that his wife was seated quietly by a
table. Doctor Redmond bowed low to Mrs. Linton as he passed her, and
Linton waved his hand, smiled, and said, Only a moment, dear. She did
not reply. The door closed behind them.
Be seated, my dear sir, said the doctor, drawing forward a chair,
be seated. I want to say something to you, but you must drink this
first. He handed Linton a small glass of brandy.
Linton sat down, took the glass mechanically, and gulped the brandy
in one great swallow. The doctor stood by the mantel and said slowly,
I rejoice to say to you, sir, that I have never met a man more sound
mentally than yourself
Linton half started from his chair.
Stop! said the doctor, I have not yet finishedbut it is my
painful duty to tell you the truthIt is your WIFE WHO IS MAD! MAD AS
The yellow gas-light that came with an effect of difficulty through
the dust-stained windows on either side of the door, gave strange hues
to the faces and forms of the three women who stood gabbling in the
hall-way of the tenement. They made rapid gestures, and in the
background their enormous shadows mingled in terrific conflict.
Aye, she ain't so good as he thinks she is, I'll bet. He can watch
over 'er an' take care of 'er all he pleases, but when she wants t'
fool 'im, she'll fool 'im. An' how does he know she ain't foolin' 'im
Oh, he thinks he's keepin' 'er from goin' t' th' bad, he does. Oh,
yes. He ses she's too purty t' let run round alone. Too purty! Huh! My
Well, he keeps a clost watch on 'er, you bet. O'ny las' week, she
met my boy Tim on th' stairs, an' Tim hadn't said two words to 'er
b'fore th' ol' man begin to holler. 'Dorter, dorter, come here, come
At this moment a young girl entered from the street, and it was
evident from the injured expression suddenly assumed by the three
gossipers that she had been the object of their discussion. She passed
them with a slight nod, and they swung about into a row to stare after
On her way up the long flights the girl unfastened her veil. One
could then clearly see the beauty of her eyes, but there was in them a
certain furtiveness that came near to marring the effects. It was a
peculiar fixture of gaze, brought from the street, as of one who there
saw a succession of passing dangers with menaces aligned at every
On the top floor, she pushed open a door and then paused on the
threshold, confronting an interior that appeared black and flat like a
curtain. Perhaps some girlish idea of hobgoblins assailed her then, for
she called in a little breathless voice, Daddie!
There was no reply. The fire in the cooking-stove in the room
crackled at spasmodic intervals. One lid was misplaced, and the girl
could now see that this fact created a little flushed crescent upon the
ceiling. Also, a series of tiny windows in the stove caused patches of
red upon the floor. Otherwise, the room was heavily draped with
The girl called again, Daddie!
Yet there was no reply.
Presently she laughed as one familiar with the humours of an old
man. Oh, I guess yer cussin' mad about yer supper, dad, she said, and
she almost entered the room, but suddenly faltered, overcome by a
feminine instinct to fly from this black interior, peopled with
Again she called, Daddie! Her voice had an accent of appeal. It
was as if she knew she was foolish but yet felt obliged to insist upon
being reassured. Oh, daddie!
Of a sudden a cry of relief, a feminine announcement that the stars
still hung, burst from her. For, according to some mystic process, the
smouldering coals of the fire went aflame with sudden, fierce
brilliance, splashing parts of the walls, the floor, the crude
furniture, with a hue of blood-red. And in the light of this dramatic
outburst of light, the girl saw her father seated at a table with his
back turned toward her.
She entered the room, then, with an aggrieved air, her logic
evidently concluding that somebody was to blame for her nervous fright.
Oh, yer on'y sulkin' 'bout yer supper. I thought mebbe ye'd gone
Her father made no reply. She went over to a shelf in the corner,
and, taking a little lamp, she lit it and put it where it would give
her light as she took off her hat and jacket in front of the tiny
mirror. Presently, she began to bustle among the cooking utensils that
were crowded into the sink, and as she worked she rattled talk at her
father, apparently disdaining his mood.
I'd 'a come home earlier t'night, dad, o'ny that fly foreman, he
kep' me in th' shop 'til half-past six. What a fool. He came t' me, yeh
know, an' he ses, 'Nell, I wanta give yeh some brotherly advice.' Oh, I
know him an' his brotherly advice. 'I wanta give yeh some brotherly
advice. Yer too purty, Nell,' he ses, 't' be workin' in this shop an'
paradin' through the streets alone, without somebody t' give yeh good
brotherly advice, an' I wanta warn yeh, Nell. I'm a bad man, but I
ain't as bad as some, an' I wanta warn yeh.' 'Oh, g'long 'bout yer
business,' I ses. I know 'im. He's like all of 'em, o'ny he's a little
slyer. I know 'im. 'You g'long 'bout yer business,' I ses. Well, he ses
after a while that he guessed some evenin' he'd come up an' see me.
'Oh, yeh will,' I ses, 'yeh will? Well, you jest let my ol' man ketch
yeh comin' foolin' 'round our place. Yeh'll wish yeh went t' some other
girl t' give brotherly advice.' 'What th' 'ell do I care fer yer
father?' he ses. 'What's he t' me?' 'If he throws yeh down stairs,
yeh'll care for 'im,' I ses. 'Well,' he ses, 'I'll come when 'e ain't
in, b' Gawd, I'll come when 'e ain't in.' 'Oh, he's allus in when it
means takin' care 'a me,' I ses. 'Don't yeh fergit it either. When it
comes t' takin' care 'a his dorter, he's right on deck every single
After a time, she turned and addressed cheery words to the old man.
Hurry up th' fire, daddie! We'll have supper pretty soon.
But still her father was silent, and his form in its sullen posture
At this, the girl seemed to see the need of the inauguration of a
feminine war against a man out of temper. She approached him breathing
soft, coaxing syllables.
Daddie! Oh, Daddie! Oooh, Daddie!
It was apparent from a subtle quality of valour in her tones that
this manner of onslaught upon his moods had usually been successful,
but to-night it had no quick effect. The words, coming from her lips,
were like the refrain of an old ballad, but the man remained stolid.
Daddie! My Daddie! Oh, Daddie are yeh mad at me, reallytruly mad
She touched him lightly upon the arm. Should he have turned then he
would have seen the fresh, laughing face, with dew-sparkling eyes,
close to his own.
Oh, Daddie! My Daddie! Pretty Daddie!
She stole her arm about his neck, and then slowly bended her face
toward his. It was the action of a queen who knows that she reigns
notwithstanding irritations, trials, tempests.
But suddenly, from this position, she leaped backward with the mad
energy of a frightened colt. Her face was in this instant turned to a
grey, featureless thing of horror. A yell, wild and hoarse as a
brute-cry, burst from her. Daddie! She flung herself to a place near
the door, where she remained, crouching, her eyes staring at the
motionless figure, spattered by the quivering flashes from the fire.
Her arms extended, and her frantic fingers at once besought and
repelled. There was in them an expression of eagerness to caress and an
expression of the most intense loathing. And the girl's hair that had
been a splendour, was in these moments changed to a disordered mass
that hung and swayed in witchlike fashion.
Again, a terrible cry burst from her. It was more than the shriek of
agonyit was directed, personal, addressed to him in the chair, the
first word of a tragic conversation with the dead.
It seemed that when she had put her arm about its neck, she had
jostled the corpse in such a way, that now she and it were face to
face. The attitude expressed an intention of arising from the table.
The eyes, fixed upon hers, were filled with an unspeakable hatred.
* * * * *
The cries of the girl aroused thunders in the tenement. There was a
loud slamming of doors, and presently there was a roar of feet upon the
boards of the stairway. Voices rang out sharply.
What is it?
What's th' matter?
He's killin' her!
Slug 'im with anythin' yeh kin lay hold of, Jack.
But over all this came the shrill shrewish tones of a woman. Ah,
th' damned ol' fool, he's drivin' 'er inteh th' streetthat's what
he's doin.' He's drivin' 'er inteh th' street.
HOW THE DONKEY LIFTED THE HILLS.
Many people suppose that the donkey is lazy. This is a great
mistake. It is his pride.
Years ago, there was nobody quite so fine as the donkey. He was a
great swell in those times. No one could express an opinion of anything
without the donkey showing where he was in it. No one could mention the
name of an important personage without the donkey declaring how well he
The donkey was, above all things, a proud and aristocratic beast.
One day a party of animals were discussing one thing and another,
until finally the conversation drifted around to mythology.
I have always admired that giant, Atlas, observed the ox in the
course of the conversation. It was amazing how he could carry things.
Oh, yes, Atlas, said the donkey, I knew him very well. I once met
a man and we got talking of Atlas. I expressed my admiration for the
giant and my desire to meet him some day, if possible. Whereupon the
man said there was nothing quite so easy. He was sure that his dear
friend, Atlas, would be happy to meet so charming a donkey. Was I at
leisure next Monday? Well, then, could I dine with him upon that date?
So, you see, it was all arranged. I found Atlas to be a very pleasant
It has always been a wonder to me how he could have carried the
earth on his back, said the horse.
Oh, my dear sir, nothing is more simple, cried the donkey. One
has only to make up one's mind to it, and thendo it. That is all. I
am quite sure that if I wished I could carry a range of mountains upon
All the others said, Oh, my!
Yes, I could, asserted the donkey, stoutly. It is merely a
question of making up one's mind. I will bet.
I will wager also, said the horse. I will wager my ears that you
can't carry a range of mountains upon your back.
Done, cried the donkey.
Forthwith the party of animals set out for the mountains. Suddenly,
however, the donkey paused and said, Oh, but look here. Who will place
this range of mountains upon my back? Surely I can not be expected to
do the loading also.
Here was a great question. The party consulted. At length the ox
said, We will have to ask some men to shovel the mountain upon the
Most of the others clapped their hoofs or their paws and cried, Ah,
that is the thing.
The horse, however, shook his head doubtfully. I don't know about
these men. They are very sly. They will introduce some deviltry into
Why, how silly, said the donkey. Apparently you do not understand
men. They are the most gentle, guileless creatures.
Well, retorted the horse, I will doubtless be able to escape
since I am not to be encumbered with any mountains. Proceed.
The donkey smiled in derision at these observations by the horse.
Presently they came upon some men who were labouring away like mad,
digging ditches, felling trees, gathering fruits, carrying water,
Look at these men, would you, said the horse. Can you trust them
after this exhibition of their depravity? See how each one selfishly
The donkey interrupted with a loud laugh.
And then he cried out to the men, Ho, my friends, will you please
come and shovel a range of mountains upon my back?
Will you please come and shovel a range of mountains upon my back?
The men were silent for a time. Then they went apart and debated.
They gesticulated a great deal.
Some apparently said one thing and some another. At last they paused
and one of their number came forward.
Why do you wish a range of mountains shovelled upon your back?
It is a wager, cried the donkey.
The men consulted again. And as the discussion became older, their
heads went closer and closer together, until they merely whispered, and
did not gesticulate at all. Ultimately they cried, Yes, certainly we
will shovel a range of mountains upon your back for you.
Ah, thanks, said the donkey.
Here is surely some deviltry, said the horse behind his hoof to
The entire party proceeded then to the mountains. The donkey drew a
long breath and braced his legs.
Are you ready? asked the men.
All ready, cried the donkey.
The men began to shovel.
The dirt and stones flew over the donkey's back in showers. It was
not long before his legs were hidden. Presently only his neck and head
remained in view. Then at last this wise donkey vanished. There had
been made no great effect upon the range of mountains. They still
towered toward the sky.
The watching crowd saw a heap of dirt and stones make a little
movement and then was heard a muffled cry. Enough! Enough! It was not
two ranges of mountains! It is not fair! It is not fair!
But the men only laughed as they shovelled on.
Enough! Enough! Oh, woe is methirty snow-capped peaks upon my
little back. Ah, these false, false men! Oh, virtuous, wise, and holy
The men again laughed. They were as busy as fiends with their
Ah, brutal, cowardly, accursed men; ah, good, gentle, and holy men,
please remove some of those damnable peaks. I will adore your beautiful
shovels forever. I will be slave to the beckoning of your little
fingers. I will no longer be my own donkeyI will be your donkey.
The men burst into a triumphant shout and ceased shovelling.
Swear it, mountain-carrier.
I swear! I swear! I swear!
The other animals scampered away then, for these men in their plots
and plans were very terrible. Poor old foolish fellow, cried the
horse; he may keep his ears. He will need them to hear and count the
blows that are now to fall upon him.
The men unearthed the donkey. They beat him with their shovels. Ho,
come on, slave. Encrusted with earth, yellow-eyed from fright, the
donkey limped toward his prison. His ears hung down like leaves of the
plantain during the great rain.
So, now, when you see a donkey with a church, a palace, and three
villages upon his back, and he goes with infinite slowness, moving but
one leg at a time, do not think him lazy. It is his pride.
A MAN BY THE NAME OF MUD.
Deep in a leather chair, the Kid sat looking out at where the rain
slanted before the dull brown houses and hammered swiftly upon an
occasional lonely cab. The happy crackle from the great and glittering
fireplace behind him had evidently no meaning of content for him. He
appeared morose and unapproachable, and when a man appears morose and
unapproachable it is a fine chance for his intimate friends. Three or
four of them discovered his mood, and so hastened to be obnoxious.
What's wrong, Kid? Lost your thirst?
He can never be happy again. He has lost his thirst.
That's right, Kid. When you quarrel with a man who can whip you,
resort to sarcastic reflection and distance.
They cackled away persistently, but the Kid was mute and continued
to stare gloomily at the street.
Once a man who had been writing letters looked up and said, I saw
your friend at the Comique the other night. He waited a moment and
then added, In back.
The Kid wheeled about in his chair at this information, and all the
others saw then that it was important. One man said with deep
intelligence, Ho, ho, a woman, hey? A woman's come between the two
Kids. A woman. Great, eh? The Kid launched a glare of scorn across the
room, and then turned again to a contemplation of the rain. His friends
continued to do all in their power to worry him, but they fell
ultimately before his impregnable silence.
As it happened, he had not been brooding upon his friend's
mysterious absence at all. He had been concerned with himself. Once in
a while he seemed to perceive certain futilities and lapsed them
immediately into a state of voiceless dejection. These moods were not
An unexplained thing in his mind, however, was greatly enlightened
by the words of the gossip. He turned then from his harrowing scrutiny
of the amount of pleasure he achieved from living, and settled into a
comfortable reflection upon the state of his comrade, the other Kid.
Perhaps it could be indicated in this fashion: Went to Comique, I
suppose. Saw girl. Secondary part, probably. Thought her rather
natural. Went to Comique again. Went again. One time happened to meet
omnipotent and good-natured friend. Broached subject to him with great
caution. Friend said'Why, certainly, my boy, come round to-night, and
I'll take you in back. Remember, it's against all rules, but I think
that in your case, etc.' Kid went. Chorus girls winked same old wink.
'Here's another dude on the prowl.' Kid aware of this, swearing under
his breath and looking very stiff. Meets girl. Knew beforehand that the
footlights might have sold him, but finds her very charming. Does not
say single thing to her which she naturally expected to hear. Makes no
reference to her beauty nor her voiceif she has any. Perhaps takes it
for granted that she knows. Girl don't exactly love this attitude, but
then feels admiration, because after all she can't tell whether he
thinks her nice or whether he don't. New scheme this. Worked by
occasional guys in Rome and Egypt, but still, new scheme. Kid goes
away. Girl thinks. Later, nails omnipotent and good-natured friend.
'Who was that you brought back?' 'Oh, him? Why, he' Describes the
Kid's wealth, feats, and virtuesvirtues of disposition. Girl
propounds clever question'Why did he wish to meet me?' Omnipotent
person says, 'Damned if I know.'
Later, Kid asks girl to supper. Not wildly anxious, but very evident
that he asks her because he likes her. Girl accepts; goes to supper.
Kid very good comrade and kind. Girl begins to think that here at last
is a man who understands her. Details ambitionslong, wonderful
ambitions. Explains her points of superiority over the other girls of
stage. Says their lives disgust her. She wants to work and study and
make something of herself. Kid smokes vast number of cigarettes.
Displays and feels deep sympathy. Recalls, but faintly, that he has
heard it on previous occasions. They have an awfully good time. Part at
last in front of apartment house. Good-night, old chap. Good-night.
Squeeze hands hard. Kid has no information at all about kissing her
good-night, but don't even try. Noble youth. Wise youth. Kid goes home
and smokes. Feels strong desire to kill people who say intolerable
things of the girl in rows. Narrow, mean, stupid, ignorant, damnable
people. Contemplates the broad, fine liberality of his experienced
Kid and girl become very chumy. Kid like a brother. Listens to her
troubles. Takes her out to supper regularly and regularly. Chorus girls
now tacitly recognise him as the main guy. Sometimes, may be, girl's
mother sick. Can't go to supper. Kid always very noble. Understands
perfectly the probabilities of there being others. Lays for 'em, but
makes no discoveries. Begins to wonder whether he is a winner or
whether she is a girl of marvellous cleverness. Can't tell. Maintains
himself with dignity, however. Only occasionally inveighs against the
men who prey upon the girls of the stage. Still noble.
Time goes on. Kid grows less noble. Perhaps decides not to be noble
at all, or as little as he can. Still inveighs against the men who prey
upon the girls of the stage. Thinks the girl stunning. Wants to be dead
sure there are no others. Once suspects it, and immediately makes the
colossal mistake of his life. Takes the girl to task. Girl won't stand
it for a minute. Harangues him. Kid surrenders and pleads with
herpleads with her. Kid's name is mud.
A POKER GAME.
Usually a poker game is a picture of peace. There is no drama so
low-voiced and serene and monotonous. If an amateur loser does not
softly curse, there is no orchestral support. Here is one of the most
exciting and absorbing occupations known to intelligent American
manhood; here a year's reflection is compressed into a moment of
thought; here the nerves may stand on end and scream to themselves, but
a tranquillity as from heaven is only interrupted by the click of
chips. The higher the stakes the more quiet the scene; this is a law
that applies everywhere save on the stage.
And yet sometimes in a poker game things happen. Everybody remembers
the celebrated corner on bay rum that was triumphantly consummated by
Robert F. Cinch, of Chicago, assisted by the United States Courts and
whatever other federal power he needed. Robert F. Cinch enjoyed his
victory four months. Then he died, and young Bobbie Cinch came to New
York in order to more clearly demonstrate that there was a good deal of
fun in twenty-two million dollars.
Old Henry Spuytendyvil owns all the real estate in New York save
that previously appropriated by the hospitals and Central Park. He had
been a friend of Bob's father. When Bob appeared in New York,
Spuytendyvil entertained him correctly. It came to pass that they just
naturally played poker.
One night they were having a small game in an up-town hotel. There
were five of them, including two lawyers and a politician. The stakes
depended on the ability of the individual fortune.
Bobbie Cinch had won rather heavily. He was as generous as sunshine,
and when luck chases a generous man it chases him hard, even though he
cannot bet with all the skill of his opponents.
Old Spuytendyvil had lost a considerable amount. One of the lawyers
from time to time smiled quietly, because he knew Spuytendyvil well,
and he knew that anything with the name of loss attached to it sliced
the old man's heart into sections.
At midnight Archie Bracketts, the actor, came into the room. How
you holding 'em, Bob? said he.
Pretty well, said Bob.
Having any luck, Mr. Spuytendyvil?
Blooming bad, grunted the old man.
Bracketts laughed and put his foot on the round of Spuytendyvil's
chair. There, said he, I'll queer your luck for you. Spuytendyvil
sat at the end of the table. Bobbie, said the actor, presently, as
young Cinch won another pot, I guess I better knock your luck. So he
took his foot from the old man's chair and placed it on Bob's chair.
The lad grinned good-naturedly and said he didn't care.
Bracketts was in a position to scan both of the hands. It was Bob's
ante, and old Spuytendyvil threw in a red chip. Everybody passed out up
to Bobbie. He filled in the pot and drew a card.
Spuytendyvil drew a card. Bracketts, looking over his shoulder, saw
him holding the ten, nine, eight, and seven of diamonds. Theatrically
speaking, straight flushes are as frequent as berries on a juniper
tree, but as a matter of truth the reason that straight flushes are so
admired is because they are not as common as berries on a juniper tree.
Bracketts stared; drew a cigar slowly from his pocket, and placing it
between his teeth forgot its existence.
Bobbie was the only other stayer. Bracketts flashed an eye for the
lad's hand and saw the nine, eight, six, and five of hearts. Now, there
are but six hundred and forty-five emotions possible to the human mind,
and Bracketts immediately had them all. Under the impression that he
had finished his cigar, he took it from his mouth and tossed it toward
the grate without turning his eyes to follow its flight.
There happened to be a complete silence around the green-clothed
table. Spuytendyvil was studying his hand with a kind of contemptuous
smile, but in his eyes there perhaps was to be seen a cold, stern light
expressing something sinister and relentless.
Young Bob sat as he had sat. As the pause grew longer, he looked up
once inquiringly at Spuytendyvil.
The old man reached for a white chip. Well, mine are worth about
that much, said he, tossing it into the pot. Thereupon he leaned back
comfortably in his chair and renewed his stare at the five straight
diamond. Young Bob extended his hand leisurely toward his stack. It
occurred to Bracketts that he was smoking, but he found no cigar in his
The lad fingered his chips and looked pensively at his hand. The
silence of those moments oppressed Bracketts like the smoke from a
Bobbie Cinch continued for some moments to coolly observe his cards.
At last he breathed a little sigh and said, Well, Mr. Spuytendyvil, I
can't play a sure thing against you. He threw in a white chip. I'll
just call you. I've got a straight flush. He faced down his cards.
Old Spuytendyvil's fear, horror, and rage could only be equalled in
volume to a small explosion of gasolene. He dashed his cards upon the
table. There! he shouted, glaring frightfully at Bobbie. I've got a
straight flush, too! And mine is Jack high!
Bobbie was at first paralysed with amazement, but in a moment he
recovered, and apparently observing something amusing in the situation
Archie Bracketts, having burst his bond of silence, yelled for joy
and relief. He smote Bobbie on the shoulder. Bob, my boy, he cried
exuberantly, you're no gambler, but you're a mighty good fellow, and
if you hadn't been you would be losing a good many dollars this
Old Spuytendyvil glowered at Bracketts. Stop making such an
infernal din, will you, Archie, he said morosely. His throat seemed
filled with pounded glass. Pass the whisky.
Where the path wended across the ridge, the bushes of huckle-berry
and sweet fern swarmed at it in two curling waves until it was a mere
winding line traced through a tangle. There was no interference by
clouds, and as the rays of the sun fell full upon the ridge, they
called into voice innumerable insects which chanted the heat of the
summer day in steady, throbbing, unending chorus.
A man and a dog came from the laurel thickets of the valley where
the white brook brawled with the rocks. They followed the deep line of
the path across the ridge. The doga large lemon and white
setterwalked, tranquilly meditative, at his master's heels.
Suddenly from some unknown and yet near place in advance there came
a dry, shrill whistling rattle that smote motion instantly from the
limbs of the man and the dog. Like the fingers of a sudden death, this
sound seemed to touch the man at the nape of the neck, at the top of
the spine, and change him, as swift as thought, to a statue of
listening horror, surprise, rage. The dog, toothe same icy hand was
laid upon him, and he stood crouched and quivering, his jaw dropping,
the froth of terror upon his lips, the light of hatred in his eyes.
Slowly the man moved his hands toward the bushes, but his glance did
not turn from the place made sinister by the warning rattle. His
fingers, unguided, sought for a stick of weight and strength. Presently
they closed about one that seemed adequate, and holding this weapon
poised before him, the man moved slowly forward, glaring. The dog with
his nervous nostrils fairly fluttering moved warily, one foot at a
time, after his master.
But when the man came upon the snake, his body underwent a shock as
if from a revelation, as if after all he had been ambushed. With a
blanched face, he sprang forward, and his breath came in strained
gasps, his chest heaving as if he were in the performance of an
extraordinary muscular trial. His arm with the stick made a spasmodic,
The snake had apparently been crossing the path in some mystic
travel when to his sense there came the knowledge of the coming of his
foes. The dull vibration perhaps informed him, and he flung his body to
face the danger. He had no knowledge of paths; he had no wit to tell
him to slink noiselessly into the bushes. He knew that his implacable
enemies were approaching; no doubt they were seeking him, hunting him.
And so he cried his cry, an incredibly swift jangle of tiny bells, as
burdened with pathos as the hammering upon quaint cymbals by the
Chinese at warfor, indeed, it was usually his death-music.
Beware! Beware! Beware!
The man and the snake confronted each other. In the man's eyes were
hatred and fear. In the snake's eyes were hatred and fear. These
enemies manoeuvred, each preparing to kill. It was to be a battle
without mercy. Neither knew of mercy for such a situation. In the man
was all the wild strength of the terror of his ancestors, of his race,
of his kind. A deadly repulsion had been handed from man to man through
long dim centuries. This was another detail of a war that had begun
evidently when first there were men and snakes. Individuals who do not
participate in this strife incur the investigations of scientists. Once
there was a man and a snake who were friends, and at the end, the man
lay dead with the marks of the snake's caress just over his East Indian
heart. In the formation of devices, hideous and horrible, Nature
reached her supreme point in the making of the snake, so that priests
who really paint hell well fill it with snakes instead of fire. These
curving forms, these scintillant s create at once, upon sight, more
relentless animosities than do shake barbaric tribes. To be born a
snake is to be thrust into a place a-swarm with formidable foes. To
gain an appreciation of it, view hell as pictured by priests who are
As for this snake in the pathway, there was a double curve some
inches back of its head, which, merely by the potency of its lines,
made the man feel with tenfold eloquence the touch of the death-fingers
at the nape of his neck. The reptile's head was waving slowly from side
to side and its hot eyes flashed like little murder-lights. Always in
the air was the dry, shrill whistling of the rattles.
Beware! Beware! Beware!
The man made a preliminary feint with his stick. Instantly the
snake's heavy head and neck were bended back on the double curve and
instantly the snake's body shot forward in a low, straight, hard
spring. The man jumped with a convulsive chatter and swung his stick.
The blind, sweeping blow fell upon the snake's head and hurled him so
that steel-coloured plates were for a moment uppermost. But he rallied
swiftly, agilely, and again the head and neck bended back to the double
curve, and the steaming, wide-open mouth made its desperate effort to
reach its enemy. This attack, it could be seen, was despairing, but it
was nevertheless impetuous, gallant, ferocious, of the same quality as
the charge of the lone chief when the walls of white faces close upon
him in the mountains. The stick swung unerringly again, and the snake,
mutilated, torn, whirled himself into the last coil.
And now the man went sheer raving mad from the emotions of his
forefathers and from his own. He came to close quarters. He gripped the
stick with his two hands and made it speed like a flail. The snake,
tumbling in the anguish of final despair, fought, bit, flung itself
upon this stick which was taking his life.
At the end, the man clutched his stick and stood watching in
silence. The dog came slowly and with infinite caution stretched his
nose forward, sniffing. The hair upon his neck and back moved and
ruffled as if a sharp wind was blowing. The last muscular quivers of
the snake were causing the rattles to still sound their treble cry, the
shrill, ringing war chant and hymn of the grave of the thing that faces
foes at once countless, implacable, and superior.
Well, Rover, said the man, turning to the dog with a grin of
victory, we'll carry Mr. Snake home to show the girls.
His hands still trembled from the strain of the encounter, but he
pried with his stick under the body of the snake and hoisted the limp
thing upon it. He resumed his march along the path, and the dog walked,
tranquilly meditative, at his master's heels.
A SELF-MADE MAN.
AN EXAMPLE OF SUCCESS THAT ANY ONE CAN FOLLOW.
Tom had a hole in his shoe. It was very round and very
uncomfortable, particularly when he went on wet pavements. Rainy days
made him feel that he was walking on frozen dollars, although he had
only to think for a moment to discover he was not.
He used up almost two packs of playing cards by means of putting
four cards at a time inside his shoe as a sort of temporary sole, which
usually lasted about half a day. Once he put in four aces for luck. He
went down town that morning and got refused work. He thought it wasn't
a very extraordinary performance for a young man of ability, and he was
not sorry that night to find his packs were entirely out of aces.
One day Tom was strolling down Broadway. He was in pursuit of work,
although his pace was slow. He had found that he must take the matter
coolly. So he puffed tenderly at a cigarette and walked as if he owned
stock. He imitated success so successfully, that if it wasn't for the
constant reminder (king, queen, deuce, and tray) in his shoe, he would
have gone into a store and bought something.
He had borrowed five cents that morning off his landlady, for his
mouth craved tobacco. Although he owed her much for board, she had
unlimited confidence in him, because his stock of self-assurance was
very large indeed. And as it increased in a proper ratio with the
amount of his bills, his relations with her seemed on a firm basis. So
he strolled along and smoked with his confidence in fortune in nowise
impaired by his financial condition.
Of a sudden he perceived on old man seated upon a railing and
smoking a clay pipe.
He stopped to look, because he wasn't in a hurry, and because it was
an unusual thing on Broadway to see old men seated upon railings and
smoking clay pipes.
And to his surprise the old man regarded him very intently in
return. He stared, with a wistful expression, into Tom's face, and he
clasped his hands in trembling excitement.
Tom was filled with astonishment at the old man's strange demeanour.
He stood puffing at his cigarette, and tried to understand matters.
Failing, he threw his cigarette away, took a fresh one from his pocket,
and approached the old man.
Got a match? he inquired, pleasantly.
The old man, much agitated, nearly fell from the railing as he
leaned dangerously forward.
Sonny, can you read? he demanded in a quavering voice.
Certainly, I can, said Tom, encouragingly. He waived the affair of
The old man fumbled in his pocket. You look honest, sonny. I've
been looking for an honest feller fur a'most a week. I've set on this
railing fur six days, he cried, plaintively.
He drew forth a letter and handed it to Tom. Read it fur me, sonny,
read it, he said, coaxingly.
Tom took the letter and leaned back against the railings. As he
opened it and prepared to read, the old man wriggled like a child at a
Thundering trucks made frequent interruptions, and seven men in a
hurry jogged Tom's elbow, but he succeeded in reading what follows:
Office of Ketchum R. Jones, Attorney-at-Law,
Tin Can, Nevada, May 19, 18.
Rufus Wilkins, Esq.
Dear Sir,I have as yet received no acknowledgment of the
from the sale of the north section lots, which I forwarded to
on 25th June. I would request an immediate reply concerning
Since my last I have sold the three corner lots at five
each. The city grew so rapidly in that direction that they
surrounded by brick stores almost before you would know it. I
also sold for four thousand dollars the ten acres of
sage bush, which you once foolishly tried to give away. Mr.
Simpson, of Boston, bought the tract. He is very shrewd, no
but he hasn't been in the west long. Still, I think if he
for about a thousand years, he may come out all right.
I worked him with the projected-horse-car-line gag.
Inform me of the address of your New York attorneys, and I will
send on the papers. Pray do not neglect to write me concerning
draft sent on 25th June.
In conclusion, I might say that if you have any eastern friends
are after good western investments inform them of the glorious
future of Tin Can. We now have three railroads, a bank, an
light plant, a projected horse-car line, and an art society.
a saw manufactory, a patent car-wheel mill, and a Methodist
Tin Can is marching forward to take her proud stand as the
metropolis of the west. The rose-hued future holds no glories
which Tin Can does not
Tom stopped abruptly. I guess the important part of the letter came
first, he said.
Yes, cried the old man, I've heard enough. It is just as I
thought. George has robbed his dad.
The old man's frail body quivered with grief. Two tears trickled
slowly down the furrows of his face.
Come, come, now, said Tom, patting him tenderly on the back.
Brace up, old feller. What you want to do is to get a lawyer and go
put the screws on George.
Is it really? asked the old man, eagerly.
Certainly, it is, said Tom.
All right, cried the old man, with enthusiasm. Tell me where to
get one. He slid down from the railing and prepared to start off.
Tom reflected. Well, he said, finally, I might do for one
What, shouted the old man in a voice of admiration, are you a
lawyer as well as a reader?
Well, said Tom again, I might appear to advantage as one. All you
need is a big front, he added, slowly. He was a profane young man.
The old man seized him by the arm. Come on, then, he cried, and
we'll go put the screws on George.
Tom permitted himself to be dragged by the weak arms of his
companion around a corner and along a side street. As they proceeded,
he was internally bracing himself for a struggle, and putting large
bales of self-assurance around where they would be likely to obstruct
the advance of discovery and defeat.
By the time they reached a brown-stone house, hidden away in a
street of shops and warehouses, his mental balance was so admirable
that he seemed to be in possession of enough information and brains to
ruin half of the city, and he was no more concerned about the king,
queen, deuce, and tray than if they had been discards that didn't fit
his draw. He infused so much confidence and courage into his companion,
that the old man went along the street, breathing war, like a decrepit
hound on the scent of new blood.
He ambled up the steps of the brown-stone house as if he were
charging earthworks. He unlocked the door and they passed along a dark
hallway. In a rear room they found a man seated at table engaged with a
very late breakfast. He had a diamond in his shirt front and a bit of
egg on his cuff.
George, said the old man in a fierce voice that came from his aged
throat with a sound like the crackle of burning twigs, here's my
lawyer, Mr. erahSmith, and we want to know what you did with the
draft that was sent on 25th June.
The old man delivered the words as if each one was a musket shot.
George's coffee spilled softly upon the tablecover, and his fingers
worked convulsively upon a slice of bread. He turned a white,
astonished face toward the old man and the intrepid Thomas.
The latter, straight and tall, with a highly legal air, stood at the
old man's side. His glowing eyes were fixed upon the face of the man at
the table. They seemed like two little detective cameras taking
pictures of the other man's thoughts.
Father, what ddo you mean, faltered George, totally unable to
withstand the two cameras and the highly legal air.
What do I mean? said the old man with a feeble roar as from an
ancient lion. I mean that draftthat's what I mean. Give it up or
we'llwe'llhe paused to gain courage by a glance at the formidable
figure at his sidewe'll put the screws on you.
Well, I wasI was only borrowin' it for 'bout a month, said
Ah, said Tom.
George started, glared at Tom, and then began to shiver like an
animal with a broken back. There were a few moments of silence. The old
man was fumbling about in his mind for more imprecations. George was
wilting and turning limp before the glittering orbs of the valiant
attorney. The latter, content with the exalted advantage he had gained
by the use of the expression Ah, spoke no more, but continued to
Well, said George, finally, in a weak voice, I s'pose I can give
you a cheque for it, 'though I was only borrowin' it for 'bout a month.
I don't think you have treated me fairly, father, with your lawyers and
your threats, and all that. But I'll give you the cheque.
The old man turned to his attorney. Well? he asked.
Tom looked at the son and held an impressive debate with himself. I
think we may accept the cheque, he said coldly after a time.
George arose and tottered across the room. He drew a cheque that
made the attorney's heart come privately into his mouth. As he and his
client passed triumphantly out, he turned a last highly legal glare
upon George that reduced that individual to a mere paste.
On the side-walk the old man went into a spasm of delight and called
his attorney all the admiring and endearing names there were to be had.
Lord, how you settled him, he cried ecstatically.
They walked slowly back toward Broadway. The scoundrel, murmured
the old man. I'll never see 'im again. I'll desert 'im. I'll find a
nice quiet boarding-place and
That's all right, said Tom. I know one. I'll take you right up,
which he did.
He came near being happy ever after. The old man lived at advanced
rates in the front room at Tom's boarding-house. And the latter basked
in the proprietress' smiles, which had a commercial value, and were a
great improvement on many we see.
The old man, with his quantities of sage bush, thought Thomas owned
all the virtues mentioned in high-class literature, and his opinion,
too, was of commercial value. Also, he knew a man who knew another man
who received an impetus which made him engage Thomas on terms that were
highly satisfactory. Then it was that the latter learned he had not
succeeded sooner because he did not know a man who knew another man.
So it came to pass that Tom grew to be Thomas G. Somebody. He
achieved that position in life from which he could hold out for good
wines when he went to poor restaurants. His name became entangled with
the name of Wilkins in the ownership of vast and valuable tracts of
sage bush in Tin Can, Nevada.
At the present day he is so great that he lunches frugally at high
prices. His fame has spread through the land as a man who carved his
way to fortune with no help but his undaunted pluck, his tireless
energy, and his sterling integrity.
Newspapers apply to him now, and he writes long signed articles to
struggling young men, in which he gives the best possible advice as to
how to become wealthy. In these articles, he, in a burst of
glorification, cites the king, queen, deuce, and tray, the four aces,
and all that. He alludes tenderly to the nickel he borrowed and spent
for cigarettes as the foundation of his fortune.
To succeed in life, he writes, the youth of America have only to
see an old man seated upon a railing and smoking a clay pipe. Then go
up and ask him for a match.
A TALE OF MERE CHANCE.
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF THE PURSUIT OF THE TILES, THE STATEMENT OF THE
CLOCK, AND THE GRIP OF A COAT OF ORANGE SPOTS, TOGETHER WITH SOME
CRITICISM OF A DETECTIVE SAID TO BE CARVED FROM AN OLD TABLE-LEG.
Yes, my friend, I killed the man, but I would not have been detected
in it were it not for some very extraordinary circumstances. I had long
considered this deed, but I am a delicate and sensitive person, you
understand, and I hesitated over it as the diver hesitates on the brink
of a dark and icy mountain pool. A thought of the shock of the contact
holds one back.
As I was passing his house one morning, I said to myself, Well, at
any rate, if she loves him, it will not be for long. And after that
decision I was not myself, but a sort of a machine.
I rang the bell and the servants admitted me to the drawing-room. I
waited there while the old tall clock placidly ticked its speech of
time. The rigid and austere chairs remained in possession of their
singular imperturbability, although, of course, they were aware of my
purpose, but the little white tiles of the floor whispered one to
another and looked at me. Presently he entered the room, and I, drawing
my revolver, shot him. He screamedyou know that screammostly
amazementand as he fell forward his blood was upon the little white
tiles. They huddled and covered their eyes from this rain. It seemed to
me that the old clock stopped ticking as a man may gasp in the middle
of a sentence, and a chair threw itself in my way as I sprang toward
A moment later, I was walking down the street, tranquil, you
understand, and I said to myself, It is done. Long years from this day
I will say to her that it was I who killed him. After time has eaten
the conscience of the thing, she will admire my courage.
I was elated that the affair had gone off so smoothly, and I felt
like returning home and taking a long, full sleep, like a tired working
man. When people passed me, I contemplated their stupidity with a sense
But those accursed little white tiles.
I heard a shrill crying and chattering behind me, and, looking back,
I saw them, blood-stained and impassioned, raising their little hands
and screaming Murder! It was he! I have said that they had little
hands. I am not sure of it, but they had some means of indicating me as
unerringly as pointing fingers. As for their movement, they swept along
as easily as dry, light leaves are carried by the wind. Always they
were shrilly piping their song of my guilt.
My friend, may it never be your fortune to be pursued by a crowd of
little blood-stained tiles. I used a thousand means to be free from the
clash-clash of these tiny feet. I ran through the world at my best
speed, but it was no better than that of an ox, while they, my
pursuers, were always fresh, eager, relentless.
I am an ingenious person, and I used every trick that a desperate,
fertile man can invent. Hundreds of times I had almost evaded them when
some smouldering, neglected spark would blaze up and discover me.
I felt that the eye of conviction would have no terrors for me, but
the eyes of suspicion which I saw in city after city, on road after
road, drove me to the verge of going forward and saying, Yes, I have
People would see the following, clamorous troops of blood-stained
tiles, and give me piercing glances, so that these swords played
continually at my heart. But we are a decorous race, thank God. It is
very vulgar to apprehend murderers on the public streets. We have
learned correct manners from the English. Besides, who can be sure of
the meaning of clamouring tiles? It might be merely a trick in
Detectives? What are detectives? Oh, yes, I have read of them and
their deeds, when I come to think of it. The prehistoric races must
have been remarkable. I have never been able to understand how the
detective navigated in stone boats. Still, specimens of their pottery
excavated in Taumalipas show a remarkable knowledge of mechanics. I
remember the little hydraulicwhat's that? Well, what you say may be
true, my friend, but I think you dream.
The little stained tiles. My friend, I stopped in an inn at the ends
of the earth, and in the morning they were there flying like little
birds and pecking at my window.
I should have escaped. Heavens, I should have escaped. What was more
simple? I murdered and then walked into the world, which is wide and
Do you know that my own clock assisted in the hunting of me? They
asked what time I left my home that morning, and it replied at once,
Half-after eight. The watch of a man I had chanced to pass near the
house of the crime told the people Seven minutes after nine. And, of
course, the tall, old clock in the drawing-room went about day after
day repeating, Eighteen minutes after nine.
Do you say that the man who caught me was very clever? My friend, I
have lived long, and he was the most incredible blockhead of my
experience. An enslaved, dust-eating Mexican vaquero wouldn't hitch his
pony to such a man. Do you think he deserves credit for my capture? If
he had been as pervading as the atmosphere, he would never have caught
me. If he was a detective, as you say, I could carve a better one from
an old table-leg. But the tiles. That is another matter. At night I
think they flew in long high flock, like pigeons. In the day, little
mad things, they murmured on my trail like frothy-mouthed weasels.
I see that you note these great, round, vividly orange spots on my
coat. Of course, even if the detective were really carved from an old
table-leg, he could hardly fail to apprehend a man thus badged. As
sores come upon one in the plague so came these spots upon my coat.
When I discovered them, I made effort to free myself of this coat. I
tore, tugged, wrenched at it, but around my shoulders it was like a
grip of a dead man's arms. Do you know that I have plunged into a
thousand lakes? I have smeared this coat with a thousand paints. But
day and night the spots burn like lights. I might walk from this jail
to-day if I could rid myself of this coat, but it
At any rate, the person you call a detective was not so clever to
discover a man in a coat of spotted orange, followed by shrieking,
blood-stained tiles. Yes, that noise from the corridor is most
peculiar. But they are always there, muttering and watching, clashing
and jostling. It sounds as if the dishes of Hades were being washed.
Yet I have become used to it. Once, indeed, in the night, I cried out
to them, In God's name, go away, little blood-stained tiles. But they
doggedly answered, It is the law.
AT CLANCY'S WAKE.
SCENERoom in the house of the lamented Clancy. The curtains are
pulled down. A perfume of old roses and whisky hangs in the air. A
weeping woman in black it seated at a table in the centre. A group of
wide-eyed children are sobbing in a corner. Down the side of the room
is a row of mourning friends of the family. Through an open door can be
seen, half hidden in shadows, the silver and black of a coffin.
WIDOWOh, wirra, wirra, wirra!
FRIENDS (conversing in low tones)Yis, Moike Clancy was a
foine mahn, sure! None betther! No, I don't t'ink so. Did he? Sure, all
th' elictions! He was th' bist in the warrud! He licked 'im widin an
inch of his loife, aisy, an' th' other wan a big, shtrappin' buck of a
mahn, an' him jes' free of th' pneumonia! Yis, he did! They carried th'
warrud by six hunder! Yis, he was a foine mahn. None betther. Gawd sav'
(Enter Mr. SLICK, of the Daily Blanket, shown in by a
maid-servant, whose hair has become disarranged through much
tear-shedding. He is attired in a suit of grey check, and wears a red
rose in his buttonhole.)
Mr. SLICKGood afternoon, Mrs. Clancy. This is a sad misfortune for
you, isn't it?
WIDOWOh, indade, indade, young mahn, me poor heart is bruk.
Mr. SLICKVery sad, Mrs. Clancy. A great misfortune, I'm sure. Now,
Mrs. Clancy, I've called to
WIDOWLittle did I t'ink, young mahn, win they brought poor Moike
in that it was th' lasht!
Mr. SLICK (with conviction)True! True! Very true, indeed.
It was a great grief to you, Mrs. Clancy. I've called this morning,
Mrs. Clancy, to see if I could get from you a short obituary notice for
the Blanket if you could
WIDOWAn' his hid was done up in a rag, an' he was cursin'
frightful. A damned Oytalian lit fall th' hod as Moike was walkin'
pasht as dacint as you plaze. Win they carried 'im in, him all bloody,
an' ravin' tur'ble 'bout Oytalians, me heart was near bruk, but I niver
tawtI niver tawtII niver(Breaks forth into a long, forlorn
cry. The children join in, and the chorus echoes wailfully through the
Mr. SLICK (as the yell, in a measure, ceases)Yes, indeed, a
sad, sad affair. A terrible misfortune. Now, Mrs. Clancy
WIDOW (turning suddenly)Mary Ann. Where's thot lazy divil
of a Mary Ann? (As the servant appears.) Mary Ann, bring th'
bottle! Give th' gintlemin a dhrink!... Here's to Hiven savin' yez,
young mahn. (Drinks.)
Mr. SLICK (drinks)A noble whisky, Mrs. Clancy. Many thanks.
Now, Mrs. Clancy
WIDOWTake anodder wan! Take anodder wan! (Fills his glass.)
Mr. SLICK (impatiently)Yes, certainly, Mrs. Clancy,
certainly. (He drinks.) Now, could you tell me, Mrs. Clancy,
where your late husband was
WIDOWWhoMoike? Oh, young mahn, yez can just say thot he was the
foinest mahn livin' an' breathin', an' niver a wan in th' warrud was
betther. Oh, but he had th' tindther heart for 'is fambly, he did.
Don't I remimber win he clipped little Patsey wid th' bottle, an'
didn't he buy th' big rockin'-horse th' minit he got sober? Sure he
did. Pass th' bottle, Mary Ann! (Pours a beer-glass about half-full
for her guest.)
Mr. SLICK (taking a seat)True, Mr. Clancy was a fine man,
Mrs. Clancya very fine man. Now, I
WIDOW (plaintively)An' don't yez loike th' rum? Dhrink th'
rum, mahn! It was me own Moike's fav'rite bran'. Well I remimber win he
fotched it home, an' half th' demijohn gone a'ready, an' him a-cursin'
up th' stairs as dhrunk as Gawd plazed. It was aDhrink th' rum, young
mahn, dhrink th' rum! If he cud see yez now, Moike Clancy wud git up
Mr. SLICK (desperately)Very well, very well, Mrs. Clancy.
Here's your good health. Now, can you tell me, Mrs. Clancy, when was
Mr. Clancy born?
WIDOWWin was he borrun. Sure, divil a bit do I care win he was
borrun. He was th' good mahn to me an' his childher; an' Gawd knows I
don't care win he was borrun. Mary Ann, pass th' bottle! Wud yez kape
th' gintlemin starvin' for a dhrink here in Moike Clancy's own house?
Gawd save yez.
(When the bottle appears she pours a huge quantity out for her
Mr. SLICKWell, then, Mrs. Clancy, where was he born?
WIDOW (staring)In Oirland, mahn, in Oirland! Where did yez
t'ink? (Then, in sudden, wheedling tones.) An' ain't yez goin'
to dhrink th' rum? Are yez goin' to shirk th' good whisky what was th'
pride of Moike's life, an' him gettin' full on it an' breakin' th'
furnitir t'ree nights a week hard-runnin'? Shame an yez, an' Gawd save
yer soul. Dhrink it oop now, there's a dear, dhrink it oop now, an'
say: Moike Clancy, be all th' powers in th' shky, Hiven sind yez
Mr. SLICK(to himself)Holy smoke! (He drinks, then
regards the glass for a long time.) ... Well, now, Mrs. Clancy,
give me your attention for a moment, please. When did
WIDOWAn' oh, but he was a power in th' warrud! Divil a mahn cud
vote right widout Moike Clancy at 'is elbow. An' in th' calkus, sure
didn't Mulrooney git th' nominashun jes' by raison of Moike's
atthackin' th' opposashun wid th' shtove-poker. Mulrooney got it as
aisy as dhirt, wid Moike rowlin' under th' tayble wid th' other
candeedate. He was a good sit'zen, was Moikedivil a wan betther.
Mr. SLICK spends some minutes in collecting his faculties.
Mr. SLICK (after he decides that he has them collected)Yes,
yes, Mrs. Clancy, your husband's h-highly successful pol-pol-political
career was w-well known to the public; but what I want to know iswhat
I want to know(Pauses to consider.)
WIDOW (finally)Pass th' glasses, Mary Ann, yez lazy divil;
give th' gintlemin a dhrink! Here (tendering him a glass), take
anodder wan to Moike Clancy, an' Gawd save yez for yer koindness to a
poor widee woman!
Mr. SLICK (after solemnly regarding the glass)Certainly,
II'll take a drink. Certainly, MMish Clanshy. Yes, certainly, Mish
Clanshy. Now, Mish Clanshy, w-w-wash was Mr. Clanshy's n-name before he
married you, Mish Clanshy?
WIDOW (astonished)Why, divil a bit else but Clancy.
Mr. SLICK (after reflection)Well, but I meanI mean, Mish
Clanshy, I meanwhat was date of birth? Did marry you 'fore then, or
d-did marry you when 'e was born in N' York, Mish Clanshy?
WIDOWPhwat th' divil
Mr. SLICK (with dignity)Ansher my queshuns, pleash, Mish
Clanshy. Did 'e bring chil'en withum f'm Irelan', or was you, after
married in N' York, mother those chil'en 'e brought f'm Irelan'?
WIDOWBe th' powers above, I
Mr. SLICK (with gentle patience)I don't shink y' unnerstan'
m' queshuns, Mish Clanshy. What I wanna fin' out is, what was 'e born
in N' York for when he, before zat, came f'm Irelan'? Dash what puzzels
me. I-I'm completely puzzled. An' alsho, I wanna fin' outI wanna fin'
out, if poshblezat is, if it's poshble shing, I wanna fin' outI
wanna fin' outif poshbleI wanna-shay, who the blazesh is dead here,
AN EPISODE OF WAR.
The lieutenant's rubber blanket lay on the ground, and upon it he
had poured the company's supply of coffee. Corporals and other
representatives of the grimy and hot-throated men who lined the
breastwork had come for each squad's portion.
The lieutenant was frowning and serious at this task of division.
His lips pursed as he drew with his sword various crevices in the heap
until brown squares of coffee, astoundingly equal in size, appeared on
the blanket. He was on the verge of a great triumph in mathematics, and
the corporals were thronging forward, each to reap a little square,
when suddenly the lieutenant cried out and looked quickly at a man near
him as if he suspected it was a case of personal assault. The others
cried out also when they saw blood upon the lieutenant's sleeve.
He has winced like a man stung, swayed dangerously, and then
straightened. The sound of his hoarse breathing was plainly audible. He
looked sadly, mystically, over the breastwork at the green face of a
wood, where now were many little puffs of white smoke. During this
moment the men about him gazed statue-like and silent, astonished and
awed by this catastrophe which happened when catastrophes were not
expectedwhen they had leisure to observe it.
As the lieutenant stared at the wood, they too swung their heads, so
that for another instant all hands, still silent, contemplated the
distant forest as if their minds were fixed upon the mystery of a
The officer had, of course, been compelled to take his sword into
his left hand. He did not hold it by the hilt. He gripped it at the
middle of the blade, awkwardly. Turning his eyes from the hostile wood,
he looked at the sword as he held it there, and seemed puzzled as to
what to do with it, where to put it. In short, this weapon had of a
sudden become a strange thing to him. He looked at it in a kind of
stupefaction, as if he had been endowed with a trident, a sceptre, or a
Finally he tried to sheath it. To sheath a sword held by the left
hand, at the middle of the blade, in a scabbard hung at the left hip,
is a feat worthy of a sawdust ring. This wounded officer engaged in a
desperate struggle with the sword and the wobbling scabbard, and during
the time of it he breathed like a wrestler.
But at this instant the men, the spectators, awoke from their
stone-like poses and crowded forward sympathetically. The
orderly-sergeant took the sword and tenderly placed it in the scabbard.
At the time, he leaned nervously backward, and did not allow even his
finger to brush the body of the lieutenant. A wound gives strange
dignity to him who bears it. Well men shy from this new and terrible
majesty. It is as if the wounded man's hand is upon the curtain which
hangs before the revelations of all existencethe meaning of ants,
potentates, wars, cities, sunshine, snow, a feather dropped from a
bird's wing; and the power of it sheds radiance upon a bloody form, and
makes the other men understand sometimes that they are little. His
comrades look at him with large eyes thoughtfully. Moreover, they fear
vaguely that the weight of a finger upon him might send him headlong,
precipitate the tragedy, hurl him at once into the dim, grey unknown.
And so the orderly-sergeant, while sheathing the sword, leaned
There were others who proffered assistance. One timidly presented
his shoulder and asked the lieutenant if he cared to lean upon it, but
the latter waved him away mournfully. He wore the look of one who knows
he is the victim of a terrible disease and understands his
helplessness. He again stared over the breastwork at the forest, and
then turning went slowly rearward. He held his right wrist tenderly in
his left hand as if the wounded arm was made of very brittle glass.
And the men in silence stared at the wood, then at the departing
lieutenantthen at the wood, then at the lieutenant.
As the wounded officer passed from the line of battle, he was
enabled to see many things which as a participant in the fight were
unknown to him. He saw a general on a black horse gazing over the lines
of blue infantry at the green woods which veiled his problems. An aide
galloped furiously, dragged his horse suddenly to a halt, saluted, and
presented a paper. It was, for a wonder, precisely like an historical
To the rear of the general and his staff a group, composed of a
bugler, two or three orderlies, and the bearer of the corps standard,
all upon maniacal horses, were working like slaves to hold their
ground, preserve their respectful interval, while the shells boomed in
the air about them, and caused their chargers to make furious quivering
A battery, a tumultuous and shining mass, was swirling toward the
right. The wild thud of hoofs, the cries of the riders shouting blame
and praise, menace and encouragement, and, last, the roar of the
wheels, the slant of the glistening guns, brought the lieutenant to an
intent pause. The battery swept in curves that stirred the heart; it
made halts as dramatic as the crash of a wave on the rocks, and when it
fled onward, this aggregation of wheels, levers, motors, had a
beautiful unity, as if it were a missile. The sound of it was a
war-chorus that reached into the depths of man's emotion.
The lieutenant, still holding his arm as if it were of glass, stood
watching this battery until all detail of it was lost, save the figures
of the riders, which rose and fell and waved lashes over the black
Later, he turned his eyes toward the battle where the shooting
sometimes crackled like bush-fires, sometimes sputtered with
exasperating irregularity, and sometimes reverberated like the thunder.
He saw the smoke rolling upward and saw crowds of men who ran and
cheered, or stood and blazed away at the inscrutable distance.
He came upon some stragglers, and they told him how to find the
field hospital. They described its exact location. In fact, these men,
no longer having part in the battle, knew more of it than others. They
told the performance of every corps, every division, the opinion of
every general. The lieutenant, carrying his wounded arm rearward,
looked upon them with wonder.
At the roadside a brigade was making coffee and buzzing with talk
like a girls' boarding-school. Several officers came out to him and
inquired concerning things of which he knew nothing. One, seeing his
arm, began to scold. Why, man, that's no way to do. You want to fix
that thing. He appropriated the lieutenant and the lieutenant's wound.
He cut the sleeve and laid bare the arm, every nerve of which softly
fluttered under his touch. He bound his handkerchief over the wound,
scolding away in the meantime. His tone allowed one to think that he
was in the habit of being wounded every day. The lieutenant hung his
head, feeling, in this presence, that he did not know how to be
The low white tents of the hospital were grouped around an old
school-house. There was here a singular commotion. In the foreground
two ambulances interlocked wheels in the deep mud. The drivers were
tossing the blame of it back and forth, gesticulating and berating,
while from the ambulances, both crammed with wounded, there came an
occasional groan. An interminable crowd of bandaged men were coming and
going. Great numbers sat under the trees nursing heads or arms or legs.
There was a dispute of some kind raging on the steps of the
school-house. Sitting with his back against a tree a man with a face as
grey as a new army blanket was serenely smoking a corn-cob pipe. The
lieutenant wished to rush forward and inform him that he was dying.
A busy surgeon was passing near the lieutenant. Good-morning, he
said, with a friendly smile. Then he caught sight of the lieutenant's
arm and his face at once changed. Well, let's have a look at it. He
seemed possessed suddenly of a great contempt for the lieutenant. This
wound evidently placed the latter on a very low social plane. The
doctor cried out impatiently, What mutton-head had tied it up that way
anyhow? The lieutenant answered, Oh, a man.
When the wound was disclosed the doctor fingered it disdainfully.
Humph, he said. You come along with me and I'll 'tend to you. His
voice contained the same scorn as if he were saying, You will have to
go to jail.
The lieutenant had been very meek, but now his face flushed, and he
looked into the doctor's eyes. I guess I won't have it amputated, he
Nonsense, man! Nonsense! Nonsense! cried the doctor. Come along,
now. I won't amputate it. Come along. Don't be a baby.
Let go of me, said the lieutenant, holding back wrathfully, his
glance fixed upon the door of the old school-house, as sinister to him
as the portals of death.
And this is the story of how the lieutenant lost his arm. When he
reached home, his sisters, his mother, his wife, sobbed for a long time
at the sight of the flat sleeve. Oh, well, he said, standing
shamefaced amid these tears, I don't suppose it matters so much as all
THE VOICE OF THE MOUNTAIN.
The old man Popocatepetl was seated on a high rock with his white
mantle about his shoulders. He looked at the sky, he looked at the sea,
he looked at the landnowhere could he see any food. And he was very
Who can understand the agony of a creature whose stomach is as large
as a thousand churches, when this same stomach is as empty as a broken
He looked longingly at some island in the sea. Ah, those flat
cakes! If I had them. He stared at storm-clouds in the sky. Ah, what
a drink is there. But the King of Everything, you know, had forbidden
the old man Popocatepetl to move at all, because he feared that every
footprint would make a great hole in the land. So the old fellow was
obliged to sit still and wait for his food to come within reach. Any
one who has tried this plan knows what intervals lie between meals.
Once his friend, the little eagle, flew near, and Popocatepetl
called to him. Ho, tiny bird, come and consider with me as to how I
shall be fed.
The little eagle came and spread his legs apart and considered
manfully, but he could do nothing with the situation. You see, he
said, this is no ordinary hunger which one goat will suffice
Popocatepetl groaned an assent.
but it is an enormous affair, continued the little eagle, which
requires something like a dozen stars. I don't see what can be done
unless we get that little creature of the earththat little animal
with two arms, two legs, one head, and a very brave air, to invent
something. He is said to be very wise.
Who claims it for him? asked Popocatepetl.
He claims it for himself, responded the eagle.
Well, summon him. Let us see. He is doubtless a kind little animal,
and when he sees my distress he will invent something.
Good! The eagle flew until he discovered one of these small
creatures. Oh, tiny animal, the great chief Popocatepetl summons you!
Does he, indeed!
Popocatepetl, the great chief, said the eagle again, thinking that
the little animal had not heard rightly.
Well, and why does he summon me?
Because he is in distress, and he needs your assistance.
The little animal reflected for a time, and then said, I will go.
When Popocatepetl perceived the little animal and the eagle he
stretched forth his great, solemn arms. Oh, blessed little animal with
two arms, two legs, a head, and a very brave air, help me in my agony.
Behold I, Popocatepetl, who saw the King of Everything fashioning the
stars, I, who knew the sun in his childhood, I, Popocatepetl, appeal to
you, little animal. I am hungry.
After a while the little animal asked: How much will you pay?
Pay? said Popocatepetl.
Pay? said the eagle.
Assuredly, quoth the little animal, pay!
But, demanded Popocatepetl, were you never hungry? I tell you I
am hungry, and is your first word then 'pay'?
The little animal turned coldly away. Oh, Popocatepetl, how much
wisdom has flown past you since you saw the King of Everything
fashioning the stars and since you knew the sun in his childhood? I
said pay, and, moreover, your distress measures my price. It is our
law. Yet it is true that we did not see the King of Everything
fashioning the stars. Nor did we know the sun in his childhood.
Then did Popocatepetl roar and shake in his rage. Oh,
louselouselouse! Let us bargain then! How much for your blood?
Over the little animal hung death.
But he instantly bowed himself and prayed: Popocatepetl, the great,
you who saw the King of Everything fashioning the stars, and who knew
the sun in his childhood, forgive this poor little animal. Your sacred
hunger shall be my care. I am your servant.
It is well, said Popocatepetl at once, for his spirit was ever
kindly. And now, what will you do?
The little animal put his hand upon his chin and reflected. Well,
it seems you are hungry, and the King of Everything has forbidden you
to go for food in fear that your monstrous feet will riddle the earth
with holes. What you need is a pair of wings.
A pair of wings! cried Popocatepetl delightedly.
A pair of wings! screamed the eagle in joy.
How very simple, after all.
And yet how wise!
But, said Popocatepetl, after the first outburst, who can make me
The little animal replied: I and my kind are great, because at
times we can make one mind control a hundred thousand bodies. This is
the secret of our performance. It will be nothing for us to make wings
for even you, great Popocatepetl. I and my kind will comecontinued
the crafty, little animalwe will come and dwell on this beautiful
plain that stretches from the sea to the sea, and we will make wings
Popocatepetl wished to embrace the little animal. Oh, glorious! Oh,
best of little brutes! Run! run! run! Summon your kind, dwell in the
plain and make me wings. Ah, when once Popocatepetl can soar on his
wings from star to star, then, indeed
* * * * *
Poor old stupid Popocatepetl! The little animal summoned his kind,
they dwelt on the plains, they made this and they made that, but they
made no wings for Popocatepetl.
And sometimes when the thunderous voice of the old peak rolls and
rolls, if you know that tongue, you can hear him say: Oh, traitor!
Traitor! Traitor! Where are my wings? My wings, traitor! I am hungry!
Where are my wings?
But the little animal merely places his finger beside his nose and
Your wings, indeed, fool! Sit still and howl for them! Old idiot!
WHY DID THE YOUNG CLERK SWEAR?
OR, THE UNSATISFACTORY FRENCH.
All was silent in the little gent's furnishing store. A lonely clerk
with a blonde moustache and a red necktie raised a languid hand to his
brow and brushed back a dangling lock. He yawned and gazed gloomily at
the blurred panes of the windows.
Without, the wind and rain came swirling round the brick buildings
and went sweeping over the streets. A horse-car rumbled stolidly by. In
the mud on the pavements, a few pedestrians struggled with excited
The deuce! remarked the clerk. I'd give ten dollars if somebody
would come in and buy something, if 'twere only cotton socks.
He waited amid the shadows of the grey afternoon. No customers came.
He heaved a long sigh and sat down on a high stool. From beneath a
stack of unlaundried shirts he drew a French novel with a picture on
the cover. He yawned again, glanced lazily toward the street, and
settled himself as comfortable as the gods would let him upon the high
He opened the book and began to read. Soon it could have been
noticed that his blonde moustache took on a curl of enthusiasm, and the
refractory locks on his brow showed symptoms of soft agitation.
Silvere did not see the young girl for some days, read the clerk.
He was miserable. He seemed always to inhale that subtle perfume from
her hair. At night he saw her eyes in the stars.
His dreams were troubled. He watched the house. Heloise did not
appear. One day he met Vibert. Vibert wore a black frock-coat. There
were wine-stains on the right breast. His collar was soiled. He had not
Silvere burst into tears. 'I love her! I love her! I shall die!'
Vibert laughed scornfully. His necktie was second-hand. Idiotic, this
boy in love. Fool! Simpleton! But at last he pitied him. She goes to
the music-teacher's every morning. Silly Silvere embraced him.
The next day Silvere waited at the street corner. A vendor was
selling chestnuts. Two gamins were fighting in an alley. A woman was
scrubbing some steps. This great Paris throbbed with life.
Heloise came. She did not perceive Silvere. She passed with a happy
smile on her face. She looked fresh, fair, innocent. Silvere felt
himself swooning. 'Ah, my God!'
She crossed the street. The young man received a shock that sent
the warm blood to his brain. It had been raining. There was mud. With
one slender hand Heloise lifted her skirts. Silvere leaning forward,
A young man in a wet mackintosh came into the little gent's
Ah, beg pardon, said he to the clerk, but do you have an agency
for a steam laundry here? I have been patronising a Chinaman down th'
avenue for some time, but hewhat? No? You have none here? Well, why
don't you start one, anyhow? It'd be a good thing in this
neighbourhood. I live just round the corner, and it'd be a great thing
for me. I know lots of people who wouldwhat? Oh, you don't? Oh!
As the young man in the wet mackintosh retreated, the clerk with a
blonde moustache made a hungry grab at the novel. He continued to read:
Handkerchief fall in a puddle. Silvere sprang forward. He picked up
the handkerchief. Their eyes met. As he returned the handkerchief,
their hands touched. The young girl smiled. Silvere was in ecstacies.
'Ah, my God!'
A baker opposite was quarrelling over two sous with an old woman.
A grey-haired veteran with a medal upon his breast and a butcher's
boy were watching a dog-fight. The smell of dead animals came from
adjacent slaughter-houses. The letters on the sign over the tinsmith's
shop on the corner shone redly like great clots of blood. It was hell
on roller skates.
Here the clerk skipped some seventeen chapters descriptive of a
number of intricate money transactions, the moles on the neck of a
Parisian dressmaker, the process of making brandy, the milk-leg of
Silvere's aunt, life in the coal-pits, and scenes in the Chamber of
Deputies. In these chapters the reputation of the architect of
Charlemagne's palace was vindicated, and it was explained why Heloise's
grandmother didn't keep her stockings pulled up.
Then he proceeded: Heloise went to the country. The next day
Silvere followed. They met in the fields. The young girl had donned the
garb of the peasants. She blushed. She looked fresh, fair, innocent.
Silvere felt faint with rapture. 'Ah, my God!'
She had been running. Out of breath, she sank down in the hay. She
held out her hand. 'I am so glad to see you.' Silvere was enchanted at
this vision. He bended toward her. Suddenly he burst into tears. 'I
love you! I love you! I love you!' he stammered.
A row of red and white shirts hung on a line some distance away.
The third shirt from the left had a button off the neck. A cat on the
rear steps of a cottage near the shirt was drinking milk from a
platter. The north-east portion of the platter had a crack in it.
'Heloise!' Silvere was murmuring hoarsely. He leaned toward her
until his warm breath moved the curls on her neck. 'Heloise!' murmured
Young man, said an elderly gentleman with a dripping umbrella to
the clerk with a blonde moustache, have you any night-shirts open
front and back? Eh? Night-shirts open front and back, I said. D'you
hear, eh? Night-shirts open front and back. Well, then, why
didn't you say so? It would pay you to be a trifle more polite, young
man. When you get as old as I am, you will find out that it pays
towhat? I didn't see you adding any column of figures. In that case I
am sorry. You have no night-shirts open front and back, eh? Well,
As the elderly gentleman vanished, the clerk with a blonde moustache
grasped the novel like some famished animal. He read on: A peasant
stood before the two children. He wrung his hands. 'Have you seen a
stray cow?' 'No,' cried the children in the same breath. The peasant
wept. He wrung his hands. It was a supreme moment.
'She loves me!' cried Silvere to himself, as he changed his clothes
It was evening. The children sat by the fire-place. Heloise wore a
gown of clinging white. She looked fresh, fair, innocent. Silvere was
in raptures. 'Ah, my God!'
Old Jean, the peasant, saw nothing. He was mending harness. The
fire crackled in the fire-place. The children loved each other. Through
the open door to the kitchen came the sound of old Marie shrilly
cursing the geese who wished to enter. In front of the window two pigs
were quarrelling over a vegetable. Cattle were lowing in a distant
field. A hay-waggon creaked slowly past. Thirty-two chickens were
asleep in the branches of a tree. This subtle atmosphere had a mighty
effect upon Heloise. It was beating down her self-control. She felt
herself going. She was choking.
The young girl made an effort. She stood up. 'Good-night, I must
go.' Silvere took her hand. 'Heloise,' he murmured. Outside the two
pigs were fighting.
A warm blush overspread the young girl's face. She turned wet eyes
toward her lover. She looked fresh, fair, innocent. Silvere was
maddened. 'Ah, my God!'
Suddenly the young girl began to tremble. She tried vainly to
withdraw her hand. But her knee
I wish to get my husband some shirts, said a shopping-woman with
six bundles. The clerk with a blonde moustache made a private gesture
of despair, and rapidly spread a score of different-patterned shirts
upon the counter. He's very particular about his shirts, said the
shopping-woman. Oh, I don't think any of these will do. Don't you keep
the Invincible brand? He only wears that kind. He says they fit him
better. And he's very particular about his shirts. What? You don't keep
them? No? Well, how much do you think they would come at? Haven't the
slightest idea. Well, I suppose I must go somewhere else, then. Um,
The clerk with the blonde moustache was about to make further
private gestures of despair, when the shopping-woman with six bundles
turned and went out. His fingers instantly closed nervously over the
book. He drew it from its hiding-place, and opened it at the place
where he had ceased. His hungry eyes seemed to eat the words upon the
page. He continued: struck cruelly against a chair. It seemed to
awaken her. She started. She burst from the young man's arms. Outside
the two pigs were grunting amiably.
Silvere took his candle. He went toward his room. He was in
despair. 'Ah, my God!'
He met the young girl on the stairs. He took her hand. Tears were
raining down his face. 'Heloise!' he murmured.
The young girl shivered. As Silvere put his arms about her, she
faintly resisted. This embrace seemed to sap her life. She wished to
die. Her thoughts flew back to the old well and the broken hayrakes at
The young girl looked fresh, fair, innocent 'Heloise!' murmured
Silvere. The children exchanged a long, clinging kiss. It seemed to
unite their souls.
The young girl was swooning. Her head sank on the young man's
shoulder. There was nothing in space except these warm kisses on her
neck. Silvere enfolded her. 'Ah, my God!'
Say, young fellow, said a youth with a tilted cigar to the clerk
with a blonde moustache, where th'll is Billie Carcart's joint round
Next corner, said the clerk fiercely.
Oh, th'll, said the youth, yehs needn't git gay. See! When a
feller asts a civil question yehs needn't git gay. See! Th'll!
The youth stood and looked aggressive for a moment. Then he went
The clerk seemed almost to leap upon the book. His feverish fingers
twirled the pages. When he found his place he glued his eyes to it. He
Then a great flash of lightning illumined the hall-way. It threw
livid hues over a row of flowerpots in the window-seat. Thunder shook
the house to its foundation. From the kitchen arose the voice of old
Marie in prayer.
Heloise screamed. She wrenched herself from the young man's arms.
She sprang inside her room. She locked the door. She flung herself face
downward on the bed. She burst into tears. She looked fresh, fair,
The rain pattering upon the thatched roof sounded in the stillness
like the footsteps of spirits. In the sky toward Paris there shone a
The chickens had all fallen from the tree. They stood, sadly, in a
puddle. The two pigs were asleep under the porch.
Upstairs, in the hall-way, Silvers was furious.
The clerk with a blonde moustache gave here a wild scream of
disappointment. He madly hurled the novel with the picture on the cover
from him. He stood up and said: Damn!
THE VICTORY OF THE MOON.
The Strong Man of the Hills lost his wife. Immediately he went
abroad, calling aloud. The people all crouched afar in the dark of
their huts, and cried to him when he was yet a long distance away: No,
no, great chief, we have not even seen the imprint of your wife's
sandal in the sand. If we had seen it, you would have found us bowed
down in worship before the marks of her ten glorious brown toes, for we
are but poor devils of Indians, and the grandeur of the sun rays on her
hair would have turned our eyes to dust.
Her toes are not brown. They are pink, said the Strong Man from
the Hills. Therefore do I believe that you speak the truth when you
say you have not seen her, good little men of the valley. In this
matter of her great loveliness, however, you speak a little too
strongly. As she is no longer among my possessions, I have no mind to
hear her praised. Whereabouts is the best man of you?
None of them had stomach for this honour at the time. They surmised
that the Strong Man of the Hills had some plan for combat, and they
knew that the best of them would have in this encounter only the
strength of the meat in the grip of the fire. Great King, they said,
in one voice, there is no best man here.
How is this? roared the Strong Man. There must be one who excels.
It is a law. Let him step forward then.
But they solemnly shook their heads. There is no best man here.
The Strong Man turned upon them so furiously that many fell to the
ground. There must be one. Let him step forward. Shivering, they
huddled together and tried, in their fear, to thrust each other toward
the Strong Man.
At this time a young philosopher approached the throng slowly. The
philosophers of that age were all young men in the full heat of life.
The old greybeards were, for the most part, very stupid, and were so
Strong Man from the Hills, said the young philosopher, go to
yonder brook and bathe. Then come and eat of this fruit. Then gaze for
a time at the blue sky and the green earth. Afterward I have something
to say to you.
You are not so wise that I am obliged to bathe before listening to
you? demanded the Strong Man, insolently.
No, said the young philosopher. All the people thought this reply
Why, then, must I bathe and eat of fruit and gaze at the earth and
Because they are pleasant things to do.
Have I, do you think, any thirst at this time for pleasant things?
Bathe, eat, gaze, said the young philosopher with a gesture.
The Strong Man did, indeed, whirl his bronzed and terrible limbs in
the silver water. Then he lay in the shadow of a tree and ate the cool
fruit and gazed at the sky and the earth. This is a fine comfort, he
said. After a time he suddenly struck his forehead with his finger. By
the way, did I tell you that my wife had fled from me?
I know it, said the young philosopher.
Later the Strong Man slept peacefully. The young philosopher smiled.
But in the night the little men of the valley came clamouring: Oh,
Strong Man of the Hills, the moon derides you!
The philosopher went to them in the darkness. Be still, little
people. It is nothing. The derision of the moon is nothing.
But the little men of the valley would not cease their uproar. Oh,
Strong Man! Strong Man, awake! Awake! The moon derides you!
Then the Strong Man aroused and shook his locks away from his eyes.
What is it, good little men of the valley?
Oh, Strong Man, the moon derides you! Oh, Strong Man!
The Strong Man looked, and there, indeed, was the moon laughing down
at him. He sprang to his feet and roared. Ah, old, fat, lump of moon,
you laugh! Have you seen my wife?
The moon said no word, but merely smiled in a way that was like a
flash of silver bars.
Well, then, moon, take this home to her, thundered the Strong Man,
and he hurled his spear.
The moon clapped both hands to its eye, and cried: Oh! Oh!
The little people of the valley cried: Oh, this is terrible, Strong
Man! He has smitten our sacred moon in the eye!
The young philosopher cried nothing at all.
The Strong Man threw his coat of crimson feathers upon the ground.
He took his knife and felt its edge. Look you, philosopher, he said.
I have lost my wife, and the bath, the meal of fruit in the shade, the
sight of sky and earth are still good to me, but when this false moon
derides me, there must be a killing.
I understand you, said the young philosopher.
The Strong Man ran off into the night. The little men of the valley
clapped their hands in ecstacy and terror. Ah! ah! what a battle will
The Strong Man went into his own hills and gathered there many great
rocks and trunks of trees. It was strange to see him erect upon a peak
of the mountains and hurling these things at the moon. He kept the air
full of them.
Fat moon, come closer, he shouted. Come closer, and let it be my
knife against your knife. Oh, to think that we are obliged to tolerate
such an old, fat, stupid, lazy, good-for-nothing moon. You are ugly as
death, while IOh, moon, you stole my beloved, and it was nothing, but
when you stole my beloved and laughed at me, it became another matter.
And yet you are so ugly, so fat, so stupid, so lazy, so
good-for-nothing. Ah, I shall go mad! Come closer, moon, and let me
examine your round, grey skull with this club.
And he always kept the air full of great missiles.
The moon merely laughed, and said: Why should I come closer?
Wildly did the Strong Man pile rock upon rock. He builded him a
tower that was the father of all towers. It made the mountains to
appear to be babes. Upon the summit of it he swung his great club and
flourished his knife.
The little men in the valley far below beheld a great storm, and at
the end of it they said: Look, the moon is dead. The cry went to and
fro on the earth: The moon is dead!
The Strong Man went to the home of the moon. She, the sought one,
lay upon a cloud, and her little foot dangled over the side of it. The
Strong Man took this little foot in his two hands and kissed it. Ah,
beloved! he moaned, I would rather this little foot was upon my dead
neck than that moon should ever have the privilege of seeing it.
She leaned over the edge of the cloud and gazed at him. How dusty
you are. Why do you puff so? Veritably, you are an ordinary person. Why
did I ever find you interesting?
The Strong Man flung his knife into the air and turned back toward
the earth. If the young philosopher had been at my elbow, he
reflected, bitterly, I would doubtless have gone at the matter in
another way. What does my strength avail me in this contest?
The battered moon, limping homeward, replied to the Strong Man from
the Hills: Aye, surely. My weakness is in this thing as strong as your
strength. I am victor with ugliness, my age, my stoutness, my laziness,
my good-for-nothingness. Woman is woman. Men are equal in everything
save good fortune. I envy you not.