by Stephen Crane
LITTLE JIM was, for the time, engine Number 36, and he was making
the run between Syracuse and Rochester. He was fourteen minutes behind
time, and the throttle was wide open. In consequence, when he swung
around the curve at the flower-bed, a wheel of his cart destroyed a
peony. Number 36 slowed down at once and looked guiltily at his
father, who was mowing the lawn. The doctor had his back to this
accident, and he continued to pace slowly to and fro, pushing the
Jim dropped the tongue of the cart. He looked at his father and at
the broken flower. Finally he went to the peony and tried to stand it
on its pins, resuscitated, but the spine of it was hurt, and it would
only hang limply from his hand. Jim could do no reparation. He looked
again toward his father.
He went on to the lawn, very slowly, and kicking wretchedly at the
turf. Presently his father came along with the whirring machine, while
the sweet new grass blades spun from the knives. In a low voice, Jim
The doctor was shaving this lawn as if it were a priest's chin. All
during the season he had worked at it in the coolness and peace of the
evenings after supper. Even in the shadow of the cherry-trees the grass
was strong and healthy. Jim raised his voice a trifle. "Pa!"
The doctor paused, and with the howl of the machine no longer
occupying the sense, one could hear the robins in the cherry-trees
arranging their affairs. Jim's hands were behind his back, and
sometimes his fingers clasped and unclasped. Again he said, "Pa!" The
child's fresh and rosy lip was lowered.
The doctor stared down at his son, thrusting his head forward and
frowning attentively. "What is it, Jimmie?"
"Pa!" repeated the child at length. Then he raised his finger and
pointed at the flower-bed. "There!"
"What?" said the doctor, frowning more. "What is it, Jim?"
After a period of silence, during which the child may have
undergone a severe mental tumult, he raised his finger and repeated
his former word — "There!" The father had respected this silence with
perfect courtesy. Afterward his glance carefully followed the
direction indicated by the child's finger, but he could see nothing
which explained to him. "I don't understand what you mean, Jimmie," he
It seemed that the importance of the whole thing had taken away the
boy's vocabulary. He could only reiterate, "There!"
The doctor mused upon the situation, but he could make nothing of
it. At last he said, "Come, show me."
Together they crossed the lawn toward the flower-bed. At some yards
from the broken peony Jimmie began to leg. "There!" The word came
"Where?" said the doctor.
Jimmie kicked at the grass. "There!" he replied.
The doctor was obliged to go forward alone. After some trouble he
found the subject of the incident, the broken flower. Turning then, he
saw the child lurking at the rear and scanning his countenance.
The father reflected. After a time he said, "Jimmie, come here."
With an infinite modesty of demeanor the child came forward. "Jimmie,
how did this happen?"
The child answered, "Now — I was playin' train — and — now — I
runned over it."
"You were doing what?"
"I was playin' train."
The father reflected again. "Well, Jimmie," he said, slowly, "I
guess you had better not play train any more today. Do you think you
"No, sir," said Jimmie.
During the delivery of the judgment the child had not faced his
father, and afterward he went away, with his head lowered, shuffling
It was apparent from Jimmie's manner that he felt some kind of
desire to efface himself. He went down to the stable. Henry Johnson,
the negro who cared for the doctor's horses, was sponging the buggy. He
grinned fraternally when he saw Jimmie coming. These two were pals. In
regard to almost everything in life they seemed to have minds
precisely alike. Of course there were points of emphatic divergence.
For instance, it was plain from Henry's talk that he was a very
handsome negro, and he was known to be a light, a weight, and an
eminence in the suburb of the town, where lived the larger number of
the negroes, and obviously this glory was over Jimmie's horizon; but
he vaguely appreciated it and paid deference to Henry for it mainly
because Henry appreciated it and deferred to himself. However, on all
points of conduct as related to the doctor, who was the moon, they were
in complete but unexpressed understanding. Whenever Jimmie became the
victim of an eclipse he went to the stable to solace himself with
Henry's crimes. Henry, with the elasticity of his race, could usually
provide a sin to place himself on a footing with the disgraced one.
Perhaps he would remember that he had forgotten to put the hitching
strap in the back of the buggy on some recent occasion, and had been
reprimanded by the doctor. Then these two would commune subtly and
without words concerning their moon, holding themselves sympathetically
as people who had committed similar treasons. On the other hand, Henry
would sometimes choose to absolutely repudiate this idea, and when
Jimmie appeared in his shame would bully him most virtuously, preaching
with assurance the precepts of the doctor's creed, and pointing out to
Jimmie all his abominations. Jimmie did not discover that this was
odious in his comrade. He accepted it and lived in its shadow with
humility, merely trying to conciliate the saintly Henry with acts of
deference. Won by this attitude, Henry would sometimes allow the child
to enjoy the felicity of squeezing the sponge over a buggy-wheel, even
when Jimmie was still gory from unspeakable deeds.
Whenever Henry dwelt for a time in sackcloth, Jimmie did not
patronize him at all. This was a justice of his age, his condition. He
did not know. Besides, Henry could drive a horse, and Jimmie had a full
sense of this sublimity. Henry personally conducted the moon during
the splendid journeys through the country roads, where farms spread on
all sides, with sheep, cows, and other marvels abounding.
"Hello, Jim!" said Henry, poising his sponge. Water was dripping
from the buggy. Sometimes the horses in the stalls stamped
thunderingly on the pine floor. There was an atmosphere of hay and of
For a minute Jimmie refused to take an interest in anything. He was
very downcast. He could not even feel the wonders of wagon-washing.
Henry, while at his work, narrowly observed him.
"Your pop done wallop yer, didn't he?" he said at last.
"No," said Jimmie, defensively; "he didn't."
After this casual remark Henry continued his labor, with a scowl of
occupation. Presently he said: "I done tol' yer many's th' time not to
go a-foolin' an' a-projjeckin' with them flowers. Yer pop don' like it
nohow." As a matter of fact, Henry had never mentioned flowers to the
Jimmie preserved a gloomy silence, so Henry began to use seductive
wiles in this affair of washing a wagon. It was not until he began to
spin a wheel on the tree, and the sprinkling water flew everywhere,
that the boy was visibly moved. He had been seated on the sill of the
carriage-house door, but at the beginning of this ceremony he arose
and circled toward the buggy, with an interest that slowly consumed the
remembrance of a late disgrace.
Johnson could then display all the dignity of a man whose duty it
was to protect Jimmie from a splashing. "Look out, boy! look out! You
done gwi' spile yer pants. I raikon your mommer don't 'low this
foolishness, she know it. I ain't gwi' have you round yere spilin' yer
pants, an' have Mis' Trescott light on me pressen'ly. 'Deed I ain't."
He spoke with an air of great irritation, but he was not annoyed at
all. This tone was merely a part of his importance. In reality he was
always delighted to have the child there to witness the business of the
stable. For one thing, Jimmie was invariably overcome with reverence
when he was told how beautifully a harness was polished or a horse
groomed. Henry explained each detail of this kind with unction,
procuring great joy from the child's admiration.
After Johnson had taken his supper in the kitchen, he went to his
loft in the carriage-house and dressed himself with much care. No
belle of a court circle could bestow more mind on a toilet than did
Johnson. On second thought, he was more like a priest arraying himself
for some parade of the church. As he emerged from his room and
sauntered down the carriage drive, no one would have suspected him of
ever having washed a buggy.
It was not altogether a matter of the lavender trousers, nor yet
the straw hat with its bright silk band. The change was somewhere far
in the interior of Henry. But there was no cake-walk hyperbole in it.
He was simply a quiet, well-bred gentleman of position, wealth, and
other necessary achievements out for an evening stroll, and he had
never washed a wagon in his life.
In the morning, when in his working-clothes, he had met a friend —
"Hello, Pete!" "Hello, Henry!" Now, in his effulgence, he encountered
this same friend. His bow was not at all haughty. If it expressed
anything, it expressed consummate generosity — "Good-evenin', Misteh
Washington." Pete, who was very dirty, being at work in a
potato-patch, responded in a mixture of abasement and appreciation —
"Good-evenin', Misteh Johnsing."
The shimmering blue of the electric arc-lamps was strong in the
main street of the town. At numerous points it was conquered by the
orange glare of the outnumbering gas-lights in the windows of shops.
Through this radiant lane moved a crowd, which culminated in a throng
before the post-office, awaiting the distribution of the evening
mails. Occasionally there came into it a shrill electric street-car,
the motor singing like a cageful of grasshoppers, and possessing a
great gong that clanged forth both warnings and simple noise. At the
little theatre, which was a varnish and red-plush miniature of one of
the famous New York theatres, a company of strollers was to play East
Lynne. The young men of the town were mainly gathered at the corners,
in distinctive groups, which expressed various shades and lines of
chumship, and had little to do with any social gradations. There they
discussed everything with critical insight, passing the whole town in
review as it swarmed in the street. When the gongs of the electric
cars ceased for a moment to harry the ears, there could be heard the
sound of the feet of the leisurely crowd on the blue-stone pavement,
and it was like the peaceful evening lashing at the shore of a lake. At
the foot of the hill, where two lines of maples sentinelled the way,
an electric lamp glowed high among the embowering branches, and made
most wonderful shadow-etchings on the road below it.
When Johnson appeared amid the throng a member of one of the
profane groups at a corner instantly telegraphed news of this
extraordinary arrival to his companions. They hailed him. "Hello,
Henry! Going to walk for a cake to-night?"
"Ain't he smooth?"
"Why, you've got that cake right in your pocket, Henry!"
"Throw out your chest a little more."
Henry was not ruffled in any way by these quiet admonitions and
compliments. In reply he laughed a supremely good-natured, chuckling
laugh, which nevertheless expressed an underground complacency of
Young Griscom, the lawyer, was just emerging from Reifsnyder's
barber shop, rubbing his chin contentedly. On the steps he dropped his
hand and looked with wide eyes into the crowd. Suddenly he bolted back
into the shop. "Wow!" he cried to the parliament; "you ought to see
the coon that's coming!"
Reifsnyder and his assistant instantly poised their razors high and
turned toward the window. Two belathered heads reared from the chairs.
The electric shine in the street caused an effect like water to them
who looked through the glass from the yellow glamour of Reifsnyder's
shop. In fact, the people without resembled the inhabitants of a great
aquarium that here had a square pane in it. Presently into this frame
swam the graceful form of Henry Johnson.
"Chee!" said Reifsnyder. He and his assistant with one accord threw
their obligations to the winds, and leaving their lathered victims
helpless, advanced to the window. "Ain't he a taisy?" said Reifsnyder,
But the man in the first chair, with a grievance in his mind, had
found a weapon. "Why, that's only Henry Johnson, you blamed idiots!
Come on now, Reif, and shave me. What do you think I am — a mummy?"
Reifsnyder turned, in a great excitement. "I bait you any money
that vas not Henry Johnson! Henry Johnson! Rats!" The scorn put into
this last word made it an explosion. "That man vas a Pullman-car porter
or someding. How could that be Henry Johnson?" he demanded,
turbulently. "You vas crazy."
The man in the first chair faced the barber in a storm of
indignation. "Didn't I give him those lavender trousers?" he roared.
And young Griscom, who had remained attentively at the window,
said: "Yes, I guess that was Henry. It looked like him."
"Oh, vell," said Reifsnyder, returning to his business, "if you
think so! Oh, vell!" He implied that he was submitting for the sake of
Finally the man in the second chair, mumbling from a mouth made
timid by adjacent lather, said: "That was Henry Johnson all right.
Why, he always dresses like that when he wants to make a front! He's
the biggest dude in town — anybody knows that."
"Chinger!" said Reifsnyder.
Henry was not at all oblivious of the wake of wondering ejaculation
that streamed out behind him. On other occasions he had reaped this
same joy, and he always had an eye for the demonstration. With a face
beaming with happiness he turned away from the scene of his victories
into a narrow side street, where the electric light still hung high,
but only to exhibit a row of tumble-down houses leaning together like
The saffron Miss Bella Farragut, in a calico frock, had been
crouched on the front stoop, gossiping at long range, but she espied
her approaching caller at a distance. She dashed around the corner of
the house, galloping like a horse. Henry saw it all, but he preserved
the polite demeanor of a guest when a waiter spills claret down his
cuff. In this awkward situation he was simply perfect.
The duty of receiving Mr. Johnson fell upon Mrs. Farragut, because
Bella, in another room, was scrambling wildly into her best gown. The
fat old woman met him with a great ivory smile, sweeping back with the
door, and bowing low. "Walk in, Misteh Johnson, walk in. How is you
dis ebenin', Misteh Johnson — how is you?"
Henry's face showed like a reflector as he bowed and bowed, bending
almost from his head to his ankles. "Good-evenin', Mis' Fa'gut;
good-evenin'. How is you dis evenin'? Is all you' folks well, Mis'
After a great deal of kowtow, they were planted in two chairs
opposite each other in the living-room. Here they exchanged the most
tremendous civilities, until Miss Bella swept into the room, when
there was more kowtow on all sides, and a smiling show of teeth that
was like an illumination.
The cooking-stove was of course in this drawing-room, and on the
fire was some kind of a long-winded stew. Mrs. Farragut was obliged to
arise and attend to it from time to time. Also young Sim came in and
went to bed on his pallet in the corner. But to all these
domesticities the three maintained an absolute dumbness. They bowed
and smiled and ignored and imitated until a late hour, and if they had
been the occupants of the most gorgeous salon in the world they could
not have been more like three monkeys.
After Henry had gone, Bella, who encouraged herself in the
appropriation of phrases, said, "Oh, ma, isn't he divine?"
A Saturday evening was a sign always for a larger crowd to parade
the thoroughfare. In summer the band played until ten o'clock in the
little park. Most of the young men of the town affected to be superior
to this band, even to despise it; but in the still and fragrant
evenings they invariably turned out in force, because the girls were
sure to attend this concert, strolling slowly over the grass, linked
closely in pairs, or preferably in threes, in the curious public
dependence upon one another which was their inheritance. There was no
particular social aspect to this gathering, save that group regarded
group with interest, but mainly in silence. Perhaps one girl would
nudge another girl and suddenly say, "Look! there goes Gertie Hodgson
and her sister!" And they would appear to regard this as an event of
On a particular evening a rather large company of young men were
gathered on the sidewalk that edged the park. They remained thus
beyond the borders of the festivities because of their dignity, which
would not exactly allow them to appear in anything which was so much
fun for the younger lads. These latter were careering madly through
the crowd, precipitating minor accidents from time to time, but usually
fleeing like mist swept by the wind before retribution could lay its
hands upon them.
The band played a waltz which involved a gift of prominence to the
bass horn, and one of the young men on the sidewalk said that the
music reminded him of the new engines on the hill pumping water into
the reservoir. A similarity of this kind was not inconceivable, but
the young man did not say it because he disliked the band's playing. He
said it because it was fashionable to say that manner of thing
concerning the band. However, over in the stand, Billie Harris, who
played the snare-drum, was always surrounded by a throng of boys, who
adored his every whack.
After the mails from New York and Rochester had been finally
distributed, the crowd from the post-office added to the mass already
in the park. The wind waved the leaves of the maples, and, high in the
air, the blue-burning globes of the arc lamps caused the wonderful
traceries of leaf shadows on the ground. When the light fell upon the
upturned face of a girl, it caused it to glow with a wonderful pallor.
A policeman came suddenly from the darkness and chased a gang of
obstreperous little boys. They hooted him from a distance. The leader
of the band had some of the mannerisms of the great musicians, and
during a period of silence the crowd smiled when they saw him raise
his hand to his brow, stroke it sentimentally, and glance upward with a
look of poetic anguish. In the shivering light, which gave to the park
an effect like a great vaulted hall, the throng swarmed with a gentle
murmur of dresses switching the turf, and with a steady hum of voices.
Suddenly, without preliminary bars, there arose from afar the great
hoarse roar of a factory whistle. It raised and swelled to a sinister
note, and then it sang on the night wind one long call that held the
crowd in the park immovable, speechless. The band-master had been
about to vehemently let fall his hand to start the band on a
thundering career through a popular march, but, smitten by this giant
voice from the night, his hand dropped slowly to his knee, and, his
mouth agape, he looked at his men in silence. The cry died away to a
wail, and then to stillness. It released the muscles of the company of
young men on the sidewalk, who had been like statues, posed eagerly,
lithely, their ears turned. And then they wheeled upon each other
simultaneously, and, in a single explosion, they shouted, "One!"
Again the sound swelled in the night and roared its long ominous
cry, and as it died away the crowd of young men wheeled upon each
other and, in chorus, yelled, "Two!"
There was a moment of breathless waiting. Then they bawled, "Second
district!" In a flash the company of indolent and cynical young men
had vanished like a snowball disrupted by dynamite.
Jake Rogers was the first man to reach the home of Tuscarora Hose
Company Number Six. He had wrenched his key from his pocket as he tore
down the street, and he jumped at the spring-lock like a demon. As the
doors flew back before his hands he leaped and kicked the wedges from
a pair of wheels, loosened a tongue from its clasp, and in the glare
of the electric light which the town placed before each of his
hose-houses the next comers beheld the spectacle of Jake Rogers bent
like hickory in the manfulness of his pulling, and the heavy cart was
moving slowly towards the doors. Four men joined him at the time, and
as they swung with the cart out into the street, dark figures sped
towards them from the ponderous shadows back of the electric lamps.
Some set up the inevitable question, "What district?"
"Second," was replied to them in a compact howl. Tuscarora Hose
Company Number Six swept on a perilous wheel into Niagara Avenue, and
as the men, attached to the cart by the rope which had been paid out
from the windlass under the tongue, pulled madly in their fervor and
abandon, the gong under the axle clanged incitingly. And sometimes the
same cry was heard, "What district?"
On a grade Johnnie Thorpe fell, and exercising a singular muscular
ability, rolled out in time from the track of the on-coming wheel, and
arose, dishevelled and aggrieved, casting a look of mournful
disenchantment upon the black crowd that poured after the machine. The
cart seemed to be the apex of a dark wave that was whirling as if it
had been a broken dam. Back of the lad were stretches of lawn, and in
that direction front doors were banged by men who hoarsely shouted out
into the clamorous avenue, "What district?"
At one of these houses a woman came to the door bearing a lamp,
shielding her face from its rays with her hands. Across the cropped
grass the avenue represented to her a kind of black torrent, upon
which, nevertheless, fled numerous miraculous figures upon bicycles.
She did not know that the towering light at the corner was continuing
its nightly whine.
Suddenly a little boy somersaulted around the corner of the house
as if he had been projected down a flight of stairs by a catapultian
boot. He halted himself in front of the house by dint of a rather
extraordinary evolution with his legs. "Oh, ma," he gasped, "can I go?
Can I, ma?"
She straightened with the coldness of the exterior mother-judgment,
although the hand that held the lamp trembled slightly. "No, Willie;
you had better come to bed."
Instantly he began to buck and fume like a mustang. "Oh, ma," he
cried, contorting himself — "oh, ma, can't I go? Please, ma, can't I
go? Can't I go, ma?"
"It's half past nine now, Willie."
He ended by wailing out a compromise: "Well, just down to the
corner, ma? Just down to the corner?"
From the avenue came the sound of rushing men who wildly shouted.
Somebody had grappled the bell-rope in the Methodist church, and now
over the town rang this solemn and terrible voice, speaking from the
clouds. Moved from its peaceful business, this bell gained a new
spirit in the portentous night, and it swung the heart to and fro, up
and down, with each peal of it.
"Just down to the corner, ma?"
"Willie, it's half past nine now."
The outlines of the house of Dr. Trescott had faded quietly into
the evening, hiding a shape such as we call Queen Anne against the
pall of the blackened sky. The neighborhood was at this time so quiet,
and seemed so devoid of obstructions, that Hannigan's dog thought it a
good opportunity to prowl in forbidden precincts, and so came and
pawed Trescott's lawn, growling, and considering himself a formidable
beast. Later, Peter Washington strolled past the house and whistled,
but there was no dim light shining from Henry's loft, and presently
Peter went his way. The rays from the street, creeping in silvery
waves over the grass, caused the row of shrubs along the drive to
throw a clear, bold shade.
A wisp of smoke came from one of the windows at the end of the
house and drifted quietly into the branches of a cherry-tree. Its
companions followed it in slowly increasing numbers, and finally there
was a current controlled by invisible banks which poured into the
fruit-laden boughs of the cherry-tree. It was no more to be noted than
if a troop of dim and silent gray monkeys had been climbing a
grape-vine into the clouds.
After a moment the window brightened as if the four panes of it had
been stained with blood, and a quick ear might have been led to
imagine the fire-imps calling and calling, clan joining clan, gathering
to the colors. From the street, however, the house maintained its dark
quiet, insisting to a passer-by that it was the safe dwelling of
people who chose to retire early to tranquil dreams. No one could have
heard this low droning of the gathering clans.
Suddenly the panes of the red window tinkled and crashed to the
ground, and at other windows there suddenly reared other flames, like
bloody spectres at the apertures of a haunted house. This outbreak had
been well planned, as if by professional revolutionists.
A man's voice suddenly shouted: "Fire! Fire! Fire!" Hannigan had
flung his pipe frenziedly from him because his lungs demanded room. He
tumbled down from his perch, swung over the fence, and ran shouting
towards the front door of the Trescotts'. Then he hammered on the
door, using his fists as if they were mallets. Mrs. Trescott instantly
came to one of the windows on the second floor. Afterwards she knew she
had been about to say, "The doctor is not at home, but if you will
leave your name, I will let him know as soon as he comes."
Hannigan's bawling was for a minute incoherent, but she understood
that it was not about croup.
"What?" she said, raising the window swiftly.
"Your house is on fire! You're all ablaze! Move quick if — " His
cries were resounding in the street as if it were a cave of echoes.
Many feet pattered swiftly on the stones. There was one man who ran
with an almost fabulous speed. He wore lavender trousers. A straw hat
with a bright silk band was held half crumpled in his hand.
As Henry reached the front door, Hannigan had just broken the lock
with a kick. A thick cloud of smoke poured over them, and Henry,
ducking his head, rushed into it. From Hannigan's clamor he knew only
one thing, but it turned him blue with horror. In the hall a lick of
flame had found the cord that supported "Signing the Declaration." The
engraving slumped suddenly down at one end, and then dropped to the
floor, where it burst with the sound of a bomb. The fire was already
roaring like a winter wind among the pines.
At the head of the stairs Mrs. Trescott was waving her arms as if
they were two reeds. "Jimmie! Save Jimmie!" she screamed in Henry's
face. He plunged past her and disappeared, taking the long-familiar
routes among these upper chambers, where he had once held office as a
sort of second assistant house-maid.
Hannigan had followed him up the stairs, and grappled the arm of
the maniacal woman there. His face was black with rage. "You must come
down," he bellowed.
She would only scream at him in reply: "Jimmie! Jimmie! Save
Jimmie!" But he dragged her forth while she babbled at him.
As they swung out into the open air a man ran across the lawn, and
seizing a shutter, pulled it from its hinges and flung it far out upon
the grass. Then he frantically attacked the other shutters one by one.
It was a kind of temporary insanity.
"Here, you," howled Hannigan, "hold Mrs. Trescott — And stop — "
The news had been telegraphed by a twist of the wrist of a neighbor
who had gone to the fire-box at the corner, and the time when Hannigan
and his charge struggled out of the house was the time when the whistle
roared its hoarse night call, smiting the crowd in the park, causing
the leader of the band, who was about to order the first triumphal
clang of a military march, to let his hand drop slowly to his knees.
Henry pawed awkwardly through the smoke in the upper halls. He had
attempted to guide himself by the walls, but they were too hot. The
paper was crimpling, and he expected at any moment to have a flame
burst from under his hands.
He did not call very loud, as if in fear that the humming flames
below would overhear him.
"Jimmie! Oh, Jimmie!"
Stumbling and panting, he speedily reached the entrance to Jimmie's
room and flung open the door. The little chamber had no smoke in it at
all. It was faintly illumined by a beautiful rosy light reflected
circuitously from the flames that were consuming the house. The boy
had apparently just been aroused by the noise. He sat in his bed, his
lips apart, his eyes wide, while upon his little white-robed figure
played caressingly the light from the fire. As the door flew open he
had before him this apparition of his pal, a terror-stricken negro, all
tousled and with wool scorching, who leaped upon him and bore him up
in a blanket as if the whole affair were a case of kidnapping by a
dreadful robber chief. Without waiting to go through the usual short
but complete process of wrinkling up his face, Jimmie let out a
gorgeous bawl, which resembled the expression of a calf's deepest
terror. As Johnson, bearing him, reeled into the smoke of the hall, he
flung his arms about his neck and buried his face in the blanket. He
called twice in muffled tones: "Mam-ma! Mam-ma!"
When Johnson came to the top of the stairs with his burden, he took
a quick step backwards. Through the smoke that rolled to him he could
see that the lower hall was all ablaze. He cried out then in a howl
that resembled Jimmie's former achievement. His legs gained a
frightful faculty of bending sideways. Swinging about precariously on
these reedy legs, he made his way back slowly, back along the upper
hall. From the way of him then, he had given up almost all idea of
escaping from the burning house, and with it the desire. He was
submitting, submitting because of his fathers, bending his mind in a
most perfect slavery to this conflagration.
He now clutched Jimmie as unconsciously as when, running toward the
house, he had clutched the hat with the bright silk band.
Suddenly he remembered a little private staircase which led from a
bedroom to an apartment which the doctor had fitted up as a laboratory
and work-house, where he used some of his leisure, and also hours when
he might have been sleeping, in devoting himself to experiments which
came in the way of his study and interest.
When Johnson recalled this stairway the submission to the blaze
departed instantly. He had been perfectly familiar with it, but his
confusion had destroyed the memory of it.
In his sudden momentary apathy there had been little that resembled
fear, but now, as a way of safety came to him, the old frantic terror
caught him. He was no longer creature to the flames, and he was afraid
of the battle with them. It was a singular and swift set of
alternations in which he feared twice without submission, and
submitted once without fear.
"Jimmie!" he wailed, as he staggered on his way. He wished this
little inanimate body at his breast to participate in his tremblings.
But the child had lain limp and still during these headlong charges and
countercharges, and no sign came from him.
Johnson passed through two rooms and came to the head of the
stairs. As he opened the door great billows of smoke poured out, but
gripping Jimmie closer, he plunged down through them. All manner of
odors assailed him during this flight. They seemed to be alive with
envy, hatred, and malice. At the entrance to the laboratory he
confronted a strange spectacle. The room was like a garden in the
region where might be burning flowers. Flames of violet, crimson,
green, blue, orange, and purple were blooming everywhere. There was one
blaze that was precisely the hue of a delicate coral. In another place
was a mass that lay merely in phosphorescent inaction like a pile of
emeralds. But all these marvels were to be seen dimly through clouds of
heaving, turning, deadly smoke.
Johnson halted for a moment on the threshold. He cried out again in
the negro wail that had in it the sadness of the swamps. Then he
rushed across the room. An orange-colored flame leaped like a panther
at the lavender trousers. This animal bit deeply into Johnson. There
was an explosion at one side, and suddenly before him there reared a
delicate, trembling sapphire shape like a fairy lady. With a quiet
smile she blocked his path and doomed him and Jimmie. Johnson
shrieked, and then ducked in the manner of his race in fights. He aimed
to pass under the left guard of the sapphire lady. But she was
swifter than eagles, and her talons caught in him as he plunged past
her. Bowing his head as if his neck had been struck, Johnson lurched
forward, twisting this way and that way. He fell on his back. The still
form in the blanket flung from his arms, rolled to the edge of the
floor and beneath the window.
Johnson had fallen with his head at the base of an old-fashioned
desk. There was a row of jars upon the top of this desk. For the most
part, they were silent amid this rioting, but there was one which
seemed to hold a scintillant and writhing serpent.
Suddenly the glass splintered, and a ruby-red snakelike thing
poured its thick length out upon the top of the old desk. It coiled
and hesitated, and then began to swim a languorous way down the
mahogany slant. At the angle it waved its sizzling molten head to and
fro over the closed eyes of the man beneath it. Then, in a moment, with
mystic impulse, it moved again, and the red snake flowed directly down
into Johnson's upturned face.
Afterwards the trail of this creature seemed to reek, and amid
flames and low explosions drops like red-hot jewels pattered softly
down it at leisurely intervals.
Suddenly all roads led to Dr. Trescott's. The whole town flowed
toward one point. Chippeway Hose Company Number One toiled desperately
up Bridge Street Hill even as the Tuscaroras came in an impetuous sweep
down Niagara Avenue. Meanwhile the machine of the hook-and-ladder
experts from across the creek was spinning on its way. The chief of
the fire department had been playing poker in the rear room of
Whiteley's cigar-store, but at the first breath of the alarm he sprang
through the door like a man escaping with the kitty.
In Whilomville, on these occasions, there was always a number of
people who instantly turned their attention to the bells in the
churches and school-houses. The bells not only emphasized the alarm,
but it was the habit to send these sounds rolling across the sky in a
stirring brazen uproar until the flames were practically vanquished.
There was also a kind of rivalry as to which bell should be made to
produce the greatest din. Even the Valley Church, four miles away
among the farms, had heard the voices of its brethren, and immediately
added a quaint little yelp.
Doctor Trescott had been driving homeward, slowly smoking a cigar,
and feeling glad that this last case was now in complete obedience to
him, like a wild animal that he had subdued, when he heard the long
whistle, and chirped to his horse under the unlicensed but perfectly
distinct impression that a fire had broken out in Oakhurst, a new and
rather high-flying suburb of the town which was at least two miles
from his own home. But in the second blast and in the ensuing silence
he read the designation of his own district. He was then only a few
blocks from his house. He took out the whip and laid it lightly on the
mare. Surprised and frightened at this extraordinary action, she leaped
forward, and as the reins straightened like steel bands, the doctor
leaned backward a trifle. When the mare whirled him up to the closed
gate he was wondering whose house could be afire. The man who had rung
the signal-box yelled something at him, but he already knew. He left
the mare to her will.
In front of his door was a maniacal woman in a wrapper. "Ned!" she
screamed at sight of him. "Jimmie! Save Jimmie!"
Trescott had grown hard and chill.
"Where?" he said. "Where?"
Mrs. Trescott's voice began to bubble. "Up — up — up — " She
pointed at the second-story windows.
Hannigan was already shouting: "Don't go in that way! You can't go
in that way!"
Trescott ran around the corner of the house and disappeared from
them. He knew from the view he had taken of the main hall that it
would be impossible to ascend from there. His hopes were fastened now
to the stairway which led from the laboratory. The door which opened
from this room out upon the lawn was fastened with a bolt and lock,
but he kicked close to the lock and then close to the bolt. The door
with a loud crash flew back. The doctor recoiled from the roll of
smoke, and then bending low, he stepped into the garden of burning
flowers. On the floor his stinging eyes could make out a form in a
smouldering blanket near the window. Then, as he carried his son
toward the door, he saw that the whole lawn seemed now alive with men
and boys, the leaders in the great charge that the whole town was
making. They seized him and his burden, and overpowered him in wet
blankets and water.
But Hannigan was howling: "Johnson is in there yet! Henry Johnson
is in there yet! He went in after the kid! Johnson is in there yet!"
These cries penetrated to the sleepy senses of Trescott, and he
struggled with his captors, swearing unknown to him and to them, all
the deep blasphemies of his medical-student days. He arose to his feet
and went again toward the door of the laboratory. They endeavored to
restrain him, although they were much affrighted at him.
But a young man who was a brakeman on the railway, and lived in one
of the rear streets near the Trescotts, had gone into the laboratory
and brought forth a thing which he laid on the grass.
There were hoarse commands from in front of the house. "Turn on
your water, Five!" "Let 'er go, One!" The gathering crowd swayed this
way and that way. The flames, towering high, cast a wild red light on
their faces. There came the clangor of a gong from along some adjacent
street. The crowd exclaimed at it. "Here comes Number Three!" "That's
Three a-comin'!" A panting and irregular mob dashed into view,
dragging a hose-cart. A cry of exultation arose from the little boys.
"Here's Three!" The lads welcomed Never-Die Hose Company Number Three
as if it was composed of a chariot dragged by a band of gods. The
perspiring citizens flung themselves into the fray. The boys danced in
impish joy at the displays of prowess. They acclaimed the approach of
Number Two. They welcomed Number Four with cheers. They were so deeply
moved by this whole affair that they bitterly guyed the late
appearance of the hook and ladder company, whose heavy apparatus had
almost stalled them on the Bridge Street hill. The lads hated and
feared a fire, of course. They did not particularly want to have
anybody's house burn, but still it was fine to see the gathering of the
companies, and amid a great noise to watch their heroes perform all
manner of prodigies.
They were divided into parties over the worth of different
companies, and supported their creeds with no small violence. For
instance, in that part of the little city where Number Four had its
home it would be most daring for a boy to contend the superiority of
any other company. Likewise, in another quarter, when a strange boy was
asked which fire company was the best in Whilomville, he was expected
to answer "Number One." Feuds, which the boys forgot and remembered
according to chance or the importance of some recent event, existed all
through the town.
They did not care much for John Shipley, the chief of the
department. It was true that he went to a fire with the speed of a
falling angel, but when there he invariably lapsed into a certain still
mood, which was almost a preoccupation, moving leisurely around the
burning structure and surveying it, puffing meanwhile at a cigar. This
quiet man, who even when life was in danger seldom raised his voice,
was not much to their fancy. Now old Sykes Huntington, when he was
chief, used to bellow continually like a bull and gesticulate in a sort
of delirium. He was much finer as a spectacle than this Shipley, who
viewed a fire with the same steadiness that he viewed a raise in a
large jackpot. The greater number of the boys could never understand
why the members of these companies persisted in re-electing Shipley,
although they often pretended to understand it, because "My father
says" was a very formidable phrase in argument, and the fathers seemed
almost unanimous in advocating Shipley.
At this time there was considerable discussion as to which company
had gotten the first stream of water on the fire. Most of the boys
claimed that Number Five owned that distinction, but there was a
determined minority who contended for Number One. Boys who were the
blood adherents of other companies were obliged to choose between the
two on this occasion, and the talk waxed warm.
But a great rumor went among the crowds. It was told with hushed
voices. Afterward a reverent silence fell even upon the boys. Jimmie
Trescott and Henry Johnson had been burned to death, and Dr. Trescott
himself had been most savagely hurt. The crowd did not even feel the
police pushing at them. They raised their eyes, shining now with awe,
toward the high flames.
The man who had information was at his best. In low tones he
described the whole affair. "That was the kid's room — in the corner
there. He had measles or somethin', and this coon — Johnson — was
a-settin' up with 'im, and Johnson got sleepy or somethin' and upset
the lamp, and the doctor he was down in his office, and he came
running up, and they all got burned together till they dragged 'em
Another man, always preserved for the deliverance of the final
judgment, was saying: "Oh, they'll die sure. Burned to flinders. No
chance. Hull lot of 'em. Anybody can see." The crowd concentrated its
gaze still more closely upon these flags of fire which waved joyfully
against the black sky. The bells of the town were clashing
A little procession moved across the lawn and toward the street.
There were three cots, borne by twelve of the firemen. The police
moved sternly, but it needed no effort of theirs to open a lane for
this slow corte'ge. The men who bore the cots were well known to the
crowd, but in this solemn parade during the ringing of the bells and
the shouting, and with the red glare upon the sky, they seemed utterly
foreign, and Whilomville paid them a deep respect. Each man in this
stretcher party had gained a reflected majesty. They were footmen to
death, and the crowd made subtle obeisance to this august dignity
derived from three prospective graves. One woman turned away with a
shriek at sight of the covered body on the first stretcher, and people
faced her suddenly in silent and mournful indignation. Otherwise there
was barely a sound as these twelve important men with measured tread
carried their burdens through the throng.
The little boys no longer discussed the merits of the different
fire companies. For the greater part they had been routed. Only the
more courageous viewed closely the three figures veiled in yellow
Old Judge Denning Hagenthorpe, who lived nearly opposite the
Trescotts, had thrown his door wide open to receive the afflicted
family. When it was publicly learned that the doctor and his son and
the negro were still alive, it required a specially detailed policeman
to prevent people from scaling the front porch and interviewing these
sorely wounded. One old lady appeared with a miraculous poultice, and
she quoted most damning scripture to the officer when he said that she
could not pass him. Throughout the night some lads old enough to be
given privileges or to compel them from their mothers remained
vigilantly upon the kerb in anticipation of a death or some such
event. The reporter of the Morning Tribune rode thither on his bicycle
every hour until three o'clock.
Six of the ten doctors in Whilomville attended at Judge
Almost at once they were able to know that Trescott's burns were
not vitally important. The child would possibly be scarred badly, but
his life was undoubtedly safe. As for the negro Henry Johnson, he could
not live. His body was frightfully seared, but more than that, he now
had no face. His face had simply been burned away.
Trescott was always asking news of the two other patients. In the
morning he seemed fresh and strong, so they told him that Johnson was
doomed. They then saw him stir on the bed, and sprang quickly to see if
the bandages needed readjusting. In the sudden glance he threw from
one to another he impressed them as being both leonine and
The morning paper announced the death of Henry Johnson. It
contained a long interview with Edward J. Hannigan, in which the
latter described in full the performance of Johnson at the fire. There
was also an editorial built from all the best words in the vocabulary
of the staff. The town halted in its accustomed road of thought, and
turned a reverent attention to the memory of this hostler. In the
breasts of many people was the regret that they had not known enough
to give him a hand and a lift when he was alive, and they judged
themselves stupid and ungenerous for this failure.
The name of Henry Johnson became suddenly the title of a saint to
the little boys. The one who thought of it first could, by quoting it
in an argument, at once overthrow his antagonist, whether it applied to
the subject or whether it did not. Nigger, nigger, never die, Black
face and shiny eye.
Boys who had called this odious couplet in the rear of Johnson's
march buried the fact at the bottom of their hearts.
Later in the day Miss Bella Farragut, of No. 7 Watermelon Alley,
announced that she had been engaged to marry Mr. Henry Johnson.
The old judge had a cane with an ivory head. He could never think
at his best until he was leaning slightly on this stick and smoothing
the white top with slow movements of his hands. It was also to him a
kind of narcotic. If by any chance he mislaid it, he grew at once very
irritable, and was likely to speak sharply to his sister, whose mental
incapacity he had patiently endured for thirty years in the old mansion
on Ontario Street. She was not at all aware of her brother's opinion
of her endowments, and so it might be said that the judge had
successfully dissembled for more than a quarter of a century, only
risking the truth at the times when his cane was lost.
On a particular day the judge sat in his arm-chair on the porch.
The sunshine sprinkled through the lilac-bushes and poured great coins
on the boards. The sparrows disputed in the trees that lined the
pavements. The judge mused deeply, while his hands gently caressed the
ivory head of his cane.
Finally he arose and entered the house, his brow still furrowed in
a thoughtful frown. His stick thumped solemnly in regular beats. On
the second floor he entered a room where Dr. Trescott was working about
the bedside of Henry Johnson. The bandages on the negro's head allowed
only one thing to appear, an eye, which unwinkingly stared at the
judge. The latter spoke to Trescott on the condition of the patient.
Afterward he evidently had something further to say, but he seemed to
be kept from it by the scrutiny of the unwinking eye, at which he
furtively glanced from time to time.
When Jimmie Trescott was sufficiently recovered, his mother had
taken him to pay a visit to his grandparents in Connecticut. The
doctor had remained to take care of his patients, but as a matter of
truth he spent most of his time at Judge Hagenthorpe's house, where
lay Henry Johnson. Here he slept and ate almost every meal in the long
nights and days of his vigil.
At dinner, and away from the magic of the unwinking eye, the judge
said, suddenly, "Trescott, do you think it is — " As Trescott paused
expectantly, the judge fingered his knife. He said, thoughtfully, "No
one wants to advance such ideas, but somehow I think that that poor
fellow ought to die."
There was in Trescott's face at once a look of recognition, as if
in this tangent of the judge he saw an old problem. He merely sighed
and answered, "Who knows?" The words were spoken in a deep tone that
gave them an elusive kind of significance.
The judge retreated to the cold manner of the bench. "Perhaps we
may not talk with propriety of this kind of action, but I am induced
to say that you are performing a questionable charity in preserving
this negro's life. As near as I can understand, he will hereafter be a
monster, a perfect monster, and probably with an affected brain. No
man can observe you as I have observed you and not know that it was a
matter of conscience with you, but I am afraid, my friend, that it is
one of the blunders of virtue." The judge had delivered his views with
his habitual oratory. The last three words he spoke with a particular
emphasis, as if the phrase was his discovery.
The doctor made a weary gesture. "He saved my boy's life."
"Yes," said the judge, swiftly — "yes, I know!"
"And what am I to do?" said Trescott, his eyes suddenly lighting
like an outburst from smouldering peat. "What am I to do? He gave
himself for — for Jimmie. What am I to do for him?"
The judge abased himself completely before these words. He lowered
his eyes for a moment. He picked at his cucumbers.
Presently he braced himself straightly in his chair. "He will be
your creation, you understand. He is purely your creation. Nature has
very evidently given him up. He is dead. You are restoring him to life.
You are making him, and he will be a monster, and with no mind."
"He will be what you like, judge," cried Trescott, in sudden,
polite fury. "He will be anything, but, by God! he saved my boy."
The judge interrupted in a voice trembling with emotion: "Trescott!
Trescott! Don't I know?"
Trescott had subsided to a sullen mood. "Yes, you know," he
answered, acidly; "but you don't know all about your own boy being
saved from death." This was a perfectly childish allusion to the
judge's bachelorhood. Trescott knew that the remark was infantile, but
he seemed to take desperate delight in it.
But it passed the judge completely. It was not his spot.
"I am puzzled," said he, in profound thought. "I don't know what to
Trescott had become repentant. "Don't think I don't appreciate what
you say, judge. But — "
"Of course!" responded the judge, quickly. "Of course."
"It — " began Trescott.
"Of course," said the judge.
In silence they resumed their dinner.
"Well," said the judge, ultimately, "it is hard for a man to know
what to do."
"It is," said the doctor, fervidly.
There was another silence. It was broken by the judge:
"Look here, Trescott; I don't want you to think — "
"No, certainly not," answered the doctor, earnestly.
"Well, I don't want you to think I would say anything to — It was
only that I thought that I might be able to suggest to you that —
perhaps — the affair was a little dubious."
With an appearance of suddenly disclosing his real mental
perturbation, the doctor said: "Well, what would you do? Would you
kill him?" he asked, abruptly and sternly.
"Trescott, you fool," said the old man, gently.
"Oh, well, I know, judge, but then — " He turned red, and spoke
with new violence: "Say, he saved my boy — do you see? He saved my
"You bet he did," cried the judge, with enthusiasm. "You bet he
did." And they remained for a time gazing at each other, their faces
illuminated with memories of a certain deed.
After another silence, the judge said, "It is hard for a man to
know what to do."
Late one evening Trescott, returning from a professional call,
paused his buggy at the Hagenthorpe gate. He tied the mare to the old
tin-covered post, and entered the house. Ultimately he appeared with a
companion — a man who walked slowly and carefully, as if he were
learning. He was wrapped to the heels in an old-fashioned ulster. They
entered the buggy and drove away.
After a silence only broken by the swift and musical humming of the
wheels on the smooth road, Trescott spoke. "Henry," he said, "I've got
you a home here with old Alek Williams. You will have everything you
want to eat and a good place to sleep, and I hope you will get along
there all right. I will pay all your expenses, and come to see you as
often as I can. If you don't get along, I want you to let me know as
soon as possible, and then we will do what we can to make it better."
The dark figure at the doctor's side answered with a cheerful
laugh. "These buggy wheels don' look like I washed 'em yesterday,
docteh," he said.
Trescott hesitated for a moment, and then went on insistently, "I
am taking you to Alek Williams, Henry, and I — "
The figure chuckled again. "No, 'deed! No, seh! Alek Williams don'
know a hoss! 'Deed he don't. He don' know a hoss from a pig." The
laugh that followed was like the rattle of pebbles.
Trescott turned and looked sternly and coldly at the dim form in
the gloom from the buggy-top. "Henry," he said, "I didn't say anything
about horses. I was saying — "
"Hoss? Hoss?" said the quavering voice from these near shadows.
"Hoss? 'Deed I don' know all erbout a hoss! 'Deed I don't." There was
a satirical chuckle.
At the end of three miles the mare slackened and the doctor leaned
forward, peering, while holding tight reins. The wheels of the buggy
bumped often over out-cropping bowlders. A window shone forth, a simple
square of topaz on a great black hill-side. Four dogs charged the
buggy with ferocity, and when it did not promptly retreat, they
circled courageously around the flanks, baying. A door opened near the
window in the hill-side, and a man came and stood on a beach of yellow
"Yah! yah! You Roveh! You Susie! Come yah! Come yah this minit!"
Trescott called across the dark sea of grass, "Hello, Alek!"
"Come down here and show me where to drive."
The man plunged from the beach into the surf, and Trescott could
then only trace his course by the fervid and polite ejaculations of a
host who was somewhere approaching. Presently Williams took the mare by
the head, and uttering cries of welcome and scolding the swarming
dogs, led the equipage toward the lights. When they halted at the door
and Trescott was climbing out, Williams cried, "Will she stand,
"She'll stand all right, but you better hold her for a minute. Now,
Henry." The doctor turned and held both arms to the dark figure. It
crawled to him painfully like a man going down a ladder. Williams took
the mare away to be tied to a little tree, and when he returned he
found them awaiting him in the gloom beyond the rays from the door.
He burst out then like a siphon pressed by a nervous thumb.
"Hennery! Hennery, ma ol' frien'. Well, if I ain' glade. If I ain'
Trescott had taken the silent shape by the arm and led it forward
into the full revelation of the light. "Well, now, Alek, you can take
Henry and put him to bed, and in the morning I will — "
Near the end of this sentence old Williams had come front to front
with Johnson. He gasped for a second, and then yelled the yell of a
man stabbed in the heart.
For a fraction of a moment Trescott seemed to be looking for
epithets. Then he roared: "You old black chump! You old black — Shut
up! Shut up! Do you hear?"
Williams obeyed instantly in the matter of his screams, but he
continued in a lowered voice: "Ma Lode amassy! Who'd ever think? Ma
Trescott spoke again in the manner of a commander of a battalion.
The old negro again surrendered, but to himself he repeated in a
whisper, "Ma Lode!" He was aghast and trembling.
As these three points of widening shadows approached the golden
doorway a hale old negress appeared there, bowing. "Good-evenin',
docteh! Good-evenin'! Come in! come in!" She had evidently just retired
from a tempestuous struggle to place the room in order, but she was
now bowing rapidly. She made the effort of a person swimming.
"Don't trouble yourself, Mary," said Trescott, entering. "I've
brought Henry for you to take care of, and all you've got to do is to
carry out what I tell you." Learning that he was not followed, he faced
the door, and said, "Come in, Henry."
Johnson entered. "Whee!" shrieked Mrs. Williams. She almost
achieved a back somersault. Six young members of the tribe of Williams
made simultaneous plunge for a position behind the stove, and formed a
"You know very well that you and your family lived usually on less
than three dollars a week, and now that Doctor Trescott pays you five
dollars a week for Johnson's board, you live like millionaires. You
haven't done a stroke of work since Johnson began to board with you —
everybody knows that — and so what are you kicking about?"
The judge sat in his chair on the porch, fondling his cane, and
gazing down at old Williams, who stood under the lilac-bushes. "Yes, I
know, jedge," said the negro, wagging his head in a puzzled manner.
"'Tain't like as if I didn't 'preciate what the docteh done, but —
but — well, yeh see, jedge," he added, gaining a new impetus, "it's —
it's hard wuk. This ol' man nev' did wuk so hard. Lode, no."
"Don't talk such nonsense, Alek," spoke the judge, sharply. "You
have never really worked in your life — anyhow enough to support a
family of sparrows, and now when you are in a more prosperous condition
than ever before, you come around talking like an old fool."
The negro began to scratch his head. "Yeh see, jedge," he said at
last, "my ol' 'ooman she cain't 'ceive no lady callahs, nohow."
"Hang lady callers!" said the judge, irascibly. "If you have flour
in the barrel and meat in the pot, your wife can get along without
receiving lady callers, can't she?"
"But they won't come ainyhow, jedge," replied Williams, with an air
of still deeper stupefaction. "Noner ma wife's frien's ner noner ma
frien's'll come near ma res'dence."
"Well, let them stay home if they are such silly people."
The old negro seemed to be seeking a way to elude this argument,
but evidently finding none, he was about to shuffle meekly off. He
halted, however. "Jedge," said he, "ma ol' 'ooman's near driv'
"Your old woman is an idiot," responded the judge.
Williams came very close and peered solemnly through a branch of
lilac. "Jedge," he whispered, "the chillens."
"What about them?"
Dropping his voice to funereal depths, Williams said, "They — they
"Can't eat!" scoffed the judge, loudly. "Can't eat! You must think
I am as big an old fool as you are. Can't eat — the little rascals!
What's to prevent them from eating?"
In answer, Williams said, with mournful emphasis, "Hennery." Moved
with a kind of satisfaction at his tragic use of the name, he remained
staring at the judge for a sign of its effect.
The judge made a gesture of irritation. "Come, now, you old
scoundrel, don't beat around the bush any more. What are you up to?
What do you want? Speak out like a man, and don't give me any more of
this tiresome rigamarole."
"I ain't er-beatin' round 'bout nuffin, jedge," replied Williams,
indignantly. "No, seh; I say whatter got to say right out. 'Deed I
"Well, say it, then."
"Jedge," began the negro, taking off his hat and switching his knee
with it, "Lode knows I'd do jes 'bout as much fer five dollehs er week
as ainy cul'd man, but — but this yere business is awful, jedge. I
raikon 'ain't been no sleep in — in my house sence docteh done fetch
"Well, what do you propose to do about it?"
Williams lifted his eyes from the ground and gazed off through the
trees. "Raikon I got good appetite, an' sleep jes like er dog, but he
— he's done broke me all up. 'Tain't no good, nohow. I wake up in the
night; I hear 'im, mebbe, er-whimperin' an' er-whimperin', an' I sneak
an' I sneak until I try th' do' to see if he locked in. An' he keep me
er-puzzlin' an' er-quakin' all night long. Don't know how 'll do in th'
winter. Can't let 'im out where th' chillen is. He'll done freeze
where he is now." Williams spoke these sentences as if he were talking
to himself. After a silence of deep reflection he continued: "Folks go
round sayin' he ain't Hennery Johnson at all. They say he's er devil!"
"What?" cried the judge.
"Yesseh," repeated Williams in tones of injury, as if his veracity
had been challenged. "Yesseh. I'm er-tellin' it to yeh straight,
jedge. Plenty cul'd people folks up my way say it is a devil."
"Well, you don't think so yourself, do you?"
"No. 'Tain't no devil. It's Hennery Johnson."
"Well, then, what is the matter with you? You don't care what a lot
of foolish people say. Go on 'tending to your business, and pay no
attention to such idle nonsense."
"'Tis nonsense, jedge; but he looks like er devil."
"What do you care what he looks like?" demanded the judge.
"Ma rent is two dollehs and er half er month," said Williams,
"It might just as well be ten thousand dollars a month," responded
the judge. "You never pay it, anyhow."
"Then, anoth' thing," continued Williams, in his reflective tone.
"If he was all right in his haid I could stan' it; but, jedge, he's
crazier 'n er loon. Then when he looks like er devil, an' done skears
all ma frien's away, an' ma chillens cain't eat, an' ma ole 'ooman jes
raisin' Cain all the time, an' ma rent two dollehs an' er half er
month, an' him not right in his haid, it seems like five dollehs er
week — "
The judge's stick came down sharply and suddenly upon the floor of
the porch. "There," he said, "I thought that was what you were driving
Williams began swinging his head from side to side in the strange
racial mannerism. "Now hol' on a minnet, jedge," he said, defensively.
"'Tain't like as if I didn't 'preciate what the docteh done. 'Tain't
that. Docteh Trescott is er kind man, an' 'tain't like as if I didn't
'preciate what he done; but — but — "
"But what? You are getting painful, Alek. Now tell me this: did you
ever have five dollars a week regularly before in your life?"
Williams at once drew himself up with great dignity, but in the
pause after that question he drooped gradually to another attitude. In
the end he answered, heroically: "No, jedge, I 'ain't. An' 'tain't like
as if I was er-sayin' five dollehs wasn't er lot er money for a man
like me. But, jedge, what er man oughter git fer this kinder wuk is er
salary. Yesseh, jedge," he repeated, with a great impressive gesture;
"fer this kinder wuk er man oughter git er Salary." He laid a terrible
emphasis upon the final word.
The judge laughed. "I know Dr. Trescott's mind concerning this
affair, Alek; and if you are dissatisfied with your boarder, he is
quite ready to move him to some other place; so, if you care to leave
word with me that you are tired of the arrangement and wish it
changed, he will come and take Johnson away."
Williams scratched his head again in deep perplexity. "Five dollehs
is er big price fer bo'd, but 'tain't no big price fer the bo'd of er
crazy man," he said, finally.
"What do you think you ought to get?" asked the judge.
"Well," answered Alek, in the manner of one deep in a balancing of
the scales, "he looks like er devil, an' done skears e'rybody, an' ma
chillens cain't eat, an' I cain't sleep, an' he ain't right in his
haid, an' — "
"You told me all those things."
After scratching his wool, and beating his knee with his hat, and
gazing off through the trees and down at the ground, Williams said, as
he kicked nervously at the gravel, "Well, jedge, I think it is wuth —
" He stuttered.
"Six dollehs," answered Williams, in a desperate outburst.
The judge lay back in his great arm-chair and went through all the
motions of a man laughing heartily, but he made no sound save a slight
cough. Williams had been watching him with apprehension.
"Well," said the judge, "do you call six dollars a salary?"
"No, seh," promptly responded Williams. "'Tain't a salary. No,
'deed! 'Tain't a salary." He looked with some anger upon the man who
questioned his intelligence in this way.
"Well, supposing your children can't eat?"
"I — "
"And supposing he looks like a devil? And supposing all those
things continue? Would you be satisfied with six dollars a week?"
Recollections seemed to throng in Williams's mind at these
interrogations, and he answered dubiously. "Of co'se a man who ain't
right in his haid, an' looks like er devil — But six dollehs — "
After these two attempts at a sentence Williams suddenly appeared as
an orator, with a great shiny palm waving in the air. "I tell yeh,
jedge, six dollehs is six dollehs, but if I git six dollehs for
bo'ding Hennery Johnson, I uhns it! I uhns it!"
"I don't doubt that you earn six dollars for every week's work you
do," said the judge.
"Well, if I bo'd Hennery Johnson fer six dollehs a week, I uhns it!
I uhns it!" cried Williams, wildly.
Reifsnyder's assistant had gone to his supper, and the owner of the
shop was trying to placate four men who wished to be shaved at once.
Reifsnyder was very garrulous — a fact which made him rather
remarkable among barbers, who, as a class, are austerely speechless,
having been taught silence by the hammering reiteration of a
tradition. It is the customers who talk in the ordinary event.
As Reifsnyder waved his razor down the cheek of a man in the chair,
he turned often to cool the impatience of the others with pleasant
talk, which they did not particularly heed.
"Oh, he should have let him die," said Bainbridge, a railway
engineer, finally replying to one of the barber's orations. "Shut up,
Reif, and go on with your business!"
Instead, Reifsnyder paused shaving entirely, and turned to front
the speaker. "Let him die?" he demanded. "How vas that? How can you
let a man die?"
"By letting him die, you chump," said the engineer. The others
laughed a little, and Reifsnyder turned at once to his work, sullenly,
as a man overwhelmed by the derision of numbers.
"How vas that?" he grumbled later. "How can you let a man die when
he vas done so much for you?"
"'When he vas done so much for you?'" repeated Bainbridge. "You
better shave some people. How vas that? Maybe this ain't a barber
A man hitherto silent now said, "If I had been the doctor, I would
have done the same thing."
"Of course," said Reifsnyder. "Any man vould do it. Any man that
vas not like you, you — old — flint-hearted — fish." He had sought
the final words with painful care, and he delivered the collection
triumphantly at Bainbridge. The engineer laughed.
The man in the chair now lifted himself higher, while Reifsnyder
began an elaborate ceremony of anointing and combing his hair. Now
free to join comfortably in the talk, the man said: "They say he is the
most terrible thing in the world. Young Johnnie Bernard — that drives
the grocery wagon — saw him up at Alek Williams's shanty, and he says
he couldn't eat anything for two days."
"Chee!" said Reifsnyder.
"Well, what makes him so terrible?" asked another.
"Because he hasn't got any face," replied the barber and the
engineer in duet.
"Hasn't got any face?" repeated the man. "How can he do without any
face!" "He has no face in the front of his head, In the place where
his face ought to grow."
Bainbridge sang these lines pathetically as he arose and hung his
hat on a hook. The man in the chair was about to abdicate in his
favor. "Get a gait on you now," he said to Reifsnyder. "I go out at
As the barber foamed the lather on the cheeks of the engineer he
seemed to be thinking heavily. Then suddenly he burst out. "How would
you like to be with no face?" he cried to the assemblage.
"Oh, if I had to have a face like yours — " answered one customer.
Bainbridge's voice came from a sea of lather. "You're kicking
because if losing faces becomes popular, you'd have to go out of
"I don't think it will become so much popular," said Reifsnyder.
"Not if it's got to be taken off in the way his was taken off,"
said another man. "I'd rather keep mine, if you don't mind."
"I guess so!" cried the barber. "Just think!"
The shaving of Bainbridge had arrived at a time of comparative
liberty for him. "I wonder what the doctor says to himself?" he
observed. "He may be sorry he made him live."
"It was the only thing he could do," replied a man. The others
seemed to agree with him.
"Supposing you were in his place," said one, "and Johnson had saved
your kid. What would you do?"
"Of course! You would do anything on earth for him. You'd take all
the trouble in the world for him. And spend your last dollar on him.
"I wonder how it feels to be without any face?" said Reifsnyder,
The man who had previously spoken, feeling that he had expressed
himself well, repeated the whole thing. "You would do anything on
earth for him. You'd take all the trouble in the world for him. And
spend your last dollar on him. Well, then?"
"No, but look," said Reifsnyder; "supposing you don't got a face!"
As soon as Williams was hidden from the view of the old judge he
began to gesture and talk to himself. An elation had evidently
penetrated to his vitals, and caused him to dilate as if he had been
filled with gas. He snapped his fingers in the air, and whistled
fragments of triumphal music. At times, in his progress toward his
shanty, he indulged in a shuffling movement that was really a dance.
It was to be learned from the intermediate monologue that he had
emerged from his trials laurelled and proud. He was the unconquerable
Alexander Williams. Nothing could exceed the bold self-reliance of his
manner. His kingly stride, his heroic song, the derisive flourish of
his hands — all betokened a man who had successfully defied the world.
On his way he saw Zeke Paterson coming to town. They hailed each
other at a distance of fifty yards.
"How do, Broth' Paterson?"
"How do, Broth' Williams?"
They were both deacons.
"Is you' folks well, Broth' Paterson?"
"Middlin', middlin'. How's you' folks, Broth' Williams?"
Neither of them had slowed his pace in the smallest degree. They
had simply begun this talk when a considerable space separated them,
continued it as they passed, and added polite questions as they drifted
steadily apart. Williams's mind seemed to be a balloon. He had been so
inflated that he had not noticed that Paterson had definitely shied
into the dry ditch as they came to the point of ordinary contact.
Afterward, as he went a lonely way, he burst out again in song and
pantomimic celebration of his estate. His feet moved in prancing
When he came in sight of his cabin, the fields were bathed in a
blue dusk, and the light in the window was pale. Cavorting and
gesticulating, he gazed joyfully for some moments upon this light. Then
suddenly another idea seemed to attack his mind, and he stopped, with
an air of being suddenly dampened. In the end he approached his home
as if it were the fortress of an enemy.
Some dogs disputed his advance for a loud moment, and then
discovering their lord, slunk away embarrassed. His reproaches were
addressed to them in muffled tones.
Arriving at the door, he pushed it open with the timidity of a new
thief. He thrust his head cautiously sideways, and his eyes met the
eyes of his wife, who sat by the table, the lamp-light defining a half
of her face. "Sh!" he said, uselessly. His glance travelled swiftly to
the inner door which shielded the one bed-chamber. The pickaninnies,
strewn upon the floor of the living-room, were softly snoring. After a
hearty meal they had promptly dispersed themselves about the place and
gone to sleep. "Sh!" said Williams again to his motionless and silent
wife. He had allowed only his head to appear. His wife, with one hand
upon the edge of the table and the other at her knee, was regarding him
with wide eyes and parted lips as if he were a spectre. She looked to
be one who was living in terror, and even the familiar face at the door
had thrilled her because it had come suddenly.
Williams broke the tense silence. "Is he all right?" he whispered,
waving his eyes toward the inner door. Following his glance
timorously, his wife nodded, and in a low tone answered,
"I raikon he's done gone t'sleep."
Williams then slunk noiselessly across his threshold.
He lifted a chair, and with infinite care placed it so that it
faced the dreaded inner door. His wife moved slightly, so as to also
squarely face it. A silence came upon them in which they seemed to be
waiting for a calamity, pealing and deadly.
Williams finally coughed behind his hand. His wife started, and
looked upon him in alarm. "'Pears like he done gwine keep quiet
ter-night," he breathed. They continually pointed their speech and
their looks at the inner door, paying it the homage due to a corpse or
a phantom. Another long stillness followed this sentence. Their eyes
shone white and wide. A wagon rattled down the distant road. From
their chairs they looked at the window, and the effect of the light in
the cabin was a presentation of an intensely black and solemn night.
The old woman adopted the attitude used always in church at funerals.
At times she seemed to be upon the point of breaking out in prayer.
"He mighty quiet ter-night," whispered Williams. "Was he good
ter-day?" For answer his wife raised her eyes to the ceiling in the
supplication of Job. Williams moved restlessly. Finally he tip-toed to
the door. He knelt slowly and without a sound, and placed his ear near
the key-hole. Hearing a noise behind him, he turned quickly. His wife
was staring at him aghast. She stood in front of the stove, and her
arms were spread out in the natural movement to protect all her
But Williams arose without having touched the door. "I raikon he
er-sleep," he said, fingering his wool. He debated with himself for
some time. During this interval his wife remained, a great fat statue
of a mother shielding her children.
It was plain that his mind was swept suddenly by a wave of
temerity. With a sounding step he moved toward the door. His fingers
were almost upon the knob when he swiftly ducked and dodged away,
clapping his hands to the back of his head. It was as if the portal
had threatened him. There was a little tumult near the stove, where
Mrs. Williams's desperate retreat had involved her feet with the
After the panic Williams bore traces of a feeling of shame. He
returned to the charge. He firmly grasped the knob with his left hand,
and with his other hand turned the key in the lock. He pushed the door,
and as it swung portentously open he sprang nimbly to one side like
the fearful slave liberating the lion. Near the stove a group had
formed, the terror-stricken mother with her arms stretched, and the
aroused children clinging frenziedly to her skirts.
The light streamed after the swinging door, and disclosed a room
six feet one way and six feet the other way. It was small enough to
enable the radiance to lay it plain. Williams peered warily around the
corner made by the door-post.
Suddenly he advanced, retired, and advanced again with a howl. His
palsied family had expected him to spring backward, and at his howl
they heaped themselves wondrously. But Williams simply stood in the
little room emitting his howls before an open window. "He's gone! He's
gone! He's gone!" His eye and his hand had speedily proved the fact.
He had even thrown open a little cupboard.
Presently he came flying out. He grabbed his hat, and hurled the
outer door back upon its hinges. Then he tumbled headlong into the
night. He was yelling: "Docteh Trescott! Docteh Trescott!" He ran
wildly through the fields, and galloped in the direction of town. He
continued to call to Trescott as if the latter was within easy
hearing. It was as if Trescott was poised in the contemplative sky
over the running negro, and could heed this reaching voice — "Docteh
In the cabin, Mrs. Williams, supported by relays from the battalion
of children, stood quaking watch until the truth of daylight came as a
re-enforcement and made them arrogant, strutting, swashbuckler
children, and a mother who proclaimed her illimitable courage.
Theresa Page was giving a party. It was the outcome of a long
series of arguments addressed to her mother, which had been overheard
in part by her father. He had at last said five words, "Oh, let her
have it." The mother had then gladly capitulated.
Theresa had written nineteen invitations, and distributed them at
recess to her schoolmates. Later her mother had composed five large
cakes, and still later a vast amount of lemonade.
So the nine little girls and the ten little boys sat quite primly
in the dining-room, while Theresa and her mother plied them with cake
and lemonade, and also with ice-cream. This primness sat now quite
strangely upon them. It was owing to the presence of Mrs. Page.
Previously in the parlor alone with their games they had overturned a
chair; the boys had let more or less of their hoodlum spirit shine
forth. But when circumstances could be possibly magnified to warrant
it, the girls made the boys victims of an insufferable pride, snubbing
them mercilessly. So in the dining-room they resembled a class at
Sunday-school, if it were not for the subterranean smiles, gestures,
rebuffs, and poutings which stamped the affair as a children's party.
Two little girls of this subdued gathering were planted in a settle
with their backs to the broad window. They were beaming lovingly upon
each other with an effect of scorning the boys.
Hearing a noise behind her at the window, one little girl turned to
face it. Instantly she screamed and sprang away, covering her face
with her hands. "What was it? What was it?" cried every one in a roar.
Some slight movement of the eyes of the weeping and shuddering child
informed the company that she had been frightened by an appearance at
the window. At once they all faced the imperturbable window, and for a
moment there was a silence. An astute lad made an immediate census of
the other lads. The prank of slipping out and looming spectrally at a
window was too venerable. But the little boys were all present and
As they recovered their minds they uttered warlike cries, and
through a side-door sallied rapidly out against the terror. They vied
with each other in daring.
None wished particularly to encounter a dragon in the darkness of
the garden, but there could be no faltering when the fair ones in the
dining-room were present. Calling to each other in stern voices, they
went dragooning over the lawn, attacking the shadows with ferocity,
but still with the caution of reasonable beings. They found, however,
nothing new to the peace of the night. Of course there was a lad who
told a great lie. He described a grim figure, bending low and slinking
off along the fence. He gave a number of details, rendering his lie
more splendid by a repetition of certain forms which he recalled from
romances. For instance, he insisted that he had heard the creature
emit a hollow laugh.
Inside the house the little girl who had raised the alarm was still
shuddering and weeping. With the utmost difficulty was she brought to
a state approximating calmness by Mrs. Page. Then she wanted to go home
Page entered the house at this time. He had exiled himself until he
concluded that this children's party was finished and gone. He was
obliged to escort the little girl home because she screamed again when
they opened the door and she saw the night.
She was not coherent even to her mother. Was it a man? She didn't
know. It was simply a thing, a dreadful thing.
In Watermelon Alley the Farraguts were spending their evening as
usual on the little rickety porch. Sometimes they howled gossip to
other people on other rickety porches. The thin wail of a baby arose
from a near house. A man had a terrific altercation with his wife, to
which the alley paid no attention at all.
There appeared suddenly before the Farraguts a monster making a low
and sweeping bow. There was an instant's pause, and then occurred
something that resembled the effect of an upheaval of the earth's
surface. The old woman hurled herself backward with a dreadful cry.
Young Sim had been perched gracefully on a railing. At sight of the
monster he simply fell over it to the ground. He made no sound, his
eyes stuck out, his nerveless hands tried to grapple the rail to
prevent a tumble, and then he vanished. Bella, blubbering, and with her
hair suddenly and mysteriously dishevelled, was crawling on her hands
and knees fearsomely up the steps.
Standing before this wreck of a family gathering, the monster
continued to bow. It even raised a deprecatory claw. "Don' make no
botheration 'bout me, Miss Fa'gut," it said, politely. "No, 'deed. I
jes drap in ter ax if yer well this evenin', Miss Fa'gut. Don' make no
botheration. No, 'deed. I gwine ax you to go to er daince with me, Miss
Fa'gut. I ax you if I can have the magnifercent gratitude of you'
company on that 'casion, Miss Fa'gut."
The girl cast a miserable glance behind her. She was still crawling
away. On the ground beside the porch young Sim raised a strange bleat,
which expressed both his fright and his lack of wind. Presently the
monster, with a fashionable amble, ascended the steps after the girl.
She grovelled in a corner of the room as the creature took a chair.
It seated itself very elegantly on the edge. It held an old cap in
both hands. "Don' make no botheration, Miss Fa'gut. Don' make no
botherations. No, 'deed. I jes drap in ter ax you if you won' do me
the proud of acceptin' ma humble invitation to er daince, Miss Fa'gut."
She shielded her eyes with her arms and tried to crawl past it, but
the genial monster blocked the way. "I jes drap in ter ax you 'bout er
daince, Miss Fa'gut. I ax you if I kin have the magnifercent gratitude
of you' company on that 'casion, Miss Fa'gut."
In a last outbreak of despair, the girl, shuddering and wailing,
threw herself face downward on the floor, while the monster sat on the
edge of the chair gabbling courteous invitations, and holding the old
hat daintily to its stomach.
At the back of the house, Mrs. Farragut, who was of enormous
weight, and who for eight years had done little more than sit in an
arm-chair and describe her various ailments, had with speed and agility
scaled a high board fence.
The black mass in the middle of Trescott's property was hardly
allowed to cool before the builders were at work on another house. It
had sprung upward at a fabulous rate. It was like a magical composition
born of the ashes. The doctor's office was the first part to be
completed, and he had already moved in his new books and instruments
Trescott sat before his desk when the chief of police arrived.
"Well, we found him," said the latter.
"Did you?" cried the doctor. "Where?"
"Shambling around the streets at daylight this morning. I'll be
blamed if I can figure on where he passed the night."
"Where is he now?"
"Oh, we jugged him. I didn't know what else to do with him. That's
what I want you to tell me. Of course we can't keep him. No charge
could be made, you know."
"I'll come down and get him."
The official grinned retrospectively. "Must say he had a fine
career while he was out. First thing he did was to break up a
children's party at Page's. Then he went to Watermelon Alley. Whoo! He
stampeded the whole outfit. Men, women, and children running
pell-mell, and yelling. They say one old woman broke her leg, or
something, shinning over a fence. Then he went right out on the main
street, and an Irish girl threw a fit, and there was a sort of riot.
He began to run, and a big crowd chased him, firing rocks. But he gave
them the slip somehow down there by the foundry and in the railroad
yard. We looked for him all night, but couldn't find him."
"Was he hurt any? Did anybody hit him with a stone?"
"Guess there isn't much of him to hurt any more, is there? Guess
he's been hurt up to the limit. No. They never touched him. Of course
nobody really wanted to hit him, but you know how a crowd gets. It's
like — it's like — "
"Yes, I know."
For a moment the chief of the police looked reflectively at the
floor. Then he spoke hesitatingly. "You know Jake Winter's little girl
was the one that he scared at the party. She is pretty sick, they say."
"Is she? Why, they didn't call me. I always attend the Winter
"No? Didn't they?" asked the chief, slowly. "Well — you know —
Winter is — well, Winter has gone clean crazy over this business. He
wanted — he wanted to have you arrested."
"Have me arrested? The idiot! What in the name of wonder could he
have me arrested for?"
"Of course. He is a fool. I told him to keep his trap shut. But
then you know how he'll go all over town yapping about the thing. I
thought I'd better tip you."
"Oh, he is of no consequence; but then, of course, I'm obliged to
"That's all right. Well, you'll be down to-night and take him out,
eh? You'll get a good welcome from the jailer. He don't like his job
for a cent. He says you can have your man whenever you want him. He's
got no use for him."
"But what is this business of Winter's about having me arrested?"
"Oh, it's a lot of chin about your having no right to allow this —
this — this man to be at large. But I told him to tend to his own
business. Only I thought I'd better let you know. And I might as well
say right now, doctor, that there is a good deal of talk about this
thing. If I were you, I'd come to the jail pretty late at night,
because there is likely to be a crowd around the door, and I'd bring a
— er — mask, or some kind of a veil, anyhow."
Martha Goodwin was single, and well along into the thin years. She
lived with her married sister in Whilomville. She performed nearly all
the house-work in exchange for the privilege of existence. Every one
tacitly recognized her labor as a form of penance for the early end of
her betrothed, who had died of small-pox, which he had not caught from
But despite the strenuous and unceasing workaday of her life, she
was a woman of great mind. She had adamantine opinions upon the
situation in Armenia, the condition of women in China, the flirtation
between Mrs. Minster of Niagara Avenue and young Griscom, the conflict
in the Bible class of the Baptist Sunday-school, the duty of the
United States toward the Cuban insurgents, and many other colossal
matters. Her fullest experience of violence was gained on an occasion
when she had seen a hound clubbed, but in the plan which she had made
for the reform of the world she advocated drastic measures. For
instance, she contended that all the Turks should be pushed into the
sea and drowned, and that Mrs. Minster and young Griscom should be
hanged side by side on twin gallows. In fact, this woman of peace, who
had seen only peace, argued constantly for a creed of illimitable
ferocity. She was invulnerable on these questions, because eventually
she overrode all opponents with a sniff. This sniff was an active
force. It was to her antagonists like a bang over the head, and none
was known to recover from this expression of exalted contempt. It left
them windless and conquered. They never again came forward as
candidates for suppression. And Martha walked her kitchen with a stern
brow, an invincible being like Napoleon.
Nevertheless her acquaintances, from the pain of their defeats, had
been long in secret revolt. It was in no wise a conspiracy, because
they did not care to state their open rebellion, but nevertheless it
was understood that any woman who could not coincide with one of
Martha's contentions was entitled to the support of others in the small
circle. It amounted to an arrangement by which all were required to
disbelieve any theory for which Martha fought. This, however, did not
prevent them from speaking of her mind with profound respect.
Two people bore the brunt of her ability. Her sister Kate was
visibly afraid of her, while Carrie Dungen sailed across from her
kitchen to sit respectfully at Martha's feet and learn the business of
the world. To be sure, afterwards, under another sun, she always
laughed at Martha and pretended to deride her ideas, but in the
presence of the sovereign she always remained silent or admiring.
Kate, the sister, was of no consequence at all. Her principal delusion
was that she did all the work in the upstairs rooms of the house, while
Martha did it downstairs. The truth was seen only by the husband, who
treated Martha with a kindness that was half banter, half deference.
Martha herself had no suspicion that she was the only pillar of the
domestic edifice. The situation was without definitions. Martha made
definitions, but she devoted them entirely to the Armenians and Griscom
and the Chinese and other subjects. Her dreams, which in early days
had been of love of meadows and the shade of trees, of the face of a
man, were now involved otherwise, and they were companioned in the
kitchen curiously, Cuba, the hot-water kettle, Armenia, the washing of
the dishes, and the whole thing being jumbled. In regard to social
misdemeanors, she who was simply the mausoleum of a dead passion was
probably the most savage critic in town. This unknown woman, hidden in
a kitchen as in a well, was sure to have a considerable effect of the
one kind or the other in the life of the town. Every time it moved a
yard, she had personally contributed an inch. She could hammer so
stoutly upon the door of a proposition that it would break from its
hinges and fall upon her, but at any rate it moved. She was an engine,
and the fact that she did not know that she was an engine contributed
largely to the effect. One reason that she was formidable was that she
did not even imagine that she was formidable. She remained a weak,
innocent, and pig-headed creature, who alone would defy the universe
if she thought the universe merited this proceeding.
One day Carrie Dungen came across from her kitchen with speed. She
had a great deal of grist. "Oh," she cried, "Henry Johnson got away
from where they was keeping him, and came to town last night, and
scared everybody almost to death."
Martha was shining a dish-pan, polishing madly. No reasonable
person could see cause for this operation, because the pan already
glistened like silver. "Well!" she ejaculated. She imparted to the word
a deep meaning. "This, my prophecy, has come to pass." It was a habit.
The overplus of information was choking Carrie. Before she could go
on she was obliged to struggle for a moment. "And, oh, little Sadie
Winter is awful sick, and they say Jake Winter was around this morning
trying to get Doctor Trescott arrested. And poor old Mrs. Farragut
sprained her ankle in trying to climb a fence. And there's a crowd
around the jail all the time. They put Henry in jail because they
didn't know what else to do with him, I guess. They say he is
Martha finally released the dish-pan and confronted the headlong
speaker. "Well!" she said again, poising a great brown rag. Kate had
heard the excited new-comer, and drifted down from the novel in her
room. She was a shivery little woman. Her shoulder-blades seemed to be
two panes of ice, for she was constantly shrugging and shrugging.
"Serves him right if he was to lose all his patients," she said
suddenly, in bloodthirsty tones. She snipped her words out as if her
lips were scissors.
"Well, he's likely to," shouted Carrie Dungen. "Don't a lot of
people say that they won't have him any more? If you're sick and
nervous, Doctor Trescott would scare the life out of you, wouldn't he?
He would me. I'd keep thinking."
Martha, stalking to and fro, sometimes surveyed the two other women
with a contemplative frown.
After the return from Connecticut, little Jimmie was at first much
afraid of the monster who lived in the room over the carriage-house.
He could not identify it in any way. Gradually, however, his fear
dwindled under the influence of a weird fascination. He sidled into
closer and closer relations with it.
One time the monster was seated on a box behind the stable basking
in the rays of the afternoon sun. A heavy crepe veil was swathed about
Little Jimmie and many companions came around the corner of the
stable. They were all in what was popularly known as the baby class,
and consequently escaped from school a half-hour before the other
children. They halted abruptly at sight of the figure on the box.
Jimmie waved his hand with the air of a proprietor.
"There he is," he said.
"O-o-o!" murmured all the little boys — "o-o-o!" They shrank back,
and grouped according to courage or experience, as at the sound the
monster slowly turned its head. Jimmie had remained in the van alone.
"Don't be afraid! I won't let him hurt you," he said, delighted.
"Huh!" they replied, contemptuously. "We ain't afraid."
Jimmie seemed to reap all the joys of the owner and exhibitor of
one of the world's marvels, while his audience remained at a distance
— awed and entranced, fearful and envious.
One of them addressed Jimmie gloomily. "Bet you dassent walk right
up to him." He was an older boy than Jimmie, and habitually oppressed
him to a small degree. This new social elevation of the smaller lad
probably seemed revolutionary to him.
"Huh!" said Jimmie, with deep scorn. "Dassent I? Dassent I, hey?
The group was immensely excited. It turned its eyes upon the boy
that Jimmie addressed. "No, you dassent," he said, stolidly, facing a
moral defeat. He could see that Jimmie was resolved. "No, you dassent,"
he repeated, doggedly.
"Ho!" cried Jimmie. "You just watch! — you just watch!"
Amid a silence he turned and marched toward the monster. But
possibly the palpable wariness of his companions had an effect upon
him that weighed more than his previous experience, for suddenly, when
near to the monster, he halted dubiously. But his playmates
immediately uttered a derisive shout, and it seemed to force him
forward. He went to the monster and laid his hand delicately on its
shoulder. "Hello, Henry," he said, in a voice that trembled a trifle.
The monster was crooning a weird line of negro melody that was scarcely
more than a thread of sound, and it paid no heed to the boy.
Jimmie strutted back to his companions. They acclaimed him and
hooted his opponent. Amidst this clamor the larger boy with difficulty
preserved a dignified attitude.
"I dassent, dassent I?" said Jimmie to him. "Now, you're so smart,
let's see you do it!"
This challenge brought forth renewed taunts from the others. The
larger boy puffed out his cheeks. "Well, I ain't afraid," he
explained, sullenly. He had made a mistake in diplomacy, and now his
small enemies were tumbling his prestige all about his ears. They
crowed like roosters and bleated like lambs, and made many other noises
which were supposed to bury him in ridicule and dishonor. "Well, I
ain't afraid," he continued to explain through the din.
Jimmie, the hero of the mob, was pitiless. "You ain't afraid, hey?"
he sneered. "If you ain't afraid, go do it, then."
"Well, I would if I wanted to," the other retorted. His eyes wore
an expression of profound misery, but he preserved steadily other
portions of a pot-valiant air. He suddenly faced one of his
persecutors. "If you're so smart, why don't you go do it?" This
persecutor sank promptly through the group to the rear. The incident
gave the badgered one a breathing-spell, and for a moment even turned
the derision in another direction. He took advantage of his interval.
"I'll do it if anybody else will," he announced, swaggering to and fro.
Candidates for the adventure did not come forward. To defend
themselves from this counter-charge, the other boys again set up their
crowing and bleating. For a while they would hear nothing from him.
Each time he opened his lips their chorus of noises made oratory
impossible. But at last he was able to repeat that he would volunteer
to dare as much in the affair as any other boy.
"Well, you go first," they shouted.
But Jimmie intervened to once more lead the populace against the
large boy. "You're mighty brave, ain't you?" he said to him. "You
dared me to do it, and I did — didn't I? Now who's afraid?" The others
cheered this view loudly, and they instantly resumed the baiting of
the large boy.
He shamefacedly scratched his left shin with his right foot. "Well,
I ain't afraid." He cast an eye at the monster. "Well, I ain't
afraid." With a glare of hatred at his squalling tormentors, he finally
announced a grim intention. "Well, I'll do it, then, since you're so
The mob subsided as with a formidable countenance he turned toward
the impassive figure on the box. The advance was also a regular
progression from high daring to craven hesitation. At last, when some
yards from the monster, the lad came to a full halt, as if he had
encountered a stone wall. The observant little boys in the distance
promptly hooted. Stung again by these cries, the lad sneaked two yards
forward. He was crouched like a young cat ready for a backward spring.
The crowd at the rear, beginning to respect this display, uttered some
encouraging cries. Suddenly the lad gathered himself together, made a
white and desperate rush forward, touched the monster's shoulder with
a far-outstretched finger, and sped away, while his laughter rang out
wild, shrill, and exultant.
The crowd of boys reverenced him at once, and began to throng into
his camp, and look at him, and be his admirers. Jimmie was discomfited
for a moment, but he and the larger boy, without agreement or word of
any kind, seemed to recognize a truce, and they swiftly combined and
began to parade before the others.
"Why, it's just as easy as nothing," puffed the larger boy. "Ain't
"Course," blew Jimmie. "Why, it's as e-e-easy."
They were people of another class. If they had been decorated for
courage on twelve battle-fields, they could not have made the other
boys more ashamed of the situation.
Meanwhile they condescended to explain the emotions of the
excursion, expressing unqualified contempt for any one who could hang
back. "Why, it ain't nothin'. He won't do nothin' to you," they told
the others, in tones of exasperation.
One of the very smallest boys in the party showed signs of a
wistful desire to distinguish himself, and they turned their attention
to him, pushing at his shoulders while he swung away from them, and
hesitated dreamily. He was eventually induced to make furtive
expedition, but it was only for a few yards. Then he paused,
motionless, gazing with open mouth. The vociferous entreaties of
Jimmie and the large boy had no power over him.
Mrs. Hannigan had come out on her back porch with a pail of water.
From this coign she had a view of the secluded portion of the Trescott
grounds that was behind the stable. She perceived the group of boys,
and the monster on the box. She shaded her eyes with her hand to
benefit her vision. She screeched then as if she was being murdered.
"Eddie! Eddie! You come home this minute!"
Her son querulously demanded, "Aw, what for?"
"You come home this minute. Do you hear?"
The other boys seemed to think this visitation upon one of their
number required them to preserve for a time the hang-dog air of a
collection of culprits, and they remained in guilty silence until the
little Hannigan, wrathfully protesting, was pushed through the door of
his home. Mrs. Hannigan cast a piercing glance over the group, stared
with a bitter face at the Trescott house, as if this new and handsome
edifice was insulting her, and then followed her son.
There was wavering in the party. An inroad by one mother always
caused them to carefully sweep the horizon to see if there were more
coming. "This is my yard," said Jimmie, proudly. "We don't have to go
The monster on the box had turned his black crepe countenance
toward the sky, and was waving its arms in time to a religious chant.
"Look at him now," cried a little boy. They turned, and were transfixed
by the solemnity and mystery of the indefinable gestures. The wail of
the melody was mournful and slow. They drew back. It seemed to
spellbind them with the power of a funeral. They were so absorbed that
they did not hear the doctor's buggy drive up to the stable. Trescott
got out, tied his horse, and approached the group. Jimmie saw him
first, and at his look of dismay the others wheeled.
"What's all this, Jimmie?" asked Trescott, in surprise.
The lad advanced to the front of his companions, halted, and said
nothing. Trescott's face gloomed slightly as he scanned the scene.
"What were you doing, Jimmie?"
"We was playin'," answered Jimmie, huskily.
"Playing at what?"
Trescott looked gravely at the other boys, and asked them to please
go home. They proceeded to the street much in the manner of frustrated
and revealed assassins. The crime of trespass on another boy's place
was still a crime when they had only accepted the other boy's cordial
invitation, and they were used to being sent out of all manner of
gardens upon the sudden appearance of a father or a mother. Jimmie had
wretchedly watched the departure of his companions. It involved the
loss of his position as a lad who controlled the privileges of his
father's grounds, but then he knew that in the beginning he had no
right to ask so many boys to be his guests.
Once on the sidewalk, however, they speedily forgot their shame as
trespassers, and the large boy launched forth in a description of his
success in the late trial of courage. As they went rapidly up the
street, the little boy, who had made the furtive expedition cried out
confidently from the rear, "Yes, and I went almost up to him, didn't
The large boy crushed him in a few words. "Huh!" he scoffed. "You
only went a little way. I went clear up to him."
The pace of the other boys was so manly that the tiny thing had to
trot, and he remained at the rear, getting entangled in their legs in
his attempts to reach the front rank and become of some importance,
dodging this way and that way, and always piping out his little claim
"By-the-way, Grace," said Trescott, looking into the dining-room
from his office door, "I wish you would send Jimmie to me before
When Jimmie came, he advanced so quietly that Trescott did not at
first note him. "Oh," he said, wheeling from a cabinet, "here you are,
Trescott dropped into his chair and tapped the desk with a
thoughtful finger. "Jimmie, what were you doing in the back garden
yesterday — you and the other boys — to Henry?"
"We weren't doing anything, pa."
Trescott looked sternly into the raised eyes of his son. "Are you
sure you were not annoying him in any way? Now what were you doing,
"Why, we — why, we — now — Willie Dalzel said I dassent go right
up to him, and I did; and then he did; and then — the other boys were
'fraid; and then — you comed."
Trescott groaned deeply. His countenance was so clouded in sorrow
that the lad, bewildered by the mystery of it, burst suddenly forth in
dismal lamentations. "There, there. Don't cry, Jim," said Trescott,
going round the desk. "Only — " He sat in a great leather
reading-chair, and took the boy on his knee. "Only I want to explain to
you — "
After Jimmie had gone to school, and as Trescott was about to start
on his round of morning calls, a message arrived from Doctor Moser. It
set forth that the latter's sister was dying in the old homestead,
twenty miles away up the valley, and asked Trescott to care for his
patients for the day at least. There was also in the envelope a little
history of each case and of what had already been done. Trescott
replied to the messenger that he would gladly assent to the
He noted that the first name on Moser's list was Winter, but this
did not seem to strike him as an important fact. When its turn came,
he rang the Winter bell. "Good-morning, Mrs. Winter," he said,
cheerfully, as the door was opened. "Doctor Moser has been obliged to
leave town to-day, and he has asked me to come in his stead. How is
the little girl this morning?"
Mrs. Winter had regarded him in stony surprise. At last she said:
"Come in! I'll see my husband." She bolted into the house. Trescott
entered the hall, and turned to the left into the sitting-room.
Presently Winter shuffled through the door. His eyes flashed toward
Trescott. He did not betray any desire to advance far into the room.
"What do you want?" he said.
"What do I want? What do I want?" repeated Trescott, lifting his
head suddenly. He had heard an utterly new challenge in the night of
"Yes, that's what I want to know," snapped Winter. "What do you
Trescott was silent for a moment. He consulted Moser's memoranda.
"I see that your little girl's case is a trifle serious," he remarked.
"I would advise you to call a physician soon. I will leave you a copy
of Doctor Moser's record to give to any one you may call." He paused
to transcribe the record on a page of his note-book. Tearing out the
leaf, he extended it to Winter as he moved toward the door. The latter
shrunk against the wall. His head was hanging as he reached for the
paper. This caused him to grasp air, and so Trescott simply let the
paper flutter to the feet of the other man.
"Good-morning," said Trescott from the hall. This placid retreat
seemed to suddenly arouse Winter to ferocity. It was as if he had then
recalled all the truths, which he had formulated to hurl at Trescott.
So he followed him into the hall, and down the hall to the door, and
through the door to the porch, barking in fiery rage from a respectful
distance. As Trescott imperturbably turned the mare's head down the
road, Winter stood on the porch, still yelping. He was like a little
"Have you heard the news?" cried Carrie Dungen, as she sped toward
Martha's kitchen. "Have you heard the news?" Her eyes were shining
"No," answered Martha's sister Kate, bending forward eagerly. "What
was it? What was it?"
Carrie appeared triumphantly in the open door. "Oh, there's been an
awful scene between Doctor Trescott and Jake Winter. I never thought
that Jake Winter had any pluck at all, but this morning he told the
doctor just what he thought of him."
"Well, what did he think of him?" asked Martha.
"Oh, he called him everything. Mrs. Howarth heard it through her
front blinds. It was terrible, she says. It's all over town now.
Everybody knows it."
"Didn't the doctor answer back?"
"No! Mrs. Howarth — she says he never said a word. He just walked
down to his buggy and got in, and drove off as co-o-o-l. But Jake gave
him jinks, by all accounts."
"But what did he say?" cried Kate, shrill and excited. She was
evidently at some kind of a feast.
"Oh, he told him that Sadie had never been well since that night
Henry Johnson frightened her at Theresa Page's party, and he held him
responsible, and how dared he cross his threshold — and — and — and
"And what?" said Martha.
"Did he swear at him?" said Kate, in fearsome glee.
"No — not much. He did swear at him a little, but not more than a
man does anyhow when he is real mad, Mrs. Howarth says."
"O-oh!" breathed Kate. "And did he call him any names?"
Martha, at her work, had been for a time in deep thought. She now
interrupted the others. "It don't seem as if Sadie Winter had been
sick since that time Henry Johnson got loose. She's been to school
almost the whole time since then, hasn't she?"
They combined upon her in immediate indignation. "School? School? I
should say not. Don't think for a moment. School!"
Martha wheeled from the sink. She held an iron spoon, and it seemed
as if she was going to attack them. "Sadie Winter has passed here many
a morning since then carrying her school-bag. Where was she going? To a
The others, long accustomed to a mental tyranny, speedily
"Did she?" stammered Kate. "I never saw her."
Carrie Dungen made a weak gesture.
"If I had been Doctor Trescott," exclaimed Martha, loudly, "I'd
have knocked that miserable Jake Winter's head off."
Kate and Carrie, exchanging glances, made an alliance in the air.
"I don't see why you say that, Martha," replied Carrie, with
considerable boldness, gaining support and sympathy from Kate's smile.
"I don't see how anybody can be blamed for getting angry when their
little girl gets almost scared to death and gets sick from it, and all
that. Besides, everybody says — "
"Oh, I don't care what everybody says," said Martha.
"Well, you can't go against the whole town," answered Carrie, in
sudden sharp defiance.
"No, Martha, you can't go against the whole town," piped Kate,
following her leader rapidly.
"'The whole town,'" cried Martha. "I'd like to know what you call
'the whole town.' Do you call these silly people who are scared of
Henry Johnson 'the whole town'?"
"Why, Martha," said Carrie, in a reasoning tone, "you talk as if
you wouldn't be scared of him!"
"No more would I," retorted Martha.
"O-oh, Martha, how you talk!" said Kate. "Why, the idea!
Everybody's afraid of him."
Carrie was grinning. "You've never seen him, have you?" she asked,
"No," admitted Martha.
"Well, then, how do you know that you wouldn't be scared?"
Martha confronted her. "Have you ever seen him? No? Well, then, how
do you know you would be scared?"
The allied forces broke out in chorus: "But, Martha, everybody says
so. Everybody says so."
"Everybody says what?"
"Everybody that's seen him say they were frightened almost to
death. 'Tisn't only women, but it's men too. It's awful."
Martha wagged her head solemnly. "I'd try not to be afraid of him."
"But supposing you could not help it?" said Kate.
"Yes, and look here," cried Carrie. "I'll tell you another thing.
The Hannigans are going to move out of the house next door."
"On account of him?" demanded Martha.
Carrie nodded. "Mrs. Hannigan says so herself."
"Well, of all things!" ejaculated Martha. "Going to move, eh? You
don't say so! Where they going to move to?"
"Down on Orchard Avenue."
"Well, of all things! Nice house?"
"I don't know about that. I haven't heard. But there's lots of nice
houses on Orchard."
"Yes, but they're all taken," said Kate. "There isn't a vacant
house on Orchard Avenue."
"Oh yes, there is," said Martha. "The old Hampstead house is
"Oh, of course," said Kate. "But then I don't believe Mrs. Hannigan
would like it there. I wonder where they can be going to move to?"
"I'm sure I don't know," sighed Martha. "It must be to some place
we don't know about."
"Well," said Carrie Dungen, after a general reflective silence,
"it's easy enough to find out, anyhow."
"Who knows — around here?" asked Kate.
"Why, Mrs. Smith, and there she is in her garden," said Carrie,
jumping to her feet. As she dashed out of the door, Kate and Martha
crowded at the window. Carrie's voice rang out from near the steps.
"Mrs. Smith! Mrs. Smith! Do you know where the Hannigans are going to
The autumn smote the leaves, and the trees of Whilomville were
panoplied in crimson and yellow. The winds grew stronger, and in the
melancholy purple of the nights the home shine of a window became a
finer thing. The little boys, watching the sear and sorrowful leaves
drifting down from the maples, dreamed of the near time when they
could heap bushels in the streets and burn them during the abrupt
Three men walked down the Niagara Avenue. As they approached Judge
Hagenthorpe's house he came down his walk to meet them in the manner
of one who has been waiting.
"Are you ready, judge?" one said.
"All ready," he answered.
The four then walked to Trescott's house. He received them in his
office, where he had been reading. He seemed surprised at this visit
of four very active and influential citizens, but he had nothing to say
After they were all seated, Trescott looked expectantly from one
face to another. There was a little silence. It was broken by John
Twelve, the wholesale grocer, who was worth $400,000, and reported to
be worth over a million.
"Well, doctor," he said, with a short laugh, "I suppose we might as
well admit at once that we've come to interfere in something which is
none of our business."
"Why, what is it?" asked Trescott, again looking from one face to
another. He seemed to appeal particularly to Judge Hagenthorpe, but
the old man had his chin lowered musingly to his cane, and would not
look at him.
"It's about what nobody talks of — much," said Twelve. "It's about
Trescott squared himself in his chair. "Yes?" he said.
Having delivered himself of the title, Twelve seemed to become more
easy. "Yes," he answered, blandly, "we wanted to talk to you about
"Yes?" said Trescott.
Twelve abruptly advanced on the main attack. "Now see here,
Trescott, we like you, and we have come to talk right out about this
business. It may be none of our affairs and all that, and as for me, I
don't mind if you tell me so; but I am not going to keep quiet and see
you ruin yourself. And that's how we all feel."
"I am not ruining myself," answered Trescott.
"No, maybe you are not exactly ruining yourself," said Twelve,
slowly, "but you are doing yourself a great deal of harm. You have
changed from being the leading doctor in town to about the last one. It
is mainly because there are always a large number of people who are
very thoughtless fools, of course, but then that doesn't change the
A man who had not heretofore spoken said, solemnly, "It's the
"Well, what I want to say is this," resumed Twelve: "Even if there
are a lot of fools in the world, we can't see any reason why you
should ruin yourself by opposing them. You can't teach them anything,
"I am not trying to teach them anything." Trescott smiled wearily.
"I — It is a matter of — well — "
"And there are a good many of us that admire you for it immensely,"
interrupted Twelve; "but that isn't going to change the minds of all
"It's the women," stated the advocate of this view again.
"Well, what I want to say is this," said Twelve. "We want you to
get out of this trouble and strike your old gait again. You are simply
killing your practice through your infernal pig-headedness. Now this
thing is out of the ordinary, but there must be ways to — to beat the
game somehow, you see. So we've talked it over — about a dozen of us
— and, as I say, if you want to tell us to mind our own business, why,
go ahead; but we've talked it over, and we've come to the conclusion
that the only way to do is to get Johnson a place somewhere off up the
valley, and — "
Trescott wearily gestured. "You don't know, my friend. Everybody
is so afraid of him, they can't even give him good care. Nobody can
attend to him as I do myself."
"But I have a little no-good farm up beyond Clarence Mountain that
I was going to give to Henry," cried Twelve, aggrieved. "And if you —
and if you — if you — through your house burning down, or anything —
why, all the boys were prepared to take him right off your hands, and
— and — "
Trescott arose and went to the window. He turned his back upon
them. They sat waiting in silence. When he returned he kept his face
in the shadow. "No, John Twelve," he said, "it can't be done."
There was another stillness. Suddenly a man stirred on his chair.
"Well, then, a public institution — " he began.
"No," said Trescott; "public institutions are all very good, but he
is not going to one."
In the background of the group old Judge Hagenthorpe was
thoughtfully smoothing the polished ivory head of his cane.
Trescott loudly stamped the snow from his feet and shook the flakes
from his shoulders. When he entered the house he went at once to the
dining-room, and then to the sitting-room. Jimmie was there, reading
painfully in a large book concerning giraffes and tigers and
"Where is your mother, Jimmie?" asked Trescott.
"I don't know, pa," answered the boy. "I think she is upstairs."
Trescott went to the foot of the stairs and called, but there came
no answer. Seeing that the door of the little drawing-room was open,
he entered. The room was bathed in the half-light that came from the
four dull panes of mica in the front of the great stove. As his eyes
grew used to the shadows he saw his wife curled in an arm-chair. He
went to her. "Why, Grace," he said, "didn't you hear me calling you?"
She made no answer, and as he bent over the chair he heard her
trying to smother a sob in the cushion.
"Grace!" he cried. "You're crying!"
She raised her face. "I've got a headache, a dreadful headache,
"A headache?" he repeated, in surprise and incredulity.
He pulled a chair close to hers. Later, as he cast his eye over the
zone of light shed by the dull red panes, he saw that a low table had
been drawn close to the stove, and that it was burdened with many small
cups and plates of uncut tea-cake. He remembered that the day was
Wednesday, and that his wife received on Wednesdays.
"Who was here to-day, Gracie?" he asked.
From his shoulder there came a mumble, "Mrs. Twelve."
"Was she — um," he said. "Why — didn't Anna Hagenthorpe come
The mumble from his shoulder continued, "She wasn't well enough."
Glancing down at the cups, Trescott mechanically counted them.
There were fifteen of them. "There, there," he said. "Don't cry,
Grace. Don't cry."
The wind was whining round the house, and the snow beat aslant upon
the windows. Sometimes the coal in the stove settled with a crumbling
sound, and the four panes of mica flashed a sudden new crimson. As he
sat holding her head on his shoulder, Trescott found himself
occasionally trying to count the cups. There were fifteen of them.