Sixes and Sevens
Part 2 out of 4
This third type has not yet been recognized and accepted. The police have
made us familiar with the first and second. Their classification is
simple. The collar is the distinguishing mark.
When a burglar is caught who does not wear a collar he is described as a
degenerate of the lowest type, singularly vicious and depraved, and is
suspected of being the desperate criminal who stole the handcuffs out of
Patrolman Hennessy's pocket in 1878 and walked away to escape arrest.
The other well-known type is the burglar who wears a collar. He is always
referred to as a Raffles in real life. He is invariably a gentleman by
daylight, breakfasting in a dress suit, and posing as a paperhanger, while
after dark he plies his nefarious occupation of burglary. His mother is
an extremely wealthy and respected resident of Ocean Grove, and when he is
conducted to his cell he asks at once for a nail file and the Police
Gazette. He always has a wife in every State in the Union and fiancees in
all the Territories, and the newspapers print his matrimonial gallery out
of their stock of cuts of the ladies who were cured by only one bottle
after having been given up by five doctors, experiencing great relief
after the first dose.
The burglar wore a blue sweater. He was neither a Raffles nor one of the
chefs from Hell's Kitchen. The police would have been baffled had they
attempted to classify him. They have not yet heard of the respectable,
unassuming burglar who is neither above nor below his station.
This burglar of the third class began to prowl. He wore no masks, dark
lanterns, or gum shoes. He carried a 88-calibre revolver in his pocket,
and he chewed peppermint gum thoughtfully.
The furniture of the house was swathed in its summer dust protectors. The
silver was far away in safe-deposit vaults. The burglar expected no
remarkable "haul." His objective point was that dimly lighted room where
the master of the house should be sleeping heavily after whatever solace
he had sought to lighten the burden of his loneliness. A "touch" might be
made there to the extent of legitimate, fair professional profits -- loose
money, a watch, a jewelled stick-pin -- nothing exorbitant or beyond rea
son. He had seen the window left open and had taken the chance.
The burglar softly opened the door of the lighted room. The gas was
turned low. A man lay in the bed asleep. On the dresser lay many things
in confusion -- a crumpled roll of bills, a watch, keys, three poker
chips, crushed cigars, a pink silk hair bow, and an unopened bottle of
bromo-seltzer for a bulwark in the morning.
The burglar took three steps toward the dresser. The man in the bed
suddenly uttered a squeaky groan and opened his eyes. His right hand slid
under his pillow, but remained there.
"Lay still," said the burglar in conversational tone. Burglars of the
third type do not hiss. The citizen in the bed looked at the round end of
the burglar's pistol and lay still.
"Now hold up both your hands," commanded the burglar.
The citizen had a little, pointed, brown-and-gray beard, like that of a
painless dentist. He looked solid, esteemed, irritable, and disgusted.
He sat up in bed and raised his right hand above his head.
"Up with the other one," ordered the burglar. "You might be amphibious
and shoot with your left. You can count two, can't you? Hurry up, now."
"Can't raise the other one," said the citizen, with a contortion of his
"What's the matter with it?"
"Rheumatism in the shoulder."
"Was. The inflammation has gone down." The burglar stood for a moment or
two, holding his gun on the afflicted one. He glanced at the plunder on
the dresser and then, with a half-embarrassed air, back at the man in the
bed. Then he, too, made a sudden grimace.
"Don't stand there making faces," snapped the citizen, bad-humouredly.
"If you've come to burgle why don't you do it? There's some stuff lying
"'Scuse me," said the burglar, with a grin; "but it just socked me one,
too. It's good for you that rheumatism and me happens to be old pals. I
got it in my left arm, too. Most anybody but me would have popped you
when you wouldn't hoist that left claw of yours."
"How long have you had it?" inquired the citizen.
"Four years. I guess that ain't all. Once you've got it, it's you for a
rheumatic life -- that's my judgment."
"Ever try rattlesnake oil?" asked the citizen, interestedly.
"Gallons," said the burglar. "If all the snakes I've used the oil of was
strung out in a row they'd reach eight times as far as Saturn, and the
rattles could be heard at Valparaiso, Indiana, and back."
"Some use Chiselum's Pills," remarked the citizen.
"Fudge!" said the burglar. "Took 'em five months. No good. I had some
relief the year I tried Finkelham's Extract, Balm of Gilead poultices and
Potts's Pain Pulverizer; but I think it was the buckeye I carried in my
pocket what done the trick."
"Is yours worse in the morning or at night?" asked the citizen.
"Night," said the burglar; "just when I'm busiest. Say, take down that
arm of yours -- I guess you won't -- Say! did you ever try Blickerstaff's
"I never did. Does yours come in paroxysms or is it a steady pain?"
The burglar sat down on the foot of the bed and rested his gun on his
"It jumps," said he. "It strikes me when I ain't looking for it. I had
to give up second-story work because I got stuck sometimes half-way up.
Tell you what -- I don't believe the bloomin' doctors know what is good
"Same here. I've spent a thousand dollars without getting any relief.
Yours swell any?"
"Of mornings. And when it's goin' to rain -- great Christopher!"
"Me, too," said the citizen. "I can tell when a streak of humidity the
size of a table-cloth starts from Florida on its way to New York. And if
I pass a theatre where there's an 'East Lynne' matinee going on, the
moisture starts my left arm jumping like a toothache."
"It's undiluted -- hades!" said the burglar.
"You're dead right," said the citizen.
The burglar looked down at his pistol and thrust it into his pocket with
an awkward attempt at ease.
"Say, old man," he said, constrainedly, "ever try opodeldoc?"
"Slop!" said the citizen angrily. "Might as well rub on restaurant
"Sure," concurred the burglar. "It's a salve suitable for little Minnie
when the kitty scratches her finger. I'll tell you what! We're up against
it. I only find one thing that eases her up. Hey? Little old sanitary,
ameliorating, lest-we-forget Booze. Say -- this job's off -- 'scuse me --
get on your clothes and let's go out and have some. 'Scuse the liberty,
but -- ouch! There she goes again!"
"For a week," said the citizen. "I haven't been able to dress myself
without help. I'm afraid Thomas is in bed, and --"
"Climb out," said the burglar, "I'll help you get into your duds."
The conventional returned as a tidal wave and flooded the citizen. He
stroked his brown-and-gray beard.
"It's very unusual --" he began.
"Here's your shirt," said the burglar, "fall out. I knew a man who said
Omberry's Ointment fixed him in two weeks so he could use both hands in
tying his four-in-hand."
As they were going out the door the citizen turned and started back.
"Liked to forgot my money," he explained; "laid it on the dresser last
The burglar caught him by the right sleeve.
"Come on," he said bluffly. "I ask you. Leave it alone. I've got the
price. Ever try witch hazel and oil of wintergreen?"
IX AT ARMS WITH MORPHEUS
I never could quite understand how Tom Hopkins came to make that blunder,
for he had been through a whole term at a medical college -- before he
inherited his aunt's fortune -- and had been considered strong in
We had been making a call together that evening, and afterward Tom ran up
to my rooms for a pipe and a chat before going on to his own luxurious
apartments. I had stepped into the other room for a moment when I heard
Tom sing out:
"Oh, Billy, I'm going to take about four grains of quinine, if you don't
mind -- I'm feeling all blue and shivery. Guess I'm taking cold."
"All right," I called back. "The bottle is on the second shelf. Take it
in a spoonful of that elixir of eucalyptus. It knocks the bitter out."
After I came back we sat by the fire and got our briars going. In about
eight minutes Tom sank back into a gentle collapse.
I went straight to the medicine cabinet and looked.
"You unmitigated hayseed!" I growled. "See what money will do for a man's
There stood the morphine bottle with the stopple out, just as Tom had left
I routed out another young M.D. who roomed on the floor above, and sent
him for old Doctor Gales, two squares away. Tom Hopkins has too much
money to be attended by rising young practitioners alone.
When Gales came we put Tom through as expensive a course of treatment as
the resources of the profession permit. After the more drastic remedies
we gave him citrate of caffeine in frequent doses and strong coffee, and
walked him up and down the floor between two of us. Old Gales pinched him
and slapped his face and worked hard for the big check he could see in the
distance. The young M.D. from the next floor gave Tom a most hearty,
rousing kick, and then apologized to me.
"Couldn't help it," he said. "I never kicked a millionaire before in my
life. I may never have another opportunity."
"Now," said Doctor Gales, after a couple of hours, "he'll do. But keep
him awake for another hour. You can do that by talking to him and shaking
him up occasionally. When his pulse and respiration are normal then let
him sleep. I'll leave him with you now."
I was left alone with Tom, whom we had laid on a couch. He lay very
still, and his eyes were half closed. I began my work of keeping him
"Well, old man," I said, "you've had a narrow squeak, but we've pulled you
through. When you were attending lectures, Tom, didn't any of the
professors ever casually remark that m-o-r-p-h-i-a never spells 'quinia,'
especially in four-grain doses? But I won't pile it up on you until you
get on your feet. But you ought to have been a druggist, Tom; you're
splendidly qualified to fill prescriptions."
Tom looked at me with a faint and foolish smile.
"B'ly," he murmured, "I feel jus' like a hum'n bird flyin' around a jolly
lot of most 'shpensive roses. Don' bozzer me. Goin' sleep now."
And he went to sleep in two seconds. I shook him by the shoulder.
"Now, Tom," I said, severely, "this won't do. The big doctor said you
must stay awake for at least an hour. Open your eyes. You're not
entirely safe yet, you know. Wake up."
Tom Hopkins weighs one hundred and ninety-eight. He gave me another
somnolent grin, and fell into deeper slumber. I would have made him move
about, but I might as well have tried to make Cleopatra's needle waltz
around the room with me. Tom's breathing became stertorous, and that, in
connection with morphia poisoning, means danger.
Then I began to think. I could not rouse his body; I must strive to
excite his mind. "Make him angry," was an idea that suggested itself.
"Good!" I thought; but how? There was not a joint in Tom's armour. Dear
old fellow! He was good nature itself, and a gallant gentleman, fine and
true and clean as sunlight. He came from somewhere down South, where they
still have ideals and a code. New York had charmed, but had not spoiled,
him. He had that old-fashioned chivalrous reverence for women, that -- Eur
eka! -- there was my idea! I worked the thing up for a minute or two in my
imagination. I chuckled to myself at the thought of springing a thing
like that on old Tom Hopkins. Then I took him by the shoulder and shook
him till his ears flopped. He opened his eyes lazily. I assumed an
expression of scorn and contempt, and pointed my finger within two inches
of his nose.
"Listen to me, Hopkins," I said, in cutting and distinct tones, "you and I
have been good friends, but I want you to understand that in the future my
doors are closed against any man who acts as much like a scoundrel as you
Tom looked the least bit interested.
"What's the matter, Billy?" he muttered, composedly. "Don't your clothes
"If I were in your place," I went on, "which, thank God, I am not, I think
I would be afraid to close my eyes. How about that girl you left waiting
for you down among those lonesome Southern pines -- the girl that you've
forgotten since you came into your confounded money? Oh, I know what I'm
talking about. While you were a poor medical student she was good enough
for you. But now, since you are a millionaire, it's different. I wonder
what she thinks of the performances of that peculiar class of people which
she has been taught to worship -- the Southern gentlemen? I'm sorry,
Hopkins, that I was forced to speak about these matters, but you've
covered it up so well and played your part so nicely that I would have
sworn you were above such unmanly tricks"
Poor Tom. I could scarcely keep from laughing outright to see him
struggling against the effects of the opiate. He was distinctly angry,
and I didn't blame him. Tom had a Southern temper. His eyes were open
now, and they showed a gleam or two of fire. But the drug still clouded
his mind and bound his tongue.
"C-c-confound you," he stammered, "I'll s-smash you."
He tried to rise from the couch. With all his size he was very weak now.
I thrust him back with one arm. He lay there glaring like a lion in a
"That will hold you for a while, you old loony," I said to myself. I got
up and lit my pipe, for I was needing a smoke. I walked around a bit,
congratulating myself on my brilliant idea.
I heard a snore. I looked around. Tom was asleep again. I walked over
and punched him on the jaw. He looked at me as pleasant and ungrudging as
an idiot. I chewed my pipe and gave it to him hard.
"I want you to recover yourself and get out of my rooms as soon as you
can," I said, insultingly. "I've told you what I think of you. If you
have any honour or honesty left you will think twice before you attempt
again to associate with gentlemen. She's a poor girl, isn't she?" I
sneered. "Somewhat too plain and unfashionable for us since we got our
money. Be ashamed to walk on Fifth Avenue with her, wouldn't you?
Hopkins, you're forty-seven times worse than a cad. Who cares for your
money? I don't. I'll bet that girl don't. Perhaps if you didn't have it
you'd be more of a man. As it is you've made a cur of yourself, and" -- I
thought that quite dramatic -- "perhaps broken a faithful heart." (Old Tom
Hopkins breaking a faithful heart!) "Let me be rid of you as soon as
I turned my back on Tom, and winked at myself in a mirror. I heard him
moving, and I turned again quickly. I didn't want a hundred and
ninety-eight pounds falling on me from the rear. But Tom had only turned
partly over, and laid one arm across his face. He spoke a few words
rather more distinctly than before.
"I couldn't have -- talked this way -- to you, Billy, even if I'd heard
people -- lyin' 'bout you. But jus' soon's I can s-stand up -- I'll break
your neck -- don' f'get it."
I did feel a little ashamed then. But it was to save Tom. In the
morning, when I explained it, we would have a good laugh over it together.
In about twenty minutes Tom dropped into a sound, easy slumber. I felt
his pulse, listened to his respiration, and let him sleep. Everything was
normal, and Tom was safe. I went into the other room and tumbled into bed.
I found Tom up and dressed when I awoke the next morning. He was entirely
himself again with the exception of shaky nerves and a tongue like a
"What an idiot I was," he said, thoughtfully. "I remember thinking that
quinine bottle looked queer while I was taking the dose. Have much
trouble in bringing me 'round?"
I told him no. His memory seemed bad about the entire affair. I
concluded that he had no recollection of my efforts to keep him awake, and
decided not to enlighten him. Some other time, I thought, when he was
feeling better, we would have some fun over it.
When Tom was ready to go he stopped, with the door open, and shook my hand.
"Much obliged, old fellow," he said, quietly, "for taking so much trouble
with me -- and for what you said. I'm going down now to telegraph to the
X A GHOST OF A CHANCE
"Actually, a hod!" repeated Mrs. Kinsolving, pathetically.
Mrs. Bellamy Bellmore arched a sympathetic eyebrow. Thus she expressed
condolence and a generous amount of apparent surprise.
"Fancy her telling everywhere," recapitulated Mrs. Kinsolving, "that she
saw a ghost in the apartment she occupied here -- our choicest guest-room
-- a ghost, carrying a hod on its shoulder -- the ghost of an old man in
overalls, smoking a pipe and carrying a hod! The very absurdity of the
thing shows her malicious intent. There never was a Kinsolving that
carried a hod. Every one knows that Mr. Kinsolving's father accumulated
his money by large building contracts, but he never worked a day with his
own hands. He had this house built from his own plans; but -- oh, a hod!
Why need she have been so cruel and malicious?"
"It is really too bad," murmured Mrs. Bellmore, with an approving glance
of her fine eyes about the vast chamber done in lilac and old gold. "And
it was in this room she saw it! Oh, no, I'm not afraid of ghosts. Don't
have the least fear on my account. I'm glad you put me in here. I think
family ghosts so interesting! But, really, the story does sound a little
inconsistent. I should have expected something better from Mrs.
Fischer-Suympkins. Don't they carry bricks in hods? Why should a ghost
bring bricks into a villa built of marble and stone? I'm so sorry, but it
makes me think that age is beginning to tell upon Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins."
"This house," continued Mrs. Kinsolving, "was built upon the site of an
old one used by the family during the Revolution. There wouldn't be
anything strange in its having a ghost. And there was a Captain
Kinsolving who fought in General Greene's army, though we've never been
able to secure any papers to vouch for it. If there is to be a family
ghost, why couldn't it have been his, instead of a bricklayer's?"
"The ghost of a Revolutionary ancestor wouldn't be a bad idea," agreed
Mrs. Bellmore; "but you know how arbitrary and inconsiderate ghosts can
be. Maybe, like love, they are 'engendered in the eye.' One advantage of
those who see ghosts is that their stories can't be disproved. By a
spiteful eye, a Revolutionary knapsack might easily be construed to be a
hod. Dear Mrs. Kinsolving, think no more of it. I am sure it was a
"But she told everybody!" mourned Mrs. Kinsolving, inconsolable. "She
insisted upon the details. There is the pipe. And how are you going to
get out of the overalls?"
"Shan't get into them," said Mrs. Bellmore, with a prettily suppressed
yawn; "too stiff and wrinkly. Is that you, Felice? Prepare my bath,
please. Do you dine at seven at Clifftop, Mrs. Kinsolving? So kind of
you to run in for a chat before dinner! I love those little touches of
informality with a guest. They give such a home flavour to a visit. So
sorry; I must be dressing. I am so indolent I always postpone it until
the last moment."
Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins had been the first large plum that the Kinsolvings
had drawn from the social pie. For a long time, the pie itself had been
out of reach on a top shelf. But the purse and the pursuit had at last
lowered it. Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins was the heliograph of the smart
society parading corps. The glitter of her wit and actions passed along
the line, transmitting whatever was latest and most daring in the game of
peep-show. Formerly, her fame and leadership had been secure enough not
to need the support of such artifices as handing around live frogs for
favours at a cotillon. But, now, these things were necessary to the
holding of her throne. Beside, middle age had come to preside,
incongruous, at her capers. The sensational papers had cut her space from
a page to two columns. Her wit developed a sting; her manners became more
rough and inconsiderate, as if she felt the royal necessity of
establishing her autocracy by scorning the conventionalities that bound
To some pressure at the command of the Kinsolvings, she had yielded so far
as to honour their house by her presence, for an evening and night. She
had her revenge upon her hostess by relating, with grim enjoyment and
sarcastic humour, her story of the vision carrying the hod. To that lady,
in raptures at having penetrated thus far toward the coveted inner circle,
the result came as a crushing disappointment. Everybody either
sympathized or laughed, and there was little to choose between the two
modes of expression.
But, later on, Mrs. Kinsolving's hopes and spirits were revived by the
capture of a second and greater prize.
Mrs. Bellamy Bellmore had accepted an invitation to visit at Clifftop, and
would remain for three days. Mrs. Bellmore was one of the younger
matrons, whose beauty, descent, and wealth gave her a reserved seat in the
holy of holies that required no strenuous bolstering. She was generous
enough thus to give Mrs. Kinsolving the accolade that was so poignantly
desired; and, at the same time, she thought how much it would please
Terence. Perhaps it would end by solving him.
Terence was Mrs. Kinsolving's son, aged twenty-nine, quite good-looking
enough, and with two or three attractive and mysterious traits. For one,
he was very devoted to his mother, and that was sufficiently odd to
deserve notice. For others, he talked so little that it was irritating,
and he seemed either very shy or very deep. Terence interested Mrs.
Bellmore, because she was not sure which it was. She intended to study
him a little longer, unless she forgot the matter. If he was only shy,
she would abandon him, for shyness is a bore. If he was deep, she would
also abandon him, for depth is precarious.
On the afternoon of the third day of her visit, Terence hunted up Mrs.
Bellmore, and found her in a nook actually looking at an album.
"It's so good of you," said he, "to come down here and retrieve the day
for us. I suppose you have heard that Mrs. Fischer-Suympkins scuttled the
ship before she left. She knocked a whole plank out of the bottom with a
hod. My mother is grieving herself ill about it. Can't you manage to see
a ghost for us while you are here, Mrs. Bellmore -- a bang-up, swell
ghost, with a coronet on his head and a cheque book under his arm?"
"That was a naughty old lady, Terence," said Mrs. Bellmore, "to tell such
stories. Perhaps you gave her too much supper. Your mother doesn't
really take it seriously, does she?"
"I think she does," answered Terence. "One would think every brick in the
hod had dropped on her. It's a good mammy, and I don't like to see her
worried. It's to be hoped that the ghost belongs to the hod-carriers'
union, and will go out on a strike. If he doesn't, there will be no peace
in this family."
"I'm sleeping in the ghost-chamber," said Mrs. Bellmore, pensively. "But
it's so nice I wouldn't change it, even if I were afraid, which I'm not.
It wouldn't do for me to submit a counter story of a desirable,
aristocratic shade, would it? I would do so, with pleasure, but it seems
to me it would be too obviously an antidote for the other narrative to be
"True," said Terence, running two fingers thoughtfully into his crisp,
brown hair; "that would never do. How would it work to see the same ghost
again, minus the overalls, and have gold bricks in the hod? That would
elevate the spectre from degrading toil to a financial plane. Don't you
think that would be respectable enough?"
"There was an ancestor who fought against the Britishers, wasn't there?
Your mother said something to that effect."
"I believe so; one of those old chaps in raglan vests and golf trousers.
I don't care a continental for a Continental, myself. But the mother has
set her heart on pomp and heraldry and pyrotechnics, and I want her to be
"You are a good boy, Terence," said Mrs. Bellmore, sweeping her silks
close to one side of her, "not to beat your mother. Sit here by me, and
let's look at the album, just as people used to do twenty years ago. Now,
tell me about every one of them. Who is this tall, dignified gentleman
leaning against the horizon, with one arm on the Corinthian column?"
"That old chap with the big feet?" inquired Terence, craning his neck.
"That's great-uncle O'Brannigan. He used to keep a rathskeller on the
"I asked you to sit down, Terence. If you are not going to amuse, or
obey, me, I shall report in the morning that I saw a ghost wearing an
apron and carrying schooners of beer. Now, that is better. To be shy, at
your age, Terence, is a thing that you should blush to acknowledge."
At breakfast on the last morning of her visit, Mrs. Bellmore startled and
entranced every one present by announcing positively that she had seen the
"Did it have a -- a -- a --?" Mrs. Kinsolving, in her suspense and
agitation, could not bring out the word.
"No, indeed -- far from it."
There was a chorus of questions from others at the table. "Were n't you
frightened?" "What did it do?" "How did it look?" "How was it dressed?"
"Did it say anything?" "Didn't you scream?"
"I'll try to answer everything at once," said Mrs. Bellmore, heroically,
"although I'm frightfully hungry. Something awakened me -- I'm not sure
whether it was a noise or a touch -- and there stood the phantom. I never
burn a light at night, so the room was quite dark, but I saw it plainly.
I wasn't dreaming. It was a tall man, all misty white from head to foot.
It wore the full dress of the old Colonial days -- powdered hair, baggy
coat skirts, lace ruffles, and a sword. It looked intangible and luminous
in the dark, and moved without a sound. Yes, I was a little frightened at
first -- or startled, I should say. It was the first ghost I had ever
seen. No, it didn't say anything. I didn't scream. I raised up on my
elbow, and then it glided silently away, and disappeared when it reached
Mrs. Kinsolving was in the seventh heaven. "The description is that of
Captain Kinsolving, of General Greene's army, one of our ancestors," she
said, in a voice that trembled with pride and relief. "I really think I
must apologize for our ghostly relative, Mrs. Bellmore. I am afraid he
must have badly disturbed your rest."
Terence sent a smile of pleased congratulation toward his mother.
Attainment was Mrs. Kinsolving's, at last, and he loved to see her happy.
"I suppose I ought to be ashamed to confess," said Mrs. Bellmore, who was
now enjoying her breakfast, "that I wasn't very much disturbed. I presume
it would have been the customary thing to scream and faint, and have all
of you running about in picturesque costumes. But, after the first alarm
was over, I really couldn't work myself up to a panic. The ghost retired
from the stage quietly and peacefully, after doing its little turn, and I
went to sleep again."
Nearly all listened, politely accepted Mrs. Bellmore s story as a made-up
affair, charitably offered as an offset to the unkind vision seen by Mrs.
Fischer-Suympkins. But one or two present perceived that her assertions
bore the genuine stamp of her own convictions. Truth and candour seemed
to attend upon every word. Even a scoffer at ghosts -- if he were very
observant -- would have been forced to admit that she had, at least in a
very vivid dream, been honestly aware of the weird visitor. '
Soon Mrs. Bellmore's maid was packing. In two hours the auto would come
to convey her to the station. As Terence was strolling upon the east
piazza, Mrs. Bellmore came up to him, with a confidential sparkle in her
"I didn't wish to tell the others all of it," she said, "but I will tell
you. In a way, I think you should be held responsible. Can you guess in
what manner that ghost awakened me last night?"
"Rattled chains," suggested Terence, after some thought, "or groaned?
They usually do one or the other."
"Do you happen to know," continued Mrs. Bellmore, with sudden irrelevancy,
"if I resemble any one of the female relatives of your restless ancestor,'
"Don't think so," said Terence, with an extremely puzzled air. "Never
heard of any of them being noted beauties."
"Then, why," said Mrs. Bellmore, looking the young man gravely in the eye,
"should that ghost have kissed me, as I'm sure it did?"
"Heavens!" exclaimed Terence, in wide-eyed amazement; "you don't mean
that, Mrs. Bellmore! Did he actually kiss you?"
"I said _it_," corrected Mrs. Bellmore. "I hope the impersonal pronoun is
"But why did you say I was responsible?"
"Because you are the only living male relative of the ghost."
"I see. 'Unto the third and fourth generation. 'But, seriously, did he
-- did it -- how do you --?"
"Know? How does any one know? I was asleep, and that is what awakened
me, I'm almost certain."
"Well, I awoke just as -- oh, can't you understand what I mean? When
anything arouses you suddenly, you are not positive whether you dreamed,
or -- and yet you know that -- Dear me, Terence, must I dissect the most
elementary sensations in order to accommodate your extremely practical
"But, about kissing ghosts, you know," said Terence, humbly, "I require
the most primary instruction. I never kissed a ghost. Is it -- is it?"
"The sensation," said Mrs. Bellmore, with deliberate, but slightly
smiling, emphasis, "since you are seeking instruction, is a mingling of
the material and the spiritual."
"Of course," said Terence, suddenly growing serious, "it was a dream or
some kind of an hallucination. Nobody believes in spirits, these days.
If you told the tale out of kindness of heart, Mrs. Bellmore, I can't
express how grateful I am to you. It has made my mother supremely happy.
That Revolutionary ancestor was a stunning idea."
Mrs. Bellmore sighed. "The usual fate of ghost-seers is mine," she said,
resignedly. "My privileged encounter with a spirit is attributed to
lobster salad or mendacity. Well, I have, at least, one memory left from
the wreck -- a kiss from the unseen world. Was Captain Kinsolving a very
brave man, do you know, Terence?"
"He was licked at Yorktown, I believe," said Terence, reflecting. "They
say he skedaddled with his company, after the first battle there."
"I thought he must have been timid," said Mrs. Bellmore, absently. "He
might have had another."
"Another battle?" asked Terence, dully.
"What else could I mean? I must go and get ready now; the auto will be
here in an hour. I've enjoyed Clifftop immensely. Such a lovely morning,
isn't it, Terence?"
On her way to the station, Mrs. Bellmore took from her bag a silk
handkerchief, and looked at it with a little peculiar smile. Then she
tied it in several very hard knots, and threw it, at a convenient moment,
over the edge of the cliff along which the road ran.
In his room, Terence was giving some directions to his man, Brooks. "Have
this stuff done up in a parcel," he said, "and ship it to the address on
The card was that of a New York costumer. The "stuff" was a gentleman's
costume of the days of '76, made of white satin, with silver buckles,
white silk stockings, and white kid shoes. A powdered wig and a sword
completed the dress.
"And look about, Brooks," added Terence, a little anxiously, "for a silk
handkerchief with my initials in one corner. I must have dropped it
It was a month later when Mrs. Bellmore and one or two others of the smart
crowd were making up a list of names for a coaching trip through the
Catskills. Mrs. Bellmore looked over the list for a final censoring. The
name of Terence Kinsolving was there. Mrs. Bellmore ran her prohibitive
pencil lightly through the name.
"Too shy!" she murmured, sweetly, in explanation.
XI JIMMY HAYES AND MURIEL
Supper was over, and there had fallen upon the camp the silence that
accompanies the rolling of corn-husk cigarettes. The water hole shone
from the dark earth like a patch of fallen sky. Coyotes yelped. Dull
thumps indicated the rocking-horse movements of the hobbled ponies as they
moved to fresh grass. A half-troop of the Frontier Battalion of Texas
Rangers were distributed about the fire.
A well-known sound -- the fluttering and scraping of chaparral against
wooden stirrups -- came from the thick brush above the camp. The rangers
listened cautiously. They heard a loud and cheerful voice call out
"Brace up, Muriel, old girl, we're 'most there now! Been a long ride for
ye, ain't it, ye old antediluvian handful of animated carpet-tacks? Hey,
now, quit a tryin' to kiss me! Don't hold on to my neck so tight -- this
here paint hoss ain't any too shore-footed, let me tell ye. He's liable
to dump us both off if we don't watch out."
Two minutes of waiting brought a tired "paint" pony single-footing into
camp. A gangling youth of twenty lolled in the saddle. Of the "Muriel"
whom he had been addressing, nothing was to be seen.
"Hi, fellows!" shouted the rider cheerfully. "This here's a letter fer
He dismounted, unsaddled, dropped the coils of his stake-rope, and got his
hobbles from the saddle-horn. While Lieutenant Manning, in command, was
reading the letter, the newcomer, rubbed solicitously at some dried mud in
the loops of the hobbles, showing a consideration for the forelegs of his
"Boys," said the lieutenant, waving his hand to the rangers, "this is Mr.
James Hayes. He's a new member of the company. Captain McLean sends him
down from El Paso. The boys will see that you have some supper, Hayes, as
soon as you get your pony hobbled."
The recruit was received cordially by the rangers. Still, they observed
him shrewdly and with suspended judgment. Picking a comrade on the border
is done with ten times the care and discretion with which a girl chooses a
sweetheart. On your "side-kicker's" nerve, loyalty, aim, and coolness
your own life may depend many times.
After a hearty supper Hayes joined the smokers about the fire. His
appearance did not settle all the questions in the minds of his brother
rangers. They saw simply a loose, lank youth with tow-coloured,
sun-burned hair and a berry-brown, ingenuous face that wore a quizzical,
"Fellows," said the new ranger, "I'm goin' to interduce to you a lady
friend of mine. Ain't ever heard anybody call her a beauty, but you'll
all admit she's got some fine points about her. Come along, Muriel!"
He held open the front of his blue flannel shirt. Out of it crawled a
horned frog. A bright red ribbon was tied jauntily around its spiky
neck. It crawled to its owner's knee and sat there, motionless.
"This here Muriel," said Hayes, with an oratorical wave of his hand, "has
got qualities. She never talks back, she always stays at home, and she's
satisfied with one red dress for every day and Sunday, too."
"Look at that blame insect!" said one of the rangers with a grin. "I've
seen plenty of them horny frogs, but I never knew anybody to have one for
a side-partner. Does the blame thing know you from anybody else?"
"Take it over there and see," said Hayes.
The stumpy little lizard known as the horned frog is harmless. He has the
hideousness of the prehistoric monsters whose reduced descendant he is,
but he is gentler than the dove.
The ranger took Muriel from Hayes's knee and went back to his seat on a
roll of blankets. The captive twisted and clawed and struggled vigorously
in his hand. After holding it for a moment or two, the ranger set it upon
the ground. Awkwardly, but swiftly the frog worked its four oddly moving
legs until it stopped close by Hayes's foot.
"Well, dang my hide!" said the other ranger. "The little cuss knows you.
Never thought them insects had that much sense!"
Jimmy Hayes became a favourite in the ranger camp. He had an endless
store of good-nature, and a mild, perennial quality of humour that is well
adapted to camp life. He was never without his horned frog. In the bosom
of his shirt during rides, on h is knee or shoulder in camp, under his
blankets at night, the ugly little beast never left him.
Jimmy was a humourist of a type that prevails in the rural South and
West. Unskilled in originating methods of amusing or in witty
conceptions, he had hit upon a comical idea and clung to it reverently.
It had seemed to Jimmy a very funny thing to have about his person, with
which to amuse his friends, a tame horned frog with a red ribbon around
its neck. As it was a happy idea, why not perpetuate it?
The sentiments existing between Jimmy and the frog cannot be exactly
determined. The capability of the horned frog for lasting affection is a
subject upon which we have had no symposiums. It is easier to guess
Jimmy's feelings. Muriel was his chef _d'oeuvre_ of wit, and as such he
cherished her. He caught flies for her, and shielded her from sudden
northers. Yet his care was half selfish, and when the time came she
repaid him a thousand fold. Other Muriels have thus overbalanced the
light attentions of other Jimmies.
Not at once did Jimmy Hayes attain full brotherhood with his comrades.
They loved him for his simplicity and drollness, but there hung above him
a great sword of suspended judgment. To make merry in camp is not all of
a ranger's life. There are horse-thieves to trail, desperate criminals to
run down, bravos to battle with, bandits to rout out of the chaparral,
peace and order to be compelled at the muzzle of a six-shooter. Jimmy had
been "'most generally a cow-puncher," he said; he was inexperienced in
ranger methods of warfare. Therefore the rangers speculated apart and
solemnly as to how he would stand fire. For, let it be known, the honour
and pride of each ranger company is the individual bravery of its members.
For two months the border was quiet. The rangers lolled, listless, in
camp. And then -- bringing joy to the rusting guardians of the frontier
-- Sebastiano Saldar, an eminent Mexican desperado and cattle-thief,
crossed the Rio Grande with his gang and began to lay waste the Texas
side. There were indications that Jimmy Hayes would soon have the
opportunity to show his mettle. The rangers patrolled with alacrity, but
Saldar's men were mounted like Lochinvar, and were hard to catch.
One evening, about sundown, the rangers halted for supper after a long
ride. Their horses stood panting, with their saddles on. The men were
frying bacon and boiling coffee. Suddenly, out of the brush, Sebastiano
Saldar and his gang dashed upon them with blazing six-shooters and
high-voiced yells. It was a neat surprise. The rangers swore in annoyed
tones, and got their Winchesters busy; but the attack was only a
spectacular dash of the purest Mexican type. After the florid
demonstration the raiders galloped away, yelling, down the river. The
rangers mounted and pursued; but in less than two miles the fagged ponies
laboured so that Lieutenant Manning gave the word to abandon the chase and
return to the camp.
Then it was discovered that Jimmy Hayes was missing. Some one remembered
having seen him run for his pony when the attack began, but no one had set
eyes on him since. Morning came, but no Jimmy. They searched the country
around, on the theory that he had been killed or wounded, but without
success. Then they followed after Saldar's gang, but it seemed to have
disappeared. Manning concluded that the wily Mexican had recrossed the
river after his theatric farewell. And, indeed, no further depredations f
rom him were reported.
This gave the rangers time to nurse a soreness they had. As has been
said, the pride and honour of the company is the individual bravery of its
members. And now they believed that Jimmy Hayes had turned coward at the
whiz of Mexican bullets. There was no other deduction. Buck Davis
pointed out that not a shot was fired by Saldar's gang after Jimmy was
seen running for his horse. There was no way for him to have been shot.
No, he had fled from his first fight, and afterward he would not return,
aware that the scorn of his comrades would be a worse thing to face than
the muzzles of many rifles.
So Manning's detachment of McLean's company, Frontier Battalion, was
gloomy. It was the first blot on its escutcheon. Never before in the
history of the service had a ranger shown the white feather. All of them
had liked Jimmy Hayes, and that made it worse.
Days, weeks, and months went by, and still that little cloud of
unforgotten cowardice hung above the camp.
Nearly a year afterward -- after many camping grounds and many hundreds of
miles guarded and defended -- Lieutenant Manning, with almost the same
detachment of men, was sent to a point only a few miles below their old
camp on the river to look after some smuggling there. One afternoon,
while they were riding through a dense mesquite flat, they came upon a
patch of open hog-wallow prairie. There they rode upon the scene of an
In a big hog-wallow lay the skeletons of three Mexicans. Their clothing
alone served to identify them. The largest of the figures had once been
Sebastiano Saldar. His great, costly sombrero, heavy with gold
ornamentation -- a hat famous all along the Rio Grande -- lay there
pierced by three bullets. Along the ridge of the hog-wallow rested the
rusting Winchesters of the Mexicans -- all pointing in the same direction.
The rangers rode in that direction for fifty yards. There, in a little
depression of the ground, with his rifle still bearing upon the three, lay
another skeleton. It had been a battle of extermination. There was
nothing to identify the solitary defender. His clothing -- such as the
elements had left distinguishable -- seemed to be of the kind that any
ranchman or cowboy might have worn.
"Some cow-puncher," said Manning, "that they caught out alone. Good boy!
He put up a dandy scrap before they got him. So that's why we didn't hear
from Don Sebastiano any more!"
And then, from beneath the weather-beaten rags of the dead man, there
wriggled out a horned frog with a faded red ribbon around its neck, and
sat upon the shoulder of its long quiet master. Mutely it told the story
of the untried youth and the swift "paint" pony -- how they had
outstripped all their comrades that day in the pursuit of the Mexican
raiders, and how the boy had gone down upholding the honour of the company.
The ranger troop herded close, and a simultaneous wild yell arose from
their lips. The outburst was at once a dirge, an apology, an epitaph, and
a paean of triumph. A strange requiem, you may say, over the body of a
fallen, comrade; but if Jimmy Hayes could have heard it he would have
XII THE DOOR OF UNREST
I sat an hour by sun, in the editor's room of the Montopolis _Weekly
Bugle_. I was the editor.
The saffron rays of the declining sunlight filtered through the cornstalks
in Micajah Widdup's garden-patch, and cast an amber glory upon my
paste-pot. I sat at the editorial desk in my non-rotary revolving chair,
and prepared my editorial against the oligarchies. The room, with its one
window, was already a prey to the twilight. One by one, with my trenchant
sentences, I lopped off the heads of the political hydra, while I
listened, full of kindly peace, to the home-coming cow-bells and wondered
what Mrs. Flanagan was going to have for supper.
Then in from the dusky, quiet street there drifted and perched himself
upon a corner of my desk old Father Time's younger brother. His face was
beardless and as gnarled as an English walnut. I never saw clothes such
as he wore. They would have reduced Joseph's coat to a monochrome. But
the colours were not the dyer's. Stains and patches and the work of sun
and rust were responsible for the diversity. On his coarse shoes was the
dust, conceivably, of a thousand leagues. I can describe him no further,
except to say that he was little and weird and old -- old I began to
estimate in centuries when I saw him. Yes, and I remember that there was
an odour, a faint odour like aloes, or possibly like myrrh or leather; and
I thought of museums.
And then I reached for a pad and pencil, for business is business, and
visits of the oldest inhabitants are sacred and honourable, requiring to
"I am glad to see you, sir," I said. "I would offer you a chair, but --
you see, sir," I went on, "I have lived in Montopolis only three weeks,
and I have not met many of our citizens." I turned a doubtful eye upon his
dust-stained shoes, and concluded with a newspaper phrase, "I suppose that
you reside in our midst?"
My visitor fumbled in his raiment, drew forth a soiled card, and handed it
to me. Upon it was written, in plain but unsteadily formed characters,
the name "Michob Ader."
"I am glad you called, Mr. Ader," I said. "As one of our older citizens,
you must view with pride the recent growth and enterprise of Montopolis.
Among other improvements, I think I can promise that the town will now be
provided with a live, enterprising newspa--"
"Do ye know the name on that card?" asked my caller, interrupting me.
"It is not a familiar one to me," I said.
Again he visited the depths of his ancient vestments. This time he
brought out a torn leaf of some book or journal, brown and flimsy with
age. The heading of the page was the _Turkish Spy_ in old-style type; the
printing upon it was this:
"There is a man come to Paris in this year 1643 who pretends to have lived
these sixteen hundred years. He says of himself that he was a shoemaker
in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion; that his name is Michob Ader;
and that when Jesus, the Christian Messias, was condemned by Pontius
Pilate, the Roman president, he paused to rest while bearing his cross to
the place of crucifixion before the door of Michob Ader. The shoemaker
struck Jesus with his fist, saying: 'Go; why tarriest thou?' The Messias a
nswered him: 'I indeed am going; but thou shalt tarry until I come';
thereby condemning him to live until the day of judgment. He lives
forever, but at the end of every hundred years he falls into a fit or
trance, on recovering from which he finds himself in the same state of
youth in which he was when Jesus suffered, being then about thirty years
"Such is the story of the Wandering Jew, as told by Michob Ader, who
relates --" Here the printing ended.
I must have muttered aloud something to myself about the Wandering Jew,
for the old man spake up, bitterly and loudly.
"'Tis a lie," said he, "like nine tenths of what ye call history. 'Tis a
Gentile I am, and no Jew. I am after footing it out of Jerusalem, my son;
but if that makes me a Jew, then everything that comes out of a bottle is
babies' milk. Ye have my name on the card ye hold; and ye have read the
bit of paper they call the _Turkish Spy_ that printed the news when I
stepped into their office on the 12th day of June, in the year 1643, just
as I have called upon ye to-day."
I laid down my pencil and pad. Clearly it would not do. Here was an item
for the local column of the _Bugle_ that -- but it would not do. Still,
fragments of the impossible "personal" began to flit through my
conventionalized brain. "Uncle Michob is as spry on his legs as a young
chap of only a thousand or so." "Our venerable caller relates with' pride
that George Wash -- no, Ptolemy the Great -- once dandled him on his knee
at his father's house." "Uncle Michob says that our wet spring was nothing
in comparison with the dampness that ruined the crops around Mount Ararat
when he was a boy --" But no, no -- it would not do.
I was trying to think of some conversational subject with which to
interest my visitor, and was hesitating between walking matches and the
Pliocene age, when the old man suddenly began to weep poignantly and
"Cheer up, Mr. Ader," I said, a little awkwardly; "this matter may blow
over in a few hundred years more. There has already been a decided
reaction in favour of Judas Iscariot and Colonel Burr and the celebrated
violinist, Signor Nero. This is the age of whitewash. You must not allow
yourself to become down-hearted."
Unknowingly, I had struck a chord. The old man blinked belligerently
through his senile tears.
"'Tis time," he said, "that the liars be doin' justice to somebody. Yer
historians are no more than a pack of old women gabblin' at a wake. A
finer man than the Imperor Nero niver wore sandals. Man, I was at the
burnin' of Rome. I knowed the Imperor well, for in them days I was a
well-known char-acter. In thim days they had rayspect for a man that
"But 'twas of the Imperor Nero I was goin' to tell ye. I struck into
Rome, up the Appian Way, on the night of July the 16th, the year 64. I
had just stepped down by way of Siberia and Afghanistan; and one foot of
me had a frost-bite, and the other a blister burned by the sand of the
desert; and I was feelin' a bit blue from doin' patrol duty from the North
Pole down to the Last Chance corner in Patagonia, and bein' miscalled a
Jew in the bargain. Well, I'm tellin' ye I was passin' the Circus
Maximus, and it was dark as pitch over the way, and then I heard somebody
sing out, 'Is that you, Michob?'
"Over ag'inst the wall, hid out amongst a pile of barrels and old
dry-goods boxes, was the Imperor Nero wid his togy wrapped around his
toes, smokin' a long, black segar.
"'Have one, Michob?' says he.
"'None of the weeds for me,' says I -- 'nayther pipe nor segar. What's
the use,' says I, 'of smokin' when ye've not got the ghost of a chance of
killin' yeself by doin' it?'
"'True for ye, Michob Ader, my perpetual Jew,' says the Imperor; 'ye're
not always wandering. Sure, 'tis danger gives the spice of our pleasures
-- next to their bein' forbidden.'
"'And for what,' says I, 'do ye smoke be night in dark places widout even
a cinturion in plain clothes to attend ye?'
"'Have ye ever heard, Michob,' says the Imperor, 'of predestinarianism?'
"'I've had the cousin of it,' says I. 'I've been on the trot with
pedestrianism for many a year, and more to come, as ye well know.'
"'The longer word,' says me friend Nero, 'is the tachin' of this new sect
of people they call the Christians. 'Tis them that's raysponsible for me
smokin' be night in holes and corners of the dark.'
"And then I sets down and takes off a shoe and rubs me foot that is
frosted, and the Imperor tells me about it. It seems that since I passed
that way before, the Imperor had mandamused the Impress wid a divorce
suit, and Misses Poppaea, a cilibrated lady, was ingaged, widout
riferences, as housekeeper at the palace. 'All in one day,' says the
Imperor, 'she puts up new lace windy-curtains in the palace and joins the
anti-tobacco society, and whin I feels the need of a smoke I must be after
sneakin' out to these piles of lumber in the dark.' So there in the dark
me and the Imperor sat, and I told him of me travels. And when they say
the Imperor was an incindiary, they lie. 'Twas that night the fire
started that burnt the city. 'Tis my opinion that it began from a stump
of segar that he threw down among the boxes. And 'tis a lie that he
fiddled. He did all he could for six days to stop it, sir."
And now I detected a new flavour to Mr. Michob Ader. It had not been
myrrh or balm or hyssop that I had smelled. The emanation was the odour
of bad whiskey -- and, worse still, of low comedy -- the sort that small
humorists manufacture by clothing the grave and reverend things of legend
and history in the vulgar, topical frippery that passes for a certain kind
of wit. Michob Ader as an impostor, claiming nineteen hundred years, and
playing his part with the decency of respectable lunacy, I could endure;
but as a tedious wag, cheapening his egregious story with song-book
levity, his importance as an entertainer grew less.
And then, as if he suspected my thoughts, he suddenly shifted his key.
"You'll excuse me, sir," he whined, "but sometimes I get a little mixed in
my head. I am a very old man; and it is hard to remember everything."
I knew that he was right, and that I should not try to reconcile him with
Roman history; so I asked for news concerning other ancients with whom he
had walked familiar.
Above my desk hung an engraving of Raphael's cherubs. You could yet make
out their forms, though the dust blurred their outlines strangely.
"Ye calls them 'cher-rubs'," cackled the old man. "Babes, ye fancy they
are, with wings. And there's one wid legs and a bow and arrow that ye
call Cupid -- I know where they was found. The
great-great-great-grandfather of thim all was a billy-goat. Bein' an
editor, sir, do ye happen to know where Solomon s Temple stood?"
I fancied that it was in -- in Persia? Well, I did not know.
"'Tis not in history nor in the Bible where it was. But I saw it,
meself. The first pictures of cher-rubs and cupids was sculptured upon
thim walls and pillars. Two of the biggest, sir, stood in the adytum to
form the baldachin over the Ark. But the wings of thim sculptures was
intindid for horns. And the faces was the faces of goats. Ten thousand
goats there was in and about the temple. And your cher-rubs was
billy-goats in the days of King Solomon, but the painters misconstrued the
horns into wings.
"And I knew Tamerlane, the lame Timour, sir, very well. I saw him at
Keghut and at Zaranj. He was a little man no larger than yerself, with
hair the colour of an amber pipe stem. They buried him at Samarkand I was
at the wake, sir. Oh, he was a fine-built man in his coffin, six feet
long, with black whiskers to his face. And I see 'em throw turnips at the
Imperor Vispacian in Africa. All over the world I have tramped, sir,
without the body of me findin' any rest. 'Twas so commanded I saw
Jerusalem destroyed, and Pompeii go up in the fireworks; and I was at the
coronation of Charlemagne and the lynchin' of Joan of Arc. And everywhere
I go there comes storms and revolutions and plagues and fires. 'Twas so
commanded. Ye have heard of the Wandering Jew. 'Tis all so, except that
divil a bit am I a Jew. But history lies, as I have told ye. Are ye
quite sure, sir, that ye haven't a drop of whiskey convenient? Ye well
know that I have many miles of walking before me."
"I have none," said I, "and, if you please, I am about to leave for my
I pushed my chair back creakingly. This ancient landlubber was becoming
as great an affliction as any cross-bowed mariner. He shook a musty
effluvium from his piebald clothes, overturned my inkstand, and went on
with his insufferable nonsense.
"I wouldn't mind it so much," he complained, "if it wasn't for the work I
must do on Good Fridays. Ye know about Pontius Pilate, sir, of course.
His body, whin he killed himself, was pitched into a lake on the Alps
mountains. Now, listen to the job that 'tis mine to perform on the night
of ivery Good Friday. The ould divil goes down in the pool and drags up
Pontius, and the water is bilin' and spewin' like a wash pot. And the
ould divil sets the body on top of a throne on the rocks, and thin comes
me share of the job. Oh, sir, ye would pity me thin -- ye would pray for
the poor Wandering Jew that niver was a Jew if ye could see the horror of
the thing that I must do. 'Tis I that must fetch a bowl of water and
kneel down before it till it washes its hands. I declare to ye that
Pontius Pilate, a man dead two hundred years, dragged up with the lake
slime coverin' him and fishes wrigglin' inside of him widout eyes, and in
the discomposition of the body, sits there, sir, and washes his hands in
the bowl I hold for him on Good Fridays. 'Twas so commanded."
Clearly, the matter had progressed far beyond the scope of the _Bugle's_
local column. There might have been employment here for the alienist or
for those who circulate the pledge; but I had had enough of it. I got up,
and repeated that I must go.
At this he seized my coat, grovelled upon my desk, and burst again into
distressful weeping. Whatever it was about, I said to myself that his
grief was genuine.
"Come now, Mr. Ader," I said, soothingly; "what is the matter?"
The answer came brokenly through his racking sobs:
"Because I would not...let the poor Christ...rest...upon the step."
His hallucination seemed beyond all reasonable answer; yet the effect of
it upon him scarcely merited disrespect. But I knew nothing that might
assuage it; and I told him once more that both of us should be leaving the
office at once.
Obedient at last, he raised himself from my dishevelled desk, and
permitted me to half lift him to the floor. The gale of his grief had
blown away his words; his freshet of tears had soaked away the crust of
his grief. Reminiscence died in him -- at least, the coherent part of it.
"'Twas me that did it," he muttered, as I led him toward the door -- "me,
the shoemaker of Jerusalem."
I got him to the sidewalk, and in the augmented light I saw that his face
was seared and lined and warped by a sadness almost incredibly the product
of a single lifetime.
And then high up in the firmamental darkness we heard the clamant cries of
some great, passing birds. My Wandering Jew lifted his hand, with
"The Seven Whistlers!" he said, as one introduces well-known friends.
"Wild geese," said I; "but I confess that their number is beyond me."
"They follow me everywhere," he said. "'Twas so commanded. What ye hear
is the souls of the seven Jews that helped with the Crucifixion.
Sometimes they're plovers and sometimes geese, but ye'll find them always
flyin' where I go."
I stood, uncertain how to take my leave. I looked down the street,
shuffled my feet, looked back again -- and felt my hair rise. The old man
And then my capillaries relaxed, for I dimly saw him footing it away
through the darkness. But he walked so swiftly and silently and contrary
to the gait promised by his age that my composure was not all restored,
though I knew not why.
That night I was foolish enough to take down some dust-covered volumes
from my modest shelves. I searched "Hermippus Redivvus" and "Salathiel"
and the "Pepys Collection" in vain. And then in a book called "The
Citizen of the World," and in one two centuries old, I came upon what I
desired. Michob Ader had indeed come to Paris in the year 1643, and
related to the _Turkish Spy_ an extraordinary story. He claimed to be the
Wandering Jew, and that --
But here I fell asleep, for my editorial duties had not been light that
Judge Hoover was the _Bugle's_ candidate for congress. Having to confer
with him, I sought his home early the next morning; and we walked together
down town through a little street with which I was unfamiliar.
"Did you ever hear of Michob Ader?" I asked him, smiling.
"Why, yes," said the judge. "And that reminds me of my shoes he has for
mending. Here is his shop now."
Judge Hoover stepped into a dingy, small shop. I looked up at the sign,
and saw "Mike O'Bader, Boot and Shoe Maker," on it. Some wild geese
passed above, honking clearly. I scratched my ear and frowned, and then
trailed into the shop.
There sat my Wandering Jew on his shoemaker's bench, trimming a
half-sole. He was drabbled with dew, grass-stained, unkempt, and
miserable; and on his face was still the unexplained wretchedness, the
problematic sorrow, the esoteric woe, that had been written there by
nothing less, it seemed, than the stylus of the centuries.
Judge Hoover inquired kindly concerning his shoes. The old shoemaker
looked up, and spoke sanely enough. He had been ill, he said, for a few
days. The next day the shoes would be ready. He looked at me, and I
could see that I had no place in his memory. So out we went, and on our
"Old Mike," remarked the candidate, "has been on one of his sprees. He
gets crazy drunk regularly once a month. But he's a good shoemaker."
"What is his history?" I inquired.
"Whiskey," epitomized Judge Hoover. "That explains him."
I was silent, but I did not accept the explanation. And so, when I had
the chance, I asked old man Sellers, who browsed daily on my exchanges.
"Mike O'Bader," said he, "was makin' shoes in Montopolis when I come here
goin' on fifteen year ago. I guess whiskey's his trouble. Once a month
he gets off the track, and stays so a week. He's got a rigmarole
somethin' about his bein' a Jew pedler that he tells ev'rybody. Nobody
won't listen to him any more. When he's sober he ain't sich a fool --
he's got a sight of books in the back room of his shop that he reads. I
guess you can lay all his trouble to whiskey."
But again I would not. Not yet was my Wandering Jew rightly construed for
me. I trust that women may not be allowed a title to all the curiosity in
the world. So when Montopolis's oldest inhabitant (some ninety score
years younger than Michob Ader) dropped in to acquire promulgation in
print, I siphoned his perpetual trickle of reminiscence in the direction
of the uninterpreted maker of shoes.
Uncle Abner was the Complete History of Montopolis, bound in butternut.
"O'Bader," he quavered, "come here in '69. He was the first shoemaker in
the place. Folks generally considers him crazy at times now. But he
don't harm nobody. I s'pose drinkin' upset his mind -- yes, drinkin' very
likely done it. It's a powerful bad thing, drinkin'. I'm an old, old
man, sir, and I never see no good in drinkin'."
I felt disappointment. I was willing to admit drink in the case of my
shoemaker, but I preferred it as a recourse instead of a cause. Why had
he pitched upon his perpetual, strange note of the Wandering Jew? Why his
unutterable grief during his aberration? I could not yet accept whiskey
as an explanation.
"Did Mike O'Bader ever have a great loss or trouble of any kind?" I asked.
"Lemme see! About thirty year ago there was somethin' of the kind, I
recollect. Montopolis, sir, in them days used to be a mighty strict place.
"Well, Mike O'Bader had a daughter then -- a right pretty girl. She was
too gay a sort for Montopolis so one day she slips off to another town and
runs away with a circus. It was two years before she comes back, all
fixed up in fine clothes and rings and jewellery, to see Mike. He
wouldn't have nothin' to do with her, so she stays around town awhile,
anyway. I reckon the men folks wouldn't have raised no objections, but
the women egged 'em on to order her to leave town. But she had plenty of
spunk, and told 'em to mind their own business.
"So one night they decided to run her away. A crowd of men and women
drove her out of her house, and chased her with sticks and stones. She
run to her father's door, callin' for help. Mike opens it, and when he
sees who it is he hits her with his fist and knocks her down and shuts the
"And then the crowd kept on chunkin' her till she run clear out of town.
And the next day they finds her drowned dead in Hunter's mill pond. I
mind it all now. That was thirty year ago."
I leaned back in my non-rotary revolving chair and nodded gently, like a
mandarin, at my paste-pot.
"When old Mike has a spell," went on Uncle Abner, tepidly garrulous, "he
thinks he's the Wanderin' Jew."
"He is," said I, nodding away.
And Uncle Abner cackled insinuatingly at the editor's remark, for he was
expecting at least a "stickful" in the "Personal Notes" of the _Bugle_.
XIII THE DUPLICITY OF HARGRAVES
When Major Pendleton Talbot, of Mobile, sir, and his daughter, Miss Lydia
Talbot, came to Washington to reside, they selected for a boarding place a
house that stood fifty yards back from one of the quietest avenues. It
was an old-fashioned brick building, with a portico upheld by tall white
pillars. The yard was shaded by stately locusts and elms, and a catalpa
tree in season rained its pink and white blossoms upon the grass. Rows of
high box bushes lined the fence and walks. It was the Southern style and
aspect of the place that pleased the eyes of the Talbots.
In this pleasant, private boarding house they engaged rooms, including a
study for Major Talbot, who was adding the finishing chapters to his book,
"Anecdotes and Reminiscences of the Alabama Army, Bench, and Bar."
Major Talbot was of the old, old South. The present day had little
interest or excellence in his eyes. His mind lived in that period before
the Civil War, when the Talbots owned thousands of acres of fine cotton
land and the slaves to till them; when the family mansion was the scene of
princely hospitality, and drew its guests from the aristocracy of the
South. Out of that period he had brought all its old pride and scruples
of honour, an antiquated and punctilious politeness, and (you would think)
Such clothes were surely never made within fifty years. The major was
tall, but whenever he made that wonderful, archaic genuflexion he called a
bow, the corners of his frock coat swept the floor. That garment was a
surprise even to Washington, which has long ago ceased to shy at the
frocks and broadbrimmed hats of Southern congressmen. One of the boarders
christened it a "Father Hubbard," and it certainly was high in the waist
and full in the skirt.
But the major, with all his queer clothes, his immense area of plaited,
ravelling shirt bosom, and the little black string tie with the bow always
slipping on one side, both was smiled at and liked in Mrs. Vardeman' s
select boarding house. Some of the young department clerks would often
"string him," as they called it, getting him started upon the subject
dearest to him -- the traditions and history of his beloved Southland.
During his talks he would quote freely from the "Anecdotes and
Reminiscences." But they were very careful not to let him see their
designs, for in spite of his sixty-eight years, he could make the boldest
of them uncomfortable under the steady regard of his piercing gray eyes.
Miss Lydia was a plump, little old maid of thirty-five, with smoothly
drawn, tightly twisted hair that made her look still older. Old
fashioned, too, she was; but ante-bellum glory did not radiate from her as
it did from the major. She possessed a thrifty common sense; and it was
she who handled the finances of the family, and met all comers when there
were bills to pay. The major regarded board bills and wash bills as
contemptible nuisances. They kept coming in so persistently and so
often. Why, the major wanted to know, could they not be filed and paid in
a lump sum at some convenient period -- say when the "Anecdotes and
Reminiscences" had been published and paid for? Miss Lydia would calmly
go on with her sewing and say, "We'll pay as we go as long as the money
lasts, and then perhaps they'll have to lump it."
Most of Mrs. Vardeman's boarders were away during the day, being nearly
all department clerks and business men; but there was one of them who was
about the house a great deal from morning to night. This was a young man
named Henry Hopkins Hargraves -- every one in the house addressed him by
his full name -- who was engaged at one of the popular vaudeville
theatres. Vaudeville has risen to such a respectable plane in the last
few years, and Mr. Hargraves was such a modest and well-mannered person,
that Mrs. Vardeman could find no objection to enrolling him upon her list
At the theatre Hargraves was known as an all-round dialect comedian,
having a large repertoire of German, Irish, Swede, and black-face
specialties. But Mr. Hargraves was ambitious, and often spoke of his
great desire to succeed in legitimate comedy.
This young man appeared to conceive a strong fancy for Major Talbot.
Whenever that gentleman would begin his Southern reminiscences, or repeat
some of the liveliest of the anecdotes, Hargraves could always be found,
the most attentive among his listeners.
For a time the major showed an inclination to discourage the advances of
the "play actor," as he privately termed him; but soon the young man's
agreeable manner and indubitable appreciation of the old gentleman's
stories completely won him over.
It was not long before the two were like old chums. The major set apart
each afternoon to read to him the manuscript of his book. During the
anecdotes Hargraves never failed to laugh at exactly the right point. The
major was moved to declare to Miss Lydia one day that young Hargraves
possessed remarkable perception and a gratifying respect for the old
regime. And when it came to talking of those old days -- if Major Talbot
liked to talk, Mr. Hargraves was entranced to listen.
Like almost all old people who talk of the past, the major loved to linger
over details. In describing the splendid, almost royal, days of the old
planters, he would hesitate until he had recalled the name of the Negro
who held his horse, or the exact date of certain minor happenings, or the
number of bales of cotton raised in such a year; but Hargraves never grew
impatient or lost interest. On the contrary, he would advance questions
on a variety of subjects connected with the life of that time, and he n
ever failed to extract ready replies.
The fox hunts, the 'possum suppers, the hoe downs and jubilees in the
Negro quarters, the banquets in the plantation-house hall, when
invitations went for fifty miles around; the occasional feuds with the
neighbouring gentry; the major's duel with Rathbone Culbertson about Kitty
Chalmers, who afterward married a Thwaite of South Carolina; and private
yacht races for fabulous sums on Mobile Bay; the quaint beliefs,
improvident habits, and loyal virtues of the old slaves -- all these were
subjects that held both the major and Hargraves absorbed for hours at a
Sometimes, at night, when the young man would be coming upstairs to his
room after his turn at the theatre was over, the major would appear at the
door of his study and beckon archly to him. Going in, Hargraves would
find a little table set with a decanter, sugar bowl, fruit, and a big
bunch of fresh green mint.
"It occurred to me," the major would begin -- he was always ceremonious --
"that perhaps you might have found your duties at the -- at your place of
occupation -- sufficiently arduous to enable you, Mr. Hargraves, to
appreciate what the poet might well have had in his mind when he wrote,
'tired Nature's sweet restorer,' -- one of our Southern juleps."
It was a fascination to Hargraves to watch him make it. He took rank
among artists when he began, and he never varied the process. With what
delicacy he bruised the mint; with what exquisite nicety he estimated the
ingredients; with what solicitous care he capped the compound with the
scarlet fruit glowing against the dark green fringe! And then the
hospitality and grace with which he offered it, after the selected oat
straws had been plunged into its tinkling depths!
After about four months in Washington, Miss Lydia discovered one morning
that they were almost without money. The "Anecdotes and Reminiscences"
was completed, but publishers had not jumped at the collected gems of
Alabama sense and wit. The rental of a small house which they still owned
in Mobile was two months in arrears. Their board money for the month
would be due in three days. Miss Lydia called her father to a
"No money?" said he with a surprised look. "It is quite annoying to be
called on so frequently for these petty sums. Really, I --"
The major searched his pockets. He found only a two-dollar bill, which he
returned to his vest pocket.
"I must attend to this at once, Lydia," he said. "Kindly get me my
umbrella and I will go down town immediately. The congressman from our
district, General Fulghum, assured me some days ago that he would use his
influence to get my book published at an early date. I will go to his
hotel at once and see what arrangement has been made."
With a sad little smile Miss Lydia watched him button his "Father Hubbard"
and depart, pausing at the door, as he always did, to bow profoundly.
That evening, at dark, he returned. It seemed that Congressman Fulghum
had seen the publisher who had the major's manuscript for reading. That
person had said that if the anecdotes, etc., were carefully pruned down
about one half, in order to eliminate the sectional and class prejudice
with which the book was dyed from end to end, he might consider its
The major was in a white heat of anger, but regained his equanimity,
according to his code of manners, as soon as he was in Miss Lydia's
"We must have money," said Miss Lydia, with a little wrinkle above her
nose. "Give me the two dollars, and I will telegraph to Uncle Ralph for
The major drew a small envelope from his upper vest pocket and tossed it
on the table.
"Perhaps it was injudicious," he said mildly, "but the sum was so merely
nominal that I bought tickets to the theatre to-night. It's a new war
drama, Lydia. I thought you would be pleased to witness its first
production in Washington. I am told that the South has very fair
treatment in the play. I confess I should like to see the performance
Miss Lydia threw up her hands in silent despair.
Still, as the tickets were bought, they might as well be used. So that
evening, as they sat in the theatre listening to the lively overture, even
Miss Lydia was minded to relegate their troubles, for the hour, to second
place. The major, in spotless linen, with his extraordinary coat showing
only where it was closely buttoned, and his white hair smoothly roached,
looked really fine and distinguished. The curtain went up on the first
act of "A Magnolia Flower," revealing a typical Southern plantation scen
e. Major Talbot betrayed some interest.
"Oh, see!" exclaimed Miss Lydia, nudging his arm, and pointing to her
The major put on his glasses and read the line in the cast of characters
that her finger indicated.
Col. Webster Calhoun...H. Hopkins Hargraves.
"It's our Mr. Hargraves," said Miss Lydia. "It must be his first
appearance in what he calls 'the legitimate.' I'm so glad for him."
Not until the second act did Col. Webster Calhoun appear upon the stage.
When he made his entry Major Talbot gave an audible sniff, glared at him,
and seemed to freeze solid. Miss Lydia uttered a little, ambiguous squeak
and crumpled her programme in her hand. For Colonel Calhoun was made up
as nearly resembling Major Talbot as one pea does another. The long, thin
white hair, curly at the ends, the aristocratic beak of a nose, the
crumpled, wide, ravelling shirt front, the string tie, with the bow nearly
under one ear, were almost exactly duplicated. And then, to clinch the
imitation, he wore the twin to the major's supposed to be unparalleled
coat. High-collared, baggy, empire-waisted, ample-skirted, hanging a foot
lower in front than behind, the garment could have been designed from no
other pattern. From then on, the major and Miss Lydia sat bewitched, and
saw the counterfeit presentment of a haughty Talbot "dragged," as the
major afterward expressed it, "through the slanderous mire of a corrupt st
Mr. Hargraves had used his opportunities well. He had caught the major's
little idiosyncrasies of speech, accent, and intonation and his pompous
courtliness to perfection -- exaggerating all to the purposes of the
stage. When he performed that marvellous bow that the major fondly
imagined to be the pink of all salutations, the audience sent forth a
sudden round of hearty applause.
Miss Lydia sat immovable, not daring to glance toward her father.
Sometimes her hand next to him would be laid against her cheek, as if to
conceal the smile which, in spite of her disapproval, she could not
The culmination of Hargraves's audacious imitation took place in the third
act. The scene is where Colonel Calhoun entertains a few of the
neighbouring planters in his "den."
Standing at a table in the centre of the stage, with his friends grouped
about him, he delivers that inimitable, rambling, character monologue so
famous in "A Magnolia Flower," at the same time that he deftly makes
juleps for the party.
Major Talbot, sitting quietly, but white with indignation, heard his best
stories retold, his pet theories and hobbies advanced and expanded, and
the dream of the "Anecdotes and Reminiscences" served, exaggerated and
garbled. His favourite narrative -- that of his duel with Rathbone
Culbertson -- was not omitted, and it was delivered with more fire,
egotism, and gusto than the major himself put into it.
The monologue concluded with a quaint, delicious, witty little lecture on
the art of concocting a julep, illustrated by the act. Here Major
Talbot's delicate but showy science was reproduced to a hair's breadth --
from his dainty handling of the fragrant weed -- "the one-thousandth part
of a grain too much pressure, gentlemen, and you extract the bitterness,
instead of the aroma, of this heaven-bestowed plant" -- to his solicitous
selection of the oaten straws.
At the close of the scene the audience raised a tumultuous roar of
appreciation. The portrayal of the type was so exact, so sure and
thorough, that the leading characters in the play were forgotten. After
repeated calls, Hargraves came before the curtain and bowed, his rather
boyish face bright and flushed with the knowledge of success.
At last Miss Lydia turned and looked at the major. His thin nostrils were
working like the gills of a fish. He laid both shaking hands upon the
arms of his chair to rise.
"We will go, Lydia," he said chokingly. "This is an abominable --
Before he could rise, she pulled him back into his seat. "We will stay it
out," she declared. "Do you want to advertise the copy by exhibiting the
original coat?" So they remained to the end.
Hargraves's success must have kept him up late that night, for neither at
the breakfast nor at the dinner table did he appear.
About three in the afternoon he tapped at the door of Major Talbot's
study. The major opened it, and Hargraves walked in with his hands full
of the morning papers -- too full of his triumph to notice anything
unusual in the major's demeanour.
"I put it all over 'em last night, major," he began exultantly. "I had my
inning, and, I think, scored. Here's what the _Post_ says:
His conception and portrayal of the old-time Southern colonel, with his
absurd grandiloquence, his eccentric garb, his quaint idioms and phrases,
his moth-eaten pride of family, and his really kind heart, fastidious
sense of honour, and lovable simplicity, is the best delineation of a
character role on the boards to-day. The coat worn by Colonel Calhoun is
itself nothing less than an evolution of genius. Mr. Hargraves has
captured his public.
"How does that sound, major, for a first nighter?"
"I had the honour" -- the major's voice sounded ominously frigid -- "of
witnessing your very remarkable performance, sir, last night."
Hargraves looked disconcerted.
"You were there? I didn't know you ever -- I didn't know you cared for
the theatre. Oh, I say, Major Talbot," he exclaimed frankly, "don't you
be offended. I admit I did get a lot of pointers from you that helped me
out wonderfully in the part. But it's a type, you know -- not
individual. The way the audience caught on shows that. Half the patrons
of that theatre are Southerners. They recognized it."
"Mr. Hargraves," said the major, who had remained standing, "you have put
upon me an unpardonable insult. You have burlesqued my person, grossly
betrayed my confidence, and misused my hospitality. If I thought you
possessed the faintest conception of what is the sign manual of a
gentleman, or what is due one, I would call you out, sir, old as I am. I
will ask you to leave the room, sir."
The actor appeared to be slightly bewildered, and seemed hardly to take in
the full meaning of the old gentleman's words.
"I am truly sorry you took offence," he said regretfully. "Up here we
don't look at things just as you people do. I know men who would buy out
half the house to have their personality put on the stage so the public
would recognize it."
"They are not from Alabama, sir," said the major haughtily.
"Perhaps not. I have a pretty good memory, major; let me quote a few
lines from your book. In response to a toast at a banquet given in --
Milledgeville, I believe -- you uttered, and intend to have printed, these
The Northern man is utterly without sentiment or warmth except in so far
as the feelings may be turned to his own commercial profit. He will
suffer without resentment any imputation cast upon the honour of himself
or his loved ones that does not bear with it the consequence of pecuniary
loss. In his charity, he gives with a liberal hand; but it must be
heralded with the trumpet and chronicled in brass.
"Do you think that picture is fairer than the one you saw of Colonel
Calhoun last night?"
"The description," said the major frowning, "is -- not without grounds.
Some exag -- latitude must be allowed in public speaking."
"And in public acting," replied Hargraves.
"That is not the point," persisted the major, unrelenting. "It was a
personal caricature. I positively decline to overlook it, sir."
"Major Talbot," said Hargraves, with a winning smile, "I wish you would
understand me. I want you to know that I never dreamed of insulting you.
In my profession, all life belongs to me. I take what I want, and what I
can, and return it over the footlights. Now, if you will, let's let it go
at that. I came in to see you about something else. We've been pretty
good friends for some months, and I'm going to take the risk of offending
you again. I know you are hard up for money -- never mind how I found
out; a boarding house is no place to keep such matters secret -- and I
want you to let me help you out of the pinch. I've been there often
enough myself. I've been getting a fair salary all the season, and I've
saved some money. You're welcome to a couple hundred -- or even more --
until you get --"
"Stop!" commanded the major, with his arm outstretched. "It seems that my
book didn't lie, after all. You think your money salve will heal all the
hurts of honour. Under no circumstances would I accept a loan from a
casual acquaintance; and as to you, sir, I would starve before I would
consider your insulting offer of a financial adjustment of the
circumstances we have discussed. I beg to repeat my request relative to
your quitting the apartment."
Hargraves took his departure without another word. He also left the house
the same day, moving, as Mrs. Vardeman explained at the supper table,
nearer the vicinity of the down-town theatre, where "A Magnolia Flower"
was booked for a week's run.
Critical was the situation with Major Talbot and Miss Lydia. There was no
one in Washington to whom the major's scruples allowed him to apply for a
loan. Miss Lydia wrote a letter to Uncle Ralph, but it was doubtful
whether that relative's constricted affairs would permit him to furnish
help. The major was forced to make an apologetic address to Mrs. Vardeman
regarding the delayed payment for board, referring to "delinquent rentals"
and "delayed remittances" in a rather confused strain.
Deliverance came from an entirely unexpected source.
Late one afternoon the door maid came up and announced an old coloured man
who wanted to see Major Talbot. The major asked that he be sent up to his
study. Soon an old darkey appeared in the doorway, with his hat in hand,
bowing, and scraping with one clumsy foot. He was quite decently dressed
in a baggy suit of black. His big, coarse shoes shone with a metallic
lustre suggestive of stove polish. His bushy wool was gray -- almost
white. After middle life, it is difficult to estimate the age of a Negro
. This one might have seen as many years as had Major Talbot.
"I be bound you don't know me, Mars' Pendleton," were his first words.
The major rose and came forward at the old, familiar style of address. It
was one of the old plantation darkeys without a doubt; but they had been
widely scattered, and he could not recall the voice or face.
"I don't believe I do," he said kindly -- "unless you will assist my
"Don't you 'member Cindy's Mose, Mars' Pendleton, what 'migrated
'mediately after de war?"
"Wait a moment," said the major, rubbing his forehead with the tips of his
fingers. He loved to recall everything connected with those beloved
days. "Cindy's Mose," he reflected. "You worked among the horses --
breaking the colts. Yes, I remember now. After the surrender, you took
the name of -- don't prompt me -- Mitchell, and went to the West -- to
"Yassir, yassir," -- the old man's face stretched with a delighted grin --
"dat's him, dat's it. Newbraska. Dat's me -- Mose Mitchell. Old Uncle
Mose Mitchell, dey calls me now. Old mars', your pa, gimme a pah of dem
mule colts when I lef' fur to staht me goin' with. You 'member dem colts,
"I don't seem to recall the colts," said the major. "You know I was
married the first year of the war and living at the old Follinsbee place.
But sit down, sit down, Uncle Mose. I'm glad to see you. I hope you have
Uncle Mose took a chair and laid his hat carefully on the floor beside it.
"Yassir; of late I done mouty famous. When I first got to Newbraska, dey
folks come all roun' me to see dem mule colts. Dey ain't see no mules
like dem in Newbraska. I sold dem mules for three hundred dollars.
Yassir -- three hundred.
"Den I open a blacksmith shop, suh, and made some money and bought some
lan'. Me and my old 'oman done raised up seb'm chillun, and all doin'
well 'cept two of 'em what died. Fo' year ago a railroad come along and
staht a town slam ag'inst my lan', and, suh, Mars' Pendleton, Uncle Mose
am worth leb'm thousand dollars in money, property, and lan'."
"I'm glad to hear it," said the major heartily. "Glad to hear it."
"And dat little baby of yo'n, Mars' Pendleton -- one what you name Miss
Lyddy -- I be bound dat little tad done growed up tell nobody wouldn't
The major stepped to the door and called: "Lydia, dear, will you come?"
Miss Lydia, looking quite grown up and a little worried, came in from her
"Dar, now! What'd I tell you? I knowed dat baby done be plum growed up.
You don't 'member Uncle Mose, child?"
"This is Aunt Cindy's Mose, Lydia," explained the major. "He left
Sunnymead for the West when you were two years old."
"Well," said Miss Lydia, "I can hardly be expected to remember you, Uncle
Mose, at that age. And, as you say, I'm 'plum growed up,' and was a
blessed long time ago. But I'm glad to see you, even if I can't remember
And she was. And so was the major. Something alive and tangible had come
to link them with the happy past. The three sat and talked over the olden
times, the major and Uncle Mose correcting or prompting each other as they
reviewed the plantation scenes and days.
The major inquired what the old man was doing so far from his home.
"Uncle Mose am a delicate," he explained, "to de grand Baptis' convention
in dis city. I never preached none, but bein' a residin' elder in de
church, and able fur to pay my own expenses, dey sent me along."
"And how did you know we were in Washington?" inquired Miss Lydia.
"Dey's a cullud man works in de hotel whar I stops, what comes from
Mobile. He told me he seen Mars' Pendleton comin' outen dish here house
"What I come fur," continued Uncle Mose, reaching into his pocket --
"besides de sight of home folks -- was to pay Mars' Pendleton what I owes
"Owe me?" said the major, in surprise.
"Yassir -- three hundred dollars." He handed the major a roll of bills.
"When I lef' old mars' says: 'Take dem mule colts, Mose, and, if it be so
you gits able, pay fur 'em'. Yassir -- dem was his words. De war had
done lef' old mars' po' hisself. Old mars' bein' 'long ago dead, de debt
descends to Mars' Pendleton. Three hundred dollars. Uncle Mose is plenty
able to pay now. When dat railroad buy my lan' I laid off to pay fur dem
mules. Count de money, Mars' Pendleton. Dat's what I sold dem mules f
Tears were in Major Talbot's eyes. He took Uncle Mose's hand and laid his
other upon his shoulder.
"Dear, faithful, old servitor," he said in an unsteady voice, "I don't
mind saying to you that 'Mars' Pendleton' spent his last dollar in the
world a week ago. We will accept this money, Uncle Mose, since, in a way,
it is a sort of payment, as well as a token of the loyalty and devotion of
the old regime. Lydia, my dear, take the money. You are better fitted
than I to manage its expenditure."
"Take it, honey," said Uncle Mose. "Hit belongs to you. Hit's Talbot
After Uncle Mose had gone, Miss Lydia had a good cry -- for joy; and the
major turned his face to a corner, and smoked his clay pipe volcanically.
The succeeding days saw the Talbots restored to peace and ease. Miss
Lydia's face lost its worried look. The major appeared in a new frock
coat, in which he looked like a wax figure personifying the memory of his
golden age. Another publisher who read the manuscript of the "Anecdotes
and Reminiscences" thought that, with a little retouching and toning down
of the high lights, he could make a really bright and salable volume of
it. Altogether, the situation was comfortable, and not without the touch
of hope that is often sweeter than arrived blessings.
One day, about a week after their piece of good luck, a maid brought a
letter for Miss Lydia to her room. The postmark showed that it was from
New York. Not knowing any one there, Miss Lydia, in a mild flutter of
wonder, sat down by her table and opened the letter with her scissors.
This was what she read:
Dear Miss Talbot:
I thought you might be glad to learn of my good fortune. I have received
and accepted an offer of two hundred dollars per week by a New York stock
company to play Colonel Calhoun in "A Magnolia Flower."
There is something else I wanted you to know. I guess you'd better not
tell Major Talbot. I was anxious to make him some amends for the great
help he was to me in studying the part, and for the bad humour he was in
about it. He refused to let me, so I did it anyhow. I could easily spare
the three hundred.
H. Hopkins Hargraves,
P.S. How did I play Uncle Mose?
Major Talbot, passing through the hall, saw Miss Lydia's door open and
"Any mail for us this morning, Lydia, dear?" he asked.
Miss Lydia slid the letter beneath a fold of her dress.
"The _Mobile Chronicle_ came," she said promptly. "It's on the table in
XIV LET ME FEEL YOUR PULSE
So I went to a doctor.
"How long has it been since you took any alcohol into your system?" he
Turning my head sidewise, I answered, "Oh, quite awhile."
He was a young doctor, somewhere between twenty and forty. He wore
heliotrope socks, but he looked like Napoleon. I liked him immensely.
"Now," said he, "I am going to show you the effect of alcohol upon your
circulation." I think it was "circulation" he said; though it may have
He bared my left arm to the elbow, brought out a bottle of whiskey, and
gave me a drink. He began to look more like Napoleon. I began to like
Then he put a tight compress on my upper arm, stopped my pulse with his
fingers, and squeezed a rubber bulb connected with an apparatus on a stand
that looked like a thermometer. The mercury jumped up and down without
seeming to stop anywhere; but the doctor said it registered two hundred
and thirty-seven or one hundred and sixty-five or some such number.
"Now," said he, "you see what alcohol does to the blood-pressure."
"It's marvellous," said I, "but do you think it a sufficient test? Have
one on me, and let's try the other arm." But, no!
Then he grasped my hand. I thought I was doomed and he was saying
good-bye. But all he wanted to do was to jab a needle into the end of a
finger and compare the red drop with a lot of fifty-cent poker chips that
he had fastened to a card.
"It's the haemoglobin test," he explained. "The colour of your blood is
"Well," said I, "I know it should be blue; but this is a country of
mix-ups. Some of my ancestors were cavaliers; but they got thick with
some people on Nantucket Island, so --"
"I mean," said the doctor, "that the shade of red is too light."
"Oh," said I, "it's a case of matching instead of matches."
The doctor then pounded me severely in the region of the chest. When he
did that I don't know whether he reminded me most of Napoleon or Battling
or Lord Nelson. Then he looked grave and mentioned a string of grievances
that the flesh is heir to -- mostly ending in "itis." I immediately paid
him fifteen dollars on account.
"Is or are it or some or any of them necessarily fatal?" I asked. I
thought my connection with the matter justified my manifesting a certain
amount of interest.
"All of them," he answered cheerfully. "But their progress may be
arrested. With care and proper continuous treatment you may live to be
eighty-five or ninety."
I began to think of the doctor's bill. "Eighty-five would be sufficient,
I am sure," was my comment. I paid him ten dollars more on account.
"The first thing to do," he said, with renewed animation, "is to find a
sanitarium where you will get a complete rest for a while, and allow your
nerves to get into a better condition. I myself will go with you and
select a suitable one.
So he took me to a mad-house in the Catskills. It was on a bare mountain
frequented only by infrequent frequenters. You could see nothing but
stones and boulders, some patches of snow, and scattered pine trees. The
young physician in charge was most agreeable. He gave me a stimulant
without applying a compress to the arm. It was luncheon time, and we were
invited to partake. There were about twenty inmates at little tables in
the dining room. The young physician in charge came to our table and
said: "It is a custom with our guests not to regard themselves as
patients, hut merely as tired ladies and gentlemen taking a rest.
Whatever slight maladies they may have are never alluded to in
My doctor called loudly to a waitress to bring some phosphoglycerate of
lime hash, dog-bread, bromo-seltzer pancakes, and nux vomica tea for my
repast. Then a sound arose like a sudden wind storm among pine trees. It
was produced by every guest in the room whispering loudly, "Neurasthenia!"
-- except one man with a nose, whom I distinctly heard say, "Chronic
alcoholism." I hope to meet him again. The physician in charge turned and
An hour or so after luncheon he conducted us to the workshop -- say fifty
yards from the house. Thither the guests had been conducted by the
physician in charge's understudy and sponge-holder -- a man with feet and
a blue sweater. He was so tall that I was not sure he had a face; hut the
Armour Packing Company would have been delighted with his hands.
"Here," said the physician in charge, "our guests find relaxation from
past mental worries by devoting themselves to physical labour --
recreation, in reality."
There were turning-lathes, carpenters' outfits, clay-modelling tools,
spinning-wheels, weaving-frames, treadmills, bass drums,
enlarged-crayon-portrait apparatuses, blacksmith forges, and everything,
seemingly, that could interest the paying lunatic guests of a first-rate
"The lady making mud pies in the corner," whispered the physician in
charge, "is no other than -- Lula Lulington, the authoress of the novel
entitled 'Why Love Loves.' What she is doing now is simply to rest her
mind after performing that piece of work."
I had seen the book. "Why doesn't she do it by writing another one
instead?" I asked.
As you see, I wasn't as far gone as they thought I was.
"The gentleman pouring water through the funnel," continued the physician
in charge, "is a Wall Street broker broken down from overwork."
I buttoned my coat.
Others he pointed out were architects playing with Noah's arks, ministers
reading Darwin's "Theory of Evolution," lawyers sawing wood, tired-out
society ladies talking Ibsen to the blue-sweatered sponge-holder, a
neurotic millionaire lying asleep on the floor, and a prominent artist
drawing a little red wagon around the room.
"You look pretty strong," said the physician in charge to me. "I think
the best mental relaxation for you would be throwing small boulders over
the mountainside and then bringing them up again."
I was a hundred yards away before my doctor overtook me.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"The matter is," said I, "that there are no aeroplanes handy. So I am
going to merrily and hastily jog the foot-pathway to yon station and catch
the first unlimited-soft-coal express back to town."
"Well," said the doctor, "perhaps you are right. This seems hardly the
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