The Gilded Age, Complete
Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner
Part 8 out of 9
girl, you know."
"Oh, Colonel, I am become so used to troubles, so used to failures,
disappointments, hard luck of all kinds, that a little good news breaks
me right down. Everything has been so hopeless that now I can't stand
good news at all. It is too good to be true, anyway. Don't you see how
our bad luck has worked on me? My hair is getting gray, and many nights
I don't sleep at all. I wish it was all over and we could rest. I wish
we could lie, down and just forget everything, and let it all be just a
dream that is done and can't come back to trouble us any more. I am so
"Ah, poor child, don't talk like that-cheer up--there's daylight ahead.
Don't give, up. You'll have Laura again, and--Louise, and your mother,
and oceans and oceans of money--and then you can go away, ever so far
away somewhere, if you want to, and forget all about this infernal place.
And by George I'll go with you! I'll go with you--now there's my word on
it. Cheer up. I'll run out and tell the friends the news."
And he wrung Washington's hand and was about to hurry away when his
companion, in a burst of grateful admiration said:
"I think you are the best soul and the noblest I ever knew, Colonel
Sellers! and if the people only knew you as I do, you would not be
tagging around here a nameless man--you would be in Congress."
The gladness died out of the Colonel's face, and he laid his hand upon
Washington's shoulder and said gravely:
"I have always been a friend of your family, Washington, and I think I
have always tried to do right as between man and man, according to my
lights. Now I don't think there has ever been anything in my conduct
that should make you feel Justified in saying a thing like that."
He turned, then, and walked slowly out, leaving Washington abashed and
somewhat bewildered. When Washington had presently got his thoughts into
line again, he said to himself, "Why, honestly, I only meant to
compliment him--indeed I would not have hurt him for the world."
The weeks drifted by monotonously enough, now. The "preliminaries"
continued to drag along in Congress, and life was a dull suspense to
Sellers and Washington, a weary waiting which might have broken their
hearts, maybe, but for the relieving change which they got out of am
occasional visit to New York to see Laura. Standing guard in Washington
or anywhere else is not an exciting business in time of peace, but
standing guard was all that the two friends had to do; all that was
needed of them was that they should be on hand and ready for any
emergency that might come up. There was no work to do; that was all
finished; this was but the second session of the last winter's Congress,
and its action on the bill could have but one result--its passage. The
house must do its work over again, of course, but the same membership was
there to see that it did it.--The Senate was secure--Senator Dilworthy
was able to put all doubts to rest on that head. Indeed it was no secret
in Washington that a two-thirds vote in the Senate was ready and waiting
to be cast for the University bill as soon as it should come before that
Washington did not take part in the gaieties of "the season," as he had
done the previous winter. He had lost his interest in such things; he
was oppressed with cares, now. Senator Dilworthy said to Washington that
an humble deportment, under punishment, was best, and that there was but
one way in which the troubled heart might find perfect repose and peace.
The suggestion found a response in Washington's breast, and the Senator
saw the sign of it in his face.
From that moment one could find the youth with the Senator even oftener
than with Col. Sellers. When the statesman presided at great temperance
meetings, he placed Washington in the front rank of impressive
dignitaries that gave tone to the occasion and pomp to the platform.
His bald headed surroundings made the youth the more conspicuous.
When the statesman made remarks in these meetings, he not infrequently
alluded with effect to the encouraging spectacle of one of the wealthiest
and most brilliant young favorites of society forsaking the light
vanities of that butterfly existence to nobly and self-sacrificingly
devote his talents and his riches to the cause of saving his hapless
fellow creatures from shame and misery here and eternal regret hereafter.
At the prayer meetings the Senator always brought Washington up the aisle
on his arm and seated him prominently; in his prayers he referred to him
in the cant terms which the Senator employed, perhaps unconsciously, and
mistook, maybe, for religion, and in other ways brought him into notice.
He had him out at gatherings for the benefit of the negro, gatherings for
the benefit of the Indian, gatherings for the benefit of the heathen in
distant lands. He had him out time and again, before Sunday Schools,
as an example for emulation. Upon all these occasions the Senator made
casual references to many benevolent enterprises which his ardent young
friend was planning against the day when the passage of the University
bill should make his means available for the amelioration of the
condition of the unfortunate among his fellow men of all nations and all.
climes. Thus as the weeks rolled on Washington grew up, into an imposing
lion once more, but a lion that roamed the peaceful fields of religion
and temperance, and revisited the glittering domain of fashion no more.
A great moral influence was thus brought, to bear in favor of the bill;
the weightiest of friends flocked to its standard; its most energetic
enemies said it was useless to fight longer; they had tacitly surrendered
while as yet the day of battle was not come.
The session was drawing toward its close. Senator Dilworthy thought he
would run out west and shake hands with his constituents and let them
look at him. The legislature whose duty it would be to re-elect him to
the United States Senate, was already in session. Mr. Dilworthy
considered his re-election certain, but he was a careful, painstaking
man, and if, by visiting his State he could find the opportunity to
persuade a few more legislators to vote for him, he held the journey to
be well worth taking. The University bill was safe, now; he could leave
it without fear; it needed his presence and his watching no longer.
But there was a person in his State legislature who did need watching
--a person who, Senator Dilworthy said, was a narrow, grumbling,
uncomfortable malcontent--a person who was stolidly opposed to reform,
and progress and him,--a person who, he feared, had been bought with
money to combat him, and through him the commonwealth's welfare and its
"If this person Noble," said Mr. Dilworthy, in a little speech at a
dinner party given him by some of his admirers, "merely desired to
sacrifice me.--I would willingly offer up my political life on the altar
of my dear State's weal, I would be glad and grateful to do it; but when
he makes of me but a cloak to hide his deeper designs, when he proposes
to strike through me at the heart of my beloved State, all the lion in me
is roused--and I say here I stand, solitary and alone, but unflinching,
unquailing, thrice armed with my sacred trust; and whoso passes, to do
evil to this fair domain that looks to me for protection, must do so over
my dead body."
He further said that if this Noble were a pure man, and merely misguided,
he could bear it, but that he should succeed in his wicked designs
through, a base use of money would leave a blot upon his State which
would work untold evil to the morals of the people, and that he would not
suffer; the public morals must not be contaminated. He would seek this
man Noble; he would argue, he would persuade, he would appeal to his
When he arrived on the ground he found his friends unterrified; they were
standing firmly by him and were full of courage. Noble was working hard,
too, but matters were against him, he was not making much progress.
Mr. Dilworthy took an early opportunity to send for Mr. Noble; he had a
midnight interview with him, and urged him to forsake his evil ways; he
begged him to come again and again, which he did. He finally sent the
man away at 3 o'clock one morning; and when he was gone, Mr. Dilworthy
said to himself,
"I feel a good deal relieved, now, a great deal relieved."
The Senator now turned his attention to matters touching the souls of his
people. He appeared in church; he took a leading part in prayer
meetings; he met and encouraged the temperance societies; he graced the
sewing circles of the ladies with his presence, and even took a needle
now and then and made a stitch or two upon a calico shirt for some poor
Bibleless pagan of the South Seas, and this act enchanted the ladies,
who regarded the garments thus honored as in a manner sanctified.
The Senator wrought in Bible classes, and nothing could keep him away
from the Sunday Schools--neither sickness nor storms nor weariness.
He even traveled a tedious thirty miles in a poor little rickety
stagecoach to comply with the desire of the miserable hamlet of
Cattleville that he would let its Sunday School look upon him.
All the town was assembled at the stage office when he arrived,
two bonfires were burning, and a battery of anvils was popping exultant
broadsides; for a United States Senator was a sort of god in the
understanding of these people who never had seen any creature mightier
than a county judge. To them a United States Senator was a vast, vague
colossus, an awe inspiring unreality.
Next day everybody was at the village church a full half hour before time
for Sunday School to open; ranchmen and farmers had come with their
families from five miles around, all eager to get a glimpse of the great
man--the man who had been to Washington; the man who had seen the
President of the United States, and had even talked with him; the man who
had seen the actual Washington Monument--perhaps touched it with his
When the Senator arrived the Church was crowded, the windows were full,
the aisles were packed, so was the vestibule, and so indeed was the yard
in front of the building. As he worked his way through to the pulpit on
the arm of the minister and followed by the envied officials of the
village, every neck was stretched and, every eye twisted around
intervening obstructions to get a glimpse. Elderly people directed each
other's attention and, said, "There! that's him, with the grand, noble
forehead!" Boys nudged each other and said, "Hi, Johnny, here he is,
there, that's him, with the peeled head!"
The Senator took his seat in the pulpit, with the minister' on one side
of him and the Superintendent of the Sunday School on the other.
The town dignitaries sat in an impressive row within the altar railings
below. The Sunday School children occupied ten of the front benches.
dressed in their best and most uncomfortable clothes, and with hair
combed and faces too clean to feel natural. So awed were they by the
presence of a living United States Senator, that during three minutes not
a "spit ball" was thrown. After that they began to come to themselves by
degrees, and presently the spell was wholly gone and they were reciting
verses and pulling hair.
The usual Sunday School exercises were hurried through, and then the
minister, got up and bored the house with a speech built on the customary
Sunday School plan; then the Superintendent put in his oar; then the town
dignitaries had their say. They all made complimentary reference to
"their friend the, Senator," and told what a great and illustrious man he
was and what he had done for his country and for religion and temperance,
and exhorted the little boys to be good and diligent and try to become
like him some day. The speakers won the deathless hatred of the house by
these delays, but at last there was an end and hope revived; inspiration
was about to find utterance.
Senator Dilworthy rose and beamed upon the assemblage for a full minute
in silence. Then he smiled with an access of sweetness upon the children
"My little friends--for I hope that all these bright-faced little people
are my friends and will let me be their friend--my little friends, I have
traveled much, I have been in many cities and many States, everywhere in
our great and noble country, and by the blessing of Providence I have
been permitted to see many gatherings like this--but I am proud, I am
truly proud to say that I never have looked upon so much intelligence,
so much grace, such sweetness of disposition as I see in the charming
young countenances I see before me at this moment. I have been asking
myself as I sat here, Where am I? Am I in some far-off monarchy, looking
upon little princes and princesses? No. Am I in some populous centre of
my own country, where the choicest children of the land have been
selected and brought together as at a fair for a prize? No. Am I in
some strange foreign clime where the children are marvels that we know
not of? No. Then where am I? Yes--where am I? I am in a simple,
remote, unpretending settlement of my own dear State, and these are the
children of the noble and virtuous men who have made me what I am!
My soul is lost in wonder at the thought! And I humbly thank Him to whom
we are but as worms of the dust, that he has been pleased to call me to
serve such men! Earth has no higher, no grander position for me. Let
kings and emperors keep their tinsel crowns, I want them not; my heart is
"Again I thought, Is this a theatre? No. Is it a concert or a gilded
opera? No. Is it some other vain, brilliant, beautiful temple of
soul-staining amusement and hilarity? No. Then what is it? What did
my consciousness reply? I ask you, my little friends, What did my
consciousness reply? It replied, It is the temple of the Lord! Ah,
think of that, now. I could hardly keep the tears back, I was so
grateful. Oh, how beautiful it is to see these ranks of sunny little
faces assembled here to learn the way of life; to learn to be good; to
learn to be useful; to learn to be pious; to learn to be great and
glorious men and women; to learn to be props and pillars of the State and
shining lights in the councils and the households of the nation; to be
bearers of the banner and soldiers of the cross in the rude campaigns of
life, and raptured souls in the happy fields of Paradise hereafter.
"Children, honor your parents and be grateful to them for providing for
you the precious privileges of a Sunday School.
"Now my dear little friends, sit up straight and pretty--there, that's
it--and give me your attention and let me tell you about a poor little
Sunday School scholar I once knew.--He lived in the far west, and his
parents were poor. They could not give him a costly education; but they
were good and wise and they sent him to the Sunday School. He loved the
Sunday School. I hope you love your Sunday School--ah, I see by your
faces that you do! That is right!
"Well, this poor little boy was always in his place when the bell rang,
and he always knew his lesson; for his teachers wanted him to learn and
he loved his teachers dearly. Always love your teachers, my children,
for they love you more than you can know, now. He would not let bad boys
persuade him to go to play on Sunday. There was one little bad boy who
was always trying to persuade him, but he never could.
"So this poor little boy grew up to be a man, and had to go out in the
world, far from home and friends to earn his living. Temptations lay all
about him, and sometimes he was about to yield, but he would think of
some precious lesson he learned in his Sunday School a long time ago, and
that would save him. By and by he was elected to the legislature--Then
he did everything he could for Sunday Schools. He got laws passed for
them; he got Sunday Schools established wherever he could.
"And by and by the people made him governor--and he said it was all owing
to the Sunday School.
"After a while the people elected him a Representative to the Congress of
the United States, and he grew very famous.--Now temptations assailed him
on every hand. People tried to get him to drink wine; to dance, to go to
theatres; they even tried to buy his vote; but no, the memory of his
Sunday School saved him from all harm; he remembered the fate of the bad
little boy who used to try to get him to play on Sunday, and who grew up
and became a drunkard and was hanged. He remembered that, and was glad
he never yielded and played on Sunday.
"Well, at last, what do you think happened? Why the people gave him a
towering, illustrious position, a grand, imposing position. And what do
you think it was? What should you say it was, children? It was Senator
of the United States! That poor little boy that loved his Sunday School
became that man. That man stands before you! All that he is, he owes to
the Sunday School.
"My precious children, love your parents, love your teachers, love your
Sunday School, be pious, be obedient, be honest, be diligent, and then
you will succeed in life and be honored of all men. Above all things,
my children, be honest. Above all things be pure-minded as the snow.
Let us join in prayer."
When Senator Dilworthy departed from Cattleville, he left three dozen
boys behind him arranging a campaign of life whose objective point was
the United States Senate.
When be arrived at the State capital at midnight Mr. Noble came and held
a three-hours' conference with him, and then as he was about leaving
"I've worked hard, and I've got them at last. Six of them haven't got
quite back-bone enough to slew around and come right out for you on the
first ballot to-morrow; but they're going to vote against you on the
first for the sake of appearances, and then come out for you all in a
body on the second--I've fixed all that! By supper time to-morrow you'll
be re-elected. You can go to bed and sleep easy on that."
After Mr. Noble was gone, the Senator said:
"Well, to bring about a complexion of things like this was worth coming
The case of the State of New York against Laura Hawkins was finally set
down for trial on the 15th day of February, less than a year after the
shooting of George Selby.
If the public had almost forgotten the existence of Laura and her crime,
they were reminded of all the details of the murder by the newspapers,
which for some days had been announcing the approaching trial. But they
had not forgotten. The sex, the age, the beauty of the prisoner; her
high social position in Washington, the unparalleled calmness with which
the crime was committed had all conspired to fix the event in the public
mind, although nearly three hundred and sixty-five subsequent murders had
occurred to vary the monotony of metropolitan life.
No, the public read from time to time of the lovely prisoner, languishing
in the city prison, the tortured victim of the law's delay; and as the
months went by it was natural that the horror of her crime should become
a little indistinct in memory, while the heroine of it should be invested
with a sort of sentimental interest. Perhaps her counsel had calculated
on this. Perhaps it was by their advice that Laura had interested
herself in the unfortunate criminals who shared her prison confinement,
and had done not a little to relieve, from her own purse, the necessities
of some of the poor creatures. That she had done this, the public read
in the journals of the day, and the simple announcement cast a softening
light upon her character.
The court room was crowded at an early hour, before the arrival of
judges, lawyers and prisoner. There is no enjoyment so keen to certain
minds as that of looking upon the slow torture of a human being on trial
for life, except it be an execution; there is no display of human
ingenuity, wit and power so fascinating as that made by trained lawyers
in the trial of an important case, nowhere else is exhibited such
subtlety, acumen, address, eloquence.
All the conditions of intense excitement meet in a murder trial. The
awful issue at stake gives significance to the lightest word or look.
How the quick eyes of the spectators rove from the stolid jury to the
keen lawyers, the impassive judge, the anxious prisoner. Nothing is
lost of the sharp wrangle of the counsel on points of law, the measured
decision's of the bench; the duels between the attorneys and the
witnesses. The crowd sways with the rise and fall of the shifting,
testimony, in sympathetic interest, and hangs upon the dicta of the
judge in breathless silence. It speedily takes sides for or against
the accused, and recognizes as quickly its favorites among the lawyers.
Nothing delights it more than the sharp retort of a witness and the
discomfiture of an obnoxious attorney. A joke, even if it be a lame,
one, is no where so keenly relished or quickly applauded as in a murder
Within the bar the young lawyers and the privileged hangers-on filled all
the chairs except those reserved at the table for those engaged in the
case. Without, the throng occupied all the seats, the window ledges and
the standing room. The atmosphere was already something horrible.
It was the peculiar odor of a criminal court, as if it were tainted by
the presence, in different persons, of all the crimes that men and women
There was a little stir when the Prosecuting Attorney, with two
assistants, made his way in, seated himself at the table, and spread his
papers before him. There was more stir when the counsel of the defense
appeared. They were Mr. Braham, the senior, and Mr. Quiggle and Mr.
O'Keefe, the juniors.
Everybody in the court room knew Mr. Braham, the great criminal lawyer,
and he was not unaware that he was the object of all eyes as he moved to
his place, bowing to his friends in the bar. A large but rather spare
man, with broad shoulders and a massive head, covered with chestnut curls
which fell down upon his coat collar and which he had a habit of shaking
as a lion is supposed to shake his mane. His face was clean shaven,
and he had a wide mouth and rather small dark eyes, set quite too near
together: Mr. Braham wore a brown frock coat buttoned across his breast,
with a rose-bud in the upper buttonhole, and light pantaloons.
A diamond stud was seen to flash from his bosom; and as he seated himself
and drew off his gloves a heavy seal ring was displayed upon his white
left hand. Mr. Braham having seated himself, deliberately surveyed the
entire house, made a remark to one of his assistants, and then taking an
ivory-handled knife from his pocket began to pare his finger nails,
rocking his chair backwards and forwards slowly.
A moment later Judge O'Shaunnessy entered at the rear door and took his
seat in one of the chairs behind the bench; a gentleman in black
broadcloth, with sandy hair, inclined to curl, a round; reddish and
rather jovial face, sharp rather than intellectual, and with a
self-sufficient air. His career had nothing remarkable in it. He was
descended from a long line of Irish Kings, and he was the first one of
them who had ever come into his kingdom--the kingdom of such being the
city of New York. He had, in fact, descended so far and so low that he
found himself, when a boy, a sort of street Arab in that city; but he had
ambition and native shrewdness, and he speedily took to boot-polishing,
and newspaper hawking, became the office and errand boy of a law firm,
picked up knowledge enough to get some employment in police courts, was
admitted to the bar, became a rising young politician, went to the
legislature, and was finally elected to the bench which he now honored.
In this democratic country he was obliged to conceal his royalty under
a plebeian aspect. Judge O'Shaunnessy never had a lucrative practice nor
a large salary but he had prudently laid away money-believing that
a dependant judge can never be impartial--and he had lands and houses
to the value of three or four hundred thousand dollars. Had he not
helped to build and furnish this very Court House? Did he not know that
the very "spittoon" which his judgeship used cost the city the sum of one
As soon as the judge was seated, the court was opened, with the "oi yis,
oi yis" of the officer in his native language, the case called, and the
sheriff was directed to bring in the prisoner. In the midst of a
profound hush Laura entered, leaning on the arm of the officer, and was
conducted to a seat by her counsel. She was followed by her mother and
by Washington Hawkins, who were given seats near her.
Laura was very pale, but this pallor heightened the lustre of her large
eyes and gave a touching sadness to her expressive face. She was dressed
in simple black, with exquisite taste, and without an ornament. The thin
lace vail which partially covered her face did not so much conceal as
heighten her beauty. She would not have entered a drawing room with more
self-poise, nor a church with more haughty humility. There was in her
manner or face neither shame nor boldness, and when she took her seat in
fall view of half the spectators, her eyes were downcast. A murmur of
admiration ran through the room. The newspaper reporters made their
pencils fly. Mr. Braham again swept his eyes over the house as if in
approval. When Laura at length raised her eyes a little, she saw Philip
and Harry within the bar, but she gave no token of recognition.
The clerk then read the indictment, which was in the usual form. It
charged Laura Hawkins, in effect, with the premeditated murder of George
Selby, by shooting him with a pistol, with a revolver, shotgun, rifle,
repeater, breech-loader, cannon, six-shooter, with a gun, or some other,
weapon; with killing him with a slung-shot, a bludgeon, carving knife,
bowie knife, pen knife, rolling pin, car, hook, dagger, hair pin, with a
hammer, with a screw-driver; with a nail, and with all other weapons and
utensils whatsoever, at the Southern hotel and in all other hotels and
places wheresoever, on the thirteenth day of March and all other days of
the Christian era wheresoever.
Laura stood while the long indictment was read; and at the end, in
response to the inquiry, of the judge, she said in a clear, low voice;
"Not guilty." She sat down and the court proceeded to impanel a jury.
The first man called was Michael Lanigan, saloon keeper.
"Have you formed or expressed any opinion on this case, and do you know
any of the parties?"
"Not any," said Mr. Lanigan.
"Have you any conscientious objections to capital punishment?"
"No, sir, not to my knowledge."
"Have you read anything about this case?"
"To be sure, I read the papers, y'r Honor."
Objected to by Mr. Braham, for cause, and discharged.
"What is your business?"
"Well--I haven't got any particular business."
"Haven't any particular business, eh? Well, what's your general
business? What do you do for a living?"
"I own some terriers, sir."
"Own some terriers, eh? Keep a rat pit?"
"Gentlemen comes there to have a little sport. I never fit 'em, sir."
"Oh, I see--you are probably the amusement committee of the city council.
Have you ever heard of this case?"
"Not till this morning, sir."
"Can you read?"
"Not fine print, y'r Honor."
The man was about to be sworn, when Mr. Braham asked,
"Could your father read?"
"The old gentleman was mighty handy at that, sir."
Mr. Braham submitted that the man was disqualified Judge thought not.
Point argued. Challenged peremptorily, and set aside.
Ethan Dobb, cart-driver.
"Can you read?"
"Yes, but haven't a habit of it."
"Have you heard of this case?"
"I think so--but it might be another. I have no opinion about it."
Dist. A. "Tha--tha--there! Hold on a bit? Did anybody tell you to say
you had no opinion about it?"
Take care now, take care. Then what suggested it to you to volunteer
"They've always asked that, when I was on juries."
All right, then. Have you any conscientious scruples about capital
"Would you object to finding a person guilty--of murder on evidence?"
"I might, sir, if I thought he wan't guilty."
The district attorney thought he saw a point.
"Would this feeling rather incline you against a capital conviction?"
The juror said he hadn't any feeling, and didn't know any of the parties.
Accepted and sworn.
Dennis Lafin, laborer. Have neither formed nor expressed an opinion.
Never had heard of the case. Believed in hangin' for them that deserved
it. Could read if it was necessary.
Mr. Braham objected. The man was evidently bloody minded. Challenged
Larry O'Toole, contractor. A showily dressed man of the style known as
"vulgar genteel," had a sharp eye and a ready tongue. Had read the
newspaper reports of the case, but they made no impression on him.
Should be governed by the evidence. Knew no reason why he could not be
an impartial juror.
Question by District Attorney.
"How is it that the reports made no impression on you?"
"Never believe anything I see in the newspapers."
(Laughter from the crowd, approving smiles from his Honor and Mr.
Braham.) Juror sworn in. Mr. Braham whispered to O'Keefe, "that's the
Avery Hicks, pea-nut peddler. Did he ever hear of this case? The man
shook his head.
"Can you read?"
"No." "Any scruples about capital punishment?"
He was about to be sworn, when the district attorney turning to him
"Understand the nature of an oath?"
"Outside," said the man, pointing to the door.
"I say, do you know what an oath is?"
"Five cents," explained the man.
"Do you mean to insult me?" roared the prosecuting officer. "Are you an
"Fresh baked. I'm deefe. I don't hear a word you say."
The man was discharged. "He wouldn't have made a bad juror, though,"
whispered Braham. "I saw him looking at the prisoner sympathizingly.
That's a point you want to watch for."
The result of the whole day's work was the selection of only two jurors.
These however were satisfactory to Mr. Braham. He had kept off all those
he did not know. No one knew better than this great criminal lawyer that
the battle was fought on the selection of the jury. The subsequent
examination of witnesses, the eloquence expended on the jury are all for
effect outside. At least that is the theory of Mr. Braham. But human
nature is a queer thing, he admits; sometimes jurors are unaccountably
swayed, be as careful as you can in choosing them.
It was four weary days before this jury was made up, but when it was
finally complete, it did great credit to the counsel for the defence.
So far as Mr. Braham knew, only two could read, one of whom was the
foreman, Mr. Braham's friend, the showy contractor. Low foreheads and
heavy faces they all had; some had a look of animal cunning, while the
most were only stupid. The entire panel formed that boasted heritage
commonly described as the "bulwark of our liberties."
The District Attorney, Mr. McFlinn, opened the case for the state. He
spoke with only the slightest accent, one that had been inherited but not
cultivated. He contented himself with a brief statement of the case.
The state would prove that Laura Hawkins, the prisoner at the bar, a
fiend in the form of a beautiful woman, shot dead George Selby, a
Southern gentleman, at the, time and place described. That the murder
was in cold blood, deliberate and without provocation; that it had been
long premeditated and threatened; that she had followed the deceased-from
Washington to commit it. All this would be proved by unimpeachable
witnesses. The attorney added that the duty of the jury, however painful
it might be, would be plain and simple. They were citizens, husbands,
perhaps fathers. They knew how insecure life had become in the
metropolis. Tomorrow our own wives might be widows, their own children
orphans, like the bereaved family in yonder hotel, deprived of husband
and father by the jealous hand of some murderous female. The attorney
sat down, and the clerk called?"
Henry Brierly took the stand. Requested by the District Attorney to tell
the jury all he knew about the killing, he narrated the circumstances
substantially as the reader already knows them.
He accompanied Miss Hawkins to New York at her request, supposing she was
coming in relation to a bill then pending in Congress, to secure the
attendance of absent members. Her note to him was here shown. She
appeared to be very much excited at the Washington station. After she
had asked the conductor several questions, he heard her say, "He can't
escape." Witness asked her "Who?" and she replied "Nobody." Did not see
her during the night. They traveled in a sleeping car. In the morning
she appeared not to have slept, said she had a headache. In crossing the
ferry she asked him about the shipping in sight; he pointed out where the
Cunarders lay when in port. They took a cup of coffee that morning at a
restaurant. She said she was anxious to reach the Southern Hotel where
Mr. Simons, one of the absent members, was staying, before he went out.
She was entirely self-possessed, and beyond unusual excitement did not
act unnaturally. After she had fired twice at Col. Selby, she turned the
pistol towards her own breast, and witness snatched it from her. She had
seen a great deal with Selby in Washington, appeared to be infatuated
(Cross-examined by Mr. Braham.) "Mist-er.....er Brierly!" (Mr. Braham had
in perfection this lawyer's trick of annoying a witness, by drawling out
the "Mister," as if unable to recall the name, until the witness is
sufficiently aggravated, and then suddenly, with a rising inflection,
flinging his name at him with startling unexpectedness.) "Mist-er.....er
Brierly! What is your occupation?"
"Civil Engineer, sir."
"Ah, civil engineer, (with a glance at the jury). Following that
occupation with Miss Hawkins?" (Smiles by the jury).
"No, sir," said Harry, reddening.
"How long have you known the prisoner?"
"Two years, sir. I made her acquaintance in Hawkeye, Missouri."
"M.....m...m. Mist-er.....er Brierly! Were you not a lover of Miss
Objected to. "I submit, your Honor, that I have the right to establish
the relation of this unwilling witness to the prisoner." Admitted.
"Well, sir," said Harry hesitatingly, "we were friends."
"You act like a friend!" (sarcastically.) The jury were beginning to hate
this neatly dressed young sprig. "Mister......er....Brierly! Didn't
Miss Hawkins refuse you?"
Harry blushed and stammered and looked at the judge. "You must answer,
sir," said His Honor.
"She--she--didn't accept me."
"No. I should think not. Brierly do you dare tell the jury that you had
not an interest in the removal of your rival, Col. Selby?" roared Mr.
Braham in a voice of thunder.
"Nothing like this, sir, nothing like this," protested the witness.
"That's all, sir," said Mr. Braham severely.
"One word," said the District Attorney. "Had you the least suspicion of
the prisoner's intention, up to the moment of the shooting?"
"Not the least," answered Harry earnestly.
"Of course not, of course-not," nodded Mr. Braham to the jury.
The prosecution then put upon the stand the other witnesses of the
shooting at the hotel, and the clerk and the attending physicians. The
fact of the homicide was clearly established. Nothing new was elicited,
except from the clerk, in reply to a question by Mr. Braham, the fact
that when the prisoner enquired for Col. Selby she appeared excited and
there was a wild look in her eyes.
The dying deposition of Col. Selby was then produced. It set forth
Laura's threats, but there was a significant addition to it, which the
newspaper report did not have. It seemed that after the deposition was
taken as reported, the Colonel was told for the first time by his
physicians that his wounds were mortal. He appeared to be in great
mental agony and fear; and said he had not finished his deposition.
He added, with great difficulty and long pauses these words. "I--have
--not--told--all. I must tell--put--it--down--I--wronged--her. Years
--ago--I--can't see--O--God--I--deserved----" That was all. He fainted
and did not revive again.
The Washington railway conductor testified that the prisoner had asked
him if a gentleman and his family went out on the evening train,
describing the persons he had since learned were Col. Selby and family.
Susan Cullum, colored servant at Senator Dilworthy's, was sworn. Knew
Col. Selby. Had seen him come to the house often, and be alone in the
parlor with Miss Hawkins. He came the day but one before he was shot.
She let him in. He appeared flustered like. She heard talking in the
parlor, I peared like it was quarrelin'. Was afeared sumfin' was wrong:
Just put her ear to--the--keyhole of the back parlor-door. Heard a man's
voice, "I--can't--I can't, Good God," quite beggin' like. Heard--young
Miss' voice, "Take your choice, then. If you 'bandon me, you knows what
to 'spect." Then he rushes outen the house, I goes in--and I says,
"Missis did you ring?" She was a standin' like a tiger, her eyes
flashin'. I come right out.
This was the substance of Susan's testimony, which was not shaken in the
least by severe cross-examination. In reply to Mr. Braham's question, if
the prisoner did not look insane, Susan said, "Lord; no, sir, just mad as
Washington Hawkins was sworn. The pistol, identified by the officer as
the one used in the homicide, was produced Washington admitted that it
was his. She had asked him for it one morning, saying she thought she
had heard burglars the night before. Admitted that he never had heard
burglars in the house. Had anything unusual happened just before that.
Nothing that he remembered. Did he accompany her to a reception at Mrs.
Shoonmaker's a day or two before? Yes. What occurred? Little by little
it was dragged out of the witness that Laura had behaved strangely there,
appeared to be sick, and he had taken her home. Upon being pushed he
admitted that she had afterwards confessed that she saw Selby there.
And Washington volunteered the statement that Selby, was a black-hearted
The District Attorney said, with some annoyance; "There--there! That will
The defence declined to examine Mr. Hawkins at present. The case for the
prosecution was closed. Of the murder there could not be the least
doubt, or that the prisoner followed the deceased to New York with a
murderous intent: On the evidence the jury must convict, and might do so
without leaving their seats. This was the condition of the case
two days after the jury had been selected. A week had passed since the
trial opened; and a Sunday had intervened.
The public who read the reports of the evidence saw no chance for the
prisoner's escape. The crowd of spectators who had watched the trial
were moved with the most profound sympathy for Laura.
Mr. Braham opened the case for the defence. His manner was subdued, and
he spoke in so low a voice that it was only by reason of perfect silence
in the court room that he could be heard. He spoke very distinctly,
however, and if his nationality could be discovered in his speech it was
only in a certain richness and breadth of tone.
He began by saying that he trembled at the responsibility he had
undertaken; and he should, altogether despair, if he did not see before
him a jury of twelve men of rare intelligence, whose acute minds would
unravel all the sophistries of the prosecution, men with a sense, of
honor, which would revolt at the remorseless persecution of this hunted
woman by the state, men with hearts to feel for the wrongs of which she
was the victim. Far be it from him to cast any suspicion upon the
motives of the able, eloquent and ingenious lawyers of the state; they
act officially; their business is to convict. It is our business,
gentlemen, to see that justice is done.
"It is my duty, gentlemen, to untold to you one of the most affecting
dramas in all, the history of misfortune. I shall have to show you a
life, the sport of fate and circumstances, hurried along through shifting
storm and sun, bright with trusting innocence and anon black with
heartless villainy, a career which moves on in love and desertion and
anguish, always hovered over by the dark spectre of INSANITY--an insanity
hereditary and induced by mental torture,--until it ends, if end it must
in your verdict, by one of those fearful accidents, which are inscrutable
to men and of which God alone knows the secret.
"Gentlemen, I, shall ask you to go with me away from this court room and
its minions of the law, away from the scene of this tragedy, to a
distant, I wish I could say a happier day. The story I have to tell is
of a lovely little girl, with sunny hair and laughing eyes, traveling
with her parents, evidently people of wealth and refinement, upon a
Mississippi steamboat. There is an explosion, one of those terrible
catastrophes which leave the imprint of an unsettled mind upon the
survivors. Hundreds of mangled remains are sent into eternity. When the
wreck is cleared away this sweet little girl is found among the panic
stricken survivors in the midst of a scene of horror enough to turn the
steadiest brain. Her parents have disappeared. Search even for their
bodies is in vain. The bewildered, stricken child--who can say what
changes the fearful event wrought in her tender brain--clings to the
first person who shows her sympathy. It is Mrs. Hawkins, this good lady
who is still her loving friend. Laura is adopted into the Hawkins
family. Perhaps she forgets in time that she is not their child. She is
an orphan. No, gentlemen, I will not deceive you, she is not an orphan.
Worse than that. There comes another day of agony. She knows that her
father lives. Who is he, where is he? Alas, I cannot tell you. Through
the scenes of this painful history he flits here and there a lunatic!
If he, seeks his daughter, it is the purposeless search of a lunatic, as
one who wanders bereft of reason, crying where is my child? Laura seeks
her father. In vain just as she is about to find him, again and again-he
disappears, he is gone, he vanishes.
"But this is only the prologue to the tragedy. Bear with me while I
relate it. (Mr. Braham takes out a handkerchief, unfolds it slowly;
crashes it in his nervous hand, and throws it on the table). Laura grew
up in her humble southern home, a beautiful creature, the joy, of the
house, the pride of the neighborhood, the loveliest flower in all the
sunny south. She might yet have been happy; she was happy. But the
destroyer came into this paradise. He plucked the sweetest bud that grew
there, and having enjoyed its odor, trampled it in the mire beneath his
feet. George Selby, the deceased, a handsome, accomplished Confederate
Colonel, was this human fiend. He deceived her with a mock marriage;
after some months he brutally, abandoned her, and spurned her as if she
were a contemptible thing; all the time he had a wife in New Orleans.
Laura was crushed. For weeks, as I shall show you by the testimony of
her adopted mother and brother, she hovered over death in delirium.
Gentlemen, did she ever emerge from this delirium? I shall show you that
when she recovered her health, her mind was changed, she was not what she
had been. You can judge yourselves whether the tottering reason ever
recovered its throne.
"Years pass. She is in Washington, apparently the happy favorite of a
brilliant society. Her family have become enormously rich by one of
those sudden turns, in fortune that the inhabitants of America are
familiar with--the discovery of immense mineral wealth in some wild lands
owned by them. She is engaged in a vast philanthropic scheme for the
benefit of the poor, by, the use of this wealth. But, alas, even here
and now, the same, relentless fate pursued her. The villain Selby
appears again upon the scene, as if on purpose to complete the ruin of
her life. He appeared to taunt her with her dishonor, he threatened
exposure if she did not become again the mistress of his passion.
Gentlemen, do you wonder if this woman, thus pursued, lost her reason,
was beside herself with fear, and that her wrongs preyed upon her mind
until she was no longer responsible for her acts? I turn away my head as
one who would not willingly look even upon the just vengeance of Heaven.
(Mr. Braham paused as if overcome by his emotions. Mrs. Hawkins and
Washington were in tears, as were many of the spectators also. The jury
"Gentlemen, in this condition of affairs it needed but a spark--I do not
say a suggestion, I do not say a hint--from this butterfly Brierly; this
rejected rival, to cause the explosion. I make no charges, but if this
woman was in her right mind when she fled from Washington and reached
this city in company--with Brierly, then I do not know what insanity is."
When Mr. Braham sat down, he felt that he had the jury with him. A burst
of applause followed, which the officer promptly, suppressed. Laura,
with tears in her eyes, turned a grateful look upon her counsel. All the
women among the spectators saw the tears and wept also. They thought as
they also looked at Mr. Braham; how handsome he is!
Mrs. Hawkins took the stand. She was somewhat confused to be the target
of so many, eyes, but her honest and good face at once told in Laura's
"Mrs. Hawkins," said Mr. Braham, "will you' be kind enough to state the
circumstances of your finding Laura?"
"I object," said Mr. McFlinn; rising to his feet. "This has nothing
whatever to do with the case, your honor. I am surprised at it, even
after the extraordinary speech of my learned friend."
"How do you propose to connect it, Mr. Braham?" asked the judge.
"If it please the court," said Mr. Braham, rising impressively, "your
Honor has permitted the prosecution, and I have submitted without a word;
to go into the most extraordinary testimony to establish a motive. Are
we to be shut out from showing that the motive attributed to us could not
by reason of certain mental conditions exist? I purpose, may, it please
your Honor, to show the cause and the origin of an aberration of mind,
to follow it up, with other like evidence, connecting it with the very
moment of the homicide, showing a condition of the intellect, of the
prisoner that precludes responsibility."
"The State must insist upon its objections," said the District Attorney.
"The purpose evidently is to open the door to a mass of irrelevant
testimony, the object of which is to produce an effect upon the jury your
Honor well understands."
"Perhaps," suggested the judge, "the court ought to hear the testimony,
and exclude it afterwards, if it is irrelevant."
"Will your honor hear argument on that!"
And argument his honor did hear, or pretend to, for two whole days,
from all the counsel in turn, in the course of which the lawyers read
contradictory decisions enough to perfectly establish both sides, from
volume after volume, whole libraries in fact, until no mortal man could
say what the rules were. The question of insanity in all its legal
aspects was of course drawn into the discussion, and its application
affirmed and denied. The case was felt to turn upon the admission or
rejection of this evidence. It was a sort of test trial of strength
between the lawyers. At the end the judge decided to admit the
testimony, as the judge usually does in such cases, after a sufficient
waste of time in what are called arguments.
Mrs. Hawkins was allowed to go on.
Mrs. Hawkins slowly and conscientiously, as if every detail of her family
history was important, told the story of the steamboat explosion, of the
finding and adoption of Laura. Silas, that its Mr. Hawkins, and she
always loved Laura, as if she had been their own, child.
She then narrated the circumstances of Laura's supposed marriage, her
abandonment and long illness, in a manner that touched all hearts. Laura
had been a different woman since then.
Cross-examined. At the time of first finding Laura on the steamboat,
did she notice that Laura's mind was at all deranged? She couldn't say
that she did. After the recovery of Laura from her long illness, did
Mrs. Hawkins think there, were any signs of insanity about her? Witness
confessed that she did not think of it then.
Re-Direct examination. "But she was different after that?"
"O, yes, sir."
Washington Hawkins corroborated his mother's testimony as to Laura's
connection with Col. Selby. He was at Harding during the time of her
living there with him. After Col. Selby's desertion she was almost dead,
never appeared to know anything rightly for weeks. He added that he
never saw such a scoundrel as Selby. (Checked by District attorney.)
Had he noticed any change in, Laura after her illness? Oh, yes.
Whenever, any allusion was made that might recall Selby to mind, she
looked awful--as if she could kill him.
"You mean," said Mr. Braham, "that there was an unnatural, insane gleam
in her eyes?"
"Yes, certainly," said Washington in confusion.
All this was objected to by the district attorney, but it was got before
the jury, and Mr. Braham did not care how much it was ruled out after
"Beriah Sellers was the next witness called. The Colonel made his way to
the stand with majestic, yet bland deliberation. Having taken the oath
and kissed the Bible with a smack intended to show his great respect for
that book, he bowed to his Honor with dignity, to the jury with
familiarity, and then turned to the lawyers and stood in an attitude of
"Mr. Sellers, I believe?" began Mr. Braham.
"Beriah Sellers, Missouri," was the courteous acknowledgment that the
lawyer was correct.
"Mr. Sellers; you know the parties here, you are a friend of the family?"
"Know them all, from infancy, sir. It was me, sir, that induced Silas
Hawkins, Judge Hawkins, to come to Missouri, and make his fortune.
It was by my advice and in company with me, sir, that he went into the
"Yes, yes. Mr. Sellers, did you know a Major Lackland?"
"Knew him, well, sir, knew him and honored him, sir. He was one of the
most remarkable men of our country, sir. A member of congress. He was
often at my mansion sir, for weeks. He used to say to me, 'Col. Sellers,
if you would go into politics, if I had you for a colleague, we should
show Calhoun and Webster that the brain of the country didn't lie east of
the Alleganies. But I said--"
"Yes, yes. I believe Major Lackland is not living, Colonel?"
There was an almost imperceptible sense of pleasure betrayed in the
Colonel's face at this prompt acknowledgment of his title.
"Bless you, no. Died years ago, a miserable death, sir, a ruined man,
a poor sot. He was suspected of selling his vote in Congress, and
probably he did; the disgrace killed' him, he was an outcast, sir,
loathed by himself and by his constituents. And I think; sir"----
The Judge. "You will confine yourself, Col. Sellers to the questions of
"Of course, your honor. This," continued the Colonel in confidential
explanation, "was twenty years ago. I shouldn't have thought of referring
to such a trifling circumstance now. If I remember rightly, sir"--
A bundle of letters was here handed to the witness.
"Do you recognize, that hand-writing?"
"As if it was my own, sir. It's Major Lackland's. I was knowing to these
letters when Judge Hawkins received them. [The Colonel's memory was a
little at fault here. Mr. Hawkins had never gone into detail's with him
on this subject.] He used to show them to me, and say, 'Col, Sellers
you've a mind to untangle this sort of thing.' Lord, how everything
comes back to me. Laura was a little thing then. 'The Judge and I were
just laying our plans to buy the Pilot Knob, and--"
"Colonel, one moment. Your Honor, we put these letters in evidence."
The letters were a portion of the correspondence of Major Lackland with
Silas Hawkins; parts of them were missing and important letters were
referred to that were not here. They related, as the reader knows, to
Laura's father. Lackland had come upon the track of a man who was
searching for a lost child in a Mississippi steamboat explosion years
before. The man was lame in one leg, and appeared to be flitting from
place to place. It seemed that Major Lackland got so close track of him
that he was able to describe his personal appearance and learn his name.
But the letter containing these particulars was lost. Once he heard of
him at a hotel in Washington; but the man departed, leaving an empty
trunk, the day before the major went there. There was something very
mysterious in all his movements.
Col. Sellers, continuing his testimony, said that he saw this lost
letter, but could not now recall the name. Search for the supposed
father had been continued by Lackland, Hawkins and himself for several
years, but Laura was not informed of it till after the death of Hawkins,
for fear of raising false hopes in her mind.
Here the Distract Attorney arose and said,
"Your Honor, I must positively object to letting the witness wander off
into all these irrelevant details."
Mr. Braham. "I submit your honor, that we cannot be interrupted in this
manner we have suffered the state to have full swing. Now here is a
witness, who has known the prisoner from infancy, and is competent to
testify upon the one point vital to her safety. Evidently he is a
gentleman of character, and his knowledge of the case cannot be shut out
without increasing the aspect of persecution which the State's attitude
towards the prisoner already has assumed."
The wrangle continued, waxing hotter and hotter. The Colonel seeing the
attention of the counsel and Court entirely withdrawn from him, thought
he perceived here his opportunity, turning and beaming upon the jury, he
began simply to talk, but as the grandeur of his position grew upon him
--talk broadened unconsciously into an oratorical vein.
"You see how she was situated, gentlemen; poor child, it might have
broken her, heart to let her mind get to running on such a thing as that.
You see, from what we could make out her father was lame in the left leg
and had a deep scar on his left forehead. And so ever since the day she
found out she had another father, she never could, run across a lame
stranger without being taken all over with a shiver, and almost fainting
where she, stood. And the next minute she would go right after that man.
Once she stumbled on a stranger with a game leg; and she was the most
grateful thing in this world--but it was the wrong leg, and it was days
and days before she could leave her bed. Once she found a man with a scar
on his forehead and she was just going to throw herself into his arms,`
but he stepped out just then, and there wasn't anything the matter with
his legs. Time and time again, gentlemen of the jury, has this poor
suffering orphan flung herself on her knees with all her heart's
gratitude in her eyes before some scarred and crippled veteran, but
always, always to be disappointed, always to be plunged into new
despair--if his legs were right his scar was wrong, if his scar was right
his legs were wrong. Never could find a man that would fill the bill.
Gentlemen of the jury; you have hearts, you have feelings, you have warm
human sympathies; you can feel for this poor suffering child. Gentlemen
of the jury, if I had time, if I had the opportunity, if I might be
permitted to go on and tell you the thousands and thousands and thousands
of mutilated strangers this poor girl has started out of cover, and
hunted from city to city, from state to state, from continent to
continent, till she has run them down and found they wan't the ones; I
know your hearts--"
By this time the Colonel had become so warmed up, that his voice, had
reached a pitch above that of the contending counsel; the lawyers
suddenly stopped, and they and the Judge turned towards the Colonel and
remained far several seconds too surprised at this novel exhibition to
speak. In this interval of silence, an appreciation of the situation
gradually stole over the, audience, and an explosion of laughter
followed, in which even the Court and the bar could hardly keep from
Sheriff. "Order in the Court."
The Judge. "The witness will confine his remarks to answers to
The Colonel turned courteously to the Judge and said,
"Certainly, your Honor--certainly. I am not well acquainted with the
forms of procedure in the courts of New York, but in the West, sir, in
The Judge. "There, there, that will do, that will do!
"You see, your Honor, there were no questions asked me, and I thought I
would take advantage of the lull in the proceedings to explain to the,
jury a very significant train of--"
The Judge. "That will DO sir! Proceed Mr. Braham."
"Col. Sellers, have you any, reason to suppose that this man is still
"Every reason, sir, every reason.
"I have never heard of his death, sir. It has never come to my
knowledge. In fact, sir, as I once said to Governor--"
"Will you state to the jury what has been the effect of the knowledge of
this wandering and evidently unsettled being, supposed to be her father,
upon the mind of Miss Hawkins for so many years!"
Question objected to. Question ruled out.
Cross-examined. "Major Sellers, what is your occupation?"
The Colonel looked about him loftily, as if casting in his mind what
would be the proper occupation of a person of such multifarious interests
and then said with dignity:
"A gentleman, sir. My father used to always say, sir"--
"Capt. Sellers, did you; ever see this man, this supposed father?"
"No, Sir. But upon one occasion, old Senator Thompson said to me, its my
opinion, Colonel Sellers"--
"Did you ever see any body who had seen him?"
"No, sir: It was reported around at one time, that"--
"That is all."
The defense then sent a day in the examination of medical experts in
insanity who testified, on the evidence heard, that sufficient causes had
occurred to produce an insane mind in the prisoner. Numerous cases were
cited to sustain this opinion. There was such a thing as momentary
insanity, in which the person, otherwise rational to all appearances,
was for the time actually bereft of reason, and not responsible for his
acts. The causes of this momentary possession could often be found in
the person's life. [It afterwards came out that the chief expert for the
defense, was paid a thousand dollars for looking into the case.]
The prosecution consumed another day in the examination of experts
refuting the notion of insanity. These causes might have produced
insanity, but there was no evidence that they have produced it in this
case, or that the prisoner was not at the time of the commission of the
crime in full possession of her ordinary faculties.
The trial had now lasted two weeks. It required four days now for the
lawyers to "sum up." These arguments of the counsel were very important
to their friends, and greatly enhanced their reputation at the bar but
they have small interest to us. Mr. Braham in his closing speech
surpassed himself; his effort is still remembered as the greatest in the
criminal annals of New York.
Mr. Braham re-drew for the jury the picture, of Laura's early life; he
dwelt long upon that painful episode of the pretended marriage and the
desertion. Col. Selby, he said, belonged, gentlemen; to what is called
the "upper classes:" It is the privilege of the "upper classes" to prey
upon the sons and daughters of the people. The Hawkins family, though
allied to the best blood of the South, were at the time in humble
circumstances. He commented upon her parentage. Perhaps her agonized
father, in his intervals of sanity, was still searching for his lost
daughter. Would he one day hear that she had died a felon's death?
Society had pursued her, fate had pursued her, and in a moment of
delirium she had turned and defied fate and society. He dwelt upon the
admission of base wrong in Col. Selby's dying statement. He drew a
vivid, picture of the villain at last overtaken by the vengeance of
Heaven. Would the jury say that this retributive justice, inflicted by
an outraged, and deluded woman, rendered irrational by the most cruel
wrongs, was in the nature of a foul, premeditated murder? "Gentlemen;
it is enough for me to look upon the life of this most beautiful and
accomplished of her sex, blasted by the heartless villainy of man,
without seeing, at the-end of it; the horrible spectacle of a gibbet.
Gentlemen, we are all human, we have all sinned, we all have need of
mercy. But I do not ask mercy of you who are the guardians of society
and of the poor waifs, its sometimes wronged victims; I ask only that
justice which you and I shall need in that last, dreadful hour, when
death will be robbed of half its terrors if we can reflect that we have
never wronged a human being. Gentlemen, the life of this lovely and once
happy girl, this now stricken woman, is in your hands."
The jury were risibly affected. Half the court room was in tears. If a
vote of both spectators and jury could have been taken then, the verdict
would have been, "let her go, she has suffered enough."
But the district attorney had the closing argument. Calmly and without
malice or excitement he reviewed the testimony. As the cold facts were
unrolled, fear settled upon the listeners. There was no escape from the
murder or its premeditation. Laura's character as a lobbyist in
Washington which had been made to appear incidentally in the evidence was
also against her: the whole body of the testimony of the defense was
shown to be irrelevant, introduced only to excite sympathy, and not
giving a color of probability to the absurd supposition of insanity.
The attorney then dwelt upon, the insecurity of life in the city, and the
growing immunity with which women committed murders. Mr. McFlinn made a
very able speech; convincing the reason without touching the feelings.
The Judge in his charge reviewed the, testimony with great show of
impartiality. He ended by saying that the verdict must be acquittal or
murder in the first, degree. If you find that the prisoner committed a
homicide, in possession of her reason and with premeditation, your
verdict will be accordingly. If you find she was not in her right mind,
that she was the victim of insanity, hereditary or momentary, as it has
been explained, your verdict will take that into account.
As the Judge finished his charge, the spectators anxiously watched the
faces of the jury. It was not a remunerative study. In the court room
the general feeling was in favor of Laura, but whether this feeling
extended to the jury, their stolid faces did not reveal. The public
outside hoped for a conviction, as it always does; it wanted an example;
the newspapers trusted the jury would have the courage to do its duty.
When Laura was convicted, then the public would tern around and abuse the
governor if he did; not pardon her.
The jury went out. Mr. Braham preserved his serene confidence, but
Laura's friends were dispirited. Washington and Col. Sellers had been
obliged to go to Washington, and they had departed under the unspoken
fear the verdict would be unfavorable, a disagreement was the best they
could hope for, and money was needed. The necessity of the passage of
the University bill was now imperative.
The Court waited, for, some time, but the jury gave no signs of coming
in. Mr. Braham said it was extraordinary. The Court then took a recess
for a couple of hours. Upon again coming in, word was brought that the
jury had not yet agreed.
But the, jury, had a question. The point upon which, they wanted
instruction was this. They wanted to know if Col. Sellers was related to
the Hawkins family. The court then adjourned till morning.
Mr. Braham, who was in something of a pet, remarked to Mr. O'Toole that
they must have been deceived, that juryman with the broken nose could
The momentous day was at hand--a day that promised to make or mar the
fortunes of Hawkins family for all time. Washington Hawkins and Col.
Sellers were both up early, for neither of them could sleep. Congress
was expiring, and was passing bill after bill as if they were gasps and
each likely to be its last. The University was on file for its third
reading this day, and to-morrow Washington would be a millionaire and
Sellers no longer, impecunious but this day, also, or at farthest the
next, the jury in Laura's Case would come to a decision of some kind or
other--they would find her guilty, Washington secretly feared, and then
the care and the trouble would all come back again, and these would be
wearing months of besieging judges for new trials; on this day, also, the
re-election of Mr. Dilworthy to the Senate would take place. So
Washington's mind was in a state of turmoil; there were more interests at
stake than it could handle with serenity. He exulted when he thought of
his millions; he was filled with dread when he thought of Laura. But
Sellers was excited and happy. He said:
"Everything is going right, everything's going perfectly right. Pretty
soon the telegrams will begin to rattle in, and then you'll see, my boy.
Let the jury do what they please; what difference is it going to make?
To-morrow we can send a million to New York and set the lawyers at work
on the judges; bless your heart they will go before judge after judge and
exhort and beseech and pray and shed tears. They always do; and they
always win, too. And they will win this time. They will get a writ of
habeas corpus, and a stay of proceedings, and a supersedeas, and a new
trial and a nolle prosequi, and there you are! That's the routine, and
it's no trick at all to a New York lawyer. That's the regular routine
--everything's red tape and routine in the law, you see; it's all Greek
to you, of course, but to a man who is acquainted with those things it's
mere--I'll explain it to you sometime. Everything's going to glide right
along easy and comfortable now. You'll see, Washington, you'll see how
it will be. And then, let me think ..... Dilwortby will be elected
to-day, and by day, after to-morrow night be will be in New York ready to
put in his shovel--and you haven't lived in Washington all this time not
to know that the people who walk right by a Senator whose term is up
without hardly seeing him will be down at the deepo to say 'Welcome back
and God bless you; Senator, I'm glad to see you, sir!' when he comes
along back re-elected, you know. Well, you see, his influence was
naturally running low when he left here, but now he has got a new
six-years' start, and his suggestions will simply just weigh a couple of
tons a-piece day after tomorrow. Lord bless you he could rattle through
that habeas corpus and supersedeas and all those things for Laura all by
himself if he wanted to, when he gets back."
"I hadn't thought of that," said Washington, brightening, but it is so.
A newly-elected Senator is a power, I know that."
"Yes indeed he is.--Why it, is just human nature. Look at me. When we
first came here, I was Mr. Sellers, and Major Sellers, Captain Sellers,
but nobody could ever get it right, somehow; but the minute our bill
went, through the House, I was Col. Sellers every time. And nobody could
do enough for me, and whatever I said was wonderful, Sir, it was always
wonderful; I never seemed to say any flat things at all. It was Colonel,
won't you come and dine with us; and Colonel why don't we ever see you at
our house; and the Colonel says this; and the Colonel says that; and we
know such-and-such is so-and-so because my husband heard Col. Sellers say
so. Don't you see? Well, the Senate adjourned and left our bill high,
and dry, and I'll be hanged if I warn't Old Sellers from that day, till
our bill passed the House again last week. Now I'm the Colonel again;
and if I were to eat all the dinners I am invited to, I reckon I'd wear
my teeth down level with my gums in a couple of weeks."
"Well I do wonder what you will be to-morrow; Colonel, after the
President signs the bill!"
"General, sir?--General, without a doubt. Yes, sir, tomorrow it will be
General, let me congratulate you, sir; General, you've done a great work,
sir;--you've done a great work for the niggro; Gentlemen allow me the
honor to introduce my friend General Sellers, the humane friend of the
niggro. Lord bless me; you'll' see the newspapers say, General Sellers
and servants arrived in the city last night and is stopping at the Fifth
Avenue; and General Sellers has accepted a reception and banquet by the
Cosmopolitan Club; you'll see the General's opinions quoted, too
--and what the General has to say about the propriety of a new trial and
a habeas corpus for the unfortunate Miss Hawkins will not be without
weight in influential quarters, I can tell you."
"And I want to be the first to shake your faithful old hand and salute
you with your new honors, and I want to do it now--General!" said
Washington, suiting the action to the word, and accompanying it with all
the meaning that a cordial grasp and eloquent eyes could give it.
The Colonel was touched; he was pleased and proud, too; his face answered
Not very long after breakfast the telegrams began to arrive. The first
was from Braham, and ran thus:
"We feel certain that the verdict will be rendered to-day. Be it
good or bad, let it find us ready to make the next move instantly,
whatever it may be:"
"That's the right talk," said Sellers. "That Graham's a wonderful man.
He was the only man there that really understood me; he told me so
The next telegram was from Mr. Dilworthy:
"I have not only brought over the Great Invincible, but through him
a dozen more of the opposition. Shall be re-elected to-day by an
"Good again!" said the Colonel. "That man's talent for organization is
something marvelous. He wanted me to go out there and engineer that
thing, but I said, No, Dilworthy, I must be on hand here,--both on
Laura's account and the bill's--but you've no trifling genius for
organization yourself, said I--and I was right. You go ahead, said I
--you can fix it--and so he has. But I claim no credit for that--if I
stiffened up his back-bone a little, I simply put him in the way to make
his fight--didn't undertake it myself. He has captured Noble--.
I consider that a splendid piece of diplomacy--Splendid, Sir!"
By and by came another dispatch from New York:
"Jury still out. Laura calm and firm as a statue. The report that the
jury have brought her in guilty is false and premature."
"Premature!" gasped Washington, turning white. "Then they all expect
that sort of a verdict, when it comes in."
And so did he; but he had not had courage enough to put it into words.
He had been preparing himself for the worst, but after all his
preparation the bare suggestion of the possibility of such a verdict
struck him cold as death.
The friends grew impatient, now; the telegrams did not come fast enough:
even the lightning could not keep up with their anxieties. They walked
the floor talking disjointedly and listening for the door-bell. Telegram
after telegram came. Still no result. By and by there was one which
contained a single line:
"Court now coming in after brief recess to hear verdict. Jury ready."
"Oh, I wish they would finish!" said Washington. "This suspense is
killing me by inches!"
Then came another telegram:
"Another hitch somewhere. Jury want a little more time and further
"Well, well, well, this is trying," said the Colonel. And after a pause,
"No dispatch from Dilworthy for two hours, now. Even a dispatch from him
would be better than nothing, just to vary this thing."
They waited twenty minutes. It seemed twenty hours.
"Come!" said Washington. "I can't wait for the telegraph boy to come all
the way up here. Let's go down to Newspaper Row--meet him on the way."
While they were passing along the Avenue, they saw someone putting up a
great display-sheet on the bulletin board of a newspaper office, and an
eager crowd of men was collecting abort the place. Washington and the
Colonel ran to the spot and read this:
"Tremendous Sensation! Startling news from Saint's Rest! On first ballot
for U. S. Senator, when voting was about to begin, Mr. Noble rose in his
place and drew forth a package, walked forward and laid it on the
Speaker's desk, saying, 'This contains $7,000 in bank bills and was given
me by Senator Dilworthy in his bed-chamber at midnight last night to buy
--my vote for him--I wish the Speaker to count the money and retain it to
pay the expense of prosecuting this infamous traitor for bribery. The
whole legislature was stricken speechless with dismay and astonishment.
Noble further said that there were fifty members present with money in
their pockets, placed there by Dilworthy to buy their votes. Amidst
unparalleled excitement the ballot was now taken, and J. W. Smith elected
U. S. Senator; Dilworthy receiving not one vote! Noble promises damaging
exposures concerning Dilworthy and certain measures of his now pending in
"Good heavens and earth!" exclaimed the Colonel.
"To the Capitol!" said Washington. "Fly!"
And they did fly. Long before they got there the newsboys were running
ahead of them with Extras, hot from the press, announcing the astounding
Arrived in the gallery of the Senate, the friends saw a curious spectacle
very Senator held an Extra in his hand and looked as interested as if it
contained news of the destruction of the earth. Not a single member was
paying the least attention to the business of the hour.
The Secretary, in a loud voice, was just beginning to read the title of a
"House-Bill--No. 4,231,--An-Act-to-Found-and-Incorporate-the Knobs-
The President--"Third reading of the bill!"
The two friends shook in their shoes. Senators threw down their extras
and snatched a word or two with each other in whispers. Then the gavel
rapped to command silence while the names were called on the ayes and
nays. Washington grew paler and paler, weaker and weaker while the
lagging list progressed; and when it was finished, his head fell
helplessly forward on his arms. The fight was fought, the long struggle
was over, and he was a pauper. Not a man had voted for the bill!
Col. Sellers was bewildered and well nigh paralyzed, himself. But no man
could long consider his own troubles in the presence of such suffering as
Washington's. He got him up and supported him--almost carried him
indeed--out of the building and into a carriage. All the way home
Washington lay with his face against the Colonel's shoulder and merely
groaned and wept. The Colonel tried as well as he could under the dreary
circumstances to hearten him a little, but it was of no use. Washington
was past all hope of cheer, now. He only said:
"Oh, it is all over--it is all over for good, Colonel. We must beg our
bread, now. We never can get up again. It was our last chance, and it
is gone. They will hang Laura! My God they will hang her! Nothing can
save the poor girl now. Oh, I wish with all my soul they would hang me
Arrived at home, Washington fell into a chair and buried his face in his
hands and gave full way to his misery. The Colonel did not know where to
turn nor what to do. The servant maid knocked at the door and passed in
a telegram, saying it had come while they were gone.
The Colonel tore it open and read with the voice of a man-of-war's
"VERDICT OF JURY, NOT GUILTY AND LAURA IS FREE!"
The court room was packed on the morning on which the verdict of the jury
was expected, as it had been every day of the trial, and by the same
spectators, who had followed its progress with such intense interest.
There is a delicious moment of excitement which the frequenter of trials
well knows, and which he would not miss for the world. It is that
instant when the foreman of the jury stands up to give the verdict,
and before he has opened his fateful lips.
The court assembled and waited. It was an obstinate jury.
It even had another question--this intelligent jury--to ask the judge
The question was this: "Were the doctors clear that the deceased had no
disease which might soon have carried him off, if he had not been shot?"
There was evidently one jury man who didn't want to waste life, and was
willing to stake a general average, as the jury always does in a civil
case, deciding not according to the evidence but reaching the verdict by
some occult mental process.
During the delay the spectators exhibited unexampled patience, finding
amusement and relief in the slightest movements of the court, the
prisoner and the lawyers. Mr. Braham divided with Laura the attention
of the house. Bets were made by the Sheriff's deputies on the verdict,
with large odds in favor of a disagreement.
It was afternoon when it was announced that the jury was coming in.
The reporters took their places and were all attention; the judge and
lawyers were in their seats; the crowd swayed and pushed in eager
expectancy, as the jury walked in and stood up in silence.
Judge. "Gentlemen, have you agreed upon your verdict?"
Foreman. "We have."
Judge. "What is it?"
Foreman. "NOT GUILTY."
A shout went up from the entire room and a tumult of cheering which the
court in vain attempted to quell. For a few moments all order was lost.
The spectators crowded within the bar and surrounded Laura who, calmer
than anyone else, was supporting her aged mother, who had almost fainted
from excess of joy.
And now occurred one of those beautiful incidents which no fiction-writer
would dare to imagine, a scene of touching pathos, creditable to our
fallen humanity. In the eyes of the women of the audience Mr. Braham was
the hero of the occasion; he had saved the life of the prisoner; and
besides he was such a handsome man. The women could not restrain their
long pent-up emotions. They threw themselves upon Mr. Braham in a
transport of gratitude; they kissed him again and again, the young as
well as the advanced in years, the married as well as the ardent single
women; they improved the opportunity with a touching self-sacrifice; in
the words of a newspaper of the day they "lavished him with kisses."
It was something sweet to do; and it would be sweet for a woman to
remember in after years, that she had kissed Braham! Mr. Braham himself
received these fond assaults with the gallantry of his nation, enduring
the ugly, and heartily paying back beauty in its own coin.
This beautiful scene is still known in New York as "the kissing of
When the tumult of congratulation had a little spent itself, and order
was restored, Judge O'Shaunnessy said that it now became his duty to
provide for the proper custody and treatment of the acquitted. The
verdict of the jury having left no doubt that the woman was of an unsound
mind, with a kind of insanity dangerous to the safety of the community,
she could not be permitted to go at large. "In accordance with the
directions of the law in such cases," said the Judge, "and in obedience
to the dictates of a wise humanity, I hereby commit Laura Hawkins to the
care of the Superintendent of the State Hospital for Insane Criminals, to
be held in confinement until the State Commissioners on Insanity shall
order her discharge. Mr. Sheriff, you will attend at once to the
execution of this decree."
Laura was overwhelmed and terror-stricken. She had expected to walk
forth in freedom in a few moments. The revulsion was terrible. Her
mother appeared like one shaken with an ague fit. Laura insane! And
about to be locked up with madmen! She had never contemplated this.
Mr. Graham said he should move at once for a writ of 'habeas corpus'.
But the judge could not do less than his duty, the law must have its way.
As in the stupor of a sudden calamity, and not fully comprehending it,
Mrs. Hawkins saw Laura led away by the officer.
With little space for thought she was, rapidly driven to the railway
station, and conveyed to the Hospital for Lunatic Criminals. It was only
when she was within this vast and grim abode of madness that she realized
the horror of her situation. It was only when she was received by the
kind physician and read pity in his eyes, and saw his look of hopeless
incredulity when she attempted to tell him that she was not insane; it
was only when she passed through the ward to which she was consigned and
saw the horrible creatures, the victims of a double calamity, whose
dreadful faces she was hereafter to see daily, and was locked into the
small, bare room that was to be her home, that all her fortitude forsook
her. She sank upon the bed, as soon as she was left alone--she had been
searched by the matron--and tried to think. But her brain was in a
whirl. She recalled Braham's speech, she recalled the testimony
regarding her lunacy. She wondered if she were not mad; she felt that
she soon should be among these loathsome creatures. Better almost to
have died, than to slowly go mad in this confinement.
--We beg the reader's pardon. This is not history, which has just been
written. It is really what would have occurred if this were a novel.
If this were a work of fiction, we should not dare to dispose of Laura
otherwise. True art and any attention to dramatic proprieties required
it. The novelist who would turn loose upon society an insane murderess
could not escape condemnation. Besides, the safety of society, the
decencies of criminal procedure, what we call our modern civilization,
all would demand that Laura should be disposed of in the manner we have
described. Foreigners, who read this sad story, will be unable to
understand any other termination of it.
But this is history and not fiction. There is no such law or custom as
that to which his Honor is supposed to have referred; Judge O'Shaunnessy
would not probably pay any attention to it if there were. There is no
Hospital for Insane Criminals; there is no State commission of lunacy.
What actually occurred when the tumult in the court room had subsided the
sagacious reader will now learn.
Laura left the court room, accompanied by her mother and other friends,
amid the congratulations of those assembled, and was cheered as she
entered a carriage, and drove away. How sweet was the sunlight, how
exhilarating the sense of freedom! Were not these following cheers the
expression of popular approval and affection? Was she not the heroine of
It was with a feeling of triumph that Laura reached her hotel, a scornful
feeling of victory over society with its own weapons.
Mrs. Hawkins shared not at all in this feeling; she was broken with the
disgrace and the long anxiety.
"Thank God, Laura," she said, "it is over. Now we will go away from this
hateful city. Let us go home at once."
"Mother," replied Laura, speaking with some tenderness, "I cannot go with
you. There, don't cry, I cannot go back to that life."
Mrs. Hawkins was sobbing. This was more cruel than anything else, for
she had a dim notion of what it would be to leave Laura to herself.
"No, mother, you have been everything to me. You know how dearly I love
you. But I cannot go back."
A boy brought in a telegraphic despatch. Laura took it and read:
"The bill is lost. Dilworthy ruined. (Signed) WASHINGTON."
For a moment the words swam before her eyes. The next her eyes flashed
fire as she handed the dispatch to her m other and bitterly said,
"The world is against me. Well, let it be, let it. I am against it."
"This is a cruel disappointment," said Mrs. Hawkins, to whom one grief
more or less did not much matter now, "to you and, Washington; but we
must humbly bear it."
"Bear it;" replied Laura scornfully, "I've all my life borne it, and fate
has thwarted me at every step."
A servant came to the door to say that there was a gentleman below who
wished to speak with Miss Hawkins. "J. Adolphe Griller" was the name
Laura read on the card. "I do not know such a person. He probably comes
from Washington. Send him up."
Mr. Griller entered. He was a small man, slovenly in dress, his tone
confidential, his manner wholly void of animation, all his features below
the forehead protruding--particularly the apple of his throat--hair
without a kink in it, a hand with no grip, a meek, hang-dog countenance.
a falsehood done in flesh and blood; for while every visible sign about
him proclaimed him a poor, witless, useless weakling, the truth was that
he had the brains to plan great enterprises and the pluck to carry them
through. That was his reputation, and it was a deserved one. He softly
"I called to see you on business, Miss Hawkins. You have my card?"
Mr. Griller continued to purr, as softly as before.
"I will proceed to business. I am a business man. I am a lecture-agent,
Miss Hawkins, and as soon as I saw that you were acquitted, it occurred
to me that an early interview would be mutually beneficial."
"I don't understand you, sir," said Laura coldly.
"No? You see, Miss Hawkins, this is your opportunity. If you will enter
the lecture field under good auspices, you will carry everything before
"But, sir, I never lectured, I haven't any lecture, I don't know anything
"Ah, madam, that makes no difference--no real difference. It is not
necessary to be able to lecture in order to go into the lecture tour.
If ones name is celebrated all over the land, especially, and, if she is
also beautiful, she is certain to draw large audiences."
"But what should I lecture about?" asked Laura, beginning in spite of
herself to be a little interested as well as amused.
"Oh, why; woman--something about woman, I should say; the marriage
relation, woman's fate, anything of that sort. Call it The Revelations
of a Woman's Life; now, there's a good title. I wouldn't want any better
title than that. I'm prepared to make you an offer, Miss Hawkins,
a liberal offer,--twelve thousand dollars for thirty nights."
Laura thought. She hesitated. Why not? It would give her employment,
money. She must do something.
"I will think of it, and let you know soon. But still, there is very
little likelihood that I--however, we will not discuss it further now."
"Remember, that the sooner we get to work the better, Miss Hawkins,
public curiosity is so fickle. Good day, madam."
The close of the trial released Mr. Harry Brierly and left him free to
depart upon his long talked of Pacific-coast mission. He was very
mysterious about it, even to Philip.
"It's confidential, old boy," he said, "a little scheme we have hatched
up. I don't mind telling you that it's a good deal bigger thing than
that in Missouri, and a sure thing. I wouldn't take a half a million
just for my share. And it will open something for you, Phil. You will
hear from me."
Philip did hear, from Harry a few months afterward. Everything promised
splendidly, but there was a little delay. Could Phil let him have a
hundred, say, for ninety days?
Philip himself hastened to Philadelphia, and, as soon as the spring
opened, to the mine at Ilium, and began transforming the loan he had
received from Squire Montague into laborers' wages. He was haunted with
many anxieties; in the first place, Ruth was overtaxing her strength in
her hospital labors, and Philip felt as if he must move heaven and earth
to save her from such toil and suffering. His increased pecuniary
obligation oppressed him. It seemed to him also that he had been one
cause of the misfortune to the Bolton family, and that he was dragging
into loss and ruin everybody who associated with him. He worked on day
after day and week after week, with a feverish anxiety.
It would be wicked, thought Philip, and impious, to pray for luck; he
felt that perhaps he ought not to ask a blessing upon the sort of labor
that was only a venture; but yet in that daily petition, which this very
faulty and not very consistent young Christian gentleman put up, he
prayed earnestly enough for Ruth and for the Boltons and for those whom
he loved and who trusted in him, and that his life might not be a
misfortune to them and a failure to himself.
Since this young fellow went out into the world from his New England
home, he had done some things that he would rather his mother should not
know, things maybe that he would shrink from telling Ruth. At a certain
green age young gentlemen are sometimes afraid of being called milksops,
and Philip's associates had not always been the most select, such as
these historians would have chosen for him, or whom at a later, period he
would have chosen for himself. It seemed inexplicable, for instance,
that his life should have been thrown so much with his college
acquaintance, Henry Brierly.
Yet, this was true of Philip, that in whatever company he had been he had
never been ashamed to stand up for the principles he learned from his
mother, and neither raillery nor looks of wonder turned him from that
daily habit had learned at his mother's knees.--Even flippant Harry
respected this, and perhaps it was one of the reasons why Harry and all
who knew Philip trusted him implicitly. And yet it must be confessed
that Philip did not convey the impression to the world of a very serious
young man, or of a man who might not rather easily fall into temptation.
One looking for a real hero would have to go elsewhere.
The parting between Laura and her mother was exceedingly painful to both.
It was as if two friends parted on a wide plain, the one to journey
towards the setting and the other towards the rising sun, each
comprehending that every, step henceforth must separate their lives,
wider and wider.
When Mr. Noble's bombshell fell, in Senator Dilworthy's camp, the
statesman was disconcerted for a moment. For a moment; that was all.
The next moment he was calmly up and doing. From the centre of our
country to its circumference, nothing was talked of but Mr. Noble's
terrible revelation, and the people were furious. Mind, they were not
furious because bribery was uncommon in our public life, but merely
because here was another case. Perhaps it did not occur to the nation of
good and worthy people that while they continued to sit comfortably at
home and leave the true source of our political power (the "primaries,")
in the hands of saloon-keepers, dog-fanciers and hod-carriers, they could
go on expecting "another" case of this kind, and even dozens and hundreds
of them, and never be disappointed. However, they may have thought that
to sit at home and grumble would some day right the evil.
Yes, the nation was excited, but Senator Dilworthy was calm--what was
left of him after the explosion of the shell. Calm, and up and doing.
What did he do first? What would you do first, after you had tomahawked
your mother at the breakfast table for putting too much sugar in your
coffee? You would "ask for a suspension of public opinion." That is
what Senator Dilworthy did. It is the custom. He got the usual amount
of suspension. Far and wide he was called a thief, a briber, a promoter
of steamship subsidies, railway swindles, robberies of the government in
all possible forms and fashions. Newspapers and everybody else called
him a pious hypocrite, a sleek, oily fraud, a reptile who manipulated
temperance movements, prayer meetings, Sunday schools, public charities,
missionary enterprises, all for his private benefit. And as these
charges were backed up by what seemed to be good and sufficient,
evidence, they were believed with national unanimity.
Then Mr. Dilworthy made another move. He moved instantly to Washington
and "demanded an investigation." Even this could not pass without,
comment. Many papers used language to this effect:
"Senator Dilworthy's remains have demanded an investigation. This
sounds fine and bold and innocent; but when we reflect that they
demand it at the hands of the Senate of the United States, it simply
becomes matter for derision. One might as well set the gentlemen
detained in the public prisons to trying each other. This
investigation is likely to be like all other Senatorial
investigations--amusing but not useful. Query. Why does the Senate
still stick to this pompous word, 'Investigation?' One does not
blindfold one's self in order to investigate an object."
Mr. Dilworthy appeared in his place in the Senate and offered a
resolution appointing a committee to investigate his case. It carried,
of course, and the committee was appointed. Straightway the newspapers
"Under the guise of appointing a committee to investigate the late
Mr. Dilworthy, the Senate yesterday appointed a committee to
investigate his accuser, Mr. Noble. This is the exact spirit and
meaning of the resolution, and the committee cannot try anybody but
Mr. Noble without overstepping its authority. That Dilworthy had
the effrontery to offer such a resolution will surprise no one, and
that the Senate could entertain it without blushing and pass it
without shame will surprise no one. We are now reminded of a note
which we have received from the notorious burglar Murphy, in which
he finds fault with a statement of ours to the effect that he had
served one term in the penitentiary and also one in the U. S.
Senate. He says, 'The latter statement is untrue and does me great
injustice.' After an unconscious sarcasm like that, further comment
And yet the Senate was roused by the Dilworthy trouble. Many speeches
were made. One Senator (who was accused in the public prints of selling
his chances of re-election to his opponent for $50,000 and had not yet
denied the charge) said that, "the presence in the Capital of such a
creature as this man Noble, to testify against a brother member of their
body, was an insult to the Senate."
Another Senator said, "Let the investigation go on and let it make an
example of this man Noble; let it teach him and men like him that they
could not attack the reputation of a United States-Senator with
Another said he was glad the investigation was to be had, for it was high
time that the Senate should crush some cur like this man Noble, and thus
show his kind that it was able and resolved to uphold its ancient
A by-stander laughed, at this finely delivered peroration; and said:
"Why, this is the Senator who franked his, baggage home through the mails
last week-registered, at that. However, perhaps he was merely engaged in
'upholding the ancient dignity of the Senate,'--then."
"No, the modern dignity of it," said another by-stander. "It don't
resemble its ancient dignity but it fits its modern style like a glove."
There being no law against making offensive remarks about U. S.
Senators, this conversation, and others like it, continued without let or
hindrance. But our business is with the investigating committee.
Mr. Noble appeared before the Committee of the Senate; and testified to
the following effect:
He said that he was a member of the State legislature of the
Happy-Land-of-Canaan; that on the --- day of ------ he assembled himself
together at the city of Saint's Rest, the capital of the State, along
with his brother legislators; that he was known to be a political enemy
of Mr. Dilworthy and bitterly opposed to his re-election; that Mr.
Dilworthy came to Saint's Rest and reported to be buying pledges of votes
with money; that the said Dilworthy sent for him to come to his room in
the hotel at night, and he went; was introduced to Mr. Dilworthy; called
two or three times afterward at Dilworthy's request--usually after
midnight; Mr. Dilworthy urged him to vote for him Noble declined;
Dilworthy argued; said he was bound to be elected, and could then ruin
him (Noble) if he voted no; said he had every railway and every public
office and stronghold of political power in the State under his thumb,
and could set up or pull down any man he chose; gave instances showing
where and how he had used this power; if Noble would vote for him he
would make him a Representative in Congress; Noble still declined to
vote, and said he did not believe Dilworthy was going to be elected;
Dilworthy showed a list of men who would vote for him--a majority of the
legislature; gave further proofs of his power by telling Noble everything
the opposing party had done or said in secret caucus; claimed that his
spies reported everything to him, and that--
Here a member of the Committee objected that this evidence was irrelevant
and also in opposition to the spirit of the Committee's instructions,
because if these things reflected upon any one it was upon Mr. Dilworthy.
The chairman said, let the person proceed with his statement--the
Committee could exclude evidence that did not bear upon the case.
Mr. Noble continued. He said that his party would cast him out if he
voted for Mr, Dilworthy; Dilwortby said that that would inure to his
benefit because he would then be a recognized friend of his (Dilworthy's)
and he could consistently exalt him politically and make his fortune;
Noble said he was poor, and it was hard to tempt him so; Dilworthy said
he would fix that; he said, "Tell, me what you want, and say you will vote
for me;" Noble could not say; Dilworthy said "I will give you $5,000."
A Committee man said, impatiently, that this stuff was all outside the
case, and valuable time was being wasted; this was all, a plain
reflection upon a brother Senator. The Chairman said it was the quickest
way to proceed, and the evidence need have no weight.
Mr. Noble continued. He said he told Dilworthy that $5,000 was not much
to pay for a man's honor, character and everything that was worth having;
Dilworthy said he was surprised; he considered $5,000 a fortune--for some
men; asked what Noble's figure was; Noble said he could not think $10,000
too little; Dilworthy said it was a great deal too much; he would not do
it for any other man, but he had conceived a liking for Noble, and where
he liked a man his heart yearned to help him; he was aware that Noble was
poor, and had a family to support, and that he bore an unblemished
reputation at home; for such a man and such a man's influence he could do
much, and feel that to help such a man would be an act that would have
its reward; the struggles of the poor always touched him; he believed
that Noble would make a good use of this money and that it would cheer
many a sad heart and needy home; he would give the, $10,000; all he
desired in return was that when the balloting began, Noble should cast
his vote for him and should explain to the legislature that upon looking
into the charges against Mr. Dilworthy of bribery, corruption, and
forwarding stealing measures in Congress he had found them to be base
calumnies upon a man whose motives were pure and whose character was
stainless; he then took from his pocket $2,000 in bank bills and handed
them to Noble, and got another package containing $5,000 out of his trunk
and gave to him also. He----
A Committee man jumped up, and said:
"At last, Mr. Chairman, this shameless person has arrived at the point.
This is sufficient and conclusive. By his own confession he has received
a bribe, and did it deliberately.
"This is a grave offense, and cannot be passed over in silence, sir. By
the terms of our instructions we can now proceed to mete out to him such
punishment as is meet for one who has maliciously brought disrespect upon
a Senator of the United States. We have no need to hear the rest of his
The Chairman said it would be better and more regular to proceed with the
investigation according to the usual forms. A note would be made of
Mr. Noble's admission.
Mr. Noble continued. He said that it was now far past midnight; that he
took his leave and went straight to certain legislators, told them
everything, made them count the money, and also told them of the exposure
he would make in joint convention; he made that exposure, as all the
world knew. The rest of the $10,000 was to be paid the day after
Dilworthy was elected.
Senator Dilworthy was now asked to take the stand and tell what he knew
about the man Noble. The Senator wiped his mouth with his handkerchief,
adjusted his white cravat, and said that but for the fact that public
morality required an example, for the warning of future Nobles, he would
beg that in Christian charity this poor misguided creature might be
forgiven and set free. He said that it was but too evident that this
person had approached him in the hope of obtaining a bribe; he had
intruded himself time and again, and always with moving stories of his
poverty. Mr. Dilworthy said that his heart had bled for him--insomuch
that he had several times been on the point of trying to get some one to
do something for him. Some instinct had told him from the beginning that
this was a bad man, an evil-minded man, but his inexperience of such had
blinded him to his real motives, and hence he had never dreamed that his
object was to undermine the purity of a United States Senator.
He regretted that it was plain, now, that such was the man's object and
that punishment could not with safety to the Senate's honor be withheld.
He grieved to say that one of those mysterious dispensations of an
inscrutable Providence which are decreed from time to time by His wisdom
and for His righteous, purposes, had given this conspirator's tale a
color of plausibility,--but this would soon disappear under the clear
light of truth which would now be thrown upon the case.
It so happened, (said the Senator,) that about the time in question, a
poor young friend of mine, living in a distant town of my State, wished
to establish a bank; he asked me to lend him the necessary money; I said
I had no, money just then, but world try to borrow it. The day before
the election a friend said to me that my election expenses must be very
large specially my hotel bills, and offered to lend me some money.
Remembering my young, friend, I said I would like a few thousands now,
and a few more by and by; whereupon he gave me two packages of bills said
to contain $2,000 and $5,000 respectively; I did not open the packages or
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