The Stillwater Tragedy
Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Part 3 out of 5
making any remark began to distribute among them certain small blue
tickets, which they pocketed in silence. Glancing carelessly at his
piece of card-board, Durgin said to Peters,--
"Then it's decided?"
"He's all right."
"What does he say?"
"Nothing in perticular," responded Peters, "and nothing at all
about his little skylark with Shackford."
"He's a cool one!" exclaimed Durgin.
Though the slips of blue pasteboard had been delivered and
accepted without comment, it was known in a second through the
bar-room that a special meeting had been convened for the next night
by the officers of the Marble Workers' Association.
On the third morning after Torrini's expulsion from the yard, Mr.
Slocum walked into the studio with a printed slip in his hand. A
similar slip lay crumpled under a work-bench, where Richard had
tossed it. Mr. Slocum's kindly visage was full of trouble and
perplexity as he raised his eyes from the paper, which he had been
re-reading on the way up-stairs.
"Look at that!"
"Yes," remarked Richard, "I have been honored with one of those
"What does it mean?"
"It means business."
The paper in question contained a series of resolutions
unanimously adopted at a meeting of the Marble Workers' Association
of Stillwater, held in Grimsey's Hall the previous night. Dropping
the preamble, these resolutions, which were neatly printed with a
type-writing machine on a half letter sheet, ran as follows:--
_Resolved,_ That on and after the First of June proximo, the
pay of carvers in Slocum's Marble Yard shall be $2.75 per day,
instead of $2.50 as heretofore.
_Resolved,_ That on and after the same date, the rubbers and
polishers shall have $2.00 per day, instead of $1.75 as heretofore.
_Resolved,_ That on and after the same date the millmen are
to have $2.00 per day, instead of $1.75 as heretofore.
_Resolved,_ That during the months of June, July, and August
the shops shall knock off work on Saturdays at five P.M., instead of
at six P.M.
_Resolved,_ That a printed copy of these Resolutions be laid
before the Proprietor of Slocum's Marble Yard, and that his immediate
attention to them be respectfully requested. _Per order of
Committee M. W. A._
"Torrini is at the bottom of that," said Mr. Slocum.
"I hardly think so. This arrangement, as I told you the other day
before I had the trouble with him, has been in contemplation several
weeks. Undoubtedly Torrini used his influence to hasten the movement
already planned. The Association has too much shrewdness to espouse
the quarrel of an individual."
"What are we to do?"
"If you are in the same mind you were when we talked over the
possibility of an unreasonable demand like this, there is only one
thing to do."
"I have been resolute, and all that sort of thing, in times past,"
observed Mr. Slocum, glancing out of the tail of his eye at Richard,
"and have always come off second best. The Association has drawn up
most of my rules for me, and had its own way generally."
"Since my time you have never been in so strong a position to make
a stand. We have got all the larger contracts out of the way.
Foreseeing what was likely to come, I have lately fought shy of
taking new ones. Here are heavy orders from Rafter & Son, the
Builders' Company, and others. We must decline them by to-night's
"Is it really necessary?" asked Mr. Slocum, knitting his forehead
into what would have been a scowl if his mild pinkish eyebrows had
"I think so."
"I hate to do that."
"Then we are at the mercy of the Association."
"If we do not come to their terms, you seriously believe they will
"I do," replied Richard, "and we should be in a pretty fix."
"But these demands are ridiculous."
"The men are not aware of our situation; they imagine we have a
lot of important jobs on hand, as usual at this season. Formerly the
foreman of a shop had access to the order-book, but for the last year
or two I have kept it in the safe here. The other day Dexter came to
me and wanted to see what work was set down ahead in the blotter; but
I had an inspiration and didn't let him post himself."
"Is not some kind of compromise possible?" suggested Mr. Slocum,
looking over the slip again. "Now this fourth clause, about closing
the yard an hour early on Saturdays, I don't strongly object to that,
though with eighty hands it means, every week, eighty hours' work
which the yard pays for and doesn't get."
"I should advise granting that request. Such concessions are never
wasted. But, Mr. Slocum, this is not going to satisfy them. They have
thrown in one reasonable demand merely to flavor the rest. I happen
to know that they are determined to stand by their programme to the
"You know that?"
"I have a friend at court. Of course this is not to be breathed,
but Denyven, without being at all false to his comrades, talks freely
with me. He says they are resolved not to give an inch."
"Then we will close the works."
"That is what I wanted you to say, sir!" cried Richard.
"With this new scale of prices and plenty of work, we might
probably come out a little ahead the next six months; but it wouldn't
pay for the trouble and the capital invested. Then when trade
slackened, we should be running at a loss, and there'd be another
wrangle over a reduction. We had better lie idle."
"Stick to that, sir, and may be it will not be necessary."
"But if they strike"--
"They won't all strike. At least," added Richard, "I hope not. I
have indirectly sounded several of the older hands, and they have
half promised to hold on; only half promised, for every man of them
at heart fears the trades-union more than No-bread--until No-bread
"Whom have you spoken with?"
"Lumley, Giles, Peterson, and some others,--your pensioners, I
"Yes, they were in the yard in my father's time; they have not
been worth their salt these ten years. When the business was turned
over to me I didn't discharge any old hand who had given his best
days to the yard. Somehow I couldn't throw away the squeezed lemons.
An employer owes a good workman something beyond the wages paid."
"And a workman owes a good employer something beyond the work
done. You stood by these men after they outlived their usefulness,
and if they do not stand by you now, they're a shabby set."
"I fancy they will, Richard."
"I think they had better, and I wish they would. We have enough
odds and ends to keep them busy awhile, and I shouldn't like to have
the clinking of chisels die out altogether under the old sheds."
"Nor I," returned Mr. Slocum, with a touch of sadness in his
intonation. "It has grown to be a kind of music to me," and he paused
to listen to the sounds of ringing steel that floated up from the
"Whatever happens, that music shall not cease in the yard except
on Sundays, if I have to take the mallet and go at a slab all alone."
"Slocum's Yard with a single workman in it would be a pleasing
spectacle," said Mr. Slocum, smiling ruefully.
"It wouldn't be a bad time for _that_ workman to strike,"
returned Richard with a laugh.
"He could dictate his own terms," returned Mr. Slocum, soberly.
"Well, I suppose you cannot help thinking about Margaret; but don't
think of her now. Tell me what answer you propose to give the
Association,--how you mean to put it; for I leave the matter wholly
to you. I shall have no hand in it, further than to indorse your
"To-morrow, then," said Richard, "for it is no use to hurry up a
crisis, I shall go to the workshops and inform them that their
request for short hours on Saturdays is granted, but that the other
changes they suggest are not to be considered. There will never be a
better opportunity, Mr. Slocum, to settle another question which has
been allowed to run too long."
"The apprentice question."
"Would it be wise to touch on that at present?"
"While we are straightening out matters and putting things on a
solid basis, it seems to me essential to settle that. There was never
a greater imposition, or one more short-sighted, than this rule which
prevents the training of sufficient workmen. The trades-union will
discover their error some day when they have succeeded in forcing
manufacturers to import skilled labor by the wholesale. I would like
to tell the Marble Workers' Association that Slocum's Yard has
resolved to employ as many apprentices each year as there is room
"I wouldn't dare risk it!"
"It will have to be done, sooner or later. It would be a capital
flank movement now. They have laid themselves open to an attack on
"I might as well close the gates for good and all."
"So you will, if it comes to that. You can afford to close the
gates, and they can't afford to have you. In a week they'd be back,
asking you to open them. Then you could have your pick of the live
hands, and drop the dead wood. If Giles or Peterson or Lumley or any
of those desert us, they are not to be let on again. I hope you will
promise me that, sir."
"If the occasion offers, you shall reorganize the shops in your
own way. I haven't the nerve for this kind of business, though I have
seen a great deal of it in the villages, first and last. Strikes are
terrible mistakes. Even when they succeed, what pays for the lost
time and the money squandered over the tavern-bar? What makes up for
the days or weeks when the fire was out on the hearth and the
children had no bread? That is what happens, you know."
"There is no remedy for such calamities," Richard answered. "Yet I
can imagine occasions when it would be better to let the fire go out
and the children want for bread."
"You are not advocating strikes!" exclaimed Mr. Slocum.
"I thought you were for fighting them."
"So I am, in this instance; but the question has two sides. Every
man has the right to set a price on his own labor, and to refuse to
work for less; the wisdom of it is another matter. He puts himself in
the wrong only when he menaces the person or the property of the man
who has an equal right not to employ him. That is the blunder
strikers usually make in the end, and one by which they lose public
sympathy even when they are fighting an injustice. Now, sometimes it
_is_ an injustice that is being fought, and then it is right to
fight it with the only weapon a poor man has to wield against a power
which possesses a hundred weapons,--and that's a strike. For example,
the smelters and casters in the Miantowona Iron Works are meanly
"What, have they struck?"
"There's a general strike threatened in the village; foundry-men,
spinners, and all."
"So much the worse for everybody! I did not suppose it was as bad
as that. What has become of Torrini?"
"The day after he left us he was taken on as forgeman at Dana's."
"I am glad Dana has got him!"
"At the meeting, last night, Torrini gave in his resignation as
secretary of the Association; being no longer a marble worker, he was
not qualified to serve."
"We unhorsed him, then?"
"Rather. I am half sorry, too."
"Richard," said Mr. Slocum, halting in one of his nervous walks up
and down the room, "you are the oddest composition of hardness and
softness I ever saw."
"One moment you stand braced like a lion to fight the whole yard,
and the next moment you are pitying a miscreant who would have laid
your head open without the slightest compunction."
"Oh, I forgive him," said Richard. "I was a trifle hasty myself.
Margaret thinks so too."
"Much Margaret knows about it!"
"I was inconsiderate, to say the least. When a man picks up a tool
by the wrong end he must expect to get cut."
"You didn't have a choice."
"I shouldn't have touched Torrini. After discharging him and
finding him disposed to resist my order to leave the yard, I ought to
have called in a constable. Usually it is very hard to anger me; but
three or four times in my life I have been carried away by a devil of
a temper which I couldn't control, it seized me so unawares. That was
one of the times."
The mallets and chisels were executing a blithe staccato movement
in the yard below, and making the sparks dance. No one walking among
the diligent gangs, and observing the placid faces of the men as they
bent over their tasks, would have suspected that they were awaiting
the word that meant bread and meat and home to them.
As Richard passed through the shops, dropping a word to a workman
here and there, the man addressed looked up cheerfully and made a
furtive dab at the brown paper cap, and Richard returned the salute
smilingly; but he was sad within. "The foolish fellows," he said to
himself, "they are throwing away a full loaf and are likely to get
none at all." Giles and two or three of the ancients were squaring a
block of marble under a shelter by themselves. Richard made it a
point to cross over and speak to them. In past days he had not been
exacting with these old boys, and they always had a welcome for him.
Slocum's Yard seldom presented a serener air of contented industry
than it wore that morning; but in spite of all this smooth outside it
was a foregone conclusion with most of the men that Slocum, with
Shackford behind him, would never submit to the new scale of wages.
There were a few who had protested against these resolutions and
still disapproved of them, but were forced to go with the
Association, which had really been dragged into the current by the
The Dana Mills and the Miantowona Iron Works were paying lighter
wages than similar establishments nearer the great city. The managers
contended that they were paying as high if not higher rates, taking
into consideration the cheaper cost of living in Stillwater. "But you
get city prices for your wares," retorted the union; "you don't pay
city rents, and you shall pay city wages." Meetings were held at
Grimsey's Hall and the subject was canvassed, at first calmly and
then stormily. Among the molders, and possibly the sheet-iron
workers, there was cause for dissatisfaction; but the dissatisfaction
spread to where no grievance existed; it seized upon the spinners,
and finally upon the marble workers. Torrini fanned the flame there.
Taking for his text the rentage question, he argued that Slocum was
well able to give a trifle more for labor than his city competitors.
"The annual rent of a yard like Slocum's would be four thousand or
five thousand dollars in the city. It doesn't cost Slocum two hundred
dollars. It is no more than just that the laborer should have a
share--he only asks a beggarly share--of the prosperity which he has
helped to build up." This was specious and taking. Then there came
down from the great city a glib person disguised as The Workingman's
Friend,--no workingman himself, mind you, but a ghoul that lives upon
subscriptions and sucks the senses out of innocent human beings,--who
managed to set the place by the ears. The result of all which was
that one May morning every shop, mill, and factory in Stillwater was
served with a notice from the trades-union, and a general strike
But our business at present is exclusively with Slocum's Yard.
"Since we are in for it," said Mr. Slocum the next morning, "put
the case to them squarely."
Mr. Slocum's vertebrę had stiffened over night.
"Leave that to me, sir," Richard replied. "I have been shaping out
in my mind a little speech which I flatter myself will cover the
points. They have brought this thing upon themselves, and we are
about to have the clearest of understandings. I never saw the men
"I don't altogether admire that. It looks as if they hadn't any
doubt as to the issue."
"The clearest-headed have no doubt; they know as well as you and I
do the flimsiness of those resolutions. But the thick heads are in a
fog. Every man naturally likes his pay increased; if a simple fellow
is told five or six hundred times that his wages ought to be raised,
the idea is so agreeable and insidious that by and by he begins to
believe himself grossly underpaid, though he may be getting twice
what he is worth. He doesn't reason about it; that's the last thing
he'll do for you. In this mood he lets himself be flown away by the
breath of some loud-mouthed demagogue, who has no interest in the
matter beyond hearing his own talk and passing round the hat after
the meeting is over. That is what has happened to our folks below.
But they _are_ behaving handsomely."
"Yes, and I don't like it."
Since seven o'clock the most unimpeachable decorum had reigned in
the workshops. It was now nine, and this brief dialogue had occurred
between Mr. Slocum and Richard on the veranda, just as the latter was
on the point of descending into the yard to have his talk with the
The workshops--or rather the shed in which the workshops were, for
it was one low structure eighteen or twenty feet wide and open on the
west side--ran the length of the yard, and with the short extension
at the southerly end formed the letter L. There were no partitions,
an imaginary line separating the different gangs of workers. A person
standing at the head of the building could make himself heard more or
less distinctly in the remotest part.
The grating lisp of the wet saws eating their way into the marble
bowlder, and the irregular quick taps of the seventy or eighty
mallets were not suspended as Richard took his stand beside a tall
funereal urn at the head of the principal workshop. After a second's
faltering he rapped smartly on the lip of the ukrn with the key of
Instantly every arm appeared paralyzed, and the men stood
motionless, with the tools in their hands.
Richard began in a clear but not loud voice, though it seemed to
ring on the sudden silence:--
"Mr. Slocum has asked me to say a few words to you, this morning,
about those resolutions, and one or two other matters that have
occurred to him in this connection. I am no speech-maker; I never
learned that trade"--
"Never learned any trade," muttered Durgin, inaudibly.
--"but I think I can manage some plain, honest talk, for
Richard's exordium was listened to with painful attention.
"In the first place," he continued, "I want to remind you,
especially the newer men, that Slocum's Yard has always given steady
work and prompt pay to Stillwater hands. No hand has ever been turned
off without sufficient cause, or kept on through mere favoritism.
Favors have been shown, but they have been shown to all alike. If
anything has gone crooked, it has been straightened out as soon as
Mr. Slocum knew of it. That has been the course of the yard in the
past, and the Proprietor doesn't want you to run away with the idea
that that course is going to be changed. One change, for the time
being, is going to be made at our own suggestion. From now, until the
1st of September, this yard will close gates on Saturdays at five
P.M. instead of six P.M."
Several voices cried, "Good for Slocum!" "Where's Slocum?" "Why
don't Slocum speak for himself?" cried one voice.
"It is Mr. Slocum's habit," answered Richard, "to give his
directions to me, I give them to the foremen, and the foremen to the
shops. Mr. Slocum follows that custom on this occasion. With regard
to the new scale of wages which the Association has submitted to him,
the Proprietor refuses to accept it, or any modification of it."
A low murmur ran through the workshops.
"What's a modificashun, sir?" asked Jemmy Willson, stepping
forward, and scratching his left ear diffidently.
"A modification," replied Richard, considerably embarrassed to
give an instant definition, "is a--a"--
"A splitting of the difference, by--!" shouted somebody in the
"Thank you," said Richard, glancing in the direction of his
impromptu Webster's Unabridged. "Mr. Slocum does not propose to split
the difference. The wages in every department are to be just what
they are,--neither more nor less. If anybody wishes to make a
remark," he added, observing a restlessness in several of the men, "I
beg he will hold on until I get through. I shall not detain you much
longer, as the parson says before he has reached the middle of his
"What I say now, I was charged to make particularly clear to you.
It is this: In future Mr. Slocum intends to run Slocum's Yard
himself. Neither you, nor I, nor the Association will be allowed to
run it for him. [Sensation.] Until now the Association has tied him
down to two apprentices a year. From this hour, out, Mr. Slocum will
take on, not two, or twenty, but two hundred apprentices if the
business warrants it."
The words were not clearly off Richard's lips when the foreman of
the shop in which he was speaking picked up a couple of small drills,
and knocked them together with a sharp click. In an instant the men
laid aside their aprons, bundled up their tools, and marched out of
the shed two by two, in dead silence. That same click was repeated
almost simultaneously in the second shop, and the same evolution took
place. Then click, click, click! went the drills, sounding fainter
and fainter in the distant departments; and in less than three
minutes there was not a soul left in Slocum's Yard except the Orator
of the Day.
Richard had anticipated some demonstration, either noisy or
violent, perhaps both; but this solemn, orderly desertion dashed him.
He stepped into the middle of the yard, and glancing up beheld
Margaret and Mr. Slocum standing on the veranda. Even at that
distance he could perceive the pallor on one face, and the
consternation written all over the other.
Hanging his head with sadness, Richard crossed the yard, which
gave out mournful echoes to his footfalls, and swung to the large
gate, nearly catching old Giles by the heel as he did so. Looking
through the slats, he saw Lumley and Peterson hobbling arm in arm
down the street,--after more than twenty-five years of kindly
"Move number one," said Richard, lifting the heavy cross-piece
into its place and fastening it with a wooden pin. "Now I must go and
prop up Mr. Slocum."
There is no solitude which comes so near being tangible as that of
a vast empty workshop, crowded a moment since. The busy, intense life
that has gone from it mysteriously leaves behind enough of itself to
make the stillness poignant. One might imagine the invisible ghost of
doomed Toil wandering from bench to bench, and noiselessly fingering
the dropped tools, still warm from the workman's palm. Perhaps this
impalpable presence is the artisan's anxious thought, stolen back to
brood over the uncompleted task.
Though Mr. Slocum had spoken lightly of Slocum's Yard with only
one workman in it, when he came to contemplate the actual fact he was
struck by the pathos of it, and the resolution with which he awoke
that morning began to desert him.
"The worst is over," exclaimed Richard, joining his two friends on
the veranda, "and everything went smoother than I expected."
"Everything went, sure enough," said Mr. Slocum, gloomily; "they
all went,--old Giles, and Lumley, and everybody."
"We somewhat expected that, you know."
"Yes, I expected it, and wasn't prepared for it."
"It was very bad," said Richard, shaking his head.
The desertion of Giles and his superannuated mates especially
touched Mr. Slocum.
"Bad is no word; it was damnable."
"Pardon me, dear; I couldn't help it. When a man's pensioners
throw him over, he must be pretty far gone!"
"The undertow was too strong for them, sir, and they were swept
away with the rest. And they all but promised to stay. They will be
the very first to come back."
"Of course we shall have to take the old fellows on again," said
Mr. Slocum, relenting characteristically.
"Never!" cried Richard.
"I wish I had some of your grit."
"I have none to spare. To tell the truth, when I stood up there to
speak, with every eye working on me, like a half-inch drill, I would
have sold myself at a low figure."
"But you were a perfect what's-his-name,--Demosthenes," said Mr.
Slocum, with a faint smile. "We could hear you."
"I don't believe Demosthenes ever moved an audience as I did
mine!" cried Richard gaily. "If his orations produced a like effect,
I am certain that the Grecian lecture-bureau never sent him twice to
the same place."
"I don't think, Richard, I would engage you over again."
"I am sure Richard spoke very well," interrupted Margaret. "His
speech was short"--
"Say shortened, Margaret, for I hadn't got through when they
"No, I will not jest about it. It is too serious for jesting. What
is to become of the families of all these men suddenly thrown out of
"They threw themselves out, Mag," said her father.
"That does not mend the matter, papa. There will be great
destitution and suffering in the village with every mill closed; and
they are all going to close, Bridget says. Thank Heaven that this did
not happen in the winter!"
"They always pick their weather," observed Mr. Slocum.
"It will not be for long," said Richard encouragingly. "Our own
hands and the spinners, who had no ground for complaint, will return
to work shortly, and the managers of the iron mills will have to
yield a point or two. In a week at the outside everything will be
running smoothly, and on a sounder foundation than before. I believe
the strike will be an actual benefit to everybody in the end."
By dint of such arguments and his own sanguine temperament,
Richard succeeded in reassuring Mr. Slocum for the time being, though
Richard did not hide from himself the gravity of the situation. There
was a general strike in the village. Eight hundred men were without
work. That meant, or would mean in a few days, two or three thousand
women and children without bread. It does not take the wolf long to
reach a poor man's door when it is left ajar.
The trades-union had a fund for emergencies of this sort, and some
outside aid might be looked for; but such supplies are in their
nature precarious and soon exhausted. It is a noticeable feature of
strikes that the moment the workman's pay stops his living expenses
increase. Even the more economical becomes improvident. If he has
money, the tobacco shop and the tavern are likely to get more of it
than the butcher's cart. The prolonged strain is too great to be
endured without stimulant.
During the first and second days of the strike, Stillwater
presented an animated and even a festive appearance. Throngs of
operatives in their Sunday clothes strolled through the streets, or
lounged at the corners chatting with other groups; some wandered into
the suburbs, and lay in the long grass under the elms. Others again,
though these were few, took to the turnpike or the railroad track,
and tramped across country.
It is needless to say that the bar-room of the tavern was crowded
from early morning down to the hour when the law compelled Mr.
Snelling to shut off his gas. After which, John Brown's "soul" could
be heard "marching on" in the darkness, through various crooked lanes
and alleys, until nearly daybreak.
Among the earliest to scent trouble in the air was Han-Lin, the
Chinaman before mentioned. He kept a small laundry in Mud Lane, where
his name was painted perpendicularly on a light of glass in the
basement window of a tenement house. Han-Lin intended to be buried
some day in a sky-blue coffin in his own land, and have a dozen packs
of firecrackers decorously exploded over his remains. In order to
reserve himself for this and other ceremonies involving the burning
of a great quantity of gilt paper, he quietly departed for Boston at
the first sign of popular discontent. As Dexter described it,
"Han-Lin coiled up his pig-tail, put forty grains of rice in a yallar
bag,--enough to last him a month!--and toddled off in his two-story
wooden shoes." He could scarcely have done a wiser thing, for poor
Han-Lin's laundry was turned wrong side out within thirty-six hours
The strike was popular. The spirit of it spread, as fire and fever
and all elemental forces spread. The two apprentices in Brackett's
bakery had a dozen minds about striking that first morning. The
younger lad, Joe Wiggin, plucked up courage to ask Brackett for a day
off, and was lucky enough to dodge a piece of dough weighing nearly
Brackett was making bread while the sun shone. He knew that before
the week was over there would be no cash customers, and he purposed
then to shut up shop.
On the third and fourth days there was no perceptible fall in the
barometer. Trade was brisk with Snelling, and a brass band was
playing national airs on a staging erected on the green in front of
the post-office. Nightly meetings took place at Grimsey's Hall, and
the audiences were good-humored and orderly. Torrini advanced some
Utopian theories touching a universal distribution of wealth, which
were listened to attentively, but failed to produce deep impression.
"That's a healthy idea of Torrini's about dervidin' up property,"
said Jemmy Willson. "I've heerd it afore; but it's sing'ler I never
knowd a feller with any property to have that idea."
"Ther' 's a great dale in it, I can tell ye," replied Michael
Hennessey, with a well-blackened Woodstock pipe between his teeth and
his hands tucked under his coat-tails. "Isn't ther', Misther
When Michael had on his bottle-green swallow-tailed coat with the
brass buttons, he invariably assumed a certain lofty air of ceremony
in addressing his companions.
"It is sorter pleasant to look at," returned Stevens, "but it
don't seem to me an idea that would work. Suppose that, after all the
property was divided, a fresh shipload of your friends was to land at
New York or Boston; would there be a new deal?"
"No, sir! by no means!" exclaimed Michael excitedly. "The
furreners is counted out!"
"But you're a foreigner yourself, Mike."
"Am I, then? Bedad, I'm not! I'm a rale American Know Nothing."
"Well, Mike," said Stevens maliciously, "when it comes to a
reg'lar division of lands and greenbacks in the United States, I go
in for the Chinese having their share."
"The Chinese!" shouted Michael. "Oh, murther, Misther Stevens! Ye
wouldn't be fur dividin' with thim blatherskites!"
"Yes, with them,--as well as the rest," returned Stevens, dryly.
Meanwhile the directors and stockholders of the various mills took
counsel in a room at the rear of the National Bank. Mr. Slocum,
following Richard's advice, declined to attend the meeting in person,
or to allow his name to figure on the list of vice-presidents.
"Why should we hitch our good cause to their doubtful one?"
reflected Richard. "We have no concessions or proposals to make. When
our men are ready to come back to us, they will receive just wages
and fair treatment. They know that. We do not want to fight the
molders. Let the iron-mills do their own fighting;" and Richard
stolidly employed himself in taking an account of stock, and
forwarding by express to their destination the ten or twelve carved
mantel-pieces that happily completed the last contract.
Then his responsibilities shrunk to winding up the office clock
and keeping Mr. Slocum firmly on his legs. The latter was by far the
more onerous duty, for Mr. Slocum ran down two or three times in the
course of every twenty-four hours, while the clock once wound was
fixed for the day.
"If I could only have a good set of Waltham works put into your
father," said Richard to Margaret, after one of Mr. Slocum's
relapses, "he would go better."
"Poor papa! he is not a fighter, like you."
"Your father is what I call a belligerent non-combatant."
Richard was seeing a great deal of Margaret these days. Mr. Slocum
had invited him to sleep in the studio until the excitement was past.
Margaret was afraid to have him take that long walk between the yard
and his lodgings in Lime Street, and then her father was an old man
to be without any protection in the house in such untoward times.
So Richard slept in the studio, and had his plate at table, like
one of the family. This arrangement was favorable to many a stolen
five minutes with Margaret, in the hall or on the staircase. In these
fortuitous moments he breathed an atmosphere that sustained him in
his task of dispelling Mr. Slocum's recurrent fits of despondency.
Margaret had her duties, too, at this period, and the forenoons were
sacred to them.
One morning as she passed down the street with a small wicker
basket on her arm, Richard said to Mr. Slocum,--
"Margaret has joined the strikers."
The time had already come to Stillwater when many a sharp-faced
little urchin--as dear to the warm, deep bosom that had nursed it as
though it were a crown prince--would not have had a crust to gnaw if
Margaret Slocum had not joined the strikers. Sometimes her heart
drooped on the way home from these errands, upon seeing how little of
the misery she could ward off. On her rounds there was one cottage in
a squalid lane where the children asked for bread in Italian. She
never omitted to halt at that door.
"Is it quite prudent for Margaret to be going about so?" queried
"She is perfectly safe," said Richard,--"as safe as a Sister of
Charity, which she is."
Indeed, Margaret might then have gone loaded with diamonds through
the streets at midnight. There was not a rough man in Stillwater who
would not have reached forth an arm to shield her.
"It is costing me nearly as much as it would to carry on the
yard," said Mr. Slocum, "but I never put out any stamps more
"You never took a better contract, sir, than when you agreed to
keep Margaret's basket filled. It is an investment in real
"I hope so," answered Mr. Slocum, "and I know it's a good thing
Of the morals of Stillwater at this time, or at any time, the less
said the better. But out of the slime and ooze below sprang the white
flower of charity.
The fifth day fell on a Sabbath, and the churches were crowded.
The Rev. Arthur Langly selected his text from St. Matthew, chap.
xxii, v. 21: "Render therefore unto Cęsar the things which are
Cęsar's." But as he did not make it quite plain which was Cęsar,--the
trades-union or the Miantowona Iron Works,--the sermon went for
nothing, unless it could be regarded as a hint to those persons who
had stolen a large piece of belting from the Dana Mills. On the other
hand, Father O'Meara that morning bravely told his children to
conduct themselves in an orderly manner while they were out of work,
or they would catch it in this world and in the next.
On the sixth day a keen observer might have detected a change in
the atmosphere. The streets were thronged as usual, and the idlers
still wore their Sunday clothes, but the holiday buoyancy of the
earlier part of the week had evaporated. A turn-out on the part of
one of the trades, though it was accompanied by music and a banner
with a lively inscription, failed to arouse general enthusiasm. A
serious and even a sullen face was not rare among the crowds that
wandered aimlessly up and down the village.
On the seventh day it required no penetration to see the change.
There was decidedly less good-natured chaffing and more drunkenness,
though Snelling had invoked popular contumely and decimated his
bar-room by refusing to trust for drinks. Bracket had let his ovens
cool, and his shutters were up. The treasury of the trades-union was
nearly drained, and there were growlings that too much had been
fooled away on banners and a brass band for the iron men's parade the
previous forenoon. It was when Brackett's eye sighted the banner with
"Bread or Blood" on it, that he had put up his shutters.
Torrini was now making violent harangues at Grimsey's Hall to
largely augmented listeners, whom his words irritated without
convincing. Shut off from the tavern, the men flocked to hear him and
the other speakers, for born orators were just then as thick as
unripe whortleberries. There was nowhere else to go. At home were
reproaches that maddened, and darkness, for the kerosene had given
Though all the trades had been swept into the movement, it is not
to be understood that every workman was losing his head. There were
men who owned their cottages and had small sums laid by in the
savings-bank; who had always sent their children to the district
school, and listened themselves to at least one of Mr. Langly's
sermons or one of Father O'Meara's discourses every Sunday. These
were anchored to good order; they neither frequented the bar-room nor
attended the conclaves at Grimsey's Hall, but deplored as deeply as
any one the spirit that was manifesting itself. They would have
returned to work now--if they had dared. To this class belonged
"Why don't you come up to the hall, nights?" asked Durgin,
accosting him on the street, one afternoon. "You'd run a chance of
hearing me hold forth some of these evenings."
"You've answered your own question, William. I shouldn't like to
see you making an idiot of yourself."
"This is a square fight between labor and capital," returned
Durgin with dignity, "and every man ought to take a hand in it."
"William," said Stevens meditatively, "do you know about the
"What about 'em,--they're dead, ain't they?" replied Durgin, with
"I believe so; but when they was alive, if you was to pinch one of
those fellows, the other fellow would sing out. If you was to black
the eye of the left-hand chap, the right-hand chap wouldn't have been
able to see for a week. When either of 'em fetched the other a clip,
he knocked himself down. Labor and capital is jined just as those two
was. When you've got this fact well into your skull, William, I shall
be pleased to listen to your ideas at Grimsey's Hall or anywhere
Such conservatism as Stevens's, however, was necessarily swept out
of sight for the moment. The wealthier citizens were in a state
bordering on panic,--all but Mr. Lemuel Shackford. In his flapping
linen duster, for the weather was very sultry now, Mr. Shackford was
seen darting excitedly from street to street and hovering about the
feverish crowds, like the stormy petrel wheeling on the edges of a
gale. Usually as chary of his sympathies as of his gold, he
astonished every one by evincing an abnormal interest in the
strikers. The old man declined to put down anything on the
subscription paper then circulating; but he put down his sympathies
to any amount. He held no stock in the concerns involved; he hated
Slocum, and he hated the directors of the Miantowona Iron Works. The
least he hoped was that Rowland Slocum would be laid out.
So far the strikers had committed no overt act of note, unless it
was the demolition of Han-Lin's laundry. Stubbs, the provision
dealer, had been taught the rashness of exposing samples of potatoes
in his door-way, and the "Tonsorial Emporium" of Professor Brown, a
colored citizen, had been invaded by two humorists, who, after having
their hair curled, refused to pay for it, and the professor had been
too agitated to insist. The story transpiring, ten or twelve of the
boys had dropped in during the morning, and got shaved on the same
terms. "By golly, gen'l'men!" expostulated the professor, "ef dis yah
thing goes on, dis darkey will be cleaned cl'ar out fo de week's
done." No act of real violence had been perpetrated as yet; but with
bands of lawless men roaming over the village at all hours of the day
and night, the situation was critical.
The wheel of what small social life there was in Stillwater had
ceased to revolve. With the single exception of Lemuel Shackford, the
more respectable inhabitants kept in-doors as much as practicable.
From the first neither Mr. Craggie nor Lawyer Perkins had gone to the
hotel to consult the papers in the reading-room, and Mr. Pinkham did
not dare to play on his flute of an evening. The Rev. Arthur Langly
found it politic to do but little visiting in the parish. His was not
the pinion to buffet with a wind like this, and indeed he was not
explicitly called upon to do so. He sat sorrowfully in his study day
by day, preparing the weekly sermon,--a gentle, pensive person,
inclined in the best of weather to melancholia. If Mr. Langly had
gone into arboriculture instead of into the ministry, he would have
planted nothing but weeping-willows.
In the mean time the mill directors continued their deliberations
in the bank building, and had made several abortive attempts to
effect an arrangement with the leaders of the union. This seemed
every hour less possible and more necessary.
On the afternoon of the seventh day of the strike a crowd gathered
in front of the residence of Mr. Alexander, the superintendent of the
Miantowona Iron Works, and began groaning and hooting. Mr. Alexander
sought out Mr. Craggie, and urged him, as a man of local weight and
one accustomed to addressing the populace, to speak a few words to
the mob. That was setting Mr. Craggie on the horns of a cruel
dilemma. He was afraid to disoblige the representative of so powerful
a corporation as the Miantowona Iron Works, but he equally dreaded to
risk his popularity with seven or eight hundred voters; so, like the
crafty chancellor in Tennyson's poem, he dallied with his golden
chain, and, smiling, but the question by.
"Drat the man!" muttered Mr. Craggie, "does he want to blast my
whole political career! _I_ can't pitch into our adopted
There was a blot on the escutcheon of Mr. Craggie which he was
very anxious not to have uncovered by any chance in these latter
days,--his ancient affiliation with the deceased native American
The mob dispersed without doing damage, but the fact that it had
collected and had shown an ugly temper sent a thrill of apprehension
through the village. Mr. Slocum came in a great flurry to Richard.
"This thing ought to be stopped," said Mr. Slocum.
"I agree to that," replied Richard, bracing himself not to agree
to anything else.
"If we were to drop that stipulation as to the increase of
apprentices, no doubt many of the men would give over insisting on an
"Our only salvation is to stick to our right to train as many
workmen as we choose. The question of wages is of no account compared
with that; the rate of wages will adjust itself."
"If we could manage it somehow with the marble workers," suggested
Mr. Slocum, "that would demoralize the other trades, and they'd be
obliged to fall in."
"I don't see that they lack demoralization."
"If something isn't done, they'll end up by knocking in our front
doors or burning us all up."
"It's very well to say let them," exclaimed Mr. Slocum,
petulantly, "when you haven't any front door to be knocked in!"
"But I have you and Margaret to consider, if there were actual
danger. When anything like violence threatens, there's an honest
shoulder for every one of the hundred and fifty muskets in the
"Those muskets might get on the wrong shoulders."
"That isn't likely. You do not seem to know, sir, that there is a
strong guard at the armory day and night."
"I was not aware of that."
"It is a fact all the same," said Richard; and Mr. Slocum went
away easier in his mind, and remained so--two or three hours.
On the eighth, ninth, and tenth days the clouds lay very black
along the horizon. The marble workers, who began to see their
mistake, were reproaching the foundry men with enticing them into to
coalition, and the spinners were hot in their denunciations of the
molders. Ancient personal antagonisms that had been slumbering
started to their feet. Torrini fell out of favor, and in the midst of
one of his finest perorations uncomplimentary missiles, selected from
the animal kingdom, had been thrown at him. The grand torchlight
procession on the night of the ninth culminated in a disturbance, in
which many men got injured, several badly, and the windows of
Brackett's bakery were stove in. A point of light had pierced the
darkness,--the trades were quarreling among themselves!
The selectmen had sworn in special constables among the citizens,
and some of the more retired streets were now patrolled after dark,
for there had been threats of incendiarism.
Bishop's stables burst into flames one midnight,--whether fired
intentionally or accidentally was not known; but the giant bellows at
Dana's Mills was slit and two belts were cut at the Miantowona Iron
Works that same night.
At this juncture a report that out-of-town hands were coming to
replace the strikers acted on the public mind like petroleum on fire.
A large body of workmen assembled near the railway station,--to
welcome them. There was another rumor which caused the marble workers
to stare at each other aghast. It was to the effect that Mr. Slocum,
having long meditated retiring from business, had now decided to do
so, and was consulting with Wyndham, the keeper of the green-house,
about removing the division wall and turning the marble yard into a
peach garden. This was an unlooked-for solution of the difficulty.
Stillwater without any Slocum's Marble Yard was chaos come again.
"Good Lord, boys!" cried Piggott, "if Slocum should do that!"
Meanwhile, Snelling's bar had been suppressed by the authorities,
and a posse of policemen, borrowed from South Millville, occupied the
premises. Knots of beetle-browed men, no longer in holiday gear, but
chiefly in their shirt-sleeves, collected from time to time at the
head of the main street, and glowered threateningly at the single
policeman pacing the porch of the tavern. The Stillwater Grays were
under arms in the armory over Dundon's drugstore. The thoroughfare
had ceased to be safe for any one, and Margaret's merciful errands
were necessarily brought to an end. How the poor creatures who had
depended on her bounty now continued to exist was a sorrowful
Matters were at this point, when on the morning of the thirteenth
day Richard noticed the cadaverous face of a man peering into the
yard through the slats of the main gate. Richard sauntered down
there, with his hands in his pockets. The man was old Giles, and with
him stood Lumley and Peterson, gazing thoughtfully at the sign
NO ADMITTANCE EXCEPT ON BUSINESS.
The roughly lettered clapboard, which they had heedlessly passed a
thousand times, seemed to have taken a novel significance to them.
_Richard_. What's wanted there?
_Giles. [Very affably.]_ We was lookin' round for a job, Mr.
_Richard_. We are not taking on any hands at present.
_Giles_. Didn't know but you was. Somebody said you was.
_Richard_. Somebody is mistaken.
_Giles_. P'rhaps to-morrow, or nex' day?
_Richard_. Rather doubtful, Giles.
_Giles. [Uneasily.]_ Mr. Slocum ain't goin' to give up
business, is he?
_Richard_. Why shouldn't he, if it doesn't pay? The business
is carried on for his amusement and profit; when the profit stops it
won't be amusing any longer. Mr. Slocum is not going to run the yard
for the sake of the Marble Workers' Association. He would rather
drive a junk-cart. He might be allowed to steer that himself.
_Richard_. Good-morning, Giles.
_Gikles_. 'Mornin', Mr. Shackford.
Richard rushed back to Mr. Slocum.
"The strike is broken, sir!"
"What do you mean?"
"The thing has collapsed! The tide is turning, _and has washed
in a lot of dead wood!"_
"Thank God!" cried Mr. Slocum.
An hour or so later a deputation of four, consisting of Stevens,
Denyven, Durgin, and Piggott, waited upon Mr. Slocum in his private
office, and offered, on behalf of all the departments, to resume work
at the old rates.
Mr. Slocum replied that he had not objected to the old rates, but
the new, and that he accepted their offer--conditionally.
"You have overlooked one point, Mr. Stevens."
"Which one, sir?"
"We thought you might not insist there, sir."
"I insist on conducting my own business in my own way."
The voice was the voice of Slocum, but the backbone was Richard's.
"Then, sir, the Association don't object to a reasonable number of
"How many is that?"
"As many as you want, I expect, sir," said Stevens, shuffling his
"Very well, Stevens. Go round to the front gate and Mr. Shackford
will let you in."
There were two doors to the office, one leading into the yard, and
the other, by which the deputation had entered and was now making its
exit, opened upon the street.
Richard heaved a vast sigh of relief as he took down the beam
securing the principal entrance.
"Good-morning, boys," he chirped, with a smile as bright as newly
minted gold. "I hope you enjoyed yourselves."
The quartet ducked their heads bashfully, and Stevens replied,
"Can't speak for the others, Mr. Shackford, but I never enjoyed
Piggott lingered a moment behind the rest, and looking back over
his shoulder said, "That peach garden was what fetched us!"
Richard gave a loud laugh, for the peach garden had been a
horticultural invention of his own.
In the course of the forenoon the majority of the hands presented
themselves at the office, dropping into the yard in gangs of five or
six, and nearly all were taken on. To dispose definitely of Lumley,
Giles, and Peterson, they were not taken on at Slocum's Yard, though
they continued to be, directly or indirectly, Slocum's pensioners,
even after they were retired to the town farm.
Once more the chisels sounded merrily under the long shed. That
same morning the spinners went back to the mules, but the molders
held out until nightfall, when it was signified to them that they
demands would be complied with.
The next day the steam-whistles of the Miantowona Iron Works and
Dana's Mills sent the echoes flying beyond that undulating line of
pines and hemlocks which half encircles Stillwater, and falls away
loosely on either side, like an unclasped girdle.
A calm, as if from out the cloudless blue sky that arched it day
after day, seemed to drift down upon the village. Han-Lin, with no
more facial expression than an orange, suddenly reappeared on the
streets, and went about repairing his laundry, unmolested. The
children were playing in the sunny lanes again, unafraid, and mothers
sat on doorsteps in the summer twilights, singing softly to the baby
in arm. There was meat on the table, and the tea-kettle hummed
comfortably at the back of the stove. The very winds that rustled
through the fragrant pines, and wandered fitfully across the vivid
green of the salt marshes, breathed peace and repose.
Then, one morning, this blissful tranquility was rudely shattered.
Old Mr. Lemuel Shackford had been found murdered in his own house in
The general effect on Stillwater of Mr. Shackford's death and the
peculiar circumstances attending the tragedy have been set forth in
the earlier chapters of this narrative. The influence which that
event exerted upon several persons then but imperfectly known to the
reader is now to occupy us.
On the conclusion of the strike, Richard had returned, in the
highest spirits, to his own rooms in Lime Street; but the quiet week
that followed found him singularly depressed. His nerves had been
strung to their utmost tension during those thirteen days of
suspense; he had assumed no light responsibility in the matter of
closing the yard, and there had been moments when the task of
sustaining Mr. Slocum had appeared almost hopeless. Now that the
strain was removed a reaction set in, and Richard felt himself
unnerved by the fleeing shadow of the trouble which had not caused
him to flinch so long as it faced him.
On the morning and at the moment when Mary Hennessey was pushing
open the scullery door of the house in Welch's Court, and was about
to come upon the body of the forlorn old man lying there in his
night-dress, Richard sat eating his breakfast in a silent and
preoccupied mood. He had retired very late the previous night, and
his lack-lustre eyes showed the effect of insufficient sleep. His
single fellow-boarder, Mr. Pinkham, had not returned from his
customary early walk, and only Richard and Mrs. Spooner, the
landlady, were at table. The former was in the act of lifting the
coffee-cup to his lips, when the school-master burst excitedly into
"Old Mr. Shackford is dead!" he exclaimed, dropping into a chair
near the door. "There's a report down in the village that he has been
murdered. I don't know if it is true. . . . . God forgive my
abruptness! I didn't think!" and Mr. Pinkham turned an apologetic
face towards Richard, who sat there deathly pale, holding the cup
rigidly within an inch or two of his lip, and staring blankly into
space like a statue.
"I--I ought to have reflected," murmured the school-master,
covered with confusion at his maladroitness. "It was very
reprehensible in Craggie to make such an announcement to me so
suddenly, on a street corner. I--I was quite upset by it."
Richard pushed back his chair without replying, and passed into
the hall, where he encountered a messenger from Mr. Slocum,
confirming Mr. Pinkham's intelligence, but supplementing it with the
rumor that Lemuel Shackford had committed suicide.
Richard caught up his hat from a table, and hurried to Welch's
Court. Before reaching the house he had somewhat recovered his
outward composure; but he was still pale and internally much
agitated, for he had received a great shock, as Lawyer Perkins
afterwards observed to Mr. Ward in the reading-room of the tavern.
Both these gentlemen were present when Richard arrived, as were also
several of the immediate neighbors and two constables. The latter
were guarding the door against the crowd, which had already begun to
collect in the front yard.
A knot of carpenters, with their tool-boxes on their shoulders,
had halted at the garden gate on their way to Bishop's new stables,
and were glancing curiously at the unpainted faēade of the house,
which seemed to have taken on a remote, bewildered expression, as if
it had an inarticulate sense of the horror within. The men ceased
their whispered conversation as Richard approached, and respectfully
moved aside to let him pass.
Nothing had been changed in the cheerless room on the ground
floor, with its veneered mahogany furniture and its yellowish leprous
wall-paper, peeling off at the seams here and there. A cane-seated
chair, overturned near the table, had been left untouched, and the
body was still lying in the position in which the Hennessey girl had
discovered it. A strange chill--something unlike any atmospherical
sharpness, a chill that seemed to exhale from the thin, pinched
nostrils--permeated the apartment. The orioles were singing madly
outside, their vermilion bosoms glowing like live coals against the
tender green of the foliage, and appearing to break into flame as
they took sudden flights hither and thither; but within all was
still. On entering the chamber Richard was smitten by the
silence,--that silence which shrouds the dead, and is like no other.
Lemuel Shackford had not been kind or cousinly; he had blighted
Richard's childhood with harshness and neglect, and had lately heaped
cruel insult upon him; but as he stood there alone, and gazed for a
moment at the firmly shut lips, upon which the mysterious white dust
of death had already settled,--the lips that were never to utter any
more bitter things,--the tears gathered in Richard's eyes and ran
slowly down his cheeks. After all said and done, Lemuel Shackford was
his kinsman, and blood is thicker than water!
Coroner Whidden shortly appeared on the scene, accompanied by a
number of persons; a jury was impaneled, and then began that inquest
which resulted in shedding so very little light on the catastrophe.
The investigation completed, there were endless details to attend
to,--papers to be hurriedly examined and sealed, and arrangements
made for the funeral on the succeeding day. These matters occupied
Richard until late in the afternoon, when he retired to his lodgings,
looking in on Margaret for a few minutes on his way home.
"This is too dreadful!" said Margaret, clinging to his hand, with
fingers nearly as icy as his own.
"It is unspeakably sad," answered Richard,--"the saddest thing I
"Who--who could have been so cruel?"
Richard shook his head.
"No one knows."
The funeral took place on Thursday, and on Friday morning, as has
been stated, Mr. Taggett arrived in Stillwater, and installed himself
in Welch's Court, to the wonder of many in the village, who would not
have slept a night in that house, with only a servant in the north
gable, for half the universe. Mr. Taggett was a person who did not
allow himself to be swayed by his imagination.
Here, then, he began his probing of a case which, on the surface,
promised to be a very simple one. The man who had been seen driving
rapidly along the turnpike sometime near daybreak, on Wednesday, was
presumably the man who could tell him all about it. But it did not
prove so. Neither Thomas Blufton, nor William Durgin, nor any of the
tramps subsequently obliged to drop into autobiography could be
connected with the affair.
These first failures served to stimulate Mr. Taggett; it required
a complex case to stir his ingenuity and sagacity. That the present
was not a complex case he was still convinced, after four days'
futile labor upon it. Mr. Shackford had been killed--either with
malice prepense or on the spur of the moment--for his money. The
killing had likely enough not been premeditated; the old man had
probably opposed the robbery. Now, among the exceptionally rough
population of the town there were possibly fifty men who would not
have hesitated to strike down Mr. Shackford if he had caught them
_flagrante delicto_ and resisted them, or attempted to call for
succor. That the crime was committed by some one in Stillwater or in
the neighborhood Mr. Taggett had never doubted since the day of his
arrival. The clumsy manner in which the staple had been wrenched from
the scullery door showed the absence of a professional hand. Then the
fact that the deceased was in the habit of keeping money in his
bedchamber was a fact well known in the village, and not likely to be
known outside of it, though of course it might have been. It was
clearly necessary for Mr. Taggett to carry his investigation into the
workshops and among the haunts of the class which was indubitably to
furnish him with the individual he wanted. Above all, it was
necessary that the investigation should be secret. An obstacle
obtruded itself here: everybody in Stillwater knew everybody, and a
stranger appearing on the streets or dropping frequently into the
tavern would not escape comment.
The man with the greatest facility for making the requisite
searches would of course be some workman. But a workman was the very
agent not to be employed under the circumstances. How many times, and
by what strange fatality, had a guilty party been selected to shadow
his own movements, or those of an accomplice! No, Mr. Taggett must
rely only on himself, and his plan forthwith matured. Its execution,
however, was delayed several days, the cooperation of Mr. Slocum and
Mr. Richard Shackford being indispensable.
At this stage Richard went to New York, where his cousin had made
extensive investments in real estate. For a careful man, the late Mr.
Shackford had allowed his affairs there to become strangely tangled.
The business would detain Richard a fortnight.
Three days after his departure Mr. Taggett himself left
Stillwater, having apparently given up the case; a proceeding which
was severely criticized, not only in the columns of The Stillwater
Gazette, but by the townsfolks at large, who immediately relapsed
into a state of apprehension approximating that of the morning when
the crime was discovered. Mr. Pinkham, who was taking tea that
evening at the Danas', threw the family into a panic by asserting his
belief that this was merely the first of a series of artistic
assassinations in the manner of those Memorable Murders recorded by
De Quincey. Mr. Pinkham may have said this to impress the four Dana
girls with the variety of his reading, but the recollection of De
Quincey's harrowing paper had the effect of so unhinging the young
school-master that when he found himself, an hour or two afterwards,
in the lonely, unlighted street he flitted home like a belated ghost,
and was ready to drop at every tree-box.
The next forenoon a new hand was taken on at Slocum's Yard. The
new hand, who had come on foot from South Millville, at which town he
had been set down by the seven o'clock express that morning, was
placed in the apprentice department,--there were five or six
apprentices now. Though all this was part of an understood
arrangement, Mr. Slocum nearly doubted the fidelity of his own eyes
when Mr. Taggett, a smooth-faced young fellow of one and twenty, if
so old, with all the traits of an ordinary workman down to the
neglected fingernails, stepped up to the desk to have the name of
Blake entered on the pay-roll. Either by chance or by design, Mr.
Taggett had appeared but seldom on the streets of Stillwater; the few
persons who had had anything like familiar intercourse with him in
his professional capacity were precisely the persons with whom his
present movements were not likely to bring him into juxtaposition,
and he ran slight risk of recognition by others. With his hair
closely cropped, and the overhanging brown mustache removed, the man
was not so much disguised as transformed. "I shouldn't have known
him!" muttered Mr. Slocum, as he watched Mr. Taggett passing from the
office with his hat in his hand. During the ensuing ten or twelve
days Mr. Slocum never wholly succeeded in extricating himself from
the foggy uncertainty generated by that one brief interview. From the
moment Mr. Taggett was assigned a bench under the sheds, Mr. Slocum
saw little or nothing of him.
Mr. Taggett took lodging in a room in one of the most crowded of
the low boarding-houses,--a room accommodating two beds besides his
own: the first occupied by a brother neophyte in marble-cutting, and
the second by a morose middle-aged man with one eyebrow a trifle
higher than the other, as if it had been wrenched out of line by the
strain of habitual intoxication. This man's name was Wollaston, and
he worked at Dana's.
Mr. Taggett's initial move was to make himself popular in the
marble yard, and especially at the tavern, where he spent money
freely, though not so freely as to excite any remark except that the
lad was running through pretty much all his small pay,--a
recklessness which was charitably condoned in Snelling's bar-room. He
formed multifarious friendships, and had so many sensible views on
the labor problem, advocating the general extinguishment of
capitalists, and so on, that his admittance to the Marble Workers'
Association resolved itself into merely a question of time. The old
prejudice against apprentices was already wearing off. The quiet,
evasive man of few words was now a loquacious talker, holding his own
with the hardest hitters, and very skillful in giving offense to no
one. "Whoever picks up Blake for a fool," Dexter remarked one night,
"will put him down again." Not a shadow of suspicion followed Mr.
Taggett in his various comings and goings. He seemed merely a
good-natured, intelligent devil; perhaps a little less devilish and a
trifle more intelligent than the rest, but not otherwise different.
Denyven, Peters, Dexter, Willson, and others in and out of the Slocum
clique were Blake's sworn friends. In brief, Mr. Taggett had the
amplest opportunities to prosecute his studies. Only for a pained
look which sometimes latterly shot into his eyes, as he worked at the
bench, or as he walked alone in the street, one would have imagined
that he was thoroughly enjoying the half-vagabond existence.
The supposition would have been erroneous, for in the progress of
those fourteen days' apprenticeship Mr. Taggett had received a wound
in the most sensitive part of his nature: he had been forced to give
up what no man ever relinquishes without a wrench,--his own idea.
With the exception of an accident in Dana's Mill, by which
Torrini's hand had been so badly mangled that amputation was deemed
necessary, the two weeks had been eventless outside of Mr. Taggett's
personal experience. What that experience was will transpire in its
proper place. Margaret was getting daily notes from Richard, and Mr.
Slocum, overburdened with the secret of Mr. Taggett's presence in the
yard,--a secret confined exclusively to Mr. Slocum, Richard, and
Justice Beemis,--was restlessly awaiting developments.
The developments came that afternoon when Mr. Taggett walked into
the office and startled Mr. Slocum, sitting at the desk. The two
words which Mr. Taggett then gravely and coldly whispered in Mr.
Slocum's ear were,--
Mr. Slocum, who had partly risen from the chair, sank back into
his seat. "Good God!" he said, turning very pale. "Are you mad?"
Mr. Taggett realized the cruel shock which the pronouncing of that
name must have caused Mr. Slocum. Mr. Taggett had meditated his line
of action, and had decided that the most merciful course was
brusquely to charge young Shackford with the crime, and allow Mr.
Slocum to sustain himself for a while with the indignant disbelief
which would be natural to him, situated as he was. He would then in a
manner be prepared for the revelations which, if suddenly presented,
would crush him.
If Mr. Taggett was without imagination, as he claimed, he was not
without a certain feminine quickness of sympathy often found in
persons engaged in professions calculated to blunt the finer
sensibilities. In his intercourse with Mr. Slocum at the Shackford
house, Mr. Taggett had been won by the singular gentleness and
simplicity of the man, and was touched by his misfortune.
After his exclamation, Mr. Slocum did not speak for a moment or
two, but with his elbows resting on the edge of the desk sat
motionless, like a person stunned. Then he slowly lifted his face, to
which the color had returned, and making a movement with his right
hand as if he were sweeping away cobwebs in front of him rose from
"You are simply mad," he said, looking Mr. Taggett squarely and
calmly in the eyes. "Are you aware of Mr. Richard Shackford's
character and his position here?"
"Do you know that he is to marry my daughter?"
"I am very sorry for you, sir."
"You may spare me that. It is quite unnecessary. You have fallen
into some horrible delusion. I hope you will be able to explain it."
"I am prepared to do so, sir."
"Are you serious?"
"Very serious, Mr. Slocum."
"You actually imagine that Richard Shackford--Pshaw! It's simply
"I am too young a man to wish even to seem wiser than you, but my
experience has taught me that nothing is impossible."
"I begin to believe so myself. I suppose you have grounds, or
something you consider grounds, for your monstrous suspicion. What
are they? I demand to be fully informed of what you have been doing
in the yard, before you bring disgrace upon me and my family by
inconsiderately acting on some wild theory which perhaps ten words
"I should be in the highest degree criminal, Mr. Slocum, if I were
to make so fearful an accusation against any man unless I had the
most incontestable evidence in my hands."
Mr. Taggett spoke with such cold-blooded conviction that a chill
crept over Mr. Slocum, in spite of him.
"What is the nature of this evidence?"
"Up to the present stage, purely circumstantial."
"I can imagine that," said Mr. Slocum, with a slight smile.
"But so conclusive as to require no collateral evidence. The
testimony of an eye-witness of the crime could scarcely add to my
knowledge of what occurred that Tuesday night in Lemuel Shackford's
"Indeed, it is all so clear! But of course a few eye-witnesses
will turn up eventually," said Mr. Slocum, whose whiteness about the
lips discounted the assurance of his sarcasm.
"That is not improbable," returned Mr. Taggett.
"And meanwhile what are the facts?"
"They are not easily stated. I have kept a record of my work day
by day, since the morning I entered the yard. The memoranda are
necessarily confused, the important and the unimportant being jumbled
together; but the record as it stands will answer your question more
fully than I could, even if I had the time--which I have not--to go
over the case with you. I can leave these notes in your hands, if you
desire it. When I return from New York"--
"You are going to New York!" exclaimed Mr. Slocum, with a start.
"If you lay a finger on Richard Shackford, you will make the
mistake of your life, Mr. Taggett!"
"I have other business there. Mr. Shackford will be in Stillwater
to-morrow night. He engaged a state-room on the Fall River boat this
"How can you know that?"
"Since last Tuesday none of his movements have been unknown to
"Do you mean to say that you have set your miserable spies upon
him?" cried Mr. Slocum.
"I should not state the fact in just those words," Mr. Taggett
answered. "The fact remains."
"Pardon me," said Mr. Slocum. "I am not quite myself. Can you
wonder at it?"
"I do not wonder."
"Give me those papers you speak of, Mr. Taggett. I would like to
look through them. I see that you are a very obstinate person when
you have once got a notion into your head. Perhaps I can help you out
of your error before it is irreparable." Then, after hesitating a
second, Mr. Slocum added, "I may speak of this to my daughter?
Indeed, I could scarcely keep it from her."
"Perhaps it is better she should be informed."
"And Mr. Shackford, when he returns to-morrow?"
"If he broaches the subject of his cousin's death, I advise you to
"Why should I?"
"It might save you or Miss Slocum some awkwardness,--but you must
use your own discretion. As the matter stands it makes no difference
whether Mr. Shackford knows his position to-day or to-morrow. It is
too late for him to avail himself of the knowledge. Otherwise, of
course, I should not have given myself away in this fashion."
"Very well," said Mr. Slocum, with an impatient movement of his
shoulders; "neither I nor my daughter will open our lips on this
topic. In the mean while you are to take no further steps without
advising me. That is understood?"
"That is perfectly understood," returned Mr. Taggett, drawing a
narrow red note-book from the inner pocket of his workman's blouse,
and producing at the same time a small nickel-plated door-key. "This
is the key of Mr. Shackford's private workshop in the extension. I
have not been able to replace it on the mantel-shelf of his
sitting-room in Lime Street. Will you have the kindness to see that
it is done at once?"
A moment later Mr. Slocum stood alone in the office, with Mr.
Taggett's diary in his hand. It was one of those costly little
volumes--gilt-edged and bound in fragrant crushed Levant
morocco--with which city officials are annually supplied by a
community of grateful taxpayers.
The dark crimson of the flexible covers, as soft and slippery to
the touch as a snake's skin, was perhaps the fitting symbol of the
darker story that lay coiled within. With a gesture of repulsion, as
if some such fancy had flitted through his mind, Mr. Slocum tossed
the note-book on the desk in front of him, and stood a few minutes
moodily watching the _reflets_ of the crinkled leather as the
afternoon sunshine struck across it. Beneath his amazement and
indignation he had been chilled to the bone by Mr. Taggett's brutal
confidence. It was enough to chill one, surely; and in spite of
himself Mr. Slocum began to feel a certain indefinable dread of that
little crimson-bound book.
Whatever it contained, the reading of those pages was to be a
repellent task to him; it was a task to which he could not bring
himself at the moment; to-night, in the privacy of his own chamber,
he would sift Mr. Taggett's baleful fancies. Thus temporizing, Mr.
Slocum dropped the volume into his pocket, locked the office door
behind him, and wandered down to Dundon's drug-store to kill the
intervening hour before supper-time. Dundon's was the aristocratic
lounging place of the village,--the place where the only genuine
Havana cigars in Stillwater were to be had, and where the favored
few, the initiated, could get a dash of hochheimer or cognac with
At supper, that evening, Mr. Slocum addressed scarcely a word to
Margaret, and Margaret was also silent. The days were dragging
heavily with her; she was missing Richard. Her own daring travels had
never extended beyond Boston or Providence; and New York, with
Richard in it, seemed drearily far away. Mr. Slocum withdrew to his
chamber shortly after nine o'clock, and, lighting the pair of candles
on the dressing-table, began his examination of Mr. Taggett's
At midnight the watchman on his lonely beat saw those two candles
Mr. Taggett's diary was precisely a diary,--disjoined, full of
curt, obscure phrases and irrelevant reflections,--for which reason
it will not be reproduced here. Though Mr. Slocum pondered every
syllable, and now and then turned back painfully to reconsider some
doubtful passage, it is not presumed that the reader will care to do
so. An abstract of the journal, with occasional quotation where the
writer's words seem to demand it, will be sufficient for the
In the opening pages Mr. Taggett described his novel surroundings
with a minuteness which contrasted oddly with the brief, hurried
entries further on. He found himself, as he had anticipated, in a
society composed of some of the most heterogeneous elements.
Stillwater, viewed from a certain point, was a sort of microcosm, a
little international rag-fair to which nearly every country on earth
had contributed one of its shabby human products. "I am moving,"
wrote Mr. Taggett, "in an atmosphere in which any crime is possible.
I give myself seven days at the outside to light upon the traces of
Shackford's murder. I feel him in the air." The writer's theory was
that the man would betray his identity in one of two ways: either by
talking unguardedly, or by indulging in expenditures not warranted by
his means and position. If several persons had been concerned in the
crime, nothing was more likely than a disagreement over the spoil,
and consequent treachery on the part of one of them. Or, again, some
of the confederates might become alarmed, and attempt to save
themselves by giving away their comrades. Mr. Taggett, however,
leaned to the belief that the assassin had had no accomplices.
The sum taken from Mr. Shackford's safe was a comparatively large
one,--five hundred dollars in gold and nearly double that amount in
bank-notes. Neither the gold nor the paper bore any known mark by
which it could be recognized; the burglar had doubtless assured
himself of this, and would not hesitate to disburse the money. That
was even a safer course, judiciously worked, than to secrete it. The
point was, Would he have sufficient self-control to get rid of it by
degrees? The chances, Mr. Taggett argued, were ten to one he would
A few pages further on Mr. Taggett compliments the Unknown on the
adroit manner in which he is conducting himself. He has neither let
slip a suspicious word, nor made an incautious display of his booty.
Snelling's bar was doing an unusually light business. No one appeared
to have any money. Many of the men had run deeply into debt during
the late strike, and were now drinking moderately. In the paragraph
which closes the week's record Mr. Taggett's chagrin is evident. He
confesses that he is at fault. "My invisible friend does not
_materialize_ so successfully as I expected," is Mr. Taggett's
His faith in the correctness of his theory had not abated; but he
continued his observation sin a less sanguine spirit. These
observations were not limited to the bar-room or the workshop; he
informed himself of the domestic surroundings of his comrades. Where
his own scrutiny could not penetrate, he employed the aid of
correspondents. He knew what workmen had money in the local
savings-bank, and the amount of each deposit. In the course of his
explorations of the shady side of Stillwater life, Mr. Taggett
unearthed many amusing and many pathetic histories, but nothing that
served his end. Finally, he began to be discouraged.
Returning home from the tavern, one night, in a rather desponding
mood, he found the man Wollaston smoking his pipe in bed. Wollaston
was a taciturn man generally, but this night he was conversational,
and Mr. Taggett, too restless to sleep, fell to chatting with him.
Did he know much about the late Mr. Shackford? Yes, he had known him
well enough, in an off way,--not to speak of him; everybody knew him
in Stillwater; he was a sort of miser, hated everybody, and bullied
everybody. It was a wonder somebody didn't knock the old silvertop on
the head years ago.
Thus Mr. Wollaston grimly, with his pores stopped up with
iron-fillings,--a person to whom it would come quite easy to knock
any one on the head for a slight difference of opinion. He amused Mr.
Taggett in his present humor.
No, he wasn't aware that Shackford had had trouble with any
particular individual; believed he did have a difficulty once with
Slocum, the marble man; but he was always fetching suits against the
town and shying lawyers at the mill directors,--a disagreeable old
cuss altogether. Adopted his cousin, one time, but made the house so
hot for him that the lad ran off to sea, and since then had had
nothing to do with the old bilk.
Indeed! What sort of fellow was young Shackford? Mr. Wollaston
could not say of his own knowledge; thought him a plucky chap; he had
put a big Italian named Torrini out of the yard, one day, for talking
back. Who was Torrini? The man that got hurt last week in the Dana
Mill. Who were Richard Shackford's intimates? Couldn't say; had seen
him with Mr. Pinkham, the school-master, and Mr. Craggie,--went with
the upper crust generally. Was going to be partner in the marble yard
and marry Slocum's daughter. Will Durgin knew him. They lived
together one time. He, Wollaston, was going to turn in now.
Several of these facts were not new to Mr. Taggett, but Mr.
Wollaston's presentation of them threw Mr. Taggett into a reverie.
The next evening he got Durgin alone in a corner of the bar-room.
With two or three potations Durgin became autobiographical. Was he
acquainted with Mr. Shackford outside the yard? Rather. Dick
Shackford? His (Durgin's) mother had kept Dick from starving when he
was a baby,--and no thanks for it. Went to school with him, and knew
all about his running off to sea. Was near going with him. Old man
Shackford never liked Dick, who was a proud beggar; they couldn't
pull together, down to the last,--both of a piece. They had a jolly
rumpus a little while before the old man was fixed.
Mr. Taggett pricked up his ears at this.
A rumpus? How did Durgin know that? A girl told him. What girl? A
girl he was sweet on. What was her name? Well, he didn't mind telling
her name; it was Molly Hennessey. She was going through Welch's Court
one forenoon,--may be it was three days before the strike,--and saw
Dick Shackford bolt out of the house, swinging his arms and swearing
to himself at an awful rate. Was Durgin certain that Molly Hennessey
had told him this? Yes, he was ready to take his oath on it.
Here, at last, was something that looked like a glimmer of
It was possible that Durgin or the girl had lied; but the story
had an air of truth to it. If it were a fact that there had recently
been a quarrel between these cousins, whose uncousinly attitude
towards each other was fast becoming clear to Mr. Taggett, then here
was a conceivable key to an enigma which had puzzled him.
The conjecture that Lemuel Shackford had himself torn up the
will--if it was a will, for this still remained in dispute--had never
been satisfactory to Mr. Taggett. He had accepted it because he was
unable to imagine an ordinary burglar pausing in the midst of his
work to destroy a paper in which he could have no concern. But
Richard Shackford would have the liveliest possible interest in the
destruction of a document that placed a vast estate beyond his reach.
Here was a motive on a level with the crime. That money had been
taken, and that the fragments of the will had been carelessly thrown
into a waste-paper basket, just as if the old man himself had thrown
them there, was a stroke of art which Mr. Taggett admired more and
more as he reflected upon it.
He did not, however, allow himself to lay too much stress on these
points; for the paper might turn out to be merely an expired lease,
and the girl might have been quizzing Durgin. Mr. Taggett would have
given one of his eye-teeth just then for ten minutes with Mary
Hennessey. But an interview with her at this stage was neither
prudent nor easily compassed.
"If I have not struck a trail," writes Mr. Taggett, "I have come
upon what strongly resembles one; the least I can do is to follow it.
My first move must be to inspect that private workshop in the rear of
Mr. Slocum's house. How shall I accomplish it? I cannot apply to him
for permission, for that would provoke questions which I am not ready
to answer. Moreover, I have yet to assure myself that Mr. Slocum is
not implicated. There seems to have been also a hostile feeling
existing between him and the deceased. Why didn't some one tell me
these things at the start! If young Shackford is the person, there is
a tangled story to be unraveled. _Mem:_ Young Shackford is Miss
Mr. Slocum read this passage twice without drawing breath, and
then laid down the book an instant to wipe the sudden perspiration
from his forehead.
In the note which followed, Mr. Taggett described the difficulty
he met with in procuring a key to fit the wall-door at the rear of
the marble yard, and gave an account of his failure to effect an
entrance into the studio. He had hoped to find a window unfastened;
but the window, as well as the door opening upon the veranda, was
locked, and in the midst of his operations, which were conducted at
noon-time, the approach of a servant had obliged him to retreat.
Forced to lay aside, at least temporarily, his designs on the
workshop, he turned his attention to Richard's lodgings in Lime
Street. Here Mr. Taggett was more successful. On the pretext that he
had been sent for certain drawings which were to be found on the
table or in a writing-desk, he was permitted by Mrs. Spooner to
ascend to the bedroom, where she obligingly insisted on helping him
search for the apocryphal plans, and seriously interfered with his
purpose, which was to find the key of the studio. While Mr. Taggett
was turning over the pages of a large dictionary, in order to gain
time, and was wondering how he could rid himself of the old lady's
importunities, he came upon a half-folded note-sheet, at the bottom
of which his eye caught the name of Lemuel Shackford. It was in the
handwriting of the dead man. Mr. Taggett was very familiar with that
handwriting. He secured the paper at a venture, and put it in his
pocket without examination.
A few minutes later, it being impossible to prolong the pretended
quest for the drawings, Mr. Taggett was obliged to follow Mrs.
Spooner from the apartment. As he did so he noticed a bright object
lying on the corner of the mantel-shelf,--a small nickel-plated key.
In order to take it he had only to reach out his hand in passing. It
was, as Mr. Taggett had instantly surmised, the key of Richard's
If it had been gold, instead of brass or iron, that bit of metal
would have taken no additional value in Mr. Taggett's eyes. On
leaving Mrs. Spooner's he held it tightly clasped in his fingers
until he reached an unfrequented street, where he halted a moment in
the shadow of a building to inspect the paper, which he had half
forgotten in his satisfaction at having obtained the key. A stifled
cry rose to Mr. Taggett's lips as he glanced over the crumpled
It contained three lines, hastily scrawled in lead-pencil,
requesting Richard Shackford to call at the house in Welch's Court at
eight o'clock on a certain Tuesday night. The note had been written,
as the date showed, on the day preceding the Tuesday night in
question--the night of the murder!
For a second or two Mr. Taggett stood paralyzed. Ten minutes
afterwards a message in cipher was pulsing along the wires to New
York, and before the sun went down that evening Richard Shackford was
under the surveillance of the police.
The doubtful, unknown ground upon which Mr. Taggett had been
floundering was now firm under his feet,--unexpected ground, but
solid. Meeting Mary Hennessey in the street, on his way to the marble
yard, Mr. Taggett no longer hesitated to accost her, and question her
as to the story she had told William Durgin. The girl's story was
undoubtedly true, and as a piece of circumstantial evidence was only
less important than the elder Shackford's note. The two cousins had
been for years on the worst of terms. At every step Mr. Taggett had
found corroboration of Wollaston's statement to that effect.
"Where were Coroner Whidden's eyes and ears," wrote Mr.
Taggett,--the words were dashed down impatiently on the page, as if
he had sworn a little internally while writing them,--"when he
conducted that inquest! In all my experience there was never a thing
so stupidly managed."
A thorough and immediate examination of Richard Shackford's
private workshop was now so imperative that Mr. Taggett resolved to
make it even if he had to do so under the authority of a
search-warrant. But he desired as yet to avoid publicity.
A secret visit to the studio seemed equally difficult by day and
night. In the former case he was nearly certain to be deranged by the
servants, and in the latter a light in the unoccupied room would
alarm any of the household who might chance to awaken. From the
watchman no danger was to be apprehended, as the windows of the
extension were not visible from the street.
Mr. Taggett finally decided on the night as the more propitious
time for his attempt,--a decision which his success justified. A
brilliant moon favored the in-door part of the enterprise, though it
exposed him to observation in his approach from the marble yard to
With the dense moonlight streaming outside against the
window-shades, he could safely have used a candle in the studio
instead of the screened lantern which he had provided. Mr. Taggett
passed three hours in the workshop,--the last hour in waiting for the
moon to go down. Then he stole through the marble yard into the
silent street, and hurried home, carrying two small articles
concealed under his blouse. The first was a chisel with a triangular
piece broken out of the centre of the bevel, and the other was a box
of safety-matches. The peculiarity of this box of matches was--that
just one match had been used from it.
Mr. Taggett's work was done.
The last seven pages of the diary were devoted to a review of the
case, every detail of which was held up in various lights, and
examined with the conscientious pains of a lapidary deciding on the
value of a rare stone. The concluding entries ran as follow:--
_"Tuesday Night_. Here the case passes into other hands. I
have been fortunate rather than skillful in unmasking the chief actor
in one of the most singular crimes that ever came under my
investigation. By destroying three objects, very easily destroyed,
Richard Shackford would have put himself beyond the dream of
suspicion. He neglected to remove these dumb witnesses, and now the
dumb witnesses speak! If it could be shown that he was a hundred
miles from Stillwater at the time of the murder, instead of in the
village, as he was, he must still be held, in the face of the proofs
against him, accessory to the deed. These proofs, roughly summarized,
_"First_. The fact that he had had an altercation with his
cousin a short time previous to the date of the murder,--a murder
which may be regarded not as the result of a chance disagreement, but
of long years of bitter enmity between the two men.
_"Secondly_. The fact that Richard Shackford had had an
appointment with his cousin on the night the crime was committed, and
had concealed that fact from the authorities at the time of the
_"Thirdly_. That the broken chisel found in the private
workshop of the accused explains the peculiar shape of the wound
which caused Lemuel Shackford's death, and corresponds in every
particular with the plaster impression taken of that wound.
_"Fourthly_. That the partially consumed match found on the
scullery floor when the body was discovered (a style of match not
used in the house in Welch's Court) completes the complement of a box
of safety-matches belonging to Richard Shackford, and hidden in a
closet in his workshop.
"Whether Shackford had an accomplice or not is yet to be
ascertained. There is nothing whatever to implicate Mr. Rowland
Slocum. I make the statement because his intimate association with
one party and his deep dislike of the other invited inquiry, and at
first raised an unjust suspicion in my mind."
The little red book slipped from Mr. Slocum's grasp and fell at
his feet. As he rose from the chair, the reflection which he caught
of himself in the dressing-table mirror was that of a wrinkled, white
Mr. Slocum did not believe, and no human evidence could have
convinced him, that Richard had deliberately killed Lemuel Shackford;
but as Mr. Slocum reached the final pages of the diary, a horrible
probability insinuated itself in his mind. Could Richard have done it
accidentally? Could he--in an instant of passion, stung to sudden
madness by that venomous old man--have struck him involuntarily, and
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