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Title: Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist
Author: Berkman, Alexander, 1870-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist" ***

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            [Illustration: UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE LIBRARY]

                            PRISON MEMOIRS
                                OF AN


                          ALEXANDER BERKMAN

                               NEW YORK

                      Published September, 1912
                         Second Edition, 1920

                     241 GRAPHIC PRESS, NEW YORK

                To all those who in and out of prison
                     fight against their bondage

                "But this I know, that every Law
                  That men have made for Man,
                Since first Man took his brother's life,
                  And the sad world began,
                But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
                  With a most evil fan."

                                                     OSCAR WILDE

                   [Illustration: Alexander Berkman
                        Photo by Marcia Stein]


I wish that everybody in the world would read this book. And my reasons
are not due to any desire on my part that people should join any group
of social philosophers or revolutionists. I desire that the book be
widely read because the general and careful reading of it would
definitely add to true civilization.

It is a contribution to the writings which promote civilization; for the
following reasons:

It is a human document. It is a difficult thing to be sincere. More than
that, it is a valuable thing. To be so, means unusual qualities of the
heart and of the head; unusual qualities of character. The books that
possess this quality are unusual books. There are not many deliberately
autobiographical writings that are markedly sincere; there are not many
direct human documents. This is one of these few books.

Not only has this book the interest of the human document, but it is
also a striking proof of the power of the human soul. Alexander Berkman
spent fourteen years in prison; under perhaps more than commonly harsh
and severe conditions. Prison life tends to destroy the body, weaken the
mind and pervert the character. Berkman consciously struggled with these
adverse, destructive conditions. He took care of his body. He took care
of his mind. He did so strenuously. It was a moral effort. He felt
insane ideas trying to take possession of him. Insanity is a natural
result of prison life. It always tends to come. This man felt it,
consciously struggled against it, and overcame it. That the prison
affected him is true. It always does. But he saved himself, essentially.
Society tried to destroy him, but failed.

If people will read this book carefully it will tend to do away with
prisons. The public, once vividly conscious of what prison life is and
must be, would not be willing to maintain prisons. This is the only book
that I know which goes deeply into the corrupting, demoralizing
psychology of prison life. It shows, in picture after picture, sketch
after sketch, not only the obvious brutality, stupidity, ugliness
permeating the institution, but, very touching, it shows the good
qualities and instincts of the human heart perverted, demoralized,
helplessly struggling for life; beautiful tendencies basely expressing
themselves. And the personality of Berkman goes through it all;
idealistic, courageous, uncompromising, sincere, truthful; not
untouched, as I have said, by his surroundings, but remaining his
essential self.

What lessons there are in this book! Like all truthful documents it
makes us love and hate our fellow men, doubt ourselves, doubt our
society, tends to make us take a strenuous, serious attitude towards
life, and not be too quick to judge, without going into a situation
painfully, carefully. It tends to complicate the present simplicity of
our moral attitudes. It tends to make us more mature.

The above are the main reasons why I should like to have everybody read
this book.

But there are other aspects of the book which are interesting and
valuable in a more special, more limited way; aspects in which only
comparatively few persons will be interested, and which will arouse the
opposition and hostility of many. The Russian Nihilistic origin of
Berkman, his Anarchistic experience in America, his attempt on the life
of Frick--an attempt made at a violent industrial crisis, an attempt
made as a result of a sincere if fanatical belief that he was called on
by his destiny to strike a psychological blow for the oppressed of the
community--this part of the book will arouse extreme disagreement and
disapproval of his ideas and his act. But I see no reason why this, with
the rest, should not rather be regarded as an integral part of a
human document, as part of the record of a life, with its social and
psychological suggestions and explanations. Why not try to understand
an honest man even if he feels called on to kill? There, too, it may be
deeply instructive. There, too, it has its lessons. Read it not in a
combative spirit. Read to understand. Do not read to agree, of course,
but read to see.

                                                   HUTCHINS HAPGOOD.


  CHAPTER                                               PAGE
  Part I: The Awakening and Its Toll
        I. THE CALL OF HOMESTEAD                           1
       II. THE SEAT OF WAR                                23
      III. THE SPIRIT OF PITTSBURGH                       28
       IV. THE ATTENTAT                                   33
        V. THE THIRD DEGREE                               36
       VI. THE JAIL                                       44
      VII. THE TRIAL                                      89

  Part II: The Penitentiary
        I. DESPERATE THOUGHTS                             95
       II. THE WILL TO LIVE                              113
      III. SPECTRAL SILENCE                              120
       IV. A RAY OF LIGHT                                124
        V. THE SHOP                                      128
       VI. MY FIRST LETTER                               136
      VII. WINGIE                                        140
     VIII. TO THE GIRL                                   148
       IX. PERSECUTION                                   152
        X. THE YEGG                                      159
       XI. THE ROUTE SUB ROSA                            174
      XII. "ZUCHTHAUSBLUETHEN"                           176
     XIII. THE JUDAS                                     185
      XIV. THE DIP                                       195
       XV. THE URGE OF SEX                               201
      XVI. THE WARDEN'S THREAT                           209
     XVII. THE "BASKET" CELL                             219
    XVIII. THE SOLITARY                                  221
      XIX. MEMORY-GUESTS                                 232
       XX. A DAY IN THE CELL-HOUSE                       240
      XXI. THE DEEDS OF THE GOOD TO THE EVIL             264
     XXII. THE GRIST OF THE PRISON-MILL                  270
    XXIII. THE SCALES OF JUSTICE                         287
      XXV. HOW SHALL THE DEPTHS CRY?                     300
     XXVI. HIDING THE EVIDENCE                           307
    XXVII. LOVE'S DUNGEON FLOWER                         316
   XXVIII. FOR SAFETY                                    328
     XXIX. DREAMS OF FREEDOM                             330
      XXX. WHITEWASHED AGAIN                             337
     XXXI. "AND BY ALL FORGOT, WE ROT AND ROT"           342
   XXXIII. THE TUNNEL                                    355
    XXXIV. THE DEATH OF DICK                             363
     XXXV. AN ALLIANCE WITH THE BIRDS                    364
    XXXVI. THE UNDERGROUND                               375
   XXXVII. ANXIOUS DAYS                                  382
  XXXVIII. "HOW MEN THEIR BROTHERS MAIM"                 389
    XXXIX. A NEW PLAN OF ESCAPE                          395
       XL. DONE TO DEATH                                 401
      XLI. THE SHOCK AT BUFFALO                          409
     XLII. MARRED LIVES                                  418
    XLIII. "PASSING THE LOVE OF WOMAN"                   430
     XLIV. LOVE'S DARING                                 441
      XLV. THE BLOOM OF "THE BARREN STAFF"               446
     XLVI. A CHILD'S HEART-HUNGER                        453
    XLVII. CHUM                                          458
   XLVIII. LAST DAYS                                     465

  Part III: The Workhouse                                473

  Part IV: The Resurrection                              483


  ALEXANDER BERKMAN (Frontispiece)







Clearly every detail of that day is engraved on my mind. It is the
sixth of July, 1892. We are quietly sitting in the back of our little
flat--Fedya and I--when suddenly the Girl enters. Her naturally quick,
energetic step sounds more than usually resolute. As I turn to her, I
am struck by the peculiar gleam in her eyes and the heightened color.

"Have you read it?" she cries, waving the half-open newspaper.

"What is it?"

"Homestead. Strikers shot. Pinkertons have killed women and children."

She speaks in a quick, jerky manner. Her words ring like the cry of a
wounded animal, the melodious voice tinged with the harshness of
bitterness--the bitterness of helpless agony.

I take the paper from her hands. In growing excitement I read the vivid
account of the tremendous struggle, the Homestead strike, or, more
correctly, the lockout. The report details the conspiracy on the part of
the Carnegie Company to crush the Amalgamated Association of Iron and
Steel Workers; the selection, for the purpose, of Henry Clay Frick,
whose attitude toward labor is implacably hostile; his secret military
preparations while designedly prolonging the peace negotiations with
the Amalgamated; the fortification of the Homestead steel-works; the
erection of a high board fence, capped by barbed wire and provided with
loopholes for sharpshooters; the hiring of an army of Pinkerton thugs;
the attempt to smuggle them, in the dead of night, into Homestead; and,
finally, the terrible carnage.

I pass the paper to Fedya. The Girl glances at me. We sit in silence,
each busy with his own thoughts. Only now and then we exchange a word, a
searching, significant look.


It is hot and stuffy in the train. The air is oppressive with tobacco
smoke; the boisterous talk of the men playing cards near by annoys me. I
turn to the window. The gust of perfumed air, laden with the rich aroma
of fresh-mown hay, is soothingly invigorating. Green woods and yellow
fields circle in the distance, whirl nearer, close, then rush by, giving
place to other circling fields and woods. The country looks young and
alluring in the early morning sunshine. But my thoughts are busy with

The great battle has been fought. Never before, in all its history, has
American labor won such a signal victory. By force of arms the workers
of Homestead have compelled three hundred Pinkerton invaders to
surrender, to surrender most humbly, ignominiously. What humiliating
defeat for the powers that be! Does not the Pinkerton janizary represent
organized authority, forever crushing the toiler in the interest of the
exploiters? Well may the enemies of the People be terrified at the
unexpected awakening. But the People, the workers of America, have
joyously acclaimed the rebellious manhood of Homestead. The
steel-workers were not the aggressors. Resignedly they had toiled and
suffered. Out of their flesh and bone grew the great steel industry; on
their blood fattened the powerful Carnegie Company. Yet patiently they
had waited for the promised greater share of the wealth they were
creating. Like a bolt from a clear sky came the blow: wages were to be
reduced! Peremptorily the steel magnates refused to continue the sliding
scale previously agreed upon as a guarantee of peace. The Carnegie firm
challenged the Amalgamated Association by the submission of conditions
which it knew the workers could not accept. Foreseeing refusal, it
flaunted warlike preparations to crush the union under the iron heel.
Perfidious Carnegie shrank from the task, having recently proclaimed the
gospel of good will and harmony. "I would lay it down as a maxim," he
had declared, "that there is no excuse for a strike or a lockout until
arbitration of differences has been offered by one party and refused by
the other. The right of the workingmen to combine and to form
trades-unions is no less sacred than the right of the manufacturer to
enter into association and conference with his fellows, and it must
sooner or later be conceded. Manufacturers should meet their men _more
than half-way_."

With smooth words the great philanthropist had persuaded the workers to
indorse the high tariff. Every product of his mills protected, Andrew
Carnegie secured a reduction in the duty on steel billets, in return for
his generous contribution to the Republican campaign fund. In complete
control of the billet market, the Carnegie firm engineered a depression
of prices, as a seeming consequence of a lower duty. But _the market
price of billets was the sole standard of wages in the Homestead mills_.
The wages of the workers must be reduced! The offer of the Amalgamated
Association to arbitrate the new scale met with contemptuous refusal:
there was nothing to arbitrate; the men must submit unconditionally; the
union was to be exterminated. And Carnegie selected Henry C. Frick, the
bloody Frick of the coke regions, to carry the program into execution.

Must the oppressed forever submit? The manhood of Homestead rebelled:
the millmen scorned the despotic ultimatum. Then Frick's hand fell. The
war was on! Indignation swept the country. Throughout the land the
tyrannical attitude of the Carnegie Company was bitterly denounced, the
ruthless brutality of Frick universally execrated.

       *       *       *       *       *

I could no longer remain indifferent. The moment was urgent. The toilers
of Homestead had defied the oppressor. They were awakening. But as yet
the steel-workers were only blindly rebellious. The vision of Anarchism
alone could imbue discontent with conscious revolutionary purpose; it
alone could lend wings to the aspirations of labor. The dissemination of
our ideas among the proletariat of Homestead would illumine the great
struggle, help to clarify the issues, and point the way to complete
ultimate emancipation.

       *       *       *       *       *

My days were feverish with anxiety. The stirring call, "Labor, Awaken!"
would fire the hearts of the disinherited, and inspire them to noble
deeds. It would carry to the oppressed the message of the New Day, and
prepare them for the approaching Social Revolution. Homestead might
prove the first blush of the glorious Dawn. How I chafed at the
obstacles my project encountered! Unexpected difficulties impeded every
step. The efforts to get the leaflet translated into popular English
proved unavailing. It would endanger me to distribute such a fiery
appeal, my friend remonstrated. Impatiently I waived aside his
objections. As if personal considerations could for an instant be
weighed in the scale of the great Cause! But in vain I argued and
pleaded. And all the while precious moments were being wasted, and new
obstacles barred the way. I rushed frantically from printer to
compositor, begging, imploring. None dared print the appeal. And time
was fleeting. Suddenly flashed the news of the Pinkerton carnage. The
world stood aghast.

The time for speech was past. Throughout the land the toilers echoed the
defiance of the men of Homestead. The steel-workers had rallied bravely
to the defence; the murderous Pinkertons were driven from the city. But
loudly called the blood of Mammon's victims on the hanks of the
Monongahela. Loudly it calls. It is the People calling. Ah, the People!
The grand, mysterious, yet so near and real, People....

       *       *       *       *       *

In my mind I see myself back in the little Russian college town, amid
the circle of Petersburg students, home for their vacation, surrounded
by the halo of that vague and wonderful something we called "Nihilist."
The rushing train, Homestead, the five years passed in America, all turn
into a mist, hazy with the distance of unreality, of centuries; and
again I sit among superior beings, reverently listening to the
impassioned discussion of dimly understood high themes, with the
oft-recurring refrain of "Bazarov, Hegel, Liberty, Chernishevsky, _v
naród_." To the People! To the beautiful, simple People, so noble in
spite of centuries of brutalizing suffering! Like a clarion call the
note rings in my ears, amidst the din of contending views and obscure
phraseology. The People! My Greek mythology moods have often pictured
HIM to me as the mighty Atlas, supporting on his shoulders the weight
of the world, his back bent, his face the mirror of unutterable misery,
in his eye the look of hopeless anguish, the dumb, pitiful appeal for
help. Ah, to help this helplessly suffering giant, to lighten his
burden! The way is obscure, the means uncertain, but in the heated
student debate the note rings clear: To the People, become one of them,
share their joys and sorrows, and thus you will teach them. Yes, that is
the solution! But what is that red-headed Misha from Odessa saying? "It
is all good and well about going to the People, but the energetic men of
the deed, the Rakhmetovs, blaze the path of popular revolution by
individual acts of revolt against--"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Ticket, please!" A heavy hand is on my shoulder. With an effort I
realize the situation. The card-players are exchanging angry words. With
a deft movement the conductor unhooks the board, and calmly walks away
with it under his arm. A roar of laughter greets the players. Twitted by
the other passengers, they soon subside, and presently the car grows

I have difficulty in keeping myself from falling back into reverie. I
must form a definite plan of action. My purpose is quite clear to me. A
tremendous struggle is taking place at Homestead: the People are
manifesting the right spirit in resisting tyranny and invasion. My heart
exults. This is, at last, what I have always hoped for from the American
workingman: once aroused, he will brook no interference; he will fight
all obstacles, and conquer even more than his original demands. It is
the spirit of the heroic past reincarnated in the steel-workers of
Homestead, Pennsylvania. What supreme joy to aid in this work! That is
my natural mission. I feel the strength of a great undertaking. No
shadow of doubt crosses my mind. The People--the toilers of the world,
the producers--comprise, to me, the universe. They alone count. The rest
are parasites, who have no right to exist. But to the People belongs the
earth--by right, if not in fact. To make it so in fact, all means are
justifiable; nay, advisable, even to the point of taking life. The
question of moral right in such matters often agitated the revolutionary
circles I used to frequent. I had always taken the extreme view. The
more radical the treatment, I held, the quicker the cure. Society is a
patient; sick constitutionally and functionally. Surgical treatment is
often imperative. The removal of a tyrant is not merely justifiable; it
is the highest duty of every true revolutionist. Human life is, indeed,
sacred and inviolate. But the killing of a tyrant, of an enemy of the
People, is in no way to be considered as the taking of a life. A
revolutionist would rather perish a thousand times than be guilty of
what is ordinarily called murder. In truth, murder and _Attentat_[1] are
to me opposite terms. To remove a tyrant is an act of liberation, the
giving of life and opportunity to an oppressed people. True, the Cause
often calls upon the revolutionist to commit an unpleasant act; but it
is the test of a true revolutionist--nay, more, his pride--to sacrifice
all merely human feeling at the call of the People's Cause. If the
latter demand his life, so much the better.

  [1] An act of political assassination.

Could anything be nobler than to die for a grand, a sublime Cause? Why,
the very life of a true revolutionist has no other purpose, no
significance whatever, save to sacrifice it on the altar of the beloved
People. And what could be higher in life than to be a true
revolutionist? It is to be a _man_, a complete MAN. A being who has
neither personal interests nor desires above the necessities of the
Cause; one who has emancipated himself from being merely human, and has
risen above that, even to the height of conviction which excludes all
doubt, all regret; in short, one who in the very inmost of his soul
feels himself revolutionist first, human afterwards.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such a revolutionist I feel myself to be. Indeed, far more so than even
the extreme radicals of my own circle. My mind reverts to a
characteristic incident in connection with the poet Edelstadt. It was in
New York, about the year 1890. Edelstadt, one of the tenderest of souls,
was beloved by every one in our circle, the _Pioneers of Liberty_, the
first Jewish Anarchist organization on American soil. One evening the
closer personal friends of Edelstadt met to consider plans for aiding
the sick poet. It was decided to send our comrade to Denver, some one
suggesting that money be drawn for the purpose from the revolutionary
treasury. I objected. Though a dear, personal friend of Edelstadt, and
his former roommate, I could not allow--I argued--that funds belonging
to the movement be devoted to private purposes, however good and even
necessary those might be. The strong disapproval of my sentiments I met
with this challenge: "Do you mean to help Edelstadt, the poet and man,
or Edelstadt the revolutionist? Do you consider him a true, active
revolutionist? His poetry is beautiful, indeed, and may indirectly even
prove of some propagandistic value. Aid our friend with your private
funds, if you will; but no money from the movement can be given, except
for direct revolutionary activity."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Do you mean that the poet is less to you than the revolutionist?" I was
asked by Tikhon, a young medical student, whom we playfully dubbed
"Lingg," because of his rather successful affectation of the celebrated
revolutionist's physical appearance.

"I am revolutionist first, man afterwards," I replied, with conviction.

"You are either a knave or a hero," he retorted.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Lingg" was quite right. He could not know me. To his _bourgeois_ mind,
for all his imitation of the Chicago martyr, my words must have sounded
knavish. Well, some day he may know which I am, knave or revolutionist.
I do not think in the term "hero," for though the type of revolutionist
I feel myself to be might popularly be so called, the word has no
significance for me. It merely means a revolutionist who does his duty.
There is no heroism in that: it is neither more nor less than a
revolutionist should do. Rakhmetov did more, too much. In spite of my
great admiration for Chernishevsky, who had so strongly influenced the
Russian youth of my time, I can not suppress the touch of resentment I
feel because the author of "What's To Be Done?" represented his
arch-revolutionist Rakhmetov as going through a system of unspeakable,
self-inflicted torture to prepare himself for future exigencies. It was
a sign of weakness. Does a real revolutionist need to prepare himself,
to steel his nerves and harden his body? I feel it almost a personal
insult, this suggestion of the revolutionist's mere human clay.

No, the thorough revolutionist needs no such self-doubting preparations.
For I know _I_ do not need them. The feeling is quite impersonal,
strange as it may seem. My own individuality is entirely in the
background; aye, I am not conscious of any personality in matters
pertaining to the Cause. I am simply a revolutionist, a terrorist by
conviction, an instrument for furthering the cause of humanity; in
short, a Rakhmetov. Indeed, I shall assume that name upon my arrival in

       *       *       *       *       *

The piercing shrieks of the locomotive awake me with a start. My first
thought is of my wallet, containing important addresses of Allegheny
comrades, which I was trying to memorize when I must have fallen asleep.
The wallet is gone! For a moment I am overwhelmed with terror. What if
it is lost? Suddenly my foot touches something soft. I pick it up,
feeling tremendously relieved to find all the contents safe: the
precious addresses, a small newspaper lithograph of Frick, and a dollar
bill. My joy at recovering the wallet is not a whit dampened by the
meagerness of my funds. The dollar will do to get a room in a hotel for
the first night, and in the morning I'll look up Nold or Bauer. They
will find a place for me to stay a day or two. "I won't remain there
long," I think, with an inward smile.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are nearing Washington, D. C. The train is to make a six-hour stop
there. I curse the stupidity of the delay: something may be happening in
Pittsburgh or Homestead. Besides, no time is to be lost in striking a
telling blow, while public sentiment is aroused at the atrocities of the
Carnegie Company, the brutality of Frick.

Yet my irritation is strangely dispelled by the beautiful picture that
greets my eye as I step from the train. The sun has risen, a large ball
of deep red, pouring a flood of gold upon the Capitol. The cupola rears
its proud head majestically above the pile of stone and marble. Like a
living thing the light palpitates, trembling with passion to kiss the
uppermost peak, striking it with blinding brilliancy, and then spreading
in a broadening embrace down the shoulders of the towering giant. The
amber waves entwine its flanks with soft caresses, and then rush on, to
right and left, wider and lower, flashing upon the stately trees,
dallying amid leaves and branches, finally unfolding themselves over the
broad avenue, and ever growing more golden and generous as they scatter.
And cupola-headed giant, stately trees, and broad avenue quiver with
new-born ecstasy, all nature heaves the contented sigh of bliss, and
nestles closer to the golden giver of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this moment I realize, as perhaps never before, the great joy, the
surpassing gladness, of being. But in a trice the picture changes.
Before my eyes rises the Monongahela river, carrying barges filled with
armed men. And I hear a shot. A boy falls to the gangplank. The blood
gushes from the centre of his forehead. The hole ploughed by the bullet
yawns black on the crimson face. Cries and wailing ring in my ears. I
see men running toward the river, and women kneeling by the side of the

The horrible vision revives in my mind a similar incident, lived through
in imagination before. It was the sight of an executed Nihilist. The
Nihilists! How much of their precious blood has been shed, how many
thousands of them line the road of Russia's suffering! Inexpressibly
near and soul-kin I feel to those men and women, the adored, mysterious
ones of my youth, who had left wealthy homes and high station to "go to
the People," to become one with them, though despised by all whom they
held dear, persecuted and ridiculed even by the benighted objects of
their great sacrifice.

Clearly there flashes out upon my memory my first impression of Nihilist
Russia. I had just passed my second year's gymnasium examinations.
Overflowing with blissful excitement, I rushed into the house to tell
mother the joyful news. How happy it will make her! Next week will be my
twelfth birthday, but mother need give me no present. I have one for
her, instead. "Mamma, mamma!" I called, when suddenly I caught her
voice, raised in anger. Something has happened, I thought; mother never
speaks so loudly. Something very peculiar, I felt, noticing the door
leading from the broad hallway to the dining-room closed, contrary to
custom. In perturbation I hesitated at the door. "Shame on you, Nathan,"
I heard my mother's voice, "to condemn your own brother because he is a
Nihilist. You are no better than"--her voice fell to a whisper, but my
straining ear distinctly caught the dread word, uttered with hatred and
fear--"a _palátch_."[2]

  [2] Hangman.

I was struck with terror. Mother's tone, my rich uncle Nathan's unwonted
presence at our house, the fearful word _palátch_--something awful must
have happened. I tiptoed out of the hallway, and ran to my room.
Trembling with fear, I threw myself on the bed. What has the _palátch_
done? I moaned. "_Your_ brother," she had said to uncle. Her own
youngest brother, my favorite uncle Maxim. Oh, what has happened to him?
My excited imagination conjured up horrible visions. There stood the
powerful figure of the giant _palátch_, all in black, his right arm bare
to the shoulder, in his hand the uplifted ax. I could see the glimmer of
the sharp steel as it began to descend, slowly, so torturingly slowly,
while my heart ceased beating and my feverish eyes followed, bewitched,
the glowing black coals in the _palátch's_ head. Suddenly the two fiery
eyes fused into a large ball of flaming red; the figure of the fearful
one-eyed cyclop grew taller and stretched higher and higher, and
everywhere was the giant--on all sides of me was he--then a sudden flash
of steel, and in his monster hand I saw raised a head, cut close to the
neck, its eyes incessantly blinking, the dark-red blood gushing from
mouth and ears and throat. Something looked ghastly familiar about that
head with the broad white forehead and expressive mouth, so sweet and
sad. "Oh, Maxim, Maxim!" I cried, terror-stricken: the next moment a
flood of passionate hatred of the _palátch_ seized me, and I rushed,
head bent, toward the one-eyed monster. Nearer and nearer I
came,--another quick rush, and then the violent impact of my body struck
him in the very centre, and he fell, forward and heavy, right upon me,
and I felt his fearful weight crushing my arms, my chest, my head....

"Sasha! Sashenka! What is the matter, _golubchik_?" I recognize the
sweet, tender voice of my mother, sounding far away and strange, then
coming closer and growing more soothing. I open my eyes. Mother is
kneeling by the bed, her beautiful black eyes bathed in tears.
Passionately she showers kisses upon my face and hands, entreating:
"_Golubchik_, what is it?"

"Mamma, what happened to Uncle Maxim?" I ask, breathlessly watching her

Her sudden change of expression chills my heart with fear. She turns
ghostly white, large drops of perspiration stand on her forehead, and
her eyes grow large and round with terror. "Mamma!" I cry, throwing my
arms around her. Her lips move, and I feel her warm breath on my cheek;
but, without uttering a word, she bursts into vehement weeping.

"Who--told--you? You--know?" she whispers between sobs.

       *       *       *       *       *

The pall of death seems to have descended upon our home. The house is
oppressively silent. Everybody walks about in slippers, and the piano is
kept locked. Only monosyllables, in undertone, are exchanged at the
dinner-table. Mother's seat remains vacant. She is very ill, the nurse
informs us; no one is to see her.

The situation bewilders me. I keep wondering what has happened to Maxim.
Was my vision of the _palátch_ a presentiment, or the echo of an
accomplished tragedy? Vaguely I feel guilty of mother's illness. The
shock of my question may be responsible for her condition. Yet there
must be more to it, I try to persuade my troubled spirit. One afternoon,
finding my eldest brother Maxim, named after mother's favorite brother,
in a very cheerful mood, I call him aside and ask, in a boldly assumed
confidential manner: "Maximushka, tell me, what is a Nihilist?"

"Go to the devil, _molokossoss_[3] you!" he cries, angrily. With a show
of violence, quite inexplicable to me, Maxim throws his paper on the
floor, jumps from his seat, upsetting the chair, and leaves the room.

  [3] Literally, milk-sucker. A contemptuous term applied to
      inexperienced youth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fate of Uncle Maxim remains a mystery, the question of Nihilism
unsolved. I am absorbed in my studies. Yet a deep interest, curiosity
about the mysterious and forbidden, slumbers in my consciousness, when
quite unexpectedly it is roused into keen activity by a school incident.
I am fifteen now, in the fourth grade of the classic gymnasium at Kovno.
By direction of the Ministry of Education, compulsory religious
instruction is being introduced in the State schools. Special classes
have been opened at the gymnasium for the religious instruction of
Jewish pupils. The parents of the latter resent the innovation; almost
every Jewish child receives religious training at home or in
_cheidar_.[4] But the school authorities have ordered the gymnasiasts of
Jewish faith to attend classes in religion.

  [4] Schools for instruction in Jewish religion and laws.

The roll-call at the first session finds me missing. Summoned before the
Director for an explanation, I state that I failed to attend because I
have a private Jewish tutor at home, and,--anyway, I do not believe in
religion. The prim Director looks inexpressibly shocked.

"Young man," he addresses me in the artificial guttural voice he affects
on solemn occasions. "Young man, when, permit me to ask, did you reach
so profound a conclusion?"

His manner disconcerts me; but the sarcasm of his words and the
offensive tone rouse my resentment. Impulsively, defiantly, I discover
my cherished secret. "Since I wrote the essay, 'There Is No God,'" I
reply, with secret exultation. But the next instant I realize the
recklessness of my confession. I have a fleeting sense of coming
trouble, at school and at home. Yet somehow I feel I have acted like a
_man_. Uncle Maxim, the Nihilist, would act so in my position. I know
his reputation for uncompromising candor, and love him for his bold,
frank ways.

"Oh, that is interesting," I hear, as in a dream, the unpleasant
guttural voice of the Director. "When did you write it?"

"Three years ago."

"How old were you then?"


"Have you the essay?"



"At home."

"Bring it to me to-morrow. Without fail, remember."

His voice grows stern. The words fall upon my ears with the harsh
metallic sound of my sister's piano that memorable evening of our
musicale when, in a spirit of mischief, I hid a piece of gas pipe in the
instrument tuned for the occasion.

"To-morrow, then. You are dismissed."

The Educational Board, in conclave assembled, reads the essay. My
disquisition is unanimously condemned. Exemplary punishment is to be
visited upon me for "precocious godlessness, dangerous tendencies, and
insubordination." I am publicly reprimanded, and reduced to the third
class. The peculiar sentence robs me of a year, and forces me to
associate with the "children" my senior class looks down upon with
undisguised contempt. I feel disgraced, humiliated.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus vision chases vision, memory succeeds memory, while the
interminable hours creep towards the afternoon, and the station clock
drones like an endless old woman.


Over at last. "All aboard!"

On and on rushes the engine, every moment bringing me nearer to my
destination. The conductor drawling out the stations, the noisy going
and coming produce almost no conscious impression on my senses. Seeing
and hearing every detail of my surroundings, I am nevertheless
oblivious to them. Faster than the train rushes my fancy, as if
reviewing a panorama of vivid scenes, apparently without organic
connection with each other, yet somehow intimately associated in my
thoughts of the past. But how different is the present! I am speeding
toward Pittsburgh, the very heart of the industrial struggle of America.
America! I dwell wonderingly on the unuttered sound. Why in America? And
again unfold pictures of old scenes.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am walking in the garden of our well-appointed country place, in a
fashionable suburb of St. Petersburg, where the family generally spends
the summer months. As I pass the veranda, Dr. Semeonov, the celebrated
physician of the resort, steps out of the house and beckons to me.

"Alexander Ossipovitch," he addresses me in his courtly manner, "your
mother is very ill. Are you alone with her?"

"We have servants, and two nurses are in attendance," I reply.

"To be sure, to be sure," the shadow of a smile hovers about the corners
of his delicately chiseled lips. "I mean of the family."

"Oh, yes! I am alone here with my mother."

"Your mother is rather restless to-day, Alexander Ossipovitch. Could you
sit up with her to-night?"

"Certainly, certainly," I quickly assent, wondering at the peculiar
request. Mother has been improving, the nurses have assured me. My
presence at her bedside may prove irksome to her. Our relations have
been strained since the day when, in a fit of anger, she slapped Rose,
our new chambermaid, whereupon I resented mother's right to inflict
physical punishment on the servants. I can see her now, erect and
haughty, facing me across the dinner-table, her eyes ablaze with

"You forget you are speaking to your mother, Al-ex-an-der"; she
pronounces the name in four distinct syllables, as is her habit when
angry with me.

"You have no right to strike the girl," I retort, defiantly.

"You forget yourself. My treatment of the menial is no concern of

I cannot suppress the sharp reply that springs to my lips: "The low
servant girl is as good as you."

I see mother's long, slender fingers grasp the heavy ladle, and the next
instant a sharp pain pierces my left hand. Our eyes meet. Her arm
remains motionless, her gaze directed to the spreading blood stain on
the white table-cloth. The ladle falls from her hand. She closes her
eyes, and her body sinks limply to the chair.

Anger and humiliation extinguish my momentary impulse to rush to her
assistance. Without uttering a word, I pick up the heavy saltcellar, and
fling it violently against the French mirror. At the crash of the glass
my mother opens her eyes in amazement. I rise and leave the house.

       *       *       *       *       *

My heart beats fast as I enter mother's sick-room. I fear she may resent
my intrusion: the shadow of the past stands between us. But she is lying
quietly on the bed, and has apparently not noticed my entrance. I sit
down at the bedside. A long time passes in silence. Mother seems to be
asleep. It is growing dark in the room, and I settle down to pass the
night in the chair. Suddenly I hear "Sasha!" called in a weak, faint
voice. I bend over her. "Drink of water." As I hold the glass to her
lips, she slightly turns away her head, saying very low, "Ice water,
please." I start to leave the room. "Sasha!" I hear behind me, and,
quickly tiptoeing to the bed, I bring my face closely, very closely to
hers, to catch the faint words: "Help me turn to the wall." Tenderly I
wrap my arms around the weak, emaciated body, and an overpowering
longing seizes me to touch her hand with my lips and on my knees beg her
forgiveness. I feel so near to her, my heart is overflowing with
compassion and love. But I dare not kiss her--we have become estranged.
Affectionately I hold her in my arms for just the shadow of a second,
dreading lest she suspect the storm of emotion raging within me.
Caressingly I turn her to the wall, and, as I slowly withdraw, I feel as
if some mysterious, yet definite, something has at the very instant left
her body.

In a few minutes I return with a glass of ice water. I hold it to her
lips, but she seems oblivious of my presence. "She cannot have gone to
sleep so quickly," I wonder. "Mother!" I call, softly. No reply. "Little
mother! Mamotchka!" She does not appear to hear me. "Dearest,
_golubchick_!" I cry, in a paroxysm of sudden fear, pressing my hot lips
upon her face. Then I become conscious of an arm upon my shoulder, and
hear the measured voice of the doctor: "My boy, you must bear up. She is
at rest."


"Wake up, young feller! Whatcher sighin' for?" Bewildered I turn around
to meet the coarse, yet not unkindly, face of a swarthy laborer in the
seat back of me.

"Oh, nothing; just dreaming," I reply. Not wishing to encourage
conversation, I pretend to become absorbed in my book.

How strange is the sudden sound of English! Almost as suddenly had I
been transplanted to American soil. Six months passed after my mother's
death. Threatened by the educational authorities with a "wolf's
passport" on account of my "dangerous tendencies"--which would close
every professional avenue to me, in spite of my otherwise very
satisfactory standing--the situation aggravated by a violent quarrel
with my guardian, Uncle Nathan, I decided to go to America. There,
beyond the ocean, was the land of noble achievement, a glorious free
country, where men walked erect in the full stature of manhood,--the
very realization of my youthful dreams.

And now I am in America, the blessed land. The disillusionment, the
disappointments, the vain struggles!... The kaleidoscope of my brain
unfolds them all before my view. Now I see myself on a bench in Union
Square Park, huddled close to Fedya and Mikhail, my roommates. The night
wind sweeps across the cheerless park, chilling us to the bone. I feel
hungry and tired, fagged out by the day's fruitless search for work. My
heart sinks within me as I glance at my friends. "Nothing," each had
morosely reported at our nightly meeting, after the day's weary tramp.
Fedya groans in uneasy sleep, his hand groping about his knees. I pick
up the newspaper that had fallen under the seat, spread it over his
legs, and tuck the ends underneath. But a sudden blast tears the paper
away, and whirls it off into the darkness. As I press Fedya's hat down
on his head, I am struck by his ghastly look. How these few weeks have
changed the plump, rosy-cheeked youth! Poor fellow, no one wants his
labor. How his mother would suffer if she knew that her carefully reared
boy passes the nights in the.... What is that pain I feel? Some one is
bending over me, looming unnaturally large in the darkness. Half-dazed I
see an arm swing to and fro, with short, semicircular backward strokes,
and with every movement I feel a sharp sting, as of a lash. Oh, it's in
my soles! Bewildered I spring to my feet. A rough hand grabs me by the
throat, and I face a policeman.

"Are you thieves?" he bellows.

Mikhail replies, sleepily: "We Russians. Want work."

"Git out o' here! Off with you!"

Quickly, silently, we walk away, Fedya and I in front, Mikhail limping
behind us. The dimly lighted streets are deserted, save for a hurrying
figure here and there, closely wrapped, flitting mysteriously around the
corner. Columns of dust rise from the gray pavements, are caught up by
the wind, rushed to some distance, then carried in a spiral upwards, to
be followed by another wave of choking dust. From somewhere a
tantalizing odor reaches my nostrils. "The bakery on Second Street,"
Fedya remarks. Unconsciously our steps quicken. Shoulders raised, heads
bent, and shivering, we keep on to the lower Bowery. Mikhail is steadily
falling behind. "Dammit, I feel bad," he says, catching up with us, as
we step into an open hallway. A thorough inspection of our pockets
reveals the possession of twelve cents, all around. Mikhail is to go to
bed, we decide, handing him a dime. The cigarettes purchased for the
remaining two cents are divided equally, each taking a few puffs of the
"fourth" in the box. Fedya and I sleep on the steps of the city hall.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Pitt-s-burgh! Pitt-s-burgh!"

The harsh cry of the conductor startles me with the violence of a shock.
Impatient as I am of the long journey, the realization that I have
reached my destination comes unexpectedly, overwhelming me with the
dread of unpreparedness. In a flurry I gather up my things, but,
noticing that the other passengers keep their places, I precipitately
resume my seat, fearful lest my agitation be noticed. To hide my
confusion, I turn to the open window. Thick clouds of smoke overcast the
sky, shrouding the morning with sombre gray. The air is heavy with soot
and cinders; the smell is nauseating. In the distance, giant furnaces
vomit pillars of fire, the lurid flashes accentuating a line of frame
structures, dilapidated and miserable. They are the homes of the workers
who have created the industrial glory of Pittsburgh, reared its
millionaires, its Carnegies and Fricks.

The sight fills me with hatred of the perverse social justice that turns
the needs of mankind into an Inferno of brutalizing toil. It robs man of
his soul, drives the sunshine from his life, degrades him lower than the
beasts, and between the millstones of divine bliss and hellish torture
grinds flesh and blood into iron and steel, transmutes human lives into
gold, gold, countless gold.

The great, noble People! But is it really great and noble to be slaves
and remain content? No, no! They are awakening, awakening!



Contentedly peaceful the Monongahela stretches before me, its waters
lazily rippling in the sunlight, and softly crooning to the murmur of
the woods on the hazy shore. But the opposite bank presents a picture of
sharp contrast. Near the edge of the river rises a high board fence,
topped with barbed wire, the menacing aspect heightened by warlike
watch-towers and ramparts. The sinister wall looks down on me with a
thousand hollow eyes, whose evident murderous purpose fully justifies
the name of "Fort Frick." Groups of excited people crowd the open spaces
between the river and the fort, filling the air with the confusion of
many voices. Men carrying Winchesters are hurrying by, their faces
grimy, eyes bold yet anxious. From the mill-yard gape the black mouths
of cannon, dismantled breastworks bar the passages, and the ground is
strewn with burning cinders, empty shells, oil barrels, broken furnace
stacks, and piles of steel and iron. The place looks the aftermath of a
sanguinary conflict,--the symbol of our industrial life, of the ruthless
struggle in which the _stronger_, the sturdy man of labor, is always the
victim, because he acts _weakly_. But the charred hulks of the Pinkerton
barges at the landing-place, and the blood-bespattered gangplank, bear
mute witness that for once the battle went to the _really strong, to the
victim who dared_.

A group of workingmen approaches me. Big, stalwart men, the power of
conscious strength in their step and bearing. Each of them carries a
weapon: some Winchesters, others shotguns. In the hand of one I notice
the gleaming barrel of a navy revolver.

"Who are you?" the man with the revolver sternly asks me.

"A friend, a visitor."

"Can you show credentials or a union card?"

Presently, satisfied as to my trustworthiness, they allow me to proceed.

In one of the mill-yards I come upon a dense crowd of men and women of
various types: the short, broad-faced Slav, elbowing his tall American
fellow-striker; the swarthy Italian, heavy-mustached, gesticulating and
talking rapidly to a cluster of excited countrymen. The people are
surging about a raised platform, on which stands a large, heavy man.

I press forward. "Listen, gentlemen, listen!" I hear the speaker's
voice. "Just a few words, gentlemen! You all know who I am, don't you?"

"Yes, yes, Sheriff!" several men cry. "Go on!"

"Yes," continues the speaker, "you all know who I am. Your Sheriff, the
Sheriff of Allegheny County, of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

"Go ahead!" some one yells, impatiently.

"If you don't interrupt me, gentlemen, I'll go ahead."

"S-s-sh! Order!"

The speaker advances to the edge of the platform. "Men of Homestead! It
is my sworn duty, as Sheriff, to preserve the peace. Your city is in a
state of lawlessness. I have asked the Governor to send the militia and
I hope--"

"No! No!" many voices protest. "To hell with you!" The tumult drowns the
words of the Sheriff. Shaking his clenched fist, his foot stamping the
platform, he shouts at the crowd, but his voice is lost amid the
general uproar.

"O'Donnell! O'Donnell!" comes from several sides, the cry swelling into
a tremendous chorus, "O'Donnell!"

I see the popular leader of the strike nimbly ascend the platform. The
assembly becomes hushed.

"Brothers," O'Donnell begins in a flowing, ingratiating manner, "we have
won a great, noble victory over the Company. We have driven the
Pinkerton invaders out of our city--"

"Damn the murderers!"

"Silence! Order!"

"You have won a big victory," O'Donnell continues, "a great, significant
victory, such as was never before known in the history of labor's
struggle for better conditions."

Vociferous cheering interrupts the speaker. "But," he continues, "you
must show the world that you desire to maintain peace and order along
with your rights. The Pinkertons were invaders. We defended our homes
and drove them out; rightly so. But you are law-abiding citizens. You
respect the law and the authority of the State. Public opinion will
uphold you in your struggle if you act right. Now is the time, friends!"
He raises his voice in waxing enthusiasm, "Now is the time! Welcome the
soldiers. They are not sent by that man Frick. They are the people's
militia. They are our friends. Let us welcome them as friends!"

Applause, mixed with cries of impatient disapproval, greets the
exhortation. Arms are raised in angry argument, and the crowd sways back
and forth, breaking into several excited groups. Presently a tall, dark
man appears on the platform. His stentorian voice gradually draws the
assembly closer to the front. Slowly the tumult subsides.

"Don't you believe it, men!" The speaker shakes his finger at the
audience, as if to emphasize his warning. "Don't you believe that the
soldiers are coming as friends. Soft words these, Mr. O'Donnell. They'll
cost us dear. Remember what I say, brothers. The soldiers are no friends
of ours. I know what I am talking about. They are coming here because
that damned murderer Frick wants them."

"Hear! Hear!"

"Yes!" the tall man continues, his voice quivering with emotion, "I can
tell you just how it is. The scoundrel of a Sheriff there asked the
Governor for troops, and that damned Frick paid the Sheriff to do it, I

"No! Yes! No!" the clamor is renewed, but I can hear the speaker's voice
rising above the din: "Yes, bribed him. You all know this cowardly
Sheriff. Don't you let the soldiers come, I tell you. First _they_'ll
come; then the blacklegs. You want 'em?"

"No! No!" roars the crowd.

"Well, if you don't want the damned scabs, keep out the soldiers, you
understand? If you don't, they'll drive you out from the homes you have
paid for with your blood. You and your wives and children they'll drive
out, and out you will go from these"--the speaker points in the
direction of the mills--"that's what they'll do, if you don't look out.
We have sweated and bled in these mills, our brothers have been killed
and maimed there, we have made the damned Company rich, and now they
send the soldiers here to shoot us down like the Pinkerton thugs have
tried to. And you want to welcome the murderers, do you? Keep them out,
I tell you!"

Amid shouts and yells the speaker leaves the platform.

"McLuckie! 'Honest' McLuckie!" a voice is heard on the fringe of the
crowd, and as one man the assembly takes up the cry, "'Honest'

I am eager to see the popular Burgess of Homestead, himself a
poorly paid employee of the Carnegie Company. A large-boned,
good-natured-looking workingman elbows his way to the front, the
men readily making way for him with nods and pleasant smiles.

"I haven't prepared any speech," the Burgess begins haltingly, "but I
want to say, I don't see how you are going to fight the soldiers. There
is a good deal of truth in what the brother before me said; but if you
stop to think on it, he forgot to tell you just one little thing. The
_how_? How is he going to do it, to keep the soldiers out? That's what
I'd like to know. I'm afraid it's bad to let them in. The blacklegs
_might_ be hiding in the rear. But then again, it's bad _not_ to let the
soldiers in. You can't stand up against 'em: they are not Pinkertons.
And we can't fight the Government of Pennsylvania. Perhaps the Governor
won't send the militia. But if he does, I reckon the best way for us
will be to make friends with them. Guess it's the only thing we can do.
That's all I have to say."

The assembly breaks up, dejected, dispirited.




Like a gigantic hive the twin cities jut out on the banks of the Ohio,
heavily breathing the spirit of feverish activity, and permeating the
atmosphere with the rage of life. Ceaselessly flow the streams of human
ants, meeting and diverging, their paths crossing and recrossing,
leaving in their trail a thousand winding passages, mounds of structure,
peaked and domed. Their huge shadows overcast the yellow thread of
gleaming river that curves and twists its painful way, now hugging the
shore, now hiding in affright, and again timidly stretching its arms
toward the wrathful monsters that belch fire and smoke into the midst of
the giant hive. And over the whole is spread the gloom of thick fog,
oppressive and dispiriting--the symbol of our existence, with all its
darkness and cold.

This is Pittsburgh, the heart of American industrialism, whose spirit
moulds the life of the great Nation. The spirit of Pittsburgh, the Iron
City! Cold as steel, hard as iron, its products. These are the keynote
of the great Republic, dominating all other chords, sacrificing harmony
to noise, beauty to bulk. Its torch of liberty is a furnace fire,
consuming, destroying, devastating: a country-wide furnace, in which the
bones and marrow of the producers, their limbs and bodies, their health
and blood, are cast into Bessemer steel, rolled into armor plate, and
converted into engines of murder to be consecrated to Mammon by his high
priests, the Carnegies, the Fricks.

       *       *       *       *       *

The spirit of the Iron City characterizes the negotiations carried on
between the Carnegie Company and the Homestead men. Henry Clay Frick, in
absolute control of the firm, incarnates the spirit of the furnace, is
the living emblem of his trade. The olive branch held out by the workers
after their victory over the Pinkertons has been refused. The ultimatum
issued by Frick is the last word of Caesar: the union of the
steel-workers is to be crushed, completely and absolutely, even at the
cost of shedding the blood of the last man in Homestead; the Company
will deal only with individual workers, who must accept the terms
offered, without question or discussion; he, Frick, will operate the
mills with non-union labor, even if it should require the combined
military power of the State and the Union to carry the plan into
execution. Millmen disobeying the order to return to work under the new
schedule of reduced wages are to be discharged forthwith, and evicted
from the Company houses.


In an obscure alley, in the town of Homestead, there stands a one-story
frame house, looking old and forlorn. It is occupied by the widow
Johnson and her four small children. Six months ago, the breaking of a
crane buried her husband under two hundred tons of metal. When the body
was carried into the house, the distracted woman refused to recognize in
the mangled remains her big, strong "Jack." For weeks the neighborhood
resounded with her frenzied cry, "My husband! Where's my husband?" But
the loving care of kind-hearted neighbors has now somewhat restored the
poor woman's reason. Accompanied by her four little orphans, she
recently gained admittance to Mr. Frick. On her knees she implored him
not to drive her out of her home. Her poor husband was dead, she
pleaded; she could not pay off the mortgage; the children were too young
to work; she herself was hardly able to walk. Frick was very kind, she
thought; he had promised to see what could be done. She would not listen
to the neighbors urging her to sue the Company for damages. "The crane
was rotten," her husband's friends informed her; "the government
inspector had condemned it." But Mr. Frick was kind, and surely he knew
best about the crane. Did he not say it was her poor husband's own

She feels very thankful to good Mr. Frick for extending the mortgage.
She had lived in such mortal dread lest her own little home, where dear
John had been such a kind husband to her, be taken away, and her
children driven into the street. She must never forget to ask the Lord's
blessing upon the good Mr. Frick. Every day she repeats to her neighbors
the story of her visit to the great man; how kindly he received her, how
simply he talked with her. "Just like us folks," the widow says.

She is now telling the wonderful story to neighbor Mary, the hunchback,
who, with undiminished interest, hears the recital for the twentieth
time. It reflects such importance to know some one that had come in
intimate contact with the Iron King; why, into his very presence! and
even talked to the great magnate!

"'Dear Mr. Frick,' says I," the widow is narrating, "'dear Mr. Frick,'
I says, 'look at my poor little angels--'"

A knock on the door interrupts her. "Must be one-eyed Kate," the widow
observes. "Come in! Come in!" she calls out, cheerfully. "Poor Kate!"
she remarks with a sigh. "Her man's got the consumption. Won't last
long, I fear."

A tall, rough-looking man stands in the doorway. Behind him appear two
others. Frightened, the widow rises from the chair. One of the children
begins to cry, and runs to hide behind his mother.

"Beg pard'n, ma'am," the tall man says. "Have no fear. We are Deputy
Sheriffs. Read this." He produces an official-looking paper. "Ordered to
dispossess you. Very sorry, ma'am, but get ready. Quick, got a dozen
more of--"

There is a piercing scream. The Deputy Sheriff catches the limp body of
the widow in his arms.


East End, the fashionable residence quarter of Pittsburgh, lies basking
in the afternoon sun. The broad avenue looks cool and inviting: the
stately trees touch their shadows across the carriage road, gently
nodding their heads in mutual approval. A steady procession of equipages
fills the avenue, the richly caparisoned horses and uniformed flunkies
lending color and life to the scene. A cavalcade is passing me. The
laughter of the ladies sounds joyous and care-free. Their happiness
irritates me. I am thinking of Homestead. In mind I see the sombre
fence, the fortifications and cannon; the piteous figure of the widow
rises before me, the little children weeping, and again I hear the
anguished cry of a broken heart, a shattered brain....

And here all is joy and laughter. The gentlemen seem pleased; the ladies
are happy. Why should they concern themselves with misery and want? The
common folk are fit only to be their slaves, to feed and clothe them,
build these beautiful palaces, and be content with the charitable crust.
"Take what I give you," Frick commands. Why, here is his house! A
luxurious place, with large garden, barns, and stable. That stable
there,--it is more cheerful and habitable than the widow's home. Ah,
life could be made livable, beautiful! Why should it not be? Why so much
misery and strife? Sunshine, flowers, beautiful things are all around
me. That is life! Joy and peace.... No! There can be no peace with such
as Frick and these parasites in carriages riding on our backs, and
sucking the blood of the workers. Fricks, vampires, all of them--I
almost shout aloud--they are all one class. All in a cabal against _my_
class, the toilers, the producers. An impersonal conspiracy, perhaps;
but a conspiracy nevertheless. And the fine ladies on horseback smile
and laugh. What is the misery of the People to _them?_ Probably they are
laughing at me. Laugh! Laugh! You despise me. I am of the People, but
you belong to the Fricks. Well, it may soon be our turn to laugh....

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning to Pittsburgh in the evening, I learn that the conferences
between the Carnegie Company and the Advisory Committee of the strikers
have terminated in the final refusal of Frick to consider the demands of
the millmen. The last hope is gone! The master is determined to crush
his rebellious slaves.



The door of Frick's private office, to the left of the reception-room,
swings open as the colored attendant emerges, and I catch a flitting
glimpse of a black-bearded, well-knit figure at a table in the back of
the room.

"Mistah Frick is engaged. He can't see you now, sah," the negro says,
handing back my card.

I take the pasteboard, return it to my case, and walk slowly out of the
reception-room. But quickly retracing my steps, I pass through the gate
separating the clerks from the visitors, and, brushing the astounded
attendant aside, I step into the office on the left, and find myself
facing Frick.

For an instant the sunlight, streaming through the windows, dazzles me.
I discern two men at the further end of the long table.

"Fr--," I begin. The look of terror on his face strikes me speechless.
It is the dread of the conscious presence of death. "He understands," it
flashes through my mind. With a quick motion I draw the revolver. As I
raise the weapon, I see Frick clutch with both hands the arm of the
chair, and attempt to rise. I aim at his head. "Perhaps he wears armor,"
I reflect. With a look of horror he quickly averts his face, as I pull
the trigger. There is a flash, and the high-ceilinged room reverberates
as with the booming of cannon. I hear a sharp, piercing cry, and see
Frick on his knees, his head against the arm of the chair. I feel calm
and possessed, intent upon every movement of the man. He is lying head
and shoulders under the large armchair, without sound or motion. "Dead?"
I wonder. I must make sure. About twenty-five feet separate us. I take a
few steps toward him, when suddenly the other man, whose presence I had
quite forgotten, leaps upon me. I struggle to loosen his hold. He looks
slender and small. I would not hurt him: I have no business with him.
Suddenly I hear the cry, "Murder! Help!" My heart stands still as I
realize that it is Frick shouting. "Alive?" I wonder. I hurl the
stranger aside and fire at the crawling figure of Frick. The man struck
my hand,--I have missed! He grapples with me, and we wrestle across the
room. I try to throw him, but spying an opening between his arm and
body, I thrust the revolver against his side and aim at Frick, cowering
behind the chair. I pull the trigger. There is a click--but no
explosion! By the throat I catch the stranger, still clinging to me,
when suddenly something heavy strikes me on the back of the head. Sharp
pains shoot through my eyes. I sink to the floor, vaguely conscious of
the weapon slipping from my hands.

"Where is the hammer? Hit him, carpenter!" Confused voices ring in my
ears. Painfully I strive to rise. The weight of many bodies is pressing
on me. Now--it's Frick's voice! Not dead?... I crawl in the direction of
the sound, dragging the struggling men with me. I must get the dagger
from my pocket--I have it! Repeatedly I strike with it at the legs of
the man near the window. I hear Frick cry out in pain--there is much
shouting and stamping--my arms are pulled and twisted, and I am lifted
bodily from the floor.

Police, clerks, workmen in overalls, surround me. An officer pulls my
head back by the hair, and my eyes meet Frick's. He stands in front of
me, supported by several men. His face is ashen gray; the black beard is
streaked with red, and blood is oozing from his neck. For an instant a
strange feeling, as of shame, comes over me; but the next moment I am
filled with anger at the sentiment, so unworthy of a revolutionist. With
defiant hatred I look him full in the face.

"Mr. Frick, do you identify this man as your assailant?"

Frick nods weakly.

       *       *       *       *       *

The street is lined with a dense, excited crowd. A young man in civilian
dress, who is accompanying the police, inquires, not unkindly:

"Are you hurt? You're bleeding."

I pass my hand over my face. I feel no pain, but there is a peculiar
sensation about my eyes.

"I've lost my glasses," I remark, involuntarily.

"You'll be damn lucky if you don't lose your head," an officer retorts.




The clanking of the keys grows fainter and fainter; the sound of
footsteps dies away. The officers are gone. It is a relief to be alone.
Their insolent looks and stupid questions, insinuations and
threats,--how disgusting and tiresome it all is! A sense of complete
indifference possesses me. I stretch myself out on the wooden bench,
running along the wall of the cell, and at once fall asleep.

I awake feeling tired and chilly. All is quiet and dark around me. Is it
night? My hand gropes blindly, hesitantly. Something wet and clammy
touches my cheek. In sudden affright I draw back. The cell is damp and
musty; the foul air nauseates me. Slowly my foot feels the floor,
drawing my body forward, all my senses on the alert. I clutch the bars.
The feel of iron is reassuring. Pressed close to the door, my mouth in
the narrow opening, I draw quick, short breaths. I am hot, perspiring.
My throat is dry to cracking; I cannot swallow. "Water! I want water!"
The voice frightens me. Was it I that spoke? The sound rolls up; it
rises from gallery to gallery, and strikes the opposite corner under the
roof; now it crawls underneath, knocks in the distant hollows, and
abruptly ceases.

"Holloa, there! Whatcher in for?"

The voice seems to issue at once from all sides of the corridor. But the
sound relieves me. Now the air feels better; it is not so difficult to
breathe. I begin to distinguish the outline of a row of cells opposite
mine. There are dark forms at the doors. The men within look like beasts
restlessly pacing their cages.

"Whatcher in for?" It comes from somewhere alongside. "Can't talk, eh?
'Sorderly, guess."

What am I in for? Oh, yes! It's Frick. Well, I shall not stay _here_
long, anyhow. They will soon take me out--they will lean me against a
wall--a slimy wall like this, perhaps. They will bandage my eyes, and
the soldiers there.... No: they are going to hang me. Well, I shall be
glad when they take me out of here. I am so dry. I'm suffocating....

... The upright irons of the barred door grow faint, and melt into a
single line; it adjusts itself crosswise between the upper and side
sills. It resembles a scaffold, and there is a man sinking the beam into
the ground. He leans it carefully against the wall, and picks up a
spade. Now he stands with one foot in the hole. It is the carpenter! He
hit me on the head. From behind, too, the coward. If he only knew what
he had done. He is one of the People: we must go to them, enlighten
them. I wish he'd look up. He doesn't know his real friends. He looks
like a Russian peasant, with his broad back. What hairy arms he has! If
he would only look up.... Now he sinks the beam into the ground; he is
stamping down the earth. I will catch his eye as he turns around. Ah, he
didn't look! He has his eyes always on the ground. Just like the
_muzhik_. Now he is taking a few steps backward, critically examining
his work. He seems pleased. How peculiar the cross-piece looks. The
horizontal beam seems too long; out of proportion. I hope it won't
break. I remember the feeling I had when my brother once showed me the
picture of a man dangling from the branch of a tree. Underneath was
inscribed, _The Execution of Stenka Razin_. "Didn't the branch break?" I
asked. "No, Sasha," mother replied, "Stenka--well, he weighed nothing";
and I wondered at the peculiar look she exchanged with Maxim. But mother
smiled sadly at me, and wouldn't explain. Then she turned to my brother:
"Maxim, you must not bring Sashenka such pictures. He is too young."
"Not too young, mamotchka, to learn that Stenka was a great man." "What!
You young fool," father bristled with anger, "he was a murderer, a
common rioter." But mother and Maxim bravely defended Stenka, and I was
deeply incensed at father, who despotically terminated the discussion.
"Not another word, now! I won't hear any more of that peasant criminal."
The peculiar divergence of opinion perplexed me. Anybody could tell the
difference between a murderer and a worthy man. Why couldn't they agree?
He must have been a good man, I finally decided. Mother wouldn't cry
over a hanged murderer: I saw her stealthily wipe her eyes as she looked
at that picture. Yes, Stenka Razin was surely a noble man. I cried
myself to sleep over the unspeakable injustice, wondering how I could
ever forgive "them" the killing of the good Stenka, and why the
weak-looking branch did not break with his weight. Why didn't it
break?... The scaffold they will prepare for me might break with my
weight. They'll hang me like Stenka, and perhaps a little boy will some
day see the picture--and they will call me murderer--and only a few will
know the truth--and the picture will show me hanging from.... No, they
shall not hang me!

My hand steals to the lapel of my coat, and a deep sense of
gratification comes over me, as I feel the nitro-glycerine cartridge
secure in the lining. I smile at the imaginary carpenter. Useless
preparations! I have, myself, prepared for the event. No, they won't
hang me. My hand caresses the long, narrow tube. Go ahead! Make your
gallows. Why, the man is putting on his coat. Is he done already? Now he
is turning around. He is looking straight at me. Why, it's Frick!

My brain is on fire. I press my head against the bars, and groan
heavily. Alive? Have I failed? Failed?...


Heavy footsteps approach nearer; the clanking of the keys grows more
distinct. I must compose myself. Those mocking, unfriendly eyes shall
not witness my agony. They could allay this terrible uncertainty, but I
must seem indifferent.

Would I "take lunch with the Chief"? I decline, requesting a glass of
water. Certainly; but the Chief wishes to see me first. Flanked on each
side by a policeman, I pass through winding corridors, and finally
ascend to the private office of the Chief. My mind is busy with thoughts
of escape, as I carefully note the surroundings. I am in a large,
well-furnished room, the heavily curtained windows built unusually high
above the floor. A brass railing separates me from the roll-top desk, at
which a middle-aged man, of distinct Irish type, is engaged with some

"Good morning," he greets me, pleasantly. "Have a seat," pointing to a
chair inside the railing. "I understand you asked for some water?"


"Just a few questions first. Nothing important. Your pedigree, you know.
Mere matter of form. Answer frankly, and you shall have everything you

His manner is courteous, almost ingratiating.

"Now tell me, Mr. Berkman, what is your name? Your real name, I mean."

"That's my real name."

"You don't mean you gave your real name on the card you sent in to Mr.

"I gave my real name."

"And you are an agent of a New York employment firm?"


"That was on your card."

"I wrote it to gain access to Frick."

"And you gave the name 'Alexander Berkman' to gain access?"

"No. I gave my real name. Whatever might happen, I did not want anyone
else to be blamed."

"Are you a Homestead striker?"


"Why did you attack Mr. Frick?"

"He is an enemy of the People."

"You got a personal grievance against him?"

"No. I consider him an enemy of the People."

"Where do you come from?"

"From the station cell."

"Come, now, you may speak frankly, Mr. Berkman. I am your friend. I am
going to give you a nice, comfortable cell. The other--"

"Worse than a Russian prison," I interrupt, angrily.

"How long did you serve there?"


"In the prison in Russia."

"I was never before inside a cell."

"Come, now, Mr. Berkman, tell the truth."

He motions to the officer behind my chair. The window curtains are drawn
aside, exposing me to the full glare of the sunlight. My gaze wanders to
the clock on the wall. The hour-hand points to V. The calendar on the
desk reads, July--23--Saturday. Only three hours since my arrest? It
seemed so long in the cell....

"You can be quite frank with me," the inquisitor is saying. "I know a
good deal more about you than you think. We've got your friend

With difficulty I suppress a smile at the stupidity of the intended
trap. In the register of the hotel where I passed the first night in
Pittsburgh, I signed "Rakhmetov," the name of the hero in
Chernishevsky's famous novel.

"Yes, we've got your friend, and we know all about you."

"Then why do you ask me?"

"Don't you try to be smart now. Answer my questions, d'ye hear?"

His manner has suddenly changed. His tone is threatening.

"Now answer me. Where do you live?"

"Give me some water. I am too dry to talk."

"Certainly, certainly," he replies, coaxingly. "You shall have a drink.
Do you prefer whiskey or beer?"

"I never drink whiskey, and beer very seldom. I want water."

"Well, you'll get it as soon as we get through. Don't let us waste time,
then. Who are your friends?"

"Give me a drink."

"The quicker we get through, the sooner you'll get a drink. I am having
a nice cell fixed up for you, too. I want to be your friend, Mr.
Berkman. Treat me right, and I'll take care of you. Now, tell me, where
did you stop in Pittsburgh?"

"I have nothing to tell you."

"Answer me, or I'll--"

His face is purple with rage. With clenched fist he leaps from his seat;
but, suddenly controlling himself, he says, with a reassuring smile:

"Now be sensible, Mr. Berkman. You seem to be an intelligent man. Why
don't you talk sensibly?"

"What do you want to know?"

"Who went with you to Mr. Frick's office?"

Impatient of the comedy, I rise with the words:

"I came to Pittsburgh alone. I stopped at the Merchants' Hotel, opposite
the B. and O. depot. I signed the name Rakhmetov in the register there.
It's a fictitious name. My real name is Alexander Berkman. I went to
Frick's office alone. I had no helpers. That's all I have to tell you."

"Very good, very good. Take your seat, Mr. Berkman. We're not in any
hurry. Take your seat. You may as well stay here as in the cell; it's
pleasanter. But I am going to have another cell fixed up for you. Just
tell me, where do you stay in New York?"

"I have told you all there is to tell."

"Now, don't be stubborn. Who are your friends?"

"I won't say another word."

"Damn you, you'll think better of it. Officers, take him back. Same

       *       *       *       *       *

Every morning and evening, during three days, the scene is repeated by
new inquisitors. They coax and threaten, they smile and rage in turn. I
remain indifferent. But water is refused me, my thirst aggravated by the
salty food they have given me. It consumes me, it tortures and burns my
vitals through the sleepless nights passed on the hard wooden bench. The
foul air of the cell is stifling. The silence of the grave torments me;
my soul is in an agony of uncertainty.




The days ring with noisy clamor. There is constant going and coming. The
clatter of levers, the slamming of iron doors, continually reverberates
through the corridors. The dull thud of a footfall in the cell above
hammers on my head with maddening regularity. In my ears is the yelling
and shouting of coarse voices.

"Cell num-ber ee-e-lev-ven! To court! Right a-way!"

A prisoner hurriedly passes my door. His step is nervous, in his look
expectant fear.

"Hurry, there! To court!"

"Good luck, Jimmie."

The man flushes and averts his face, as he passes a group of visitors
clustered about an overseer.

"Who is that, Officer?" One of the ladies advances, lorgnette in hand,
and stares boldly at the prisoner. Suddenly she shrinks back. A man is
being led past by the guards. His face is bleeding from a deep gash, his
head swathed in bandages. The officers thrust him violently into a cell.
He falls heavily against the bed. "Oh, don't! For Jesus' sake, don't!"
The shutting of the heavy door drowns his cries.

The visitors crowd about the cell.

"What did he do? He can't come out now, Officer?"

"No, ma'am. He's safe."

The lady's laugh rings clear and silvery. She steps closer to the bars,
eagerly peering into the darkness. A smile of exciting security plays
about her mouth.

"What has he done, Officer?"

"Stole some clothes, ma'am."

Disdainful disappointment is on the lady's face. "Where is that man
who--er--we read in the papers yesterday? You know--the newspaper artist
who killed--er--that girl in such a brutal manner."

"Oh, Jack Tarlin. Murderers' Row, this way, ladies."


The sun is slowly nearing the blue patch of sky, visible from my cell in
the western wing of the jail. I stand close to the bars to catch the
cheering rays. They glide across my face with tender, soft caress, and I
feel something melt within me. Closer I press to the door. I long for
the precious embrace to surround me, to envelop me, to pour its soft
balm into my aching soul. The last rays are fading away, and something
out of my heart is departing with them.... But the lengthening shadows
on the gray flagstones spread quiet. Gradually the clamor ceases, the
sounds die out. I hear the creaking of rusty hinges, there is the click
of a lock, and all is hushed and dark.

       *       *       *       *       *

The silence grows gloomy, oppressive. It fills me with mysterious awe.
It lives. It pulsates with slow, measured breathing, as of some monster.
It rises and falls; approaches, recedes. It is Misery asleep. Now it
presses heavily against my door. I hear its quickened breathing. Oh, it
is the guard! Is it the death watch? His outline is lost in the
semi-darkness, but I see the whites of his eyes. They stare at me, they
watch and follow me. I feel their gaze upon me, as I nervously pace the
floor. Unconsciously my step quickens, but I cannot escape that glint of
steel. It grimaces and mocks me. It dances before me: it is here and
there, all around me. Now it flits up and down; it doubles, trebles. The
fearful eyes stare at me from a hundred depressions in the wall. On
every side they surround me, and bar my way.

I bury my head in the pillow. My sleep is restless and broken. Ever the
terrible gaze is upon me, watching, watching, the white eyeballs turning
with my every movement.


The line of prisoners files by my cell. They walk in twos, conversing in
subdued tones. It is a motley crowd from the ends of the world. The
native of the western part of the State, the "Pennsylvania Dutchman," of
stolid mien, passes slowly, in silence. The son of southern Italy,
stocky and black-eyed, alert suspicion on his face, walks with quick,
nervous step. The tall, slender Spaniard, swarthy and of classic
feature, looks about him with suppressed disdain. Each, in passing,
casts a furtive glance into my cell. The last in the line is a young
negro, walking alone. He nods and smiles broadly at me, exposing teeth
of dazzling whiteness. The guard brings up the rear. He pauses at my
door, his sharp eye measuring me severely, critically.

"You may fall in."

The cell is unlocked, and I join the line. The negro is at my side. He
loses no time in engaging me in conversation. He is very glad, he
assures me, that they have at last permitted me to "fall in." It was a
shame to deprive me of exercise for four days. Now they will "call de
night-dog off. Must been afeared o' soocide," he explains.

His flow of speech is incessant; he seems not a whit disconcerted by my
evident disinclination to talk. Would I have a cigarette? May smoke in
the cell. One can buy "de weed" here, if he has "de dough"; buy anything
'cept booze. He is full of the prison gossip. That tall man there is
Jack Tinford, of Homestead--sure to swing--threw dynamite at the
Pinkertons. That little "dago" will keep Jack company--cut his wife's
throat. The "Dutchy" there is "bugs"--choked his son in sleep. Presently
my talkative companion volunteers the information that he also is
waiting for trial. Nothing worse than second degree murder, though.
Can't hang him, he laughs gleefully. "His" man didn't "croak" till after
the ninth day. He lightly waves aside my remark concerning the ninth-day
superstition. He is convinced they won't hang him. "Can't do't," he
reiterates, with a happy grin. Suddenly he changes the subject. "Wat am
yo doin' heah? Only murdah cases on dis ah gal'ry. Yuh man didn' croak!"
Evidently he expects no answer, immediately assuring me that I am "all
right." "Guess dey b'lieve it am mo' safe foah yo. But can't hang yo,
can't hang yo." He grows excited over the recital of his case. Minutely
he describes the details. "Dat big niggah, guess 'e t'ot I's afeared of
'm. He know bettah now," he chuckles. "Dis ah chile am afeared of none
ov'm. Ah ain't. 'Gwan 'way, niggah,' Ah says to 'm; 'yo bettah leab mah
gahl be.' An' dat big black niggah grab de cleaveh,--we's in d'otel
kitchen, yo see. 'Niggah, drop dat,' Ah hollos, an' he come at me. Den
dis ah coon pull his trusty li'lle brodeh," he taps his pocket
significantly, "an' Ah lets de ornery niggah hab it. Plum' in de belly,
yassah, Ah does, an' he drop his cleaveh an' Ah pulls mah knife out, two
inches, 'bout, an' den Ah gives it half twist like, an' shoves it in
'gen." He illustrates the ghastly motion. "Dat bad niggah neveh botheh
_me_ 'gen, noh nobody else, Ah guess. But dey can't hang me, no sah, dey
can't, 'cause mah man croak two weeks later. Ah's lucky, yassah, Ah is."
His face is wreathed in a broad grin, his teeth shimmer white. Suddenly
he grows serious. "Yo am strikeh? No-o-o? Not a steel-woikeh?" with
utter amazement. "What yo wan' teh shoot Frick foah?" He does not
attempt to disguise his impatient incredulity, as I essay an
explanation. "Afeared t' tell. Yo am deep all right, Ahlick--dat am yuh
name? But yo am right, yassah, yo am right. Doan' tell nobody. Dey's
mos'ly crooks, dat dey am, an' dey need watchin' sho'. Yo jes' membuh

       *       *       *       *       *

There is a peculiar movement in the marching line. I notice a prisoner
leave his place. He casts an anxious glance around, and disappears in
the niche of the cell door. The line continues on its march, and, as I
near the man's hiding place, I hear him whisper, "Fall back, Aleck."
Surprised at being addressed in such familiar manner, I slow down my
pace. The man is at my side.

"Say, Berk, you don't want to be seen walking with that 'dinge.'"

The sound of my shortened name grates harshly on my ear. I feel the
impulse to resent the mutilation. The man's manner suggests a lack of
respect, offensive to my dignity as a revolutionist.

"Why?" I ask, turning to look at him.

He is short and stocky. The thin lips and pointed chin of the elongated
face suggest the fox. He meets my gaze with a sharp look from above his
smoked-glass spectacles. His voice is husky, his tone unpleasantly
confidential. It is bad for a white man to be seen with a "nigger," he
informs me. It will make feeling against me. He himself is a Pittsburgh
man for the last twenty years, but he was "born and raised" in the
South, in Atlanta. They have no use for "niggers" down there, he assures
me. They must be taught to keep their place, and they are no good,
anyway. I had better take his advice, for he is friendly disposed toward
me. I must be very careful of appearances before the trial. My
inexperience is quite evident, but he "knows the ropes." I must not give
"them" an opportunity to say anything against me. My behavior in jail
will weigh with the judge in determining my sentence. He himself expects
to "get off easy." He knows some of the judges. Mostly good men. He
ought to know: helped to elect one of them; voted three times for him at
the last election. He closes the left eye, and playfully pokes me with
his elbow. He hopes he'll "get before that judge." He will, if he is
lucky, he assures me. He had always had pretty good luck. Last time he
got off with three years, though he nearly killed "his" man. But it was
in self-defence. Have I got a chew of tobacco about me? Don't use the
weed? Well, it'll be easier in the "pen." What's the pen? Why, don't I
know? The penitentiary, of course. I should have no fear. Frick ain't
going to die. But what did I want to kill the man for? I ain't no
Pittsburgh man, that he could see plain. What did I want to "nose in"
for? Help the strikers? I must be crazy to talk that way. Why, it was
none of my "cheese." Didn't I come from New York? Yes? Well, then, how
could the strike concern me? I must have some personal grudge against
Frick. Ever had dealings with him? No? Sure? Then it's plain "bughouse,"
no use talking. But it's different with his case. It was his partner in
business. He knew the skunk meant to cheat him out of money, and they
quarreled. Did I notice the dark glasses he wears? Well, his eyes are
bad. He only meant to scare the man. But, damn him, he croaked. Curse
such luck. His third offence, too. Do I think the judge will have pity
on him? Why, he is almost blind. How did he manage to "get his man"?
Why, just an accidental shot. He didn't mean to--

The gong intones its deep, full bass.

"All in!"

The line breaks. There is a simultaneous clatter of many doors, and I am
in the cell again.


Within, on the narrow stool, I find a tin pan filled with a dark-brown
mixture. It is the noon meal, but the "dinner" does not look inviting:
the pan is old and rusty; the smell of the soup excites suspicion. The
greasy surface, dotted here and there with specks of vegetable,
resembles a pool of stagnant water covered with green slime. The first
taste nauseates me, and I decide to "dine" on the remnants of my
breakfast--a piece of bread.

       *       *       *       *       *

I pace the floor in agitation over the conversation with my
fellow-prisoners. Why can't they understand the motives that prompted
my act? Their manner of pitying condescension is aggravating. My
attempted explanation they evidently considered a waste of effort.
Not a striker myself, I could and should have had no interest in
the struggle,--the opinion seemed final with both the negro and
the white man. In the purpose of the act they refused to see any
significance,--nothing beyond the mere physical effect. It would have
been a good thing if Frick had died, because "he was bad." But it is
"lucky" for me that he didn't die, they thought, for now "they" can't
hang me. My remark that the probable consequences to myself are not to
be weighed in the scale against the welfare of the People, they had met
with a smile of derision, suggestive of doubt as to my sanity. It is, of
course, consoling to reflect that neither of those men can properly be
said to represent the People. The negro is a very inferior type of
laborer; and the other--he is a _bourgeois_, "in business." He is not
worth while. Besides, he confessed that it is his third offence. He is a
common criminal, not an honest producer. But that tall man--the
Homestead steel-worker whom the negro pointed out to me--oh, _he_ will
understand: he is of the real People. My heart wells up in admiration of
the man, as I think of his participation in the memorable struggle of
Homestead. He fought the Pinkertons, the myrmidons of Capital. Perhaps
he helped to dynamite the barges and drive those Hessians out of town.
He is tall and broad-shouldered, his face strong and determined, his
body manly and powerful. He is of the true spirit; the embodiment of the
great, noble People: the giant of labor grown to his full stature,
conscious of his strength. Fearless, strong, and proud, he will conquer
all obstacles; he will break his chains and liberate mankind.


Next morning, during exercise hour, I watch with beating heart for an
opportunity to converse with the Homestead steel-worker. I shall explain
to him the motives and purpose of my attempt on Frick. He will
understand me; he will himself enlighten his fellow-strikers. It is very
important _they_ should comprehend my act quite clearly, and he is the
very man to do this great service to humanity. He is the rebel-worker;
his heroism during the struggle bears witness. I hope the People will
not allow the enemy to hang him. He defended the rights of the Homestead
workers, the cause of the whole working class. No, the People will never
allow such a sacrifice. How well he carries himself! Erect, head high,
the look of conscious dignity and strength--

"Cell num-b-ber fi-i-ve!"

The prisoner with the smoked glasses leaves the line, and advances in
response to the guard's call. Quickly I pass along the gallery, and fall
into the vacant place, alongside of the steel-worker.

"A happy chance," I address him. "I should like to speak to you about
something important. You are one of the Homestead strikers, are you

"Jack Tinford," he introduces himself. "What's your name?"

He is visibly startled by my answer. "The man who shot Frick?" he asks.

An expression of deep anxiety crosses his face. His eye wanders to the
gate. Through the wire network I observe visitors approaching from the
Warden's office.

"They'd better not see us together," he says, impatiently. "Fall in back
of me. Then we'll talk."

Pained at his manner, yet not fully realizing its significance, I slowly
fall back. His tall, broad figure completely hides me from view. He
speaks to me in monosyllables, unwillingly. At the mention of Homestead
he grows more communicative, talking in an undertone, as if conversing
with his neighbor, the Sicilian, who does not understand a syllable of
English. I strain my ear to catch his words. The steel-workers merely
defended themselves against armed invaders, I hear him say. They are not
on strike: they've been locked out by Frick, because he wants to
non-unionize the works. That's why he broke the contract with the
Amalgamated, and hired the damned Pinkertons two months before, when all
was peace. They shot many workers from the barges before the millmen
"got after them." They deserved roasting alive for their unprovoked
murders. Well, the men "fixed them all right." Some were killed, others
committed suicide on the burning barges, and the rest were forced to
surrender like whipped curs. A grand victory all right, if that coward
of a sheriff hadn't got the Governor to send the militia to Homestead.
But it was a victory, you bet, for the boys to get the best of three
hundred armed Pinkertons. He himself, though, had nothing to do with the
fight. He was sick at the time. They're trying to get the Pinkertons to
swear his life away. One of the hounds has already made an affidavit
that he saw him, Jack Tinford, throw dynamite at the barges, before the
Pinkertons landed. But never mind, he is not afraid. No Pittsburgh jury
will believe those lying murderers. He was in his sweetheart's house,
sick abed. The girl and her mother will prove an alibi for him. And the
Advisory Committee of the Amalgamated, too. They know he wasn't on the
shore. They'll swear to it in court, anyhow--

Abruptly he ceases, a look of fear on his face. For a moment he is lost
in thought. Then he gives me a searching look, and smiles at me. As we
turn the corner of the walk, he whispers: "Too bad you didn't kill him.
Some business misunderstanding, eh?" he adds, aloud.

Could he be serious, I wonder. Does he only pretend? He faces straight
ahead, and I am unable to see his expression. I begin the careful
explanation I had prepared:

"Jack, it was for you, for your people that I--"

Impatiently, angrily he interrupts me. I'd better be careful not to talk
that way in court, he warns me. If Frick should die, I'd hang myself
with such "gab." And it would only harm the steel-workers. They don't
believe in killing; they respect the law. Of course, they had a right to
defend their homes and families against unlawful invaders. But they
welcomed the militia to Homestead. They showed their respect for
authority. To be sure, Frick deserves to die. He is a murderer. But the
mill-workers will have nothing to do with Anarchists. What did I want to
kill him for, anyhow? I did not belong to the Homestead men. It was none
of my business. I had better not say anything about it in court, or--

The gong tolls.

"All in!"


I pass a sleepless night. The events of the day have stirred me to the
very depths. Bitterness and anger against the Homestead striker fill my
heart. My hero of yesterday, the hero of the glorious struggle of the
People,--how contemptible he has proved himself, how cravenly small! No
consciousness of the great mission of his class, no proud realization
of the part he himself had acted in the noble struggle. A cowardly,
overgrown boy, terrified at to-morrow's punishment for the prank he has
played! Meanly concerned only with his own safety, and willing to resort
to lying, in order to escape responsibility.

The very thought is appalling. It is a sacrilege, an insult to the holy
Cause, to the People. To myself, too. Not that lying is to be condemned,
provided it is in the interest of the Cause. All means are justified in
the war of humanity against its enemies. Indeed, the more repugnant the
means, the stronger the test of one's nobility and devotion. All great
revolutionists have proved that. There is no more striking example in
the annals of the Russian movement than that peerless Nihilist--what was
his name? Why, how peculiar that it should escape me just now! I knew it
so well. He undermined the Winter Palace, beneath the very dining-room
of the Tsar. What debasement, what terrible indignities he had to endure
in the rôle of the servile, simple-minded peasant carpenter. How his
proud spirit must have suffered, for weeks and months,--all for the sake
of his great purpose. Wonderful man! To be worthy of your
comradeship.... But this Homestead worker, what a pigmy by comparison.
He is absorbed in the single thought of saving himself, the traitor. A
veritable Judas, preparing to forswear his people and their cause,
willing to lie and deny his participation. How proud I should be in his
place: to have fought on the barricades, as he did! And then to die for
it,--ah, could there be a more glorious fate for a man, a real man? To
serve even as the least stone in the foundation of a free society, or as
a plank in the bridge across which the triumphant People shall finally
pass into the land of promise?

A plank in the bridge.... In the _most_.[5] What a significant name! How
it impressed me the first time I heard it! No, I saw it in print, I
remember quite clearly. Mother had just died. I was dreaming of the New
World, the Land of Freedom. Eagerly I read every line of "American
news." One day, in the little Kovno library--how distinctly it all comes
back to me--I can see myself sitting there, perusing the papers. Must
get acquainted with the country. What is this? "Anarchists hanged in
Chicago." There are many names--one is "Most." "What is an Anarchist?" I
whisper to the student near by. He is from Peter,[6] he will know.
"S--sh! Same as Nihilists." "In free America?" I wondered.

  [5] Russian for "bridge."

  [6] Popular abbreviation of St. Petersburg.

How little I knew of America then! A free country, indeed, that hangs
its noblest men. And the misery, the exploitation,--it's terrible. I
must mention all this in court, in my defence. No, not defence--some
fitter word. Explanation! Yes, my explanation. I need no defence: I
don't consider myself guilty. What did the Warden mean? Fool for a
client, he said, when I told him that I would refuse legal aid. He
thinks I am a fool. Well, he's a _bourgeois_, he can't understand. I'll
tell him to leave me alone. He belongs to the enemy. The lawyers, too.
They are all in the capitalist camp. I need no lawyers. They couldn't
explain my case. I shall not talk to the reporters, either. They are a
lying pack, those journalistic hounds of capitalism. They always
misrepresent us. And they know better, too. They wrote columns of
interviews with Most when he went to prison. All lies. I saw him off
myself; he didn't say a word to them. They are our worst enemies. The
Warden said that they'll come to see me to-morrow. I'll have nothing to
say to them. They're sure to twist my words, and thus impair the effect
of my act. It is not complete without my explanation. I shall prepare it
very carefully. Of course, the jury won't understand. They, too, belong
to the capitalist class. But I must use the trial to talk to the People.
To be sure, an _Attentat_ on a Frick is in itself splendid propaganda.
It combines the value of example with terroristic effect. But very much
depends upon my explanation. It offers me a rare opportunity for a
broader agitation of our ideas. The comrades outside will also use my
act for propaganda. The People misunderstand us: they have been
prejudiced by the capitalist press. They must be enlightened; that is
our glorious task. Very difficult and slow work, it is true; but they
will learn. Their patience will break, and then--the good People, they
have always been too kind to their enemies. And brave, even in their
suffering. Yes, very brave. Not like that fellow, the steel-worker. He
is a disgrace to Homestead, the traitor....

       *       *       *       *       *

I pace the cell in agitation. The Judas-striker is not fit to live.
Perhaps it would be best they should hang him. His death would help to
open the eyes of the People to the real character of legal justice.
Legal justice--what a travesty! They are mutually exclusive terms. Yes,
indeed, it would be best he should be hanged. The Pinkerton will testify
against him. He saw Jack throw dynamite. Very good. Perhaps others will
also swear to it. The judge will believe the Pinkertons. Yes, they will
hang him.

The thought somewhat soothes my perturbation. At least the cause of the
People will benefit to some extent. The man himself is not to be
considered. He has ceased to exist: his interests are exclusively
personal; he can be of no further benefit to the People. Only his death
can aid the Cause. It is best for him to end his career in the service
of humanity. I hope he will act like a man on the scaffold. The enemy
should not gloat over his fear, his craven terror. They'll see in him
the spirit of the People. Of course, he is not worthy of it. But he must
die like a rebel-worker, bravely, defiantly. I must speak to him about

The deep bass of the gong dispels my reverie.


There is a distinct sense of freedom in the solitude of the night. The
day's atmosphere is surcharged with noisome anxiety, the hours laden
with impending terrors. But the night is soothing. For the first time I
feel alone, unobserved. The "night-dog has been called off." How
refinedly brutal is this constant care lest the hangman be robbed of his
prey! A simple precaution against suicide, the Warden told me. I felt
the naïve stupidity of the suggestion like the thrust of a dagger. What
a tremendous chasm in our mental attitudes! His mind cannot grasp the
impossibility of suicide before I have explained to the People the
motive and purpose of my act. Suicide? As if the mere death of Frick was
my object! The very thought is impossible, insulting. It outrages me
that even a _bourgeois_ should so meanly misjudge the aspirations of an
active revolutionist. The insignificant reptile, Frick,--as if the mere
man were worth a terroristic effort! I aimed at the many-headed hydra
whose visible representative was Frick. The Homestead developments had
given him temporary prominence, thrown this particular hydra-head into
bold relief, so to speak. That alone made him worthy of the
revolutionist's attention. Primarily, as an object lesson; it would
strike terror into the soul of his class. They are craven-hearted, their
conscience weighted with guilt,--and life is dear to them. Their
strangling hold on labor might be loosened. Only for a while, no doubt.
But that much would be gained, due to the act of the _Attentäter_. The
People could not fail to realize the depth of a love that will give its
own life for their cause. To give a young life, full of health and
vitality, to give all, without a thought of self; to give all,
voluntarily, cheerfully; nay, enthusiastically--could any one fail to
understand such a love?

But this is the first terrorist act in America. The People may fail to
comprehend it thoroughly. Yet they will know that an Anarchist committed
the deed. I will talk to them from the courtroom. And my comrades at
liberty will use the opportunity to the utmost to shed light on the
questions involved. Such a deed must draw the attention of the world.
This first act of voluntary Anarchist sacrifice will make the workingmen
think deeply. Perhaps even more so than the Chicago martyrdom. The
latter was preëminently a lesson in capitalist justice. The culmination
of a plutocratic conspiracy, the tragedy of 1887 lacked the element of
voluntary Anarchist self-sacrifice in the interests of the People. In
that distinctive quality my act is initial. Perhaps it will prove the
entering wedge. The leaven of growing oppression is at work. It is for
us, the Anarchists, to educate labor to its great mission. Let the world
learn of the misery of Homestead. The sudden thunderclap gives warning
that beyond the calm horizon the storm is gathering. The lightning of
social protest--

       *       *       *       *       *

"Quick, Ahlick! Plant it." Something white flutters between the bars.
Hastily I read the newspaper clipping. Glorious! Who would have
expected it? A soldier in one of the regiments stationed at Homestead
called upon the line to give "three cheers for the man who shot Frick."
My soul overflows with beautiful hopes. Such a wonderful spirit among
the militia; perhaps the soldiers will fraternize with the strikers. It
is by no means an impossibility: such things have happened before. After
all, they are of the People, mostly workingmen. Their interests are
identical with those of the strikers, and surely they hate Frick, who is
universally condemned for his brutality, his arrogance. This
soldier--what is his name? Iams, W. L. Iams--he typifies the best
feeling of the regiment. The others probably lack his courage. They
feared to respond to his cheers, especially because of the Colonel's
presence. But undoubtedly most of them feel as Iams does. It would be
dangerous for the enemy to rely upon the Tenth Pennsylvania. And in the
other Homestead regiments, there must also be such noble Iamses. They
will not permit their comrade to be court-martialed, as the Colonel
threatens. Iams is not merely a militia man. He is a citizen, a native.
He has the right to express his opinion regarding my deed. If he had
condemned it, he would not be punished. May he not, then, voice a
favorable sentiment? No, they can't punish him. And he is surely very
popular among the soldiers. How manfully he behaved as the Colonel raged
before the regiment, and demanded to know who cheered for "the assassin
of Mr. Frick," as the imbecile put it. Iams stepped out of the ranks,
and boldly avowed his act. He could have remained silent, or denied it.
But he is evidently not like that cowardly steel-worker. He even refused
the Colonel's offer to apologize.

Brave boy! He is the right material for a revolutionist. Such a man has
no business to belong to the militia. He should know for what purpose
it is intended: a tool of capitalism in the enslavement of labor. After
all, it will benefit him to be court-martialed. It will enlighten him. I
must follow the case. Perhaps the negro will give me more clippings. It
was very generous of him to risk this act of friendship. The Warden has
expressly interdicted the passing of newspapers to me, though the other
prisoners are permitted to buy them. He discriminates against me in
every possible way. A rank ignoramus: he cannot even pronounce
"Anarchist." Yesterday he said to me: "The Anachrists are no good. What
do they want, anyhow?" I replied, angrily: "First you say they are no
good, then you ask what they want." He flushed. "Got no use for them,
anyway." Such an imbecile! Not the least sense of justice--he condemns
without knowing. I believe he is aiding the detectives. Why does he
insist I should plead guilty? I have repeatedly told him that, though I
do not deny the act, I am innocent. The stupid laughed outright. "Better
plead guilty, you'll get off easier. You did it, so better plead
guilty." In vain I strove to explain to him: "I don't believe in your
laws, I don't acknowledge the authority of your courts. I am innocent,
morally." The aggravating smile of condescending wisdom kept playing
about his lips. "Plead guilty. Take my advice, plead guilty."

       *       *       *       *       *

Instinctively I sense some presence at the door. The small, cunning eyes
of the Warden peer intently through the bars. I feel him an enemy. Well,
he may have the clipping now if he wishes. But no torture shall draw
from me an admission incriminating the negro. The name Rakhmetov flits
through my mind. I shall be true to that memory.

"A gentleman in my office wishes to see you," the Warden informs me.

"Who is he?"

"A friend of yours, from Pittsburgh."

"I know no one in Pittsburgh. I don't care to see the man."

The Warden's suave insistence arouses my suspicions. Why should he be so
much interested in my seeing a stranger? Visits are privileges, I have
been told. I decline the privilege. But the Warden insists. I refuse.
Finally he orders me out of the cell. Two guards lead me into the
hallway. They halt me at the head of a line of a dozen men. Six are
counted off, and I am assigned to the seventh place. I notice that I am
the only one in the line wearing glasses. The Warden enters from an
inner office, accompanied by three visitors. They pass down the row,
scrutinizing each face. They return, their gaze fixed on the men. One of
the strangers makes a motion as if to put his hand on the shoulder of
the man on my left. The Warden hastily calls the visitors aside. They
converse in whispers, then walk up the line, and pass slowly back, till
they are alongside of me. The tall stranger puts his hand familiarly on
my shoulder, exclaiming:

"Don't you recognize me, Mr. Berkman? I met you on Fifth Avenue, right
in front of the Telegraph building."[7]

  [7] The building in which the offices of the Carnegie Company
      were located.

"I never saw you before in my life."

"Oh, yes! You remember I spoke to you--"

"No, you did not," I interrupt, impatiently.

"Take him back," the Warden commands.

I protest against the perfidious proceeding. "A positive
identification," the Warden asserts. The detective had seen me "in the
company of two friends, inspecting the office of Mr. Frick." Indignantly
I deny the false statement, charging him with abetting the conspiracy to
involve my comrades. He grows livid with rage, and orders me deprived of
exercise that afternoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Warden's rôle in the police plot is now apparent to me. I realize
him in his true colors. Ignorant though he is, familiarity with police
methods has developed in him a certain shrewdness: the low cunning of
the fox seeking its prey. The good-natured smile masks a depth of
malice, his crude vanity glorying in the successful abuse of his
wardenship over unfortunate human beings.

This new appreciation of his character clarifies various incidents
heretofore puzzling to me. My mail is being detained at the office, I am
sure. It is impossible that my New York comrades should have neglected
me so long: it is now over a week since my arrest. As a matter of due
precaution, they would not communicate with me at once. But two or three
days would be sufficient to perfect a _Deckadresse_.[8] Yet not a line
has reached me from them. It is evident that my mail is being detained.

  [8] A "disguise" address, to mask the identity of the

My reflections rouse bitter hatred of the Warden. His infamy fills me
with rage. The negro's warning against the occupant of the next cell
assumes a new aspect. Undoubtedly the man is a spy; placed there by the
Warden, evidently. Little incidents, insignificant in themselves, add
strong proof to justify the suspicion. It grows to conviction as I
review various circumstances concerning my neighbor. The questions I
deemed foolish, prompted by mere curiosity, I now see in the light of
the Warden's rôle as volunteer detective. The young negro was sent to
the dungeon for warning me against the spy in the next cell. But the
latter is never reported, notwithstanding his continual knocking and
talking. Specially privileged, evidently. And the Warden, too, is
hand-in-glove with the police. I am convinced he himself caused the
writing of those letters he gave me yesterday. They were postmarked
Homestead, from a pretended striker. They want to blow up the mills, the
letter said; good bombs are needed. I should send them the addresses of
my friends who know how to make effective explosives. What a stupid
trap! One of the epistles sought to involve some of the strike leaders
in my act. In another, John Most was mentioned. Well, I am not to be
caught with such chaff. But I must be on my guard. It is best I should
decline to accept mail. They withhold the letters of my friends, anyhow.
Yes, I'll refuse all mail.

       *       *       *       *       *

I feel myself surrounded by enemies, open and secret. Not a single being
here I may call friend; except the negro, who, I know, wishes me well. I
hope he will give me more clippings,--perhaps there will be news of my
comrades. I'll try to "fall in" with him at exercise to-morrow.... Oh!
they are handing out tracts. To-morrow is Sunday,--no exercise!


The Lord's day is honored by depriving the prisoners of dinner. A scanty
allowance of bread, with a tincupful of black, unsweetened coffee,
constitutes breakfast. Supper is a repetition of the morning meal,
except that the coffee looks thinner, the tincup more rusty. I force
myself to swallow a mouthful by shutting my eyes. It tastes like greasy
dishwater, with a bitter suggestion of burnt bread.

Exercise is also abolished on the sacred day. The atmosphere is pervaded
with the gloom of unbroken silence. In the afternoon, I hear the
creaking of the inner gate. There is much swishing of dresses: the good
ladies of the tracts are being seated. The doors on Murderers' Row are
opened partly, at a fifteen-degree angle. The prisoners remain in their
cells, with the guards stationed at the gallery entrances.

All is silent. I can hear the beating of my heart in the oppressive
quiet. A faint shadow crosses the darksome floor; now it oscillates on
the bars. I hear the muffled fall of felt-soled steps. Silently the
turnkey passes the cell, like a flitting mystery casting its shadow
athwart a troubled soul. I catch the glint of a revolver protruding from
his pocket.

Suddenly the sweet strains of a violin resound in the corridor. Female
voices swell the melody, "Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee." Slowly
the volume expands; it rises, grows more resonant in contact with the
gallery floor, and echoes in my cell, "Nearer to Thee, to Thee."

The sounds die away. A deep male voice utters, "Let us pray." Its
metallic hardness rings like a command. The guards stand with lowered
heads. Their lips mumble after the invisible speaker, "Our Father who
art in Heaven, give us this day our daily bread.... Forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us----"

"Like hell you do!" some one shouts from the upper gallery. There is
suppressed giggling in the cells. Pellmell the officers rush up the
stairs. The uproar increases. "Order!" Yells and catcalls drown the
Warden's voice. Doors are violently opened and shut. The thunder of
rattling iron is deafening. Suddenly all is quiet: the guards have
reached the galleries. Only hasty tiptoeing is heard.

The offender cannot be found. The gong rings the supper hour. The
prisoners stand at the doors, cup in hand, ready to receive the coffee.

"Give the s---- of b---- no supper! No supper!" roars the Warden.

Sabbath benediction!

The levers are pulled, and we are locked in for the night.


In agitation I pace the cell. Frick didn't die! He has almost recovered.
I have positive information: the "blind" prisoner gave me the clipping
during exercise. "You're a poor shot," he teased me.

The poignancy of the disappointment pierces my heart. I feel it with the
intensity of a catastrophe. My imprisonment, the vexations of jail life,
the future--all is submerged in the flood of misery at the realization
of my failure. Bitter thoughts crowd my mind; self-accusation overwhelms
me. I failed! Failed!... It might have been different, had I gone to
Frick's residence. It was my original intention, too. But the house in
the East End was guarded. Besides, I had no time to wait: that very
morning the papers had announced Frick's intended visit to New York. I
was determined he should not escape me. I resolved to act at once. It
was mainly his cowardice that saved him--he hid under the chair! Played
dead! And now he lives, the vampire.... And Homestead? How will it
affect conditions there? If Frick had died, Carnegie would have
hastened to settle with the strikers. The shrewd Scot only made use of
Frick to destroy the hated union. He himself was absent, he could not be
held accountable. The author of "Triumphant Democracy" is sensitive to
adverse criticism. With the elimination of Frick, responsibility for
Homestead conditions would rest with Carnegie. To support his rôle as
the friend of labor, he must needs terminate the sanguinary struggle.
Such a development of affairs would have greatly advanced the Anarchist
propaganda. However some may condemn my act, the workers could not be
blind to the actual situation, and the practical effects of Frick's
death. But his recovery....

Yet, who can tell? It may perhaps have the same results. If not, the
strike was virtually lost when the steel-workers permitted the militia
to take possession of Homestead. It afforded the Company an opportunity
to fill the mills with scabs. But even if the strike be lost,--our
propaganda is the chief consideration. The Homestead workers are but a
very small part of the American working class. Important as this great
struggle is, the cause of the whole People is supreme. And their true
cause is Anarchism. All other issues are merged in it; it alone will
solve the labor problem. No other consideration deserves attention. The
suffering of individuals, of large masses, indeed, is unavoidable under
capitalist conditions. Poverty and wretchedness must constantly
increase; it is inevitable. A revolutionist cannot be influenced by mere
sentimentality. We bleed for the People, we suffer for them, but we know
the real source of their misery. Our whole civilization, false to the
core as it is, must be destroyed, to be born anew. Only with the
abolition of exploitation will labor gain justice. Anarchism alone can
save the world.

These reflections somewhat soothe me. My failure to accomplish the
desired result is grievously exasperating, and I feel deeply humiliated.
But I shall be the sole sufferer. Properly viewed, the merely physical
result of my act cannot affect its propagandistic value; and that is,
always, the supreme consideration. The chief purpose of my _Attentat_
was to call attention to our social iniquities; to arouse a vital
interest in the sufferings of the People by an act of self-sacrifice; to
stimulate discussion regarding the cause and purpose of the act, and
thus bring the teachings of Anarchism before the world. The Homestead
situation offered the psychologic social moment. What matter the
personal consequences to Frick? the merely physical results of my
_Attentat_? The conditions necessary for propaganda are there: the act
is accomplished.

As to myself--my disappointment is bitter, indeed. I wanted to die for
the Cause. But now they will send me to prison--they will bury me

Involuntarily my hand reaches for the lapel of my coat, when suddenly I
remember my great loss. In agony, I live through again the scene in the
police station, on the third day after my arrest.... Rough hands seize
my arms, and I am forced into a chair. My head is thrust violently
backward, and I face the Chief. He clutches me by the throat.

"Open your mouth! Damn you, open your mouth!"

Everything is whirling before me, the desk is circling the room, the
bloodshot eyes of the Chief gaze at me from the floor, his feet flung
high in the air, and everything is whirling, whirling....

"Now, Doc, quick!"

There is a sharp sting in my tongue, my jaws are gripped as by a vise,
and my mouth is torn open.

"What d'ye think of _that_, eh?"

The Chief stands before me, in his hand the dynamite cartridge.

"What's this?" he demands, with an oath.

"Candy," I reply, defiantly.


How full of anxiety these two weeks have been! Still no news of my
comrades. The Warden is not offering me any more mail; he evidently
regards my last refusal as final. But I am now permitted to purchase
papers; they may contain something about my friends. If I could only
learn what propaganda is being made out of my act, and what the Girl and
Fedya are doing! I long to know what is happening with them. But my
interest is merely that of the revolutionist. They are so far away,--I
do not count among the living. On the outside, everything seems to
continue as usual, as if nothing had happened. Frick is quite well now;
at his desk again, the press reports. Nothing else of importance. The
police seem to have given up their hunt. How ridiculous the Chief has
made himself by kidnaping my friend Mollock, the New York baker! The
impudence of the authorities, to decoy an unsuspecting workingman across
the State line, and then arrest him as my accomplice! I suppose he is
the only Anarchist the stupid Chief could find. My negro friend informed
me of the kidnaping last week. But I felt no anxiety: I knew the "silent
baker" would prove deaf and dumb. Not a word, could they draw from him.
Mollock's discharge by the magistrate put the Chief in a very ludicrous
position. Now he is thirsting for revenge, and probably seeking a victim
nearer home, in Allegheny. But if the comrades preserve silence, all
will be well, for I was careful to leave no clew. I had told them that
my destination was Chicago, where I expected to secure a position. I can
depend on Bauer and Nold. But that man E., whom I found living in the
same house with Nold, impressed me as rather unreliable. I thought there
was something of the hang-dog look about him. I should certainly not
trust him, and I'm afraid he might compromise the others. Why are they
friendly, I wonder. He is probably not even a comrade. The Allegheny
Anarchists should have nothing in common with him. It is not well for us
to associate with the _bourgeois_-minded.

       *       *       *       *       *

My meditation is interrupted by a guard, who informs me that I am
"wanted at the office." There is a letter for me, but some postage is
due on it. Would I pay?

"A trap," it flits through my mind, as I accompany the overseer. I shall
persist in my refusal to accept decoy mail.

"More letters from Homestead?" I turn to the Warden.

He quickly suppresses a smile. "No, it is postmarked, Brooklyn, N. Y."

I glance at the envelope. The writing is apparently a woman's, but the
chirography is smaller than the Girl's. I yearn for news of her. The
letter is from Brooklyn--perhaps a _Deckadresse_!

"I'll take the letter, Warden."

"All right. You will open it here."

"Then I don't want it."

I start from the office; when the Warden detains me:

"Take the letter along, but within ten minutes you must return it to me.
You may go now."

I hasten to the cell. If there is anything important in the letter, I
shall destroy it: I owe the enemy no obligations. As with trembling
hand I tear open the envelope, a paper dollar flutters to the floor. I
glance at the signature, but the name is unfamiliar. Anxiously I scan
the lines. An unknown sympathizer sends greetings, in the name of
humanity. "I am not an Anarchist," I read, "but I wish you well. My
sympathy, however, is with the man, not with the act. I cannot justify
your attempt. Life, human life, especially, is sacred. None has the
right to take what he cannot give."

       *       *       *       *       *

I pass a troubled night. My mind struggles with the problem presented so
unexpectedly. Can any one understanding my motives, doubt the
justification of the _Attentat_? The legal aspect aside, can the
morality of the act be questioned? It is impossible to confound law with
right; they are opposites. The law is immoral: it is the conspiracy of
rulers and priests against the workers, to continue their subjection. To
be law-abiding means to acquiesce, if not directly participate, in that
conspiracy. A revolutionist is the truly moral man: to him the interests
of humanity are supreme; to advance them, his sole aim in life.
Government, with its laws, is the common enemy. All weapons are
justifiable in the noble struggle of the People against this terrible
curse. The Law! It is the arch-crime of the centuries. The path of Man
is soaked with the blood it has shed. Can this great criminal determine
Right? Is a revolutionist to respect such a travesty? It would mean the
perpetuation of human slavery.

No, the revolutionist owes no duty to capitalist morality. He is the
soldier of humanity. He has consecrated his life to the People in their
great struggle. It is a bitter war. The revolutionist cannot shrink from
the service it imposes upon him. Aye, even the duty of death. Cheerfully
and joyfully he would die a thousand times to hasten the triumph of
liberty. His life belongs to the People. He has no right to live or
enjoy while others suffer.

       *       *       *       *       *

How often we had discussed this, Fedya and I. He was somewhat inclined
to sybaritism; not quite emancipated from the tendencies of his
_bourgeois_ youth. Once in New York--I shall never forget--at the time
when our circle had just begun the publication of the first Jewish
Anarchist paper in America, we came to blows. We, the most intimate
friends; yes, actually came to blows. Nobody would have believed it.
They used to call us the Twins. If I happened to appear anywhere alone,
they would inquire, anxiously, "What is the matter? Is your chum sick?"
It was so unusual; we were each other's shadow. But one day I struck
him. He had outraged my most sacred feelings: to spend twenty cents for
a meal! It was not mere extravagance; it was positively a crime,
incredible in a revolutionist. I could not forgive him for months. Even
now,--two years have passed,--yet a certain feeling of resentment still
remains with me. What right had a revolutionist to such self-indulgence?
The movement needed aid; every cent was valuable. To spend twenty cents
for a single meal! He was a traitor to the Cause. True, it was his first
meal in two days, and we were economizing on rent by sleeping in the
parks. He had worked hard, too, to earn the money. But he should have
known that he had no right to his earnings while the movement stood in
such need of funds. His defence was unspeakably aggravating: he had
earned ten dollars that week--he had given seven into the paper's
treasury--he needed three dollars for his week's expenses--his shoes
were torn, too. I had no patience with such arguments. They merely
proved his _bourgeois_ predilections. Personal comforts could not be of
any consideration to a true revolutionist. It was a question of the
movement; _its_ needs, the first issue. Every penny spent for ourselves
was so much taken from the Cause. True, the revolutionist must live. But
luxury is a crime; worse, a weakness. One could exist on five cents a
day. Twenty cents for a single meal! Incredible. It was robbery.

Poor Twin! He was deeply grieved, but he knew that I was merely just.
The revolutionist has no personal right to anything. Everything he has
or earns belongs to the Cause. Everything, even his affections. Indeed,
these especially. He must not become too much attached to anything. He
should guard against strong love or passion. The People should be his
only great love, his supreme passion. Mere human sentiment is unworthy
of the real revolutionist: he lives for humanity, and he must ever be
ready to respond to its call. The soldier of Revolution must not be
lured from the field of battle by the siren song of love. Great danger
lurks in such weakness. The Russian tyrant has frequently attempted to
bait his prey with a beautiful woman. Our comrades there are careful not
to associate with any woman, except of proved revolutionary character.
Aye, her mere passive interest in the Cause is not sufficient. Love may
transform her into a Delilah to shear one's strength. Only with a woman
consecrated to active participation may the revolutionist associate.
Their perfect comradeship would prove a mutual inspiration, a source of
increased strength. Equals, thoroughly solidaric, they would the more
successfully serve the Cause of the People. Countless Russian women bear
witness--Sophia Perovskaya, Vera Figner, Zassulitch, and many other
heroic martyrs, tortured in the casemates of Schlüsselburg, buried alive
in the Petropavlovka. What devotion, what fortitude! Perfect comrades
they were, often stronger than the men. Brave, noble women that fill the
prisons and _étapes_, tramp the toilsome road....

The Siberian steppe rises before me. Its broad expanse shimmers in the
sun's rays, and blinds the eye with white brilliancy. The endless
monotony agonizes the sight, and stupefies the brain. It breathes the
chill of death into the heart, and grips the soul with the terror of
madness. In vain the eye seeks relief from the white Monster that slowly
tightens his embrace, and threatens to swallow you in his frozen
depth.... There, in the distance, where the blue meets the white, a
heavy line of crimson dyes the surface. It winds along the virgin bosom,
grows redder and deeper, and ascends the mountain in a dark ribbon,
twining and wreathing its course in lengthening pain, now disappearing
in the hollow, and again rising on the height. Behold a man and a woman,
hand in hand, their heads bent, on their shoulders a heavy cross, slowly
toiling the upward way, and behind them others, men and women, young and
old, all weary with the heavy task, trudging along the dismal desert,
amid death and silence, save for the mournful clank, clank of the

       *       *       *       *       *

"Get out now. Exercise!"

       *       *       *       *       *

As in a dream I walk along the gallery. The voice of my exercise mate
sounds dully in my ears. I do not understand what he is saying. Does he
know about the Nihilists, I wonder?

"Billy, have you ever read anything about Nihilists?"

"Sure, Berk. When I done my last bit in the dump below, a guy lent me a
book. A corker, too, it was. Let's see, what you call 'em again?"


"Yes, sure. About some Nihirists. The book's called Aivan Strodjoff."

"What was the name?"

"Somethin' like that. Aivan Strodjoff or Strogoff."

"Oh, you mean Ivan Strogov, don't you?"

"That's it. Funny names them foreigners have. A fellow needs a cast-iron
jaw to say it every day. But the story was a corker all right. About a
Rooshan patriot or something. He was hot stuff, I tell you. Overheard a
plot to kill th' king by them fellows--er--what's you call 'em?"


"Yep. Nihilist plot, you know. Well, they wants to kill his Nibs and all
the dookes, to make one of their own crowd king. See? Foxy fellows, you
bet. But Aivan was too much for 'em. He plays detective. Gets in all
kinds of scrapes, and some one burns his eyes out. But he's game. I
don't remember how it all ends, but--"

"I know the story. It's trash. It doesn't tell the truth about--"

"Oh, t'hell with it! Say, Berk, d'ye think they'll hang me? Won't the
judge sympathize with a blind man? Look at me eyes. Pretty near blind,
swear to God, I am. Won't hang a blind man, will they?"

The pitiful appeal goes to my heart, and I assure him they will not hang
a blind man. His eyes brighten, his face grows radiant with hope.

Why does he love life so, I wonder. Of what value is it without a high
purpose, uninspired by revolutionary ideals? He is small and cowardly:
he lies to save his neck. There is nothing at all wrong with his eyes.
But why should _I_ lie for his sake?

My conscience smites me for the moment of weakness. I should not allow
inane sentimentality to influence me: it is beneath the revolutionist.

"Billy," I say with some asperity, "many innocent people have been
hanged. The Nihilists, for instance--"

"Oh, damn 'em! What do _I_ care about 'em! Will they hang _me_, that's
what I want to know."

"May be they will," I reply, irritated at the profanation of my ideal. A
look of terror spreads over his face. His eyes are fastened upon me, his
lips parted. "Yes," I continue, "perhaps they will hang you. Many
innocent men have suffered such a fate. I don't think you are innocent,
either; nor blind. You don't need those glasses; there is nothing the
matter with your eyes. Now understand, Billy, I don't want them to hang
you. I don't believe in hanging. But I must tell you the truth, and
you'd better be ready for the worst."

Gradually the look of fear fades from his face. Rage suffuses his cheeks
with spots of dark red.

"You're crazy! What's the use talkin' to you, anyhow? You are a damn
Anarchist. I'm a good Catholic, I want you to know that! I haven't
always did right, but the good father confessed me last week. I'm no
damn murderer like you, see? It was an accident. I'm pretty near blind,
and this is a Christian country, thank God! They won't hang a blind man.
Don't you ever talk to _me_ again!"


The days and weeks pass in wearying monotony, broken only by my anxiety
about the approaching trial. It is part of the designed cruelty to keep
me ignorant of the precise date. "Hold yourself ready. You may be called
any time," the Warden had said. But the shadows are lengthening, the
days come and go, and still my name has not appeared on the court
calendar. Why this torture? Let me have over with it. My mission is
almost accomplished,--the explanation in court, and then my life is
done. I shall never again have an opportunity to work for the Cause. I
may therefore leave the world. I should die content, but for the partial
failure of my plans. The bitterness of disappointment is gnawing at my
heart. Yet why? The physical results of my act cannot affect its
propagandistic value. Why, then, these regrets? I should rise above
them. But the gibes of officers and prisoners wound me. "Bad shot, ain't
you?" They do not dream how keen their thoughtless thrusts. I smile and
try to appear indifferent, while my heart bleeds. Why should I, the
revolutionist, be moved by such remarks? It is weakness. They are so far
beneath me; they live in the swamp of their narrow personal interests;
they cannot understand. And yet the croaking of the frogs may reach the
eagle's aerie, and disturb the peace of the heights.

       *       *       *       *       *

The "trusty" passes along the gallery. He walks slowly, dusting the iron
railing, then turns to give my door a few light strokes with the
cat-o'-many-tails. Leaning against the outer wall, he stoops low,
pretending to wipe the doorsill,--there is a quick movement of his hand,
and a little roll of white is shot between the lower bars, falling at my
feet. "A stiff," he whispers.

Indifferently I pick up the note. I know no one in the jail; it is
probably some poor fellow asking for cigarettes. Placing the roll
between the pages of a newspaper, I am surprised to find it in German.
From whom can it be? I turn to the signature. Carl Nold? It's
impossible; it's a trap! No, but that handwriting,--I could not mistake
it: the small, clear chirography is undoubtedly Nold's. But how did he
smuggle in this note? I feel the blood rush to my head as my eye flits
over the penciled lines: Bauer and he are arrested; they are in the jail
now, charged with conspiracy to kill Frick; detectives swore they met
them in my company, in front of the Frick office building. They have
engaged a lawyer, the note runs on. Would I accept his services? I
probably have no money, and I shouldn't expect any from New York,
because Most--what's this?--because Most has repudiated the act--

The gong tolls the exercise hour. With difficulty I walk to the gallery.
I feel feverish: my feet drag heavily, and I stumble against the

"Is yo sick, Ahlick?" It must be the negro's voice. My throat is dry; my
lips refuse to move. Hazily I see the guard approach. He walks me to the
cell, and lowers the berth. "You may lie down." The lock clicks, and I'm

       *       *       *       *       *

The line marches past, up and down, up and down. The regular footfall
beats against my brain like hammer strokes. When will they stop? My head
aches dreadfully--I am glad I don't have to walk--it was good of the
negro to call the guard--I felt so sick. What was it? Oh, the note!
Where is it?

The possibility of loss dismays me. Hastily I pick the newspaper up from
the floor. With trembling hands I turn the leaves. Ah, it's here! If I
had not found it, I vaguely wonder, were the thing mere fancy?

The sight of the crumpled paper fills me with dread. Nold and Bauer
here! Perhaps--if they act discreetly--all will be well. They are
innocent; they can prove it. But Most! How can it be possible? Of
course, he was displeased when I began to associate with the
autonomists. But how can that make any difference? At such a time! What
matter personal likes and dislikes to a revolutionist, to a Most--the
hero of my first years in America, the name that stirred my soul in that
little library in Kovno--Most, the Bridge of Liberty! My teacher--the
author of the _Kriegswissenschaft_--the ideal revolutionist--he to
denounce me, to repudiate propaganda by deed?

It's incredible! I cannot believe it. The Girl will not fail to write to
me about it. I'll wait till I hear from her. But, then, Nold is himself
a great admirer of Most; he would not say anything derogatory, unless
fully convinced that it is true. Yet--it is barely conceivable. How
explain such a change in Most? To forswear his whole past, his glorious
past! He was always so proud of it, and of his extreme revolutionism.
Some tremendous motive must be back of such apostasy. It has no parallel
in Anarchist annals. But what can it be? How boldly he acted during the
Haymarket tragedy--publicly advised the use of violence to avenge the
capitalist conspiracy. He must have realized the danger of the speech
for which he was later doomed to Blackwell's Island. I remember his
defiant manner on the way to prison. How I admired his strong spirit, as
I accompanied him on the last ride! That was only a little over a year
ago, and he is just out a few months. Perhaps--is it possible? A coward?
Has that prison experience influenced his present attitude? Why, it is
terrible to think of Most--a coward? He who has devoted his entire life
to the Cause, sacrificed his seat in the Reichstag because of
uncompromising honesty, stood in the forefront all his life, faced peril
and danger,--_he_ a coward? Yet, it is impossible that he should have
suddenly altered the views of a lifetime. What could have prompted his
denunciation of my act? Personal dislike? No, that was a matter of
petty jealousy. His confidence in me, as a revolutionist, was unbounded.
Did he not issue a secret circular letter to aid my plans concerning
Russia? That was proof of absolute faith. One could not change his
opinion so suddenly. Moreover, it can have no bearing on his repudiation
of a terrorist act. I can find no explanation, unless--can it be?--fear
of personal consequences. Afraid _he_ might be held responsible,
perhaps. Such a possibility is not excluded, surely. The enemy hates him
bitterly, and would welcome an opportunity, would even conspire, to hang
him. But that is the price one pays for his love of humanity. Every
revolutionist is exposed to this danger. Most especially; his whole
career has been a duel with tyranny. But he was never before influenced
by such considerations. Is he not prepared to take the responsibility
for his terrorist propaganda, the work of his whole life? Why has he
suddenly been stricken with fear? Can it be? Can it be?...

My soul is in the throes of agonizing doubt. Despair grips my heart, as
I hesitatingly admit to myself the probable truth. But it cannot be;
Nold has made a mistake. May be the letter is a trap; it was not written
by Carl. But I know his hand so well. It is his, his! Perhaps I'll have
a letter in the morning. The Girl--she is the only one I can
trust--she'll tell me--

My head feels heavy. Wearily I lie on the bed. Perhaps to-morrow ... a


"Your pards are here. Do you want to see them?" the Warden asks.

"What 'pards'?"

"Your partners, Bauer and Nold."

"My comrades, you mean. I have no partners."

"Same thing. Want to see them? Their lawyers are here."

"Yes, I'll see them."

Of course, I myself need no defence. I will conduct my own case, and
explain my act. But I shall be glad to meet my comrades. I wonder how
they feel about their arrest,--perhaps they are inclined to blame me.
And what is their attitude toward my deed? If they side with Most--

My senses are on the alert as the guard accompanies me into the hall.
Near the wall, seated at a small table, I behold Nold and Bauer. Two
other men are with them; their attorneys, I suppose. All eyes scrutinize
me curiously, searchingly. Nold advances toward me. His manner is
somewhat nervous, a look of intense seriousness in his heavy-browed
eyes. He grasps my hand. The pressure is warm, intimate, as if he yearns
to pour boundless confidence into my heart. For a moment a wave of
thankfulness overwhelms me: I long to embrace him. But curious eyes bore
into me. I glance at Bauer. There is a cheerful smile on the
good-natured, ruddy face. The guard pushes a chair toward the table, and
leans against the railing. His presence constrains me: he will report to
the Warden everything said.

I am introduced to the lawyers. The contrast in their appearance
suggests a lifetime of legal wrangling. The younger man, evidently a
recent graduate, is quick, alert, and talkative. There is an air of
anxious expectancy about him, with a look of Semitic shrewdness in the
long, narrow face. He enlarges upon the kind consent of his
distinguished colleague to take charge of my case. His demeanor toward
the elder lawyer is deeply respectful, almost reverential. The latter
looks bored, and is silent.

"Do you wish to say something, Colonel?" the young lawyer suggests.


He ejects the monosyllable sharply, brusquely. His colleague looks
abashed, like a schoolboy caught in a naughty act.

"You, Mr. Berkman?" he asks.

I thank them for their interest in my case. But I need no defence, I
explain, since I do not consider myself guilty. I am exclusively
concerned in making a public statement in the courtroom. If I am
represented by an attorney, I should be deprived of the opportunity. Yet
it is most vital to clarify to the People the purpose of my act, the

The heavy breathing opposite distracts me. I glance at the Colonel. His
eyes are closed, and from the parted lips there issues the regular
respiration of sound sleep. A look of mild dismay crosses the young
lawyer's face. He rises with an apologetic smile.

"You are tired, Colonel. It's awfully close here."

"Let us go," the Colonel replies.

       *       *       *       *       *

Depressed I return to the cell. The old lawyer,--how little my
explanation interested him! He fell asleep! Why, it is a matter of life
and death, an issue that involves the welfare of the world! I was so
happy at the opportunity to elucidate my motives to intelligent
Americans,--and he was sleeping! The young lawyer, too, is disgusting,
with his air of condescending pity toward one who "will have a fool for
a client," as he characterized my decision to conduct my own case. He
may think such a course suicidal. Perhaps it is, in regard to
consequences. But the length of the sentence is a matter of
indifference to me: I'll die soon, anyway. The only thing of importance
now is my explanation. And that man fell asleep! Perhaps he considers me
a criminal. But what can I expect of a lawyer, when even the
steel-worker could not understand my act? Most himself--

With the name, I recollect the letters the guard had given me during the
interview. There are three of them; one from the Girl! At last! Why did
she not write before? They must have kept the letter in the office. Yes,
the postmark is a week old. She'll tell me about Most,--but what is the
use? I'm sure of it now; I read it plainly in Nold's eyes. It's all
true. But I must see what she writes.

How every line breathes her devotion to the Cause! She is the real
Russian woman revolutionist. Her letter is full of bitterness against
the attitude of Most and his lieutenants in the German and Jewish
Anarchist circles, but she writes words of cheer and encouragement in my
imprisonment. She refers to the financial difficulties of the little
commune consisting of Fedya, herself, and one or two other comrades, and
closes with the remark that, fortunately, I need no money for legal
defence or attorneys.

The staunch Girl! She and Fedya are, after all, the only true
revolutionists I know in our ranks. The others all possess some
weakness. I could not rely on them. The German comrades,--they are
heavy, phlegmatic; they lack the enthusiasm of Russia. I wonder how they
ever produced a Reinsdorf. Well, he is the exception. There is nothing
to be expected from the German movement, excepting perhaps the
autonomists. But they are a mere handful, quite insignificant, kept
alive mainly by the Most and Peukert feud. Peukert, too, the life of
their circle, is chiefly concerned with his personal rehabilitation.
Quite natural, of course. A terrible injustice has been done him.[9] It
is remarkable that the false accusations have not driven him into
obscurity. There is great perseverance, aye, moral courage of no mean
order, in his survival in the movement. It was that which first awakened
my interest in him. Most's explanation, full of bitter invective,
suggested hostile personal feeling. What a tremendous sensation I
created at the first Jewish Anarchist Conference by demanding that the
charges against Peukert be investigated! The result entirely failed to
substantiate the accusations. But the Mostianer were not convinced,
blinded by the vituperative eloquence of Most. And now ... now, again,
they will follow, as blindly. To be sure, they will not dare take open
stand against my act; not the Jewish comrades, at least. After all, the
fire of Russia still smolders in their hearts. But Most's attitude
toward me will influence them: it will dampen their enthusiasm, and thus
react on the propaganda. The burden of making agitation through my act
will fall on the Girl's shoulders. She will stand a lone soldier in the
field. She will exert her utmost efforts, I am convinced. But she will
stand alone. Fedya will also remain loyal. But what can he do? He is not
a speaker. Nor the rest of the commune circle. And Most? We had all been
so intimate.... It's his cursed jealousy, and cowardice, too. Yes,
mostly cowardice--he can't be jealous of me now! He recently left
prison,--it must have terrorized him. The weakling! He will minimize the
effect of my act, perhaps paralyze its propagandistic influence
altogether.... Now I stand alone--except for the Girl--quite alone. It
is always so. Was not "he" alone, my beloved, "unknown" Grinevitzky,
isolated, scorned by his comrades? But his bomb ... how it thundered...

  [9] Joseph Peukert, at one time a leading Anarchist of Austria,
      was charged with betraying the German Anarchist Neve into
      the hands of the police. Neve was sentenced to ten years'
      prison. Peukert always insisted that the accusation against
      him originated with some of his political enemies among the
      Socialists. It is certain that the arrest of Neve was not
      due to calculated treachery on the part of Peukert, but
      rather to indiscretion.

I was just a boy then. Let me see,--it was in 1881. I was about eleven
years old. The class was assembling after the noon recess. I had barely
settled in my seat, when the teacher called me forward. His long pointer
was dancing a fanciful figure on the gigantic map of Russia.

"What province is that?" he demanded.


"Mention its chief products."

Products? The name Chernishevsky flitted through my mind. He was in
Astrakhan,--I heard Maxim tell mother so at dinner.

"Nihilists," I burst out.

The boys tittered; some laughed aloud. The teacher grew purple. He
struck the pointer violently on the floor, shivering the tapering end.
Suddenly there broke a roll of thunder. One--two-- With a terrific
crash, the window panes fell upon the desks; the floor shook beneath our
feet. The room was hushed. Deathly pale, the teacher took a step toward
the window, but hastily turned, and dashed from the room. The pupils
rushed after him. I wondered at the air of fear and suspicion on the
streets. At home every one spoke in subdued tunes. Father looked at
mother severely, reproachfully, and Maxim was unusually silent, but his
face seemed radiant, an unwonted brilliancy in his eye. At night, alone
with me in the dormitory, he rushed to my bed, knelt at my side, and
threw his arms around me and kissed me, and cried, and kissed me. His
wildness frightened me. "What is it, Maximotchka?" I breathed softly. He
ran up and down the room, kissing me and murmuring, "Glorious, glorious!

Between sobs, solemnly pledging me to secrecy, he whispered mysterious,
awe-inspiring words: Will of the People--tyrant removed--Free Russia....


The nights overwhelm me with the sense of solitude. Life is so remote,
so appallingly far away--it has abandoned me in this desert of silence.
The distant puffing of fire engines, the shrieking of river sirens,
accentuate my loneliness. Yet it feels so near, this monster Life, huge,
palpitating with vitality, intent upon its wonted course. How unmindful
of myself, flung into the darkness,--like a furnace spark belched forth
amid fire and smoke into the blackness of night.

The monster! Its eyes are implacable; they watch every gate of life.
Every approach they guard, lest I enter back--I and the others here.
Poor unfortunates, how irritated and nervous they are growing as their
trial day draws near! There is a hunted look in their eyes; their faces
are haggard and anxious. They walk weakly, haltingly, worn with the long
days of waiting. Only "Blackie," the young negro, remains cheerful. But
I often miss the broad smile on the kindly face. I am sure his eyes were
moist when the three Italians returned from court this morning. They had
been sentenced to death. Joe, a boy of eighteen, walked to the cell with
a firm step. His brother Pasquale passed us with both hands over his
face, weeping silently. But the old man, their father--as he was
crossing the hallway, we saw him suddenly stop. For a moment he swayed,
then lurched forward, his head striking the iron railing, his body
falling limp to the floor. By the arms the guards dragged him up the
stairway, his legs hitting the stone with a dull thud, the fresh crimson
spreading over his white hair, a glassy torpor in his eyes. Suddenly he
stood upright. His head thrown back, his arms upraised, he cried
hoarsely, anguished, "O Santa Maria! Sio innocente inno--"

The guard swung his club. The old man reeled and fell.

"Ready! Death-watch!" shouted the Warden.

"In-no-cente! Death-watch!" mocked the echo under the roof.

       *       *       *       *       *

The old man haunts my days. I hear the agonized cry; its black despair
chills my marrow. Exercise hour has become insupportable. The prisoners
irritate me: each is absorbed in his own case. The deadening monotony of
the jail routine grows unbearable. The constant cruelty and brutality is
harrowing. I wish it were all over. The uncertainty of my trial day is a
ceaseless torture. I have been waiting now almost two months. My court
speech is prepared. I could die now, but they would suppress my
explanation, and the People thus remain ignorant of my aim and purpose.
I owe it to the Cause--and to the true comrades--to stay on the scene
till after the trial. There is nothing more to bind me to life. With the
speech, my opportunities for propaganda will be exhausted. Death,
suicide, is the only logical, the sole possible, conclusion. Yes, that
is self-evident. If I only knew the date of my trial,--that day will be
my last. The poor old Italian,--he and his sons, they at least know when
they are to die. They count each day; every hour brings them closer to
the end. They will be hanged here, in the jail yard. Perhaps they killed
under great provocation, in the heat of passion. But the sheriff will
murder them in cold blood. The law of peace and order!

I shall not be hanged--yet I feel as if I were dead. My life is done;
only the last rite remains to be performed. After that--well, I'll find
a way. When the trial is over, they'll return me to my cell. The spoon
is of tin: I shall put a sharp edge on it--on the stone floor--very
quietly, at night--

"Number six, to court! Num-ber six!"

Did the turnkey call "six"? Who is in cell six? Why, it's _my_ cell! I
feel the cold perspiration running down my back. My heart beats
violently, my hands tremble, as I hastily pick up the newspaper.
Nervously I turn the pages. There must be some mistake: my name didn't
appear yet in the court calendar column. The list is published every
Monday--why, this is Saturday's paper--yesterday we had service--it must
be Monday to-day. Oh, shame! They didn't give me the paper to-day, and
it's Monday--yes, it's Monday--

The shadow falls across my door. The lock clicks.

"Hurry, To court!"



The courtroom breathes the chill of the graveyard. The stained windows
cast sickly rays into the silent chamber. In the sombre light the faces
look funereal, spectral.

Anxiously I scan the room. Perhaps my friends, the Girl, have come to
greet me.... Everywhere cold eyes meet my gaze. Police and court
attendants on every side. Several newspaper men draw near. It is
humiliating that through them I must speak to the People.

"Prisoner at the bar, stand up!"

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania--the clerk vociferates--charges me with
felonious assault on H. C. Frick, with intent to kill; felonious assault
on John G. A. Leishman; feloniously entering the offices of the Carnegie
Company on three occasions, each constituting a separate indictment; and
with unlawfully carrying concealed weapons.

"Do you plead guilty or not guilty?"

I protest against the multiplication of the charges. I do not deny the
attempt on Frick, but the accusation of having assaulted Leishman is not
true. I have visited the Carnegie offices only--

"Do you plead guilty or not guilty?" the judge interrupts.

"Not guilty. I want to explain--"

"Your attorneys will do that."

"I have no attorney."

"The Court will appoint one to defend you."

"I need no defence. I want to make a statement."

"You will be given an opportunity at the proper time."

Impatiently I watch the proceedings. Of what use are all these
preliminaries? My conviction is a foregone conclusion. The men in the
jury box there, they are to decide my fate. As if they could understand!
They measure me with cold, unsympathetic looks. Why were the talesmen
not examined in my presence? They were already seated when I entered.

"When was the jury picked?" I demand.

"You have four challenges," the prosecutor retorts.

The names of the talesmen sound strange. But what matter who are the men
to judge me? They, too, belong to the enemy. They will do the master's
bidding. Yet I may, even for a moment, clog the wheels of the
Juggernaut. At random, I select four names from the printed list, and
the new jurors file into the box.

The trial proceeds. A police officer and two negro employees of Frick in
turn take the witness stand. They had seen me three times in the Frick
office, they testify. They speak falsely, but I feel indifferent to the
hired witnesses. A tall man takes the stand. I recognize the detective
who so brazenly claimed to identify me in the jail. He is followed by a
physician who states that each wound of Frick might have proved fatal.
John G. A. Leishman is called. I attempted to kill him, he testifies.
"It's a lie!" I cry out, angrily, but the guards force me into the seat.
Now Frick comes forward. He seeks to avoid my eye, as I confront him.

The prosecutor turns to me. I decline to examine the witnesses for the
State. They have spoken falsely; there is no truth in them, and I shall
not participate in the mockery.

"Call the witnesses for the defence," the judge commands.

I have no need of witnesses. I wish to proceed with my statement. The
prosecutor demands that I speak English. But I insist on reading my
prepared paper, in German. The judge rules to permit me the services of
the court interpreter.

"I address myself to the People," I begin. "Some may wonder why I have
declined a legal defence. My reasons are twofold. In the first place, I
am an Anarchist: I do not believe in man-made law, designed to enslave
and oppress humanity. Secondly, an extraordinary phenomenon like an
_Attentat_ cannot be measured by the narrow standards of legality. It
requires a view of the social background to be adequately understood. A
lawyer would try to defend, or palliate, my act from the standpoint of
the law. Yet the real question at issue is not a defence of myself, but
rather the _explanation_ of the deed. It is mistaken to believe _me_ on
trial. The actual defendant is Society--the system of injustice, of the
organized exploitation of the People."

The voice of the interpreter sounds cracked and shrill. Word for word he
translates my utterance, the sentences broken, disconnected, in his
inadequate English. The vociferous tones pierce my ears, and my heart
bleeds at his meaningless declamation.

"Translate sentences, not single words," I remonstrate.

With an impatient gesture he leaves me.

"Oh, please, go on!" I cry in dismay.

He returns hesitatingly.

"Look at my paper," I adjure him, "and translate each sentence as I read

The glazy eyes are turned to me, in a blank, unseeing stare. The man is

"Let--us--continue," he stammers.

"We have heard enough," the judge interrupts.

"I have not read a third of my paper," I cry in consternation.

"It will do."

"I have declined the services of attorneys to get time to--"

"We allow you five more minutes."

"But I can't explain in such a short time. I have the right to be

"We'll teach you differently."

I am ordered from the witness chair. Several jurymen leave their seats,
but the district attorney hurries forward, and whispers to them. They
remain in the jury box. The room is hushed as the judge rises.

"Have you anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon you?"

"You would not let me speak," I reply. "Your justice is a farce."


In a daze, I hear the droning voice on the bench. Hurriedly the guards
lead me from the courtroom.

"The judge was easy on you," the Warden jeers. "Twenty-two years! Pretty
stiff, eh?"







"Make yourself at home, now. You'll stay here a while, huh, huh!"

As in a dream I hear the harsh tones. Is the man speaking to me, I
wonder. Why is he laughing? I feel so weary, I long to be alone.

Now the voice has ceased; the steps are receding. All is silent, and I
am alone. A nameless weight oppresses me. I feel exhausted, my mind a
void. Heavily I fall on the bed. Head buried in the straw pillow, my
heart breaking, I sink into deep sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

My eyes burn as with hot irons. The heat sears my sight, and consumes my
eyelids. Now it pierces my head; my brain is aflame, it is swept by a
raging fire. Oh!

I wake in horror. A stream of dazzling light is pouring into my face.
Terrified, I press my hands to my eyes, but the mysterious flow pierces
my lids, and blinds me with maddening torture.

"Get up and undress. What's the matter with you, anyhow?"

The voice frightens me. The cell is filled with a continuous glare.
Beyond, all is dark, the guard invisible.

"Now lay down and go to sleep."

Silently I obey, when suddenly all grows black before my eyes. A
terrible fear grips my heart. Have I gone blind? I grope for the bed,
the wall ... I can't see! With a desperate cry I spring to the door. A
faint click reaches my tense ear, the streaming lightning burns into my
face. Oh, I can see! I can see!

"What t' hell's the matter with you, eh? Go to sleep. You hear?"

Quiet and immovable I lie on the bed. Strange horrors haunt me.... What
a terrible place this must be! This agony---- I cannot support it.
Twenty-two years! Oh, it is hopeless, hopeless. I must die. I'll die
to-night.... With bated breath I creep from the bed. The iron bedstead
creaks. In affright I draw back, feigning sleep. All remains silent. The
guard did not hear me. I should feel the terrible bull's-eye even with
closed lids. Slowly I open my eyes. It is dark all around. I grope about
the cell. The wall is damp, musty. The odors are nauseating.... I cannot
live here. I must die. This very night.... Something white glimmers in
the corner. Cautiously I bend over. It is a spoon. For a moment I hold
it indifferently; then a great joy overwhelms me. Now I can die! I creep
back into bed, nervously clutching the tin. My hand feels for my heart.
It is beating violently. I will put the narrow end of the spoon over
here--like this--I will force it in--a little lower--a steady
pressure--just between the ribs.... The metal feels cold. How hot my
body is! Caressingly I pat the spoon against my side. My fingers seek
the edge. It is dull. I must press it hard. Yes, it is very dull. If I
only had my revolver. But the cartridge might fail to explode. That's
why Frick is now well, and I must die. How he looked at me in court!
There was hate in his eyes, and fear, too. He turned his head away, he
could not face me. I saw that he felt guilty. Yet he lives. I didn't
crush him. Oh, I failed, I failed....

"Keep quiet there, or I'll put you in the hole."

The gruff voice startles me. I must have been moaning. I'll draw the
blanket over my head, so. What was I thinking about? Oh, I remember. He
is well, and I am here. I failed to crush him. He lives. Of course, it
does not really matter. The opportunity for propaganda is there, as the
result of my act. That was the main purpose. But I meant to kill him,
and he lives. My speech, too, failed. They tricked me. They kept the
date secret. They were afraid my friends would be present. It was
maddening the way the prosecuting attorney and the judge kept
interrupting me. I did not read even a third of my statement. And the
whole effect was lost. How that man interpreted! The poor old man! He
was deeply offended when I corrected his translation. I did not know he
was blind. I called him back, and suffered renewed torture at his
screeching. I was almost glad when the judge forced me to discontinue.
That judge! He acted as indifferently as if the matter did not concern
him. He must have known that the sentence meant death. Twenty-two years!
As if it is possible to survive such a sentence in this terrible place!
Yes, he knew it; he spoke of making an example of me. The old villain!
He has been doing it all his life: making an example of social victims,
the victims of his own class, of capitalism. The brutal mockery of
it--had I anything to say why sentence should not be passed? Yet he
wouldn't permit me to continue my statement. "The court has been very
patient!" I am glad I told him that I didn't expect justice, and did not
get it. Perhaps I should have thrown in his face the epithet that sprang
to my lips. No, it was best that I controlled my anger. Else they would
have rejoiced to proclaim the Anarchists vulgar criminals. Such things
help to prejudice the People against us. We, criminals? We, who are ever
ready to give our lives for liberty, criminals? And they, our accusers?
They break their own laws: they knew it was not legal to multiply the
charges against me. They made six indictments out of one act, as if the
minor "offences" were not included in the major, made necessary by the
deed itself. They thirsted for blood. Legally, they could not give me
more than seven years. But I am an Anarchist. I had attempted the life
of a great magnate; in him capitalism felt itself attacked. Of course, I
knew they would take advantage of my refusal to be legally represented.
Twenty-two years! The judge imposed the maximum penalty on each charge.
Well, I expected no less, and it makes no difference now. I am going to
die, anyway.

I clutch the spoon in my feverish hand. Its narrow end against my heart,
I test the resistance of the flesh. A violent blow will drive it between
the ribs....

One, two, three--the deep metallic bass floats upon the silence,
resonant, compelling. Instantly all is motion: overhead, on the sides,
everything is vibrant with life. Men yawn and cough, chairs and beds are
noisily moved about, heavy feet pace stone floors. In the distance
sounds a low rolling, as of thunder. It grows nearer and louder. I hear
the officers' sharp command, the familiar click of locks, doors opening
and shutting. Now the rumbling grows clearer, more distinct. With a moan
the heavy bread-wagon stops at my cell. A guard unlocks the door. His
eyes rest on me curiously, suspiciously, while the trusty hands me a
small loaf of bread. I have barely time to withdraw my arm before the
door is closed and locked.

"Want coffee? Hold your cup."

Between the narrow bars, the beverage is poured into my bent, rusty tin
can. In the semi-darkness of the cell the steaming liquid overflows,
scalding my bare feet. With a cry of pain I drop the can. In the
dimly-lit hall the floor looks stained with blood.

"What do you mean by that?" the guard shouts at me.

"I couldn't help it."

"Want to be smart, don't you? Well, we'll take it out of you. Hey,
there, Sam," the officer motions to the trusty, "no dinner for A 7, you

"Yes, sir. Yes, sir!"

"No more coffee, either."

"Yes, sir."

The guard measures me with a look of scornful hatred. Malice mirrors in
his face. Involuntarily I step back into the cell. His gaze falls on my
naked feet.

"Ain't you got no shoes?"


"Ye-e-s! Can't you say 'sir'? Got shoes?"


"Put 'em on, damn you."

His tongue sweeps the large quid of tobacco from one cheek to the
either. With a hiss, a thick stream of brown splashes on my feet. "Damn
you, put 'em on."

       *       *       *       *       *

The clatter and noises have ceased; the steps have died away. All is
still in the dark hall. Only occasional shadows flit by, silent,


"Forward, march!"

The lung line of prisoners, in stripes and lockstep, resembles an
undulating snake, wriggling from side to side, its black-and-gray body
moving forward, yet apparently remaining in the same spot. A thousand
feet strike the stone floor in regular tempo, with alternate rising and
falling accent, as each division, flanked by officers, approaches and
passes my cell. Brutal faces, repulsive in their stolid indifference or
malicious leer. Here and there a well-shaped head, intelligent eye, or
sympathetic expression, but accentuates the features of the striped
line: coarse and sinister, with the guilty-treacherous look of the
ruthlessly hunted. Head bent, right arm extended, with hand touching the
shoulder of the man in front, all uniformly clad in horizontal black and
gray, the men seem will-less cogs in a machine, oscillating to the
shouted command of the tall guards on the flanks, stern and alert.

       *       *       *       *       *

The measured beat grows fainter and dies with the hollow thud of the
last footfall, behind the closed double door leading into the prison
yard. The pall of silence descends upon the cell-house. I feel utterly
alone, deserted and forsaken amid the towering pile of stone and iron.
The stillness overwhelms me with almost tangible weight. I am buried
within the narrow walls; the massive rock is pressing down upon my head,
my sides. I cannot breathe. The foul air is stifling. Oh, I can't, I
can't live here! I can't suffer this agony. Twenty-two years! It is a
lifetime. No, it's impossible. I must die. I will! Now!

       *       *       *       *       *

Clutching the spoon, I throw myself on the bed. My eyes wander over the
cell, faintly lit by the light in the hall: the whitewashed walls,
yellow with damp--the splashes of dark-red blood at the head of the
bed--the clumps of vermin around the holes in the wall--the small table
and the rickety chair--the filthy floor, black and gray in spots....
Why, it's stone! I can sharpen the spoon. Cautiously I crouch in the
corner. The tin glides over the greasy surface, noiselessly, smoothly,
till the thick layer of filth is worn off. Then it scratches and
scrapes. With the pillow I deaden the rasping sound. The metal is
growing hot in my hand. I pass the sharp edge across my finger. Drops of
blood trickle down to the floor. The wound is ragged, but the blade is
keen. Stealthily I crawl back into bed. My hand gropes for my heart. I
touch the spot with the blade. Between the ribs--here--I'll be dead when
they find me.... If Frick had only died. So much propaganda could be
made--that damned Most, if he hadn't turned against me! He will ruin the
whole effect of the act. It's nothing but cowardice. But what is he
afraid of? They can't implicate him. We've been estranged for over a
year. He could easily prove it. The traitor! Preached propaganda by deed
all his life--now he repudiates the first _Attentat_ in this country.
What tremendous agitation he could have made of it! Now he denies me, he
doesn't know me. The wretch! He knew me well enough and trusted me, too,
when together we set up the secret circular in the _Freiheit_ office. It
was in William Street. We waited for the other compositors to leave;
then we worked all night. It was to recommend me: I planned to go to
Russia then. Yes, to Russia. Perhaps I might have done something
important there. Why didn't I go? What was it? Well, I can't think of it
now. It's peculiar, though. But America was more important. Plenty of
revolutionists in Russia. And now.... Oh, I'll never do anything more.
I'll be dead soon. They'll find me cold--a pool of blood under me--the
mattress will be red--no, it will be dark-red, and the blood will soak
through the straw.... I wonder how much blood I have. It will gush from
my heart--I must strike right here--strong and quick--it will not pain
much. But the edge is ragged--it may catch--or tear the flesh. They say
the skin is tough. I must strike hard. Perhaps better to fall against
the blade? No, the tin may bend. I'll grasp it close--like this--then a
quick drive--right into the heart--it's the surest way. I must not wound
myself--I would bleed slowly--they might discover me still alive. No,
no! I must die at once. They'll find me dead--my heart--they'll feel
it--not beating--the blade still in it--they'll call the doctor--"He's
dead." And the Girl and Fedya and the others will hear of it--she'll be
sad--but she will understand. Yes, she will be glad--they couldn't
torture me here--she'll know I cheated them--yes, she.... Where is she
now? What does she think of it all? Does she, too, think I've failed?
And Fedya, also? If I'd only hear from her--just once. It would be
easier to die. But she'll understand, she--

"Git off that bed! Don't you know the rules, eh? Get out o' there!"

Horrified, speechless, I spring to my feet. The spoon falls from my
relaxed grip. It strikes the floor, clinking on the stone loudly,
damningly. My heart stands still as I face the guard. There is something
repulsively familiar about the tall man, his mouth drawn into a derisive
smile. Oh, it's the officer of the morning!

"Foxy, ain't you? Gimme that spoon."

The coffee incident flashes through my mind. Loathing and hatred of the
tall guard fill my being. For a second I hesitate. I must hide the
spoon. I cannot afford to lose it--not to this brute--

"Cap'n, here!"

I am dragged from the cell. The tall keeper carefully examines the
spoon, a malicious grin stealing over his face.

"Look, Cap'n. Sharp as a razor. Pretty desp'rate, eh?"

"Take him to the Deputy, Mr. Fellings."


In the rotunda, connecting the north and south cell-houses, the Deputy
stands at a high desk. Angular and bony, with slightly stooped
shoulders, his face is a mass of minute wrinkles seamed on yellow
parchment. The curved nose overhangs thin, compressed lips. The steely
eyes measure me coldly, unfriendly.

"Who is this?"

The low, almost feminine, voice sharply accentuates the cadaver-like
face and figure. The contrast is startling.

"A 7."

"What is the charge, Officer?"

"Two charges, Mr. McPane. Layin' in bed and tryin' soocide."

A smile of satanic satisfaction slowly spreads over the Deputy's wizened
face. The long, heavy fingers of his right hand work convulsively, as if
drumming stiffly on an imaginary board.

"Yes, hm, hm, yes. A 7, two charges. Hm, hm. How did he try to, hm, hm,
to commit suicide?"

"With this spoon, Mr. McPane. Sharp as a razor."

"Yes, hm, yes. Wants to die. We have no such charge as, hm, hm, as
trying suicide in this institution. Sharpened spoon, hm, hm; a grave
offence. I'll see about that later. For breaking the rules, hm, hm, by
lying in bed out of hours, hm, hm, three days. Take him down, Officer.
He will, hm, hm, cool off."

I am faint and weary. A sense of utter indifference possesses me.
Vaguely I am conscious of the guards leading me through dark corridors,
dragging me down steep flights, half undressing me, and finally
thrusting me into a black void. I am dizzy; my head is awhirl. I stagger
and fall on the flagstones of the dungeon.

       *       *       *       *       *

The cell is filled with light. It hurts my eyes. Some one is bending
over me.

"A bit feverish. Better take him to the cell."

"Hm, hm, Doctor, he is in punishment."

"Not safe, Mr. McPane."

"We'll postpone it, then. Hm, hm, take him to the cell, Officers."

"Git up."

My legs seem paralyzed. They refuse to move. I am lifted and carried up
the stairs, through corridors and halls, and then thrown heavily on a

       *       *       *       *       *

I feel so weak. Perhaps I shall die now. It would be best. But I have no
weapon! They have taken away the spoon. There is nothing in the cell
that I could use. These iron bars--I could beat my head against them.
But oh! it is such a horrible death. My skull would break, and the
brains ooze out.... But the bars are smooth. Would my skull break with
one blow? I'm afraid it might only crack, and I should be too weak to
strike again. If I only had a revolver; that is the easiest and
quickest. I've always thought I'd prefer such a death--to be shot. The
barrel close to the temple--one couldn't miss. Some people have done it
in front of a mirror. But I have no mirror. I have no revolver,
either.... Through the mouth it is also fatal.... That Moscow
student--Russov was his name; yes, Ivan Russov--he shot himself through
the mouth. Of course, he was foolish to kill himself for a woman; but I
admired his courage. How coolly he had made all preparations; he even
left a note directing that his gold watch be given to the landlady,
because--he wrote--after passing through his brain, the bullet might
damage the wall. Wonderful! It actually happened that way. I saw the
bullet imbedded in the wall near the sofa, and Ivan lay so still and
peaceful, I thought he was asleep. I had often seen him like that in my
brother's study, after our lessons. What a splendid tutor he was! I
liked him from the first, when mother introduced him: "Sasha, Ivan
Nikolaievitch will be your instructor in Latin during vacation time." My
hand hurt all day; he had gripped it so powerfully, like a vise. But I
was glad I didn't cry out. I admired him for it; I felt he must be very
strong and manly to have such a handshake. Mother smiled when I told her
about it. Her hand pained her too, she said. Sister blushed a little.
"Rather energetic," she observed. And Maxim felt so happy over the
favorable impression made by his college chum. "What did I tell you?" he
cried, in glee; "Ivan Nikolaievitch _molodetz_![10] Think of it, he's
only twenty. Graduates next year. The youngest alumnus since the
foundation of the university. _Molodetz_!" But how red were Maxim's eyes
when he brought the bullet home. He would keep it, he said, as long as
he lived: he had dug it out, with his own hands, from the wall of Ivan
Nikolaievitch's room. At dinner he opened the little box, unwrapped the
cotton, an I showed me the bullet. Sister went into hysterics, and mamma
called Max a brute. "For a woman, an unworthy woman!" sister moaned. I
thought he was foolish to take his life on account of a woman. I felt a
little disappointed: Ivan Nikolaievitch should have been more manly.
They all said she was very beautiful, the acknowledged belle of Kovno.
She was tall and stately, but I thought she walked too stiffly; she
seemed self-conscious and artificial. Mother said I was too young to
talk of such things. How shocked she would have been had she known that
I was in love with Nadya, my sister's chum. And I had kissed our
chambermaid, too. Dear little Rosa,--I remember she threatened to tell
mother. I was so frightened, I wouldn't come to dinner. Mamma sent the
maid to call me, but I refused to go till Rosa promised not to tell....
The sweet girl, with those red-apple cheeks. How kind she was! But the
little imp couldn't keep the secret. She told Tatanya, the cook of our
neighbor, the Latin instructor at the gymnasium. Next day he teased me
about the servant girl. Before the whole class, too. I wished the floor
would open and swallow me. I was so mortified.

  [10] Clever, brave lad.

       *       *       *       *       *

... How far off it all seems. Centuries away. I wonder what has become
of her. Where is Rosa now? Why, she must be here, in America. I had
almost forgotten,--I met her in New York. It was such a surprise. I was
standing on the stoop of the tenement house where I boarded. I had then
been only a few months in the country. A young lady passed by. She
looked up at me, then turned and ascended the steps. "Don't you know me,
Mr. Berkman? Don't you really recognize me?" Some mistake, I thought. I
had never before seen this beautiful, stylish young woman. She invited
me into the hallway. "Don't tell these people here. I am Rosa. Don't you
remember? Why, you know, I was your mother's--your mother's maid." She
blushed violently. Those red cheeks--why, certainly, it's Rosa! I
thought of the stolen kiss. "Would I dare it now?" I wondered, suddenly
conscious of my shabby clothes. She seemed so prosperous. How our
positions were changed! She looked the very _barishnya_,[11] like my
sister. "Is your mother here?" she asked. "Mother? She died, just before
I left." I glanced apprehensively at her. Did she remember that terrible
scene when mother struck her? "I didn't know about your mother." Her
voice was husky; a tear glistened in her eye. The dear girl, always
generous-hearted. I ought to make amends to her for mother's insult. We
looked at each other in embarrassment. Then she held out a gloved hand.
Very large, I thought; red, too, probably. "Good-bye, _Gospodin_[12]
Berkman," she said. "I'll see you again soon. Please don't tell these
people who I am." I experienced a feeling of guilt and shame. _Gospodin_
Berkman--somehow it echoed the servile _barinya_[13] with which the
domestics used to address my mother. For all her finery, Rosa had not
gotten over it. Too much bred in, poor girl. She has not become
emancipated. I never saw her at our meetings; she is conservative, no
doubt. She was so ignorant, she could not even read. Perhaps she has
learned in this country. Now she will read about me, and she'll know how
I died.... Oh, I haven't the spoon! What shall I do, what shall I do? I
can't live. I couldn't stand this torture. Perhaps if I had seven years,
I would try to serve the sentence. But I couldn't, anyhow. I might live
here a year, or two. But twenty-two, twenty-two years! What is the use?
No man could survive it. It's terrible, twenty-two years! Their cursed
justice--they always talk of law. Yet legally I shouldn't have gotten
more than seven years. Legally! As if _they_ care about "legality."
They wanted to make an example of me. Of course, I knew it beforehand;
but if I had seven years--perhaps I might live through it; I would try.
But twenty-two--it's a lifetime, a whole lifetime. Seventeen is no
better. That man Jamestown got seventeen years. He celled next to me in
the jail. He didn't look like a highway robber, he was so small and
puny. He must be here now. A fool, to think he could live here seventeen
years. In this hell--what an imbecile he is! He should have committed
suicide long ago. They sent him away before my trial; it's about three
weeks ago. Enough time; why hasn't he done something? He will soon die
here, anyway; it would be better to suicide. A strong man might live
five years; I doubt it, though; perhaps a very strong man might. _I_
couldn't; no, I know I couldn't; perhaps two or three years, at most. We
had often spoken about this, the Girl, Fedya, and I. I had then such a
peculiar idea of prison: I thought I would be sitting on the floor in a
gruesome, black hole, with my hands and feet chained to the wall; and
the worms would crawl over me, and slowly devour my face and my eyes,
and I so helpless, chained to the wall. The Girl and Fedya had a similar
idea. She said she might bear prison life a few weeks. I could for a
year, I thought; but was doubtful. I pictured myself fighting the worms
off with my feet; it would take the vermin that long to eat all my
flesh, till they got to my heart; that would be fatal.... And the vermin
here, those big, brown bedbugs, they must be like those worms, so
vicious and hungry. Perhaps there are worms here, too. There must be in
the dungeon: there is a wound on my foot. I don't know how it happened.
I was unconscious in that dark hole--it was just like my old idea of
prison. I couldn't live even a week there: it's awful. Here it is a
little better; but it's never light in this cell,--always in
semidarkness. And so small and narrow; no windows; it's damp, and smells
so foully all the time. The walls are wet and clammy; smeared with
blood, too. Bedbugs--augh! it's nauseating. Not much better than that
black hole, with my hands and arms chained to the wall. Just a trifle
better,--my hands are not chained. Perhaps I could live here a few
years: no more than three, or may be five. But these brutal officers!
No, no, I couldn't stand it. I want to die! I'd die here soon, anyway;
they will kill me. But I won't give the enemy the satisfaction; they
shall not be able to say that they are torturing me in prison, or that
they killed me. No! I'd rather kill myself. Yes, kill myself. I shall
have to do it--with my head against the bars--no, not now! At night,
when it's all dark,--they couldn't save me then. It will be a terrible
death, but it must be done.... If I only knew about "them" in New
York--the Girl and Fedya--it would be easier to die then.... What are
they doing in the case? Are they making propaganda out of it? They must
be waiting to hear of my suicide. They know I can't live here long.
Perhaps they wonder why I didn't suicide right after the trial. But I
could not. I thought I should be taken from the court to my cell in
jail; sentenced prisoners usually are. I had prepared to hang myself
that night, but they must have suspected something. They brought me
directly here from the courtroom. Perhaps I should have been dead now--

  [11] Young lady.

  [12] Mister.

  [13] Lady.

"Supper! Want coffee? Hold your tin!" the trusty shouts into the door.
Suddenly he whispers, "Grab it, quick!" A long, dark object is shot
between the bars into the cell, dropping at the foot of the bed. The man
is gone. I pick up the parcel, tightly wrapped in brown paper. What can
it be? The outside cover protects two layers of old newspaper; then a
white object comes to view. A towel! There is something round and hard
inside--it's a cake of soap. A sense of thankfulness steals into my
heart, as I wonder who the donor may be. It is good to know that there
is at least one being here with a friendly spirit. Perhaps it's some one
I knew in the jail. But how did he procure these things? Are they
permitted? The towel feels nice and soft; it is a relief from the hard
straw bed. Everything is so hard and coarse here--the language, the
guards.... I pass the towel over my face; it soothes me somewhat. I
ought to wash up--my head feels so heavy--I haven't washed since I got
here. When did I come? Let me see; what is to-day? I don't know, I can't
think. But my trial--it was on Monday, the nineteenth of September. They
brought me here in the afternoon; no, in the evening. And that guard--he
frightened me so with the bull's-eye lantern. Was it last night? No, it
must have been longer than that. Have I been here only since yesterday?
Why, it seems such a long time! Can this be Tuesday, only Tuesday? I'll
ask the trusty the next time he passes. I'll find out who sent this
towel too. Perhaps I could get some cold water from him; or may be there
is some here--

My eyes are growing accustomed to the semi-darkness of the cell. I
discern objects quite clearly. There is a small wooden table and an old
chair; in the furthest corner, almost hidden by the bed, is the privy;
near it, in the center of the wall opposite the door, is a water spigot
over a narrow, circular basin. The water is lukewarm and muddy, but it
feels refreshing. The rub-down with the towel is invigorating. The
stimulated blood courses through my veins with a pleasing tingle.
Suddenly a sharp sting, as of a needle, pricks my face. There's a pin in
the towel. As I draw it out, something white flutters to the floor. A

With ear alert for a passing step, I hastily read the penciled writing:

    Be shure to tare this up as soon as you reade it, it's from a
    friend. We is going to make a break and you can come along, we
    know you are on the level. Lay low and keep your lamps lit at
    night, watch the screws and the stools they is worse than bulls.
    Dump is full of them and don't have nothing to say. So long,
    will see you tomorrow. A true friend.

I read the note carefully, repeatedly. The peculiar language baffles me.
Vaguely I surmise its meaning: evidently an escape is being planned. My
heart beats violently, as I contemplate the possibilities. If I could
escape.... Oh, I should not have to die! Why haven't I thought of it
before? What a glorious thing it would be! Of course, they would ransack
the country for me. I should have to hide. But what does it matter? I'd
be at liberty. And what tremendous effect! It would make great
propaganda: people would become much interested, and I--why, I should
have new opportunities--

The shadow of suspicion falls over my joyous thought, overwhelming me
with despair. Perhaps a trap! I don't know who wrote the note. A fine
conspirator I'd prove, to be duped so easily. But why should they want
to trap me? And who? Some guard? What purpose could it serve? But they
are so mean, so brutal. That tall officer--the Deputy called him
Fellings--he seems to have taken a bitter dislike to me. This may be his
work, to get me in trouble. Would he really stoop to such an outrage?
These things happen--they have been done in Russia. And he looks like a
_provocateur_, the scoundrel. No, he won't get me that way. I must read
the note again. It contains so many expressions I don't understand. I
should "keep my lamps lit." What lamps? There are none in the cell;
where am I to get them? And what "screws" must I watch? And the
"stools,"--I have only a chair here. Why should I watch it? Perhaps it's
to be used as a weapon. No, it must mean something else. The note says
he will call to-morrow. I'll be able to tell by his looks whether he can
be trusted. Yes, yes, that will be best. I'll wait till to-morrow. Oh, I
wish it were here!




The days drag interminably in the semidarkness of the cell. The gong
regulates my existence with depressing monotony. But the tenor of my
thoughts has been changed by the note of the mysterious correspondent.
In vain I have been waiting for his appearance,--yet the suggestion of
escape has germinated hope. The will to live is beginning to assert
itself, growing more imperative as the days go by. I wonder that my mind
dwells upon suicide more and more rarely, ever more cursorily. The
thought of self-destruction fills me with dismay. Every possibility of
escape must first be exhausted, I reassure my troubled conscience.
Surely I have no fear of death--when the proper time arrives. But haste
would be highly imprudent; worse, quite unnecessary. Indeed, it is my
duty as a revolutionist to seize every opportunity for propaganda:
escape would afford me many occasions to serve the Cause. It was
thoughtless on my part to condemn that man Jamestown. I even resented
his seemingly unforgivable delay in committing suicide, considering the
impossible sentence of seventeen years. Indeed, I was unjust: Jamestown
is, no doubt, forming his plans. It takes time to mature such an
undertaking: one must first familiarize himself with the new
surroundings, get one's bearings in the prison. So far I have had but
little chance to do so. Evidently, it is the policy of the authorities
to keep me in solitary confinement, and in consequent ignorance of the
intricate system of hallways, double gates, and winding passages. At
liberty to leave this place, it would prove difficult for me to find,
unaided, my way out. Oh, if I possessed the magic ring I dreamed of last
night! It was a wonderful talisman, secreted--I fancied in the dream--by
the goddess of the Social Revolution. I saw her quite distinctly: tall
and commanding, the radiance of all-conquering love in her eyes. She
stood at my bedside, a smile of surpassing gentleness suffusing the
queenly countenance, her arm extended above me, half in blessing, half
pointing toward the dark wall. Eagerly I looked in the direction of the
arched hand--there, in a crevice, something luminous glowed with the
brilliancy of fresh dew in the morning sun. It was a heart-shaped ring
cleft in the centre. Its scintillating rays glorified the dark corner
with the aureole of a great hope. Impulsively I reached out, and pressed
the parts of the ring into a close-fitting whole, when, lo! the rays
burst into a fire that spread and instantly melted the iron and steel,
and dissolved the prison walls, disclosing to my enraptured gaze green
fields and woods, and men and women playfully at work in the sunshine of
freedom. And then ... something dispelled the vision.

Oh, if I had that magic heart now! To escape, to be free! May be my
unknown friend will yet keep his word. He is probably perfecting plans,
or perhaps it is not safe for him to visit me. If my comrades could aid
me, escape would be feasible. But the Girl and Fedya will never consider
the possibility. No doubt they refrain from writing because they
momentarily expect to hear of my suicide. How distraught the poor Girl
must be! Yet she should have written: it is now four days since my
removal to the penitentiary. Every day I anxiously await the coming of
the Chaplain, who distributes the mail.--There he is! The quick, nervous
step has become familiar to my ear. Expectantly I follow his movements;
I recognize the vigorous slam of the door and the click of the spring
lock. The short steps patter on the bridge connecting the upper rotunda
with the cell-house, and pass along the gallery. The solitary footfall
amid the silence reminds me of the timid haste of one crossing a
graveyard at night. Now the Chaplain pauses: he is comparing the number
of the wooden block hanging outside the cell with that on the letter.
Some one has remembered a friend in prison. The steps continue and grow
faint, as the postman rounds the distant corner. He passes the cell-row
on the opposite side, ascends the topmost tier, and finally reaches the
ground floor containing my cell. My heart beats faster as the sound
approaches: there must surely be a letter for me. He is nearing the
cell--he pauses. I can't see him yet, but I know he is comparing
numbers. Perhaps the letter is for me. I hope the Chaplain will make no
mistake: Range K, Cell 6, Number A 7. Something light flaps on the floor
of the next cell, and the quick, short step has passed me by. No mail
for me! Another twenty-four hours must elapse before I may receive a
letter, and then, too, perhaps the faint shadow will not pause at my


The thought of my twenty-two-year sentence is driving me desperate. I
would make use of any means, however terrible, to escape from this hell,
to regain liberty. Liberty! What would it not offer me after this
experience? I should have the greatest opportunity for revolutionary
activity. I would choose Russia. The Mostianer have forsaken me. I will
keep aloof, but they shall learn what a true revolutionist is capable of
accomplishing. If there is a spark of manhood in them, they will blush
for their despicable attitude toward my act, their shameful treatment of
me. How eager they will then be to prove their confidence by exaggerated
devotion, to salve their guilty conscience! I should not have to
complain of a lack of financial aid, were I to inform our intimate
circles of my plans regarding future activity in Russia. It would be
glorious, glorious! S--sh--

It's the Chaplain. Perhaps he has mail for me to-day.... May be he is
suppressing letters from my friends; or probably it is the Warden's
fault: the mailbag is first examined in his office.--Now the Chaplain is
descending to the ground floor. He pauses. It must be Cell 2 getting a
letter. Now he is coming. The shadow is opposite my door,--gone!

"Chaplain, one moment, please."

"Who's calling?"

"Here, Chaplain. Cell 6 K."

"What is it, my boy?"

"Chaplain, I should like something to read."

"Read? Why, we have a splendid library, m' boy; very fine library. I
will send you a catalogue, and you can draw one book every week."

"I missed library day on this range. I'll have to wait another week. But
I'd like to have something in the meantime, Chaplain."

"You are not working, m' boy?"


"You have not refused to work, have you?"

"No, I have not been offered any work yet."

"Oh, well, you will be assigned soon. Be patient, m' boy."

"But can't I have something to read now?"

"Isn't there a Bible in your cell?"

"A Bible? I don't believe in it, Chaplain."

"My boy, it will do you no harm to read it. It may do you good. Read it,
m' boy."

For a moment I hesitate. A desperate idea crosses my mind.

"All right, Chaplain, I'll read the Bible, but I don't care for the
modern English version. Perhaps you have one with Greek or Latin

"Why, why, m' boy, do you understand Latin or Greek?"

"Yes, I have studied the classics."

The Chaplain seems impressed. He steps close to the door, leaning
against it in the attitude of a man prepared for a long conversation. We
talk about the classics, the sources of my knowledge, Russian schools,
social conditions. An interesting and intelligent man, this prison
Chaplain, an extensive traveler whose visit to Russia had impressed him
with the great possibilities of that country. Finally he motions to a

"Let A 7 come with me."

With a suspicious glance at me, the officer unlocks the door. "Shall I
come along, Chaplain?" he asks.

"No, no. It is all right. Come, m' boy."

Past the tier of vacant cells, we ascend the stairway to the upper
rotunda, on the left side of which is the Chaplain's office. Excited and
alert, I absorb every detail of the surroundings. I strive to appear
indifferent, while furtively following every movement of the Chaplain,
as he selects the rotunda key from the large bunch in his hand, and
opens the door. Passionate longing for liberty is consuming me. A plan
of escape is maturing in my mind. The Chaplain carries all the keys--he
lives in the Warden's house, connected with the prison--he is so
fragile--I could easily overpower him--there is no one in the
rotunda--I'd stifle his cries--take the keys--

"Have a seat, my boy. Sit down. Here are some books. Look them over. I
have a duplicate of my personal Bible, with annotations. It is somewhere

With feverish eyes I watch him lay the keys on the desk. A quick motion,
and they would be mine. That large and heavy one, it must belong to the
gate. It is so big,--one blow would kill him. Ah, there is a safe! The
Chaplain is taking some books from it. His back is turned to me. A
thrust--and I'd lock him in.... Stealthily, imperceptibly, I draw nearer
to the desk, my eyes fastened on the keys. Now I bend over them,
pretending to be absorbed in a book, the while my hand glides forward,
slowly, cautiously. Quickly I lean over; the open book in my hands
entirely hides the keys. My hand touches them. Desperately I clutch the
large, heavy bunch, my arm slowly rises--

"My boy, I cannot find that Bible just now, but I'll give you some other
book. Sit down, my boy. I am so sorry about you. I am an officer of the
State, but I think you were dealt with unjustly. Your sentence is quite
excessive. I can well understand the state of mind that actuated you, a
young enthusiast, in these exciting times. It was in connection with
Homestead, is it not so, m' boy?"

       *       *       *       *       *

I fall back into the chair, shaken, unmanned. That deep note of
sympathy, the sincerity of the trembling voice--no, no, I cannot touch


At last, mail from New York! Letters from the Girl and Fedya. With a
feeling of mixed anxiety and resentment, I gaze at the familiar
handwriting. Why didn't they write before? The edge of expectancy has
been dulled by the long suspense. The Girl and the Twin, my closest,
most intimate friends of yesterday,--but the yesterday seems so distant
in the past, its very reality submerged in the tide of soul-racking

There is a note of disappointment, almost of bitterness, in the Girl's
letter. The failure of my act will lessen the moral effect, and diminish
its propagandistic value. The situation is aggravated by Most. Owing to
his disparaging attitude, the Germans remain indifferent. To a
considerable extent, even the Jewish revolutionary element has been
influenced by him. The Twin, in veiled and abstruse Russian, hints at
the attempted completion of my work, planned, yet impossible of

I smile scornfully at the "completion" that failed even of an attempt.
The damningly false viewpoint of the Girl exasperates me, and I angrily
resent the disapproving surprise I sense in both letters at my continued

I read the lines repeatedly. Every word drips bitterness into my soul.
Have I grown morbid, or do they actually presume to reproach me with my
failure to suicide? By what right? Impatiently I smother the accusing
whisper of my conscience, "By the right of revolutionary ethics." The
will to live leaps into being peremptorily, more compelling and
imperative at the implied challenge.

No, I will struggle and fight! Friend or enemy, they shall learn that I
am not so easily done for. I will live, to escape, to conquer!



The silence grows more oppressive, the solitude unbearable. My natural
buoyancy is weighted down by a nameless dread. With dismay I realize the
failing elasticity of my step, the gradual loss of mental vivacity. I
feel worn in body and soul.

The regular tolling of the gong, calling to toil or meals, accentuates
the enervating routine. It sounds ominously amid the stillness, like the
portent of some calamity, horrible and sudden. Unshaped fears, the more
terrifying because vague, fill my heart. In vain I seek to drown my
riotous thoughts by reading and exercise. The walls stand, immovable
sentinels, hemming me in on every side, till movement grows into
torture. In the constant dusk of the windowless cell the letters dance
before my eyes, now forming fantastic figures, now dissolving into
corpses and images of death. The morbid pictures fascinate my mind. The
hissing gas jet in the corridor irresistibly attracts me. With eyes half
shut, I follow the flickering light. Its diffusing rays form a
kaleidoscope of variegated pattern, now crystallizing into scenes of my
youth, now converging upon the image of my New York life, with grotesque
illumination of the tragic moments. Now the flame is swept by a gust of
wind. It darts hither and thither, angrily contending with the
surrounding darkness. It whizzes and strikes into its adversary, who
falters, then advances with giant shadow, menacing the light with
frenzied threats on the whitewashed wall. Look! The shadow grows and
grows, till it mounts the iron gates that fall heavily behind me, as the
officers lead me through the passage. "You're home now," the guard mocks
me. I look back. The gray pile looms above me, cold and forbidding, and
on its crest stands the black figure leering at me in triumph. The walls
frown upon me. They seem human in their cruel immobility. Their huge
arms tower into the night, as if to crush me on the instant. I feel so
small, unutterably weak and defenceless amid all the loneliness,--the
breath of the grave is on my face, it draws closer, it surrounds me, and
shuts the last rays from my sight. In horror I pause.... The chain grows
taut, the sharp edges cut into my wrist. I lurch forward, and wake on
the floor of the cell.

       *       *       *       *       *

Restless dream and nightmare haunt the long nights. I listen eagerly for
the tolling of the gong, bidding darkness depart. But the breaking day
brings neither hope nor gladness. Gloomy as yesterday, devoid of
interest as the to-morrows at its heels, endlessly dull and leaden: the
rumbling carts, with their loads of half-baked bread; the tasteless
brown liquid; the passing lines of striped misery; the coarse commands;
the heavy tread; and then--the silence of the tomb.

Why continue the unprofitable torture? No advantage could accrue to the
Cause from prolonging this agony. All avenues of escape are closed; the
institution is impregnable. The good people have generously fortified
this modern bastille; the world at large may sleep in peace, undisturbed
by the anguish of Calvary. No cry of tormented soul shall pierce these
walls of stone, much less the heart of man. Why, then, prolong the
agony? None heeds, none cares, unless perhaps my comrades,--and they are
far away and helpless.

Helpless, quite helpless. Ah, if our movement were strong, the enemy
would not dare commit such outrages, knowing that quick and merciless
vengeance would retaliate for injustice. But the enemy realizes our
weakness. To our everlasting shame, the crime of Chicago has not yet
been avenged. _Vae victis!_ They shall forever be the victims. Only
might is respected; it alone can influence tyrants. Had we
strength,--but if the judicial murders of 1887 failed to arouse more
than passive indignation, can I expect radical developments in
consequence of my brutally excessive sentence? It is unreasonable. Five
years, indeed, have passed since the Haymarket tragedy. Perhaps the
People have since been taught in the bitter school of oppression and
defeat. Oh, if labor would realize the significance of my deed, if the
worker would understand my aims and motives, he could be roused to
strong protest, perhaps to active demand. Ah, yes! But when, when will
the dullard realize things? When will he open his eyes? Blind to his own
slavery and degradation, can I expect him to perceive the wrong suffered
by others? And who is to enlighten him? No one conceives the truth as
deeply and clearly as we Anarchists. Even the Socialists dare not
advocate the whole, unvarnished truth. They have clothed the Goddess of
Liberty with a fig-leaf; religion, the very fountain-head of bigotry and
injustice, has officially been declared _Privatsache_. Henceforth these
timid world-liberators must be careful not to tread upon the toes of
prejudice and superstition. Soon they will grow to _bourgeois_
respectability, a party of "practical" politics and "sound" morality.
What a miserable descent from the peaks of Nihilism that proclaimed
defiance of all established institutions, _because_ they were
established, hence wrong. Indeed, there is not a single institution in
our pseudo-civilization that deserves to exist. But only the Anarchists
dare wage war upon all and every form of wrong, and they are few in
number, lacking in power. The internal divisions, too, aggravate our
weakness; and now, even Most has turned apostate. The Jewish comrades
will be influenced by his attitude. Only the Girl remains. But she is
young in the movement, and almost unknown. Undoubtedly she has talent as
a speaker, but she is a woman, in rather poor health. In all the
movement, I know of no one capable of propaganda by deed, or of an
avenging act, except the Twin. At least I can expect no other comrade to
undertake the dangerous task of a rescue. The Twin is a true
revolutionist; somewhat impulsive and irresponsible, perhaps, with
slight aristocratic leanings, yet quite reliable in matters of
revolutionary import. But he would not harbor the thought. We held such
queer notions of prison: the sight of a police uniform, an arrest,
suggested visions of a bottomless pit, irrevocable disappearance, as in
Russia. How can I broach the subject to the Twin? All mail passes
through the hands of the censor; my correspondence, especially--a
long-timer and an Anarchist--will be minutely scrutinized. There seems
no possibility. I am buried alive in this stone grave. Escape is
hopeless. And this agony of living death--I cannot support it....



I yearn for companionship. Even the mere sight of a human form is a
relief. Every morning, after breakfast, I eagerly listen for the
familiar swish-swash on the flagstones of the hallway: it is the old
rangeman[14] "sweeping up." The sensitive mouth puckered up in an
inaudible whistle, the one-armed prisoner swings the broom with his
left, the top of the handle pressed under the armpit.

  [14] Prisoner taking care of a range or tier of cells.

"Hello, Aleck! How're you feeling to-day?"

He stands opposite my cell, at the further end of the wall, the broom
suspended in mid-stroke. I catch an occasional glance of the kind blue
eyes, while his head is in constant motion, turning to right and left,
alert for the approach of a guard.

"How're you, Aleck?"

"Oh, nothing extra."

"I know how it is, Aleck, I've been through the mill. Keep up your
nerve, you'll be all right, old boy. You're young yet."

"Old enough to die," I say, bitterly.

"S--sh! Don't speak so loud. The screw's got long ears."

"The screw?"

A wild hope trembles in my heart. The "screw"! The puzzling expression
in the mysterious note,--perhaps this man wrote it. In anxious
expectancy, I watch the rangeman. His back turned toward me, head bent,
he hurriedly plies the broom with the quick, short stroke of the
one-armed sweeper. "S--sh!" he cautions, without turning, as he crosses
the line of my cell.

I listen intently. Not a sound, save the regular swish-swash of the
broom. But the more practiced ear of the old prisoner did not err. A
long shadow falls across the hall. The tall guard of the malicious eyes
stands at my door.

"What you pryin' out for?" he demands.

"I am not prying."

"Don't you contradict me. Stand back in your hole there. Don't you be
leanin' on th' door, d'ye hear?"

Down the hall the guard shouts: "Hey you, cripple! Talkin' there, wasn't

"No, sir."

"Don't you dare lie to me. You was."

"Swear to God I wasn't."

"W-a-all, if I ever catch you talkin' to that s---- of a b----, I'll fix

       *       *       *       *       *

The scratching of the broom has ceased. The rangeman is dusting the
doors. The even strokes of the cat-o'-nine-tails sound nearer. Again the
man stops at my door, his head turning right and left, the while he
diligently plies the duster.

"Aleck," he whispers, "be careful of that screw. He's a ----. See him
jump on me?"

"What would he do to you if he saw you talking to me?"

"Throw me in the hole, the dungeon, you know. I'd lose my job, too."

"Then better don't talk to me."

"Oh, I ain't scared of him. He can't catch _me_, not he. He didn't see
me talkin'; just bluffed. Can't bluff _me_, though."

"But be careful."

"It's all right. He's gone out in the yard now. He has no biz in the
block,[15] anyhow, 'cept at feedin' time. He's jest lookin' for trouble.
Mean skunk he is, that Cornbread Tom."

  [15] Cell-house.


"That screw Fellings. We call him Cornbread Tom, b'cause he swipes our
corn dodger."

"What's corn dodger?"

"Ha, ha! Toosdays and Satoordays we gets a chunk of cornbread for
breakfast. It ain't much, but better'n stale punk. Know what punk is?
Not long on lingo, are you? Punk's bread, and then some kids is punk."

He chuckles, merrily, as at some successful _bon mot_. Suddenly he
pricks up his ears, and with a quick gesture of warning, tiptoes away
from the cell. In a few minutes he returns, whispering:

"All O. K. Road's clear. Tom's been called to the shop. Won't be back
till dinner, thank th' Lord. Only the Cap is in the block, old man
Mitchell, in charge of this wing. North Block it's called."

"The women are in the South Block?"

"Nope. Th' girls got a speshal building. South Block's th' new
cell-house, just finished. Crowded already, an' fresh fish comin' every
day. Court's busy in Pittsburgh all right. Know any one here?"


"Well, get acquainted, Aleck. It'll give you an interest. Guess that's
what you need. I know how you feel, boy. Thought I'd die when I landed
here. Awful dump. A guy advised me to take an interest an' make friends.
I thought he was kiddin' me, but he was on the level, all right. Get
acquainted, Aleck; you'll go bugs if you don't. Must vamoose now. See
you later. My name's Wingie."


"That's what they call me here. I'm an old soldier; was at Bull Run. Run
so damn fast I lost my right wing, hah, hah, hah! S'long."

       *       *       *       *       *

Eagerly I look forward to the stolen talks with Wingie. They are the
sole break in the monotony of my life. But days pass without the
exchange of a word. Silently the one-armed prisoner walks by, apparently
oblivious of my existence, while with beating heart I peer between the
bars for a cheering sign of recognition. Only the quick wink of his eye
reassures me of his interest, and gives warning of the spying guard.

By degrees the ingenuity of Wingie affords us more frequent snatches of
conversation, and I gather valuable information about the prison. The
inmates sympathize with me, Wingie says. They know I'm "on th' level."
I'm sure to find friends, but I must be careful of the "stool pigeons,"
who report everything to the officers. Wingie is familiar with the
history of every keeper. Most of them are "rotten," he assures me.
Especially the Captain of the night watch is "fierce an' an ex-fly."[16]
Only three "screws" are on night duty in each block, but there are a
hundred overseers to "run th' dump" during the day. Wingie promises to
be my friend, and to furnish "more pointers bymby."

  [16] Fly or fly-cop, a detective.




I stand in line with a dozen prisoners, in the anteroom of the Deputy's
office. Humiliation overcomes me as my eye falls, for the first time in
the full light of day, upon my striped clothes. I am degraded to a
beast! My first impression of a prisoner in stripes is painfully vivid:
he resembled a dangerous brute. Somehow the idea is associated in my
mind with a wild tigress,--and I, too, must now look like that.

The door of the rotunda swings open, admitting the tall, lank figure of
the Deputy Warden.

"Hands up!"

The Deputy slowly passes along the line, examining a hand here and
there. He separates the men into groups; then, pointing to the one in
which I am included, he says in his feminine accents:

"None crippled. Officers, take them, hm, hm, to Number Seven. Turn them
over to Mr. Hoods."

"Fall in! Forward, march!"

My resentment at the cattle-like treatment is merged into eager
expectation. At last I am assigned to work! I speculate on the character
of "Number Seven," and on the possibilities of escape from there.
Flanked by guards, we cross the prison yard in close lockstep. The
sentinels on the wall, their rifles resting loosely on crooked arm,
face the striped line winding snakelike through the open space. The yard
is spacious and clean, the lawn well kept and inviting. The first breath
of fresh air in two weeks violently stimulates my longing for liberty.
Perhaps the shop will offer an opportunity to escape. The thought
quickens my observation. Bounded north, east, and south by the stone
wall, the two blocks of the cell-house form a parallelogram, enclosing
the shops, kitchen, hospital, and, on the extreme south, the women's

"Break ranks!"

We enter Number Seven, a mat shop. With difficulty I distinguish the
objects in the dark, low-ceilinged room, with its small, barred windows.
The air is heavy with dust; the rattling of the looms is deafening. An
atmosphere of noisy gloom pervades the place.

The officer in charge assigns me to a machine occupied by a lanky
prisoner in stripes. "Jim, show him what to do."

Considerable time passes, without Jim taking the least notice of me.
Bent low over the machine, he seems absorbed in the work, his hands
deftly manipulating the shuttle, his foot on the treadle. Presently he
whispers, hoarsely:

"Fresh fish?"

"What did you say?"

"You bloke, long here?"

"Two weeks."

"Wotcher doin'?"

"Twenty-one years."

"Quitcher kiddin'."

"It's true."

"Honest? Holy gee!"

The shuttle flies to and fro. Jim is silent for a while, then he
demands, abruptly:

"Wat dey put you here for?"

"I don't know."

"Been kickin'?"


"Den you'se bugs."

"Why so?"

"Dis 'ere is crank shop. Dey never put a mug 'ere 'cept he's bugs, or
else dey got it in for you."

"How do _you_ happen to be here?"

"Me? De God damn ---- got it in for me. See dis?" He points to a deep
gash over his temple. "Had a scrap wid de screws. Almost knocked me
glimmer out. It was dat big bull[17] dere, Pete Hoods. I'll get even wid
_him_, all right, damn his rotten soul. I'll kill him. By God, I will.
I'll croak 'ere, anyhow."

  [17] Guard.

"Perhaps it isn't so bad," I try to encourage him.

"It ain't, eh? Wat d'_you_ know 'bout it? I've got the con bad, spittin'
blood every night. Dis dust's killin' me. Kill you, too, damn quick."

As if to emphasize his words, he is seized with a fit of coughing,
prolonged and hollow.

The shuttle has in the meantime become entangled in the fringes of the
matting. Recovering his breath, Jim snatches the knife at his side, and
with a few deft strokes releases the metal. To and fro flies the
gleaming thing, and Jim is again absorbed in his task.

"Don't bother me no more," he warns me, "I'm behind wid me work."

Every muscle tense, his long body almost stretched across the loom, in
turn pulling and pushing, Jim bends every effort to hasten the
completion of the day's task.

The guard approaches. "How's he doing?" he inquires, indicating me with
a nod of the head.

"He's all right. But say, Hoods, dis 'ere is no place for de kid. He's
got a twenty-one spot."[18]

  [18] Sentence.

"Shut your damned trap!" the officer retorts, angrily. The consumptive
bends over his work, fearfully eyeing the keeper's measuring stick.

As the officer turns away, Jim pleads:

"Mr. Hoods, I lose time teachin'. Won't you please take off a bit? De
task is more'n I can do, an' I'm sick."

"Nonsense. There's nothing the matter with you, Jim. You're just lazy,
that's what you are. Don't be shamming, now. It don't go with _me_."

At noon the overseer calls me aside. "You are green here," he warns me,
"pay no attention to Jim. He wanted to be bad, but we showed him
different. He's all right now. You have a long time; see that you behave
yourself. This is no playhouse, you understand?"

As I am about to resume my place in the line forming to march back to
the cells for dinner, he recalls me:

"Say, Aleck, you'd better keep an eye on that fellow Jim. He is a little
off, you know."

He points toward my head, with a significant rotary motion.


The mat shop is beginning to affect my health: the dust has inflamed my
throat, and my eyesight is weakening in the constant dusk. The officer
in charge has repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with my slow progress
in the work. "I'll give you another chance," he cautioned me yesterday,
"and if you don't make a good mat by next week, down in the hole you
go." He severely upbraided Jim for his inefficiency as instructor. As
the consumptive was about to reply, he suffered an attack of coughing.
The emaciated face turned greenish-yellow, but in a moment he seemed to
recover, and continued working. Suddenly I saw him clutch at the frame,
a look of terror spread over his face, he began panting for breath, and
then a stream of dark blood gushed from his mouth, and Jim fell to the

The steady whir of the looms continued. The prisoner at the neighboring
machine cast a furtive look at the prostrate form, and bent lower over
his work. Jim lay motionless, the blood dyeing the floor purple. I
rushed to the officer.

"Mr. Hoods, Jim has--"

"Back to your place, damn you!" he shouted at me. "How dare you leave it
without permission?"

"I just--"

"Get back, I tell you!" he roared, raising the heavy stick.

I returned to my place. Jim lay very still, his lips parted, his face

Slowly, with measured step, the officer approached.

"What's the matter here?"

I pointed at Jim. The guard glanced at the unconscious man, then lightly
touched the bleeding face with his foot.

"Get up, Jim, get up!"

The nerveless head rolled to the side, striking the leg of the loom.

"Guess he isn't shamming," the officer muttered. Then he shook his
finger at me, menacingly: "Don't you ever leave your place without
orders. Remember, you!"

After a long delay, causing me to fear that Jim had been forgotten, the
doctor arrived. It was Mr. Rankin, the senior prison physician, a short,
stocky man of advanced middle age, with a humorous twinkle in his eye.
He ordered the sick prisoner taken to the hospital. "Did any one see the
man fall?" he inquired.

"This man did," the keeper replied, indicating me.

While I was explaining, the doctor eyed me curiously. Presently he asked
my name. "Oh, the celebrated case," he smiled. "I know Mr. Frick quite
well. Not such a bad man, at all. But you'll be treated well here, Mr.
Berkman. This is a democratic institution, you know. By the way, what is
the matter with your eyes? They are inflamed. Always that way?"

"Only since I am working in this shop."

"Oh, he is all right, Doctor," the officer interposed. "He's only been
here a week."

Mr. Rankin cast a quizzical look at the guard.

"You want him here?"

"Y-e-s: we're short of men."

"Well, _I_ am the doctor, Mr. Hoods." Then, turning to me, he added:
"Report in the morning on sick list."


The doctor's examination has resulted in my removal to the hosiery
department. The change has filled me with renewed hope. A disciplinary
shop, to which are generally assigned the "hard cases"--inmates in the
first stages of mental derangement, or exceptionally unruly
prisoners--the mat shop is the point of special supervision and severest
discipline. It is the best-guarded shop, from which escape is
impossible. But in the hosiery department, a recent addition to the
local industries. I may find the right opportunity. It will require
time, of course; but my patience shall be equal to the great object. The
working conditions, also, are more favorable: the room is light and
airy, the discipline not so stringent. My near-sightedness has secured
for me immunity from machine work. The Deputy at first insisted that my
eyes were "good enough" to see the numerous needles of the hosiery
machine. It is true, I could see them; but not with sufficient
distinctness to insure the proper insertion of the initial threads. To
admit partial ability would result, I knew, in being ordered to produce
the task; and failure, or faulty work, would be severely punished.
Necessity drove me to subterfuge: I pretended total inability to
distinguish the needles. Repeated threats of punishment failing to
change my determination, I have been assigned the comparatively easy
work of "turning" the stockings. The occupation, though tedious, is not
exacting. It consists in gathering the hosiery manufactured by the
knitting machines, whence the product issues without soles. I carry the
pile to the table provided with an iron post, about eighteen inches
high, topped with a small inverted disk. On this instrument the
stockings are turned "inside out" by slipping the article over the post,
then quickly "undressing" it. The hosiery thus "turned" is forwarded to
the looping machines, by which the product is finished and sent back to
me, once more to be "turned," preparatory to sorting and shipment.

       *       *       *       *       *

Monotonously the days and weeks pass by. Practice lends me great
dexterity in the work, but the hours of drudgery drag with heavy heel. I
seek to hasten time by forcing myself to take an interest in the task. I
count the stockings I turn, the motions required by each operation, and
the amount accomplished within a given time. But in spite of these
efforts, my mind persistently reverts to unprofitable subjects: my
friends and the propaganda; the terrible injustice of my excessive
sentence; suicide and escape.

My nights are restless. Oppressed with a nameless weight, or tormented
by dread, I awake with a start, breathless and affrighted, to experience
the momentary relief of danger past. But the next instant I am
overwhelmed by the consciousness of my surroundings, and plunged into
rage and despair, powerless, hopeless.

Thus day succeeds night, and night succeeds day, in the ceaseless
struggle of hope and discouragement, of life and death, amid the
externally placid tenor of my Pennsylvania nightmare.




                                            Direct to Box A 7,
                                              Allegheny City, Pa.,
                                                 October 19th, 1892.

    Dear Sister:[19]

    It is just a month, a month to-day, since my coming here. I keep
    wondering, can such a world of misery and torture be compressed
    into one short month?... How I have longed for this opportunity!
    You will understand: a month's stay is required before we are
    permitted to write. But many, many long letters I have written
    to you--in my mind, dear Sonya. Where shall I begin now? My
    space is very limited, and I have so much to say to you and to
    the Twin.--I received your letters. You need not wait till you
    hear from me: keep on writing. I am allowed to receive all mail
    sent, "of moral contents," in the phraseology of the rules. And
    I shall write whenever I may.

    Dear Sonya, I sense bitterness and disappointment in your
    letter. Why do you speak of failure? You, at least, you and
    Fedya, should not have your judgment obscured by the mere
    accident of physical results. Your lines pained and grieved me
    beyond words. Not because you should write thus; but that you,
    even you, should _think_ thus. Need I enlarge? True morality
    deals with motives, not consequences. I cannot believe that we
    differ on this point.

    I fully understand what a terrible blow the apostasy of
    Wurst[20] must have been to you. But however it may minimize
    the effect, it cannot possibly alter the fact, or its
    character. This you seem to have lost sight of. In spite of
    Wurst, a great deal could have been accomplished. I don't know
    whether it has been done: your letter is very meagre on this
    point. Yet it is of supreme interest to me. But I know,
    Sonya,--of this one thing, at least, I am sure--you will do all
    that is in your power. Perhaps it is not much--but the Twin and
    part of Orchard Street[21] will be with you.

    Why that note of disappointment, almost of resentment, as to
    Tolstogub's relation to the Darwinian theory?[22] You must
    consider that the layman cannot judge of the intricacies of
    scientific hypotheses. The scientist would justly object to such

    I embrace you both. The future is dark; but, then, who knows?...
    Write often. Tell me about the movement, yourself and friends.
    It will help to keep me in touch with the outside world, which
    daily seems to recede further. I clutch desperately at the
    thread that still binds me to the living--it seems to unravel in
    my hands, the thin skeins are breaking, one by one. My hold is
    slackening. But the Sonya thread, I know, will remain taut and
    strong. I have always called you the Immutable.


  [19] The Girl; also referred to as Sonya, Musick, and Sailor.

  [20] John Most.

  [21] 54 Orchard Street--the hall in which the first Jewish
       Anarchist gatherings were held in New York. An allusion
       to the aid of the Jewish comrades.

  [22] Tolstogub--the author's Russian nickname. The expression
       signifies the continued survival of the writer.



I posted the letter in the prisoners' mail-box when the line formed for
work this morning. But the moment the missive left my hands, I was
seized with a great longing. Oh, if some occult means would transform me
into that slip of paper! I should now be hidden in that green box--with
bated breath I'd flatten myself in the darkest recess, and wait for the
Chaplain to collect the mail....

My heart beats tumultuously as the wild fancy flutters in my brain. I am
oblivious of the forming lines, the sharp commands, the heavy tread.
Automatically I turn the hosiery, counting one, two, one pair; three,
four, two pair. Whose voice is it I hear? I surely know the man--there
is something familiar about him. He bends over the looping machines and
gathers the stockings. Now he is counting: one, two, one pair; three,
four, two pair. Just like myself. Why, he looks like myself! And the men
all seem to think it is I. Ha, ha, ha! the officer, also. I just heard
him say, "Aleck, work a little faster, can't you? See the piles there,
you're falling behind." He thinks it's I. What a clever substitution!
And all the while the real "me" is snugly lying here in the green box,
peeping through the keyhole, on the watch for the postman. S-sh! I hear
a footstep. Perhaps it is the Chaplain: he will open the box with his
quick, nervous hands, seize a handful of letters, and thrust them into
the large pocket of his black serge coat. There are so many letters
here--I'll slip among them into the large pocket--the Chaplain will not
notice me. He'll think it's just a letter, ha, ha! He'll scrutinize
every word, for it's the letter of a long-timer; his first one, too. But
I am safe, I'm invisible; and when they call the roll, they will take
that man there for me. He is counting nineteen, twenty, ten pair;
twenty-one, twenty-two.... What was that? Twenty-two--oh, yes,
twenty-two, that's my sentence. The imbeciles, they think I am going to
serve it. I'd kill myself first. But it will not be necessary, thank
goodness! It was such a lucky thought, this going out in my letter. But
what has become of the Chaplain? If he'd only come--why is he so long?
They might miss me in the shop. No, no! that man is there--he is turning
the stockings--they don't know I am here in the box. The Chaplain won't
know it, either: I am invisible; he'll think it's a letter when he puts
me in his pocket, and then he'll seal me in an envelope and address--I
must flatten myself so his hand shouldn't feel--and he'll address me to
Sonya. He'll not know whom he is sending to her--he doesn't know who she
is, either--the _Deckadresse_ is splendid--we must keep it up. Keep it
up? Why? It will not be necessary: after he mails me, we don't need to
write any more--it is well, too--I have so much to tell Sonya--and it
wouldn't pass the censor. But it's all right now--they'll throw the
letters into the mail-carrier's bag--there'll be many of them--this is
general letter day. I'll hide in the pile, and they'll pass me through
the post-office, on to New York. Dear, dear New York! I have been away
so long. Only a month? Well, I must be patient--and not breathe so loud.
When I get to New York, I shall not go at once into the house--Sonya
might get frightened. I'll first peep in through the window--I wonder
what she'll be doing--and who will be at home? Yes, Fedya will be there,
and perhaps Claus and Sep. How surprised they'll all be! Sonya will
embrace me--she'll throw her arms around my neck--they'll feel so soft
and warm--

"Hey, there! Are you deaf? Fall in line!"

Dazed, bewildered, I see the angry face of the guard before me. The
striped men pass me, enveloped in a mist. I grasp the "turner." The iron
feels cold. Chills shake my frame, and the bundle of hosiery drops from
my hand.

"Fall in line, I tell you!"

"Sucker!" some one hisses behind me. "Workin' after whistle. 'Fraid you
won't get 'nough in yer twenty-two spot, eh? You sucker, you!"



The hours at work help to dull the acute consciousness of my
environment. The hosiery department is past the stage of experiment; the
introduction of additional knitting machines has enlarged my task,
necessitating increased effort and more sedulous application.

The shop routine now demands all my attention. It leaves little time for
thinking or brooding. My physical condition alarms me: the morning hours
completely exhaust me, and I am barely able to keep up with the line
returning to the cell-house for the noon meal. A feeling of lassitude
possesses me, my feet drag heavily, and I experience great difficulty in
mastering my sleepiness.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have grown indifferent to the meals; the odor of food nauseates me. I
am nervous and morbid: the sight of a striped prisoner disgusts me; the
proximity of a guard enrages me. The shop officer has repeatedly warned
me against my disrespectful and surly manner. But I am indifferent to
consequences: what matter what happens? My waning strength is a source
of satisfaction: perhaps it indicates the approach of death. The thought
pleases me in a quiet, impersonal way. There will be no more suffering,
no anguish. The world at large is non-existent; it is centered in Me;
and yet I myself stand aloof, and see it falling into gradual peace and
quiet, into extinction.

       *       *       *       *       *

Back in my cell after the day's work, I leave the evening meal of bread
and coffee untouched. My candle remains unlit. I sit listlessly in the
gathering dusk, conscious only of the longing to hear the gong's deep
bass,--the three bells tolling the order to retire. I welcome the
blessed permission to fall into bed. The coarse straw mattress beckons
invitingly; I yearn for sleep, for oblivion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Occasional mail from friends rouses me from my apathy. But the awakening
is brief: the tone of the letter is guarded, their contents too general
in character, the matters that might kindle my interest are missing. The
world and its problems are drifting from my horizon. I am cast into the
darkness. No ray of sunshine holds out the promise of spring.

       *       *       *       *       *

At times the realization of my fate is borne in upon me with the
violence of a shock, and I am engulfed in despair, now threatening to
break down the barriers of sanity, now affording melancholy satisfaction
in the wild play of fancy.... Existence grows more and more unbearable
with the contrast of dream and reality. Weary of the day's routine, I
welcome the solitude of the cell, impatient even of the greeting of the
passing convict. I shrink from the uninvited familiarity of these men,
the horizontal gray and black constantly reviving the image of the
tigress, with her stealthy, vicious cunning. They are not of _my_ world.
I would aid them, as in duty bound to the victims of social injustice.
But I cannot be friends with them: they do not belong to the People, to
whose service my life is consecrated. Unfortunates, indeed; yet
parasites upon the producers, less in degree, but no less in kind than
the rich exploiters. By virtue of my principles, rather than their
deserts, I must give them my intellectual sympathy; they touch no chord
in my heart.

Only Wingie seems different. There is a gentle note about his manner
that breathes cheer and encouragement. Often I long for his presence,
yet he seldom finds opportunity to talk with me, save Sundays during
church service, when I remain in the cell. Perhaps I may see him to-day.
He must be careful of the Block Captain, on his rounds of the galleries,
counting the church delinquents.[23] The Captain is passing on the range
now. I recognize the uncertain step, instantly ready to halt at the
sight of a face behind the bars. Now he is at the cell. He pencils in
his note-book the number on the wooden block over the door, A 7.

  [23] Inmates of Catholic faith are excused from attending
       Protestant service, and _vice versa_.

"Catholic?" he asks, mechanically. Then, looking up, he frowns on me.

"You're no Catholic, Berkman. What d'you stay in for?"

"I am an atheist."

"A what?"

"An atheist, a non-believer."

"Oh, an infidel, are you? You'll be damned, shore 'nough."

The wooden stairs creak beneath the officer's weight. He has turned the
corner. Wingie will take advantage now. I hope he will come soon.
Perhaps somebody is watching--

"Hello, Aleck! Want a piece of pie? Here, grab it!"

"Pie, Wingie?" I whisper wonderingly. "Where do you get such luxuries?"

"Swiped from the screw's poke, Cornbread Tom's dinner-basket, you know.
The cheap guy saved it after breakfast. Rotten, ain't he?"

"Why so?"

"Why, you greenie, he's a stomach robber, that's what he is. It's _our_
pie, Aleck, made here in the bakery. That's why our punk is stale, see;
they steals the east[24] to make pies for th' screws. Are you next? How
d' you like the grub, anyhow?"

  [24] Yeast.

"The bread is generally stale, Wingie. And the coffee tastes like tepid

"Coffee you call it? He, he, coffee hell. It ain't no damn coffee;
'tnever was near coffee. It's just bootleg, Aleck, bootleg. Know how't's


"Well, I been three months in th' kitchen. You c'llect all the old punk
that the cons dump out with their dinner pans. Only the crust's used,
see. Like as not some syph coon spit on 't. Some's mean enough to do't,
you know. Makes no diff, though. Orders is, cut off th' crusts an' burn
'em to a good black crisp. Then you pour boiling water over it an' dump
it in th' kettle, inside a bag, you know, an' throw a little dirty
chic'ry in--there's your _coffee_. I never touch th' rotten stuff. It
rooins your stummick, that's what it does, Aleck. You oughtn't drink th'

"I don't care if it kills me."

"Come, come, Aleck. Cheer up, old boy. You got a tough bit, I know, but
don' take it so hard. Don' think of your time. Forget it. Oh, yes, you
can; you jest take my word for't. Make some friends. Think who you wan'
to see to-morrow, then try t' see 'm. That's what you wan' to do, Aleck.
It'll keep you hustlin'. Best thing for the blues, kiddie."

For a moment he pauses in his hurried whisper. The soft eyes are full of
sympathy, the lips smile encouragingly. He leans the broom against the
door, glances quickly around, hesitates an instant, and then deftly
slips a slender, delicate hand between the bars, and gives my cheek a
tender pat.

Involuntarily I step back, with the instinctive dislike of a man's
caress. Yet I would not offend my kind friend. But Wingie must have
noticed my annoyance: he eyes me critically, wonderingly. Presently
picking up the broom, he says with a touch of diffidence:

"You are all right, Aleck. I like you for 't. Jest wanted t' try you,

"How 'try me,' Wingie?"

"Oh, you ain't next? Well, you see--" he hesitates, a faint flush
stealing over his prison pallor, "you see, Aleck, it's--oh, wait till I
pipe th' screw."

Poor Wingie, the ruse is too transparent to hide his embarrassment. I
can distinctly follow the step of the Block Captain on the upper
galleries. He is the sole officer in the cell-house during church
service. The unlocking of the yard door would apprise us of the entrance
of a guard, before the latter could observe Wingie at my cell.

I ponder over the flimsy excuse. Why did Wingie leave me? His flushed
face, the halting speech of the usually loquacious rangeman, the
subterfuge employed to "sneak off,"--as he himself would characterize
his hasty departure,--all seem very peculiar. What could he have meant
by "trying" me? But before I have time to evolve a satisfactory
explanation, I hear Wingie tiptoeing back.

"It's all right, Aleck. They won't come from the chapel for a good while

"What did you mean by 'trying' me, Wingie?"

"Oh, well," he stammers, "never min', Aleck. You are a good boy, all
right. You don't belong here, that's what _I_ say."

"Well, I _am_ here; and the chances are I'll die here."

"Now, don't talk so foolish, boy. I 'lowed you looked down at the mouth.
Now, don't you fill your head with such stuff an' nonsense. Croak here,
hell! You ain't goin' t'do nothin' of the kind. Don't you go broodin',
now. You listen t'me, Aleck, that's your friend talkin', see? You're so
young, why, you're just a kid. Twenty-one, ain't you? An' talkin' about
dyin'! Shame on you, shame!"

His manner is angry, but the tremor in his voice sends a ray of warmth
to my heart. Impulsively I put my hand between the bars. His firm clasp
assures me of returned appreciation.

"You must brace up, Aleck. Look at the lifers. You'd think they'd be
black as night. Nit, my boy, the jolliest lot in th' dump. You seen old
Henry? No? Well, you ought' see 'im. He's the oldest man here; in
fifteen years. A lifer, an' hasn't a friend in th' woild, but he's happy
as th' day's long. An' you got plenty friends; true blue, too. I know
you have."

"I have, Wingie. But what could they do for me?"

"How you talk, Aleck. Could do anythin'. You got rich friends, I know.
You was mixed up with Frick. Well, your friends are all right, ain't

"Of course. What could they do, Wingie?"

"Get you pard'n, in two, three years may be, see? You must make a good
record here."

"Oh, I don't care for a pardon."

"Wha-a-t? You're kiddin'."

"No, Wingie, quite seriously. I am opposed to it on principle."

"You're sure bugs. What you talkin' 'bout? Principle fiddlesticks. Want
to get out o' here?"

"Of course I do."

"Well, then, quit your principle racket. What's principle got t' do with
't? Your principle's 'gainst get-tin' out?"

"No, but against being pardoned."

"You're beyond me, Aleck. Guess you're joshin' me."

"Now listen, Wingie. You see, I wouldn't apply for a pardon, because it
would be asking favors from the government, and I am against it, you
understand? It would be of no use, anyhow, Wingie."

"An' if you could get a pard'n for the askin', you won't ask, Aleck.
That's what you mean?"


"You're hot stuff, Aleck. What they call you, Narchist? Hot stuff, by
gosh! Can't make you out, though. Seems daffy. Lis'n t' me, Aleck. If I
was you, I'd take anythin' I could get, an' then tell 'em to go t'hell.
That's what _I_ would do, my boy."

He looks at me quizzically, searchingly. The faint echo of the Captain's
step reaches us from a gallery on the opposite side. With a quick glance
to right and left, Wingie leans over toward the door. His mouth between
the bars, he whispers very low:

"Principles opposed to a get-a-way, Aleck?"

The sudden question bewilders me. The instinct of liberty, my
revolutionary spirit, the misery of my existence, all flame into being,
rousing a wild, tumultuous beating of my heart, pervading my whole being
with hope, intense to the point of pain. I remain silent. Is it safe to
trust him? He seems kind and sympathetic--

"You may trust me, Aleck," Wingie whispers, as if reading my thoughts.
"I'm your friend."

"Yes, Wingie, I believe you. My principles are not opposed to an escape.
I have been thinking about it, but so far--"

"S-sh! Easy. Walls have ears."

"Any chance here, Wingie?"

"Well, it's a damn tough dump, this 'ere is; but there's many a star in
heaven, Aleck, an' you may have a lucky one. Hasn't been a get-a-way
here since Paddy McGraw sneaked over th' roof, that's--lemme see, six,
seven years ago, 'bout."

"How did he do it?" I ask, breathlessly.

"Jest Irish luck. They was finishin' the new block, you know. Paddy was
helpin' lay th' roof. When he got good an' ready, he jest goes to work
and slides down th' roof. Swiped stuff in the mat shop an' spliced a
rope together, see. They never got 'im, either."

"Was he in stripes, Wingie?"

"Sure he was. Only been in a few months."

"How did he manage to get away in stripes? Wouldn't he be recognized as
an escaped prisoner?"

"_That_ bother you, Aleck? Why, it's easy. Get planted till dark, then
hold up th' first bloke you see an' take 'is duds. Or you push in th'
back door of a rag joint; plenty of 'em in Allegheny."

"Is there any chance now through the roof?"

"Nit, my boy. Nothin' doin' _there_. But a feller's got to be alive.
Many ways to kill a cat, you know. Remember the stiff[25] you got in
them things, tow'l an' soap?"

  [25] Note.

"You know about it, Wingie?" I ask, in amazement.

"Do I? He, he, you little--"

The click of steel sounds warning. Wingie disappears.



                                            Direct to Box A 7,
                                              Allegheny City, Pa.,
                                                  November 18, 1892.

    My dear Sonya:

    It seems an age since I wrote to you, yet it is only a month.
    But the monotony of my life weights down the heels of time,--the
    only break in the terrible sameness is afforded me by your dear,
    affectionate letters, and those of Fedya. When I return to the
    cell for the noon meal, my step is quickened by the eager
    expectation of finding mail from you. About eleven in the
    morning, the Chaplain makes his rounds; his practiced hand
    shoots the letter between the bars, toward the bed or on to the
    little table in the corner. But if the missive is light, it will
    flutter to the floor. As I reach the cell, the position of the
    little white object at once apprises me whether the letter is
    long or short. With closed eyes I sense its weight, like the
    warm pressure of your own dear hand, the touch reaching softly
    to my heart, till I feel myself lifted across the chasm into
    your presence. The bars fade, the walls disappear, and the air
    grows sweet with the aroma of fresh air and flowers,--I am again
    with you, walking in the bright July moonlight.... The touch of
    the _velikorussian_ in your eyes and hair conjures up the Volga,
    our beautiful _bogatir_,[26] and the strains of the
    _dubinushka_,[27] trembling with suffering and yearning, float
    about me.... The meal remains untouched. I dream over your
    letter, and again I read it, slowly, slowly, lest I reach the
    end too quickly. The afternoon hours are hallowed by your touch
    and your presence, and I am conscious only of the longing for
    my cell,--in the quiet of the evening, freed from the nightmare
    of the immediate, I walk in the garden of our dreams.

    And the following morning, at work in the shop, I pass in
    anxious wonder whether some cheering word from my own, my real
    world, is awaiting me in the cell. With a glow of emotion I
    think of the Chaplain: perhaps at the very moment your letter is
    in his hands. He is opening it, reading. Why should strange eyes
    ... but the Chaplain seems kind and discreet. Now he is passing
    along the galleries, distributing the mail. The bundle grows
    meagre as the postman reaches the ground floor. Oh! if he does
    not come to my cell quickly, he may have no letters left. But
    the next moment I smile at the childish thought,--if there is a
    letter for me, no other prisoner will get it. Yet some error
    might happen.... No, it is impossible--my name and prison
    number, and the cell number marked by the Chaplain across the
    envelope, all insure the mail against any mistake in delivery.
    Now the dinner whistle blows. Eagerly I hasten to the cell.
    There is nothing on the floor! Perhaps on the bed, on the
    table.... I grow feverish with the dread of disappointment.
    Possibly the letter fell under the bed, or in that dark corner.
    No, none there,--but it can't be that there is no mail for me
    to-day! I must look again--it may have dropped among the
    blankets.... No, there is no letter!

       *       *       *       *       *

    Thus pass my days, dear friend. In thought I am ever with you
    and Fedya, in our old haunts and surroundings. I shall never get
    used to this life, nor find an interest in the reality of the
    moment. What will become of me, I don't know. I hardly care. We
    are revolutionists, dear: whatever sacrifices the Cause demands,
    though the individual perish, humanity will profit in the end.
    In that consciousness we must find our solace.


  [26] Brave knight--affectionately applied to the great river.

  [27] Folk-song.

                                               _Sub rosa_,
                                         Last Day of November, 1892.

    Beloved Girl:

    I thought I would not survive the agony of our meeting, but
    human capacity for suffering seems boundless. All my thoughts,
    all my yearnings, were centered in the one desire to see you, to
    look into your eyes, and there read the beautiful promise that
    has filled my days with strength and hope.... An embrace, a
    lingering kiss, and the gift of Lingg[28] would have been mine.
    To grasp your hand, to look down for a mute, immortal instant
    into your soul, and then die at your hands, Beloved, with the
    warm breath of your caress wafting me into peaceful
    eternity--oh, it were bliss supreme, the realization of our day
    dreams, when, in transports of ecstasy, we kissed the image of
    the Social Revolution. Do you remember that glorious face, so
    strong and tender, on the wall of our little Houston Street
    hallroom? How far, far in the past are those inspired moments!
    But they have filled my hours with hallowed thoughts, with
    exulting expectations. And then you came. A glance at your face,
    and I knew my doom to terrible life. I read it in the evil look
    of the guard. It was the Deputy himself. Perhaps you had been
    searched! He followed our every moment, like a famished cat that
    feigns indifference, yet is alert with every nerve to spring
    upon the victim. Oh, I know the calculated viciousness beneath
    that meek exterior. The accelerated movement of his drumming
    fingers, as he deliberately seated himself between us, warned me
    of the beast, hungry for prey.... The halo was dissipated. The
    words froze within me, and I could meet you only with a vapid
    smile, and on the instant it was mirrored in my soul as a leer,
    and I was filled with anger and resentment at everything about
    us--myself, the Deputy (I could have throttled him to death),
    and--at you, dear. Yes, Sonya, even at you: the quick come to
    bury the dead.... But the next moment, the unworthy throb of my
    agonized soul was stilled by the passionate pressure of my lips
    upon your hand. How it trembled! I held it between my own, and
    then, as I lifted my face to yours, the expression I beheld
    seemed to bereave me of my own self: it was you who were I! The
    drawn face, the look of horror, your whole being the cry of
    torture--were _you_ not the real prisoner? Or was it my visioned
    suffering that cemented the spiritual bond, annihilating all
    misunderstanding, all resentment, and lifting us above time and
    place in the afflatus of martyrdom?

    Mutely I held your hand. There was no need for words. Only the
    prying eyes of the catlike presence disturbed the sacred moment.
    Then we spoke--mechanically, trivialities.... What though the
    cadaverous Deputy with brutal gaze timed the seconds, and
    forbade the sound of our dear Russian,--nor heaven nor earth
    could violate the sacrament sealed with our pain.

    The echo accompanied my step as I passed through the rotunda on
    my way to the cell. All was quiet in the block. No whir of loom
    reached me from the shops. Thanksgiving Day: all activities were
    suspended. I felt at peace in the silence. But when the door was
    locked, and I found myself alone, all alone within the walls of
    the tomb, the full significance of your departure suddenly
    dawned on me. The quick had left the dead.... Terror of the
    reality seized me and I was swept by a paroxysm of anguish--

    I must close. The friend who promised to have this letter mailed
    _sub rosa_ is at the door. He is a kind unfortunate who has
    befriended me. May this letter reach you safely. In token of
    which, send me postal of indifferent contents, casually
    mentioning the arrival of news from my brother in Moscow.
    Remember to sign "Sister."

                              With a passionate embrace,

                                                         YOUR SASHA.

  [28] Louis Lingg, one of the Chicago martyrs, who committed
       suicide with a dynamite cartridge in a cigar given him
       by a friend.




Suffering and ever-present danger are quick teachers. In the three
months of penitentiary life I have learned many things. I doubt whether
the vague terrors pictured by my inexperience were more dreadful than
the actuality of prison existence.

In one respect, especially, the reality is a source of bitterness and
constant irritation. Notwithstanding all its terrors, perhaps because of
them, I had always thought of prison as a place where, in a measure,
nature comes into its own: social distinctions are abolished, artificial
barriers destroyed; no need of hiding one's thoughts and emotions; one
could be his real self, shedding all hypocrisy and artifice at the
prison gates. But how different is this life! It is full of deceit,
sham, and pharisaism--an aggravated counterpart of the outside world.
The flatterer, the backbiter, the spy,--these find here a rich soil. The
ill-will of a guard portends disaster, to be averted only by truckling
and flattery, and servility fawns for the reward of an easier job. The
dissembling soul in stripes whines his conversion into the pleased ears
of the Christian ladies, taking care he be not surprised without tract
or Bible,--and presently simulated piety secures a pardon, for the
angels rejoice at the sinner's return to the fold. It sickens me to
witness these scenes.

The officers make the alternative quickly apparent to the new inmate: to
protest against injustice is unavailing and dangerous. Yesterday I
witnessed in the shop a characteristic incident--a fight between Johnny
Davis and Jack Bradford, both recent arrivals and mere boys. Johnny, a
manly-looking fellow, works on a knitting machine, a few feet from my
table. Opposite him is Jack, whose previous experience in a reformatory
has "put him wise," as he expresses it. My three months' stay has taught
me the art of conversing by an almost imperceptible motion of the lips.
In this manner I learned from Johnny that Bradford is stealing his
product, causing him repeated punishment for shortage in the task.
Hoping to terminate the thefts, Johnny complained to the overseer,
though without accusing Jack. But the guard ignored the complaint, and
continued to report the youth. Finally Johnny was sent to the dungeon.
Yesterday morning he returned to work. The change in the rosy-cheeked
boy was startling: pale and hollow-eyed, he walked with a weak, halting
step. As he took his place at the machine, I heard him say to the

"Mr. Cosson, please put me somewhere else."

"Why so?" the guard asked.

"I can't make the task here. I'll make it on another machine, please,
Mr. Cosson."

"Why can't you make it here?"

"I'm missing socks."

"Ho, ho, playing the old game, are you? Want to go to th' hole again,

"I couldn't stand the hole again, Mr. Cosson, swear to God, I couldn't.
But my socks's missing here."

"Missing hell! Who's stealing your socks, eh? Don't come with no such
bluff. Nobody can't steal your socks while I'm around. You go to work
now, and you'd better make the task, understand?"

Late in the afternoon, when the count was taken, Johnny proved eighteen
pairs short. Bradford was "over."

I saw Mr. Cosson approach Johnny.

"Eh, thirty, machine thirty," he shouted. "You won't make the task, eh?
Put your coat and cap on."

Fatal words! They meant immediate report to the Deputy, and the
inevitable sentence to the dungeon.

"Oh, Mr. Cosson," the youth pleaded, "it ain't my fault, so help me God,
it isn't."

"It ain't, eh? Whose fault is it; mine?"

Johnny hesitated. His eyes sought the ground, then wandered toward
Bradford, who studiously avoided the look.

"I can't squeal," he said, quietly.

"Oh, hell! You ain't got nothin' to squeal. Get your coat and cap."

Johnny passed the night in the dungeon. This morning he came up, his
cheeks more sunken, his eyes more hollow. With desperate energy he
worked. He toiled steadily, furiously, his gaze fastened upon the
growing pile of hosiery. Occasionally he shot a glance at Bradford, who,
confident of the officer's favor, met the look of hatred with a sly
winking of the left eye.

Once Johnny, without pausing in the work, slightly turned his head in my
direction. I smiled encouragingly, and at that same instant I saw Jack's
hand slip across the table and quickly snatch a handful of Johnny's
stockings. The next moment a piercing shriek threw the shop into
commotion. With difficulty they tore away the infuriated boy from the
prostrate Bradford. Both prisoners were taken to the Deputy for trial,
with Senior Officer Cosson as the sole witness.

Impatiently I awaited the result. Through the open window I saw the
overseer return. He entered the shop, a smile about the corners of his
mouth. I resolved to speak to him when he passed by.

"Mr. Cosson," I said, with simulated respectfulness, "may I ask you a

"Why, certainly, Burk, I won't eat you. Fire away!"

"What have they done with the boys?"

"Johnny got ten days in the hole. Pretty stiff, eh? You see, he started
the fight, so he won't have to make the task. Oh, I'm next to _him_ all
right. They can't fool me so easy, can they, Burk?"

"Well, I should say not, Mr. Cosson. Did you see how the fight started?"

"No. But Johnny admitted he struck Bradford first. That's enough, you
know. 'Brad' will be back in the shop to-morrow. I got 'im off easy,
see; he's a good worker, always makes more than th' task. He'll jest
lose his supper. Guess he can stand it. Ain't much to lose, is there,

"No, not much," I assented. "But, Mr. Cosson, it was all Bradford's

"How so?" the guard demanded.

"He has been stealing Johnny's socks."

"You didn't see him do 't."

"Yes, Mr. Cosson. I saw him this--"

"Look here, Burk. It's all right. Johnny is no good anyway; he's too
fresh. You'd better say nothing about it, see? My word goes with the

       *       *       *       *       *

The terrible injustice preys on my mind. Poor Johnny is already the
fourth day in the dreaded dungeon. His third time, too, and yet
absolutely innocent. My blood boils at the thought of the damnable
treatment and the officer's perfidy. It is my duty as a revolutionist
to take the part of the persecuted. Yes, I will do so. But how proceed
in the matter? Complaint against Mr. Cosson would in all likelihood
prove futile. And the officer, informed of my action, will make life
miserable for me: his authority in the shop is absolute.

The several plans I revolve in my mind do not prove, upon closer
examination, feasible. Considerations of personal interest struggle
against my sense of duty. The vision of Johnny in the dungeon, his
vacant machine, and Bradford's smile of triumph, keep the accusing
conscience awake, till silence grows unbearable. I determine to speak
to the Deputy Warden at the first opportunity.

Several days pass. Often I am assailed by doubts: is it advisable to
mention the matter to the Deputy? It cannot benefit Johnny; it will
involve me in trouble. But the next moment I feel ashamed of my
weakness. I call to mind the much-admired hero of my youth, the
celebrated Mishkin. With an overpowering sense of my own unworthiness, I
review the brave deeds of Hippolyte Nikitich. What a man! Single-handed
he essayed to liberate Chernishevsky from prison. Ah, the curse of
poverty! But for that, Mishkin would have succeeded, and the great
inspirer of the youth of Russia would have been given back to the world.
I dwell on the details of the almost successful escape, Mishkin's fight
with the pursuing Cossacks, his arrest, and his remarkable speech in
court. Sentenced to ten years of hard labor in the Siberian mines, he
defied the Russian tyrant by his funeral oration at the grave of
Dmokhovsky, his boldness resulting in an additional fifteen years of
_kátorga_.[29] Minutely I follow his repeated attempts to escape, the
transfer of the redoubtable prisoner to the Petropavloskaia fortress,
and thence to the terrible Schlüsselburg prison, where Mishkin braved
death by avenging the maltreatment of his comrades on a high government
official. Ah! thus acts the revolutionist; and I--yes, I am decided. No
danger shall seal my lips against outrage and injustice.

  [29] Hard labor in the mines.

       *       *       *       *       *

At last an opportunity is at hand. The Deputy enters the shop. Tall and
gray, slightly stooping, with head carried forward, he resembles a wolf
following the trail.

"Mr. McPane, one moment, please."


"I think Johnny Davis is being punished innocently."

"You think, hm, hm. And who is this innocent Johnny, hm, Davis?"

His fingers drum impatiently on the table; he measures me with mocking,
suspicious eyes.

"Machine thirty, Deputy."

"Ah, yes; machine thirty; hm, hm, Reddy Davis. Hm, he had a fight."

"The other man stole his stockings. I saw it, Mr. McPane."

"So, so. And why, hm, hm, did you see it, my good man? You confess,
then, hm, hm, you were not, hm, attending to your own work. That is bad,
hm, very bad. Mr. Cosson!"

The guard hastens to him.

"Mr. Cosson, this man has made a, hm, hm, a charge against you.
Prisoner, don't interrupt me. Hm, what is your number?"

"A 7."

"Mr. Cosson, A 7 makes a, hm, complaint against the officer, hm, in
charge of this shop. Please, hm, hm, note it down."

Both draw aside, conversing in low tones. The words "kicker," "his kid,"
reach my ears. The Deputy nods at the overseer, his steely eyes fastened
on me in hatred.


I feel helpless, friendless. The consolation of Wingie's cheerful spirit
is missing. My poor friend is in trouble. From snatches of conversation
in the shop I have pieced together the story. "Dutch" Adams, a
third-timer and the Deputy's favorite stool pigeon, had lost his month's
allowance of tobacco on a prize-fight bet. He demanded that Wingie, who
was stakeholder, share the spoils with him. Infuriated by refusal,
"Dutch" reported my friend for gambling. The unexpected search of
Wingie's cell discovered the tobacco, thus apparently substantiating the
charge. Wingie was sent to the dungeon. But after the expiration of five
days my friend failed to return to his old cell, and I soon learned that
he had been ordered into solitary confinement for refusing to betray the
men who had trusted him.

The fate of Wingie preys on my mind. My poor kind friend is breaking
down under the effects of the dreadful sentence. This morning, chancing
to pass his cell, I hailed him, but he did not respond to my greeting.
Perhaps he did not hear me, I thought. Impatiently I waited for the noon
return to the block. "Hello, Wingie!" I called. He stood at the door,
intently peering between the bars. He stared at me coldly, with blank,
expressionless eyes. "Who are you?" he whimpered, brokenly. Then he
began to babble. Suddenly the terrible truth dawned on me. My poor, poor
friend, the first to speak a kind word to me,--he's gone mad!




Weeks and months pass without clarifying plans of escape. Every step,
every movement, is so closely guarded, I seem to be hoping against hope.
I am restive and nervous, in a constant state of excitement.

Conditions in the shop tend to aggravate my frame of mind. The task of
the machine men has been increased; in consequence, I am falling behind
in my work. My repeated requests for assistance have been ignored by the
overseer, who improves every opportunity to insult and humiliate me. His
feet wide apart, arms akimbo, belly disgustingly protruding, he measures
me with narrow, fat eyes. "Oh, what's the matter with you," he drawls,
"get a move on, won't you, Burk?" Then, changing his tone, he
vociferates, "Don't stand there like a fool, d'ye hear? Nex' time I
report you, to th' hole you go. That's _me_ talkin', understand?"

Often I feel the spirit of Cain stirring within me. But for the hope of
escape, I should not be able to bear this abuse and persecution. As it
is, the guard is almost overstepping the limits of my endurance. His low
cunning invents numerous occasions to mortify and harass me. The
ceaseless dropping of the poison is making my days in the shop a
constant torture. I seek relief--forgetfulness rather--in absorbing
myself in the work: I bend my energies to outdo the efforts of the
previous day; I compete with myself, and find melancholy pleasure in
establishing and breaking high records for "turning." Again, I tax my
ingenuity to perfect means of communication with Johnny Davis, my young
neighbor. Apparently intent upon our task, we carry on a silent
conversation with eyes, fingers, and an occasional motion of the lips.
To facilitate the latter method, I am cultivating the habit of tobacco
chewing. The practice also affords greater opportunity for exchanging
impressions with my newly-acquired assistant, an old-timer, who
introduced himself as "Boston Red." I owe this development to the return
of the Warden from his vacation. Yesterday he visited the shop. A
military-looking man, with benevolent white beard and stately carriage,
he approached me, in company with the Superintendent of Prison

"Is this the celebrated prisoner?" he asked, a faint smile about the
rather coarse mouth.

"Yes, Captain, that's Berkman, the man who shot Frick."

"I was in Naples at the time. I read about you in the English papers
there, Berkman. How is his conduct, Superintendent?"


"Well, he should have behaved outside."

But noticing the mountain of unturned hosiery, the Warden ordered the
overseer to give me help, and thus "Boston Red" joined me at work the
next day.

       *       *       *       *       *

My assistant is taking great pleasure in perfecting me in the art of
lipless conversation. A large quid of tobacco inflating his left cheek,
mouth slightly open and curved, he delights in recounting "ghost
stories," under the very eyes of the officers. "Red" is initiating me
into the world of "de road," with its free life, so full of interest
and adventure, its romance, joys and sorrows. An interesting character,
indeed, who facetiously pretends to "look down upon the world from the
sublime heights of applied cynicism."

"Why, Red, you can talk good English," I admonish him. "Why do you use
so much slang? It's rather difficult for me to follow you."

"I'll learn you, pard. See, I should have said 'teach' you, not 'learn.'
That's how they talk in school. Have I been there? Sure, boy. Gone
through college. Went through it with a bucket of coal," he amplifies,
with a sly wink. He turns to expectorate, sweeping the large shop with a
quick, watchful eye. Head bent over the work, he continues in low,
guttural tones:

"Don't care for your classic language. I can use it all right, all
right. But give me the lingo, every time. You see, pard, I'm no gun;[30]
don't need it in me biz. I'm a yegg."

  [30] Professional thief.

"What's a yegg, Red?"

"A supercilious world of cheerful idiots applies to my kind the term

"A yegg, then, is a tramp. I am surprised that you should care for the
life of a bum."

A flush suffuses the prison pallor of the assistant. "You are stoopid as
the rest of 'em," he retorts, with considerable heat, and I notice his
lips move as in ordinary conversation. But in a moment he has regained
composure, and a good-humored twinkle plays about his eyes.

"Sir," he continues, with mock dignity, "to say the least, you are not
discriminative in your terminology. No, sir, you are not. Now, lookee
here, pard, you're a good boy, but your education has been sadly
neglected. Catch on? Don't call me that name again. It's offensive.
It's an insult, entirely gratuitous, sir. Indeed, sir, I may say without
fear of contradiction, that this insult is quite supervacaneous. Yes,
sir, that's _me_. I ain't no bum, see; no such damn thing. Eliminate the
disgraceful epithet from your vocabulary, sir, when you are addressing
yours truly. I am a yagg, y--a--double g, sir, of the honorable clan of
yaggmen. Some spell it y--e--double g, but I insist on the a, sir, as
grammatically more correct, since the peerless word has no etymologic
consanguinity with hen fruit, and should not be confounded by vulgar

"What's the difference between a yegg and a bum?"

"All the diff in the world, pard. A bum is a low-down city bloke, whose
intellectual horizon, sir, revolves around the back door, with a skinny
hand-out as his center of gravity. He hasn't the nerve to forsake his
native heath and roam the wide world, a free and independent gentleman.
That's the yagg, me bye. He dares to be and do, all bulls
notwithstanding. He lives, aye, he lives,--on the world of suckers,
thank you, sir. Of them 'tis wisely said in the good Book, 'They shall
increase and multiply like the sands of the seashore,' or words to that
significant effect. A yagg's the salt of the earth, pard. A real,
true-blood yagg will not deign to breathe the identical atmosphere with
a city bum or gaycat. No, sirree."

I am about to ask for an explanation of the new term, when the quick,
short coughs of "Red" warn me of danger. The guard is approaching with
heavy, measured tread, head thrown back, hands clasped behind,--a sure
indication of profound self-satisfaction.

"How are you, Reddie?" he greets the assistant.

"So, so."

"Ain't been out long, have you?"

"Two an' some."

"That's pretty long for you."

"Oh, I dunno. I've been out four years oncet."

"Yes, you have! Been in Columbus[31] then, I s'pose."

  [31] The penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio.

"Not on your life, Mr. Cosson. It was Sing Sing."

"Ha, ha! You're all right, Red. But you'd better hustle up, fellers. I'm
putting in ten more machines, so look lively."

"When's the machines comin', Mr. Cosson?"

"Pretty soon, Red."

The officer passing on, "Red" whispers to me:

"Aleck, 'pretty soon' is jest the time I'll quit. Damn his work and the
new machines. I ain't no gaycat to work. Think I'm a nigger, eh? No,
sir, the world owes me a living, and I generally manage to get it, you
bet you. Only mules and niggers work. I'm a free man; I can live on my
wits, see? I don't never work outside; damme if I'll work here. I ain't
no office-seeker. What d' I want to work for, eh? Can you tell me

"Are you going to refuse work?"

"Refuse? Me? Nixie. That's a crude word, that. No, sir, I never refuse.
They'll knock your damn block off, if you refuse. I merely avoid, sir,
discriminately end with steadfast purpose. Work is a disease, me bye.
One must exercise the utmost care to avoid contagion. It's a regular
pest. _You_ never worked, did you?"

The unexpected turn surprises me into a smile, which I quickly suppress,
however, observing the angry frown on "Red's" face.

"You bloke," he hisses, "shut your face; the screw'll pipe you. You'll
get us in th' hole for chewin' th' rag. Whatcher hehawin' about?" he
demands, repeating the manoeuvre of pretended expectoration. "D'ye mean
t' tell me you work?"

"I am a printer, a compositor," I inform him.

"Get off! You're an Anarchist. I read the papers, sir. You people don't
believe in work. You want to divvy up. Well, it is all right, I'm with
you. Rockefeller has no right to the whole world. He ain't satisfied
with that, either; he wants a fence around it."

"The Anarchists don't want to 'divvy up,' Red. You got your

"Oh, never min', pard. I don' take stock in reforming the world. It's
good enough for suckers, and as Holy Writ says, sir, 'Blessed be they
that neither sow nor hog; all things shall be given unto them.' Them's
wise words, me bye. Moreover, sir, neither you nor me will live to see a
change, so why should I worry me nut about 't? It takes all my wits to
dodge work. It's disgraceful to labor, and it keeps me industriously
busy, sir, to retain my honor and self-respect. Why, you know, pard, or
perhaps you don't, greenie, Columbus is a pretty tough dump; but d'ye
think I worked the four-spot there? Not me; no, sirree!"

"Didn't you tell Cosson you were in Sing Sing, not in Columbus?"

"'Corse I did. What of it? Think I'd open my guts to my Lord Bighead?
I've never been within thirty miles of the York pen. It was Hail
Columbia all right, but that's between you an' I, savvy. Don' want th'
screws to get next."

"Well, Red, how did you manage to keep away from work in Columbus?"

"Manage? That's right, sir. 'Tis a word of profound significance, quite
adequately descriptive of my humble endeavors. Just what I did, buddy. I
managed, with a capital M. To good purpose, too, me bye. Not a stroke
of work in a four-spot. How? I had Billie with me, that's me kid, you
know, an' a fine boy he was, too. I had him put a jigger on me; kept it
up for four years. There's perseverance and industry for you, sir."

"What's 'putting a jigger on'?"

"A jigger? Well, a jigger is--"

The noon whistle interrupts the explanation. With a friendly wink in my
direction, the assistant takes his place in the line. In silence we
march to the cell-house, the measured footfall echoing a hollow threat
in the walled quadrangle of the prison yard.


Conversation with "Boston Red," Young Davis, and occasional other
prisoners helps to while away the tedious hours at work. But in the
solitude of the cell, through the long winter evenings, my mind dwells
in the outside world. Friends, the movement, the growing antagonisms,
the bitter controversies between the _Mostianer_ and the defenders of my
act, fill my thoughts and dreams. By means of fictitious, but
significant, names, Russian and German words written backward, and
similar devices, the Girl keeps me informed of the activities in our
circles. I think admiringly, yet quite impersonally, of her strenuous
militancy in championing my cause against all attacks. It is almost weak
on my part, as a terrorist of Russian traditions, to consider her
devotion deserving of particular commendation. She is a revolutionist;
it is her duty to our common Cause. Courage, whole-souled zeal, is very
rare, it is true. The Girl. Fedya, and a few others,--hence the sad lack
of general opposition in the movement to Most's attitude.... But
communications from comrades and unknown sympathizers germinate the
hope of an approaching reaction against the campaign of denunciation.
With great joy I trace the ascending revolutionary tendency in _Der Arme
Teufel_. I have persuaded the Chaplain to procure the admission of the
ingenious Robert Reitzel's publication. All the other periodicals
addressed to me are regularly assigned to the waste basket, by orders of
the Deputy. The latter refused to make an exception even in regard to
the _Knights of Labor Journal_. "It is an incendiary Anarchist sheet,"
he persisted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The arrival of the _Teufel_ is a great event. What joy to catch sight of
the paper snugly reposing between the legs of the cell table! Tenderly I
pick it up, fondling the little visitor with quickened pulse. It is an
animate, living thing, a ray of warmth in the dreary evenings. What
cheering message does Reitzel bring me now? What beauties of his rich
mind are hidden to-day in the quaint German type? Reverently I unfold
the roll. The uncut sheet opens on the fourth page, and the stirring
paean of Hope's prophecy greets my eye,--

  Gruss an Alexander Berkman!

For days the music of the Dawn rings in my ears. Again and again recurs
the refrain of faith and proud courage,

  Schon rüstet sich der freiheit Schaar
  Zur heiligen Entscheidungschlacht;
  Es enden "zweiundzwanzig" Jahr'
  Vielleicht in e i n e r Sturmesnacht!

But in the evening, when I return to the cell, reality lays its heavy
hand upon my heart. The flickering of the candle accentuates the gloom,
and I sit brooding over the interminable succession of miserable days
and evenings and nights.... The darkness gathers around the candle, as
I motionlessly watch its desperate struggle to be. Its dying agony,
ineffectual and vain, presages my own doom, approaching, inevitable.
Weaker and fainter grows the light, feebler, feebler--a last spasm, and
all is utter blackness.

Three bells. "Lights out!"

Alas, mine did not last its permitted hour....

       *       *       *       *       *

The sun streaming into the many-windowed shop routs the night, and
dispels the haze of the fire-spitting city. Perhaps my little candle
with its bold defiance has shortened the reign of darkness,--who knows?
Perhaps the brave, uneven struggle coaxed the sun out of his slumbers,
and hastened the coming of Day. The fancy lures me with its warming
embrace, when suddenly the assistant startles me:

"Say, pard, slept bad last night? You look boozy, me lad."

Surprised at my silence, he admonishes me:

"Young man, keep a stiff upper lip. Just look at me! Permit me to
introduce to you, sir, a gentleman who has sounded the sharps and flats
of life, and faced the most intricate network, sir, of iron bars between
York and Frisco. Always acquitted himself with flying colors, sir,
merely by being wise and preserving a stiff upper lip; see th' point?"

"What are you driving at, Red?"

"They'se goin' to move me down on your row,[32] now that I'm in this
'ere shop. Dunno how long I shall choose to remain, sir, in this
magnificent hosiery establishment, but I see there's a vacant cell next
yours, an' I'm goin' to try an' land there. Are you next, me bye? I'm
goin' to learn you to be wise, sonny. I shall, so to speak, assume
benevolent guardianship over you; over you and your morals, yes, sir,
for you're my kid now, see?"

  [32] Gallery.

"How, your kid?"

"How? My kid, of course. That's just what I mean. Any objections, sir,
as the learned gentlemen of the law say in the honorable courts of the
blind goddess. You betcher life she's blind, blind as an owl on a sunny
midsummer day. Not in your damn smoky city, though; sun's ashamed here.
But 'way down in my Kentucky home, down by the Suanee River,
Sua-a-nee-ee Riv--"

"Hold on, Red. You are romancing. You started to tell me about being
your 'kid'. Now explain, what do you mean by it?"

"Really, you--" He holds the unturned stocking suspended over the post,
gazing at me with half-closed, cynical eyes, in which doubt struggles
with wonder. In his astonishment he has forgotten his wonted caution,
and I warn him of the officer's watchful eye.

"Really, Alex; well, now, damme, I've seen something of this 'ere round
globe, some mighty strange sights, too, and there ain't many things to
surprise me, lemme tell you. But _you_ do, Alex; yes, me lad, you do.
Haven't had such a stunnin' blow since I first met Cigarette Jimmie in
Oil City. Innocent? Well, I should snicker. He was, for sure. Never
heard a ghost story; was fourteen, too. Well, I got 'im all right, ah
right. Now he's doin' a five-bit down in Kansas, poor kiddie. Well, he
certainly was a surprise. But many tempestuous billows of life, sir,
have since flown into the shoreless ocean of time, yes, sir, they have,
but I never got such a stunner as you just gave me. Why, man, it's a
body-blow, a reg'lar knockout to my knowledge of the world, sir, to my
settled estimate of the world's supercilious righteousness. Well,
damme, if I'd ever believe it. Say, how old are you, Alex?"

"I'm over twenty-two, Red. But what has all this to do with the question
I asked you?"

"Everythin', me bye, everythin'. You're twenty-two and don't know what a
kid is! Well, if it don't beat raw eggs, I don't know what does. Green?
Well, sir, it would be hard to find an adequate analogy to your
inconsistent immaturity of mind; aye, sir, I may well say, of soul,
except to compare it with the virtuous condition of green corn in the
early summer moon. You know what 'moon' is, don't you?" he asks,
abruptly, with an evident effort to suppress a smile.

I am growing impatient of his continuous avoidance of a direct answer.
Yet I cannot find it in my heart to be angry with him; the face
expressive of a deep-felt conviction of universal wisdom, the eyes of
humorous cynicism, and the ludicrous manner of mixing tramp slang with
"classic" English, all disarm my irritation. Besides, his droll chatter
helps to while away the tedious hours at work; perhaps I may also glean
from this experienced old-timer some useful information regarding my
plans of escape.

"Well, d'ye know a moon when you see 't?" "Red" inquires, chaffingly.

"I suppose I do."

"I'll bet you my corn dodger you don't. Sir, I can see by the tip of
your olfactory organ that you are steeped in the slough of densest
ignorance concerning the supreme science of moonology. Yes, sir, do not
contradict me. I brook no sceptical attitude regarding my undoubted and
proven perspicacity of human nature. How's that for classic style, eh?
That'll hold you down a moment, kid. As I was about to say when you
interrupted--eh, what? You didn't? Oh, what's the matter with you?
Don't yer go now an' rooin the elegant flight of my rhetorical Pegasus
with an insignificant interpolation of mere fact. None of your lip, now,
boy, an' lemme develop this sublime science of moonology before your
wondering gaze. To begin with, sir, moonology is an exclusively
aristocratic science. Not for the pretenders of Broad Street and Fifth
Avenue. Nixie. But for the only genuine aristocracy of de road, sir, for
the pink of humankind, for the yaggman, me lad, for yours truly and his
clan. Yes, sirree!"

"I don't know what you are talking about."

"I know you don't. That's why I'm goin' to chaperon you, kid. In plain
English, sir, I shall endeavor to generate within your postliminious
comprehension a discriminate conception of the subject at issue, sir, by
divesting my lingo of the least shadow of imperspicuity or ambiguity.
Moonology, my Marktwainian Innocent, is the truly Christian science of
loving your neighbor, provided he be a nice little boy. Understand now?"

"How can you love a boy?"

"Are you really so dumb? You are not a ref boy, I can see that."

"Red, if you'd drop your stilted language and talk plainly, I'd
understand better."

"Thought you liked the classic. But you ain't long on lingo neither. How
can a self-respecting gentleman explain himself to you? But I'll try.
You love a boy as you love the poet-sung heifer, see? Ever read Billy
Shakespeare? Know the place, 'He's neither man nor woman; he's punk.'
Well, Billy knew. A punk's a boy that'll...."


"Yes, sir. Give himself to a man. Now we'se talkin' plain. Savvy now,
Innocent Abroad?"

"I don't believe what you are telling me, Red."

"You don't be-lie-ve? What th' devil--damn me soul t' hell, what d' you
mean, you don't b'lieve? Gee, look out!"

The look of bewilderment on his face startles me. In his excitement, he
had raised his voice almost to a shout, attracting the attention of the
guard, who is now hastening toward us.

"Who's talkin' here?" he demands, suspiciously eyeing the knitters.
"You, Davis?"

"No, sir."

"Who was, then?"

"Nobody here, Mr. Cosson."

"Yes, they was. I heard hollerin'."

"Oh, that was me," Davis replies, with a quick glance at me. "I hit my
elbow against the machine."

"Let me see 't."

The guard scrutinizes the bared arm.

"Wa-a-ll," he says, doubtfully, "it don't look sore."

"It hurt, and I hollered."

The officer turns to my assistant: "Has he been talkin', Reddie?"

"I don't think he was, Cap'n."

Pleased with the title, Cosson smiles at "Red," and passes on, with a
final warning to the boy: "Don't you let me catch you at it again, you

       *       *       *       *       *

During the rest of the day the overseers exercise particular vigilance
over our end of the shop. But emboldened by the increased din of the new
knitting machinery, "Red" soon takes up the conversation again.

"Screws can't hear us now," he whispers, "'cept they's close to us. But
watch your lips, boy; the damn bulls got sharp lamps. An' don' scare me
again like that. Why, you talk so foolish, you make me plumb forget
myself. Say, that kid is all to the good, ain't he? What's his name,
Johnny Davis? Yes, a wise kid all right. Just like me own Billie I tole
you 'bout. He was no punk, either, an' don't you forget it. True as
steel, he was; stuck to me through my four-spot like th' bark to a tree.
Say, what's that you said, you don't believe what I endeavored so
conscientiously, sir, to drive into your noodle? You was only kiddin'
me, wasn't you?"

"No, Red, I meant it quite seriously. You're spinning ghost stories, or
whatever you call it. I don't believe in this kid love."

"An' why don't you believe it?"

"Why--er--well, I don't think it possible."

"_What_ isn't possible?"

"You know what I mean. I don't think there can be such intimacy between
those of the same sex."

"Ho, ho! _That's_ your point? Why, Alex, you're more of a damfool than
the casual observer, sir, would be apt to postulate. You don't believe
it possible, you don't, eh? Well, you jest gimme half a chance, an I'll
show you."

"Red, don't you talk to me like that," I burst out, angrily. "If you--"

"Aisy, aisy, me bye," he interrupts, good-naturedly. "Don't get on your
high horse. No harm meant, Alex. You're a good boy, but you jest rattle
me with your crazy talk. Why, you're bugs to say it's impossible. Man
alive, the dump's chuckful of punks. It's done in every prison, an' on
th' road, everywhere. Lord, if I had a plunk for every time I got th'
best of a kid, I'd rival Rockefeller, sir; I would, me bye."

"You actually confess to such terrible practices? You're disgusting. But
I don't really believe it, Red."

"Confess hell! I confess nothin'. Terrible, disgusting! You talk like a
man up a tree, you holy sky-pilot."

"Are there no women on the road?"

"Pshaw! Who cares for a heifer when you can get a kid? Women are no
good. I wouldn't look at 'em when I can have my prushun.[33] Oh, it is
quite evident, sir, you have not delved into the esoteric mysteries of
moonology, nor tasted the mellifluous fruit on the forbidden tree of--"

  [33] A boy serving his apprenticeship with a full-fledged tramp.

"Oh, quit!"

"Well, you'll know better before _your_ time's up, me virtuous sonny."

       *       *       *       *       *

For several days my assistant fails to appear in the shop on account of
illness. He has been "excused" by the doctor, the guard informs me.
I miss his help at work; the hours drag heavier for lack of "Red's"
companionship. Yet I am gratified by his absence. His cynical attitude
toward woman and sex morality has roused in me a spirit of antagonism.
The panegyrics of boy-love are deeply offensive to my instincts. The
very thought of the unnatural practice revolts and disgusts me. But
I find solace in the reflection that "Red's" insinuations are pure
fabrication; no credence is to be given them. Man, a reasonable being,
could not fall to such depths; he could not be guilty of such
unspeakably vicious practices. Even the lowest outcast must not be
credited with such perversion, such depravity. I should really take the
matter more calmly. The assistant is a queer fellow; he is merely
teasing me. These things are not credible; indeed, I don't believe they
are possible. And even if they were, no human being would be capable of
such iniquity. I must not suffer "Red's" chaffing to disturb me.



                                                      March 4, 1893.


    I am writing with despair in my heart. I was taken to Pittsburgh
    as a witness in the trial of Nold and Bauer. I had hoped for an
    opportunity--you understand, friends. It was a slender thread,
    but I clung to it desperately, prepared to stake everything on
    it. It proved a broken straw. Now I am back, and I may never
    leave this place alive.

    I was bitterly disappointed not to find you in the courtroom. I
    yearned for the sight of your faces. But you were not there, nor
    any one else of our New York comrades. I knew what it meant: you
    are having a hard struggle to exist. Otherwise perhaps something
    could be done to establish friendly relations between Rakhmetov
    and Mr. Gebop.[34] It would require an outlay beyond the
    resources of our own circle; others cannot be approached in this
    matter. Nothing remains but the "inside" developments,--a
    terribly slow process.

    This is all the hope I can hold out to you, dear friends. You
    will think it quite negligible; yet it is the sole ray that has
    again and again kindled life in moments of utmost darkness.... I
    did not realize the physical effects of my stay here (it is five
    months now) till my return from court. I suppose the excitement
    of being on the outside galvanized me for the nonce.... My head
    was awhirl; I could not collect my thoughts. The wild hope
    possessed me,--_pobeg_! The click of the steel, as I was
    handcuffed to the Deputy, struck my death-knell.... The
    unaccustomed noise of the streets, the people and loud voices in
    the courtroom, the scenes of the trial, all absorbed me in the
    moment. It seemed to me as if I were a spectator, interested,
    but personally unconcerned, in the surroundings; and these,
    too, were far away, of a strange world in which I had no part.
    Only when I found myself alone in the cell, the full
    significance of the lost occasion was borne in upon me with
    crushing force.

    But why sadden you? There is perhaps a cheerier side, now that
    Nold and Bauer are here. I have not seen them yet, but their
    very presence, the circumstance that somewhere within these
    walls there are _comrades_, men who, like myself, suffer for an
    ideal--the thought holds a deep satisfaction for me. It brings
    me closer, in a measure, to the environment of political
    prisoners in Europe. Whatever the misery and torture of their
    daily existence, the politicals--even in Siberia--breathe the
    atmosphere of solidarity, of appreciation. What courage and
    strength there must be for them in the inspiration radiated by a
    common cause! Conditions here are entirely different. Both
    inmates and officers are at loss to "class" me. They have never
    known political prisoners. That one should sacrifice or risk his
    life with no apparent personal motives, is beyond their
    comprehension, almost beyond their belief. It is a desert of
    sordidness that constantly threatens to engulf one. I would
    gladly exchange places with our comrades in Siberia.

    The former _podpoilnaya_[35] was suspended, because of the great
    misfortune that befell my friend Wingie, of whom I wrote to you
    before. This dove will be flown by Mr. Tiuremshchick,[36] an old
    soldier who really sympathizes with Wingie. I believe they
    served in the same regiment. He is a kindly man, who hates his
    despicable work. But there is a family at home, a sick wife--you
    know the old, weak-kneed tale. I had a hint from him the other
    day: he is being spied upon; it is dangerous for him to be seen
    at my cell, and so forth. It is all quite true; but what he
    means is, that a little money would be welcome. You know how to
    manage the matter. Leave no traces.

    I hear the felt-soled step. It's the soldier. I bid my birdie a
    hasty good-bye.


  [34] Reading backward, _pobeg_; Russian for "escape."

  [35] _Sub rosa_ route.

  [36] Russian for "guard."




A dense fog rises from the broad bosom of the Ohio. It ensnares the
river banks in its mysterious embrace, veils tree and rock with sombre
mist, and mocks the sun with angry frown. Within the House of Death is
felt the chilling breath, and all is quiet and silent in the iron cages.

Only an occasional knocking, as on metal, disturbs the stillness. I
listen intently. Nearer and more audible seem the sounds, hesitating and
apparently intentional I am involuntarily reminded of the methods of
communication practiced by Russian politicals, and I strive to detect
some meaning in the tapping. It grows clearer as I approach the back
wall of the cell, and instantly I am aware of a faint murmur in the
privy. Is it fancy, or did I hear my name?

"Halloa!" I call into the pipe.

The knocking ceases abruptly. I hear a suppressed, hollow voice: "That
you, Aleck?"

"Yes. Who is it?"

"Never min'. You must be deaf not to hear me callin' you all this time.
Take that cott'n out o' your ears."

"I didn't know you could talk this way."

"You didn't? Well, you know now. Them's empty pipes, no standin' water,
see? Fine t' talk. Oh, dammit to--"

The words are lost in the gurgle of rushing water. Presently the flow
subsides, and the knocking is resumed. I bend over the privy.

"Hello, hello! That you, Aleck?"

"Git off that line, ye jabberin' idiot!" some one shouts into the pipe.

"Lay down, there!"

"Take that trap out o' the hole."

"Quit your foolin', Horsethief."

"Hey, boys, stop that now. That's me, fellers. It's Bob, Horsethief Bob.
I'm talkin' business. Keep quiet now, will you? Are you there, Aleck?
Yes? Well, pay no 'tention to them dubs. 'Twas that crazy Southside Slim
that turned th' water on--"

"Who you call crazy, damn you," a voice interrupts.

"Oh, lay down, Slim, will you? Who said you was crazy? Nay, nay, you're
bugs. Hey, Aleck, you there?"

"Yes, Bob."

"Oh, got me name, have you? Yes, I'm Bob, Horsethief Bob. Make no
mistake when you see me; I'm Big Bob, the Horsethief. Can you hear me?
It's you, Aleck?"

"Yes, yes."

"Sure it's you? Got t' tell you somethin'. What's your number?"

"A 7."

"Right you are. What cell?"

"6 K."

"An' this is me, Big Bob, in--"

"Windbag Bob," a heavy bass comments from above.

"Shut up, Curley, I'm on th' line. I'm in 6 F, Aleck, top tier. Call me
up any time I'm in, ha, ha! You see, pipe's runnin' up an' down, an' you
can talk to any range you want, but always to th' same cell as you're
in, Cell 6, understand? Now if you wan' t' talk to Cell 14, to Shorty,
you know--"

"I don't want to talk to Shorty. I don't know him, Bob."

"Yes, you do. You list'n what I tell you, Aleck, an' you'll be all
right. That's me talkin', Big Bob, see? Now, I say if you'd like t' chew
th' rag with Shorty, you jest tell me. Tell Brother Bob, an' he'll
connect you all right. Are you on? Know who's Shorty?"


"Yo oughter. That's Carl, Carl Nold. Know _him_, don't you?"

"What!" I cry in astonishment. "Is it true, Bob? Is Nold up there on
your gallery?"

"Sure thing. Cell 14."

"Why didn't you say so at once? You've been talking ten minutes now. Did
you see him?"

"What's your hurry, Aleck? _You_ can't see 'im; not jest now, anyway.
P'r'aps bimeby, mebbe. There's no hurry, Aleck. _You_ got plenty o'
time. A few years, _rather_, ha, ha, ha!"

"Hey, there, Horsethief, quit that!" I recognize "Curley's" deep bass.
"What do you want to make the kid feel bad for?"

"No harm meant, Curley," Bob returns, "I was jest joshin' him a bit."

"Well, quit it."

"You don' min' it, Aleck, do you?" I hear Bob again, his tones softened,
"I didn' mean t' hurt your feelin's. I'm your friend, Aleck, you can bet
your corn dodger on that. Say, I've got somethin' for you from Shorty, I
mean Carl, you savvy?"

"What have you, Bob?"

"Nixie through th' hole, ain't safe. I'm coffee-boy on this 'ere range.
I'll sneak around to you in the mornin', when I go t' fetch me can of
bootleg. Now, jiggaroo,[37] screw's comin'."

  [37] Look out.


The presence of my comrades is investing existence with interest and
meaning. It has brought to me a breeze from the atmosphere of my former
environment; it is stirring the graves, where lie my soul's dead, into
renewed life and hope.

The secret exchange of notes lends color to the routine. It is like a
fresh mountain streamlet joyfully rippling through a stagnant swamp. At
work in the shop, my thoughts are engrossed with our correspondence.
Again and again I review the arguments elucidating to my comrades the
significance of my _Attentat_: they, too, are inclined to exaggerate the
importance of the purely physical result. The exchange of views
gradually ripens our previously brief and superficial acquaintance into
closer intimacy. There is something in Carl Nold that especially
attracts me: I sense in him a congenial spirit. His spontaneous
frankness appeals to me; my heart echoes his grief at the realization of
Most's unpardonable behavior. But the ill-concealed antagonism of Bauer
is irritating. It reflects his desperate clinging to the shattered idol.
Presently, however, a better understanding begins to manifest itself.
The big, jovial German has earned my respect; he braved the anger of the
judge by consistently refusing to betray the man who aided him in the
distribution of the Anarchist leaflet among the Homestead workers. On
the other hand, both Carl and Henry appreciate my efforts on the
witness stand, to exonerate them from complicity in my act. Their
condemnation, as acknowledged Anarchists, was, of course, a foregone
conclusion, and I am gratified to learn that neither of my comrades had
entertained any illusions concerning the fate that awaited them. Indeed,
both have expressed surprise that the maximum revenge of the law was not
visited upon them. Their philosophical attitude exerts a soothing effect
upon me. Carl even voices satisfaction that the sentence of five years
will afford him a long-needed vacation from many years of ceaseless
factory toil. He is facetiously anxious lest capitalist industry be
handicapped by the loss of such a splendid carpenter as Henry, whom he
good-naturedly chaffs on the separation from his newly affianced.

       *       *       *       *       *

The evening hours have ceased to drag: there is pleasure and diversion
in the correspondence. The notes have grown into bulky letters, daily
cementing our friendship. We compare views, exchange impressions, and
discuss prison gossip. I learn the history of the movement in the twin
cities, the personnel of Anarchist circles, and collect a fund of
anecdotes about Albrecht, the philosophic old shoemaker whose diminutive
shop in Allegheny is the center of the radical _inteligenzia_. With deep
contrition Bauer confesses how narrowly he escaped the rôle of my
executioner. My unexpected appearance in their midst, at the height of
the Homestead struggle, had waked suspicion among the Allegheny
comrades. They sent an inquiry to Most, whose reply proved a warning
against me. Unknown to me, Bauer shared the room I occupied in Nold's
house. Through the long hours of the night he lay awake, with revolver
cocked. At the first sign of a suspicious move on my part, he had
determined to kill me.

The personal tenor of our correspondence is gradually broadening into
the larger scope of socio-political theories, methods of agitation, and
applied tactics. The discussions, prolonged and often heated, absorb our
interest. The bulky notes necessitate greater circumspection; the
difficulty of procuring writing materials assumes a serious aspect.
Every available scrap of paper is exhausted; margins of stray newspapers
and magazines have been penciled on, the contents repeatedly erased, and
the frayed tatters microscopically covered with ink. Even an occasional
fly-leaf from library books has been sacrilegiously forced to leave its
covers, and every evidence of its previous association dexterously
removed. The problem threatens to terminate our correspondence and fills
us with dismay. But the genius our faithful postman, of proud
horsethieving proclivities, proves equal to the occasion: Bob
constitutes himself our commissary, designating the broom shop, in which
he is employed, as the base of our future supplies.

The unexpected affluence fills us with joy. The big rolls requisitioned
by "Horsethief" exclude the fear of famine; the smooth yellow wrapping
paper affords the luxury of larger and more legible chirography. The
pride of sudden wealth germinates ambitious projects. We speculate on
the possibility of converting our correspondence into a magazinelet, and
wax warm over the proposed list of readers. Before long the first issue
of the _Zuchthausblüthen_[38] is greeted with the encouraging approval
of our sole subscriber, whose contribution surprises us in the form of a
rather creditable poem on the blank last page of the publication. Elated
at the happy acquisition, we unanimously crown him _Meistersinger_, with
dominion over the department of poetry. Soon we plan more pretentious
issues: the outward size of the publication is to remain the same, three
by five inches, but the number of pages is to be enlarged; each issue to
have a different editor, to ensure equality of opportunity; the readers
to serve as contributing editors. The appearance of the _Blüthen_ is to
be regulated by the time required to complete the circle of readers,
whose identity is to be masked with certain initials, to protect them
against discovery. Henceforth Bauer, physically a giant, is to be known
as "G"; because of my medium stature, I shall be designated with the
letter "M"; and Nold, as the smallest, by "K."[39] The poet, his history
somewhat shrouded in mystery, is christened "D" for _Dichter_. "M," "K,"
"G," are to act, in turn, as editor-in-chief, whose province it is to
start the _Blüthen_ on its way, each reader contributing to the issue
till it is returned to the original editor, to enable him to read and
comment upon his fellow contributors. The publication, its contents
growing transit, is finally to reach the second contributor, upon whom
will devolve the editorial management of the following issue.

  [38] Prison Blossoms.

  [39] Initial of the German _klein_, small.

The unique arrangement proves a source of much pleasure and recreation.
The little magazine is rich in contents and varied in style. The
diversity of handwriting heightens the interest, and stimulates
speculation on the personality of our increasing readers-contributors.
In the arena of the diminutive publication, there rages the conflict of
contending social philosophies; here a political essay rubs elbows with
a witty anecdote, and a dissertation on "The Nature of Things" is
interspersed with prison small-talk and personal reminiscence. Flashes
of unstudied humor and unconscious rivalry of orthography lend
peculiar charm to the unconventional editorials, and waft a breath of
Josh Billings into the manuscript pages.

[Illustration: Special Spring Edition of the Z. Blüthen.]

But the success of the _Zuchthausblüthen_ soon discovers itself a
veritable Frankenstein, which threatens the original foundation and aims
of the magazinelet. The popularity of joint editorship is growing at the
cost of unity and tendency; the Bard's astonishing facility at
versification, coupled with his Jules Vernian imagination, causes us
grave anxiety lest his untamable Pegasus traverse the limits of our
paper supply. The appalling warning of the commissary that the
improvident drain upon his resources is about to force him on a strike,
imperatively calls a halt. We are deliberating policies of retrenchment
and economy, when unexpectedly the arrival of two Homestead men suggests
an auspicious solution.


The presence of Hugh F. Dempsey and Robert J. Beatty, prominent in the
Knights of Labor organization, offers opportunity for propaganda among
workers representing the more radical element of American labor. Accused
of poisoning the food served to the strike-breakers in the mills,
Dempsey and Beatty appear to me men of unusual type. Be they innocent or
guilty, the philosophy of their methods is in harmony with revolutionary
tactics. Labor can never be unjust in its demands: is it not the creator
of all the wealth in the world? Every weapon may be employed to return
the despoiled People into its rightful ownership. Is not the terrorizing
of scabbery, and ultimately of the capitalist exploiters, an effective
means of aiding the struggle? Therefore Dempsey and Beatty deserve
acclaim. Morally certain of their guilt, I respect them the more for it,
though I am saddened by their denial of complicity in the scheme of
wholesale extermination of the scabs. The blackleg is also human, it is
true, and desires to live. But one should starve rather than turn
traitor to the cause of his class. Moreover, the individual--or any
number of them--cannot be weighed against the interests of humanity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Infinite patience weaves the threads that bring us in contact with the
imprisoned labor leaders. In the ceaseless duel of vital need against
stupidity and malice, caution and wit are sharpened by danger. The least
indiscretion, the most trifling negligence, means discovery, disaster.
But perseverance and intelligent purpose conquer: by the aid of the
faithful "Horsethief," communication with Dempsey and Beatty is
established. With the aggressiveness of strong conviction I present to
them my views, dwelling on the historic rôle of the _Attentäter_ and the
social significance of conscious individual protest. The discussion
ramifies, the interest aroused soon transcending the limits of my paper
supply. Presently I am involved in a correspondence with several men,
whose questions and misinterpretations regarding my act I attempt to
answer and correct with individual notes. But the method proves an
impossible tax on our opportunities, and "KGM" finally decide to publish
an English edition of the _Zuchthausblüthen_. The German magazinelet is
suspended, and in its place appears the first issue of the _Prison



"Ah, there, Sporty!" my assistant greets me in the shop. "Stand treat on
this festive occasion?"

"Yes, Red. Have a chew," I reply with a smile, handing him my fresh plug
of tobacco.

His eyes twinkle with mischievous humor as he scrutinizes my changed
suit of dark gray. The larger part of the plug swelling out his cheek,
he flings to me the remnant across the table, remarking:

"Don't care for't. Take back your choo, I'll keep me honor,--your plug,
I mean, sonny. A gentleman of my eminence, sir, a natural-born navigator
on the high seas of social life,--are you on, me bye?--a gentleman, I
repeat, sir, whose canoe the mutations of all that is human have chucked
on this here dry, thrice damned dry latitude, sir, this nocuous
plague-spot of civilization,--say, kid, what t' hell am I talkin' about?
Damn if I ain't clean forgot."

"I'm sure I don't know, Red."

"Like hell you don't! It's your glad duds, kid. Offerin' _me_ a ch-aw
tob-b-bac-co! Christ, I'm dyin' for a drop of booze. This magnificent
occasion deserves a wetting, sir. And, say, Aleck, it won't hurt your
beauty to stretch them sleeves of yours a bit. You look like a
scarecrow in them high-water pants. Ain't old Sandy the king of
skinners, though!"

"Whom do you mean, Red?"

"Who I mean, you idjot! Who but that skunk of a Warden, the Honorable
Captain Edward S. Wright, if you please, sir. Captain of rotten old
punks, that's what he is. You ask th' screws. He's never smelt powder;
why, he's been _here_ most o' his life. But some o' th' screws been here
longer, borned here, damn 'em; couldn't pull 'em out o' here with a
steam engine, you couldn't. They can tell you all 'bout the Cap, though.
Old Sandy didn' have a plugged nickel to his name when he come 'ere, an'
now the damn stomach-robber is rich. Reg'lar gold mine this dump's for
'im. Only gets a lousy five thousan' per year. Got big fam'ly an' keeps
carriages an' servants, see, an' can 'ford t' go to Europe every year,
an' got a big pile in th' bank to boot, all on a scurvy five thousan' a
year. Good manager, ain't he? A reg'lar church member, too, damn his
rotten soul to hell!"

"Is he as bad as all that, Red?"

"Is he? A hypocrite dyed in th' wool, that's what he is. Plays the
humanitarian racket. He had a great deal t' say t' the papers why he
didn't believe in the brutal way Iams was punished by that Homestead
colonel--er--what's 'is name?"

"Colonel Streator, of the Tenth Pennsylvania."

"That's the cur. He hung up Private Iams by the thumbs till th' poor boy
was almost dead. For nothin', too. Suppose you remember, don't you? Iams
had called for 'three cheers for the man who shot Frick,' an' they
pretty near killed 'im for 't, an' then drummed 'im out of th' regiment
with 'is head half shaved."

"It was a most barbarous thing."

"An' that damn Sandy swore in th' papers he didn't believe in such
things, an' all th' while th' lyin' murderer is doin' it himself. Not a
day but some poor con is 'cuffed up' in th' hole. That's th' kind of
humanitarian _he_ is! It makes me wild t' think on 't. Why, kid, I even
get a bit excited, and forget that you, young sir, are attuned to the
dulcet symphonies of classic English. But whenever that skunk of a
Warden is the subject of conversation, sir, even my usually
imperturbable serenity of spirit and tranquil stoicism are not equal to
'Patience on a monument smiling at grief.' Watch me, sonny, that's yours
truly spielin'. Why, look at them dingy rags of yours. I liked you
better in th' striped duds. They give you the hand-me-downs of that
nigger that went out yesterday, an' charge you on th' books with a bran'
new suit. See where Sandy gets his slice, eh? An' say, kid, how long are
you here?"

"About eight months, Red."

"They beat you out o' two months all right. Suppose they obey their own
rules? Nit, sir. You are aware, my precious lamb, that you are entitled
to discard your polychromic vestments of zebra hue after a sojourn of
six months in this benevolent dump. I bet you that fresh fish at the
loopin' machine there, came up 'ere some days ago, _he_ won't be kept
waitin' more'n six months for 'is black clothes."

I glance in the direction of the recent arrival. He is a slender man,
with swarthy complexion and quick, shifting eye. The expression of
guilty cunning is repelling.

"Who is that man?" I whisper to the assistant.

"Like 'im, don't you? Permit me, sir, to introduce to you the handiwork
of his Maker, a mealy-mouthed, oily-lipped, scurvy gaycat, a yellow cur,
a snivelling, fawning stool, a filthy, oozy sneak, a snake in the grass
whose very presence, sir, is a mortal insult to a self-respecting member
of my clan,--Mr. Patrick Gallagher, of the honorable Pinkerton family,

"Gallagher?" I ask, in astonishment. "The informer, who denounced
Dempsey and Beatty?"

"The very same. The dirty snitch that got those fellows railroaded here
for seven years. Dempsey was a fool to bunch up with such vermin as
Gallagher and Davidson. He was Master Workman of some district of the
Knights of Labor. Why in hell didn't he get his own men to do th' job?
Goes to work an' hires a brace of gaycats; sent 'em to the scab mills,
you savvy, to sling hash for the blacklegs and keep 'im posted on the
goings on, see? S'pose you have oriented yourself, sir, concerning the
developments in the culinary experiment?"

"Yes. Croton oil is supposed to have been used to make the scabs sick
with diarrhoea."

"Make 'em sick? Why, me bye, scores of 'em croaked. I am surprised, sir,
at your use of such a vulgar term as diarrhoea. You offend my
aestheticism. The learned gentlemen who delve deeply into the bowels of
earth and man, sir, ascribed the sudden and phenomenal increase of
unmentionable human obligations to nature, the mysterious and
extravagant popularity of the houses of ill odor, sir, and the automatic
obedience to their call, as due entirely to the dumping of a lot o'
lousy bums, sir, into filthy quarters, or to impurities of the liquid
supply, or to--pardon my frankness, sir--to intestinal effeminacy,
which, in flaccid excitability, persisted in ill-timed relaxation
unseemly in well-mannered Christians. Some future day, sir, there may
arise a poet to glorify with beauteous epic the heroic days of the
modern Bull Run--an' I kin tell you, laddie, they run and kept runnin',
top and bottom--or some lyric bard may put to Hudibrastic verse--watch
me climbin' th' Parnassus, kid--the poetic feet, the numbers, the
assonance, and strain of the inspiring days when Croton Oil was King.
Yes, sirree; but for yours truly, me hand ain't in such pies; and
moreover, sir, I make it an invariable rule of gentlemanly behavior t'
keep me snout out o' other people's biz."

"Dempsey may be innocent, Red."

"Well, th' joory didn't think so. But there's no tellin'. Honest t' God,
Aleck, that rotten scab of a Gallagher has cast the pale hue of
resolution, if I may borrow old Billy Shake's slang, sir, over me
gener'ly settled convictions. You know, in the abundant plenitude of my
heterogeneous experience with all sorts and conditions of rats and
gaycats, sir, fortified by a natural genius of no mean order, of 1859
vintage, damme if I ever run across such an acute form of confessionitis
as manifested by the lout on th' loopin' machine there. You know what he
done yesterday?"


"Sent for th' distric' attorney and made another confesh."

"Really? How do you know?"

"Night screw's a particular fren' o' mine, kid. I shtands in, see? The
mick's a reg'lar Yahoo, can't hardly spell 'is own name. He daily
requisitions upon my humble but abundant intelligence, sir, to make out
his reports. Catch on, eh? I've never earned a hand-out with more
dignified probity, sir. It's a cinch. Last night he gimme a great slice
of corn dodger. It was A 1, I tell you, an' two hard boiled eggs and
half a tomato, juicy and luscious, sir. Didn't I enjoy it, though! Makes
your mouth water, eh, kid? Well, you be good t' me, an' you kin have
what I got. I'll divvy up with you. We-ll! Don' stand there an' gape at
me like a wooden Injun. Has the unexpected revelation of my magnanimous
generosity deprived you of articulate utterance, sir?"

The sly wink with which he emphasizes the offer, and his suddenly
serious manner, affect me unpleasantly. With pretended indifference, I
decline to share his delicacies.

"You need those little extras for yourself, Red," I explain. "You told
me you suffer from indigestion. A change of diet now and then will do
you good. But you haven't finished telling me about the new confession
of Gallagher."

"Oh, you're a sly one, Aleck; no flies on you. But it's all right, me
bye, mebbe I can do somethin' for you some day. I'm your friend, Aleck;
count on me. But that mutt of a Gallagher, yes, sirree, made another
confession; damme if it ain't his third one. Ever hear such a thing? I
got it straight from th' screw all right. I can't make the damn snitch
out. Unreservedly I avow, sir, that the incomprehensible vacillations of
the honorable gentleman puzzle me noodle, and are calculated to disturb
the repose of a right-thinking yagg in the silken lap of Morpheus.
What's 'is game, anyhow? Shall we diagnoze the peculiar mental
menstruation as, er--er--what's your learned opinion, my illustrious
colleague, eh? What you grinnin' for, Four Eyes? It's a serious matter,
sir; a highly instructive phenomenon of intellectual vacuity,
impregnated with the pernicious virus of Pinkertonism, sir, and
transmuted in the alembic of Carnegie alchemy. A judicious injection of
persuasive germs by the sagacious jurisconsults of the House of Dempsey,
and lo! three brand-new confessions, mutually contradictory and
exclusive. Does that strike you in th' right spot, sonny?"

"In the second confession he retracted his accusations against Dempsey.
What is the third about, Red?"

"Retracts his retraction, me bye. Guess why, Aleck."

"I suppose he was paid to reaffirm his original charges."

"You're not far off. After that beauty of a Judas cleared the man, Sandy
notified Reed and Knox. Them's smart guys, all right; the attorneys of
the Carnegie Company to interpret Madame Justicia, sir, in a manner--"

"I know, Red," I interrupt him, "they are the lawyers who prosecuted me.
Even in court they were giving directions to the district attorney, and
openly whispering to him questions to be asked the witnesses. He was
just a figurehead and a tool for them, and it sounded so ridiculous when
he told the jury that he was not in the service of any individual or
corporation, but that he acted solely as an officer of the commonwealth,
charged with the sacred duty of protecting its interests in my
prosecution. And all the time he was the mouthpiece of Frick's lawyers."

"Hold on, kid. I don't get a chance to squeeze a word in edgewise when
you start jawin'. Think you're on th' platform haranguing the
long-haired crowd? You can't convert _me_, so save your breath, man."

"I shouldn't want to convert you, Red. You are intelligent, but a
hopeless case. You are not the kind that could be useful to the Cause."

"Glad you're next. Got me sized up all right, eh? Well, me saintly bye,
I'm Johnny-on-the-spot to serve the cause, all right, all right, and the
cause is Me, with a big M, see? A fellow's a fool not t' look out for
number one. I give it t' you straight, Aleck. What's them high-flown
notions of yours--oppressed humanity and suffering people--fiddlesticks!
There you go and shove your damn neck into th' noose for the strikers,
but what did them fellows ever done for you, eh? Tell me that! They
won't do a darned thing fer you. Catch _me_ swinging for the peo-pul!
The cattle don't deserve any better than they get, that's what _I_ say."

"I don't want to discuss these questions with you, Red. You'll never
understand, anyhow."

"Git off, now. You voice a sentiment, sir, that my adequate appreciation
of myself would prompt me to resent on the field of honor, sir. But the
unworthy spirit of acerbity is totally foreign to my nature, sir, and I
shall preserve the blessed meekness so becoming the true Christian, and
shall follow the bidding of the Master by humbly offering the other
cheek for that chaw of th' weed I gave you. Dig down into your poke,

I hand him the remnant of my tobacco, remarking:

"You've lost the thread of our conversation, as usual, Red. You said the
Warden sent for the Carnegie lawyers after Gallagher had recanted his
original confession. Well, what did they do?"

"Don't know what _they_ done, but I tole you that the muttonhead sent
for th' district attorney the same day, an' signed a third confesh. Why,
Dempsey was tickled to death, 'cause--"

He ceases abruptly. His quick, short coughs warn me of danger.
Accompanied by the Deputy and the shop officer, the Warden is making the
rounds of the machines, pausing here and there to examine the work, and
listen to the request of a prisoner. The youthfully sparkling eyes
present a striking contrast to the sedate manner and seamed features
framed in grayish-white. Approaching the table, he greets us with a
benign smile:

"Good morning, boys."

Casting a glance at my assistant, the Warden inquires: "Your time must
be up soon, Red?"

"Been out and back again, Cap'n," the officer laughs.

"Yes, he is, hm, hm, back home." The thin feminine accents of the Deputy
sound sarcastic.

"Didn't like it outside, Red?" the Warden sneers.

A flush darkens the face of the assistant. "There's more skunks out than
in," he retorts.

The Captain frowns. The Deputy lifts a warning finger, but the Warden
laughs lightly, and continues on his rounds.

We work in silence for a while. "Red" looks restive, his eyes stealthily
following the departing officials. Presently he whispers:

"See me hand it to 'im, Aleck? He knows I'm on to 'im, all right. Didn't
he look mad, though? Thought he'd burst. Sobered 'im up a bit. Pipe 'is
lamps, kid?"

"Yes. Very bright eyes."

"Bright eyes your grandmother! Dope, that's what's th' matter. Think I'd
get off as easy if he wasn't chuck full of th' stuff? I knowed it the
minute I laid me eyes on 'im. I kin tell by them shinin' glimmers and
that sick smile of his, when he's feelin' good; know th' signals, all
right. Always feelin' fine when he's hit th' pipe. That's th' time you
kin get anythin' you wan' of 'im. Nex' time you see that smirk on 'im,
hit 'im for some one t' give us a hand here; we's goin' t' be drowned in
them socks, first thing you know."

"Yes, we need more help. Why didn't _you_ ask him?"

"Me? Me ask a favor o' the damn swine? Not on your tintype! You don'
catch me to vouchsafe the high and mighty, sir, the opportunity--"

"All right, Red. I won't ask him, either."

"I don't give a damn. For all I care, Aleck, and--well, confidentially
speaking, sir, they may ensconce their precious hosiery in the
infundibular dehiscence of his Nibs, which, if I may venture my humble
opinion, young sir, is sufficiently generous in its expansiveness to
disregard the rugosity of a stocking turned inside out, sir. Do you
follow the argument, me bye?"

"With difficulty, Red," I reply, with a smile. "What are you really
talking about? I do wish you'd speak plainer."

"You do, do you? An' mebbe you don't. Got to train you right; gradual,
so to speak. It's me dooty to a prushun. But we'se got t' get help here.
I ain't goin' t' kill meself workin' like a nigger. I'll quit first. D'
you think--s-s-ss!"

The shop officer is returning. "Damn your impudence, Red," he shouts at
the assistant. "Why don't you keep that tongue of yours in check?"

"Why, Mr. Cosson, what's th' trouble?"

"You know damn well what's the trouble. You made the old man mad clean
through. You ought t' know better'n that. He was nice as pie till you
opened that big trap of yourn. Everythin' went wrong then. He gave me
th' dickens about that pile you got lyin' aroun' here. Why don't you
take it over to th' loopers, Burk?"

"They have not been turned yet," I reply.

"What d' you say? Not turned!" he bristles. "What in hell are you
fellows doin', I'd like t' know."

"We're doin' more'n we should," "Red" retorts, defiantly.

"Shut up now, an' get a move on you."

"On that rotten grub they feed us?" the assistant persists.

"You better shut up, Red."

"Then give us some help."

"I will like hell!"

The whistle sounds the dinner hour.



For a week "Boston Red" is absent from work. My best efforts seem
ineffectual in the face of the increasing mountain of unturned hosiery,
and the officer grows more irritable and insistent. But the fear of
clogging the industrial wheel presently forces him to give me
assistance, and a dapper young man, keen-eyed and nervous, takes the
vacant place.

"He's a dip,"[40] Johnny Davis whispers to me. "A top-notcher," he adds,

  [40] Pickpocket.

I experience a tinge of resentment at the equality implied by the forced
association. I have never before come in personal contact with a
professional thief, and I entertain the vaguest ideas concerning his
class. But they are not producers; hence parasites who deliberately prey
upon society, upon the poor, mostly. There can be nothing in common
between me and this man.

       *       *       *       *       *

The new helper's conscious superiority is provoking. His distant manner
piques my curiosity. How unlike his scornful mien and proudly
independent bearing is my youthful impression of a thief! Vividly I
remember the red-headed Kolya, as he was taken from the classroom by a
fierce gendarme. The boys had been missing their lunches, and Kolya
confessed the theft. We ran after the prisoner, and he hung his head
and looked frightened, and so pale I could count each freckle on his
face. He did not return to school, and I wondered what had become of
him. The terror in his eyes haunted my dreams, the brown spots on his
forehead shaping themselves into fiery letters, spelling the fearful
word _vor_.[41]

  [41] Thief.

"That's a snap," the helper's voice breaks in on my reverie. He speaks
in well-modulated tones, the accents nasal and decided. "You needn't be
afraid to talk," he adds, patronizingly.

"I am not afraid," I impatiently resent the insinuation. "Why should I
be afraid of you?"

"Not of me; of the officer, I meant."

"I am not afraid of him, either."

"Well, then, let's talk about something. It will help while away the
time, you know."

His cheerful friendliness smooths my ruffled temper. The correct
English, in striking contrast with the peculiar language of my former
assistant, surprises me.

"I am sorry," he continues, "they gave you such a long sentence, Mr.
Berkman, but--"

"How do you know my name?" I interrupt. "You have just arrived."

"They call me 'Lightning Al'," he replies, with a tinge of pride. "I'm
here only three days, but a fellow in my line can learn a great deal in
that time. I had you pointed out to me."

"What do you call your line? What are you here for?"

For a moment he is silent. With surprise I watch his face blush darkly.

"You're a dead give-away. Oh, excuse me, Mr. Berkman," he corrects
himself, "I sometimes lapse into lingo, under provocation, you know. I
meant to say, it's easy to see that you are not next to the way--not
familiar, I mean, with such things. You should never ask a man what he
is in for."

"Why not?"

"Well, er--"

"You are ashamed."

"Not a bit of it. Ashamed to fall, perhaps,--I mean, to be caught at
it--it's no credit to a gun's rep, his reputation, you understand. But
I'm proud of the jobs I've done. I'm pretty slick, you know."

"But you don't like to be asked why you were sent here."

"Well, it's not good manners to ask such questions."

"Against the ethics of the trade, I suppose?"

"How sarcastic we can be, Mr. Berkman. But it's true, it's not the
ethics. And it isn't a trade, either; it's a profession. Oh, you may
smile, but I'd rather be a gun, a professional, I mean, than one of your
stupid factory hands."

"They are honest, though. Honest producers, while you are a thief."

"Oh, there's no sting in that word for _me_. I take pride in being a
thief, and what's more, I _am_ an A number one gun, you see the point?
The best dip in the States."

"A pickpocket? Stealing nickels off passengers on the street cars,

"Me? A hell of a lot _you_ know about it. Take me for such small fry, do
you? I work only on race tracks."

"You call it work?"

"Sure. Damned hard work, too. Takes more brains than a whole shopful of
your honest producers can show."

"And you prefer that to being honest?"

"Do I? I spend more on gloves than a bricklayer makes in a year. Think
I'm so dumb I have to slave all week for a few dollars?"

"But you spend most of your life in prison."

"Not by a long shot. A real good gun's always got his fall money
planted,--I mean some ready coin in case of trouble,--and a smart lawyer
will spring you most every time; beat the case, you know. I've never
seen the fly-cop you couldn't fix if you got enough dough; and most
judges, too. Of course, now and then, the best of us may fall; but it
don't happen very often, and it's all in the game. This whole life is a
game, Mr. Berkman, and every one's got his graft."

"Do you mean there are no honest men?" I ask, angrily.

"Pshaw! I'm just as honest as Rockefeller or Carnegie, only they got the
law with them. And I work harder than they, I'll bet you on that. I've
got to eat, haven't I? Of course," he adds, thoughtfully, "if I could be
sure of my bread and butter, perhaps--"

       *       *       *       *       *

The passing overseer smiles at the noted pickpocket, inquiring

"How're you doin', Al?"

"Tip-top, Mr. Cosson. Hope you are feeling good to-day."

"Never better, Al."

"A friend of mine often spoke to me about you, Mr. Cosson."

"Who was that?"

"Barney. Jack Barney."

"Jack Barney! Why, he worked for me in the broom shop."

"Yes, he did a three-spot. He often said to me, 'Al, it you ever land in
Riverside,' he says, 'be sure you don't forget to give my best to Mr.
Cosson, Mr. Ed. Cosson,' he says, 'he's a good fellow.'"

The officer looks pleased. "Yes, I treated him white, all right," he
remarks, continuing on his rounds.

"I knew he'd swallow it," the assistant sneers after him. "Always good
to get on the right side of them," he adds, with a wink. "Barney told me
about him all right. Said he's the rottenest sneak in the dump, a
swell-head yap. You see, Mr. Berkman,--may I call you Aleck? It's
shorter. Well, you see, Aleck, I make it a point to find things out.
It's wise to know the ropes. I'm next to the whole bunch here. That
Jimmy McPane, the Deputy, he's a regular brute. Killed his man, all
right. Barney told me all about it; he was doing his bit, then,--I mean
serving his sentence. You see, Aleck," he lowers his voice,
confidentially, "I don't like to use slang; it grows on one, and every
fly-cop can spot you as a crook. It's necessary in my business to
present a fine front and use good English, so I must not get the lingo
habit. Well, I was speaking of Barney telling me about the Deputy. He
killed a con in cold blood. The fellow was bughouse, D. T., you know;
saw snakes. He ran out of his cell one morning, swinging a chair and
hollering 'Murder! Kill 'em!' The Deputy was just passing along, and he
out with his gat--I mean his revolver, you know--and bangs away. He
pumped the poor loony fellow full of holes; he did, the murderer. Killed
him dead. Never was tried, either. Warden told the newspapers it was
done in self-defence. A damn lie. Sandy knew better; everybody in the
dump knew it was a cold-blooded murder, with no provocation at all. It's
a regular ring, you see, and that old Warden is the biggest grafter of
them all; and that sky-pilot, too, is an A 1 fakir. Did you hear about
the kid born here? Before your time. A big scandal. Since then the holy
man's got to have a screw with him at Sunday service for the females,
and I tell you he needs watching all right."

The whistle terminates the conversation.



Sunday night: my new cell on the upper gallery is hot and stuffy; I
cannot sleep. Through the bars, I gaze upon the Ohio. The full moon
hangs above the river, bathing the waters in mellow light. The strains
of a sweet lullaby wander through the woods, and the banks are merry
with laughter. A girlish cadence rings like a silvery bell, and voices
call in the distance. Life is joyous and near, terribly, tantalizingly
near,--but all is silent and dead around me.

For days the feminine voice keeps ringing in my ears. It sounded so
youthful and buoyant, so fondly alluring. A beautiful girl, no doubt.
What joy to feast my eye on her! I have not beheld a woman for many
months: I long to hear the soft accents, feel the tender touch. My mind
persistently reverts to the voice on the river, the sweet strains in the
woods; and fancy wreathes sad-toned fugues upon the merry carol, paints
vision and image, as I pace the floor in agitation. They live, they
breathe! I see the slender figure with the swelling bosom, the delicate
white throat, the babyish face with large, wistful eyes. Why, it is
Luba! My blood tingles violently, passionately, as I live over again the
rapturous wonder at the first touch of her maiden breast. How temptingly
innocent sounded the immodest invitation on the velvety lips, how
exquisite the suddenness of it all! We were in New Haven then. One by
one we had gathered, till the little New York commune was complete. The
Girl joined me first, for I felt lonely in the strange city, drudging as
compositor on a country weekly, the evenings cold and cheerless in the
midst of a conservative household. But the Girl brought light and
sunshine, and then came the Twin and Manya. Luba remained in New York;
but Manya, devoted little soul, yearned for her sister, and presently
the three girls worked side by side in the corset factory. All seemed
happy in the free atmosphere, and Luba was blooming into beautiful
womanhood. There was a vague something about her that now and then
roused in me a fond longing, a rapturous desire. Once--it was in New
York, a year before--I had experienced a sudden impulse toward her. It
seized me unheralded, unaccountably. I had called to try a game of chess
with her father, when he informed me that Luba had been ill. She was
recovering now, and would be pleased to see me. I sat at the bedside,
conversing in low tones, when I noticed the pillows slipping from under
the girl's head. Bending over, I involuntarily touched her hair, loosely
hanging down the side. The soft, dark chestnut thrilled me, and the next
instant I stooped and stealthily pressed the silken waves to my lips.
The momentary sense of shame was lost in the feeling of reverence for
the girl with the beautiful hair, that bewildered and fascinated me, and
a deep yearning suddenly possessed me, as she lay in exquisite disarray,
full of grace and beauty. And all the while we talked, my eyes feasted
on her ravishing form, and I felt envious of her future lover, and hated
the desecration. But when I left her bedside, all trace of desire
disappeared, and the inspiration of the moment faded like a vision
affrighted by the dawn. Only a transient, vague inquietude remained, as
of something unattainable.

Then came that unforgettable moment of undreamed bliss. We had just
returned from the performance of _Tosca_, with Sarah Bernhardt in her
inimitable rôle. I had to pass through Luba's room on my way to the
attic, in the little house occupied by the commune. She had already
retired, but was still awake. I sat down on the edge of the bed, and we
talked of the play. She glowed with the inspiration of the great
tragedienne; then, somehow, she alluded to the _décolleté_ of the

"I don't mind a fine bust exposed on the stage," I remarked. "But I had
a powerful opera glass: their breasts looked fleshy and flabby. It was

"Do you think--mine nice?" she asked, suddenly.

For a second I was bewildered. But the question sounded so enchantingly
unpremeditated, so innocently eager.

"I never--Let me see them," I said, impulsively.

"No, no!" she cried, in aroused modesty; "I can't, I can't!"

"I wont look, Luba. See, I close my eyes. Just a touch."

"Oh, I can't, I'm ashamed! Only over the blanket, please, Sasha," she
pleaded, as my hand softly stole under the covers. She gripped the sheet
tightly, and my arm rested on her side. The touch of the firm, round
breast thrilled me with passionate ecstasy. In fear of arousing her
maidenly resistance, I strove to hide my exultation, while cautiously
and tenderly I released the coverlet.

"They are very beautiful, Luba," I said, controlling the tremor of my

"You--like them, really, Sasha?" The large eyes looked lustrous and

"They are Greek, dear," and snatching the last covering aside, I kissed
her between the breasts.

"I'm so glad I came here," she spoke dreamily.

"Were you very lonesome in New York?"

"It was terrible, Sasha."

"You like the change?"

"Oh, you silly boy! Don't you know?"

"What, Luba?"

"I wanted _you_, dear." Her arms twined softly about me.

I felt appalled. The Girl, my revolutionary plans, flitted through my
mind, chilling me with self-reproach. The pale hue of the attained cast
its shadow across the spell, and I lay cold and quiet on Luba's breast.
The coverlet was slipping down, and, reaching for it, my hand
inadvertently touched her knee.

"Sasha, how _can_ you!" she cried in alarm, sitting up with terrified

"I didn't mean to, Luba. How could you _think_ that of me?" I was deeply

My hand relaxed on her breast. We lay in silent embarrassment.

"It is getting late, Sasha." She tenderly drew my head to her bosom.

"A little while yet, dear," and again the enchantment of the virgin
breasts was upon me, and I showered wild kisses on them, and pressed
them passionately, madly, till she cried out in pain.

"You must go now, dear."

"Good night, Luba."

"Good night, dearest. You haven't kissed me, Sashenka."

I felt her detaining lips, as I left.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the wakeful hours of the night, the urge of sex grows more and more
insistent. Scenes from the past live in my thoughts; the cell is
peopled with familiar faces. Episodes long dead to memory rise animated
before me; they emerge from the darkest chambers of my soul, and move
with intense reality, like the portraits of my sires come to life in the
dark, fearful nights of my childhood. Pert Masha smiles at me from her
window across the street, and a bevy of girls pass me demurely, with
modestly averted gaze, and then call back saucily, in thinly disguised
voices. Again I am with my playmates, trailing the schoolgirls on their
way to the river, and we chuckle gleefully at their affright and
confusion, as they discover the eyes glued to the peep-holes we had cut
in the booth. Inwardly I resent Nadya's bathing in her shirt, and in
revenge dive beneath the boards, rising to the surface in the midst of
the girls, who run to cover in shame and terror. But I grow indignant at
Vainka who badgers the girls with "Tsiba,[42] tsiba, ba-aa!" and I
soundly thrash Kolya for shouting nasty epithets across the school yard
at little Nunya, whom I secretly adore.

  [42] Goat: derisively applied to schoolgirls.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the note of later days returns again and again, and the scenes of
youth recede into their dim frames. Clearer and more frequently appear
Sonya and Luba, and the little sweetheart of my first months in America.
What a goose she was! She would not embrace me, because it's a great
sin, unless one is married. But how slyly she managed to arrange kissing
games at the Sunday gatherings at her home, and always lose to me! She
must be quite a woman now, with a husband, children ... Quickly she
flits by, the recollection even of her name lost in the glow of
Anarchist emotionalism and the fervent enthusiasm of my Orchard Street
days. There flames the light that irradiates the vague longings of my
Russian youth, and gives rapt interpretation to obscurely pulsating
idealism. It sheds the halo of illuminating justification upon my
blindly rebellious spirit, and visualizes my dreams on the sunlit
mountains. The sordid misery of my "greenhorn" days assumes a new
aspect. Ah, the wretchedness of those first years in America!... And
still Time's woof and warp unroll the tapestry of life in the New World,
its joys and heart-throbs. I stand a lone stranger, bewildered by the
flurry of Castle Garden, yet strong with hope and courage to carve my
fate in freedom. The Tsar is far away, and the fear of his hated
Cossacks is past. How inspiring is liberty! The very air breathes
enthusiasm and strength, and with confident ardor I embrace the new
life. I join the ranks of the world's producers, and glory in the full
manhood conferred by the dignity of labor. I resent the derision of my
adopted country on the part of my family abroad,--resent it hotly. I
feel wronged by the charge of having disgraced my parents' respected
name by turning "a low, dirty workingman." I combat their snobbishness
vehemently, and revenge the indignity to labor by challenging comparison
between the Old and the New World. Behold the glory of liberty and
prosperity, the handiwork of a nation that honors labor!... The loom of
Time keeps weaving. Lone and friendless, I struggle in the new land.
Life in the tenements is sordid, the fate of the worker dreary. There is
no "dignity of labor." Sweatshop bread is bitter. Oppression guards the
golden promise, and servile brutality is the only earnest of success.
Then like a clarion note in the desert sounds the call of the Ideal.
Strong and rousing rolls the battle-cry of Revolution. Like a flash in
the night, it illumines my groping. My life becomes full of new meaning
and interest, translated into the struggle of a world's emancipation.
Fedya joins me, and together we are absorbed in the music of the new

       *       *       *       *       *

It is all far, far--yet every detail is sharply etched upon my memory.
Swiftly pass before me the years of complete consecration to the
movement, the self-imposed poverty and sacrifices, the feverish tide of
agitation in the wake of the Chicago martyrdom, the evenings of spirited
debate, the nights of diligent study. And over all loom the Fridays in
the little dingy hall in the Ghetto, where the handful of Russian
refugees gather; where bold imprecations are thundered against the
tyranny and injustice of the existing, and winged words prophesy the
near approach of a glorious Dawn. Beshawled women, and men, long-coated
and piously bearded, steal into the hall after synagogue prayers, and
listen with wondering eyes, vainly striving to grasp the strange Jewish,
so perplexedly interspersed with the alien words of the new evangel. How
our hearts rejoice, as, with exaggerated deference, we eagerly encourage
the diffident questioner, "Do you really mean--may the good Lord forgive
me--there is no one in heaven above?"... Late in the evening the meeting
resolves into small groups, heatedly contending over the speaker's
utterances, the select circle finally adjourning to "the corner." The
obscure little tea room resounds with the joust of learning and wit.
Fascinating is the feast of reason, impassioned the flow of soul, as the
passage-at-arms grows more heated with the advance of the night. The
alert-eyed host diplomatically pacifies the belligerent factions,
"Gentlemen, gentlemen, s-sh! The police station is just across the
street." There is a lull in the combat. The angry opponents frown at
each other, and in the interim the Austrian Student in his mellow voice
begins an interminable story of personal reminiscence, apropos of
nothing and starting nowhere, but intensely absorbing. With sparkling
eyes he holds us spellbound, relating the wonderful journey, taking us
through the Nevsky in St. Petersburg, thence to the Caucasus, to engage
in the blood-feuds of the Tcherkessi; or, enmeshed in a perilous
flirtation with an Albanian beauty in a Moslem harem, he descants on the
philosophy of Mohammed, imperceptibly shifting the scene to the Nile to
hunt the hippopotamus, and suddenly interrupting the amazing adventures
by introducing an acquaintance of the evening, "My excellent friend, the
coming great Italian virtuoso, from Odessa, gentlemen. He will entertain
us with an aria from _Trovatore_." But the circle is not in a musical
mood: some one challenges the Student's familiarity with the Moslem
philosophy, and the Twin hints at the gossiped intimacy of the Austrian
with Christian missionaries. There are protestations, and loud clamor
for an explanation. The Student smilingly assents, and presently he is
launched upon the Chinese sea, in the midst of a strange caravan,
trading tea at Yachta, and aiding a political to escape to
Vladivostok.... The night pales before the waking sun, the Twin yawns,
and I am drowsy with--

"Cof-fee! Want coffee? Hey, git up there! Didn't you hear th' bell?"




The dying sun grows pale with haze and fog. Slowly the dark-gray line
undulates across the shop, and draws its sinuous length along the
gloaming yard. The shadowy waves cleave the thickening mist, vibrate
ghostlike, and are swallowed in the yawning blackness of the cell-house.

"Aleck, Aleck!" I hear an excited whisper behind me, "quick, plant it.
The screw's goin' t' frisk[43] me."

  [43] Search.

Something small and hard is thrust into my coat pocket. The guard in
front stops short, suspiciously scanning the passing men.

"Break ranks!"

The overseer approaches me. "You are wanted in the office, Berk."

The Warden, blear-eyed and sallow, frowns as I am led in.

"What have you got on you?" he demands, abruptly.

"I don't understand you."

"Yes, you do. Have you money on you?"

"I have not."

"Who sends clandestine mail for you?"

"What mail?"

"The letter published in the Anarchist sheet in New York."

I feel greatly relieved. The letter in question passed through official

"It went through the Chaplain's hands," I reply, boldly.

"It isn't true. Such a letter could never pass Mr. Milligan. Mr.
Cosson," he turns to the guard, "fetch the newspaper from my desk."

The Warden's hands tremble as he points to the marked item. "Here it is!
You talk of revolution, and comrades, and Anarchism. Mr. Milligan never
saw _that_, I'm sure. It's a nice thing for the papers to say that you
are editing--from the prison, mind you--editing an Anarchist sheet in
New York."

"You can't believe everything the papers say." I protest.

"Hm, this time the papers, hm, hm, may be right," the Deputy interposes.
"They surely didn't make the story, hm, hm, out of whole cloth."

"They often do," I retort. "Didn't they write that I tried to jump over
the wall--it's about thirty feet high--and that the guard shot me in the

A smile flits across the Warden's face. Impulsively I blurt out:

"Was the story inspired, perhaps?"

"Silence!" the Warden thunders. "You are not to speak, unless addressed,
remember. Mr. McPane, please search him."

The long, bony fingers slowly creep over my neck and shoulders, down my
arms and body, pressing in my armpits, gripping my legs, covering every
spot, and immersing me in an atmosphere of clamminess. The loathsome
touch sickens me, but I rejoice in the thought of my security: I have
nothing incriminating about me.

Suddenly the snakelike hand dips into my coat pocket.

"Hm, what's this?" He unwraps a small, round object. "A knife, Captain."

"Let me see!" I cry in amazement.

"Stand back!" the Warden commands. "This knife has been stolen from the
shoe shop. On whom did you mean to use it?"

"Warden, I didn't even know I had it. A fellow dropped it into my pocket
as we--"

"That'll do. You're not so clever as you think."

"It's a conspiracy!" I cry.

He lounges calmly in the armchair, a peculiar smile dancing in his eyes.

"Well, what have you got to say?"

"It's a put-up job."

"Explain yourself."

"Some one threw this thing into my pocket as we were coming--"

"Oh, we've already heard that. It's too fishy."

"You searched me for money and secret letters--"

"That will do now. Mr. McPane, what is the sentence for the possession
of a dangerous weapon?"

"Warden," I interrupt, "it's no weapon. The blade is only half an inch,

"Silence! I spoke to Mr. McPane."

"Hm, three days, Captain."

"Take him down."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the storeroom I am stripped of my suit of dark gray, and again clad
in the hateful stripes. Coatless and shoeless, I am led through hallways
and corridors, down a steep flight of stairs, and thrown into the

       *       *       *       *       *

Total darkness. The blackness is massive, palpable,--I feel its hand
upon my head, my face. I dare not move, lest a misstep thrust me into
the abyss. I hold my hand close to my eyes--I feel the touch of my
lashes upon it, but I cannot see its outline. Motionless I stand on one
spot, devoid of all sense of direction. The silence is sinister; it
seems to me I can hear it. Only now and then the hasty scrambling of
nimble feet suddenly rends the stillness, and the gnawing of invisible
river rats haunts the fearful solitude.

Slowly the blackness pales. It ebbs and melts; out of the sombre gray, a
wall looms above; the silhouette of a door rises dimly before me,
sloping upward and growing compact and impenetrable.

The hours drag in unbroken sameness. Not a sound reaches me from the
cell-house. In the maddening quiet and darkness I am bereft of all
consciousness of time, save once a day when the heavy rattle of keys
apprises me of the morning: the dungeon is unlocked, and the silent
guards hand me a slice of bread and a cup of water. The double doors
fall heavily to, the steps grow fainter and die in the distance, and all
is dark again in the dungeon.

The numbness of death steals upon my soul. The floor is cold and clammy,
the gnawing grows louder and nearer, and I am filled with dread lest the
starving rats attack my bare feet. I snatch a few unconscious moments
leaning against the door; and then again I pace the cell, striving to
keep awake, wondering whether it be night or day, yearning for the sound
of a human voice.

Utterly forsaken! Cast into the stony bowels of the underground, the
world of man receding, leaving no trace behind.... Eagerly I strain my
ear--only the ceaseless, fearful gnawing. I clutch the bars in
desperation--a hollow echo mocks the clanking iron. My hands tear
violently at the door--"Ho, there! Any one here?" All is silent.
Nameless terrors quiver in my mind, weaving nightmares of mortal dread
and despair. Fear shapes convulsive thoughts: they rage in wild tempest,
then calm, and again rush through time and space in a rapid succession
of strangely familiar scenes, wakened in my slumbering consciousness.

Exhausted and weary I droop against the wall. A slimy creeping on my
face startles me in horror, and again I pace the cell. I feel cold and
hungry. Am I forgotten? Three days must have passed, and more. Have they
forgotten me?...

       *       *       *       *       *

The clank of keys sends a thrill of joy to my heart. My tomb will
open--oh, to see the light, and breathe the air again....

"Officer, isn't my time up yet?"

"What's your hurry? You've only been here one day."

The doors fall to. Ravenously I devour the bread, so small and thin,
just a bite. Only _one_ day! Despair enfolds me like a pall. Faint with
anguish, I sink to the floor.


The change from the dungeon to the ordinary cell is a veritable
transformation. The sight of the human form fills me with delight, the
sound of voices is sweet music. I feel as if I had been torn from the
grip of death when all hope had fled me,--caught on the very brink, as
it were, and restored to the world of the living. How bright the sun,
how balmy the air! In keen sensuousness I stretch out on the bed. The
tick is soiled, the straw protrudes in places, but it is luxury to
rest, secure from the vicious river rats and the fierce vermin. It is
almost liberty, freedom!

But in the morning I awake in great agony. My eyes throb with pain;
every joint of my body is on the rack. The blankets had been removed
from the dungeon; three days and nights I lay on the bare stone. It was
unnecessarily cruel to deprive me of my spectacles, in pretended anxiety
lest I commit suicide with them. It is very touching, this solicitude
for my safety, in view of the flimsy pretext to punish me. Some hidden
motive must be actuating the Warden. But what can it be? Probably they
will not keep me long in the cell. When I am returned to work, I shall
learn the truth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The days pass in vain expectation. The continuous confinement is
becoming distressing. I miss the little comforts I have lost by the
removal to the "single" cell, considerably smaller than my previous
quarters. My library, also, has disappeared, and the pictures I had so
patiently collected for the decoration of the walls. The cell is bare
and cheerless, the large card of ugly-printed rules affording no relief
from the irritating whitewash. The narrow space makes exercise
difficult: the necessity of turning at every second and third step
transforms walking into a series of contortions. But some means must be
devised to while away the time. I pace the floor, counting the seconds
required to make ten turns. I recollect having heard that five miles
constitutes a healthy day's walk. At that rate I should make 3,771
turns, the cell measuring seven feet in length. I divide the exercise
into three parts, adding a few extra laps to make sure of five miles.
Carefully I count, and am overcome by a sense of calamity when the peal
of the gong confuses my numbers. I must begin over again.

The change of location has interrupted communication with my comrades.
I am apprehensive of the fate of the _Prison Blossoms_: strict
surveillance makes the prospect of restoring connections doubtful. I am
assigned to the ground floor, my cell being but a few feet distant from
the officers' desk at the yard door. Watchful eyes are constantly upon
me; it is impossible for any prisoner to converse with me. The rangeman
alone could aid me in reaching my friends, but I have been warned
against him: he is a "stool" who has earned his position as trusty by
spying upon the inmates. I can expect no help from him; but perhaps the
coffee-boy may prove of service.

I am planning to approach the man, when I am informed that prisoners
from the hosiery department are locked up on the upper gallery. By means
of the waste pipe, I learn of the developments during my stay in the
dungeon. The discontent of the shop employees with the insufficient
rations was intensified by the arrival of a wagon-load of bad meat. The
stench permeated the yard, and several men were punished for passing
uncomplimentary remarks about the food. The situation was aggravated by
an additional increase of the task. The knitters and loopers were on the
verge of rebellion. Twice within the month had the task been enlarged.
They sent to the Warden a request for a reduction; in reply came the
appalling order for a further increase. Then a score of men struck. They
remained in the cells, refusing to return to the shop unless the demand
for better food and less work was complied with. With the aid of
informers, the Warden conducted a quiet investigation. One by one the
refractory prisoners were forced to submit. By a process of elimination
the authorities sifted the situation, and now it is whispered about that
a decision has been reached, placing responsibility for the unique
episode of a strike in the prison.

An air of mystery hangs about the guards. Repeatedly I attempt to engage
them in conversation, but the least reference to the strike seals their
lips. I wonder at the peculiar looks they regard me with, when
unexpectedly the cause is revealed.


It is Sunday noon. The rangeman pushes the dinner wagon along the tier.
I stand at the door, ready to receive the meal. The overseer glances at
me, then motions to the prisoner. The cart rolls past my cell.

"Officer," I call out, "you missed me."

"Smell the pot-pie, do you?"

"Where's my dinner?"

"You get none."

The odor of the steaming delicacy, so keenly looked forward to every
second Sunday, reaches my nostrils and sharpens my hunger. I have eaten
sparingly all week in expectation of the treat, and now--I am humiliated
and enraged by being so unceremoniously deprived of the rare dinner.
Angrily I rap the cup across the door; again and again I strike the tin
against it, the successive falls from bar to bar producing a sharp,
piercing clatter.

A guard hastens along. "Stop that damn racket," he commands. "What's the
matter with you?"

"I didn't get dinner."

"Yes, you did."

"I did not."

"Well, I s'pose you don't deserve it."

As he turns to leave, my can crashes against the door--one, two, three--

"What t'hell do you want, eh?"

"I want to see the Warden."

"You can't see 'im. You better keep quiet now."

"I demand to see the Warden. He is supposed to visit us every day. He
hasn't been around for weeks. I must see him now."

"If you don't shut up, I'll--"

The Captain of the Block approaches.

"What do you want, Berkman?"

"I want to see the Warden."

"Can't see him. It's Sunday."

"Captain," I retort, pointing to the rules on the wall of the cell,
"there is an excerpt here from the statutes of Pennsylvania, directing
the Warden to visit each prisoner every day--"

"Never mind, now," he interrupts. "What do you want to see the Warden

"I want to know why I got no dinner."

"Your name is off the list for the next four Sundays."

"What for?"

"That you'll have to ask the boss. I'll tell him you want to see him."

Presently the overseer returns, informing me in a confidential manner
that he has induced "his Nibs" to grant me an audience. Admitted to the
inner office, I find the Warden at the desk, his face flushed with

"You are reported for disturbing the peace," he shouts at me.

"There is also, hm, hm, another charge against him," the Deputy

"Two charges," the Warden continues. "Disturbing the peace and making
demands. How dare you demand?" he roars. "Do you know where you are?"

"I wanted to see you."

"It is not a question of what you want or don't want. Understand that
clearly. You are to obey the rules implicitly."

"The rules direct you to visit--"

"Silence! What is your request?"

"I want to know why I am deprived of dinner."

"It is not, hm, for _you_ to know. It is enough, hm, hm, that _we_
know," the Deputy retorts.

"Mr. McPane," the Warden interposes, "I am going to speak plainly to
him. From this day on," he turns to me, "you are on 'Pennsylvania diet'
for four weeks. During that time no papers or books are permitted you.
It will give you leisure to think over your behavior. I have
investigated your conduct in the shop, and I am satisfied it was you who
instigated the trouble there. You shall not have another chance to
incite the men, even if you live as long as your sentence. But," he
pauses an instant, then adds, threateningly, "but you may as well
understand it now as later--your life is not worth the trouble you give
us. Mark you well, whatever the cost, it will be at _your_ expense. For
the present you'll remain in solitary, where you cannot exert your
pernicious influence. Officers, remove him to the 'basket.'"



Four weeks of "Pennsylvania diet" have reduced me almost to a skeleton.
A slice of wheat bread with a cup of unsweetened black coffee is my sole
meal, with twice a week dinner of vegetable soup, from which every trace
of meat has been removed. Every Saturday I am conducted to the office,
to be examined by the physician and weighed. The whole week I look
forward to the brief respite from the terrible "basket" cell. The sight
of the striped men scouring the floor, the friendly smile on a
stealthily raised face as I pass through the hall, the strange blue of
the sky, the sweet-scented aroma of the April morning--how quickly it is
all over! But the seven deep breaths I slowly inhale on the way to the
office, and the eager ten on my return, set my blood aglow with renewed
life. For an instant my brain reels with the sudden rush of exquisite
intoxication, and then--I am in the tomb again.

       *       *       *       *       *

The torture of the "basket" is maddening; the constant dusk is driving
me blind. Almost no light or air reaches me through the close wire
netting covering the barred door. The foul odor is stifling; it grips my
throat with deathly hold. The walls hem me in; daily they press closer
upon me, till the cell seems to contract, and I feel crushed in the
coffin of stone. From every point the whitewashed sides glare at me,
unyielding, inexorable, in confident assurance of their prey.

       *       *       *       *       *

The darkness of despondency gathers day by day; the hand of despair
weighs heavier. At night the screeching of a crow across the river
ominously voices the black raven keeping vigil in my heart. The windows
in the hallway quake and tremble in the furious wind. Bleak and desolate
wakes the day--another day, then another--

       *       *       *       *       *

Weak and apathetic I lie on the bed. Ever further recedes the world of
the living. Still day follows night, and life is in the making, but I
have no part in the pain and travail. Like a spark from the glowing
furnace, flashing through the gloom, and swallowed in the darkness, I
have been cast upon the shores of the forgotten. No sound reaches me
from the island prison where beats the fervent heart of the Girl, no ray
of hope falls across the bars of desolation. But on the threshold of
Nirvana life recoils; in the very bowels of torment it cries out _to be_!
Persecution feeds the fires of defiance, and nerves my resolution. Were
I an ordinary prisoner, I should not care to suffer all these agonies.
To what purpose, with my impossible sentence? But my Anarchist ideals
and traditions rise in revolt against the vampire gloating over its
prey. No, I shall not disgrace the Cause, I shall not grieve my comrades
by weak surrender! I will fight and struggle, and not be daunted by
threat or torture.

       *       *       *       *       *

With difficulty I walk to the office for the weekly weighing. My step
falters as I approach the scales, and I sway dizzily. As through a mist
I see the doctor bending over me, his head pressing against my body.
Somehow I reach the "basket," mildly wondering why I did not feel the
cold air. Perhaps they did not take me through the yard--Is it the Block
Captain's voice? "What did you say?"

"Return to your old cell. You're on full diet now."




                                            Direct to Box A 7,
                                              Allegheny City, Pa.,
                                                     March 25, 1894.


    This letter is somewhat delayed: for certain reasons I missed
    mail-day last month. Prison life, too, has its ups and downs,
    and just now I am on the down side. We are cautioned to refrain
    from referring to local affairs; therefore I can tell you only
    that I am in solitary, without work. I don't know how long I am
    to be kept "locked up." It may be a month, or a year, I hope it
    will not be the latter.

    I was not permitted to receive the magazines and delicacies you
    sent.... We may subscribe for the daily papers, and you can
    easily imagine how religiously I read them from headline to the
    last ad: they keep me in touch, to some extent, with the
    living.... Blessed be the shades of Guttenberg! Hugo and Zola,
    even Gogol and Turgenev, are in the library. It is like meeting
    an old friend in a strange land to find our own Bazarov
    discoursing--in English.... Page after page unfolds the
    past--the solitary is forgotten, the walls melt away, and again
    I roam with Leather Stocking in the primitive forest, or sorrow
    with poor Oliver Twist. But the "Captain's Daughter" irritates
    me, and Pugatchev, the rebellious soul, has turned a caricature
    in the awkward hands of the translator. And now comes Tarass
    Bulba--is it our own Tarass, the fearless warrior, the scourge
    of Turk and Tartar? How grotesque is the brave old hetman
    storming maledictions against the hated Moslems--in long-winded
    German periods! Exasperated and offended, I turn my back upon
    the desecration, and open a book of poems. But instead of the
    requested Robert Burns, I find a volume of Wordsworth. Posies
    bloom on his pages, and rosebuds scent his rhymes, but the pains
    of the world's labor wake no chord in his soul.... Science and
    romance, history and travel, religion and philosophy--all come
    trooping into the cell in irrelevant sequence, for the allowance
    of only one book at a time limits my choice. The variety of
    reading affords rich material for reflection, and helps to
    perfect my English. But some passage in the "Starry Heavens"
    suddenly brings me to earth, and the present is illumined with
    the direct perception of despair, and the anguished question
    surges through my mind, What is the use of all this study and
    learning? And then--but why harrow you with this tenor.

    I did not mean to say all this when I began. It cannot be
    undone: the sheet must be accounted for. Therefore it will be
    mailed to you. But I know, dear friend, you also are not bedded
    on roses. And the poor Sailor?

    My space is all.



The lengthening chain of days in the solitary drags its heavy links
through every change of misery. The cell is suffocating with the summer
heat; rarely does the fresh breeze from the river steal a caress upon my
face. On the pretext of a "draught" the unfriendly guard has closed the
hall windows opposite my cell. Not a breath of air is stirring. The
leaden hours of the night are insufferable with the foul odor of the
perspiration and excrement of a thousand bodies. Sleepless, I toss on
the withered mattress. The ravages of time and the weight of many
inmates have demoralized it out of all semblance of a bedtick. But the
Block Captain persistently ignores my request for new straw, directing
me to "shake it up a bit." I am fearful of repeating the experiment: the
clouds of dust almost strangled me; for days the cell remained hazy with
the powdered filth. Impatiently I await the morning: the yard door will
open before the marching lines, and the fresh air be wafted past my
cell. I shall stand ready to receive the precious tonic that is to give
me life this day.

And when the block has belched forth its striped prey, and silence
mounts its vigil, I may improve a favorable moment to exchange a
greeting with Johnny Davis. The young prisoner is in solitary on the
tier above me. Thrice his request for a "high gear" machine has been
refused, and the tall youth forced to work doubled over a low table.
Unable to exert his best efforts in the cramped position, Johnny has
repeatedly been punished with the dungeon. Last week he suffered a
hemorrhage; all through the night resounds his hollow cough. Desperate
with the dread of consumption, Johnny has refused to return to work. The
Warden, relenting in a kindly mood, permitted him to resume his original
high machine. But the boy has grown obdurate: he is determined not to go
back to the shop whose officer caused him so much trouble. The prison
discipline takes no cognizance of the situation. Regularly every Monday
the torture is repeated: the youth is called before the Deputy, and
assigned to the hosiery department; the unvarying refusal is followed by
the dungeon, and then Johnny is placed in the solitary, to be cited
again before the Warden the ensuing Monday. I chafe at my helplessness
to aid the boy. His course is suicidal, but the least suggestion of
yielding enrages him. "I'll die before I give in," he told me.

From whispered talks through the waste pipe I learn the sad story of his
young life. He is nineteen, with a sentence of five years before him.
His father, a brakeman, was killed in a railroad collision. The suit for
damages was dragged through years of litigation, leaving the widow
destitute. Since the age of fourteen young Johnny had to support the
whole family. Lately he was employed as the driver of a delivery wagon,
associating with a rough element that gradually drew him into gambling.
One day a shortage of twelve dollars was discovered in the boy's
accounts: the mills of justice began to grind, and Johnny was speedily
clad in stripes.

       *       *       *       *       *

In vain I strive to absorb myself in the library book. The shoddy heroes
of Laura Jean wake no response in my heart; the superior beings of
Corelli, communing with mysterious heavenly circles, stalk by, strange
and unhuman. Here, in the cell above me, cries and moans the terrible
tragedy of Reality. What a monstrous thing it is that the whole power of
the commonwealth, all the machinery of government, is concentrated to
crush this unfortunate atom! Innocently guilty, too, the poor boy is.
Ensnared by the gaming spirit of the time, the feeble creature of
vitiating environment, his fate is sealed by a moment of weakness. Yet
his deviation from the path of established ethics is but a faint
reflection of the lives of the men that decreed his doom. The hypocrisy
of organized Society! The very foundation of its existence rests upon
the negation and defiance of every professed principle of right and
justice. Every feature of its face is a caricature, a travesty upon the
semblance of truth; the whole life of humanity a mockery of the very
name. Political mastery based on violence and jesuitry; industry
gathering the harvest of human blood; commerce ascendant on the ruins of
manhood--such is the morality of civilization. And over the edifice of
this stupendous perversion the Law sits enthroned, and Religion weaves
the spell of awe, and varnishes right and puzzles wrong, and bids the
cowering helot intone, "Thy will be done!"

Devoutly Johnny goes to Church, and prays forgiveness for his "sins."
The prosecutor was "very hard" on him, he told me. The blind mole
perceives only the immediate, and is embittered against the persons
directly responsible for his long imprisonment. But greater minds have
failed fully to grasp the iniquity of the established. My beloved Burns,
even, seems inadequate, powerfully as he moves my spirit with his deep
sympathy for the poor, the oppressed. But "man's inhumanity to man" is
not the last word. The truth lies deeper. It is economic slavery, the
savage struggle for a crumb, that has converted mankind into wolves and
sheep. In liberty and communism, none would have the will or the power
"to make countless thousands mourn." Verily, it is the system, rather
than individuals, that is the source of pollution and degradation. My
prison-house environment is but another manifestation of the Midas-hand,
whose cursed touch turns everything to the brutal service of Mammon.
Dullness fawns upon cruelty for advancement; with savage joy the shop
foreman cracks his whip, for his meed of the gold-transmuted blood. The
famished bodies in stripes, the agonized brains reeling in the dungeon
night, the men buried in "basket" and solitary,--what human hand would
turn the key upon a soul in utter darkness, but for the dread of a like
fate, and the shadow it casts before? This nightmare is but an
intensified replica of the world beyond, the larger prison locked with
the levers of Greed, guarded by the spawn of Hunger.

       *       *       *       *       *

My mind reverts insistently to the life outside. It is a Herculean task
to rouse Apathy to the sordidness of its misery. Yet if the People would
but realize the depths of their degradation and be informed of the means
of deliverance, how joyously they would embrace Anarchy! Quick and
decisive would be the victory of the workers against the handful of
their despoilers. An hour of sanity, freed from prejudice and
superstition, and the torch of liberty would flame 'round the world, and
the banner of equality and brotherhood be planted upon the hills of a
regenerated humanity. Ah, if the world would but pause for one short
while, and understand, and become free!

Involuntarily I am reminded of the old rabbinical lore: only one instant
of righteousness, and Messiah would come upon earth. The beautiful
promise had strongly appealed to me in the days of childhood. The
merciful God requires so little of us, I had often pondered. Why will we
not abstain from sin and evil, for just "the twinkling of an eye-lash"?
For weeks I went about weighed down with the grief of impenitent Israel
refusing to be saved, my eager brain pregnant with projects of hastening
the deliverance. Like a divine inspiration came the solution: at the
stroke of the noon hour, on a preconcerted day, all the men and women of
the Jewry throughout the world should bow in prayer. For a single stroke
of time, all at once--behold the Messiah come! In agonizing perplexity I
gazed at my Hebrew tutor shaking his head. How his kindly smile quivered
dismay into my thrilling heart! The children of Israel could not be
saved thus,--he spoke sadly. Nay, not even in the most circumspect
manner, affording our people in the farthest corners of the earth time
to prepare for the solemn moment. The Messiah will come, the good tutor
kindly consoled me. It had been promised. "But the hour hath not
arrived," he quoted; "no man hath the power to hasten the steps of the

With a sense of sobering sadness, I think of the new hope, the
revolutionary Messiah. Truly the old rabbi was wise beyond his ken: it
hath been given to no man to hasten the march of delivery. Out of the
People's need, from the womb of their suffering, must be born the hour
of redemption. Necessity, Necessity alone, with its iron heel, will spur
numb Misery to effort, and waken the living dead. The process is
tortuously slow, but the gestation of a new humanity cannot be hurried
by impatience. We must bide our time, meanwhile preparing the workers
for the great upheaval. The errors of the past are to be guarded
against: always has apparent victory been divested of its fruits, and
paralyzed into defeat, because the People were fettered by their respect
for property, by the superstitious awe of authority, and by reliance
upon leaders. These ghosts must be cast out, and the torch of reason
lighted in the darkness of men's minds, ere blind rebellion can rend the
midway clouds of defeat, and sight the glory of the Social Revolution,
and the beyond.


A heavy nightmare oppresses my sleep. Confused sounds ring in my ears,
and beat upon my head. I wake in nameless dread. The cell-house is
raging with uproar: crash after crash booms through the hall; it
thunders against the walls of the cell, then rolls like some monstrous
drum along the galleries, and abruptly ceases.

In terror I cower on the bed. All is deathly still. Timidly I look
around. The cell is in darkness, and only a faint gas light flickers
unsteadily in the corridor. Suddenly a cry cuts the silence, shrill and
unearthly, bursting into wild laughter. And again the fearful thunder,
now bellowing from the cell above, now muttering menacingly in the
distance, then dying with a growl. And all is hushed again, and only the
unearthly laughter rings through the hall.

"Johnny, Johnny!" I call in alarm. "Johnny!"

"Th' kid's in th' hole," comes hoarsely through the privy. "This is
Horsethief. Is that you, Aleck?"

"Yes. What _is_ it, Bob?"

"Some one breakin' up housekeepin'."


"Can't tell. May be Smithy."

"What Smithy, Bob?"

"Crazy Smith, on crank row. Look out now, they're comin'."

The heavy doors of the rotunda groan on their hinges. Shadowlike, giant
figures glide past my cell. They walk inaudibly, felt-soled and
portentous, the long riot clubs rigid at their sides. Behind them
others, and then the Warden, a large revolver gleaming in his hand. With
bated breath I listen, conscious of the presence of other men at the
doors. Suddenly wailing and wild laughter pierce the night: there is the
rattling of iron, violent scuffling, the sickening thud of a falling
body, and all is quiet. Noiselessly the bread cart flits by, the huge
shadows bending over the body stretched on the boards.

       *       *       *       *       *

The gong booms the rising hour. The morning sun glints a ray upon the
bloody trail in the hall, and hides behind the gathering mist. A squad
of men in gray and black is marched from the yard. They kneel on the
floor, and with sand and water scour the crimson flagstones.

       *       *       *       *       *

With great relief I learn that "Crazy Smithy" is not dead. He will
recover, the rangeman assures me. The doctor bandaged the man's wounds,
and then the prisoner, still unconscious, was dragged to the dungeon.
Little by little I glean his story from my informant. Smith has been
insane, at times violently, ever since his imprisonment, about four
years ago. His "partner," Burns, has also become deranged through worry
over his sentence of twenty-five years. His madness assumed such
revolting expression that the authorities caused his commitment to the
insane asylum. But Smith remains on "crank row," the Warden insisting
that he is shamming to gain an opportunity to escape.


The rare snatches of conversation with the old rangeman are events in
the monotony of the solitary. Owing to the illness of Bob, communication
with my friends is almost entirely suspended. In the forced idleness the
hours grow heavy and languid, the days drag in unvarying sameness. By
violent efforts of will I strangle the recurring thought of my long
sentence, and seek forgetfulness in reading. Volume after volume passes
through my hands, till my brain is steeped with the printed word. Page
by page I recite the history of the Holy Church, the lives of the
Fathers and the Saints, or read aloud, to hear a human voice, the
mythology of Greece and India, mingling with it, for the sake of
variety, a few chapters from Mill and Spencer. But in the midst of an
intricate passage in the "Unknowable," or in the heart of a difficult
mathematical problem, I suddenly become aware of my pencil drawing
familiar figures on the library slate: 22 × 12 = 264. What is this, I
wonder. And immediately I proceed, in semiconscious manner, to finish
the calculation:

         264 × 30 =       7,920 days.
       7,920 × 24 =     190,080 hours.
     190,080 × 60 =  11,404,800 minutes.
  11,404,800 × 60 = 684,288,000 seconds.

But the next moment I am aghast at the realization that my computation
allows only 30 days per month, whereas the year consists of 365,
sometimes even of 366 days. And again I repeat the process, multiplying
22 by 365, and am startled to find that I have almost 700,000,000
seconds to pass in the solitary. From the official calendar alongside of
the rules the cheering promise faces me, Good conduct shortens time. But
I have been repeatedly reported and punished--they will surely deprive
me of the commutation. With great care I figure out my allowance: one
month on the first year, one on the second; two on the third and fourth;
three on the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth; four months'
"good time" on each succeeding year. I shall therefore have to serve
fifteen years and three months in this place, and then eleven months in
the workhouse. I have been here now two years. It still leaves me 14
years and 2 months, or more than 5,170 days. Appalled by the figures, I
pace the cell in agitation. It is hopeless! It is folly to expect to
survive such a sentence, especially in view of the Warden's persecution,
and the petty tyranny of the keepers.

Thoughts of suicide and escape, wild fancies of unforeseen developments
in the world at large that will somehow result in my liberation, all
struggle in confusion, leaving me faint and miserable. My absolute
isolation holds no promise of deliverance; the days of illness and
suffering fill me with anguish. With a sharp pang I observe the thinning
of my hair. The evidence of physical decay rouses the fear of mental
collapse, insanity.... I shudder at the terrible suggestion, and lash
myself into a fever of irritation with myself, the rangeman, and every
passing convict, my heart seething with hatred of the Warden, the
guards, the judge, and that unembodied, shapeless, but inexorable and
merciless, thing--the world. In the moments of reacting calm I apply
myself to philosophy and science, determinedly, with the desperation
born of horror. But the dread ghost is ever before me; it follows me up
and down the cell, mocks me with the wild laughter of "Crazy Smith" in
the stillness of the night, and with the moaning and waking of my
neighbor suddenly gone mad.



Often the Chaplain pauses at my door, and speaks words of encouragement.
I feel deeply moved by his sympathy, but my revolutionary traditions
forbid the expression of my emotions: a cog in the machinery of
oppression, he might mistake my gratitude for the obsequiousness of the
fawning convict. But I hope he feels my appreciation in the simple
"thank you." It is kind of him to lend me books from his private
library, and occasionally also permit me an extra sheet of writing
paper. Correspondence with the Girl and the Twin, and the unfrequent
exchange of notes with my comrades, are the only links that still bind
me to the living. I feel weary and life-worn, indifferent to the trivial
incidents of existence that seem to hold such exciting interest for the
other inmates. "Old Sammy," the rangeman, grown nervous with the
approach of liberty, inverts a hundred opportunities to unburden his
heart. All day long he limps from cell to cell, pretending to scrub the
doorsills or dust the bars, meanwhile chattering volubly to the
solitaries. Listlessly I suffer the oft-repeated recital of the "news,"
elaborately discussed and commented upon with impassioned earnestness.
He interrupts his anathemas upon the "rotten food" and the "thieving
murderers," to launch into enthusiastic details of the meal he will
enjoy on the day of release, the imprisoned friends he will remember
with towels and handkerchiefs. But he grows pensive at the mention of
the folks at home: the "old woman" died of a broken heart, the boys have
not written a line in three years. He fears they have sold the little
farmhouse, and flown to the city. But the joy of coming freedom drives
away the sad thought, and he mumbles hopefully, "I'll see, I'll see,"
and rejoices in being "alive and still good for a while," and then
abruptly changes the conversation, and relates minutely how "that poor,
crazy Dick" was yesterday found hanging in the cell, and he the first to
discover him, and to help the guards cut him down. And last week he was
present when the physician tried to revive "the little dago," and if the
doctor had only returned quicker from the theatre, poor Joe might have
been saved. He "took a fit" and "the screws jest let 'im lay; 'waitin'
for the doc,' they says. Hope they don't kill _me_ yet," he comments,
hobbling away.

       *       *       *       *       *

The presence of death daunts the thought of self-destruction. Ever
stronger asserts itself the love of life; the will to be roots deeper.
But the hope of escape recedes with the ebbing of my vitality. The
constant harassing has forced the discontinuation of the _Blossoms_. The
eccentric Warden seems to have conceived a great fear of an Anarchist
conspiracy: special orders have been issued, placing the trio under
extraordinary surveillance. Suspecting our clandestine correspondence,
yet unable to trace it, the authorities have decided to separate us in a
manner excluding all possibility of communication. Apparently I am to be
continued in the solitary indefinitely, while Nold is located in the
South Wing, and Bauer removed to the furthest cell on an upper gallery
in the North Block. The precious magazine is suspended, and only the
daring of the faithful "Horsethief" enables us to exchange an occasional

Amid the fantastic shapes cast by the dim candle light, I pass the long
winter evenings. The prison day between 7 A. M. and 9 P. M. I divide
into three parts, devoting four hours each to exercise, English, and
reading, the remaining two hours occupied with meals and "cleaning up."
Surrounded by grammars and dictionaries, borrowed from the Chaplain, I
absorb myself in a sentence of Shakespeare, dissecting each word,
studying origin and derivation, analyzing prefix and suffix. I find
moments of exquisite pleasure in tracing some simple expression through
all the vicissitudes of its existence, to its Latin or Greek source. In
the history of the corresponding epoch, I seek the people's joys and
tragedies, contemporary with the fortunes of the word. Philology, with
the background of history, leads me into the pastures of mythology and
comparative religion, through the mazes of metaphysics and warring
philosophies, to rationalism and evolutionary science.

Oblivious of my environment, I walk with the disciples of Socrates, flee
Athens with the persecuted Diagoras, "the Atheist," and listen in
ecstasy to the sweet-voiced lute of Arion; or with Suetonius I pass in
review the Twelve Caesars, and weep with the hostages swelling the
triumph of the Eternal City. But on the very threshold of Cleopatra's
boudoir, about to enter with the intrepid Mark Antony, I am met by three
giant slaves with the command:

"A 7, hands up! Step out to be searched!"

       *       *       *       *       *

For days my enfeebled nerves quiver with the shock. With difficulty I
force myself to pick up the thread of my life amid the spirits of the
past. The placid waters have been disturbed, and all the miasma of the
quagmire seethes toward the surface, and fills my cup with the
bitterness of death.

The release of "Old Sammy" stirs me to the very depths. Many prisoners
have come and gone during my stay; with some I merely touched hands as
they passed in the darkness and disappeared, leaving no trace in my
existence. But the old rangeman, with his smiling eyes and fervid
optimism, has grown dear to me. He shared with me his hopes and fears,
divided his extra slice of cornbread, and strove to cheer me in his own
homely manner. I miss his genial presence. Something has gone out of my
life with him, leaving a void, saddening, gnawing. In thought I follow
my friend through the gates of the prison, out into the free, the
alluring "outside," the charmed circle that holds the promise of life
and joy and liberty. Like a horrible nightmare the sombre walls fade
away, and only a dark shadow vibrates in my memory, like a hidden
menace, faint, yet ever-present and terrible. The sun glows brilliant in
the heavens, shell-like wavelets float upon the azure, and sweet odors
are everywhere about me. All the longing of my soul wells up with
violent passion, and in a sudden transport of joy I fling myself upon
the earth, and weep and kiss it in prayerful bliss....

       *       *       *       *       *

The candle sputters, hisses, and dies. I sit in the dark. Silently lifts
the veil of time. The little New York flat rises before me. The Girl is
returning home, the roses of youth grown pallid amid the shadows of
death. Only her eyes glow firmer and deeper, a look of challenge in her
saddened face. As on an open page, I read the suffering of her prison
experience, the sharper lines of steadfast purpose.... The joys and
sorrows of our mutual past unfold before me, and again I live in the old
surroundings. The memorable scene of our first meeting, in the little
café at Sachs', projects clearly. The room is chilly in the November
dusk, as I return from work and secure my accustomed place. One by one
the old habitués drop in, and presently I am in a heated discussion with
two Russian refugees at the table opposite. The door opens, and a young
woman enters. Well-knit, with the ruddy vigor of youth, she diffuses an
atmosphere of strength and vitality. I wonder who the newcomer may be.
Two years in the movement have familiarized me with the personnel of the
revolutionary circles of the metropolis. This girl is evidently a
stranger; I am quite sure I have never met her at our gatherings. I
motion to the passing proprietor. He smiles, anticipating my question.
"You want to know who the young lady is?" he whispers. "I'll see, I'll
see."--Somehow I find myself at her table. Without constraint, we soon
converse like old acquaintances, and I learn that she left her home in
Rochester to escape the stifling provincial atmosphere. She is a
dressmaker, and hopes to find work in New York. I like her simple, frank
confidence; the "comrade" on her lips thrills me. She is one of us,
then. With a sense of pride in the movement, I enlarge upon the
activities of our circle. There are important meetings she ought to
attend, many people to meet; Hasselmann is conducting a course in
sociology; Schultze is giving splendid lectures. "Have you heard Most?"
I ask suddenly. "No? You must hear our Grand Old Man. He speaks
to-morrow; will you come with me?"--Eagerly I look forward to the next
evening, and hasten to the café. It is frosty outdoors as I walk the
narrow, dark streets in animated discussion with "Comrade Rochester."
The ancient sidewalks are uneven and cracked, in spots crusted with
filth. As we cross Delancey Street, the girl slips and almost falls,
when I catch her in my arms just in time to prevent her head striking
the curbstone. "You have saved my life," she smiles at me, her eyes
dancing vivaciously.... With great pride I introduce my new friend to
the _inteligentzia_ of the Ghetto, among the exiles of the colony. Ah,
the exaltation, the joy of being!... The whole history of revolutionary
Russia is mirrored in our circles; every shade of temperamental Nihilism
and political view is harbored there. I see Hartman, surrounded by the
halo of conspirative mystery; at his side is the _velikorussian_, with
flowing beard and powerful frame, of the older generation of the
_narodovoiltzy_; and there is Schewitsch, big and broad of feature, the
typical _dvoryanin_ who has cast in his lot with the proletariat. The
line of contending faiths is not drawn sharply in the colony: Cahan is
among us, stentorian of voice and bristling with aggressive vitality;
Solotaroff, his pale student face peculiarly luminous; Miller,
poetically eloquent, and his strangely-named brother Brandes, looking
consumptive from his experience in the Odessa prison. Timmermann and
Aleinikoff, Rinke and Weinstein--all are united in enthusiasm for the
common cause. Types from Turgenev and Chernishevski, from Dostoyevski
and Nekrassov, mingle in the seeming confusion of reality,
individualized with varying shade and light. And other elements are in
the colony, the splashed quivers of the simmering waters of Tsardom.
Shapes in the making, still being kneaded in the mold of old tradition
and new environment. Who knows what shall be the amalgam, some day to be
recast by the master hand of a new Turgenev?...

       *       *       *       *       *

Often the solitary hours are illumined by scenes of the past. With
infinite detail I live again through the years of the inspiring
friendship that held the Girl, the Twin, and myself in the closest bonds
of revolutionary aspiration and personal intimacy. How full of interest
and rich promise was life in those days, so far away, when after the
hours of humiliating drudgery in the factory I would hasten to the
little room in Suffolk Street! Small and narrow, with its diminutive
table and solitary chair, the cage-like bedroom would be transfigured
into the sanctified chamber of fate, holding the balance of the world's
weal. Only two could sit on the little cot, the third on the rickety
chair. And if somebody else called, we would stand around the room,
filling the air with the glowing hope of our young hearts, in the firm
consciousness that we were hastening the steps of progress, advancing
the glorious Dawn.

       *       *       *       *       *

The memory of the life "outside" intensifies the misery of the solitary.
I brood over the uselessness of my suffering. My mission in life
terminated with the _Attentat_. What good can my continued survival do?
My propagandistic value as a living example of class injustice and
political persecution is not of sufficient importance to impose upon me
the duty of existence. And even if it were, the almost three years of my
imprisonment have served the purpose. Escape is out of consideration, so
long as I remain constantly under lock and key, the subject of special
surveillance. Communication with Nold and Bauer, too, is daily growing
more difficult. My health is fast failing; I am barely able to walk.
What is the use of all this misery and torture? What is the use?...

In such moments, I stand on the brink of eternity. Is it sheer apathy
and languor that hold the weak thread of life, or nature's law and the
inherent spirit of resistance? Were I not in the enemy's power, I should
unhesitatingly cross the barrier. But as a pioneer of the Cause, I must
live and struggle. Yet life without activity or interest is
terrifying.... I long for sympathy and affection. With an aching heart I
remember my comrades and friends, and the Girl. More and more my mind
dwells upon tender memories. I wake at night with a passionate desire
for the sight of a sweet face, the touch of a soft hand. A wild yearning
fills me for the women I have known, as they pass in my mind's eye from
the time of my early youth to the last kiss of feminine lips. With a
thrill I recall each bright look and tender accent. My heart beats
tumultuously as I meet little Nadya, on the way to school, pretending I
do not see her. I turn around to admire the golden locks floating in the
breeze, when I surprise her stealthily watching me. I adore her
secretly, but proudly decline my chum's offer to introduce me. How
foolish of me! But I know no timid shrinking as I wait, on a cold winter
evening, for our neighbor's servant girl to cross the yard; and how
unceremoniously I embrace her! She is not a _barishnya_; I need not mask
my feelings. And she is so primitive; she accuses me of knowing things
"not fit for a boy" of my age. But she kisses me again, and passion
wakes at the caress of the large, coarse hand.... My Eldridge Street
platonic sweetheart stands before me, and I tingle with every sensual
emotion of my first years in New York.... Out of the New Haven days
rises the image of Luba, sweeping me with unutterable longing for the
unattained. And again I live through the experiences of the past,
passionately visualizing every detail with images that flatter my erotic
palate and weave exquisite allurement about the urge of sex.




    To K. & G.

    Good news! I was let out of the cell this morning. The
    coffee-boy on my range went home yesterday, and I was put in his

    It's lucky the old Deputy died--he was determined to keep me in
    solitary. In the absence of the Warden, Benny Greaves, the new
    Deputy, told me he will "risk" giving me a job. But he has
    issued strict orders I should not be permitted to step into the
    yard. I'll therefore still be under special surveillance, and I
    shall not be able to see you. But I am in touch with our
    "Faithful," and we can now resume a more regular correspondence.

    Over a year in solitary. It's almost like liberty to be out of
    the cell!



My position as coffee-boy affords many opportunities for closer contact
with the prisoners. I assist the rangeman in taking care of a row of
sixty-four cells situated on the ground floor, and lettered K. Above it
are, successively, I, H, G, and F, located on the yard side of the
cell-house. On the opposite side, facing the river, the ranges are
labelled A, B, C, D, and E. The galleries form parallelograms about each
double cell-row; bridged at the centre, they permit easy access to the
several ranges. The ten tiers, with a total of six hundred and forty
cells, are contained within the outer stone building, and comprise the
North Block of the penitentiary. It connects with the South Wing by
means of the rotunda.


The bottom tiers A and K serve as "receiving" ranges. Here every new
arrival is temporarily "celled," before he is assigned to work and
transferred to the gallery occupied by his shop-fellows. On these ranges
are also located the men undergoing special punishment in basket and
solitary. The lower end of the two ranges is designated "bughouse row."
It contains the "cranks," among whom are classed inmates in different
stages of mental aberration.

My various duties of sweeping the hall, dusting the cell doors, and
assisting at feeding, enable me to become acquainted and to form
friendships. I marvel at the inadequacy of my previous notions of "the
criminal." I resent the presumption of "science" that pretends to evolve
the intricate convolutions of a living human brain out of the shape of a
digit cut from a dead hand, and labels it "criminal type." Daily
association dispels the myth of the "species," and reveals the
individual. Growing intimacy discovers the humanity beneath fibers
coarsened by lack of opportunity, and brutalized by misery and fear.
There is "Reddie" Butch, a rosy-cheeked young fellow of twenty-one, as
frank-spoken a boy as ever honored a striped suit. A jolly criminal is
Butch, with his irrepressible smile and gay song. He was "just dying to
take his girl for a ride," he relates to me. But he couldn't afford it;
he earned only seven dollars per week, as butcher's boy. He always gave
his mother every penny he made, but the girl kept taunting him because
he couldn't spend anything on her. "And I goes to work and swipes a rig,
and say, Aleck, you ought to see me drive to me girl's house, big-like.
In I goes. 'Put on your glad duds, Kate,' I says, says I, 'I'll give you
the drive of your life.' And I did; you bet your sweet life, I did, ha,
ha, ha!" But when he returned the rig to its owner, Butch was arrested.
"'Just a prank, Your Honor,' I says to the Judge. And what d' you think,
Aleck? Thought I'd die when he said three years. I was foolish, of
course; but there's no use crying over spilt milk, ha, ha, ha! But you
know, the worst of it is, me girl went back on me. Wouldn't that jar
you, eh? Well, I'll try hard to forget th' minx. She's a sweet girl,
though, you bet, ha, ha, ha!"

       *       *       *       *       *

And there is Young Rush, the descendant of the celebrated family of the
great American physician. The delicate features, radiant with
spirituality, bear a striking resemblance to Shelley; the limping gait
recalls the tragedy of Byron. He is in for murder! He sits at the door,
an open book in his hands,--the page is moist with the tears silently
trickling down his face. He smiles at my approach, and his expressive
eyes light up the darkened cell, like a glimpse of the sun breaking
through the clouds. He was wooing a girl on a Summer night: the skiff
suddenly upturned, "right opposite here,"--he points to the
river,--"near McKees Rocks." He was dragged out, unconscious. They told
him the girl was dead, and that he was her murderer! He reaches for the
photograph on his table, and bursts into sobs.

       *       *       *       *       *

Daily I sweep the length of the hall, advancing from cell to cell with
deliberate stroke, all the while watching for an opportunity to exchange
a greeting, with the prisoners. My mind reverts to poor Wingie. How he
cheered me in the first days of misery; how kind he was! In gentler
tones I speak to the unfortunates, and encourage the new arrivals, or
indulge some demented prisoner in a harmless whim. The dry sweeping of
the hallway raises a cloud of dust, and loud coughing follows in my
wake. Taking advantage of the old Block Captain's "cold in the head," I
cautiously hint at the danger of germs lurking in the dust-laden
atmosphere. "A little wet sawdust on the floor, Mr. Mitchell, and you
wouldn't catch colds so often." A capital idea, he thinks, and
thereafter I guard the precious supply under the bed in my cell.

In little ways I seek to help the men in solitary. Every trifle means so
much. "Long Joe," the rangeman, whose duty it is to attend to their
needs, is engrossed with his own troubles. The poor fellow is serving
twenty-five years, and he is much worried by "Wild Bill" and "Bighead"
Wilson. They are constantly demanding to see the Warden. It is
remarkable that they are never refused. The guards seem to stand in fear
of them. "Wild Bill" is a self-confessed invert, and there are peculiar
rumors concerning his intimacy with the Warden. Recently Bill complained
of indigestion, and a guard sent me to deliver some delicacies to him.
"From the Warden's table," he remarked, with a sly wink. And Wilson is
jocularly referred to as "the Deputy," even by the officers. He is still
in stripes, but he seems to wield some powerful influence over the new
Deputy; he openly defies the rules, upbraids the guards, and issues
orders. He is the Warden's "runner," clad with the authority of his
master. The prisoners regard Bill and Wilson as stools, and cordially
hate them; but none dare offend them. Poor Joe is constantly harassed by
"Deputy" Wilson; there seems to be bitter enmity between the two on
account of a young prisoner who prefers the friendship of Joe. Worried
by the complex intrigues of life in the block, the rangeman is
indifferent to the unfortunates in the cells. Butch is devoured by
bedbugs, and "Praying" Andy's mattress is flattened into a pancake. The
simple-minded life-timer is being neglected: he has not yet recovered
from the assault by Johnny Smith, who hit him on the head with a hammer.
I urge the rangeman to report to the Captain the need of "bedbugging"
Butch's cell, of supplying Andy with a new mattress, and of notifying
the doctor of the increasing signs of insanity among the solitaries.


Breakfast is over; the lines form in lockstep, and march to the shops.
Broom in hand, rangemen and assistants step upon the galleries, and
commence to sweep the floors. Officers pass along the tiers, closely
scrutinizing each cell. Now and then they pause, facing a "delinquent."
They note his number, unlock the door, and the prisoner joins the "sick
line" on the ground floor.

One by one the men augment the row; they walk slowly, bent and coughing,
painfully limping down the steep flights. From every range they come;
the old and decrepit, the young consumptives, the lame and asthmatic, a
tottering old negro, an idiotic white boy. All look withered and
dejected,--a ghastly line, palsied and blear-eyed, blanched in the
valley of death.

The rotunda door opens noisily, and the doctor enters, accompanied by
Deputy Warden Greaves and Assistant Deputy Hopkins. Behind them is a
prisoner, dressed in dark gray and carrying a medicine box. Dr. Boyce
glances at the long line, and knits his brow. He looks at his watch, and
the frown deepens. He has much to do. Since the death of the senior
doctor, the young graduate is the sole physician of the big prison. He
must make the rounds of the shops before noon, and visit the patients
in the hospital before the Warden or the Deputy drops in.

Mr. Greaves sits down at the officers' desk, near the hall entrance. The
Assistant Deputy, pad in hand, places himself at the head of the sick
line. The doctor leans against the door of the rotunda, facing the
Deputy. The block officers stand within call, at respectful distances.

"Two-fifty-five!" the Assistant Deputy calls out.

A slender young man leaves the line and approaches the doctor. He is
tall and well featured, the large eyes lustrous in the pale face. He
speaks in a hoarse voice:

"Doctor, there is something the matter with my side. I have pains, and I
cough bad at night, and in the morning--"

"All right," the doctor interrupts, without looking up from his
notebook. "Give him some salts," he adds, with a nod to his assistant.

"Next!" the Deputy calls.

"Will you please excuse me from the shop for a few days?" the sick
prisoner pleads, a tremor in his voice.

The physician glances questioningly at the Deputy. The latter cries,
impatiently, "Next, next man!" striking the desk twice, in quick
succession, with the knuckles of his hand.

"Return to the shop," the doctor says to the prisoner.

"Next!" the Deputy calls, spurting a stream of tobacco juice in the
direction of the cuspidor. It strikes sidewise, and splashes over the
foot of the approaching new patient, a young negro, his neck covered
with bulging tumors.

"Number?" the doctor inquires.

"One-thirty-seven. A one-thirty-seven!" the Deputy mumbles, his head
thrown back to receive a fresh handful of "scrap" tobacco.

"Guess Ah's got de big neck, Ah is, Mistah Boyce," the negro says

"Salts. Return to work. Next!"

"A one-twenty-six!"

A young man with parchment-like face, sere and yellow, walks painfully
from the line.

"Doctor, I seem to be gettin' worser, and I'm afraid--"

"What's the trouble?"

"Pains in the stomach. Gettin' so turrible, I--"

"Give him a plaster. Next!"

"Plaster hell!" the prisoner breaks out in a fury, his face growing
livid. "Look at this, will you?" With a quick motion he pulls his shirt
up to his head. His chest and back are entirely covered with porous
plasters; not an inch of skin is visible. "Damn yer plasters," he cries
with sudden sobs, "I ain't got no more room for plasters. I'm putty near
dyin', an' you won't do nothin' fer me."

The guards pounce upon the man, and drag him into the rotunda.

       *       *       *       *       *

One by one the sick prisoners approach the doctor. He stands, head bent,
penciling, rarely glancing up. The elongated ascetic face wears a
preoccupied look; he drawls mechanically, in monosyllables, "Next!
Numb'r? Salts! Plaster! Salts! Next!" Occasionally he glances at his
watch; his brows knit closer, the heavy furrow deepens, and the austere
face grows more severe and rigid. Now and then he turns his eyes upon
the Deputy Warden, sitting opposite, his jaws incessantly working, a
thin stream of tobacco trickling down his chin, and heavily streaking
the gray beard. Cheeks protruding, mouth full of juice, the Deputy
mumbles unintelligently, turns to expectorate, suddenly shouts "Next!"
and gives two quick knocks on the desk, signaling to the physician to
order the man to work. Only the withered and the lame are temporarily
excused, the Deputy striking the desk thrice to convey the permission to
the doctor.

Dejected and forlorn, the sick line is conducted to the shops, coughing,
wheezing, and moaning, only to repeat the ordeal the following morning.
Quite often, breaking down at the machine or fainting at the task, the
men are carried on a stretcher to the hospital, to receive a respite
from the killing toil,--a short intermission, or a happier, eternal

The lame and the feeble, too withered to be useful in the shops, are
sent back to their quarters, and locked up for the day. Only these, the
permitted delinquents, the insane, the men in solitary, and the
sweepers, remain within the inner walls during working hours. The pall
of silence descends upon the House of Death.


The guards creep stealthily along the tiers. Officer George Dean, lank
and tall, tiptoes past the cells, his sharply hooked nose in advance,
his evil-looking eyes peering through the bars, scrutinizing every
inmate. Suddenly the heavy jaws snap. "Hey, you, Eleven-thirty-nine! On
the bed again! Wha-at? Sick, hell! No dinner!" Noisily he pretends to
return to the desk "in front," quietly steals into the niche of a cell
door, and stands motionless, alertly listening. A suppressed murmur
proceeds from the upper galleries. Cautiously the guard advances,
hastily passes several cells, pauses a moment, and then quickly steps
into the center of the hall, shouting: "Cells forty-seven K, I, H!
Talking through the pipe! Got you this time, all right." He grins
broadly as he returns to the desk, and reports to the Block Captain. The
guards ascend the galleries. Levers are pulled, doors opened with a
bang, and the three prisoners are marched to the office. For days their
cells remain vacant: the men are in the dungeon.

       *       *       *       *       *

Gaunt and cadaverous, Guard Hughes makes the rounds of the tiers, on a
tour of inspection. With bleary eyes, sunk deep in his head, he gazes
intently through the bars. The men are out at work. Leisurely he walks
along, stepping from cell to cell, here tearing a picture off the wall,
there gathering a few scraps of paper. As I pass along the hall, he
slams a door on the range above, and appears upon the gallery. His
pockets bulge with confiscated goods. He glances around, as the Deputy
enters from the yard. "Hey, Jasper!" the guard calls. The colored trusty
scampers up the stairs. "Take this to the front." The officer hands him
a dilapidated magazine, two pieces of cornbread, a little square of
cheese, and several candles that some weak-eyed prisoner had saved up by
sitting in the dark for weeks. "Show 't to the Deputy," the officer
says, in an undertone. "I'm doing business, all right!" The trusty
laughs boisterously, "Yassah, yassah, dat yo sure am."

The guard steps into the next cell, throwing a quick look to the front.
The Deputy is disappearing through the rotunda door. The officer casts
his eye about the cell. The table is littered with magazines and papers.
A piece of matting, stolen from the shops, is on the floor. On the bed
are some bananas and a bunch of grapes,--forbidden fruit. The guard
steps back to the gallery, a faint smile on his thin lips. He reaches
for the heart-shaped wooden block hanging above the cell. It bears the
legend, painted in black, A 480. On the reverse side the officer reads,
"Collins Hamilton, dated----." His watery eyes strain to decipher the
penciled marks paled by the damp, whitewashed wall. "Jasper!" he calls,
"come up here." The trusty hastens to him.

"You know who this man is, Jasper? A four-eighty."

"Ah sure knows. Dat am Hamilton, de bank 'bezleh."

"Where's he working?"

"Wat _he_ wan' teh work foh? He am de Cap'n's clerk. In de awfice, _he_

"All right, Jasper." The guard carefully closes the clerk's door, and
enters the adjoining cell. It looks clean and orderly. The stone floor
is bare, the bedding smooth; the library book, tin can, and plate, are
neatly arranged on the table. The officer ransacks the bed, throws the
blankets on the floor, and stamps his feet upon the pillow in search of
secreted contraband. He reaches up to the wooden shelf on the wall, and
takes down the little bag of scrap tobacco,--the weekly allowance of the
prisoners. He empties a goodly part into his hand, shakes it up, and
thrusts it into his mouth. He produces a prison "plug" from his pocket,
bites off a piece, spits in the direction of the privy, and yawns; looks
at his watch, deliberates a moment, spurts a stream of juice into the
corner, and cautiously steps out on the gallery. He surveys the field,
leans over the railing, and squints at the front. The chairs at the
officers' desk are vacant. The guard retreats into the cell, yawns and
stretches, and looks at his watch again. It is only nine o'clock. He
picks up the library book, listlessly examines the cover, flings the
book on the shelf, spits disgustedly, then takes another chew, and
sprawls down on the bed.


At the head of the hall, Senior Officer Woods and Assistant Deputy
Hopkins sit at the desk. Of superb physique and glowing vitality, Mr.
Woods wears his new honors as Captain of the Block with aggressive
self-importance. He has recently been promoted from the shop to the
charge of the North Wing, on the morning shift, from 5 A. M. to 1 P. M.
Every now and then he leaves his chair, walks majestically down the
hallway, crosses the open centre, and returns past the opposite

With studied dignity he resumes his seat and addresses his superior, the
Assistant Deputy, in measured, low tones. The latter listens gravely,
his head slightly bent, his sharp gray eyes restless above the
heavy-rimmed spectacles. As Mr. Hopkins, angular and stoop-shouldered,
rises to expectorate into the nearby sink, he espies the shining face of
Jasper on an upper gallery. The Assistant Deputy smiles, produces a
large apple from his pocket, and, holding it up to view, asks:

"How does this strike you, Jasper?"

"Looks teh dis niggah like a watahmelon, Cunnel."

Woods struggles to suppress a smile. Hopkins laughs, and motions to the
negro. The trusty joins them at the desk.

"I'll bet the coon could get away with this apple in two bites," the
Assistant Deputy says to Woods.

"Hardly possible," the latter remarks, doubtfully.

"You don't know this darky, Scot," Hopkins rejoins. "I know him for the
last--let me see--fifteen, eighteen, twenty years. That's when you first
came here, eh, Jasper?"

"Yassah, 'bout dat."

"In the old prison, then?" Woods inquires.

"Yes, of course. You was there, Jasper, when 'Shoe-box' Miller got out,
wasn't you?"

"Yo 'member good, Cunnel. Dat Ah was, sure 'nuf. En mighty slick it
was, bress me, teh hab imsef nailed in dat shoebox, en mek his

"Yes, yes. And this is your fourth time since then, I believe."

"No, sah, no, sah; dere yo am wrong, Cunnel. Youh remnishent am bad. Dis
jus' free times, jus' free."

"Come off, it's four."

"Free, Cunnel, no moah."

"Do you think, Mr. Hopkins, Jasper could eat the apple in two bites?"
Woods reminds him.

"I'm sure he can. There's nothing in the eating line this coon couldn't
do. Here, Jasper, you get the apple if you make it in two bites. Don't
disgrace me, now."

The negro grins, "Putty big, Cunnel, but Ah'm a gwine teh try powful

With a heroic effort he stretches his mouth, till his face looks like a
veritable cavern, reaching from ear to ear, and edged by large,
shimmering tusks. With both hands he inserts the big apple, and his
sharp teeth come down with a loud snap. He chews quickly, swallows,
repeats the performance, and then holds up his hands. The apple has

The Assistant Deputy roars with laughter. "What did I tell you, eh,
Scot? What did I tell you, ho, ho, ho!" The tears glisten in his eye.

       *       *       *       *       *

They amuse themselves with the negro trusty by the hour. He relates his
experiences, tells humorous anecdotes, and the officers are merry. Now
and then Deputy Warden Greaves drops in. Woods rises.

"Have a seat, Mr. Greaves."

"That's all right, that's all right, Scot," the Deputy mumbles, his eye
searching for the cuspidor. "Sit down, Scot: I'm as young as any of

With mincing step he walks into the first cell, reserved for the
guards, pulls a bottle from his hip pocket, takes several quick gulps,
wabbles back to the desk, and sinks heavily into Woods's seat.

"Jasper, go bring me a chew," he turns to the trusty.

"Yassah. Scrap, Dep'ty?"

"Yah. A nip of plug, too."

"Yassah, yassah, immejitly."

"What are you men doing here?" the Deputy blusters at the two

Woods frowns, squares his shoulders, glances at the Deputy, and then
relaxes into a dignified smile. Assistant Hopkins looks sternly at the
Deputy Warden from above his glasses. "That's all right, Greaves," he
says, familiarly, a touch of scorn in his voice. "Say, you should have
seen that nigger Jasper swallow a great, big apple in two bites; as big
as your head, I'll swear."

"That sho?" the Deputy nods sleepily.

The negro comes running up with a paper of scrap in one hand, a plug in
the other. The Deputy slowly opens his eyes. He walks unsteadily to the
cell, remains there a few minutes, and returns with both hands fumbling
at his hip pocket. He spits viciously at the sink, sits down, fills his
mouth with tobacco, glances at the floor, and demands, hoarsely:

"Where's all them spittoons, eh, you men?"

"Just being cleaned, Mr. Greaves," Woods replies.

"Cleaned, always th' shame shtory. I ordered--ya--ordered--hey, bring
shpittoon, Jasper." He wags his head drowsily.

"He means he ordered spittoons by the wagonload," Hopkins says, with a
wink at Woods. "It was the very first order he gave when he became
Deputy after Jimmie McPane died. I tell you, Scot, we won't see soon
another Deputy like old Jimmie. He was Deputy all right, every inch of
him. Wouldn't stand for the old man, the Warden, interfering with him,
either. Not like this here," he points contemptuously at the snoring
Greaves. "Here, Benny," he raises his voice and slaps the deputy on the
knee, "here's Jasper with your spittoon."

Greaves wakes with a start, and gazes stupidly about; presently,
noticing the trusty with the large cuspidor, and spurts a long jet at

"Say, Jasper," Hopkins calls to the retiring negro, "the deputy wants to
hear that story you told us a while ago, about you got the left hind
foot of a she-rabbit, on a moonlit night in a graveyard."

"Who shaid I want to hear 't?" the Deputy bristles, suddenly wide awake.

"Yes, you do, Greaves," Hopkins asserts. "The rabbit foot brings good
luck, you know. This coon here wears it on his neck. Show it to the
Deputy, Jasper."

       *       *       *       *       *

Prisoner Wilson, the Warden's favorite messenger, enters from the yard.
With quick, energetic step he passes the officers at the desk, entirely
ignoring their presence, and walks nonchalantly down the hall, his
unnaturally large head set close upon the heavy, almost neckless

"Hey, you, Wilson, what are you after?" the Deputy shouts after him.

Without replying, Wilson continues on his way.

"Dep'ty Wilson," the negro jeers, with a look of hatred and envy.

Assistant Deputy Hopkins rises in his seat. "Wilson," he calls with
quiet sternness, "Mr. Greaves is speaking to you. Come back at once."

His face purple with anger, Wilson retraces his steps. "What do you
want, Deputy?" he demands, savagely.

The Deputy looks uneasy and fidgets in his chair, but catching the
severe eye of Hopkins, he shouts vehemently: "What do you want in the

"On Captain Edward S. Wright's business," Wilson replies with a sneer.

"Well, go ahead. But next time I call you, you better come back."

"The Warden told me to hurry. I'll report to him that you detained me
with an idle question," Wilson snarls back.

"That'll do, Wilson," the Assistant Deputy warns him.

"Wait till I see the Captain," Wilson growls, as he departs.

"If I had my way, I'd knock his damn block off," the Assistant mutters.

"Such impudence in a convict cannot be tolerated," Woods comments.

"The Cap'n won't hear a word against Wilson," the Deputy says meekly.

Hopkins frowns. They sit in silence. The negro busies himself, wiping
the yellow-stained floor around the cuspidor. The Deputy ambles stiffly
to the open cell. Woods rises, steps back to the wall, and looks up to
the top galleries. No one is about. He crosses to the other side, and
scans the bottom range. Long and dismal stretches the hall, in
melancholy white and gray, the gloomy cell-building brooding in the
centre, like some monstrous hunchback, without life or motion. Woods
resumes his seat.

"Quiet as a church," he remarks with evident satisfaction.

"You're doing well, Scot," the Deputy mumbles. "Doing well."

A faint metallic sound breaks upon the stillness. The officers prick up
their ears. The rasping continues and grows louder. The negro trusty
tiptoes up the tiers.

"It's somebody with his spoon on the door," the Assistant Deputy
remarks, indifferently.

The Block Captain motions to me. "See who's rapping there, will you?"

I walk quickly along the hall. By keeping close to the wall, I can see
up to the doors of the third gallery. Here and there a nose protrudes in
the air, the bleached face glued to the bars, the eyes glassy. The
rapping grows louder as I advance.

"Who is it?" I call.

"Up here, 18 C."

"Is that you, Ed?"

"Yes. Got a bad hemorrhage. Tell th' screw I must see the doctor."

I run to the desk. "Mr. Woods," I report, "18 C got a hemorrhage. Can't
stop it. He needs the doctor."

"Let him wait," the Deputy growls.

"Doctor hour is over. He should have reported in the morning," the
Assistant Deputy flares up.

"What shall I tell him. Mr. Woods?" I ask.

"Nothing! Get back to your cell."

"Perhaps you'd better go up and take a look, Scot," the Deputy suggests.

Mr. Woods strides along the gallery, pauses a moment at 18 C, and

"Nothing much. A bit of blood. I ordered him to report on sick list in
the morning."

       *       *       *       *       *

A middle-aged prisoner, with confident bearing and polished manner,
enters from the yard. It is the "French Count," one of the clerks in the
"front office."

"Good morning, gentlemen," he greets the officers. He leans familiarly
over the Deputy's chair, remarking: "I've been hunting half an hour for
you. The Captain is a bit ruffled this morning. He is looking for you."

The Deputy hurriedly rises. "Where is he?" he asks anxiously.

"In the office, Mr. Greaves. You know what's about?"

"What? Quick, now."

"They caught Wild Bill right in the act. Out in the yard there, back of
the shed."

The Deputy stumps heavily out into the yard.

"Who's the kid?" the Assistant Deputy inquires, an amused twinkle in his


"Who? That boy on the whitewash gang?"

"Yes, Fatty Bobby."

       *       *       *       *       *

The clatter on the upper tier grows loud and violent. The sick man is
striking his tin can on the bars, and shaking the door. Woods hastens to
C 18.

"You stop that, you hear!" he commands angrily.

"I'm sick. I want th' doctor."

"This isn't doctor hour. You'll see him in the morning."

"I may be dead in the morning. I want him now."

"You won't see him, that's all. You keep quiet there."

Furiously the prisoner raps on the door. The hall reverberates with
hollow booming.

The Block Captain returns to the desk, his face crimson. He whispers to
the Assistant Deputy. The latter nods his head. Woods claps his hands,
deliberately, slowly--one, two, three. Guards hurriedly descend from the
galleries, and advance to the desk. The rangemen appear at their doors.

"Everybody to his cell. Officers, lock 'em in!" Woods commands.

"You can stay here, Jasper," the Assistant Deputy remarks to the trusty.

The rangemen step into their cells. The levers are pulled, the doors
locked. I hear the tread of many feet on the third gallery. Now they
cease, and all is quiet.

"C 18, step out here!"

The door slams, there is noisy shuffling and stamping, and the dull,
heavy thuds of striking clubs. A loud cry and a moan. They drag the
prisoner along the range, and down the stairway. The rotunda door
creaks, and the clamor dies away.

A few minutes elapse in silence. Now some one whispers through the
pipes; insane solitaries bark and crow. Loud coughing drowns the noises,
and then the rotunda door opens with a plaintive screech.

The rangemen are unlocked. I stand at the open door of my cell. The
negro trusty dusts and brushes the officers, their hacks and arms
covered with whitewash, as if they had been rubbed against the wall.

Their clothes cleaned and smoothed, the guards loll in the chairs, and
sit on the desk. They look somewhat ruffled and flustered. Jasper
enlarges upon the piquant gossip. "Wild Bill," notorious invert and
protégé of the Warden, he relates, had been hanging around the kids from
the stocking shop; he has been after "Fatty Bobby" for quite a while,
and he's forever pestering "Lady Sally," and Young Davis, too. The
guards are astir with curiosity; they ply the negro with questions. He
responds eagerly, raises his voice, and gesticulates excitedly. There is
merriment and laughter at the officers' desk.


Dinner hour is approaching. Officer Gerst, in charge of the kitchen
squad, enters the cell-house. Behind him, a score of prisoners carry
large wooden tubs filled with steaming liquid. The negro trusty, his
nostrils expanded and eyes glistening, sniffs the air, and announces
with a grin: "Dooke's mixchoor foh dinneh teh day!"

The scene becomes animated at the front. Tables are noisily moved about,
the tinplate rattles, and men talk and shout. With a large ladle the
soup is dished out from the tubs, and the pans, bent and rusty, stacked
up in long rows. The Deputy Warden flounces in, splutters some orders
that remain ignored, and looks critically at the dinner pans. He
produces a pocket knife, and ambles along the tables, spearing a potato
here, a bit of floating vegetable there. Guard Hughes, his inspection of
the cells completed, saunters along, casting greedy eyes at the food. He
hovers about, waiting for the Deputy to leave. The latter stands, hands
dug into his pockets, short legs wide apart, scraggy beard keeping time
with the moving jaws. Guard Hughes winks at one of the kitchen men, and
slinks into an open cell. The prisoner fusses about, pretends to move
the empty tubs out of the way, and then quickly snatches a pan of soup,
and passes it to the guard. Negro Jasper, alert and watchful, strolls by
Woods, surreptitiously whispering. The officer walks to the open cell
and surprises the guard, his head thrown back, the large pan covering
his face. Woods smiles disdainfully, the prisoners giggle and chuckle.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Chief Jim," the head cook, a Pittsburgh saloonkeeper serving twelve
years for murder, promenades down the range. Large-bellied and
whitecapped, he wears an air of prosperity and independence. With
swelling chest, stomach protruding, and hand wrapped in his dirty
apron, the Chief walks leisurely along the cells, nodding and exchanging
greetings. He pauses at a door: it's Cell 9 A,--the "Fat Kid." Jim leans
against the wall, his back toward the dinner tables; presently his hand
steals between the bars. Now and then he glances toward the front, and
steps closer to the door. He draws a large bundle from his bosom,
hastily tears it open, and produces a piece of cooked meat, several raw
onions, some cakes. One by one he passes the delicacies to the young
prisoner, forcing them through the narrow openings between the bars. He
lifts his apron, fans the door sill, and carefully wipes the ironwork;
then he smiles, casts a searching look to the front, grips the bars with
both hands, and vanishes into the deep niche.

As suddenly he appears to view again, takes several quick steps, then
pauses at another cell. Standing away from the door, he speaks loudly
and laughs boisterously, his hands fumbling beneath the apron. Soon he
leaves, advancing to the dinner tables. He approaches the rangeman,
lifts his eyebrows questioningly, and winks. The man nods affirmatively,
and retreats into his cell. The Chief dives into the bosom of his shirt,
and flings a bundle through the open door. He holds out his hand,
whispering: "Two bits. Broke now? Be sure you pay me to-morrow. That
steak there's worth a plunk."

       *       *       *       *       *

The gong tolls the dinner hour. The negro trusty snatches two pans, and
hastens away. The guards unlock the prisoners, excepting the men in
solitary who are deprived of the sole meal of the day. The line forms in
single file, and advances slowly to the tables; then, pan in hand, the
men circle the block to the centre, ascend the galleries, and are locked
in their cells.

The loud tempo of many feet, marching in step, sounds from the yard.
The shop workers enter, receive the pan of soup, and walk to the cells.
Some sniff the air, make a wry face, and pass on, empty-handed. There is
much suppressed murmuring and whispering.

Gradually the sounds die away. It is the noon hour. Every prisoner is
counted and locked in. Only the trusties are about.


The afternoon brings a breath of relief. "Old Jimmie" Mitchell,
rough-spoken and kind, heads the second shift of officers, on duty from
1 till 9 P. M. The venerable Captain of the Block trudges past the
cells, stroking his flowing white beard, and profusely swearing at the
men. But the prisoners love him: he frowns upon clubbing, and
discourages trouble-seeking guards.

Head downward, he thumps heavily along the hall, on his first round of
the bottom ranges. Presently a voice hails him: "Oh, Mr. Mitchell! Come
here, please."

"Damn your soul t' hell," the officer rages, "don't you know better than
to bother me when I'm counting, eh? Shut up now, God damn you. You've
mixed me all up."

He returns to the front, and begins to count again, pointing his finger
at each occupied cell. This duty over, and his report filed, he returns
to the offending prisoner.

"What t' hell do you want, Butch?"

"Mr. Mitchell, my shoes are on th' bum. I am walking on my socks."

"Where th' devil d' you think you're going, anyhow? To a ball?"

"Papa Mitchell, be good now, won't you?" the youth coaxes.

"Go an' take a--thump to yourself, will you?"

The officer walks off, heavy-browed and thoughtful, but pauses a short
distance from the cell, to hear Butch mumbling discontentedly. The Block
Captain retraces his steps, and, facing the boy, storms at him:

"What did you say? 'Damn the old skunk!' that's what you said, eh? You
come on out of there!"

With much show of violence he inserts the key into the lock, pulls the
door open with a bang, and hails a passing guard:

"Mr. Kelly, quick, take this loafer out and give 'im--er--give 'im a
pair of shoes."

He starts down the range, when some one calls from an upper tier:

"Jimmy, Jimmy! Come on up here!"

"I'll jimmy you damn carcass for you," the old man bellows, angrily,
"Where th' hell are you?"

"Here, on B, 20 B. Right over you."

The officer steps back to the wall, and looks up toward the second

"What in th' name of Jesus Christ do you want, Slim?"

"Awful cramps in me stomach. Get me some cramp mixture, Jim."

"Cramps in yer head, that's what you've got, you big bum you. Where the
hell did you get your cramp mixture, when you was spilling around in a
freight car, eh?"

"I got booze then," the prisoner retorts.

"Like hell you did! You were damn lucky to get a louzy hand-out at the
back door, you ornery pimple on God's good earth."

"Th' hell you say! The hand-out was a damn sight better'n th' rotten
slush I get here. I wouldn't have a belly-ache, if it wasn't for th'
hogwash they gave us to-day."

"Lay down now! You talk like a horse's rosette."

It's the old man's favorite expression, in his rich vocabulary of
picturesque metaphor and simile. But there is no sting in the brusque
speech, no rancor in the scowling eyes. On the way to the desk he pauses
to whisper to the block trusty:

"John, you better run down to the dispensary, an' get that big stiff
some cramp mixture."

Happening to glance into a cell, Mitchell notices a new arrival, a
bald-headed man, his back against the door, reading.

"Hey you!" the Block Captain shouts at him, startling the green prisoner
off his chair, "take that bald thing out of there, or I'll run you in
for indecent exposure."

He chuckles at the man's fright, like a boy pleased with a naughty
prank, and ascends the upper tiers.

       *       *       *       *       *

Duster in hand, I walk along the range. The guards are engaged on the
galleries, examining cells, overseeing the moving of the newly-graded
inmates to the South Wing, or chatting with the trusties. The chairs at
the officers' desk are vacant. Keeping alert watch on the rotunda doors,
I walk from cell to cell, whiling away the afternoon hours in
conversation. Johnny, the friendly runner, loiters at the desk, now and
then glancing into the yard, and giving me "the office" by sharply
snapping his fingers, to warn me of danger. I ply the duster diligently,
while the Deputy and his assistants linger about, surrounded by the
trusties imparting information gathered during the day. Gradually they
disperse, called into a shop where a fight is in progress, or nosing
about the kitchen and assiduously killing time. The "coast is clear,"
and I return to pick up the thread of interrupted conversation.

But the subjects of common interest are soon exhausted. The oft-repeated
tirade against the "rotten grub," the "stale punk," and the "hogwash";
vehement cursing of the brutal "screws," the "stomach-robber of a
Warden" and the unreliability of his promises; the exchange of gossip,
and then back again to berating the food and the treatment. Within the
narrow circle runs the interminable tale, colored by individual
temperament, intensified by the length of sentence. The whole is
dominated by a deep sense of unmerited suffering and bitter resentment,
often breathing dire vengeance against those whom they consider
responsible for their misfortune, including the police, the prosecutor,
the informer, the witnesses, and, in rare instances, the trial judge.
But as the longed-for release approaches, the note of hope and liberty
rings clearer, stronger, with the swelling undercurrent of frank and
irrepressible sex desire.



The new arrivals are forlorn and dejected, a look of fear and despair in
their eyes. The long-timers among them seem dazed, as if with some
terrible shock, and fall upon the bed in stupor-like sleep. The boys
from the reformatories, some mere children in their teens, weep and
moan, and tremble at the officer's footstep. Only the "repeaters" and
old-timers preserve their composure, scoff at the "fresh fish," nod at
old acquaintances, and exchange vulgar pleasantries with the guards. But
all soon grow nervous and irritable, and stand at the door, leaning
against the bars, an expression of bewildered hopelessness or anxious
expectancy on their faces. They yearn for companionship, and are
pathetically eager to talk, to hear the sound of a voice, to unbosom
their heavy hearts.

I am minutely familiar with every detail of their "case," their
life-history, their hopes and fears. Through the endless weeks and
months on the range, their tragedies are the sole subject of
conversation. A glance into the mournful faces, pressed close against
the bars, and the panorama of misery rises before me,--the cell-house
grows more desolate, bleaker, the air gloomier and more depressing.

There is Joe Zappe, his bright eyes lighting up with a faint smile as I
pause at his door. "Hello, Alick," he greets me in his sweet, sad voice.
He knows me from the jail. His father and elder brother have been
executed, and he commuted to life because of youth. He is barely
eighteen, but his hair has turned white. He has been acting queerly of
late: at night I often hear him muttering and walking, walking
incessantly and muttering. There is a peculiar look about his eyes,
restless, roving.

"Alick," he says, suddenly, "me wanna tell you sometink. You no tell
nobody, yes?"

Assured I'll keep his confidence, he begins to talk quickly, excitedly:

"Nobody dere, Alick? No scroo? S-sh! Lassa night me see ma broder. Yes,
see Gianni. Jesu Cristo, me see ma poor broder in da cella 'ere, an' den
me fader he come. Broder and fader day stay der, on da floor, an so
quieta, lika dead, an' den dey come an lay downa in ma bed. Oh, Jesu
Christo, me so fraida, me cry an' pray. You not know wat it mean?
No-o-o? Me tell you. It mean me die, me die soon."

His eyes glow with a sombre fire, a hectic flush on his face. He knits
his brows, as I essay to calm him, and continues hurriedly:

"S-sh! Waita till me tell you all. You know watta for ma fader an'
Gianni come outa da grave? Me tell you. Dey calla for ravange, 'cause
dey innocente. Me tell you trut. See, we all worka in da mine, da coal
mine, me an' my fader an' Gianni. All worka hard an' mek one dollar,
maybe dollar quater da day. An' bigga American man, him come an' boder
ma fader. Ma fader him no wanna trouble; him old man, no boder nobody.
An' da American man him maka two dollars an mebbe two fifty da day an'
him boder my fader, all da time, boder 'im an' kick 'im to da legs, an'
steal ma broder's shovel, an' hide fader's hat, an' maka trouble for ma
countrymen, an' call us 'dirty dagoes.' An' one day him an' two Arish
dey all drunk, an' smash ma fader, an' American man an Arish holler,
'Dago s---- b---- fraida fight,' an' da American man him take a bigga
pickax an' wanna hit ma fader, an' ma fader him run, an' me an' ma
broder an' friend we fight, an' American man him fall, an' we all go way
home. Den p'lice come an' arresta me an' fader an' broder, an' say we
killa American man. Me an' ma broder no use knife, mebbe ma friend do.
Me no know; him no arresta; him go home in Italia. Ma fader an' broder
dey save nineda-sev'n dollar, an' me save twenda-fife, an' gotta laiyer.
Him no good, an' no talk much in court. We poor men, no can take case in
oder court, an' fader him hang, an' Gianni hang, an' me get life. Ma
fader an' broder dey come lassa night from da grave, cause dey innocente
an' wanna ravange, an' me gotta mek ravange, me no rest, gotta--"

The sharp snapping of Johnny, the runner, warns me of danger, and I
hastily leave.

       *       *       *       *       *

The melancholy figures line the doors as I walk up and down the hall.
The blanched faces peer wistfully through the bars, or lean dejectedly
against the wall, a vacant stare in the dim eyes. Each calls to mind the
stories of misery and distress, the scenes of brutality and torture I
witness in the prison house. Like ghastly nightmares, the shadows pass
before me. There is "Silent Nick," restlessly pacing his cage, never
ceasing, his lips sealed in brutish muteness. For three years he has not
left the cell, nor uttered a word. The stolid features are cut and
bleeding. Last night he had attempted suicide, and the guards beat him,
and left him unconscious on the floor.

There is "Crazy Hunkie," the Austrian. Every morning, as the officer
unlocks his door to hand in the loaf of bread, he makes a wild dash for
the yard, shouting, "Me wife! Where's me wife?" He rushes toward the
front and desperately grabs the door handle. The double iron gate is
securely locked. A look of blank amazement on his face, he slowly
returns to the cell. The guards await him with malicious smile. Suddenly
they rush upon him, blackjacks in hand. "Me wife, me seen her!" the
Austrian cries. The blood gushing from his mouth and nose, they kick him
into the cell. "Me wife waiting in de yard," he moans.

In the next cell is Tommy Wellman; adjoining him, Jim Grant. They are
boys recently transferred from the reformatory. They cower in the
corner, in terror of the scene. With tearful eyes, they relate their
story. Orphans in the slums of Allegheny, they had been sent to the
reform school at Morganza, for snatching fruit off a corner stand.
Maltreated and beaten, they sought to escape. Childishly they set fire
to the dormitory, almost in sight of the keepers. "I says to me chum,
says I," Tommy narrates with boyish glee, "'Kid,' says I, 'let's fire de
louzy joint; dere'll be lots of fun, and we'll make our get-away in de'
'citement.'" They were taken to court and the good judge sentenced them
to five years to the penitentiary. "Glad to get out of dat dump," Tommy
comments; "it was jest fierce. Dey paddled an' starved us someting'

In the basket cell, a young colored man grovels on the floor. It is
Lancaster, Number 8523. He was serving seven years, and working every
day in the mat shop. Slowly the days passed, and at last the longed-for
hour of release arrived. But Lancaster was not discharged. He was kept
at his task, the Warden informing him that he had lost six months of his
"good time" for defective work. The light hearted negro grew sullen and
morose. Often the silence of the cell-house was pierced by his anguished
cry in the night, "My time's up, time's up. I want to go home." The
guards would take him from the cell, and place him in the dungeon. One
morning, in a fit of frenzy, he attacked Captain McVey, the officer of
the shop. The Captain received a slight scratch on the neck, and
Lancaster was kept chained to the wall of the dungeon for ten days. He
returned to the cell, a driveling imbecile. The next day they dressed
him in his citizen clothes, Lancaster mumbling, "Going home, going
home." The Warden and several officers accompanied him to court, on the
way coaching the poor idiot to answer "yes" to the question, "Do you
plead guilty?" He received seven years, the extreme penalty of the law,
for the "attempted murder of a keeper." They brought him back to the
prison, and locked him up in a basket cell, the barred door covered with
a wire screen that almost entirely excludes light and air. He receives
no medical attention, and is fed on a bread-and-water diet.

The witless negro crawls on the floor, unwashed and unkempt, scratching
with his nails fantastic shapes on the stone, and babbling stupidly,
"Going, Jesus going to Jerusalem. See, he rides the holy ass; he's going
to his father's home. Going home, going home." As I pass he looks up,
perplexed wonder on his face; his brows meet in a painful attempt to
collect his wandering thoughts, and he drawls with pathetic sing-song,
"Going home, going home; Jesus going to father's home." The guards raise
their hands to their nostrils as they approach the cell: the poor
imbecile evacuates on the table, the chair, and the floor. Twice a month
he is taken to the bathroom, his clothes are stripped, and the hose is
turned on the crazy negro.

       *       *       *       *       *

The cell of "Little Sammy" is vacant. He was Number 9521, a young man
from Altoona. I knew him quite well. He was a kind boy and a diligent
worker; but now and then he would fall into a fit of melancholy. He
would then sit motionless on the chair, a blank stare on his face,
neglecting food and work. These spells generally lasted two or three
days, Sammy refusing to leave the cell. Old Jimmy McPane, the dead
Deputy, on such occasions commanded the prisoner to the shop, while
Sammy sat and stared in a daze. McPane would order the "stubborn kid" to
the dungeon, and every time Sammy got his "head workin'," he was
dragged, silent and motionless, to the cellar. The new Deputy has
followed the established practice, and last evening, at "music hour,"
while the men were scraping their instruments, "Little Sammy" was found
on the floor of the cell, his throat hacked from ear to ear.

At the Coroner's inquest the Warden testified that the boy was
considered mentally defective; that he was therefore excused from work,
and never punished.

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning to my cell in the evening, my gaze meets the printed rules on
the wall:

"The prison authorities desire to treat every prisoner in their charge
with humanity and kindness. * * * The aim of all prison discipline is,
by enforcing the law, to restrain the evil and to protect the innocent
from further harm; to so apply the law upon the criminal as to produce a
cure from his moral infirmities, by calling out the better principles of
his nature."




The comparative freedom of the range familiarizes me with the workings
of the institution, and brings me in close contact with the authorities.
The personnel of the guards is of very inferior character. I find their
average intelligence considerably lower than that of the inmates.
Especially does the element recruited from the police and the detective
service lack sympathy with the unfortunates in their charge. They are
mostly men discharged from city employment because of habitual
drunkenness, or flagrant brutality and corruption. Their attitude toward
the prisoners is summed up in coercion and suppression. They look upon
the men as will-less objects of iron-handed discipline, exact
unquestioning obedience and absolute submissiveness to peremptory whims,
and harbor personal animosity toward the less pliant. The more
intelligent among the officers scorn inferior duties, and crave
advancement. The authority and remuneration of a Deputy Wardenship is
alluring to them, and every keeper considers himself the fittest for the
vacancy. But the coveted prize is awarded to the guard most feared by
the inmates, and most subservient to the Warden,--a direct incitement to
brutality, on the one hand, to sycophancy, on the other.

A number of the officers are veterans of the Civil War; several among
them had suffered incarceration in Libby Prison. These often manifest a
more sympathetic spirit. The great majority of the keepers, however,
have been employed in the penitentiary from fifteen to twenty-five
years; some even for a longer period, like Officer Stewart, who has been
a guard for forty years. This element is unspeakably callous and cruel.
The prisoners discuss among themselves the ages of the old guards, and
speculate on the days allotted them. The death of one of them is hailed
with joy: seldom they are discharged; still more seldom do they resign.

The appearance of a new officer sheds hope into the dismal lives. New
guards--unless drafted from the police bureau--are almost without
exception lenient and forbearing, often exceedingly humane. The inmates
vie with each other in showing complaisance to the "candidate." It is a
point of honor in their unwritten ethics to "treat him white." They
frown upon the fellow-convict who seeks to take advantage of the "green
screw," by misusing his kindness or exploiting his ignorance of the
prison rules. But the older officers secretly resent the infusion of new
blood. They strive to discourage the applicant by exaggerating the
dangers of the position, and depreciating its financial desirability for
an ambitious young man; they impress upon him the Warden's unfairness to
the guards, and the lack of opportunity for advancement. Often they
dissuade the new man, and he disappears from the prison horizon. But if
he persists in remaining, the old keepers expostulate with him, in
pretended friendliness, upon his leniency, chide him for a "soft-hearted
tenderfoot," and improve every opportunity to initiate him into the
practices of brutality. The system is known in the prison as "breaking
in": the new man is constantly drafted in the "clubbing squad," the
older officers setting the example of cruelty. Refusal to participate
signifies insubordination to his superiors and the shirking of routine
duty, and results in immediate discharge. But such instances are
extremely rare. Within the memory of the oldest officer, Mr. Stewart, it
happened only once, and the man was sickly.

Slowly the poison is instilled into the new guard. Within a short time
the prisoners notice the first signs of change: he grows less tolerant
and chummy, more irritated and distant. Presently he feels himself the
object of espionage by the favorite trusties of his fellow-officers. In
some mysterious manner, the Warden is aware of his every step, berating
him for speaking unduly long to this prisoner, or for giving another
half a banana,--the remnant of his lunch. In a moment of commiseration
and pity, the officer is moved by the tearful pleadings of misery to
carry a message to the sick wife or child of a prisoner. The latter
confides the secret to some friend, or carelessly brags of his intimacy
with the guard, and soon the keeper faces the Warden "on charges," and
is deprived of a month's pay. Repeated misplacement of confidence,
occasional betrayal by a prisoner seeking the good graces of the Warden,
and the new officer grows embittered against the species "convict." The
instinct of self-preservation, harassed and menaced on every side,
becomes more assertive, and the guard is soon drawn into the vortex of
the "system."


Daily I behold the machinery at work, grinding and pulverizing,
brutalizing the officers, dehumanizing the inmates. Far removed from the
strife and struggle of the larger world, I yet witness its miniature
replica, more agonizing and merciless within the walls. A perfected
model it is, this prison life, with its apparent uniformity and dull
passivity. But beneath the torpid surface smolder the fires of being,
now crackling faintly under a dun smothering smoke, now blazing forth
with the ruthlessness of despair. Hidden by the veil of discipline rages
the struggle of fiercely contending wills, and intricate meshes are
woven in the quagmire of darkness and suppression.

Intrigue and counter plot, violence and corruption, are rampant in
cell-house and shop. The prisoners spy upon each other, and in turn upon
the officers. The latter encourage the trusties in unearthing the secret
doings of the inmates, and the stools enviously compete with each other
in supplying information to the keepers. Often they deliberately
inveigle the trustful prisoner into a fake plot to escape, help and
encourage him in the preparations, and at the critical moment denounce
him to the authorities. The luckless man is severely punished, usually
remaining in utter ignorance of the intrigue. The _provocateur_ is
rewarded with greater liberty and special privileges. Frequently his
treachery proves the stepping-stone to freedom, aided by the Warden's
official recommendation of the "model prisoner" to the State Board of

The stools and the trusties are an essential element in the government
of the prison. With rare exception, every officer has one or more on his
staff. They assist him in his duties, perform most of his work, and make
out the reports for the illiterate guards. Occasionally they are even
called upon to help the "clubbing squad." The more intelligent stools
enjoy the confidence of the Deputy and his assistants, and thence
advance to the favor of the Warden. The latter places more reliance upon
his favorite trusties than upon the guards. "I have about a hundred paid
officers to keep watch over the prisoners," the Warden informs new
applicant, "and two hundred volunteers to watch both." The "volunteers"
are vested with unofficial authority, often exceeding that of the
inferior officers. They invariably secure the sinecures of the prison,
involving little work and affording opportunity for espionage. They are
"runners," "messengers," yard and office men.

Other desirable positions, clerkships and the like, are awarded to
influential prisoners, such as bankers, embezzlers, and boodlers. These
are known in the institution as holding "political jobs." Together with
the stools they are scorned by the initiated prisoners as "the pets."

       *       *       *       *       *

The professional craftiness of the "con man" stands him in good stead in
the prison. A shrewd judge of human nature, quick-witted and
self-confident, he applies the practiced cunning of his vocation to
secure whatever privileges and perquisites the institution affords. His
evident intelligence and aplomb powerfully impress the guards; his
well-affected deference to authority flatters them. They are awed by his
wonderful facility of expression, and great attainments in the
mysterious world of baccarat and confidence games. At heart they envy
the high priest of "easy money," and are proud to befriend him in his
need. The officers exert themselves to please him, secure light work for
him, and surreptitiously favor him with delicacies and even money. His
game is won. The "con" has now secured the friendship and confidence of
his keepers, and will continue to exploit them by pretended warm
interest in their physical complaints, their family troubles, and their
whispered ambition of promotion and fear of the Warden's

The more intelligent officers are the easiest victims of his wiles. But
even the higher officials, more difficult to approach, do not escape the
confidence man. His "business" has perfected his sense of orientation;
he quickly rends the veil of appearance, and scans the undercurrents. He
frets at his imprisonment, and hints at high social connections. His
real identity is a great secret: he wishes to save his wealthy relatives
from public disgrace. A careless slip of the tongue betrays his college
education. With a deprecating nod he confesses that his father is a
State Senator; he is the only black sheep in his family; yet they are
"good" to him, and will not disown him. But he must not bring notoriety
upon them.

Eager for special privileges and the liberty of the trusties, or fearful
of punishment, the "con man" matures his campaign. He writes a note to a
fellow-prisoner. With much detail and thorough knowledge of prison
conditions, he exposes all the "ins and outs" of the institution. In
elegant English he criticizes the management, dwells upon the ignorance
and brutality of the guards, and charges the Warden and the Board of
Prison Inspectors with graft, individually and collectively. He
denounces the Warden as a stomach-robber of poor unfortunates: the
counties pay from twenty-five to thirty cents per day for each inmate;
the Federal Government, for its quota of men, fifty cents per person.
Why are the prisoners given qualitatively and quantitatively inadequate
food? he demands. Does not the State appropriate thousands of dollars
for the support of the penitentiary, besides the money received from the
counties?--With keen scalpel the "con man" dissects the anatomy of the
institution. One by one he analyzes the industries, showing the most
intimate knowledge. The hosiery department produces so and so many
dozen of stockings per day. They are not stamped "convict-made," as the
law requires. The labels attached are misleading, and calculated to
decoy the innocent buyer. The character of the product in the several
mat shops is similarly an infraction of the statutes of the great State
of Pennsylvania for the protection of free labor. The broom shop is
leased by contract to a firm of manufacturers known as Lang Brothers:
the law expressly forbids contract labor in prisons. The stamp
"convict-made" on the brooms is pasted over with a label, concealing the
source of manufacture.

Thus the "con man" runs on in his note. With much show of secrecy he
entrusts it to a notorious stool, for delivery to a friend. Soon the
writer is called before the Warden. In the latter's hands is the note.
The offender smiles complacently. He is aware the authorities are
terrorized by the disclosure of such intimate familiarity with the
secrets of the prison house, in the possession of an intelligent,
possibly well-connected man. He must be propitiated at all cost. The
"con man" joins the "politicians."

       *       *       *       *       *

The ingenuity of imprisoned intelligence treads devious paths, all
leading to the highway of enlarged liberty and privilege. The
"old-timer," veteran of oft-repeated experience, easily avoids hard
labor. He has many friends in the prison, is familiar with the keepers,
and is welcomed by them like a prodigal coming home. The officers are
glad to renew the old acquaintance and talk over old times. It brings
interest into their tedious existence, often as gray and monotonous as
the prisoner's.

The seasoned "yeggman," constitutionally and on principle opposed to
toil, rarely works. Generally suffering a comparatively short sentence,
he looks upon his imprisonment as, in a measure, a rest-cure from the
wear and tear of tramp life. Above average intelligence, he scorns work
in general, prison labor in particular. He avoids it with unstinted
expense of energy and effort. As a last resort, he plays the "jigger"
card, producing an artificial wound on leg or arm, having every
appearance of syphilitic excrescence. He pretends to be frightened by
the infection, and prevails upon the physician to examine him. The
doctor wonders at the wound, closely resembling the dreaded disease.
"Ever had syphilis?" he demands. The prisoner protests indignantly.
"Perhaps in the family?" the medicus suggests. The patient looks
diffident, blushes, cries, "No, never!" and assumes a guilty look. The
doctor is now convinced the prisoner is a victim of syphilis. The man is
"excused" from work, indefinitely.

The wily yegg, now a patient, secures a "snap" in the yard, and adapts
prison conditions to his habits of life. He sedulously courts the
friendship of some young inmate, and wins his admiration by "ghost
stories" of great daring and cunning. He puts the boy "next to de
ropes," and constitutes himself his protector against the abuse of the
guards and the advances of other prisoners. He guides the youth's steps
through the maze of conflicting rules, and finally initiates him into
the "higher wisdom" of "de road."

       *       *       *       *       *

The path of the "gun" is smoothed by his colleagues in the prison. Even
before his arrival, the _esprit de corps_ of the "profession" is at
work, securing a soft berth for the expected friend. If noted for
success and skill, he enjoys the respect of the officers, and the
admiration of a retinue of aspiring young crooks, of lesser experience
and reputation. With conscious superiority he instructs them in the
finesse of his trade, practices them in nimble-fingered "touches," and
imbues them with the philosophy of the plenitude of "suckers," whom the
good God has put upon the earth to afford the thief an "honest living."
His sentence nearing completion, the "gun" grows thoughtful, carefully
scans the papers, forms plans for his first "job," arranges dates with
his "partners," and gathers messages for their "moll buzzers."[44] He is
gravely concerned with the somewhat roughened condition of his hands,
and the possible dulling of his sensitive fingers. He maneuvers,
generally successfully, for lighter work, to "limber up a bit,"
"jollies" the officers and cajoles the Warden for new shoes, made to
measure in the local shops, and insists on the ten-dollar allowance to
prisoners received from counties outside of Allegheny[45]. He argues the
need of money "to leave the State." Often he does leave. More frequently
a number of charges against the man are held in reserve by the police,
and he is arrested at the gate by detectives who have been previously
notified by the prison authorities.

  [44] Women thieves.

  [45] Upon their discharge, prisoners tried and convicted in the
       County of Allegheny--in which the Western Penitentiary is
       located--receive only five dollars.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great bulk of the inmates, accidental and occasional offenders
direct from the field, factory, and mine, plod along in the shops, in
sullen misery and dread. Day in, day out, year after year, they drudge
at the monotonous work, dully wondering at the numerous trusties idling
about, while their own heavy tasks are constantly increased. From cell
to shop and back again, always under the stern eyes of the guards, their
days drag in deadening toil. In mute bewilderment they receive
contradictory orders, unaware of the secret antagonisms between the
officials. They are surprised at the new rule making attendance at
religious service obligatory; and again at the succeeding order (the
desired appropriation for a new chapel having been secured) making
church-going optional. They are astonished at the sudden disappearance
of the considerate and gentle guard, Byers, and anxiously hope for his
return, not knowing that the officer who discouraged the underhand
methods of the trusties fell a victim to their cabal.


Occasionally a bolder spirit grumbles at the exasperating partiality.
Released from punishment, he patiently awaits an opportunity to complain
to the Warden of his unjust treatment. Weeks pass. At last the Captain
visits the shop. A propitious moment! The carefully trimmed beard frames
the stern face in benevolent white, mellowing the hard features and
lending dignity to his appearance. His eyes brighten with peculiar
brilliancy as he slowly begins to stroke his chin, and then, almost
imperceptibly, presses his fingers to his lips. As he passes through the
shop, the prisoner raises his hand. "What is it?" the Warden inquires, a
pleasant smile on his face. The man relates his grievance with nervous
eagerness. "Oh, well," the Captain claps him on the shoulder, "perhaps a
mistake; an unfortunate mistake. But, then, you might have done
something at another time, and not been punished." He laughs merrily at
his witticism. "It's so long ago, anyhow; we'll forget it," and he
passes on.

But if the Captain is in a different mood, his features harden, the
stern eyes scowl, and he says in his clear, sharp tones: "State your
grievance in writing, on the printed slip which the officer will give
you." The written complaint, deposited in the mail-box, finally reaches
the Chaplain, and is forwarded by him to the Warden's office. There the
Deputy and the Assistant Deputy read and classify the slips, placing
some on the Captain's file and throwing others into the waste basket,
according as the accusation is directed against a friendly or an
unfriendly brother officer. Months pass before the prisoner is called
for "a hearing." By that time he very likely has a more serious charge
against the guard, who now persecutes the "kicker." But the new
complaint has not yet been "filed," and therefore the hearing is
postponed. Not infrequently men are called for a hearing, who have been
discharged, or died since making the complaint.

The persevering prisoner, however, unable to receive satisfaction from
the Warden, sends a written complaint to some member of the highest
authority in the penitentiary--the Board of Inspectors. These are
supposed to meet monthly to consider the affairs of the institution,
visit the inmates, and minister to their moral needs. The complainant
waits, mails several more slips, and wonders why he receives no audience
with the Inspectors. But the latter remain invisible, some not visiting
the penitentiary within a year. Only the Secretary of the Board, Mr.
Reed, a wealthy jeweler of Pittsburgh, occasionally puts in an
appearance. Tall and lean, immaculate and trim, he exhales an atmosphere
of sanctimoniousness. He walks leisurely through the block, passes a
cell with a lithograph of Christ on the wall, and pauses. His hands
folded, eyes turned upwards, lips slightly parted in silent prayer, he
inquires of the rangeman:

"Whose cell is this?"

"A 1108, Mr. Reed," the prisoner informs him.

It is the cell of Jasper, the colored trusty, chief stool of the prison.

"He is a good man, a good man, God bless him," the Inspector says, a
quaver in his voice.

He steps into the cell, puts on his gloves, and carefully adjusts the
little looking-glass and the rules, hanging awry on the wall. "It
offends my eye," he smiles at the attending rangeman, "they don't hang

Young Tommy, in the adjoining cell, calls out: "Mr. Officer, please."

The Inspector steps forward. "This is Inspector Reed," he corrects the
boy. "What is it you wish?"

"Oh. Mr. Inspector, I've been askin' t' see you a long time. I wanted--"

"You should have sent me a slip. Have you a copy of the rules in the
cell, my man?"

"Yes, sir."

"Can you read?"

"No, sir."

"Poor boy, did you never go to school?"

"No, sir. Me moder died when I was a kid. Dey put me in de orphan an'
den in de ref."

"And your father?"

"I had no fader. Moder always said he ran away before I was born'd."

"They have schools in the orphan asylum. Also in the reformatory, I

"Yep. But dey keeps me most o' de time in punishment. I didn' care fer
de school, nohow."

"You were a bad boy. How old are you now?"


"What is your name?"

"Tommy Wellman."

"From Pittsburgh?"

"Allegheny. Me moder use'ter live on de hill, near dis 'ere dump."

"What did you wish to see me about?"

"I can't stand de cell, Mr. Inspector. Please let me have some work."

"Are you locked up 'for cause'?"

"I smashed a guy in de jaw fer callin' me names."

"Don't you know it's wrong to fight, my little man?"

"He said me moder was a bitch, God damn his--"

"Don't! Don't swear! Never take the holy name in vain. It's a great sin.
You should have reported the man to your officer, instead of fighting."

"I ain't no snitch. Will you get me out of de cell, Mr. Inspector?"

"You are in the hands of the Warden. He is very kind, and he will do
what is best for you."

"Oh, hell! I'm locked up five months now. Dat's de best _he's_ doin' fer

"Don't talk like that to me," the Inspector upbraids him, severely. "You
are a bad boy. You must pray; the good Lord will take care of you."

"You get out o' here!" the boy bursts out in sudden fury, cursing and

Mr. Reed hurriedly steps back. His face, momentarily paling, turns red
with shame and anger. He motions to the Captain of the Block.

"Mr. Woods, report this man for impudence to an Inspector," he orders,
stalking out into the yard.

The boy is removed to the dungeon.

       *       *       *       *       *

Oppressed and weary with the scenes of misery and torture, I welcome the
relief of solitude, as I am locked in the cell for the night.


Reading and study occupy the hours of the evening. I spend considerable
time corresponding with Nold and Bauer: our letters are bulky--ten,
fifteen, and twenty pages long. There is much to say! We discuss events
in the world at large, incidents of the local life, the maltreatment of
the inmates, the frequent clubbings and suicides, the unwholesome food.
I share with my comrades my experiences on the range; they, in turn,
keep me informed of occurrences in the shops. Their paths run smoother,
less eventful than mine, yet not without much heartache and bitterness
of spirit. They, too, are objects of prejudice and persecution. The
officer of the shop where Nold is employed has been severely reprimanded
for "neglect of duty": the Warden had noticed Carl, in the company of
several other prisoners, passing through the yard with a load of
mattings. He ordered the guard never to allow Nold out of his sight.
Bauer has also felt the hand of petty tyranny. He has been deprived of
his dark clothes, and reduced to the stripes for "disrespectful
behavior." Now he is removed to the North Wing, where my cell also is
located, while Nold is in the South Wing, in a "double" cell, enjoying
the luxury of a window. Fortunately, though, our friend, the
"Horsethief," is still coffee-boy on Bauer's range, thus enabling me to
reach the big German. The latter, after reading my notes, returns them
to our trusted carrier, who works in the same shop with Carl. Our mail
connections are therefore complete, each of us exercising utmost care
not to be trapped during the frequent surprises of searching our cells
and persons.

Again the _Prison Blossoms_ is revived. Most of the readers of the
previous year, however, are missing. Dempsey and Beatty, the Knights of
Labor men, have been pardoned, thanks to the multiplied and conflicting
confessions of the informer, Gallagher, who still remains in prison.
"D," our poet laureate, has also been released, his short term having
expired. His identity remains a mystery, he having merely hinted that he
was a "scientist of the old school, an alchemist," from which we
inferred that he was a counterfeiter. Gradually we recruit our reading
public from the more intelligent and trustworthy element: the Duquesne
strikers renew their "subscriptions" by contributing paper material;
with them join Frank Shay, the philosophic "second-story man"; George,
the prison librarian; "Billy" Ryan, professional gambler and confidence
man; "Yale," a specialist in the art of safe blowing, and former
university student; the "Attorney-General," a sharp lawyer; "Magazine
Alvin," writer and novelist; "Jim," from whose ingenuity no lock is
secure, and others. "M" and "K" act as alternate editors; the rest as
contributors. The several departments of the little magazinelet are
ornamented with pen and ink drawings, one picturing Dante visiting the
Inferno, another sketching a "pete man," with mask and dark lantern, in
the act of boring a safe, while a third bears the inscription:

  I sometimes hold it half a sin
    To put in words the grief I feel,--
    For words, like nature, half reveal
  And half conceal the soul within.

The editorials are short, pithy comments on local events, interspersed
with humorous sketches and caricatures of the officials; the balance of
the _Blossoms_ consists of articles and essays of a more serious
character, embracing religion and philosophy, labor and politics, with
now and then a personal reminiscence by the "second-story man," or some
sex experience by "Magazine Alvin." One of the associate editors
lampoons "Billygoat Benny," the Deputy Warden; "K" sketches the "Shop
Screw" and "The Trusted Prisoner"; and "G" relates the story of the
recent strike in his shop, the men's demand for clear pump water instead
of the liquid mud tapped from the river, and the breaking of the strike
by the exile of a score of "rioters" to the dungeon. In the next issue
the incident is paralleled with the Pullman Car Strike, and the punished
prisoners eulogized for their courageous stand, some one dedicating an
ultra-original poem to the "Noble Sons of Eugene Debs."

But the vicissitudes of our existence, the change of location of several
readers, the illness and death of two contributors, badly disarrange the
route. During the winter, "K" produces a little booklet of German poems,
while I elaborate the short "Story of Luba," written the previous year,
into a novelette, dealing with life in New York and revolutionary
circles. Presently "G" suggests that the manuscripts might prove of
interest to a larger public, and should be preserved. We discuss the
unique plan, wondering how the intellectual contraband could be smuggled
into the light of day. In our perplexity we finally take counsel with
Bob, the faithful commissary. He cuts the Gordian knot with astonishing
levity: "Youse fellows jest go ahead an' write, an' don't bother about
nothin'. Think I can walk off all right with a team of horses, but ain't
got brains enough to get away with a bit of scribbling, eh? Jest leave
that to th' Horsethief, an' write till you bust th' paper works, see?"
Thus encouraged, with entire confidence in our resourceful friend, we
give the matter serious thought, and before long we form the ambitious
project of publishing a book by "MKG"!

In high elation, with new interest in life, we set to work. The little
magazine is suspended, and we devote all our spare time, as well as
every available scrap of writing material, to the larger purpose. We
decide to honor the approaching day, so pregnant with revolutionary
inspiration, and as the sun bursts in brilliant splendor on the eastern
skies, the _First of May, 1895_, he steals a blushing beam upon the
heading of the first chapter--"The Homestead Strike."




The summer fades into days of dull gray; the fog thickens on the Ohio;
the prison house is dim and damp. The river sirens sound sharp and
shrill, and the cells echo with coughing and wheezing. The sick line
stretches longer, the men looking more forlorn and dejected. The
prisoner in charge of tier "K" suffers a hemorrhage, and is carried to
the hospital. From assistant, I am advanced to his position on the

But one morning the levers are pulled, the cells unlocked, and the men
fed, while I remain under key. I wonder at the peculiar oversight, and
rap on the bars for the officers. The Block Captain orders me to desist.
1 request to see the Warden, but am gruffly told that he cannot be
disturbed in the morning. In vain I rack my brain to fathom the cause of
my punishment. I review the incidents of the past weeks, ponder over
each detail, but the mystery remains unsolved. Perhaps I have
unwittingly offended some trusty, or I may be the object of the secret
enmity of a spy.

The Chaplain, on his daily rounds, hands me a letter from the Girl, and
glances in surprise at the closed door.

"Not feeling well, m' boy?" he asks.

"I'm locked up, Chaplain."

"What have you done?"

"Nothing that I know of."

"Oh, well, you'll be out soon. Don't fret, m' boy."

But the days pass, and I remain in the cell. The guards look worried,
and vent their ill-humor in profuse vulgarity. The Deputy tries to
appear mysterious, wobbles comically along the range, and splutters at
me: "Nothin'. Shtay where you are." Jasper, the colored trusty, flits up
and down the hall, tremendously busy, his black face more lustrous than
ever. Numerous stools nose about the galleries, stop here and there in
confidential conversation with officers and prisoners, and whisper
excitedly at the front desk. Assistant Deputy Hopkins goes in and out of
the block, repeatedly calls Jasper to the office, and hovers in the
neighborhood of my cell. The rangemen talk in suppressed tones. An air
of mystery pervades the cell-house.

Finally I am called to the Warden. With unconcealed annoyance, he

"What did you want?"

"The officers locked me up--"

"Who said you're locked up?" he interrupts, angrily. "You're merely
locked _in_."

"Where's the difference?" I ask.

"One is locked up 'for cause.' You're just kept in for the present."

"On what charge?"

"No charge. None whatever. Take him back, Officers."

       *       *       *       *       *

Close confinement becomes increasingly more dismal and dreary. By
contrast with the spacious hall, the cell grows smaller and narrower,
oppressing me with a sense of suffocation. My sudden isolation remains
unexplained. Notwithstanding the Chaplain's promise to intercede in my
behalf, I remain locked "in," and again return the days of solitary,
with all their gloom and anguish of heart.


A ray of light is shed from New York. The Girl writes in a hopeful vein
about the progress of the movement, and the intense interest in my case
among radical circles. She refers to Comrade Merlino, now on a tour of
agitation, and is enthusiastic about the favorable labor sentiment
toward me, manifested in the cities he had visited. Finally she informs
me of a plan on foot to secure a reduction of my sentence, and the
promising outlook for the collection of the necessary funds. From
Merlino I receive a sum of money already contributed for the purpose,
together with a letter of appreciation and encouragement, concluding:
"Good cheer, dear Comrade; the last word has not yet been spoken."

My mind dwells among my friends. The breath from the world of the living
fans the smoldering fires of longing; the tone of my comrades revibrates
in my heart with trembling hope. But the revision of my sentence
involves recourse to the courts! The sudden realization fills me with
dismay. I cannot be guilty of a sacrifice of principle to gain freedom;
the mere suggestion rouses the violent protest of my revolutionary
traditions. In bitterness of soul, I resent my friends' ill-advised
waking of the shades. I shall never leave the house of death....

And yet mail from my friends, full of expectation and confidence,
arrives more frequently. Prominent lawyers have been consulted; their
unanimous opinion augurs well: the multiplication of my sentences was
illegal; according to the statutes of Pennsylvania, the maximum penalty
should not have exceeded seven years; the Supreme Court would
undoubtedly reverse the judgment of the lower tribunal, specifically the
conviction on charges not constituting a crime under the laws of the
State. And so forth.

I am assailed by doubts. Is it consequent in me to decline liberty,
apparently within reach? John Most appealed his case to the Supreme
Court, and the Girl also took advantage of a legal defence. Considerable
propaganda resulted from it. Should I refuse the opportunity which would
offer such a splendid field for agitation? Would it not be folly to
afford the enemy the triumph of my gradual annihilation? I would without
hesitation reject freedom at the price of my convictions; but it
involves no denial of my faith to rob the vampire of its prey. We must,
if necessary, fight the beast of oppression with its own methods,
scourge the law in its own tracks, as it were. Of course, the Supreme
Court is but another weapon in the hands of authority, a pretence of
impartial right. It decided against Most, sustaining the prejudiced
verdict of the trial jury. They may do the same in my case. But that
very circumstance will serve to confirm our arraignment of class
justice. I shall therefore endorse the efforts of my friends.

But before long I am informed that an application to the higher court is
not permitted. The attorneys, upon examination of the records of the
trial, discovered a fatal obstacle, they said. The defendant, not being
legally represented, neglected to "take exceptions" to rulings of the
court prejudicial to the accused. Because of the technical omission,
there exists no basis for an appeal. They therefore advise an
application to the Board of Pardons, on the ground that the punishment
in my case is excessive. They are confident that the Board will act
favorably, in view of the obvious unconstitutionality of the compounded
sentences,--the five minor indictments being indispensible parts of the
major charge and, as such, not constituting separate offences.

The unexpected development disquiets me: the sound of "pardon" is
detestable. What bitter irony that the noblest intentions, the most
unselfish motives, need seek pardon! Aye, of the very source that
misinterprets and perverts them! For days the implied humiliation keeps
agitating me; I recoil from the thought of personally affixing my name
to the meek supplication of the printed form, and finally decide to

An accidental conversation with the "Attorney General" disturbs my
resolution. I learn that in Pennsylvania the applicant's signature is
not required by the Pardon Board. A sense of guilty hope steals over me.
Yet--I reflect--the pardon of the Chicago Anarchists had contributed
much to the dissemination of our ideas. The impartial analysis of the
trial-evidence by Governor Altgeld completely exonerated our comrades
from responsibility for the Haymarket tragedy, and exposed the heinous
conspiracy to destroy the most devoted and able representatives of the
labor movement. May not a similar purpose be served by my application
for a pardon?

I write to my comrades, signifying my consent. We arrange for a personal
interview, to discuss the details of the work. Unfortunately, the Girl,
a _persona non grata_, cannot visit me. But a mutual friend, Miss
Garrison, is to call on me within two months. At my request, the
Chaplain forwards to her the necessary permission, and I impatiently
await the first friendly face in two years.


As unaccountably as my punishment in the solitary, comes the relief at
the expiration of three weeks. The "K" hall-boy is still in the
hospital, and I resume the duties of rangeman. The guards eye me with
suspicion and greater vigilance, but I soon unravel the tangled skein,
and learn the details of the abortive escape that caused my temporary

The lock of my neighbor, Johnny Smith, had been tampered with. The
youth, in solitary at the time, necessarily had the aid of another, it
being impossible to reach the keyhole from the inside of the cell. The
suspicion of the Warden centered upon me, but investigation by the
stools discovered the men actually concerned, and "Dutch" Adams,
Spencer, Smith, and Jim Grant were chastised in the dungeon, and are now
locked up "for cause," on my range.

By degrees Johnny confides to me the true story of the frustrated plan.
"Dutch," a repeater serving his fifth "bit," and favorite of Hopkins,
procured a piece of old iron, and had it fashioned into a key in the
machine shop, where he was employed. He entrusted the rude instrument to
Grant, a young reformatory boy, for a preliminary trial. The guileless
youth easily walked into the trap, and the makeshift key was broken in
the lock--with disastrous results.

The tricked boys now swear vengeance upon the _provocateur_, but "Dutch"
is missing from the range. He has been removed to an upper gallery, and
is assigned to a coveted position in the shops.

The newspapers print vivid stories of the desperate attempt to escape
from Riverside, and compliment Captain Wright and the officers for so
successfully protecting the community. The Warden is deeply affected,
and orders the additional punishment of the offenders with a
bread-and-water diet. The Deputy walks with inflated chest; Hopkins
issues orders curtailing the privileges of the inmates, and inflicting
greater hardships. The tone of the guards sounds haughtier, more
peremptory; Jasper's face wears a blissful smile. The trusties look
pleased and cheerful, but sullen gloom shrouds the prison.


I am standing at my cell, when the door of the rotunda slowly opens, and
the Warden approaches me.

"A lady just called; Miss Garrison, from New York. Do you know her?"

"She is one of my friends."

"I dismissed her. You can't see her."

"Why? The rules entitle me to a visit every three months. I have had
none in two years. I want to see her."

"You can't. She needs a permit."

"The Chaplain sent her one at my request."

"A member of the Board of Inspectors rescinded it by telegraph."

"What Inspector?"

"You can't question me. Your visitor has been refused admittance."

"Will you tell me the reason, Warden?"

"No reason, no reason whatever."

He turns on his heel, when I detain him: "Warden, it's two years since
I've been in the dungeon. I am in the first grade now," I point to the
recently earned dark suit. "I am entitled to all the privileges. Why am
I deprived of visits?"

"Not another word."

He disappears through the yard door. From the galleries I hear the
jeering of a trusty. A guard near by brings his thumb to his nose, and
wriggles his fingers in my direction. Humiliated and angry, I return to
the cell, to find the monthly letter-sheet on my table. I pour out all
the bitterness of my heart to the Girl, dwell on the Warden's
discrimination against me, and repeat our conversation and his refusal
to admit my visitor. In conclusion, I direct her to have a Pittsburgh
lawyer apply to the courts, to force the prison authorities to restore
to me the privileges allowed by the law to the ordinary prisoner. I drop
the letter in the mail-box, hoping that my outburst and the threat of
the law will induce the Warden to retreat from his position. The Girl
will, of course, understand the significance of the epistle, aware that
my reference to a court process is a diplomatic subterfuge for effect,
and not meant to be acted upon.

But the next day the Chaplain returns the letter to me. "Not so rash, my
boy," he warns me, not unkindly. "Be patient; I'll see what I can do for

"But the letter, Chaplain?"

"You've wasted your paper, Aleck. I can't pass this letter. But just
keep quiet, and I'll look into the matter."

Weeks pass in evasive replies. Finally the Chaplain advises a personal
interview with the Warden. The latter refers me to the Inspectors. To
each member of the Board I address a request for a few minutes'
conversation, but a month goes by without word from the high officials.
The friendly runner, "Southside" Johnny, offers to give me an
opportunity to speak to an Inspector, on the payment of ten plugs of
tobacco. Unfortunately, I cannot spare my small allowance, but I tender
him a dollar bill of the money the Girl had sent me artfully concealed
in the buckle of a pair of suspenders. The runner is highly elated, and
assures me of success, directing me to keep careful watch on the yard

Several days later, passing along the range engaged in my duties, I
notice "Southside" entering from the yard, in friendly conversation with
a strange gentleman in citizen clothes. For a moment I do not realize
the situation, but the next instant I am aware of Johnny's violent
efforts to attract my attention. He pretends to show the man some fancy
work made by the inmates, all the while drawing him closer to my door,
with surreptitious nods at me. I approach my cell.

"This is Berkman, Mr. Nevin, the man who shot Frick," Johnny remarks.

The gentleman turns to me with a look of interest.

"Good morning, Berkman," he says pleasantly. "How long are you doing?"

"Twenty-two years."

"I'm sorry to hear that. It's rather a long sentence. You know who I

"Inspector Nevin, I believe."

"Yes. You have never seen me before?"

"No. I sent a request to see you recently."

"When was that?"

"A month ago."

"Strange. I was in the office three weeks ago. There was no note from
you on my file. Are you sure you sent one?"

"Quite sure. I sent a request to each Inspector."

"What's the trouble?"

I inform him briefly that I have been deprived of visiting privileges.
Somewhat surprised, he glances at my dark clothes, and remarks:

"You are in the first grade, and therefore entitled to visits. When did
you have your last visitor?"

"Two years ago."

"Two years?" he asks, almost incredulously. "Did the lady from New York
have a permit?"

The Warden hurriedly enters from the yard.

"Mr. Nevin," he calls out anxiously, "I've been looking for you."

"Berkman was just telling me about his visitor being sent away,
Captain," the Inspector remarks.

"Yes, yes," the Warden smiles, forcedly, "'for cause.'"

"Oh!" the face of Mr. Nevin assumes a grave look. "Berkman," he turns to
me, "you'll have to apply to the Secretary of the Board, Mr. Reed. I am
not familiar with the internal affairs."

The Warden links his arm with the Inspector, and they walk toward the
yard door. At the entrance they are met by "Dutch" Adams, the shop

"Good morning, Mr. Nevin," the trusty greets him. "Won't you issue me a
special visit? My mother is sick; she wants to see me."

The Warden grins at the ready fiction.

"When did you have your last visit?" the Inspector inquires.

"Two weeks ago."

"You are entitled to one only every three months."

"That is why I asked you for an extra, Mr. Inspector," "Dutch" retorts
boldly. "I know you are a kind man."

Mr. Nevin smiles good-naturedly and glances at the Warden.

"Dutch is all right," the Captain nods.

The Inspector draws his visiting card, pencils on it, and hands it to
the prisoner.



                                                     April 12, 1896.


    I have craved for a long, long time to have a free talk with
    you, but this is the first opportunity. A good friend, a "lover
    of horseflesh," promised to see this "birdie" through. I hope it
    will reach you safely.

    In my local correspondence you have been christened the
    "Immutable." I realize how difficult it is to keep up
    letter-writing through the endless years, the points of mutual
    interest gradually waning. It is one of the tragedies in the
    existence of a prisoner. "K" and "G" have almost ceased to
    expect mail. But I am more fortunate. The Twin writes very
    seldom nowadays; the correspondence of other friends is fitful.
    But you are never disappointing. It is not so much the contents
    that matter: these increasingly sound like the language of a
    strange world, with its bewildering flurry and ferment,
    disturbing the calm of cell-life. But the very arrival of a
    letter is momentous. It brings a glow into the prisoner's heart
    to feel that he is remembered, actively, with that intimate
    interest which alone can support a regular correspondence. And
    then your letters are so vital, so palpitating with the throb of
    our common cause. I have greatly enjoyed your communications
    from Paris and Vienna, the accounts of the movement and of our
    European comrades. Your letters are so much part of yourself,
    they bring me nearer to you and to life.

    The newspaper clippings you have referred to on various
    occasions, have been withheld from me. Nor are any radical
    publications permitted. I especially regret to miss
    _Solidarity_. I have not seen a single copy since its
    resurrection two years ago. I have followed the activities of
    Chas. W. Mowbray and the recent tour of John Turner, so far as
    the press accounts are concerned. I hope you'll write more
    about our English comrades.

    I need not say much of the local life, dear. That you know from
    my official mail, and you can read between the lines. The action
    of the Pardon Board was a bitter disappointment to me. No less
    to you also, I suppose. Not that I was very enthusiastic as to a
    favorable decision. But that they should so cynically evade the
    issue,--I was hardly prepared for _that_. I had hoped they would
    at least consider the case. But evidently they were averse to
    going on record, one way or another. The lawyers informed me
    that they were not even allowed an opportunity to present their
    arguments. The Board ruled that "the wrong complained of is not
    actual"; that is, that I am not yet serving the sentence we want
    remitted. A lawyer's quibble. It means that I must serve the
    first sentence of seven years, before applying for the remission
    of the other indictments. Discounting commutation time, I still
    have about a year to complete the first sentence. I doubt
    whether it is advisable to try again. Little justice can be
    expected from those quarters. But I want to submit another
    proposition to you; consult with our friends regarding it. It is
    this: there is a prisoner here who has just been pardoned by the
    Board, whose president, the Lieutenant-Governor, is indebted to
    the prisoner's lawyer for certain political services. The
    attorney's name is K---- D---- of Pittsburgh. He has intimated
    to his client that he will guarantee my release for $1,000.00,
    the sum to be deposited in safe hands and to be paid _only_ in
    case of success. Of course, we cannot afford such a large fee.
    And I cannot say whether the offer is worth considering; still,
    you know that almost anything can be bought from politicians. I
    leave the matter in your hands.

    The question of my visits seems tacitly settled; I can procure
    no permit for my friends to see me. For some obscure reason, the
    Warden has conceived a great fear of an Anarchist plot against
    the prison. The local "trio" is under special surveillance and
    constantly discriminated against, though "K" and "G" are
    permitted to receive visits. You will smile at the infantile
    terror of the authorities: it is bruited about that a "certain
    Anarchist lady" (meaning you, I presume; in reality it was
    Henry's sweetheart, a jolly devil-may-care girl) made a threat
    against the prison. The gossips have it that she visited
    Inspector Reed at his business place, and requested to see me.
    The Inspector refusing, she burst out: "We'll blow your dirty
    walls down." I could not determine whether there is any
    foundation for the story, but it is circulated here, and the
    prisoners firmly believe it explains my deprivation of visits.

    That is a characteristic instance of local conditions.
    Involuntarily I smile at Kennan's naïve indignation with the
    brutalities he thinks possible only in Russian and Siberian
    prisons. He would find it almost impossible to learn the true
    conditions in the American prisons: he would be conducted the
    rounds of the "show" cells, always neat and clean for the
    purpose; he would not see the basket cell, nor the bull rings in
    the dungeon, where men are chained for days; nor would he be
    permitted to converse for hours, or whole evenings, with the
    prisoners, as he did with the exiles in Siberia. Yet if he
    succeeded in learning even half the truth, he would be forced to
    revise his views of American penal institutions, as he did in
    regard to Russian politicals. He would be horrified to witness
    the brutality that is practised here as a matter of routine, the
    abuse of the insane, the petty persecution. Inhumanity is the
    keynote of stupidity in power.

    Your soul must have been harrowed by the reports of the terrible
    tortures in Montjuich. What is all indignation and lamenting, in
    the face of the revival of the Inquisition? Is there no Nemesis
    in Spain?




The change of seasons varies the tone of the prison. A cheerier
atmosphere pervades the shops and the cell-house in the summer. The
block is airier and lighter; the guards relax their stern look, in
anticipation of their vacations; the men hopefully count the hours till
their approaching freedom, and the gates open daily to release some one
going back to the world.

But heavy gloom broods over the prison in winter. The windows are closed
and nailed; the vitiated air, artificially heated, is suffocating with
dryness. Smoke darkens the shops, and the cells are in constant dusk.
Tasks grow heavier, the punishments more severe. The officers look
sullen; the men are morose and discontented. The ravings of the insane
become wilder, suicides more frequent; despair and hopelessness oppress
every heart.

The undercurrent of rebellion, swelling with mute suffering and
repression, turbulently sweeps the barriers. The severity of the
authorities increases, methods of penalizing are more drastic; the
prisoners fret, wax more querulous, and turn desperate with blind,
spasmodic defiance.

But among the more intelligent inmates, dissatisfaction manifest more
coherent expression. The Lexow investigation in New York has awakened an
echo in the prison. A movement is quietly initiated among the
solitaries, looking toward an investigation of Riverside.

I keep busy helping the men exchange notes maturing the project. Great
care must be exercised to guard against treachery: only men of proved
reliability may be entrusted with the secret, and precautions taken that
no officer or stool scent our design. The details of the campaign are
planned on "K" range, with Billy Ryan, Butch, Sloane, and Jimmie Grant,
as the most trustworthy, in command. It is decided that the attack upon
the management of the penitentiary is to be initiated from the
"outside." A released prisoner is to inform the press of the abuses,
graft, and immorality rampant in Riverside. The public will demand an
investigation. The "cabal" on the range will supply the investigators
with data and facts that will rouse the conscience of the community, and
cause the dismissal of the Warden and the introduction of reforms.

A prisoner, about to be discharged, is selected for the important
mission of enlightening the press. In great anxiety and expectation we
await the newspapers, the day following his liberation; we scan the
pages closely. Not a word of the penitentiary! Probably the released man
has not yet had an opportunity to visit the editors. In the joy of
freedom, he may have looked too deeply into the cup that cheers. He will
surely interview the papers the next day.

But the days pass into weeks, without any reference in the press to the
prison. The trusted man has failed us! The revelation of the life at
Riverside is of a nature not to be ignored by the press. The discharged
inmate has proved false to his promise. Bitterly the solitaries denounce
him, and resolve to select a more reliable man among the first
candidates for liberty.

One after another, a score of men are entrusted with the mission to the
press. But the papers remain silent. Anxiously, though every day less
hopefully, we search their columns. Ryan cynically derides the
faithlessness of convict promises; Butch rages and at the traitors. But
Sloane is sternly confident in his own probity, and cheers me as I pause
at his cell:

"Never min' them rats, Aleck. You just wait till I go out. Here's the
boy that'll keep his promise all right. What I won't do to old Sandy
ain't worth mentionin'."

"Why, you still have two years, Ed," I remind him.

"Not on your tintype, Aleck. Only one and a stump."

"How big is the stump?"

"Wa-a-ll," he chuckles, looking somewhat diffident, "it's one year,
elev'n months, an' twenty-sev'n days. It ain't no two years, though,

Jimmy Grant grows peculiarly reserved, evidently disinclined to talk. He
seeks to avoid me. The treachery of the released men fills him with
resentment and suspicion of every one. He is impatient of my suggestion
that the fault may lie with a servile press. At the mention of our
plans, he bursts out savagely:

"Forget it! You're no good, none of you. Let me be!" He turns his back
to me, and angrily paces the cell.

His actions fill me with concern. The youth seems strangely changed.
Fortunately, his time is almost served.


Like wildfire the news circles the prison. "The papers are giving Sandy
hell!" The air in the block trembles with suppressed excitement. Jimmy
Grant, recently released, had sent a communication to the State Board of
Charities, bringing serious charges against the management of Riverside.
The press publishes startlingly significant excerpts from Grant's
letter. Editorially, however, the indictment is ignored by the majority
of the Pittsburgh papers. One writer comments ambiguously, in guarded
language, suggesting the improbability of the horrible practices alleged
by Grant. Another eulogizes Warden Wright as an intelligent and humane
man, who has the interest of the prisoners at heart. The detailed
accusations are briefly dismissed as unworthy of notice, because coming
from a disgruntled criminal who had not found prison life to his liking.
Only the _Leader_ and the _Dispatch_ consider the matter seriously,
refer to the numerous complaints from discharged prisoners, and suggest
the advisability of an investigation; they urge upon the Warden the
necessity of disproving, once for all, the derogatory statements
regarding his management.

Within a few days the President of the Board of Charities announces his
decision to "look over" the penitentiary. December is on the wane, and
the Board is expected to visit Riverside after the holidays.


    K. & G.:

    Of course, neither of you has any more faith in alleged
    investigations than myself. The Lexow investigation, which
    shocked the whole country with its exposé of police corruption,
    has resulted in practically nothing. One or two subordinates
    have been "scapegoated"; those "higher up" went unscathed, as
    usual; the "system" itself remains in _statu quo_. The one who
    has mostly profited by the spasm of morality is Goff, to whom
    the vice crusade afforded an opportunity to rise from obscurity
    into the national limelight. Parkhurst also has subsided,
    probably content with the enlarged size of his flock
    and--salary. To give the devil his due, however, I admired his
    perseverance and courage in face of the storm of ridicule and
    scorn that met his initial accusations against the glorious
    police department of the metropolis. But though every charge has
    been proved in the most absolute manner, the situation, as a
    whole, remains unchanged.

    It is the history of all investigations. As the Germans say, you
    can't convict the devil in the court of his mother-in-law. It
    has again been demonstrated by the Congressional "inquiry" into
    the Carnegie blow-hole armor plate; in the terrible revelations
    regarding Superintendent Brockway, of the Elmira Reformatory--a
    veritable den for maiming and killing; and in numerous other
    instances. Warden Wright also was investigated, about ten years
    ago; a double set of books was then found, disclosing peculation
    of appropriations and theft of the prison product; brutality and
    murder were uncovered--yet Sandy has remained in his position.

       *       *       *       *       *

    We can, therefore, expect nothing from the proposed
    investigation by the Board of Charities. I have no doubt it will
    be a whitewash. But I think that we--the Anarchist trio--should
    show our solidarity, and aid the inmates with our best efforts;
    we must prevent the investigation resulting in a farce, so far
    as evidence against the management is concerned. We should leave
    the Board no loophole, no excuse of a lack of witnesses or
    proofs to support Grant's charges. I am confident you will agree
    with me in this. I am collecting data for presentation to the
    investigators; I am also preparing a list of volunteer
    witnesses. I have seventeen numbers on my range and others from
    various parts of this block and from the shops. They all seem
    anxious to testify, though I am sure some will weaken when the
    critical moment arrives. Several have already notified me to
    erase their names. But we shall have a sufficient number of
    witnesses; we want preferably such men as have personally
    suffered a clubbing, the bull ring, hanging by the wrists, or
    other punishment forbidden by the law.

    I have already notified the Warden that I wish to testify before
    the Investigation Committee. My purpose was to anticipate his
    objection that there are already enough witnesses. I am the
    first on the list now. The completeness of the case against the
    authorities will surprise you. Fortunately, my position as
    rangeman has enabled me to gather whatever information I needed.
    I will send you to-morrow duplicates of the evidence (to insure
    greater safety for our material). For the present I append a
    partial list of our "exhibits":

       *       *       *       *       *

    (1) Cigarettes and outside tobacco; bottle of whiskey and
    "dope"; dice, playing cards, cash money, several knives, two
    razors, postage stamps, outside mail, and other contraband.
    (These are for the purpose of proving the Warden a liar in
    denying to the press the existence of gambling in the prison,
    the selling of bakery and kitchen provisions for cash, the
    possession of weapons, and the possibility of underground

    (2) Prison-made beer. A demonstration of the staleness of our
    bread and the absence of potatoes in the soup. (The beer is made
    from fermented yeast stolen by the trusties from the bakery;
    also from potatoes.)

    (3) Favoritism; special privileges of trusties; political jobs;
    the system of stool espionage.

    (4) Pennsylvania diet; basket; dungeon; cuffing and chaining up;
    neglect of the sick; punishment of the insane.

    (5) Names and numbers of men maltreated and clubbed.

    (6) Data of assaults and cutting affrays in connection with
    "kid-business," the existence of which the Warden absolutely

    (7) Special case of A-444, who attacked the Warden in church,
    because of jealousy of "Lady Goldie."

    (8) Graft:

      (_a_) Hosiery department: fake labels, fictitious names of
      manufacture, false book entries.

      (_b_) Broom-Shop: convict labor hired out, contrary to law,
      to Lang Bros., broom manufacturers, of Allegheny, Pa. Goods
      sold to the United States Government, through sham middleman.
      Labels bear legend, "Union Broom." Sample enclosed.


      (_c_) Mats, mattings, mops--product not stamped.

      (_d_) Shoe and tailor shops: prison materials used for
      the private needs of the Warden, the officers, and their

      (_e_) $75,000, appropriated by the State (1893) for a new
      chapel. The bricks of the old building used for the new,
      except one outside layer. All the work done by prisoners.
      Architect, Mr. A. Wright, the Warden's son. Actual cost of
      chapel, $7,000. The inmates _forced_ to attend services to
      overcrowd the old church; after the desired appropriation
      was secured, attendance became optional.

      (_f_) Library: the 25c. tax, exacted from every unofficial
      visitor, is supposed to go to the book fund. About 50
      visitors per day, the year round. No new books added to the
      library in 10 years. Old duplicates donated by the public
      libraries of Pittsburgh are catalogued as purchased new

      (_g_) Robbing the prisoners of remuneration for their labor.
      See copy of Act of 1883, P. L. 112.


    (Act of 1883, June 13th, P. L. 112)

    Section 1--At the expiration of existing contracts Wardens are
    directed to employ the convicts under their control for and in
    behalf of the State.

    Section 2--No labor shall be hired out by contract.

    Section 4--All convicts under the control of the State and
    county officers, and all inmates of reformatory institutions
    engaged in the manufacture of articles for general consumption,
    shall receive quarterly wages equal to the amount of their
    earnings, to be fixed from time to time by the authorities of
    the institution, from which board, lodging, clothing, and costs
    of trial shall be deducted, and the balance paid to their
    families or dependents; in case none such appear, the amount
    shall be paid to the convict at the expiration of his term of

    The prisoners receive no payment whatever, even for overtime
    work, except occasionally a slice of pork for supper.

    K. G., plant this and other material I'll send you, in a safe





It is New Year's eve. An air of pleasant anticipation fills the prison;
to-morrow's feast is the exciting subject of conversation. Roast beef
will be served for dinner, with a goodly loaf of currant bread, and two
cigars for dessert. Extra men have been drafted for the kitchen; they
flit from block to yard, looking busy and important, yet halting every
passer-by to whisper with secretive mien, "Don't say I told you. Sweet
potatoes to-morrow!" The younger inmates seem skeptical, and strive to
appear indifferent, the while they hover about the yard door, nostrils
expanded, sniffing the appetizing wafts from the kitchen. Here and there
an old-timer grumbles: we should have had sweet "murphies" for
Christmas. "'Too high-priced,' Sandy said," they sneer in ill humor. The
new arrivals grow uneasy; perhaps they are still too expensive? Some
study the market quotations on the delicacy. But the chief cook drops in
to visit "his" boy, and confides to the rangeman that the sweet potatoes
are a "sure thing," just arrived and counted. The happy news is
whispered about, with confident assurance, yet tinged with anxiety.
There is great rejoicing among the men. Only Sol, the lifer, is
querulous: he doesn't care a snap about the "extra feed"--stomach still
sour from the Christmas dinner--and, anyhow, it only makes the
week-a-day "grub" more disgusting.

The rules are somewhat relaxed. The hallmen converse freely; the yard
gangs lounge about and cluster in little groups, that separate at the
approach of a superior officer. Men from the bakery and kitchen run in
and out of the block, their pockets bulging suspiciously. "What are you
after?" the doorkeeper halts them. "Oh, just to my cell; forgot my
handkerchief." The guard answers the sly wink with an indulgent smile.
"All right; go ahead, but don't be long." If "Papa" Mitchell is about,
he thunders at the chief cook, his bosom swelling with packages: "Wotch
'er got there, eh? Big family of kids _you_ have, Jim. First thing you
know, you'll swipe the hinges off th' kitchen door." The envied bakery
and kitchen employees supply their friends with extra holiday tidbits,
and the solitaries dance in glee at the sight of the savory dainty, the
fresh brown bread generously dotted with sweet currants. It is the
prelude of the promised culinary symphony.

       *       *       *       *       *

The evening is cheerful with mirth and jollity. The prisoners at first
converse in whispers, then become bolder, and talk louder through the
bars. As night approaches, the cell-house rings with unreserved hilarity
and animation,--light-hearted chaff mingled with coarse jests and droll
humor. A wag on the upper tier banters the passing guards, his quips and
sallies setting the adjoining cells in a roar, and inspiring imitation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Slowly the babel of tongues subsides, as the gong sounds the order to
retire. Some one shouts to a distant friend, "Hey, Bill, are you there?
Ye-es? Stay there!" It grows quiet, when suddenly my neighbor on the
left sing-songs, "Fellers, who's goin' to sit up with me to greet New
Year's." A dozen voices yell their acceptance. "Little Frenchy," the
spirited grayhead on the top tier, vociferates shrilly, "Me, too, boys.
I'm viz you all right."

All is still in the cell-house, save for a wild Indian whoop now and
then by the vigil-keeping boys. The block breathes in heavy sleep; loud
snoring sounds from the gallery above. Only the irregular tread of the
felt-soled guards falls muffled in the silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The clock in the upper rotunda strikes the midnight hour. A siren on the
Ohio intones its deep-chested bass. Another joins it, then another.
Shrill factory whistles pierce the boom of cannon; the sweet chimes of a
nearby church ring in joyful melody between. Instantly the prison is
astir. Tin cans rattle against iron bars, doors shake in fury, beds and
chairs squeak and screech, pans slam on the floor, shoes crash against
the walls with a dull thud, and rebound noisily on the stone. Unearthly
yelling, shouting, and whistling rend the air; an inventive prisoner
beats a wild tatto with a tin pan on the table--a veritable Bedlam of
frenzy has broken loose in both wings. The prisoners are celebrating the
advent of the New Year.

       *       *       *       *       *

The voices grow hoarse and feeble. The tin clanks languidly against the
iron, the grating of the doors sounds weaker. The men are exhausted with
the unwonted effort. The guards stumbled up the galleries, their forms
swaying unsteadily in the faint flicker of the gaslight. In maudlin
tones they command silence, and bid the men retire to bed. The younger,
more daring, challenge the order with husky howls and catcalls,--a
defiant shout, a groan, and all is quiet.

Daybreak wakes the turmoil and uproar. For twenty-four hours the
long-repressed animal spirits are rampant. No music or recreation honors
the New Year; the day is passed in the cell. The prisoners, securely
barred and locked, are permitted to vent their pain and sorrow, their
yearnings and hopes, in a Saturnalia of tumult.


The month of January brings sedulous activity. Shops and block are
overhauled, every nook and corner is scoured, and a special squad
detailed to whitewash the cells. The yearly clean-up not being due till
spring, I conclude from the unusual preparations that the expected visit
of the Board of Charities is approaching.

       *       *       *       *       *

The prisoners are agog with the coming investigation. The solitaries and
prospective witnesses are on the _qui vive_, anxious lines on their
faces. Some manifest fear of the ill will of the Warden, as the probable
result of their testimony. I seek to encourage them by promising to
assume full responsibility, but several men withdraw their previous
consent. The safety of my data causes me grave concern, in view of the
increasing frequency of searches. Deliberation finally resolves itself
into the bold plan of secreting my most valuable material in the cell
set aside for the use of the officers. It is the first cell on the
range; it is never locked, and is ignored at searches because it is not
occupied by prisoners. The little bundle, protected with a piece of
oilskin procured from the dispensary, soon reposes in the depths of the
waste pipe. A stout cord secures it from being washed away by the rush
of water, when the privy is in use. I call Officer Mitchell's attention
to the dusty condition of the cell, and offer to sweep it every morning
and afternoon. He accedes in an offhand manner, and twice daily I
surreptitiously examine the tension of the water-soaked cord, renewing
the string repeatedly.

Other material and copies of my "exhibits" are deposited with several
trustworthy friends on the range. Everything is ready for the
investigation, and we confidently await the coming of the Board of


The cell-house rejoices at the absence of Scot Woods. The Block Captain
of the morning has been "reduced to the ranks." The disgrace is
signalized by his appearance on the wall, pacing the narrow path in the
chilly winter blasts. The guards look upon the assignment as "punishment
duty" for incurring the displeasure of the Warden. The keepers smile at
the indiscreet Scot interfering with the self-granted privileges of
"Southside" Johnny, one of the Warden's favorites. The runner who
afforded me an opportunity to see Inspector Nevin, came out victorious
in the struggle with Woods. The latter was upbraided by Captain Wright
in the presence of Johnny, who is now officially authorized in his
perquisites. Sufficient time was allowed to elapse, to avoid comment,
whereupon the officer was withdrawn from the block.

I regret his absence. A severe disciplinarian, Woods was yet very
exceptional among the guards, in that he sought to discourage the spying
of prisoners on each other. He frowned upon the trusties, and strove to
treat the men impartially.

Mitchell has been changed to the morning shift to fill the vacancy made
by the transfer of Woods. The charge of the block in the afternoon
devolves upon Officer McIlvaine, a very corpulent man, with sharp,
steely eyes. He is considerably above the average warder in
intelligence, but extremely fond of Jasper, who now acts as his
assistant, the obese turnkey rarely leaving his seat at the front desk.

       *       *       *       *       *

Changes of keepers, transfers from the shops to the two cell-houses are
frequent; the new guards are alert and active. Almost daily the Warden
visits the ranges, leaving in his wake more stringent discipline. Rarely
do I find a chance to pause at the cells; I keep in touch with the men
through the medium of notes. But one day, several fights breaking out in
the shops, the block officers are requisitioned to assist in placing the
combatants in the punishment cells. The front is deserted, and I improve
the opportunity to talk to the solitaries. Jasper, "Southside," and Bob
Runyon, the "politicians," also converse at the doors, Bob standing
suspiciously close to the bars. Suddenly Officer McIlvaine appears in
the yard door. His face is flushed, his eyes filling with wrath as they
fasten on the men at the cells.

"Hey, you fellows, get away from there!" he shouts. "Confound you all,
the 'Old Man' just gave me the deuce; too much talking in the block. I
won't stand for it, that's all," he adds petulantly.

Within half an hour I am haled before the Warden. He looks worried, deep
lines of anxiety about his mouth.

"You are reported for standing at the doors," he snarls at me. "What are
you always telling the men?"

"It's the first time the officer--"

"Nothing of the kind," he interrupts; "you're always talking to the
prisoners. They are in punishment, and you have no business with them."

"Why was _I_ picked out? Others talk, too."

"Ye-e-s?" he drawls sarcastically; then, turning to the keeper, he
says: "How is that, Officer? The man is charging you with neglect of

"I am not charging--"

"Silence! What have you to say, Mr. McIlvaine?"

The guard reddens with suppressed rage. "It isn't true, Captain," he
replies; "there was no one except Berkman."

"You hear what the officer says? You are always breaking the rules.
You're plotting; I know you,--pulling a dozen wires. You are inimical to
the management of the institution. But I will break your connections.
Officers, take him directly to the South Wing, you understand? He is not
to return to his cell. Have it searched at once, thoroughly. Lock him

"Warden, what for?" I demand. "I have not done anything to lose my
position. Talking is not such a serious charge."

"Very serious, very serious. You're too dangerous on the range. I'll
spoil your infernal schemes by removing you from the North Block. You've
been there too long."

"I want to remain there."

"The more reason to take you away. That will do now."

"No, it won't," I burst out. "I'll stay where I am."

"Remove him, Mr. McIlvaine."

I am taken to the South Wing and locked up in a vacant cell, neglected
and ill-smelling. It is Number 2, Range M--the first gallery, facing the
yard; a "double" cell, somewhat larger than those of the North Block,
and containing a small window. The walls are damp and bare, save for the
cardboard of printed rules and the prison calendar. It is the 27th of
February, 1896, but the calendar is of last year, indicating that the
cell has not been occupied since the previous November. It contains the
usual furnishings: bedstead and soiled straw mattress, a small table and
a chair. It feels cold and dreary.

In thought I picture the guards ransacking my former cell. They will not
discover anything: my material is well hidden. The Warden evidently
suspects my plans: he fears my testimony before the investigation
committee. My removal is to sever my connections, and now it is
impossible for me to reach my data. I must return to the North Block;
otherwise all our plans are doomed to fail. I can't leave my friends on
the range in the lurch: some of them have already signified to the
Chaplain their desire to testify; their statements will remain
unsupported in the absence of my proofs. I must rejoin them. I have told
the Warden that I shall remain where I was, but he probably ignored it
as an empty boast.

I consider the situation, and resolve to "break up housekeeping." It is
the sole means of being transferred to the other cell-house. It will
involve the loss of the grade, and a trip to the dungeon; perhaps even a
fight with the keepers: the guards, fearing the broken furniture will be
used for defence, generally rush the prisoner with blackjacks. But my
return to the North Wing will be assured,--no man in stripes can remain
in the South Wing.

Alert for an approaching step, I untie my shoes, producing a scrap of
paper, a pencil, and a knife. I write a hurried note to "K," briefly
informing him of the new developments, and intimating that our data are
safe. Guardedly I attract the attention of the runner on the floor
beneath; it is Bill Say, through whom Carl occasionally communicates
with "G." The note rolled into a little ball, I shoot between the bars
to the waiting prisoner. Now everything is prepared.

It is near supper time; the men are coming back from work. It would be
advisable to wait till everybody is locked in, and the shop officers
depart home. There will then be only three guards on duty in the block.
But I am in a fever of indignation and anger. Furiously snatching up the
chair, I start "breaking up."



The dungeon smells foul and musty; the darkness is almost visible, the
silence oppressive; but the terror of my former experience has abated. I
shall probably be kept in the underground cell for a longer time than on
the previous occasion,--my offence is considered very grave. Three
charges have been entered against me: destroying State property, having
possession of a knife, and uttering a threat against the Warden. When I
saw the officers gathering at my back, while I was facing the Captain, I
realized its significance. They were preparing to assault me. Quickly
advancing to the Warden, I shook my fist in his face, crying:

"If they touch me, I'll hold you personally responsible."

He turned pale. Trying to steady his voice, he demanded:

"What do you mean? How dare you?"

"I mean just what I say. I won't be clubbed. My friends will avenge me,

He glanced at the guards standing rigid, in ominous silence. One by one
they retired, only two remaining, and I was taken quietly to the

       *       *       *       *       *

The stillness is broken by a low, muffled sound. I listen intently. It
is some one pacing the cell at the further end of the passage.

"Halloo! Who's there?" I shout.

No reply. The pacing continues. It must be "Silent Nick"; he never

I prepare to pass the night on the floor. It is bare; there is no bed or
blanket, and I have been deprived of my coat and shoes. It is freezing
in the cell; my feet grow numb, hands cold, as I huddle in the corner,
my head leaning against the reeking wall, my body on the stone floor. I
try to think, but my thoughts are wandering, my brain frigid.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rattling of keys wakes me from my stupor. Guards are descending into
the dungeon. I wonder whether it is morning, but they pass my cell: it
is not yet breakfast time. Now they pause and whisper. I recognize the
mumbling speech of Deputy Greaves, as he calls out to the silent

"Want a drink?"

The double doors open noisily.


"Give me the cup," the hoarse bass resembles that of "Crazy Smithy." His
stentorian voice sounds cracked since he was shot in the neck by Officer

"You can't have th' cup," the Deputy fumes.

"I won't drink out of your hand, God damn you. Think I'm a cur, do you?"
Smithy swears and curses savagely.

The doors are slammed and locked. The steps grow faint, and all is
silent, save the quickened footfall of Smith, who will not talk to any

I pass the long night in drowsy stupor, rousing at times to strain my
ear for every sound from the rotunda above, wondering whether day is
breaking. The minutes drag in dismal darkness....

The loud clanking of the keys tingles in my ears like sweet music. It is
morning! The guards hand me the day's allowance--two ounces of white
bread and a quart of water. The wheat tastes sweet; it seems to me I've
never eaten anything so delectable. But the liquid is insipid, and
nauseates me. At almost one bite I swallow the slice, so small and thin.
It whets my appetite, and I feel ravenously hungry.

At Smith's door the scene of the previous evening is repeated. The
Deputy insists that the man drink out of the cup held by a guard. The
prisoner refuses, with a profuse flow of profanity. Suddenly there is a
splash, followed by a startled cry, and the thud of the cell bucket on
the floor. Smith has emptied the contents of his privy upon the
officers. In confusion they rush out of the dungeon.

Presently I hear the clatter of many feet in the cellar. There is a
hubbub of suppressed voices. I recognize the rasping whisper of Hopkins,
the tones of Woods, McIlvaine, and others. I catch the words, "Both
sides at once." Several cells in the dungeon are provided with double
entrances, front and back, to facilitate attacks upon obstreperous
prisoners. Smith is always assigned to one of these cells. I shudder as
I realize that the officers are preparing to club the demented man. He
has been weakened by years of unbroken solitary confinement, and his
throat still bleeds occasionally from the bullet wound. Almost half his
time he has been kept in the dungeon, and now he has been missing from
the range twelve days. It is.... Involuntarily I shut my eyes at the
fearful thud of the riot clubs.

       *       *       *       *       *

The hours drag on. The monotony is broken by the keepers bringing
another prisoner to the dungeon. I hear his violent sobbing from the
depth of the cavern.

"Who is there?" I hail him. I call repeatedly, without receiving an
answer. Perhaps the new arrival is afraid of listening guards.

"Ho, man!" I sing out, "the screws have gone. Who are you? This is
Aleck, Aleck Berkman."

"Is that you, Aleck? This is Johnny." There is a familiar ring about the
young voice, broken by piteous moans. But I fail to identify it.

"What Johnny?"

"Johnny Davis--you know--stocking shop. I've just--killed a man."

In bewilderment I listen to the story, told with bursts of weeping.
Johnny had returned to the shop; he thought he would try again: he
wanted to earn his "good" time. Things went well for a while, till
"Dutch" Adams became shop runner. He is the stool who got Grant and
Johnny Smith in trouble with the fake key, and Davis would have nothing
to do with him. But "Dutch" persisted, pestering him all the time; and

"Well, you know, Aleck," the boy seems diffident, "he lied about me like
hell: he told the fellows he _used_ me. Christ, my mother might hear
about it! I couldn't stand it, Aleck; honest to God, I couldn't. I--I
killed the lying cur, an' now--now I'll--I'll swing for it," he sobs as
if his heart would break.

A touch of tenderness for the poor boy is in my voice, as I strive to
condole with him and utter the hope that it may not be so bad, after
all. Perhaps Adams will not die. He is a powerful man, big and strong;
he may survive.

Johnny eagerly clutches at the straw. He grows more cheerful, and we
talk of the coming investigation and local affairs. Perhaps the Board
will even clear him, he suggests. But suddenly seized with fear, he
weeps and moans again.

More men are cast into the dungeon. They bring news from the world
above. An epidemic of fighting seems to have broken out in the wake of
recent orders. The total inhibition of talking is resulting in more
serious offences. "Kid Tommy" is enlarging upon his trouble. "You see,
fellers," he cries in a treble, "dat skunk of a Pete he pushes me in de
line, and I turns round t' give 'im hell, but de screw pipes me. Got no
chance t' choo, so I turns an' biffs him on de jaw, see?" But he is
sure, he says, to be let out at night, or in the morning, at most. "Them
fellers that was scrappin' yesterday in de yard didn't go to de hole.
Dey jest put 'em in de cell. Sandy knows de committee's comin' all

Johnny interrupts the loquacious boy to inquire anxiously about "Dutch"
Adams, and I share his joy at hearing that the man's wound is not
serious. He was cut about the shoulders, but was able to walk unassisted
to the hospital. Johnny overflows with quiet happiness; the others dance
and sing. I recite a poem from Nekrassov; the boys don't understand a
word, but the sorrow-laden tones appeal to them, and they request more
Russian "pieces." But Tommy is more interested in politics, and is
bristling with the latest news from the Magee camp. He is a great
admirer of Quay,--"dere's a smart guy fer you, fellers; owns de whole
Keystone shebang all right, all right. He's Boss Quay, you bet you." He
dives into national issues, rails at Bryan, "16 to 1 Bill, you jest
list'n to 'm, he'll give sixteen dollars to every one; he will, nit!"
and the boys are soon involved in a heated discussion of the respective
merits of the two political parties, Tommy staunchly siding with the
Republican. "Me gran'fader and me fader was Republicans," he
vociferates, "an' all me broders vote de ticket. Me fer de Gran' Ole
Party, ev'ry time." Some one twits him on his political wisdom,
challenging the boy to explain the difference in the money standards.
Tommy boldly appeals to me to corroborate him; but before I have an
opportunity to speak, he launches upon other issues, berating Spain for
her atrocities in Cuba, and insisting that this free country cannot
tolerate slavery at its doors. Every topic is discussed, with Tommy
orating at top speed, and continually broaching new subjects.
Unexpectedly he reverts to local affairs, waxes reminiscent over former
days, and loudly smacks his lips at the "great feeds" he enjoyed on the
rare occasions when he was free to roam the back streets of Smoky City.
"Say, Aleck, my boy," he calls to me familiarly, "many a penny I made on
_you_, all right. How? Why, peddlin' extras, of course! Say, dem was
fine days, all right; easy money; papers went like hot cakes off the
griddle. Wish you'd do it again, Aleck."

       *       *       *       *       *

Invisible to each other, we chat, exchange stories and anecdotes, the
boys talking incessantly, as if fearful of silence. But every now and
then there is a lull; we become quiet, each absorbed in his own
thoughts. The pauses lengthen--lengthen into silence. Only the faint
steps of "Crazy Smith" disturb the deep stillness.

       *       *       *       *       *

Late in the evening the young prisoners are relieved. But Johnny
remains, and his apprehensions reawaken. Repeatedly during the night he
rouses me from my drowsy torpor to be reassured that he is not in danger
of the gallows, and that he will not be tried for his assault. I allay
his fears by dwelling on the Warden's aversion to giving publicity to
the sex practices in the prison, and remind the boy of the Captain's
official denial of their existence. These things happen almost every
week, yet no one has ever been taken to court from Riverside on such

Johnny grows more tranquil, and we converse about his family history,
talking in a frank, confidential manner. With a glow of pleasure, I
become aware of the note of tenderness in his voice. Presently he
surprises me by asking:

"Friend Aleck, what do they call you in Russian?"

He prefers the fond "Sashenka," enunciating the strange word with quaint
endearment, then diffidently confesses dislike for his own name, and
relates the story he had recently read of a poor castaway Cuban youth;
Felipe was his name, and he was just like himself.

"Shall I call you Felipe?" I offer.

"Yes, please do, Aleck, dear; no, Sashenka."

The springs of affection well up within me, as I lie huddled on the
stone floor, cold and hungry. With closed eyes, I picture the boy before
me, with his delicate face, and sensitive, girlish lips.

"Good night, dear Sashenka," he calls.

"Good night, little Felipe."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the morning we are served with a slice of bread and water. I am
tormented with thirst and hunger, and the small ration fails to assuage
my sharp pangs. Smithy still refuses to drink out of the Deputy's hand;
his doors remain unopened. With tremulous anxiety Johnny begs the Deputy
Warden to tell him how much longer he will remain in the dungeon, but
Greaves curtly commands silence, applying a vile epithet to the boy.

"Deputy," I call, boiling over with indignation, "he asked you a
respectful question. I'd give him a decent answer."

"You mind your own business, you hear?" he retorts.

But I persist in defending my young friend, and berate the Deputy for
his language. He hastens away in a towering passion, menacing me with
"what Smithy got."

Johnny is distressed at being the innocent cause of the trouble. The
threat of the Deputy disquiets him, and he warns me to prepare. My cell
is provided with a double entrance, and I am apprehensive of a sudden
attack. But the hours pass without the Deputy returning, and our fears
are allayed. The boy rejoices on my account, and brims over with
appreciation of my intercession.

The incident cements our intimacy; our first diffidence disappears, and
we become openly tender and affectionate. The conversation lags: we feel
weak and worn. But every little while we hail each other with words of
encouragement. Smithy incessantly paces the cell; the gnawing of the
river rats reaches our ears; the silence is frequently pierced by the
wild yells of the insane man, startling us with dread foreboding. The
quiet grows unbearable, and Johnny calls again:

"What are you doing, Sashenka?"

"Oh, nothing. Just thinking, Felipe."

"Am I in your thoughts, dear?"

"Yes, kiddie, you are."

"Sasha, dear, I've been thinking, too."

"What, Felipe?"

"You are the only one I care for. I haven't a friend in the whole

"Do you care much for me, Felipe?"

"Will you promise not to laugh at me, Sashenka?"

"I wouldn't laugh at you."

"Cross your hand over your heart. Got it, Sasha?"


"Well, I'll tell you. I was thinking--how shall I tell you? I was
thinking, Sashenka--if you were here with me--I would like to kiss you."

An unaccountable sense of joy glows in my heart, and I muse in silence.

"What's the matter, Sashenka? Why don't you say something? Are you angry
with me?"

"No, Felipe, you foolish little boy."

"You are laughing at me."

"No, dear; I feel just as you do."



"Oh, I am so glad, Sashenka."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the evening the guards descend to relieve Johnny; he is to be
transferred to the basket, they inform him. On the way past my cell, he
whispers: "Hope I'll see you soon, Sashenka." A friendly officer knocks
on the outer blind door of my cell. "That you thar, Berkman? You want to
b'have to th' Dep'ty. He's put you down for two more days for sassin'

I feel more lonesome at the boy's departure. The silence grows more
oppressive, the hours of darkness heavier.

       *       *       *       *       *

Seven days I remain in the dungeon. At the expiration of the week,
feeling stiff and feeble, I totter behind the guards, on the way to the
bathroom. My body looks strangely emaciated, reduced almost to a
skeleton. The pangs of hunger revive sharply with the shock of the cold
shower, and the craving for tobacco is overpowering at the sight of the
chewing officers. I look forward to being placed in a cell, quietly
exulting at my victory as I am led to the North Wing. But, in the
cell-house, the Deputy Warden assigns me to the lower end of Range A,
insane department. Exasperated by the terrible suggestion, my nerves on
edge with the dungeon experience, I storm in furious protest, demanding
to be returned to "the hole." The Deputy, startled by my violence,
attempts to soothe me, and finally yields. I am placed in Number 35, the
"crank row" beginning several cells further.

Upon the heels of the departing officers, the rangeman is at my door,
bursting with the latest news. The investigation is over, the Warden
whitewashed! For an instant I am aghast, failing to grasp the astounding
situation. Slowly its full significance dawns on me, as Bill excitedly
relates the story. It's the talk of the prison. The Board of Charities
had chosen its Secretary, J. Francis Torrance, an intimate friend of the
Warden, to conduct the investigation. As a precautionary measure, I was
kept several additional days in the dungeon. Mr. Torrance has privately
interviewed "Dutch" Adams, Young Smithy, and Bob Runyon, promising them
their full commutation time, notwithstanding their bad records, and
irrespective of their future behavior. They were instructed by the
Secretary to corroborate the management, placing all blame upon me! No
other witnesses were heard. The "investigation" was over within an hour,
the committee of one retiring for dinner to the adjoining residence of
the Warden.

Several friendly prisoners linger at my cell during the afternoon,
corroborating the story of the rangeman, and completing the details. The
cell-house itself bears out the situation; the change in the personnel
of the men is amazing. "Dutch" Adams has been promoted to messenger for
the "front office," the most privileged "political" job in the prison.
Bob Runyon, a third-timer and notorious "kid man," has been appointed a
trusty in the shops. But the most significant cue is the advancement of
Young Smithy to the position of rangeman. He has but recently been
sentenced to a year's solitary for the broken key discovered in the lock
of his door. His record is of the worst. He is a young convict of
extremely violent temper, who has repeatedly attacked fellow-prisoners
with dangerous weapons. Since his murderous assault upon the inoffensive
"Praying Andy," Smithy was never permitted out of his cell without the
escort of two guards. And now this irresponsible man is in charge of a

       *       *       *       *       *

At supper, Young Smithy steals up to my cell, bringing a slice of
cornbread. I refuse the peace offering, and charge him with treachery.
At first he stoutly protests his innocence, but gradually weakens and
pleads his dire straits in mitigation. Torrance had persuaded him to
testify, but he avoided incriminating me. That was done by the other two
witnesses; he merely exonerated the Warden from the charges preferred by
James Grant. He had been clubbed four times, but he denied to the
committee that the guards practice violence; and he supported the Warden
in his statement that the officers are not permitted to carry clubs or
blackjacks. He feels that an injustice has been done me, and now that he
occupies my former position, he will be able to repay the little favors
I did him when he was in solitary.

Indignantly I spurn his offer. He pleads his youth, the torture of the
cell, and begs my forgiveness; but I am bitter at his treachery, and bid
him go.

Officer McIlvaine pauses at my door. "Oh, what a change, what an awful
change!" he exclaims, pityingly. I don't know whether he refers to my
appearance, or to the loss of range liberty; but I resent his tone of
commiseration; it was he who had selected me as a victim, to be
reported for talking. Angrily I turn my back to him, refusing to talk.

Somebody stealthily pushes a bundle of newspapers between the bars.
Whole columns detail the report of the "investigation," completely
exonerating Warden Edward S. Wright. The base charges against the
management of the penitentiary were the underhand work of Anarchist
Berkman, Mr. Torrance assured the press. One of the papers contains a
lengthy interview with Wright, accusing me of fostering discontent and
insubordination among the men. The Captain expresses grave fear for the
safety of the community, should the Pardon Board reduce my sentence, in
view of the circumstance that my lawyers are preparing to renew the
application at the next session.

In great agitation I pace the cell. The statement of the Warden is fatal
to the hope of a pardon. My life in the prison will now be made still
more unbearable. I shall again be locked in solitary. With despair I
think of my fate in the hands of the enemy, and the sense of my utter
helplessness overpowers me.



    DEAR K.:

    I know you must have been worried about me. Give no credence to
    the reports you hear. I did not try to suicide. I was very
    nervous and excited over the things that happened while I was in
    the dungeon. I saw the papers after I came up--you know what
    they said. I couldn't sleep; I kept pacing the floor. The screws
    were hanging about my cell, but I paid no attention to them.
    They spoke to me, but I wouldn't answer: I was in no mood for
    talking. They must have thought something wrong with me. The
    doctor came, and felt my pulse, and they took me to the
    hospital. The Warden rushed in and ordered me into a
    strait-jacket. "For safety," he said.

    You know Officer Erwin; he put the jacket on me. He's a pretty
    decent chap; I saw he hated to do it. But the evening screw is a
    rat. He called three times during the night, and every time he'd
    tighten the straps. I thought he'd cut my hands off; but I
    wouldn't cry for mercy, and that made him wild. They put me in
    the "full size" jacket that winds all around you, the arms
    folded. They laid me, tied in the canvas, on the bed, bound me
    to it feet and chest, with straps provided with padlocks. I was
    suffocating in the hot ward; could hardly breathe. In the
    morning they unbound me. My legs were paralyzed, and I could not
    stand up. The doctor ordered some medicine for me. The head
    nurse (he's in for murder, and he's rotten) taunted me with the
    "black bottle." Every time he passed my bed, he'd say: "You
    still alive? Wait till I fix something up for you." I refused
    the medicine, and then they took me down to the dispensary,
    lashed me to a chair, and used the pump on me. You can imagine
    how I felt. That went on for a week; every night in the
    strait-jacket, every morning the pump. Now I am back in the
    block, in 6 A. A peculiar coincidence,--it's the same cell I
    occupied when I first came here.

    Don't trust Bill Say. The Warden told me he knew about the note
    I sent you just before I smashed up. If you got it, Bill must
    have read it and told Sandy. Only dear old Horsethief can be
    relied upon.

    How near the boundary of joy is misery! I shall never forget the
    first morning in the jacket. I passed a restless night, but just
    as it began to dawn I must have lost consciousness. Suddenly I
    awoke with the most exquisite music in my ears. It seemed to me
    as if the heavens had opened in a burst of ecstasy.... It was
    only a little sparrow, but never before in my life did I hear
    such sweet melody. I felt murder in my heart when the convict
    nurse drove the poor birdie from the window ledge.





Like an endless _miserere_ are the days in the solitary. No glimmer of
light cheers the to-morrows. In the depths of suffering, existence
becomes intolerable; and as of old, I seek refuge in the past. The
stages of my life reappear as the acts of a drama which I cannot bring
myself to cut short. The possibilities of the dark motive compel the
imagination, and halt the thought of destruction. Misery magnifies the
estimate of self; the vehemence of revolt strengthens to endure. Despair
engenders obstinate resistance; in its spirit hope is trembling. Slowly
it assumes more definite shape: escape is the sole salvation. The world
of the living is dim and unreal with distance; its voice reaches me like
the pale echo of fantasy; the thought of its turbulent vitality is
strange with apprehension. But the present is bitter with wretchedness,
and gasps desperately for relief.

The efforts of my friends bring a glow of warmth into my life. The
indefatigable Girl has succeeded in interesting various circles: she is
gathering funds for my application for a rehearing before the Pardon
Board in the spring of '98, when my first sentence of seven years will
have expired. With a touch of old-time tenderness, I think of her
loyalty, her indomitable perseverance in my behalf. It is she, almost
she alone, who has kept my memory green throughout the long years. Even
Fedya, my constant chum, has been swirled into the vortex of narrow
ambition and self-indulgence, the plaything of commonplace fate.

Resentment at being thus lightly forgotten tinges my thoughts of the
erstwhile twin brother of our ideal-kissed youth. By contrast, the Girl
is silhouetted on my horizon as the sole personification of
revolutionary persistence, the earnest of its realization. Beyond, all
is darkness--the mystic world of falsehood and sham, that will hate and
persecute me even as its brutal high priests in the prison. Here and
there the gloom is rent: an unknown sympathizer, or comrade, sends a
greeting; I pore eagerly over the chirography, and from the clear,
decisive signature, "Voltairine de Cleyre," strive to mold the character
and shape the features of the writer. To the Girl I apply to verify my
"reading," and rejoice in the warm interest of the convent-educated
American, a friend of my much-admired Comrade Dyer D. Lum, who is aiding
the Girl in my behalf.

But the efforts for a rehearing wake no hope in my heart. My comrades,
far from the prison world, do not comprehend the full significance of
the situation resulting from the investigation. My underground
connections are paralyzed; I cannot enlighten the Girl. But Nold and
Bauer are on the threshold of liberty. Within two months Carl will carry
my message to New York. I can fully rely on his discretion and devotion;
we have grown very intimate through common suffering. He will inform the
Girl that nothing is to be expected from legal procedure; instead, he
will explain to her the plan I have evolved.

My position as rangeman has served me to good advantage. I have
thoroughly familiarized myself with the institution; I have gathered
information and explored every part of the cell-house offering the least
likelihood of an escape. The prison is almost impregnable; Tom's attempt
to scale the wall proved disastrous, in spite of his exceptional
opportunities as kitchen employee, and the thick fog of the early
morning. Several other attempts also were doomed to failure, the great
number of guards and their vigilance precluding success. No escape has
taken place since the days of Paddy McGraw, before the completion of the
prison. Entirely new methods must be tried: the road to freedom leads
underground! But digging _out_ of the prison is impracticable in the
modern structure of steel and rock. We must force a passage _into_ the
prison: the tunnel is to be dug from the outside! A house is to be
rented in the neighborhood of the penitentiary, and the underground
passage excavated beneath the eastern wall, toward the adjacent
bath-house. No officers frequent the place save at certain hours, and I
shall find an opportunity to disappear into the hidden opening on the
regular biweekly occasions when the solitaries are permitted to bathe.

The project will require careful preparation and considerable expense.
Skilled comrades will have to be entrusted with the secret work, the
greater part of which must be carried on at night. Determination and
courage will make the plan feasible, successful. Such things have been
done before. Not in this country, it is true. But the act will receive
added significance from the circumstance that the liberation of the
first American political prisoner has been accomplished by means similar
to those practised by our comrades in Russia. Who knows? It may prove
the symbol and precursor of Russian idealism on American soil. And what
tremendous impression the consummation of the bold plan will make! What
a stimulus to our propaganda, as a demonstration of Anarchist initiative
and ability! I glow with the excitement of its great possibilities, and
enthuse Carl with my hopes. If the preparatory work is hastened, the
execution of the plan will be facilitated by the renewed agitation
within the prison. Rumors of a legislative investigation are afloat,
diverting the thoughts of the administration into different channels. I
shall foster the ferment to afford my comrades greater safety in the

       *       *       *       *       *

During the long years of my penitentiary life I have formed many
friendships. I have earned the reputation of a "square man" and a "good
fellow," have received many proofs of confidence, and appreciation of my
uncompromising attitude toward the generally execrated management. Most
of my friends observe the unwritten ethics of informing me of their
approaching release, and offer to smuggle out messages or to provide me
with little comforts. I invariably request them to visit the newspapers
and to relate their experiences in Riverside. Some express fear of the
Warden's enmity, of the fatal consequences in case of their return to
the penitentiary. But the bolder spirits and the accidental offenders,
who confidently bid me a final good-bye, unafraid of return, call
directly from the prison on the Pittsburgh editors.

Presently the _Leader_ and the _Dispatch_ begin to voice their censure
of the hurried whitewash by the State Board of Charities. The attitude
of the press encourages the guards to manifest their discontent with the
humiliating eccentricities of the senile Warden. They protest against
the whim subjecting them to military drill to improve their appearance,
and resent Captain Wright's insistence that they patronize his private
tailor, high-priced and incompetent. Serious friction has also arisen
between the management and Mr. Sawhill, Superintendent of local
industries. The prisoners rejoice at the growing irascibility of the
Warden, and the deeper lines on his face, interpreting them as signs of
worry and fear. Expectation of a new investigation is at high pitch as
Judge Gordon, of Philadelphia, severely censures the administration of
the Eastern Penitentiary, charging inhuman treatment, abuse of the
insane, and graft. The labor bodies of the State demand the abolition of
convict competition, and the press becomes more assertive in urging an
investigation of both penitentiaries. The air is charged with rumors of
legislative action.


The breath of spring is in the cell-house. My two comrades are jubilant.
The sweet odor of May wafts the resurrection! But the threshold of life
is guarded by the throes of new birth. A tone of nervous excitement
permeates their correspondence. Anxiety tortures the sleepless nights;
the approaching return to the living is tinged with the disquietude of
the unknown, the dread of the renewed struggle for existence. But the
joy of coming emancipation, the wine of sunshine and liberty tingles in
every fiber, and hope flutters its disused wings.

Our plans are complete. Carl is to visit the Girl, explain my project,
and serve as the medium of communication by means of our prearranged
system, investing apparently innocent official letters with _sub rosa_
meaning. The initial steps will require time. Meanwhile "K" and "G" are
to make the necessary arrangements for the publication of our book. The
security of our manuscripts is a source of deep satisfaction and much
merriment at the expense of the administration. The repeated searches
have failed to unearth them. With characteristic daring, the faithful
Bob had secreted them in a hole in the floor of his shop, almost under
the very seat of the guard. One by one they have been smuggled outside
by a friendly officer, whom we have christened "Schraube."[46] By
degrees Nold has gained the confidence of the former mill-worker, with
the result that sixty precious booklets now repose safely with a comrade
in Allegheny. I am to supply the final chapters of the book through Mr.
Schraube, whose friendship Carl is about to bequeath to me.

  [46] German for "screw."

       *       *       *       *       *

The month of May is on the wane. The last note is exchanged with my
comrades. Dear Bob was not able to reach me in the morning, and now I
read the lines quivering with the last pangs of release, while Nold and
Bauer are already beyond the walls. How I yearned for a glance at Carl,
to touch hands, even in silence! But the customary privilege was refused
us. Only once in the long years of our common suffering have I looked
into the eyes of my devoted friend, and stealthily pressed his hand,
like a thief in the night. No last greeting was vouchsafed me to-day.
The loneliness seems heavier, the void more painful.

The routine is violently disturbed. Reading and study are burdensome: my
thoughts will not be compelled. They revert obstinately to my comrades,
and storm against my steel cage, trying to pierce the distance, to
commune with the absent. I seek diversion in the manufacture of prison
"fancy work," ornamental little fruit baskets, diminutive articles of
furniture, picture frames, and the like. The little momentos,
constructed of tissue-paper rolls of various design, I send to the Girl,
and am elated at her admiration of the beautiful workmanship and
attractive color effects. But presently she laments the wrecked
condition of the goods, and upon investigation I learn from the runner
that the most dilapidated cardboard boxes are selected for my product.
The rotunda turnkey, in charge of the shipments, is hostile, and I
appeal to the Chaplain. But his well-meant intercession results in an
order from the Warden, interdicting the expressage of my work, on the
ground of probable notes being secreted therein. I protest against the
discrimination, suggesting the dismembering of every piece to disprove
the charge. But the Captain derisively remarks that he is indisposed to
"take chances," and I am forced to resort to the subterfuge of having my
articles transferred to a friendly prisoner and addressed by him to his
mother in Beaver, Pa., thence to be forwarded to New York. At the same
time the rotunda keeper detains a valuable piece of ivory sent to me by
the Girl for the manufacture of ornamental toothpicks. The local ware,
made of kitchen bones bleached in lime, turns yellow in a short time. My
request for the ivory is refused on the plea of submitting the matter to
the Warden's decision, who rules against me. I direct the return of it
to my friend, but am informed that the ivory has been mislaid and cannot
be found. Exasperated, I charge the guard with the theft, and serve
notice that I shall demand the ivory at the expiration of my time. The
turnkey jeers at the wild impossibility, and I am placed for a week on
"Pennsylvania diet" for insulting an officer.



                                                    CHRISTMAS, 1897.


    I have been despairing of reaching you _sub rosa_, but the
    holidays brought the usual transfers, and at last friend
    Schraube is with me. Dear Carolus, I am worn out with the misery
    of the months since you left, and the many disappointments. Your
    official letters were not convincing. I fail to understand why
    the plan is not practicable. Of course, you can't write openly,
    but you have means of giving a hint as to the "impossibilities"
    you speak of. You say that I have become too estranged from the
    outside, and so forth--which may be true. Yet I think the matter
    chiefly concerns the inside, and of that I am the best judge. I
    do not see the force of your argument when you dwell upon the
    application at the next session of the Pardon Board. You mean
    that the other plan would jeopardize the success of the legal
    attempt. But there is not much hope of favorable action by the
    Board. You have talked all this over before, but you seem to
    have a different view now. Why?

    Only in a very small measure do your letters replace in my life
    the heart-to-heart talks we used to have here, though they were
    only on paper. But I am much interested in your activities. It
    seems strange that you, so long the companion of my silence,
    should now be in the very Niagara of life, of our movement. It
    gives me great satisfaction to know that your experience here
    has matured you, and helped to strengthen and deepen your
    convictions. It has had a similar effect upon me. You know what
    a voluminous reader I am. I have read--in fact, studied--every
    volume in the library here, and now the Chaplain supplies me
    with books from his. But whether it be philosophy, travel, or
    contemporary life that falls into my hands, it invariably
    distils into my mind the falsity of dominant ideas, and the
    beauty, the inevitability of Anarchism. But I do not want to
    enlarge upon this subject now; we can discuss it through
    official channels.

    You know that Tony and his nephew are here. We are just getting
    acquainted. He works in the shop; but as he is also coffee-boy,
    we have an opportunity to exchange notes. It is fortunate that
    his identity is not known; otherwise he would fall under special
    surveillance. I have my eyes on Tony,--he may prove valuable.

    I am still in solitary, with no prospect of relief. You know the
    policy of the Warden to use me as a scapegoat for everything
    that happens here. It has become a mania with him. Think of it,
    he blames me for Johnny Davis' cutting "Dutch." He laid
    everything at my door when the legislative investigation took
    place. It was a worse sham than the previous whitewash. Several
    members called to see me at the cell,--unofficially, they said.
    They got a hint of the evidence I was prepared to give, and one
    of them suggested to me that it is not advisable for one in my
    position to antagonize the Warden. I replied that I was no
    toady. He hinted that the authorities of the prison might help
    me to procure freedom, if I would act "discreetly." I insisted
    that I wanted to be heard by the committee. They departed,
    promising to call me as a witness. One Senator remarked, as he
    left: "You are too intelligent a man to be at large."

    When the hearing opened, several officers were the first to take
    the stand. The testimony was not entirely favorable to the
    Warden. Then Mr. Sawhill was called. You know him; he is an
    independent sort of man, with an eye upon the wardenship. His
    evidence came like a bomb; he charged the management with
    corruption and fraud, and so forth. The investigators took
    fright. They closed the sessions and departed for Harrisburg,
    announcing through the press that they would visit
    Moyamensing[47] and then return to Riverside. But they did not
    return. The report they submitted to the Governor exonerated the

    The men were gloomy over the state of affairs. A hundred
    prisoners were prepared to testify, and much was expected from
    the committee. I had all my facts on hand: Bob had fished out
    for me the bundle of material from its hiding place. It was in
    good condition, in spite of the long soaking. (I am enclosing
    some new data in this letter, for use in our book.)

    Now that he is "cleared," the Warden has grown even more
    arrogant and despotic. Yet _some_ good the agitation in the
    press has accomplished: clubbings are less frequent, and the
    bull ring is temporarily abolished. But his hatred of me has
    grown venomous. He holds us responsible (together with Dempsey
    and Beatty) for organizing the opposition to convict labor,
    which has culminated in the Muehlbronner law. It is to take
    effect on the first of the year. The prison administration is
    very bitter, because the statute, which permits only thirty-five
    per cent. of the inmates to be employed in productive labor,
    will considerably minimize opportunities for graft. But the men
    are rejoicing: the terrible slavery in the shops has driven many
    to insanity and death. The law is one of the rare instances of
    rational legislation. Its benefit to labor in general is
    nullified, however, by limiting convict competition only within
    the State. The Inspectors are already seeking a market for the
    prison products in other States, while the convict manufactures
    of New York, Ohio, Illinois, etc., are disposed of in
    Pennsylvania. The irony of beneficent legislation! On the other
    hand, the inmates need not suffer for lack of employment. The
    new law allows the unlimited manufacture, within the prison, of
    products for local consumption. If the whine of the management
    regarding the "detrimental effect of idleness on the convict" is
    sincere, they could employ five times the population of the
    prison in the production of articles for our own needs.

    At present all the requirements of the penitentiary are supplied
    from the outside. The purchase of a farm, following the example
    set by the workhouse, would alone afford work for a considerable
    number of men. I have suggested, in a letter to the Inspectors,
    various methods by which every inmate of the institution could
    be employed,--among them the publication of a prison paper. Of
    course, they have ignored me. But what can you expect of a body
    of philanthropists who have the interest of the convict so much
    at heart that they delegated the President of the Board, George
    A. Kelly, to oppose the parole bill, a measure certainly along
    advanced lines of modern criminology. Owing to the influence of
    Inspector Kelly, the bill was shelved at the last session of the
    legislature, though the prisoners have been praying for it for
    years. It has robbed the moneyless lifetimers of their last
    hope: a clause in the parole bill held out to them the promise
    of release after 20 years of good behavior.

    Dark days are in store for the men. Apparently the campaign of
    the Inspectors consists in forcing the repeal of the
    Muehlbronner law, by raising the hue and cry of insanity and
    sickness. They are actually causing both by keeping half the
    population locked up. You know how quickly the solitary drives
    certain classes of prisoners insane. Especially the more
    ignorant element, whose mental horizon is circumscribed by their
    personal troubles and pain, speedily fall victims. Think of men,
    who cannot even read, put _incommunicado_ for months at a time,
    for years even! Most of the colored prisoners, and those
    accustomed to outdoor life, such as farmers and the like quickly
    develop the germs of consumption in close confinement. Now, this
    wilful murder--for it is nothing else--is absolutely
    unnecessary. The yard is big and well protected by the
    thirty-foot wall, with armed guards patrolling it. Why not give
    the unemployed men air and exercise, since the management is
    determined to keep them idle? I suggested the idea to the
    Warden, but he berated me for my "habitual interference" in
    matters that do not concern me. I often wonder at the enigma of
    human nature. There's the Captain, a man 72 years old. He should
    bethink himself of death, of "meeting his Maker," since he
    pretends to believe in religion. Instead, he is bending all his
    energies to increase insanity and disease among the convicts, in
    order to force the repeal of the law that has lessened the flow
    of blood money. It is almost beyond belief; but you have
    yourself witnessed the effect of a brutal atmosphere upon new
    officers. Wright has been Warden for thirty years; he has come
    to regard the prison as his undisputed dominion; and now he is
    furious at the legislative curtailment of his absolute control.

    This letter will remind you of our bulky notes in the "good" old
    days when "KG" were here. I miss our correspondence. There are
    some intelligent men on the range, but they are not interested
    in the thoughts that seethe within me and call for expression.
    Just now the chief topic of local interest (after, of course,
    the usual discussion of the grub, women, kids, and their health
    and troubles) is the Spanish War and the new dining-room, in
    which the shop employees are to be fed _en masse_, out of
    chinaware, think of it! Some of the men are tremendously
    patriotic; others welcome the war as a sinecure affording easy
    money and plenty of excitement. You remember Young Butch and his
    partners, Murtha, Tommy, etc. They have recently been released,
    too wasted and broken in health to be fit for manual labor. All
    of them have signified their intention of joining the
    insurrection; some are enrolling in the regular army for the
    war. Butch is already in Cuba. I had a letter from him. There is
    a passage in it that is tragically characteristic. He refers to
    a skirmish he participated in. "We shot a lot of Spaniards,
    mostly from ambush," he writes; "it was great sport." It is the
    attitude of the military adventurer, to whom a sacred cause like
    the Cuban uprising unfortunately affords the opportunity to
    satisfy his lust for blood. Butch was a very gentle boy when he
    entered the prison. But he has witnessed much heartlessness and
    cruelty during his term of three years.

    Letter growing rather long. Good night.


  [47] The Eastern Penitentiary at Philadelphia, Pa.




A year of solitary has wasted my strength, and left me feeble and
languid. My expectations of relief from complete isolation have been
disappointed. Existence is grim with despair, as day by day I feel my
vitality ebbing; the long nights are tortured with insomnia; my body is
racked with constant pains. All my heart is dark.

A glimmer of light breaks through the clouds, as the session of the
Pardon Board approaches. I clutch desperately at the faint hope of a
favorable decision. With feverish excitement I pore over the letters of
the Girl, breathing cheer and encouraging news. My application is
supported by numerous labor bodies, she writes. Comrade Harry Kelly has
been tireless in my behalf; the success of his efforts to arouse public
sympathy augurs well for the application. The United Labor League of
Pennsylvania, representing over a hundred thousand toilers, has passed a
resolution favoring my release. Together with other similar expressions,
individual and collective, it will be laid before the Pardon Board, and
it is confidently expected that the authorities will not ignore the
voice of organized labor. In a ferment of anxiety and hope I count the
days and hours, irritable with impatience and apprehension as I near
the fateful moment. Visions of liberty flutter before me, glorified by
the meeting with the Girl and my former companions, and I thrill with
the return to the world, as I restlessly pace the cell in the silence of
the night.

The thought of my prison friends obtrudes upon my visions. With the
tenderness born of common misery I think of their fate, resolving to
brighten their lives with little comforts and letters, that mean so much
to every prisoner. My first act in liberty shall be in memory of the men
grown close to me with the kinship of suffering, the unfortunates
endeared by awakened sympathy and understanding. For so many years I
have shared with them the sorrows and the few joys of penitentiary life,
I feel almost guilty to leave them. But henceforth their cause shall be
mine, a vital part of the larger, social cause. It will be my constant
endeavor to ameliorate their condition, and I shall strain every effort
for my little friend Felipe; I must secure his release. How happy the
boy will be to join me in liberty!... The flash of the dark lantern
dispels my fantasies, and again I walk the cell in vehement misgiving
and fervent hope of to-morrow's verdict.

At noon I am called to the Warden. He must have received word from the
Board,--I reflect on the way. The Captain lounges in the armchair, his
eyes glistening, his seamed face yellow and worried. With an effort I
control my impatience as he offers me a seat. He bids the guard depart,
and a wild hope trembles in me. He is not afraid,--perhaps good news!

"Sit down, Berkman," he speaks with unwonted affability. "I have just
received a message from Harrisburg. Your attorney requests me to inform
you that the Pardon Board has now reached your case. It is probably
under consideration at this moment."

I remain silent. The Warden scans me closely.

"You would return to New York, if released?" he inquires.


"What are your plans?"

"Well, I have not formed any yet."

"You would go back to your Anarchist friends?"


"You have not changed your views?"

"By no means."

A turnkey enters. "Captain, on official business," he reports.

"Wait here a moment, Berkman," the Warden remarks, withdrawing. The
officer remains.

In a few minutes the Warden returns, motioning to the guard to leave.

"I have just been informed that the Board has refused you a hearing."

I feel the cold perspiration running down my back. The prison rumors of
the Warden's interference flash through my mind. The Board promised a
rehearing at the previous application,--why this refusal?

"Warden," I exclaim, "you objected to my pardon!"

"Such action lies with the Inspectors," he replies evasively. The
peculiar intonation strengthens my suspicions.

A feeling of hopelessness possesses me. I sense the Warden's gaze
fastened on me, and I strive to control my emotion.

"How much time have you yet?" he asks.

"Over eleven years."

"How long have you been locked up this time?"

"Sixteen months."

"There is a vacancy on your range. The assistant hallman is going home
to-morrow. You would like the position?" he eyes me curiously.


"I'll consider it."

I rise weakly, but he detains me: "By the way, Berkman, look at this."

He holds up a small wooden box, disclosing several casts of plaster of
paris. I wonder at the strange proceeding.

"You know what they are?" he inquires.

"Plaster casts, I think."

"Of what? For what purpose? Look at them well, now."

I glance indifferently at the molds bearing the clear impression of an

"It's the cast of a silver dollar, I believe."

"I am glad you speak truthfully. I had no doubt you would know. I
examined your library record and found that you have drawn books on

"Oh, you suspect me of this?" I flare up.

"No, not this time," he smiles in a suggestive manner. "You have drawn
practically every book from the library. I had a talk with the Chaplain,
and he is positive that you would not be guilty of counterfeiting,
because it would be robbing poor people."

"The reading of my letters must have familiarized the Chaplain with
Anarchist ideas."

"Yes, Mr. Milligan thinks highly of you. You might antagonize the
management, but he assures me you would not abet such a crime."

"I am glad to hear it."

"You would protect the Federal Government, then?"

"I don't understand you."

"You would protect the people from being cheated by counterfeit money?"

"The government and the people are not synonymous."

Flushing slightly, and frowning, he asks: "But you would protect the

"Yes, certainly."

His face brightens. "Oh, quite so, quite so," he smiles reassuringly.
"These molds were found hidden in the North Block. No; not in a cell,
but in the hall. We suspect a certain man. It's Ed Sloane; he is located
two tiers above you. Now, Berkman, the management is very anxious to get
to the bottom of this matter. It's a crime against the people. You may
have heard Sloane speaking to his neighbors about this."

"No. I am sure you suspect an innocent person."

"How so?"

"Sloane is a very sick man. It's the last thing he'd think of."

"Well, we have certain reasons for suspecting him. If you should happen
to hear anything, just rap on the door and inform the officers you are
ill. They will be instructed to send for me at once."

"I can't do it, Warden."

"Why not?" he demands.

"I am not a spy."

"Why, certainly not, Berkman. I should not ask you to be. But you have
friends on the range, you may learn something. Well, think the matter
over," he adds, dismissing me.

Bitter disappointment at the action of the Board, indignation at the
Warden's suggestion, struggle within me as I reach my cell. The guard is
about to lock me in, when the Deputy Warden struts into the block.

"Officer, unlock him," he commands. "Berkman, the Captain says you are
to be assistant rangeman. Report to Mr. McIlvaine for a broom."


The unexpected relief strengthens the hope of liberty. Local methods are
of no avail, but now my opportunities for escape are more favorable.
Considerable changes have taken place during my solitary, and the first
necessity is to orient myself. Some of my confidants have been released;
others were transferred during the investigation period to the South
Wing, to disrupt my connections. New men are about the cell-house and I
miss many of my chums. The lower half of the bottom ranges A and K is
now exclusively occupied by the insane, their numbers greatly augmented.
Poor Wingie has disappeared. Grown violently insane, he was repeatedly
lodged in the dungeon, and finally sent to an asylum. There my
unfortunate friend had died after two months. His cell is now occupied
by "Irish Mike," a good-natured boy, turned imbecile by solitary. He
hops about on all fours, bleating: "baah, baah, see the goat. I'm the
goat, baah, baah." I shudder at the fate I have escaped, as I look at
the familiar faces that were so bright with intelligence and youth, now
staring at me from the "crank row," wild-eyed and corpse-like, their
minds shattered, their bodies wasted to a shadow. My heart bleeds as I
realize that Sid and Nick fail to recognize me, their memory a total
blank; and Patsy, the Pittsburgh bootblack, stands at the door,
motionless, his eyes glassy, lips frozen in an inane smile.

From cell to cell I pass the graveyard of the living dead, the silence
broken only by intermittent savage yells and the piteous bleating of
Mike. The whole day these men are locked in, deprived of exercise and
recreation, their rations reduced because of "delinquency." New
"bughouse cases" are continually added from the ranks of the prisoners
forced to remain idle and kept in solitary. The sight of the terrible
misery almost gives a touch of consolation to my grief over Johnny
Davis. My young friend had grown ill in the foul basket. He begged to be
taken to the hospital; but his condition did not warrant it, the
physician said. Moreover, he was "in punishment." Poor boy, how he must
have suffered! They found him dead on the floor of his cell.

       *       *       *       *       *

My body renews its strength with the exercise and greater liberty of the
range. The subtle hope of the Warden to corrupt me has turned to my
advantage. I smile with scorn at his miserable estimate of human nature,
determined by a lifetime of corruption and hypocrisy. How saddening is
the shallowness of popular opinion! Warden Wright is hailed as a
progressive man, a deep student of criminology, who has introduced
modern methods in the treatment of prisoners. As an expression of
respect and appreciation, the National Prison Association has selected
Captain Wright as its delegate to the International Congress at
Brussels, which is to take place in 1900. And all the time the Warden is
designing new forms of torture, denying the pleadings of the idle men
for exercise, and exerting his utmost efforts to increase sickness and
insanity, in the attempt to force the repeal of the "convict labor" law.
The puerility of his judgment fills me with contempt: public sentiment
in regard to convict competition with outside labor has swept the State;
the efforts of the Warden, disastrous though they be to the inmates, are
doomed to failure. No less fatuous is the conceit of his boasted
experience of thirty years. The so confidently uttered suspicion of Ed
Sloane in regard to the counterfeiting charge, has proved mere
lip-wisdom. The real culprit is Bob Runyon, the trusty basking in the
Warden's special graces. His intimate friend, John Smith, the witness
and protégé of Torrane, has confided to me the whole story, in a final
effort to "set himself straight." He even exhibited to me the coins made
by Runyon, together with the original molds, cast in the trusty's cell.
And poor Sloane, still under surveillance, is slowly dying of neglect,
the doctor charging him with eating soap to produce symptoms of illness.


The year passes in a variety of interests. The Girl and several
newly-won correspondents hold the thread of outside life. The Twin has
gradually withdrawn from our New York circles, and is now entirely
obscured on my horizon. But the Girl is staunch and devoted, and I
keenly anticipate her regular mail. She keeps me informed of events in
the international labor movement, news of which is almost entirely
lacking in the daily press. We discuss the revolutionary expressions of
the times, and I learn more about Pallas and Luccheni, whose acts of the
previous winter had thrown Europe into a ferment of agitation. I hunger
for news of the agitation against the tortures in Montjuich, the revival
of the Inquisition rousing in me the spirit of retribution and deep
compassion for my persecuted comrades in the Spanish bastille. Beneath
the suppressed tone of her letters, I read the Girl's suffering and
pain, and feel the heart pangs of her unuttered personal sorrows.

Presently I am apprised that some prominent persons interested in my
case are endeavoring to secure Carnegie's signature for a renewed
application to the Board of Pardons. The Girl conveys the information
guardedly; the absence of comment discovers to me the anguish of soul
the step has caused her. What terrible despair had given birth to the
suggestion, I wonder. If the project of the underground escape had been
put in operation, we should not have had to suffer such humiliation. Why
have my friends ignored the detailed plan I had submitted to them
through Carl? I am confident of its feasibility and success, if we can
muster the necessary skill and outlay. The animosity of the prison
authorities precludes the thought of legal release. The underground
route, very difficult and expensive though it be, is the sole hope. It
must be realized. My _sub rosa_ communications suspended during the
temporary absence of Mr. Schraube, I hint these thoughts in official
mail to the Girl, but refrain from objecting to the Carnegie idea.

Other matters of interest I learn from correspondence with friends in
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The frequent letters of Carl, still
reminiscent of his sojourn at Riverside, thrill with the joy of active
propaganda and of his success as public speaker. Voltairine de Cleyre
and Sarah Patton lend color to my existence by discursive epistles of
great charm and rebellious thought. Often I pause to wonder at the
miracle of my mail passing the censorial eyes. But the Chaplain is a
busy man; careful perusal of every letter would involve too great a
demand upon his time. The correspondence with Mattie I turn over to my
neighbor Pasquale, a young Italian serving sixteen years, who has
developed a violent passion for the pretty face on the photograph. The
roguish eyes and sweet lips exert but a passing impression upon me. My
thoughts turn to Johnny, my young friend in the convict grave. Deep snow
is on the ground; it must be cold beneath the sod. The white shroud is
pressing, pressing heavily upon the lone boy, like the suffocating night
of the basket cell. But in the spring little blades of green will
sprout, and perhaps a rosebud will timidly burst and flower, all white,
and perfume the air, and shed its autumn tears upon the convict grave of



                                                  February 14, 1899.


    The Greeks thought the gods spiteful creatures. When things
    begin to look brighter for man, they grow envious. You'll be
    surprised,--Mr. Schraube has turned into an enemy. Mostly my own
    fault; that's the sting of it. It will explain to you the
    failure of the former _sub rosa_ route. The present one is safe,
    but very temporary.

    It happened last fall. From assistant I was advanced to hallman,
    having charge of the "crank row," on Range A. A new order
    curtailed the rations of the insane,--no cornbread, cheese, or
    hash; only bread and coffee. As rangeman, I help to "feed," and
    generally have "extras" left on the wagon,--some one sick, or
    refusing food, etc. I used to distribute the extras, "on the q.
    t.," among the men deprived of them. One day, just before
    Christmas, an officer happened to notice Patsy chewing a piece
    of cheese. The poor fellow is quite an imbecile; he did not know
    enough to hide what I gave him. Well, you are aware that
    "Cornbread Tom" does not love me. He reported me. I admitted the
    charge to the Warden, and tried to tell him how hungry the men
    were. He wouldn't hear of it, saying that the insane should not
    "overload" their stomachs. I was ordered locked up. Within a
    month I was out again, but imagine my surprise when Schraube
    refused even to talk to me. At first I could not fathom the
    mystery; later I learned that he was reprimanded, losing ten
    days' pay for "allowing" me to feed the demented. He knew
    nothing about it, of course, but he was at the time in special
    charge of "crank row." The Schraube has been telling my friends
    that I got him in trouble wilfully. He seems to nurse his
    grievance with much bitterness; he apparently hates me now with
    the hatred we often feel toward those who know our secrets. But
    he realizes he has nothing to fear from me.

    Many changes have taken place since you left. You would hardly
    recognize the block if you returned (better stay out, though).
    No more talking through the waste pipes; the new privies have
    standing water. Electricity is gradually taking the place of
    candles. The garish light is almost driving me blind, and the
    innovation has created a new problem: how to light our pipes. We
    are given the same monthly allowance of matches, each package
    supposed to contain 30, but usually have 27; and last month I
    received only 25. I made a kick, but it was in vain. The worst
    of it is, fully a third of the matches are damp and don't light.
    While we used candles we managed somehow, borrowing a few
    matches occasionally from non-smokers. But now that candles are
    abolished, the difficulty is very serious. I split each match
    into four; sometimes I succeed in making six. There is a man on
    the range who is an artist at it: he can make eight cuts out of
    a match; all serviceable, too. Even at that, there is a famine,
    and I have been forced to return to the stone age: with flint
    and tinder I draw the fire of Prometheus.

    The mess-room is in full blast. The sight of a thousand men,
    bent over their food in complete silence, officers flanking each
    table, is by no means appetizing. But during the Spanish war,
    the place resembled the cell-house on New Year's eve. The
    patriotic Warden daily read to the diners the latest news, and
    such cheering and wild yelling you have never heard. Especially
    did the Hobson exploit fire the spirit of jingoism. But the
    enthusiasm suddenly cooled when the men realized that they were
    wasting precious minutes hurrahing, and then leaving the table
    hungry when the bell terminated the meal. Some tried to pocket
    the uneaten beans and rice, but the guards detected them, and
    after that the Warden's war reports were accompanied only with
    loud munching and champing.

    Another innovation is exercise. Your interviews with the
    reporters, and those of other released prisoners, have at last
    forced the Warden to allow the idle men an hour's recreation. In
    inclement weather, they walk in the cell-house; on fine days, in
    the yard. The reform was instituted last autumn, and the
    improvement in health is remarkable. The doctor is
    enthusiastically in favor of the privilege; the sick-line has
    been so considerably reduced that he estimates his time-saving
    at two hours daily. Some of the boys tell me they have almost
    entirely ceased masturbating. The shop employees envy the
    "idlers" now; many have purposely precipitated trouble in order
    to be put in solitary, and thus enjoy an hour in the open. But
    Sandy "got next," and now those locked up "for cause" are
    excluded from exercise.

    Here are some data for our book. The population at the end of
    last year was 956--the lowest point in over a decade. The Warden
    admits that the war has decreased crime; the Inspectors' report
    refers to the improved economic conditions, as compared with the
    panicky times of the opening years in the 90's. But the
    authorities do not appear very happy over the reduction in the
    Riverside population. You understand the reason: the smaller the
    total, the less men may be exploited in the industries. I am not
    prepared to say whether there is collusion between the judges
    and the administration of the prison, but it is very significant
    that the class of offenders formerly sent to the workhouse are
    being increasingly sentenced to the penitentiary, and an unusual
    number are transferred here from the Reformatory at Huntington
    and the Reform School of Morganza. The old-timers joke about the
    Warden telephoning to the Criminal Court, to notify the judges
    how many men are "wanted" for the stocking shop.

    The unions might be interested in the methods of nullifying the
    convict labor law. In every shop twice as many are employed as
    the statute allows; the "illegal" are carried on the books as
    men working on "State account"; that is, as cleaners and clerks,
    not as producers. Thus it happens that in the mat shop, for
    instance, more men are booked as clerks and sweepers than are
    employed on the looms! In the broom shop there are 30 supposed
    clerks and 15 cleaners, to a total of 53 producers legally
    permitted. This is the way the legislation works on which the
    labor bodies have expended such tremendous efforts. The broom
    shop is still contracted to Lang Bros., with their own foreman
    in charge, and his son a guard in the prison.

    Enough for to-day. When I hear of the safe arrival of this
    letter, I may have more intimate things to discuss.





The adverse decision of the Board of Pardons terminates all hope of
release by legal means. Had the Board refused to commute my sentence
after hearing the argument, another attempt could be made later on. But
the refusal to grant a rehearing, the crafty stratagem to circumvent
even the presentation of my case, reveals the duplicity of the previous
promise and the guilty consciousness of the illegality of my multiplied
sentences. The authorities are determined that I should remain in the
prison, confident that it will prove my tomb. Realizing this fires my
defiance, and all the stubborn resistance of my being. There is no hope
of surviving my term. At best, even with the full benefit of the
commutation time--which will hardly be granted me, in view of the
attitude of the prison management--I still have over nine years to
serve. But existence is becoming increasingly more unbearable; long
confinement and the solitary have drained my vitality. To endure the
nine years is almost a physical impossibility. I must therefore
concentrate all my energy and efforts upon escape.

My position as rangeman is of utmost advantage. I have access to every
part of the cell-house, excepting the "crank row." The incident of
feeding the insane has put an embargo upon my communication with them, a
special hallboy having been assigned to care for the deranged. But
within my area on the range are the recent arrivals and the sane
solitaries; the division of my duties with the new man merely
facilitates my task, and affords me more leisure.

       *       *       *       *       *

The longing for liberty constantly besets my mind, suggesting various
projects. The idea of escape daily strengthens into the determination
born of despair. It possesses me with an exclusive passion, shaping
every thought, molding every action. By degrees I curtail correspondence
with my prison chums, that I may devote the solitude of the evening to
the development of my plans. The underground tunnel masters my mind with
the boldness of its conception, its tremendous possibilities. But the
execution! Why do my friends regard the matter so indifferently? Their
tepidity irritates me. Often I lash myself into wild anger with Carl for
having failed to impress my comrades with the feasibility of the plan,
to fire them with the enthusiasm of activity. My _sub rosa_ route is
sporadic and uncertain. Repeatedly I have hinted to my friends the
bitter surprise I feel at their provoking indifference; but my
reproaches have been studiously ignored. I cannot believe that
conditions in the movement preclude the realization of my suggestion.
These things have been accomplished in Russia. Why not in America? The
attempt should be made, if only for its propagandistic effect. True, the
project will require considerable outlay, and the work of skilled and
trustworthy men. Have we no such in our ranks? In Parsons and Lum, this
country has produced her Zheliabovs; is the genius of America not equal
to a Hartman?[48] The tacit skepticism of my correspondents pain me, and
rouses my resentment. They evidently lack faith in the judgment of "one
who has been so long separated" from their world, from the interests and
struggles of the living. The consciousness of my helplessness without
aid from the outside gnaws at me, filling my days with bitterness. But I
will persevere: I will compel their attention and their activity; aye,
their enthusiasm!

  [48] Hartman engineered the tunnel beneath the Moscow railway,
       undermined in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Alexander
       II., in 1880.

With utmost zeal I cultivate the acquaintance of Tony. The months of
frequent correspondence and occasional personal meetings have developed
a spirit of congeniality and good will. I exert my ingenuity to create
opportunities for stolen interviews and closer comradeship. Through the
aid of a friendly officer, I procure for Tony the privilege of assisting
his rangeman after shop hours, thus enabling him to communicate with me
to greater advantage. Gradually we become intimate, and I learn the
story of his life, rich in adventure and experience. An Alsatian, small
and wiry, Tony is a man of quick wit, with a considerable dash of the
Frenchman about him. He is intelligent and daring--the very man to carry
out my plan.

For days I debate in my mind the momentous question: shall I confide the
project to Tony? It would be placing myself in his power, jeopardizing
the sole hope of my life. Yet it is the only way; I must rely on my
intuition of the man's worth. My nights are sleepless, excruciating with
the agony of indecision. But my friend's sentence is nearing completion.
We shall need time for discussion and preparation, for thorough
consideration of every detail. At last I resolve to take the decisive
step, and next day I reveal the secret to Tony.

His manner allays apprehension. Serene and self-possessed, he listens
gravely to my plan, smiles with apparent satisfaction, and briefly
announces that it shall be done. Only the shining eyes of my reticent
comrade betray his elation at the bold scheme, and his joy in the
adventure. He is confident that the idea is feasible, suggesting the
careful elaboration of details, and the invention of a cipher to insure
greater safety for our correspondence. The precaution is necessary; it
will prove of inestimable value upon his release.

With great circumspection the cryptogram is prepared, based on a
discarded system of German shorthand, but somewhat altered, and further
involved by the use of words of our own coinage. The cipher, thus
perfected, will defy the skill of the most expert.

But developments within the prison necessitate changes in the project.
The building operations near the bathhouse destroy the serviceability of
the latter for my purpose. We consider several new routes, but soon
realize that lack of familiarity with the construction of the
penitentiary gas and sewer systems may defeat our success. There are no
means of procuring the necessary information: Tony is confined to the
shop, while I am never permitted out of the cell-house. In vain I strive
to solve the difficulty; weeks pass without bringing light.

My Providence comes unexpectedly, in the guise of a fight in the yard.
The combatants are locked up on my range. One of them proves to be
"Mac," an aged prisoner serving a third term. During his previous
confinement, he had filled the position of fireman, one of his duties
consisting in the weekly flushing of the sewers. He is thoroughly
familiar with the underground piping of the yard, but his reputation
among the inmates is tinged with the odor of sycophancy. He is, however,
the only means of solving my difficulty, and I diligently set myself to
gain his friendship. I lighten his solitary by numerous expressions of
my sympathy, often secretly supplying him with little extras procured
from my kitchen friends. The loquacious old man is glad of an
opportunity to converse, and I devote every propitious moment to
listening to his long-winded stories of the "great jobs" he had
accomplished in "his" time, the celebrated "guns" with whom he had
associated, the "great hauls" he had made and "blowed in with th'
fellers." I suffer his chatter patiently, encouraging the recital of his
prison experiences, and leading him on to dwell upon his last "bit." He
becomes reminiscent of his friends in Riverside, bewails the early
graves of some, others "gone bugs," and rejoices over his good chum
Patty McGraw managing to escape. The ever-interesting subject gives
"Mac" a new start, and he waxes enthusiastic over the ingenuity of
Patty, while I express surprise that he himself had never attempted to
take French leave. "What!" he bristles up, "think I'm such a dummy?" and
with great detail he discloses his plan, "'way in th' 80's" to swim
through the sewer. I scoff at his folly, "You must have been a chump,
Mac, to think it could be done," I remark. "I was, was I? What do you
know about the piping, eh? Now, let me tell you. Just wait," and,
snatching up his library slate, he draws a complete diagram of the
prison sewerage. In the extreme southwest corner of the yard he
indicates a blind underground alley.

"What's this?" I ask, in surprise.

"Nev'r knew _that_, did yer? It's a little tunn'l, connectin' th'
cellar with th' females, see? Not a dozen men in th' dump know 't; not
ev'n a good many screws. Passage ain't been used fer a long time."

In amazement I scan the diagram. I had noticed a little trap door at the
very point in the yard indicated in the drawing, and I had often
wondered what purpose it might serve. My heart dances with joy at the
happy solution of my difficulty. The "blind alley" will greatly
facilitate our work. It is within fifteen feet, or twenty at most, of
the southwestern wall. Its situation is very favorable: there are no
shops in the vicinity; the place is never visited by guards or

The happy discovery quickly matures the details of my plan: a house is
to be rented opposite the southern wall, on Sterling Street. Preferably
it is to be situated very near to the point where the wall adjoins the
cell-house building. Dug in a direct line across the street, and
underneath the south wall, the tunnel will connect with the "blind
alley." I shall manage the rest.


Slowly the autumn wanes. The crisp days of the Indian summer linger, as
if unwilling to depart. But I am impatient with anxiety, and long for
the winter. Another month, and Tony will be free. Time lags with tardy
step, but at last the weeks dwarf into days, and with joyful heart we
count the last hours.

To-morrow my friend will greet the sunshine. He will at once communicate
with my comrades, and urge the immediate realization of the great plan.
His self-confidence and faith will carry conviction, and stir them with
enthusiasm for the undertaking. A house is to be bought or rented
without loss of time, and the environs inspected. Perhaps operations
could not begin till spring; meanwhile funds are to be collected to
further the work. Unfortunately, the Girl, a splendid organizer, is
absent from the country. But my friends will carefully follow the
directions I have entrusted to Tony, and through him I shall keep in
touch with the developments. I have little opportunity for _sub rosa_
mail; by means of our cipher, however, we can correspond officially,
without risk of the censor's understanding, or even suspecting, the
innocent-looking flourishes scattered through the page.

With the trusted Tony my thoughts walk beyond the gates, and again and
again I rehearse every step in the project, and study every detail. My
mind dwells in the outside. In silent preoccupation I perform my duties
on the range. More rarely I converse with the prisoners: I must take
care to comply with the rules, and to retain my position. To lose it
would be disastrous to all my hopes of escape.

As I pass the vacant cell, in which I had spent the last year of my
solitary, the piteous chirping of a sparrow breaks in upon my thoughts.
The little visitor, almost frozen, hops on the bar above. My assistant
swings the duster to drive it away, but the sparrow hovers about the
door, and suddenly flutters to my shoulder. In surprise I pet the bird;
it seems quite tame. "Why, it's Dick!" the assistant exclaims. "Think of
him coming back!" my hands tremble as I examine the little bird. With
great joy I discover the faint marks of blue ink I had smeared under its
wings last summer, when the Warden had ordered my little companion
thrown out of the window. How wonderful that it should return and
recognize the old friend and the cell! Tenderly I warm and feed the
bird. What strange sights my little pet must have seen since he was
driven out into the world! what struggles and sorrows has he suffered!
The bright eyes look cheerily into mine, speaking mute confidence and
joy, while he pecks from my hand crumbs of bread and sugar. Foolish
birdie, to return to prison for shelter and food! Cold and cruel must be
the world, my little Dick; or is it friendship, that is stronger than
even love of liberty?

So may it be. Almost daily I see men pass through the gates and soon
return again, driven back by the world--even like you, little Dick. Yet
others there are who would rather go cold and hungry in freedom, than be
warm and fed in prison--even like me, little Dick. And still others
there be who would risk life and liberty for the sake of their
friendship--even like you and, I hope, Tony, little Dick.



                                                       _Sub Rosa_,
                                                      Jan. 15, 1900.


    I write in an agony of despair. I am locked up again. It was all
    on account of my bird. You remember my feathered pet, Dick. Last
    summer the Warden ordered him put out, but when cold weather set
    in, Dick returned. Would you believe it? He came back to my old
    cell, and recognized me when I passed by. I kept him, and he
    grew as tame as before--he had become a bit wild in the life
    outside. On Christmas day, as Dick was playing near my cell, Bob
    Runyon--the stool, you know--came by and deliberately kicked the
    bird. When I saw Dick turn over on his side, his little eyes
    rolling in the throes of death, I rushed at Runyon and knocked
    him down. He was not hurt much, and everything could have passed
    off quietly, as no screw was about. But the stool reported me to
    the Deputy, and I was locked up.

    Mitchell has just been talking to me. The good old fellow was
    fond of Dick, and he promises to get me back on the range. He is
    keeping the position vacant for me, he says; he put a man in my
    place who has only a few more weeks to serve. Then I'm to take
    charge again.

    I am not disappointed at your information that "the work" will
    have to wait till spring. It's unavoidable, but I am happy that
    preparations have been started. How about those revolvers,
    though? You haven't changed your mind, I hope. In one of your
    letters you seem to hint that the matter has been attended to.
    How can that be? Jim, the plumber--you know he can be
    trusted--has been on the lookout for a week. He assures me that
    nothing came, so far. Why do you delay? I hope you didn't throw
    the package through the cellar window when Jim wasn't at his
    post. Hardly probable. But if you did, what the devil could have
    become of it? I see no sign here of the things being discovered:
    there would surely be a terrible hubbub. Look to it, and write
    at once.





The disappearance of the revolvers is shrouded in mystery. In vain I
rack my brain to fathom the precarious situation; it defies
comprehension and torments me with misgivings. Jim's certainty that the
weapons did not pass between the bars of the cellar, momentarily allays
my dread. But Tony's vehement insistence that he had delivered the
package, throws me into a panic of fear. My firm faith in the two
confidants distracts me with uncertainty and suspense. It is incredible
that Tony should seek to deceive me. Yet Jim has kept constant vigil at
the point of delivery; there is little probability of his having missed
the package. But supposing he has, what has become of it? Perhaps it
fell into some dark corner of the cellar. The place must be searched at

Desperate with anxiety, I resort to the most reckless means to afford
Jim an opportunity to visit the cellar. I ransack the cell-house for old
papers and rags; with miserly hand I gather all odds and ends, broken
tools, pieces of wood, a bucketful of sawdust. Trembling with fear of
discovery, I empty the treasure into the sewer at the end of the hall,
and tightly jam the elbow of the waste pipe. The smell of excrement
fills the block, the cell privies overrun, and inundate the hall. The
stench is overpowering; steadily the water rises, threatening to flood
the cell-house. The place is in a turmoil: the solitaries shout and
rattle on the bars, the guards rush about in confusion. The Block
Captain yells, "Hey, Jasper, hurry! Call the plumber; get Jim. Quick!"

But repeated investigation of the cellar fails to disclose the weapons.
In constant dread of dire possibilities, I tremble at every step,
fancying lurking suspicion, sudden discovery, and disaster. But the days
pass; the calm of the prison routine is undisturbed, giving no
indication of untoward happening or agitation. By degrees my fears
subside. The inexplicable disappearance of the revolvers is fraught with
danger; the mystery is disquieting, but it has fortunately brought no
results, and must apparently remain unsolved.

       *       *       *       *       *

Unexpectedly my fears are rearoused. Called to the desk by Officer
Mitchell for the distribution of the monthly allowance of matches, I
casually glance out of the yard door. At the extreme northwestern end,
Assistant Deputy Hopkins loiters near the wall, slowly walking on the
grass. The unusual presence of the overseer at the abandoned gate wakes
my suspicion. The singular idling of the energetic guard, his furtive
eyeing of the ground, strengthens my worst apprehensions. Something must
have happened. Are they suspecting the tunnel? But work has not been
commenced; besides, it is to terminate at the very opposite point of the
yard, fully a thousand feet distant. In perplexity I wonder at the
peculiar actions of Hopkins. Had the weapons been found, every inmate
would immediately be subjected to a search, and shops and cell-house

In anxious speculation I pass a sleepless night; morning dawns without
bringing a solution. But after breakfast the cell-house becomes
strangely quiet; the shop employees remain locked in. The rangemen are
ordered to their cells, and guards from the yard and shops march into
the block, and noisily ascend the galleries. The Deputy and Hopkins
scurry about the hall; the rotunda door is thrown open with a clang, and
the sharp command of the Warden resounds through the cell-house,
"General search!"

I glance hurriedly over my table and shelf. Surprises of suspected
prisoners are frequent, and I am always prepared. But some contraband is
on hand. Quickly I snatch my writing material from the womb of the
bedtick. In the very act of destroying several sketches of the previous
year, a bright thought flashes across my mind. There is nothing
dangerous about them, save the theft of the paper. "Prison Types," "In
the Streets of New York," "Parkhurst and the Prostitute," "Libertas--a
Study in Philology," "The Slavery of Tradition"--harmless products of
evening leisure. Let them find the booklets! I'll be severely
reprimanded for appropriating material from the shops, but my sketches
will serve to divert suspicion: the Warden will secretly rejoice that my
mind is not busy with more dangerous activities. But the sudden search
signifies grave developments. General overhaulings, involving temporary
suspension of the industries and consequent financial loss, are rare.
The search of the entire prison is not due till spring. Its precipitancy
confirms my worst fears: the weapons have undoubtedly been found! Jim's
failure to get possession of them assumes a peculiar aspect. It is
possible, of course, that some guard, unexpectedly passing through the
cellar, discovered the bundle between the bars, and appropriated it
without attracting Jim's notice. Yet the latter's confident assertion of
his presence at the window at the appointed moment indicates another
probability. The thought is painful, disquieting. But who knows? In an
atmosphere of fear and distrust and almost universal espionage, the best
friendships are tinged with suspicion. It may be that Jim, afraid of
consequences, surrendered the weapons to the Warden. He would have no
difficulty in explaining the discovery, without further betrayal of my
confidence. Yet Jim, a "pete man"[49] of international renown, enjoys
the reputation of a thoroughly "square man" and loyal friend. He has
given me repeated proof of his confidence, and I am disinclined to
accuse a possibly innocent man. It is fortunate, however, that his
information is limited to the weapons. No doubt he suspects some sort of
escape; but I have left him in ignorance of my real plans. With these
Tony alone is entrusted.

  [49] Safe blower.

The reflection is reassuring. Even if indiscretion on Tony's part is
responsible for the accident, he has demonstrated his friendship.
Realizing the danger of his mission, he may have thrown in the weapons
between the cellar bars, ignoring my directions of previously
ascertaining the presence of Jim at his post. But the discovery of the
revolvers vindicates the veracity of Tony, and strengthens my confidence
in him. My fate rests in the hands of a loyal comrade, a friend who has
already dared great peril for my sake.

       *       *       *       *       *

The general search is over, bringing to light quantities of various
contraband. The counterfeit outfit, whose product has been circulating
beyond the walls of the prison, is discovered, resulting in a secret
investigation by Federal officials. In the general excitement, the
sketches among my effects have been ignored, and left in my possession.
But no clew has been found in connection with the weapons. The
authorities are still further mystified by the discovery that the lock
on the trapdoor in the roof of the cell-house building had been tampered
with. With an effort I suppress a smile at the puzzled bewilderment of
the kindly old Mitchell, as, with much secrecy, he confides to me the
information. I marvel at the official stupidity that failed to make the
discovery the previous year, when, by the aid of Jim and my young friend
Russell, I had climbed to the top of the cell-house, while the inmates
were at church, and wrenched off the lock of the trapdoor, leaving in
its place an apparent counterpart, provided by Jim. With the key in our
possession, we watched for an opportunity to reach the outside roof,
when certain changes in the block created insurmountable obstacles,
forcing the abandonment of the project. Russell was unhappy over the
discovery, the impulsive young prisoner steadfastly refusing to be
reconciled to the failure. His time, however, being short, I have been
urging him to accept the inevitable. The constant dwelling upon escape
makes imprisonment more unbearable; the passing of his remaining two
years would be hastened by the determination to serve out his sentence.

The boy listens quietly to my advice, his blue eyes dancing with
merriment, a sly smile on the delicate lips. "You are right, Aleck," he
replies, gravely, "but say, last night I thought out a scheme; it's
great, and we're sure to make our get-a-way." With minute detail he
pictures the impossible plan of sawing through the bars of the cell at
night, "holding up" the guards, binding and gagging them, and "then the
road would be clear." The innocent boy, for all his back-country
reputation of "bad man," is not aware that "then" is the very threshold
of difficulties. I seek to explain to him that, the guards being
disposed of, we should find ourselves trapped in the cell-house. The
solid steel double doors leading to the yard are securely locked, the
key in the sole possession of the Captain of the night watch, who cannot
be reached except through the well-guarded rotunda. But the boy is not
to be daunted. "We'll have to storm the rotunda, then," he remarks,
calmly, and at once proceeds to map out a plan of campaign. He smiles
incredulously at my refusal to participate in the wild scheme. "Oh, yes,
you will, Aleck. I don't believe a word you say. I know you're keen to
make a get-a-way." His confidence somewhat shaken by my resolution, he
announces that he will "go it alone."

The declaration fills me with trepidation: the reckless youth will throw
away his life; his attempt may frustrate my own success. But it is in
vain to dissuade him by direct means. I know the determination of the
boy. The smiling face veils the boundless self-assurance of exuberant
youth, combined with indomitable courage. The redundance of animal
vitality and the rebellious spirit have violently disturbed the inertia
of his rural home, aggravating its staid descendants of Dutch forbears.
The taunt of "ne'er-do-well" has dripped bitter poison into the innocent
pranks of Russell, stamping the brand of desperado upon the good-natured

I tax my ingenuity to delay the carrying out of his project. He has
secreted the saws I had procured from the Girl for the attempt of the
previous year, and his determination is impatient to make the dash for
liberty. Only his devotion to me and respect for my wishes still hold
the impetuous boy in leash. But each day his restlessness increases;
more insistently he urges my participation and a definite explanation of
my attitude.

At a loss to invent new objections, I almost despair of dissuading
Russell from his desperate purpose. From day to day I secure his solemn
promise to await my final decision, the while I vaguely hope for some
development that would force the abandonment of his plan. But nothing
disturbs the routine, and I grow nervous with dread lest the boy,
reckless with impatience, thwart my great project.


The weather is moderating; the window sashes in the hall are being
lowered: the signs of approaching spring multiply. I chafe at the lack
of news from Tony, who had departed on his mission to New York. With
greedy eyes I follow the Chaplain on his rounds of mail delivery.
Impatient of his constant pauses on the galleries, I hasten along the
range to meet the postman.

"Any letters for me, Mr. Milligan?" I ask, with an effort to steady my

"No, m' boy."

My eyes devour the mail in his hand. "None to-day, Aleck," he adds;
"this is for your neighbor Pasquale."

I feel apprehensive at Tony's silence. Another twenty-four hours must
elapse before the Chaplain returns. Perhaps there will be no mail for me
to-morrow, either. What can be the matter with my friend? So many
dangers menace his every step--he might be sick--some accident....
Anxious days pass without mail. Russell is becoming more insistent,
threatening a "break." The solitaries murmur at my neglect. I am nervous
and irritable. For two weeks I have not heard from Tony; something
terrible must have happened. In a ferment of dread, I keep watch on the
upper rotunda. The noon hour is approaching: the Chaplain fumbles with
his keys; the door opens, and he trips along the ranges. Stealthily I
follow him under the galleries, pretending to dust the bars. He descends
to the hall.

"Good morning, Chaplain," I seek to attract his attention, wistfully
peering at the mail in his hand.

"Good morning, m' boy. Feeling good to-day?"

"Thank you; pretty fair." My voice trembles at his delay, but I fear
betraying my anxiety by renewed questioning.

He passes me, and I feel sick with disappointment. Now he pauses.
"Aleck," he calls, "I mislaid a letter for you yesterday. Here it is."

With shaking hand I unfold the sheet. In a fever of hope and fear, I
pore over it in the solitude of the cell. My heart palpitates violently
as I scan each word and letter, seeking hidden meaning, analyzing every
flourish and dash, carefully distilling the minute lines, fusing the
significant dots into the structure of meaning. Glorious! A house has
been rented--28 Sterling Street--almost opposite the gate of the south
wall. Funds are on hand, work is to begin at once!

With nimble step I walk the range. The river wafts sweet fragrance to my
cell, the joy of spring is in my heart. Every hour brings me nearer to
liberty: the faithful comrades are steadily working underground. Perhaps
within a month, or two at most, the tunnel will be completed. I count
the days, crossing off each morning the date on my calendar. The news
from Tony is cheerful, encouraging: the work is progressing smoothly,
the prospects of success are splendid. I grow merry at the efforts of
uninitiated friends in New York to carry out the suggestions of the
attorneys to apply to the Superior Court of the State for a writ, on the
ground of the unconstitutionality of my sentence. I consult gravely with
Mr. Milligan upon the advisability of the step, the amiable Chaplain
affording me the opportunity of an extra allowance of letter paper. I
thank my comrades for their efforts, and urge the necessity of
collecting funds for the appeal to the upper court. Repeatedly I ask the
advice of the Chaplain in the legal matter, confident that my apparent
enthusiasm will reach the ears of the Warden: the artifice will mask my
secret project and lull suspicion. My official letters breathe assurance
of success, and with much show of confidence I impress upon the trusties
my sanguine expectation of release. I discuss the subject with officers
and stools, till presently the prison is agog with the prospective
liberation of its fourth oldest inmate. The solitaries charge me with
messages to friends, and the Deputy Warden offers advice on behavior
beyond the walls. The moment is propitious for a bold stroke. Confined
to the cell-house, I shall be unable to reach the tunnel. The privilege
of the yard is imperative.

It is June. Unfledged birdies frequently fall from their nests, and I
induce the kindly runner, "Southside" Johnny, to procure for me a brace
of sparlings. I christen the little orphans Dick and Sis, and the memory
of my previous birds is revived among inmates and officers. Old Mitchell
is in ecstasy over the intelligence and adaptability of my new feathered
friends. But the birds languish and waste in the close air of the
block; they need sunshine and gravel, and the dusty street to bathe in.
Gradually I enlist the sympathies of the new doctor by the curious
performances of my pets. One day the Warden strolls in, and joins in
admiration of the wonderful birds.

"Who trained them?" he inquires.

"This man," the physician indicates me. A slight frown flits over the
Warden's face. Old Mitchell winks at me, encouragingly.

"Captain," I approach the Warden, "the birds are sickly for lack of air.
Will you permit me to give them an airing in the yard?"

"Why don't you let them go? You have no permission to keep them."

"Oh, it would be a pity to throw them out," the doctor intercedes. "They
are too tame to take care of themselves."

"Well, then," the Warden decides, "let Jasper take them out every day."

"They will not go with any one except myself," I inform him. "They
follow me everywhere."

The Warden hesitates.

"Why not let Berkman go out with them for a few moments," the doctor
suggests. "I hear you expect to be free soon," he remarks to me
casually. "Your case is up for revision?"


"Well, Berkman," the Warden motions to me, "I will permit you ten
minutes in the yard, after your sweeping is done. What time are you
through with it?"

"At 9.30 A. M."

"Mr. Mitchell, every morning, at 9.30, you will pass Berkman through the
doors. For ten minutes, on the watch." Then turning to me, he adds:
"You are to stay near the greenhouse; there is plenty of sand there. If
you cross the dead line of the sidewalk, or exceed your time a single
minute, you will be punished."



                                                       May 10, 1900.


    Your letters intoxicate me with hope and joy. No sooner have I
    sipped the rich aroma than I am athirst for more nectar. Write
    often, dear friend; it is the only solace of suspense.

    Do not worry about this end of the line. All is well. By
    stratagem I have at last procured the privilege of the yard.
    Only for a few minutes every morning, but I am judiciously
    extending my prescribed time and area. The prospects are bright
    here; every one talks of my application to the Superior Court,
    and peace reigns--you understand.

    A pity I cannot write directly to my dear, faithful comrades,
    your coworkers. You shall be the medium. Transmit to them my
    deepest appreciation. Tell "Yankee" and "Ibsen" and our Italian
    comrades what I feel--I know I need not explain it further to
    you. No one realizes better than myself the terrible risks they
    are taking, the fearful toil in silence and darkness, almost
    within hearing of the guards. The danger, the heroic
    self-sacrifice--what money could buy such devotion? I grow faint
    with the thought of their peril. I could almost cry at the
    beautiful demonstration of solidarity and friendship. Dear
    comrades, I feel proud of you, and proud of the great truth of
    Anarchism that can produce such disciples, such spirit. I
    embrace you, my noble comrades, and may you speed the day that
    will make me happy with the sight of your faces, the touch of
    your hands.


                                                             June 5.


    Your silence was unbearable. The suspense is terrible. Was it
    really necessary to halt operations so long? I am surprised you
    did not foresee the shortage of air and the lack of light. You
    would have saved so much time. It is a great relief to know that
    the work is progressing again, and very fortunate indeed that
    "Yankee" understands electricity. It must be hellish work to
    pump air into the shaft. Take precautions against the whir of
    the machinery. The piano idea is great. Keep her playing and
    singing as much as possible, and be sure you have all windows
    open. The beasts on the wall will be soothed by the music, and
    it will drown the noises underground. Have an electric button
    connected from the piano to the shaft; when the player sees
    anything suspicious on the street or the guards on the wall, she
    can at once notify the comrades to stop work.

    I am enclosing the wall and yard measurements you asked. But why
    do you need them? Don't bother with unnecessary things. From
    house beneath the street, directly toward the southwestern wall.
    For that you can procure measurements outside. On the inside you
    require none. Go under wall, about 20-30 feet, till you strike
    wall of blind alley. Cut into it, and all will be complete.
    Write of progress without delay. Greetings to all.


                                                            June 20.


    Your letters bewilder me. Why has the route been changed? You
    were to go to southwest, yet you say now you are near the east
    wall. It's simply incredible, Tony. Your explanation is not
    convincing. If you found a gas main near the gate, you could
    have gone around it; besides, the gate is out of your way
    anyhow. Why did you take that direction at all? I wish, Tony,
    you would follow my instructions and the original plan. Your
    failure to report the change immediately, may prove fatal. I
    could have informed you--once you were near the southeastern
    gate--to go directly underneath; then you would have saved
    digging under the wall; there is no stone foundation, of course,
    beneath the gate. Now that you have turned the south-east
    corner, you will have to come under the wall there, and it is
    the worst possible place, because that particular part used to
    be a swamp, and I have learned that it was filled with extra
    masonry. Another point; an old abandoned natural-gas well is
    somewhere under the east wall, about 300 feet from the gate.
    Tell our friends to be on the lookout for fumes; it is a very
    dangerous place; special precautions must be taken.

    [Illustration: A--House on Sterling Street from which the Tunnel
    started. B--Point at which the Tunnel entered under the east
    wall. C--Mat Shop, near which the Author was permitted to take
    his birds for ten minutes every day, for exercise. D--North
    Block, where the Author was confined at the time of the Tunnel
    episode. E--South Block.]

    Do not mind my brusqueness, dear Tony. My nerves are on edge,
    the suspense is driving me mad. And I must mask my feelings, and
    smile and look indifferent. But I haven't a moment's peace. I
    imagine the most terrible things when you fail to write. Please
    be more punctual. I know you have your hands full; but I fear
    I'll go insane before this thing is over. Tell me especially how
    far you intend going along the east wall, and where you'll come
    out. This complicates the matter. You have already gone a longer
    distance than would have been necessary per original plan. It
    was a grave mistake, and if you were not such a devoted friend,
    I'd feel very cross with you. Write at once. I am arranging a
    new _sub rosa_ route. They are building in the yard; many
    outside drivers, you understand.



    I'm in great haste to send this. You know the shed opposite the
    east wall. It has only a wooden floor and is not frequented much
    by officers. A few cons are there, from the stone pile. I'll
    attend to them. Make directly for that shed. It's a short
    distance from wall. I enclose measurements.



    You distract me beyond words. What has become of your caution,
    your judgment? A hole in the grass _will not do_. I am
    absolutely opposed to it. There are a score of men on the stone
    pile and several screws. It is sure to be discovered. And even
    if you leave the upper crust intact for a foot or two, how am I
    to dive into the hole in the presence of so many? You don't seem
    to have considered that. There is only _one_ way, the one I
    explained in my last. Go to the shed; it's only a little more
    work, 30-40 feet, no more. Tell the comrades the grass idea is
    impossible. A little more effort, friends, and all will be well.
    Answer at once.



    Why do you insist on the hole in the ground? I tell you again it
    will not do. I won't consider it for a moment. I am on the
    inside--you must let me decide what can or cannot be done here.
    I am prepared to risk everything for liberty, would risk my life
    a thousand times. I am too desperate now for any one to block my
    escape; I'd break through a wall of guards, if necessary. But I
    still have a little judgment, though I am almost insane with the
    suspense and anxiety. If you insist on the hole, I'll make the
    break, though there is not one chance in a hundred for success.
    I beg of you, Tony, the thing must be dug to the shed; it's only
    a little way. After such a tremendous effort, can we jeopardize
    it all so lightly? I assure you, the success of the hole plan is
    unthinkable. They'd all see me go down into it; I'd be followed
    at once--what's the use talking.

    Besides, you know I have no revolvers. Of course I'll have a
    weapon, but it will not help the escape. Another thing, your
    change of plans has forced me to get an assistant. The man is
    reliable, and I have only confided to him parts of the project.
    I need him to investigate around the shed, take measurements,
    etc. I am not permitted anywhere near the wall. But you need not
    trouble about this; I'll be responsible for my friend. But I
    tell you about it, so that you prepare two pair of overalls
    instead of one. Also leave two revolvers in the house, money,
    and cipher directions for us where to go. None of our comrades
    is to wait for us. Let them all leave as soon as everything is
    ready. But be sure you don't stop at the hole. Go to the shed,



    The hole will not do. The more I think of it, the more
    impossible I find it. I am sending an urgent call for money to
    the Editor. You know whom I mean. Get in communication with him
    at once. Use the money to continue work to shed.


                                            Direct to Box A 7,
                                              Allegheny City, Pa.,
                                                      June 25, 1900.


    The Chaplain was very kind to permit me an extra sheet of paper,
    on urgent business. I write to you in a very great extremity.
    You are aware of the efforts of my friends to appeal my case.
    Read carefully, please. I have lost faith in their attorneys. I
    have engaged my _own_ "lawyers." Lawyers in quotation marks--a
    prison joke, you see. I have utmost confidence in _these_
    lawyers. They will, absolutely, procure my release, even if it
    is not a pardon, you understand. I mean, we'll go to the
    Superior Court, different from a Pardon Board--another prison

    My friends are short of money. We need some _at once_. The work
    is started, but cannot be finished for lack of funds. Mark well
    what I say: _I'll not be responsible for anything_--the worst
    may happen--unless money is procured _at once_. You have
    influence. I rely on you to understand and to act promptly.

                              Your comrade,

                                                  ALEXANDER BERKMAN.


    I can see how this thing has gone on your nerves. To think that
    you, you the cautious Tony, should be so reckless--to send me a
    telegram. You could have ruined the whole thing. I had trouble
    explaining to the Chaplain, but it's all right now. Of course,
    if it must be the hole, it can't be helped. I understood the
    meaning of your wire: from the seventh bar on the east wall, ten
    feet to west. We'll be there on the minute--3 P. M. But July 4th
    won't do. It's a holiday: no work; my friend will be locked up.
    Can't leave him in the lurch. It will have to be next day, July
    5th. It's only three days more. I wish it was over; I can't bear
    the worry and suspense any more. May it be my Independence Day!


                                                             July 6.


    It's terrible. It's all over. Couldn't make it. Went there on
    time, but found a big pile of stone and brick right on top of
    the spot. Impossible to do anything. I warned you they were
    building near there. I was seen at the wall--am now strictly
    forbidden to leave the cell-house. But my friend has been there
    a dozen times since--the hole can't be reached: a mountain of
    stone hides it. It won't be discovered for a little while.
    Telegraph at once to New York for more money. You must continue
    to the shed. I can force my way there, if need be. It's the only
    hope. Don't lose a minute.


                                                            July 13.


    A hundred dollars was sent to the office for me from New York. I
    told Chaplain it is for my appeal. I am sending the money to
    you. Have work continued at once. There is still hope. Nothing
    suspected. But the wire that you pushed through the grass to
    indicate the spot, was not found by my friend. Too much stone
    over it. Go to shed at once.


                                                            July 16.

    Tunnel discovered. Lose no time. Leave the city immediately. I
    am locked up on suspicion.




The discovery of the tunnel overwhelms me with the violence of an
avalanche. The plan of continuing the work, the trembling hope of
escape, of liberty, life--all is suddenly terminated. My nerves, tense
with the months of suspense and anxiety, relax abruptly. With torpid
brain I wonder, "Is it possible, is it really possible?"

       *       *       *       *       *

An air of uneasiness, as of lurking danger, fills the prison. Vague
rumors are afloat: a wholesale jail delivery had been planned, the walls
were to be dynamited, the guards killed. An escape has actually taken
place, it is whispered about. The Warden wears a look of bewilderment
and fear; the officers are alert with suspicion. The inmates manifest
disappointment and nervous impatience. The routine is violently
disturbed: the shops are closed, the men locked in the cells.

The discovery of the tunnel mystifies the prison and the city
authorities. Some children, at play on the street, had accidentally
wandered into the yard of the deserted house opposite the prison gates.
The piles of freshly dug soil attracted their attention; a boy,
stumbling into the cellar, was frightened by the sight of the deep
cavern; his mother notified the agent of the house, who, by a peculiar
coincidence, proved to be an officer of the penitentiary. But in vain
are the efforts of the prison authorities to discover any sign of the
tunnel within the walls. Days pass in the fruitless investigation of the
yard--the outlet of the tunnel within the prison cannot be found.
Perhaps the underground passage does not extend to the penitentiary? The
Warden voices his firm conviction that the walls have not been
penetrated. Evidently it was not the prison, he argues, which was the
objective point of the diggers. The authorities of the City of Allegheny
decide to investigate the passage from the house on Sterling Street. But
the men that essay to crawl through the narrow tunnel are forced to
abandon their mission, driven back by the fumes of escaping gas. It is
suggested that the unknown diggers, whatever their purpose, have been
trapped in the abandoned gas well and perished before the arrival of
aid. The fearful stench no doubt indicates the decomposition of human
bodies; the terrible accident has forced the inmates of 28 Sterling
Street to suspend their efforts before completing the work. The
condition of the house--the half-eaten meal on the table, the clothing
scattered about the rooms, the general disorder--all seem to point to
precipitate flight.

The persistence of the assertion of a fatal accident disquiets me, in
spite of my knowledge to the contrary. Yet, perhaps the reckless Tony,
in his endeavor to force the wire signal through the upper crust,
perished in the well. The thought unnerves me with horror, till it is
announced that a negro, whom the police had induced to crawl the length
of the tunnel, brought positive assurance that no life was sacrificed in
the underground work. Still the prison authorities are unable to find
the objective point, and it is finally decided to tear up the streets
beneath which the tunnel winds its mysterious way.

       *       *       *       *       *

The undermined place inside the walls at last being discovered after a
week of digging at various points in the yard, the Warden reluctantly
admits the apparent purpose of the tunnel, at the same time informing
the press that the evident design was the liberation of the Anarchist
prisoner. He corroborates his view by the circumstance that I had been
reported for unpermitted presence at the east wall, pretending to
collect gravel for my birds. Assistant Deputy Warden Hopkins further
asserts having seen and talked with Carl Nold near the "criminal" house,
a short time before the discovery of the tunnel. The developments,
fraught with danger to my friends, greatly alarm me. Fortunately, no
clew can be found in the house, save a note in cipher which apparently
defies the skill of experts. The Warden, on his Sunday rounds, passes my
cell, then turns as if suddenly recollecting something. "Here, Berkman,"
he says blandly, producing a paper, "the press is offering a
considerable reward to any one who will decipher the note found in the
Sterling Street house. It's reproduced here. See if you can't make it
out." I scan the paper carefully, quickly reading Tony's directions for
my movements after the escape. Then, returning the paper, I remark
indifferently, "I can read several languages, Captain, but this is
beyond me."

The police and detective bureaus of the twin cities make the
announcement that a thorough investigation conclusively demonstrates
that the tunnel was intended for William Boyd, a prisoner serving twelve
years for a series of daring forgeries. His "pals" had succeeded in
clearing fifty thousand dollars on forged bonds, and it is they who did
the wonderful feat underground, to secure the liberty of the valuable
penman. The controversy between the authorities of Allegheny and the
management of the prison is full of animosity and bitterness. Wardens of
prisons, chiefs of police, and detective departments of various cities
are consulted upon the mystery of the ingenious diggers, and the
discussion in the press waxes warm and antagonistic. Presently the chief
of police of Allegheny suffers a change of heart, and sides with the
Warden, as against his personal enemy, the head of the Pittsburgh
detective bureau. The confusion of published views, and my persistent
denial of complicity in the tunnel, cause the much-worried Warden to
fluctuate. A number of men are made the victims of his mental
uncertainty. Following my exile into solitary, Pat McGraw is locked up
as a possible beneficiary of the planned escape. In 1890 he had slipped
through the roof of the prison, the Warden argues, and it is therefore
reasonable to assume that the man is meditating another delivery. Jack
Robinson, Cronin, "Nan," and a score of others, are in turn suspected by
Captain Wright, and ordered locked up during the preliminary
investigation. But because of absolute lack of clews the prisoners are
presently returned to work, and the number of "suspects" is reduced to
myself and Boyd, the Warden having discovered that the latter had
recently made an attempt to escape by forcing an entry into the cupola
of the shop he was employed in, only to find the place useless for his

A process of elimination and the espionage of the trusties gradually
center exclusive suspicion upon myself. In surprise I learn that young
Russell has been cited before the Captain. The fear of indiscretion on
the part of the boy startles me from my torpor. I must employ every
device to confound the authorities and save my friends. Fortunately none
of the tunnelers have yet been arrested, the controversy between the
city officials and the prison management having favored inaction. My
comrades cannot be jeopardized by Russell. His information is limited
to the mere knowledge of the specific person for whom the tunnel was
intended; the names of my friends are entirely unfamiliar to him. My
heart goes out to the young prisoner, as I reflect that never once had
he manifested curiosity concerning the men at the secret work. Desperate
with confinement, and passionately yearning for liberty though he was,
he had yet offered to sacrifice his longings to aid my escape. How
transported with joy was the generous youth when I resolved to share my
opportunity with him! He had given faithful service in attempting to
locate the tunnel entrance; the poor boy had been quite distracted at
our failure to find the spot. I feel confident Russell will not betray
the secret in his keeping. Yet the persistent questioning by the Warden
and Inspectors is perceptibly working on the boy's mind. He is so young
and inexperienced--barely nineteen; a slip of the tongue, an inadvertent
remark, might convert suspicion into conviction.

Every day Russell is called to the office, causing me torments of
apprehension and dread, till a glance at the returning prisoner, smiling
encouragingly as he passes my cell, informs me that the danger is past
for the day. With a deep pang, I observe the increasing pallor of his
face, the growing restlessness in his eyes, the languid step. The
continuous inquisition is breaking him down. With quivering voice he
whispers as he passes, "Aleck, I'm afraid of them." The Warden has
threatened him, he informs me, if he persists in his pretended ignorance
of the tunnel. His friendship for me is well known, the Warden reasons;
we have often been seen together in the cell-house and yard; I must
surely have confided to Russell my plans of escape. The big, strapping
youth is dwindling to a shadow under the terrible strain. Dear,
faithful friend! How guilty I feel toward you, how torn in my inmost
heart to have suspected your devotion, even for that brief instant when,
in a panic of fear, you had denied to the Warden all knowledge of the
slip of paper found in your cell. It cast suspicion upon me as the
writer of the strange Jewish scrawl. The Warden scorned my explanation
that Russell's desire to learn Hebrew was the sole reason for my writing
the alphabet for him. The mutual denial seemed to point to some secret;
the scrawl was similar to the cipher note found in the Sterling Street
house, the Warden insisted. How strange that I should have so
successfully confounded the Inspectors with the contradictory testimony
regarding the tunnel, that they returned me to my position on the range.
And yet the insignificant incident of Russell's hieroglyphic imitation
of the Hebrew alphabet should have given the Warden a pretext to order
me into solitary! How distracted and bitter I must have felt to charge
the boy with treachery! His very reticence strengthened my suspicion,
and all the while the tears welled into his throat, choking the innocent
lad beyond speech. How little I suspected the terrible wound my hasty
imputation had caused my devoted friend! In silence he suffered for
months, without opportunity to explain, when at last, by mere accident,
I learned the fatal mistake.

In vain I strive to direct my thoughts into different channels. My
misunderstanding of Russell plagues me with recurring persistence; the
unjust accusation torments my sleepless nights. It was a moment of
intense joy that I experienced as I humbly begged his pardon to-day,
when I met him in the Captain's office. A deep sense of relief, almost
of peace, filled me at his unhesitating, "Oh, never mind, Aleck, it's
all right; we were both excited." I was overcome by thankfulness and
admiration of the noble boy, and the next instant the sight of his wan
face, his wasted form, pierced me as with a knife-thrust. With the
earnest conviction of strong faith I sought to explain to the Board of
Inspectors the unfortunate error regarding the Jewish writing. But they
smiled doubtfully. It was too late: their opinion of a prearranged
agreement with Russell was settled. But the testimony of Assistant
Deputy Hopkins that he had seen and conversed with Nold a few weeks
before the discovery of the tunnel, and that he saw him enter the
"criminal" house, afforded me an opportunity to divide the views among
the Inspectors. I experienced little difficulty in convincing two
members of the Board that Nold could not possibly have been connected
with the tunnel, because for almost a year previously, and since, he had
been in the employ of a St. Louis firm. They accepted my offer to prove
by the official time-tables of the company that Nold was in St. Louis on
the very day that Hopkins claimed to have spoken with him. The fortunate
and very natural error of Hopkins in mistaking the similar appearance of
Tony for that of Carl, enabled me to discredit the chief link connecting
my friends with the tunnel. The diverging views of the police officials
of the twin cities still further confounded the Inspectors, and I was
gravely informed by them that the charge of attempted escape against me
had not been conclusively substantiated. They ordered my reinstatement
as rangeman, but the Captain, on learning the verdict, at once charged
me before the Board with conducting a secret correspondence with
Russell. On the pretext of the alleged Hebrew note, the Inspectors
confirmed the Warden's judgment, and I was sentenced to the solitary and
immediately locked up in the South Wing.




The solitary is stifling with the August heat. The hall windows, high
above the floor, cast a sickly light, shrouding the bottom range in
darksome gloom. At every point, my gaze meets the irritating white of
the walls, in spots yellow with damp. The long days are oppressive with
silence; the stone cage echoes my languid footsteps mournfully.

Once more I feel cast into the night, torn from the midst of the living.
The failure of the tunnel forever excludes the hope of liberty.
Terrified by the possibilities of the planned escape, the Warden's
determination dooms my fate. I shall end my days in strictest seclusion,
he has informed me. Severe punishment is visited upon any one daring to
converse with me; even officers are forbidden to pause at my cell. Old
Evans, the night guard, is afraid even to answer my greeting, since he
was disciplined with the loss of ten days' pay for being seen at my
door. It was not his fault, poor old man. The night was sultry; the
sashes of the hall window opposite my cell were tightly closed. Almost
suffocated with the foul air, I requested the passing Evans to raise the
window. It had been ordered shut by the Warden, he informed me. As he
turned to leave, three sharp raps on the bars of the upper rotunda
almost rooted him to the spot with amazement. It was 2 A. M. No one was
supposed to be there at night. "Come here, Evans!" I recognized the curt
tones of the Warden. "What business have you at that man's door?" I
could distinctly hear each word, cutting the stillness of the night. In
vain the frightened officer sought to explain: he had merely answered a
question, he had stopped but a moment. "I've been watching you there for
half an hour," the irate Warden insisted. "Report to me in the morning."

Since then the guards on their rounds merely glance between the bars,
and pass on in silence. I have been removed within closer observation of
the nightly prowling Captain, and am now located near the rotunda, in
the second cell on the ground floor, Range Y. The stringent orders of
exceptional surveillance have so terrorized my friends that they do not
venture to look in my direction. A special officer has been assigned to
the vicinity of my door, his sole duty to keep me under observation. I
feel buried alive. Communication with my comrades has been interrupted,
the Warden detaining my mail. I am deprived of books and papers, all my
privileges curtailed. If only I had my birds! The company of my little
pets would give me consolation. But they have been taken from me, and I
fear the guards have killed them. Deprived of work and exercise I pass
the days in the solitary, monotonous, interminable.


By degrees anxiety over my friends is allayed. The mystery of the tunnel
remains unsolved. The Warden reiterates his moral certainty that the
underground passage was intended for the liberation of the Anarchist
prisoner. The views of the police and detective officials of the twin
cities are hopelessly divergent. Each side asserts thorough familiarity
with the case, and positive conviction regarding the guilty parties. But
the alleged clews proving misleading, the matter is finally abandoned.
The passage has been filled with cement, and the official investigation
is terminated.

The safety of my comrades sheds a ray of light into the darkness of my
existence. It is consoling to reflect that, disastrous as the failure is
to myself, my friends will not be made victims of my longing for
liberty. At no time since the discovery of the tunnel has suspicion been
directed to the right persons. The narrow official horizon does not
extend beyond the familiar names of the Girl, Nold, and Bauer. These
have been pointed at by the accusing finger repeatedly, but the men
actually concerned in the secret attempt have not even been mentioned.
No danger threatens them from the failure of my plans. In a
communication to a local newspaper, Nold has incontrovertibly proved his
continuous residence in St. Louis for a period covering a year previous
to the tunnel and afterwards. Bauer has recently married; at no time
have the police been in ignorance of his whereabouts, and they are aware
that my former fellow-prisoner is to be discounted as a participator in
the attempted escape. Indeed, the prison officials must have learned
from my mail that the big German is regarded by my friends as an
ex-comrade merely. But the suspicion of the authorities directed toward
the Girl--with a pang of bitterness, I think of her unfortunate absence
from the country during the momentous period of the underground work.
With resentment I reflect that but for that I might now be at liberty!
Her skill as an organizer, her growing influence in the movement, her
energy and devotion, would have assured the success of the undertaking.
But Tony's unaccountable delay had resulted in her departure without
learning of my plans. It is to him, to his obstinacy and conceit, that
the failure of the project is mostly due, staunch and faithful though he

In turn I lay the responsibility at the door of this friend and that,
lashing myself into furious rage at the renegade who had appropriated a
considerable sum of the money intended for the continuation of the
underground work. Yet the outbursts of passion spent, I strive to find
consolation in the correctness of the intuitive judgment that prompted
the selection of my "lawyers," the devoted comrades who so heroically
toiled for my sake in the bowels of the earth. Half-naked they had
labored through the weary days and nights, stretched at full length in
the narrow passage, their bodies perspiring and chilled in turn, their
hands bleeding with the terrible toil. And through the weeks and months
of nerve-racking work and confinement in the tunnel, of constant dread
of detection and anxiety over the result, my comrades had uttered no
word of doubt or fear, in full reliance upon their invisible friend.
What self-sacrifice in behalf of one whom some of you had never even
known! Dear, beloved comrades, had you succeeded, my life could never
repay your almost superhuman efforts and love. Only the future years of
active devotion to our great common Cause could in a measure express my
thankfulness and pride in you, whoever, wherever you are. Nor were your
heroism, your skill and indomitable perseverance, without avail. You
have given an invaluable demonstration of the elemental reality of the
Ideal, of the marvelous strength and courage born of solidaric purpose,
of the heights devotion to a great Cause can ascend. And the lesson has
not been lost. Almost unanimous is the voice of the press--only
Anarchists could have achieved the wonderful feat!

       *       *       *       *       *

The subject of the tunnel fascinates my mind. How little thought I had
given to my comrades, toiling underground, in the anxious days of my own
apprehension and suspense! With increasing vividness I visualize their
trepidation, the constant fear of discovery, the herculean efforts in
spite of ever-present danger. How terrible must have been _their_
despair at the inability to continue the work to a successful

My reflections fill me with renewed strength. I must live! I must live
to meet those heroic men, to take them by the hand, and with silent lips
pour my heart into their eyes. I shall be proud of their comradeship,
and strive to be worthy of it.


The lines form in the hallway, and silently march to the shops. I peer
through the bars, for the sight of a familiar face brings cheer, and the
memory of the days on the range. Many friends, unseen for years, pass by
my cell. How Big Jack has wasted! The deep chest is sunk in, the face
drawn and yellow, with reddish spots about the cheekbones. Poor Jack, so
strong and energetic, how languid and weak his step is now! And Jimmy is
all broken up with rheumatism, and hops on crutches. With difficulty I
recognize Harry Fisher. The two years have completely changed the young
Morganza boy. He looks old at seventeen, the rosy cheeks a ghastly
white, the delicate features immobile, hard, the large bright eyes dull
and glassy. Vividly my friends stand before me in the youth and strength
of their first arrival. How changed their appearance! My poor chums,
readers of the _Prison Blossoms_, helpers in our investigation efforts,
what wrecks the torture of hell has made of you! I recall with sadness
the first years of my imprisonment, and my coldly impersonal valuation
of social victims. There is Evans, the aged burglar, smiling furtively
at me from the line. Far in the distance seems the day when I read his
marginal note upon a magazine article I sent him, concerning the
stupendous cost of crime. I had felt quite piqued at the flippancy of
his comment, "We come high, but they must have us." With the severe
intellectuality of revolutionary tradition, I thought of him and his
kind as inevitable fungus growths, the rotten fruit of a decaying
society. Unfortunate derelicts, indeed, yet parasites, almost devoid of
humanity. But the threads of comradeship have slowly been woven by
common misery. The touch of sympathy has discovered the man beneath the
criminal; the crust of sullen suspicion has melted at the breath of
kindness, warming into view the palpitating human heart. Old Evans and
Sammy and Bob,--what suffering and pain must have chilled their fiery
souls with the winter of savage bitterness! And the resurrection
trembles within! How terrible man's ignorance, that forever condemns
itself to be scourged by its own blind fury! And these my friends, Davis
and Russell, these innocently guilty,--what worse punishment could
society inflict upon itself, than the loss of their latent nobility
which it had killed?... Not entirely in vain are the years of suffering
that have wakened my kinship with the humanity of _les misérables_, whom
social stupidity has cast into the valley of death.




My new neighbor turns my thoughts into a different channel. It is
"Fighting" Tom, returned after several years of absence. By means of a
string attached to a wire we "swing" notes to each other at night, and
Tom startles me by the confession that he was the author of the
mysterious note I had received soon after my arrival in the
penitentiary. An escape was being planned, he informs me, and I was to
be "let in," by his recommendation. But one of the conspirators getting
"cold feet," the plot was betrayed to the Warden, whereupon Tom "sent
the snitch to the hospital." As a result, however, he was kept in
solitary till his release. In the prison he had become proficient as a
broom-maker, and it was his intention to follow the trade. There was
nothing in the crooked line, he thought; and he resolved to be honest.
But on the day of his discharge he was arrested at the gate by officers
from Illinois on an old charge. He swore vengeance against Assistant
Deputy Hopkins, before whom he had once accidentally let drop the remark
that he would never return to Illinois, because he was "wanted" there.
He lived the five years in the Joliet prison in the sole hope of
"getting square" with the man who had so meanly betrayed him. Upon his
release, he returned to Pittsburgh, determined to kill Hopkins. On the
night of his arrival he broke into the latter's residence, prepared to
avenge his wrongs. But the Assistant Deputy had left the previous day on
his vacation. Furious at being baffled, Tom was about to set fire to the
house, when the light of his match fell upon a silver trinket on the
bureau of the bedroom. It fascinated him. He could not take his eyes off
it. Suddenly he was seized with the desire to examine the contents of
the house. The old passion was upon him. He could not resist. Hardly
conscious of his actions, he gathered the silverware into a tablecloth,
and quietly stole out of the house. He was arrested the next day, as he
was trying to pawn his booty. An old offender, he received a sentence of
ten years. Since his arrival, eight months ago, he has been kept in
solitary. His health is broken; he has no hope of surviving his
sentence. But if he is to die--he swears--he is going to take "his man"

Aware of the determination of "Fighting" Tom, I realize that the safety
of the hated officer is conditioned by Tom's lack of opportunity to
carry out his revenge. I feel little sympathy for Hopkins, whose
craftiness in worming out the secrets of prisoners has placed him on the
pay-roll of the Pinkerton agency; but I exert myself to persuade Tom
that it would be sheer insanity thus deliberately to put his head in the
noose. He is still a young man; barely thirty. It is not worth while
sacrificing his life for a sneak of a guard.

However, Tom remains stubborn. My arguments seem merely to rouse his
resistance, and strengthen his resolution. But closer acquaintance
reveals to me his exceeding conceit over his art and technic, as a
second-story expert. I play upon his vanity, scoffing at the crudity of
his plans of revenge. Would it not be more in conformity with his
reputation as a skilled "gun," I argue, to "do the job" in a "smoother"
manner? Tom assumes a skeptical attitude, but by degrees grows more
interested. Presently, with unexpected enthusiasm, he warms to the
suggestion of "a break." Once outside, well--"I'll get 'im all right,"
he chuckles.


The plan of escape completely absorbs us. On alternate nights we take
turns in timing the rounds of the guards, the appearance of the Night
Captain, the opening of the rotunda door. Numerous details, seemingly
insignificant, yet potentially fatal, are to be mastered. Many obstacles
bar the way of success, but time and perseverance will surmount them.
Tom is thoroughly engrossed with the project. I realize the desperation
of the undertaking, but the sole alternative is slow death in the
solitary. It is the last resort.

With utmost care we make our preparations. The summer is long past; the
dense fogs of the season will aid our escape. We hasten to complete all
details, in great nervous tension with the excitement of the work. The
time is drawing near for deciding upon a definite date. But Tom's state
of mind fills me with apprehension. He has become taciturn of late.
Yesterday he seemed peculiarly glum, sullenly refusing to answer my
signal. Again and again I knock on the wall, calling for a reply to my
last note. Tom remains silent. Occasionally a heavy groan issues from
his cell, but my repeated signals remain unanswered. In alarm I stay
awake all night, in the hope of inducing a guard to investigate the
cause of the groaning. But my attempts to speak to the officers are
ignored. The next morning I behold Tom carried on a stretcher from his
cell, and learn with horror that he had bled to death during the night.


The peculiar death of my friend preys on my mind. Was it suicide or
accident? Tom had been weakened by long confinement; in some manner he
may have ruptured a blood vessel, dying for lack of medical aid. It is
hardly probable that he would commit suicide on the eve of our attempt.
Yet certain references in his notes of late, ignored at the time, assume
new significance. He was apparently under the delusion that Hopkins was
"after him." Once or twice my friend had expressed fear for his safety.
He might be poisoned, he hinted. I had laughed the matter away, familiar
with the sporadic delusions of men in solitary. Close confinement exerts
a similar effect upon the majority of prisoners. Some are especially
predisposed to auto-suggestion; Young Sid used to manifest every symptom
of the diseases he read about. Perhaps poor Tom's delusion was
responsible for his death. Spencer, too, had committed suicide a month
before his release, in the firm conviction that the Warden would not
permit his discharge. It may be that in a sudden fit of despondency, Tom
had ended his life. Perhaps I could have saved my friend: I did not
realize how constantly he brooded over the danger he believed himself
threatened with. How little I knew of the terrible struggle that must
have been going on in his tortured heart! Yet we were so intimate; I
believed I understood his every feeling and emotion.

       *       *       *       *       *

The thought of Tom possesses my mind. The news from the Girl about
Bresci's execution of the King of Italy rouses little interest in me.
Bresci avenged the peasants and the women and children shot before the
palace for humbly begging bread. He did well, and the agitation
resulting from his act may advance the Cause. But it will have no
bearing on my fate. The last hope of escape has departed with my poor
friend. I am doomed to perish here. And Bresci will perish in prison,
but the comrades will eulogize him and his act, and continue their
efforts to regenerate the world. Yet I feel that the individual, in
certain cases, is of more direct and immediate consequence than
humanity. What is the latter but the aggregate of individual
existences--and shall these, the best of them, forever be sacrificed for
the metaphysical collectivity? Here, all around me, a thousand
unfortunates daily suffer the torture of Calvary, forsaken by God and
man. They bleed and struggle and suicide, with the desperate cry for a
little sunshine and life. How shall they be helped? How helped amid the
injustice and brutality of a society whose chief monuments are prisons?
And so we must suffer and suicide, and countless others after us, till
the play of social forces shall transform human history into the history
of true humanity,--and meanwhile our bones will bleach on the long,
dreary road.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bereft of the last hope of freedom, I grow indifferent to life. The
monotony of the narrow cell daily becomes more loathsome. My whole being
longs for rest. Rest, no more to awaken. The world will not miss me. An
atom of matter, I shall return to endless space. Everything will pursue
its wonted course, but I shall know no more of the bitter struggle and
strife. My friends will sorrow, and yet be glad my pain is over, and
continue on their way. And new Brescis will arise, and more kings will
fall, and then all, friend and enemy, will go my way, and new
generations will be born and die, and humanity and the world be whirled
into space and disappear, and again the little stage will be set, and
the same history and the same facts will come and go, the playthings of
cosmic forces renewing and transforming forever.

How insignificant it all is in the eye of reason, how small and puny
life and all its pain and travail!... With eyes closed, I behold myself
suspended by the neck from the upper bars of the cell. My body swings
gently against the door, striking it softly, once, twice,--just like
Pasquale, when he hanged himself in the cell next to mine, some months
ago. A few twitches, and the last breath is gone. My face grows livid,
my body rigid; slowly it cools. The night guard passes. "What's this,
eh?" He rings the rotunda bell. Keys clang; the lever is drawn, and my
door unlocked. An officer draws a knife sharply across the rope at the
bars: my body sinks to the floor, my head striking against the iron
bedstead. The doctor kneels at my side; I feel his hand over my heart.
Now he rises.

"Good job, Doc?" I recognize the Deputy's voice.

The physician nods.

"Damn glad of it," Hopkins sneers.

The Warden enters, a grin on his parchment face. With an oath I spring
to my feet. In terror the officers rush from the cell. "Ah, I fooled
you, didn't I, you murderers!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The thought of the enemy's triumph fans the embers of life. It engenders
defiance, and strengthens stubborn resistance.




In my utter isolation, the world outside appears like a faint memory,
unreal and dim. The deprivation of newspapers has entirely severed me
from the living. Letters from my comrades have become rare and
irregular; they sound strangely cold and impersonal. The life of the
prison is also receding; no communication reaches me from my friends.
"Pious" John, the rangeman, is unsympathetic; he still bears me ill will
from the days of the jail. Only young Russell still remembers me. I
tremble for the reckless boy as I hear his low cough, apprising me of
the "stiff" he unerringly shoots between the bars, while the double file
of prisoners marches past my door. He looks pale and haggard, the old
buoyant step now languid and heavy. A tone of apprehension pervades his
notes. He is constantly harassed by the officers, he writes; his task
has been increased; he is nervous and weak, and his health is declining.
In the broken sentences, I sense some vague misgiving, as of impending

With intense thankfulness I think of Russell. Again I live through the
hopes and fears that drew us into closer friendship, the days of
terrible anxiety incident to the tunnel project. My heart goes out to
the faithful boy, whose loyalty and discretion have so much aided the
safety of my comrades. A strange longing for his companionship possesses
me. In the gnawing loneliness, his face floats before me, casting the
spell of a friendly presence, his strong features softened by sorrow,
his eyes grown large with the same sweet sadness of "Little Felipe." A
peculiar tenderness steals into my thoughts of the boy; I look forward
eagerly to his notes. Impatiently I scan the faces in the passing line,
wistful for the sight of the youth, and my heart beats faster at his
fleeting smile.

How sorrowful he looks! Now he is gone. The hours are weary with silence
and solitude. Listlessly I turn the pages of my library book. If only I
had the birds! I should find solace in their thoughtful eyes: Dick and
Sis would understand and feel with me. But my poor little friends have
disappeared; only Russell remains. My only friend! I shall not see him
when he returns to the cell at noon: the line passes on the opposite
side of the hall. But in the afternoon, when the men are again unlocked
for work, I shall look into his eyes for a happy moment, and perhaps the
dear boy will have a message for me. He is so tender-hearted: his
correspondence is full of sympathy and encouragement, and he strives to
cheer me with the good news: another day is gone, his sentence is
nearing its end; he will at once secure a position, and save every penny
to aid in my release. Tacitly I concur in his ardent hope,--it would
break his heart to be disillusioned.


The passing weeks and months bring no break in the dreary monotony. The
call of the robin on the river bank rouses no echo in my heart. No sign
of awakening spring brightens the constant semi-darkness of the
solitary. The dampness of the cell is piercing my bones; every movement
racks my body with pain. My eyes are tortured with the eternal white of
the walls. Sombre shadows brood around me.

I long for a bit of sunshine. I wait patiently at the door: perhaps it
is clear to-day. My cell faces west; may be the setting sun will steal a
glance upon me. For hours I stand with naked breast close to the bars: I
must not miss a friendly ray; it may suddenly peep into the cell and
turn away from me, unseen in the gloom. Now a bright beam plays on my
neck and shoulders, and I press closer to the door to welcome the dear
stranger. He caresses me with soft touch,--perhaps it is the soul of
little Dick pouring out his tender greeting in this song of light,--or
may be the astral aura of my beloved Uncle Maxim, bringing warmth and
hope. Sweet conceit of Oriental thought, barren of joy in life.... The
sun is fading. It feels chilly in the twilight,--and now the solitary is
once more bleak and cold.

       *       *       *       *       *

As his release approaches, the tone of native confidence becomes more
assertive in Russell's letter. The boy is jubilant and full of vitality:
within three months he will breathe the air of freedom. A note of
sadness at leaving me behind permeates his communications, but he is
enthusiastic over his project of aiding me to liberty.

Eagerly every day I anticipate his mute greeting, as he passes in the
line. This morning I saw him hold up two fingers, the third crooked, in
sign of the remaining "two and a stump." A joyous light is in his eyes,
his step firmer, more elastic.

But in the afternoon he is missing from the line. With sudden
apprehension I wonder at his absence. Could I have overlooked him in the
closely walking ranks? It is barely possible. Perhaps he has remained
in the cell, not feeling well. It may be nothing serious; he will surely
be in line to-morrow.

For three days, every morning and afternoon, I anxiously scrutinize the
faces of the passing men; but Russell is not among them. His absence
torments me with a thousand fears. May be the Warden has renewed his
inquisition of the boy--perhaps he got into a fight in the shop--in the
dungeon now--he'll lose his commutation time.... Unable to bear the
suspense, I am about to appeal to the Chaplain, when a friendly runner
surreptitiously hands me a note.

With difficulty I recognize my friend's bold handwriting in the uneven,
nervous scrawl. Russell is in the hospital! At work in the shop, he
writes, he had suffered a chill. The doctor committed him to the ward
for observation, but the officers and the convict nurses accuse him of
shamming to evade work. They threaten to have him returned to the shop,
and he implores me to have the Chaplain intercede for him. He feels weak
and feverish, and the thought of being left alone in the cell in his
present condition fills him with horror.

I send an urgent request to see the Chaplain. But the guard informs me
that Mr. Milligan is absent; he is not expected at the office till the
following week. I prevail upon the kindly Mitchell, recently transferred
to the South Block, to deliver a note to the Warden, in which I appeal
on behalf of Russell. But several days pass, and still no reply from
Captain Wright. Finally I pretend severe pains in the bowels, to afford
Frank, the doctor's assistant, an opportunity to pause at my cell. As
the "medicine boy" pours the prescribed pint of "horse salts" through
the funnel inserted between the bars, I hastily inquire:

"Is Russell still in the ward, Frank? How is he?"

"What Russell?" he asks indifferently.

"Russell Schroyer, put four days ago under observation,"

"Oh, that poor kid! Why, he is paralyzed."

For an instant I am speechless with terror. No, it cannot be. Some

"Frank, I mean young Schroyer, from the construction shop. He's Number

"Your friend Russell; I know who you mean. I'm sorry for the boy. He is
paralyzed, all right."

"But.... No, it can't be! Why, Frank, it was just a chill and a little

"Look here, Aleck. I know you're square, and you can keep a secret all
right. I'll tell you something if you won't give me away."

"Yes, yes, Frank. What is it?"

"Sh--sh. You know Flem, the night nurse? Doing a five spot for murder.
His father and the Warden are old cronies. That's how he got to be
nurse; don't know a damn thing about it, an' careless as hell. Always
makes mistakes. Well, Doc ordered an injection for Russell. Now don't
ever say I told you. Flem got the wrong bottle; gave the poor boy some
acid in the injection. Paralyzed the kid; he did, the damn murderer."

       *       *       *       *       *

I pass the night in anguish, clutching desperately at the faint hope
that it cannot be--some mistake--perhaps Frank has exaggerated. But in
the morning the "medicine boy" confirms my worst fears: the doctor has
said the boy will die. Russell does not realize the situation: there is
something wrong with his legs, the poor boy writes; he is unable to move
them, and suffers great pain. It can't be fever, he thinks; but the
physician will not tell him what is the matter....

The kindly Frank is sympathetic; every day he passes notes between us,
and I try to encourage Russell. He will improve, I assure him; his time
is short, and fresh air and liberty will soon restore him. My words seem
to soothe my friend, and he grows more cheerful, when unexpectedly he
learns the truth from the wrangling nurses. His notes grow piteous with
misery. Tears fill my eyes as I read his despairing cry, "Oh, Aleck, I
am so young. I don't want to die." He implores me to visit him; if I
could only come to nurse him, he is sure he would improve. He distrusts
the convict attendants who harry and banter the country lad; their
heartless abuse is irritating the sick boy beyond patience. Exasperated
by the taunts of the night nurse, Russell yesterday threw a saucer at
him. He was reported to the doctor, who threatened to send the paralyzed
youth to the dungeon. Plagued and tormented, in great suffering, Russell
grows bitter and complaining. The nurses and officers are persecuting
him, he writes; they will soon do him to death, if I will not come to
his rescue. If he could go to an outside hospital, he is sure to

Every evening Frank brings sadder news: Russell is feeling worse; he is
so nervous, the doctor has ordered the nurses to wear slippers; the
doors in the ward have been lined with cotton, to deaden the noise of
slamming; but even the sight of a moving figure throws Russell into
convulsions. There is no hope, Frank reports; decomposition has already
set in. The boy is in terrible agony; he is constantly crying with pain,
and calling for me.

Distraught with anxiety and yearning to see my sick friend, I resolve
upon a way to visit the hospital. In the morning, as the guard hands me
the bread ration and shuts my cell, I slip my hand between the sill and
door. With an involuntary cry I withdraw my maimed and bleeding
fingers. The overseer conducts me to the dispensary. By tacit permission
of the friendly "medicine boy" I pass to the second floor, where the
wards are located, and quickly steal to Russell's bedside. The look of
mute joy on the agonized face subdues the excruciating pain in my hand.
"Oh, dear Aleck," he whispers, "I'm so glad they let you come. I'll get
well if you'll nurse me." The shadow of death is in his eyes; the body
exudes decomposition. Bereft of speech, I gently press his white,
emaciated hand. The weary eyes close, and the boy falls into slumber.
Silently I touch his dry lips, and steal away.

In the afternoon I appeal to the Warden to permit me to nurse my friend.
It is the boy's dying wish; it will ease his last hours. The Captain
refers me to the Inspectors, but Mr. Reed informs me that it would be
subversive of discipline to grant my request. Thereupon I ask permission
to arrange a collection among the prisoners: Russell firmly believes
that he would improve in an outside hospital, and the Pardon Board might
grant the petition. Friendless prisoners are often allowed to circulate
subscription lists among the inmates, and two years previously I had
collected a hundred and twenty-three dollars for the pardon of a
lifetimer. But the Warden curtly refuses my plea, remarking that it is
dangerous to permit me to associate with the men. I suggest the Chaplain
for the mission, or some prisoner selected by the authorities. But this
offer is also vetoed, the Warden berating me for having taken advantage
of my presence in the dispensary to see Russell clandestinely, and
threatening to punish me with the dungeon. I plead with him for
permission to visit the sick boy who is hungry for a friendly presence,
and constantly calling for me. Apparently touched by my emotion, the
Captain yields. He will permit me to visit Russell, he informs me, on
condition that a guard be present at the meeting. For a moment I
hesitate. The desire to see my friend struggles against the fear of
irritating him by the sight of the hated uniform; but I cannot expose
the dying youth to this indignity and pain. Angered by my refusal,
perhaps disappointed in the hope of learning the secret of the tunnel
from the visit, the Warden forbids me hereafter to enter the hospital.

       *       *       *       *       *

Late at night Frank appears at my cell. He looks very grave, as he

"Aleck, you must bear up."


"Yes, Aleck."

"Worse? Tell me, Frank."

"He is dead. Bear up, Aleck. His last thought was of you. He was
unconscious all afternoon, but just before the end--it was 9.33--he sat
up in bed so suddenly, he frightened me. His arm shot out, and he cried,
'Good bye, Aleck.'"




                                                      July 10, 1901.


    This is from the hospital, _sub rosa_. Just out of the
    strait-jacket, after eight days.

    For over a year I was in the strictest solitary; for a long time
    mail and reading matter were denied me. I have no words to
    describe the horror of the last months.... I have passed through
    a great crisis. Two of my best friends died in a frightful
    manner. The death of Russell, especially, affected me. He was
    very young, and my dearest and most devoted friend, and he died
    a terrible death. The doctor charged the boy with shamming, but
    now he says it was spinal meningitis. I cannot tell you the
    awful truth,--it was nothing short of murder, and my poor friend
    rotted away by inches. When he died they found his back one mass
    of bedsores. If you could read the pitiful letters he wrote,
    begging to see me, and to be nursed by me! But the Warden
    wouldn't permit it. In some manner his agony seemed to affect
    me, and I began to experience the pains and symptoms that
    Russell described in his notes. I knew it was my sick fancy; I
    strove against it, but presently my legs showed signs of
    paralysis, and I suffered excruciating pain in the spinal
    column, just like Russell. I was afraid that I would be done to
    death like my poor friend. I grew suspicious of every guard, and
    would barely touch the food, for fear of its being poisoned. My
    "head was workin'," they said. And all the time I knew it was my
    diseased imagination, and I was in terror of going mad.... I
    tried so hard to fight it, but it would always creep up, and get
    hold of me stronger and stronger. Another week of solitary would
    have killed me.

    I was on the verge of suicide. I demanded to be relieved from
    the cell, and the Warden ordered me punished. I was put in the
    strait-jacket. They bound my body in canvas, strapped my arms to
    the bed, and chained my feet to the posts. I was kept that way
    eight days, unable to move, rotting in my own excrement.
    Released prisoners called the attention of our new Inspector to
    my case. He refused to believe that such things were being done
    in the penitentiary. Reports spread that I was going blind and
    insane. Then the Inspector visited the hospital and had me
    released from the jacket.

    I am in pretty bad shape, but they put me in the general ward
    now, and I am glad of the chance to send you this note.



                                            Direct to Box A 7,
                                              Allegheny City, Pa.,
                                                    July 25th, 1901.


    I cannot tell you how happy I am to be allowed to write to you
    again. My privileges have been restored by our new Inspector, a
    very kindly man. He has relieved me from the cell, and now I am
    again on the range. The Inspector requested me to deny to my
    friends the reports which have recently appeared in the papers
    concerning my condition. I have not been well of late, but now I
    hope to improve. My eyes are very poor. The Inspector has given
    me permission to have a specialist examine them. Please arrange
    for it through our local comrades.

    There is another piece of very good news, dear friend. A new
    commutation law has been passed, which reduces my sentence by
    2-1/2 years. It still leaves me a long time, of course; almost 4
    years here, and another year to the workhouse. However, it is a
    considerable gain, and if I should not get into solitary again,
    I may--I am almost afraid to utter the thought--I may live to
    come out. I feel as if I am being resurrected.

    The new law benefits the short-timers proportionately much more
    than the men with longer sentences. Only the poor lifers do not
    share in it. We were very anxious for a while, as there were
    many rumors that the law would be declared unconstitutional.
    Fortunately, the attempt to nullify its benefits proved
    ineffectual. Think of men who will see something
    unconstitutional in allowing the prisoners a little more good
    time than the commutation statute of 40 years ago. As if a
    little kindness to the unfortunates--really justice--is
    incompatible with the spirit of Jefferson! We were greatly
    worried over the fate of this statute, but at last the first
    batch has been released, and there is much rejoicing over it.

    There is a peculiar history about this new law, which may
    interest you; it sheds a significant side light. It was
    especially designed for the benefit of a high Federal officer
    who was recently convicted of aiding two wealthy Philadelphia
    tobacco manufacturers to defraud the government of a few
    millions, by using counterfeit tax stamps. Their influence
    secured the introduction of the commutation bill and its hasty
    passage. The law would have cut their sentences almost in two,
    but certain newspapers seem to have taken offence at having been
    kept in ignorance of the "deal," and protests began to be
    voiced. The matter finally came up before the Attorney General
    of the United States, who decided that the men in whose special
    interest the law was engineered, could not benefit by it,
    because a State law does not affect U. S. prisoners, the latter
    being subject to the Federal commutation act. Imagine the
    discomfiture of the politicians! An attempt was even made to
    suspend the operation of the statute. Fortunately it failed, and
    now the "common" State prisoners, who were not at all meant to
    profit, are being released. The legislature has unwittingly
    given some unfortunates here much happiness.

    I was interrupted in this writing by being called out for a
    visit. I could hardly credit it: the first comrade I have been
    allowed to see in nine years! It was Harry Gordon, and I was so
    overcome by the sight of the dear friend, I could barely speak.
    He must have prevailed upon the new Inspector to issue a permit.
    The latter is now Acting Warden, owing to the serious illness of
    Captain Wright. Perhaps he will allow me to see my sister. Will
    you kindly communicate with her at once? Meantime I shall try to
    secure a pass. With renewed hope, and always with green memory
    of you,



                                                       _Sub Rosa_,
                                                      Dec. 20, 1901.


    I know how your visit and my strange behavior have affected
    you.... The sight of your face after all these years completely
    unnerved me. I could not think, I could not speak. It was as if
    all my dreams of freedom, the whole world of the living, were
    concentrated in the shiny little trinket that was dangling from
    your watch chain.... I couldn't take my eyes off it, I couldn't
    keep my hand from playing with it. It absorbed my whole
    being.... And all the time I felt how nervous you were at my
    silence, and I couldn't utter a word.

    Perhaps it would have been better for us not to have seen each
    other under the present conditions. It was lucky they did not
    recognize you: they took you for my "sister," though I believe
    your identity was suspected after you had left. You would surely
    not have been permitted the visit, had the old Warden been here.
    He was ill at the time. He never got over the shock of the
    tunnel, and finally he has been persuaded by the prison
    physician (who has secret aspirations to the Wardenship) that
    the anxieties of his position are a menace to his advanced age.
    Considerable dissatisfaction has also developed of late against
    the Warden among the Inspectors. Well, he has resigned at last,
    thank goodness! The prisoners have been praying for it for
    years, and some of the boys on the range celebrated the event by
    getting drunk on wood alcohol. The new Warden has just assumed
    charge, and we hope for improvement. He is a physician by
    profession, with the title of Major in the Pennsylvania militia.

    It was entirely uncalled for on the part of the officious
    friend, whoever he may have been, to cause you unnecessary worry
    over my health, and my renewed persecution. You remember that in
    July the new Inspector released me from the strait-jacket and
    assigned me to work on the range. But I was locked up again in
    October, after the McKinley incident. The President of the Board
    of Inspectors was at the time in New York. He inquired by wire
    what I was doing. Upon being informed that I was working on the
    range, he ordered me into solitary. The new Warden, on assuming
    office, sent for me. "They give you a bad reputation," he said;
    "but I will let you out of the cell if you'll promise to do
    what is right by me." He spoke brusquely, in the manner of a man
    closing a business deal, with the power of dictating terms. He
    reminded me of Bismarck at Versailles. Yet he did not seem
    unkind; the thought of escape was probably in his mind. But the
    new law has germinated the hope of survival; my weakened
    condition and the unexpected shortening of my sentence have at
    last decided me to abandon the idea of escape. I therefore
    replied to the Warden: "I will do what is right by you, if you
    treat _me_ right." Thereupon he assigned me to work on the
    range. It is almost like liberty to have the freedom of the
    cell-house after the close solitary.

    And you, dear friend? In your letters I feel how terribly torn
    you are by the events of the recent months. I lived in great
    fear for your safety, and I can barely credit the good news that
    you are at liberty. It seems almost a miracle.

    I followed the newspapers with great anxiety. The whole country
    seemed to be swept with the fury of revenge. To a considerable
    extent the press fanned the fires of persecution. Here in the
    prison very little sincere grief was manifested. Out out of
    hearing of the guards, the men passed very uncomplimentary
    remarks about the dead president. The average prisoner
    corresponds to the average citizen--their patriotism is very
    passive, except when stimulated by personal interest, or
    artificially excited. But if the press mirrored the sentiment of
    the people, the nation must have suddenly relapsed into
    cannibalism. There were moments when I was in mortal dread for
    your very life, and for the safety of the other arrested
    comrades. In previous letters you hinted that it was official
    rivalry and jealousy, and your absence from New York, to which
    you owe your release. You may be right; yet I believe that your
    attitude of proud self-respect and your admirable self-control
    contributed much to the result. You were splendid, dear; and I
    was especially moved by your remark that you would faithfully
    nurse the wounded man, if he required your services, but that
    the poor boy, condemned and deserted by all, needed and deserved
    your sympathy and aid more than the president. More strikingly
    than your letters, that remark discovered to me the great change
    wrought in us by the ripening years. Yes, in us, in both, for my
    heart echoed your beautiful sentiment. How impossible such a
    thought would have been to us in the days of a decade ago! We
    should have considered it treason to the spirit of revolution;
    it would have outraged all our traditions even to admit the
    humanity of an official representative of capitalism. Is it not
    very significant that we two--you living in the very heart of
    Anarchist thought and activity, and I in the atmosphere of
    absolute suppression and solitude--should have arrived at the
    same evolutionary point after a decade of divergent paths?

    You have alluded in a recent letter to the ennobling and
    broadening influence of sorrow. Yet not upon every one does it
    exert a similar effect. Some natures grow embittered, and shrink
    with the poison of misery. I often wonder at my lack of
    bitterness and enmity, even against the old Warden--and surely I
    have good cause to hate him. Is it because of greater maturity?
    I rather think it is temperamentally conditioned. The love of
    the people, the hatred of oppression of our younger days, vital
    as these sentiments were with us, were mental rather than
    emotional. Fortunately so, I think. For those like Fedya and
    Lewis and Pauline, and numerous others, soon have their
    emotionally inflated idealism punctured on the thorny path of
    the social protestant. Only aspirations that spontaneously leap
    from the depths of our soul persist in the face of antagonistic
    forces. The revolutionist is born. Beneath our love and hatred
    of former days lay inherent rebellion, and the passionate desire
    for liberty and life.

    In the long years of isolation I have looked deeply into my
    heart. With open mind and sincere purpose, I have revised every
    emotion and every thought. Away from my former atmosphere and
    the disturbing influence of the world's turmoil, I have divested
    myself of all traditions and accepted beliefs. I have studied
    the sciences and the humanities, contemplated life, and pondered
    over human destiny. For weeks and months I would be absorbed in
    the domain of "pure reason," or discuss with Leibnitz the
    question of free will, and seek to penetrate, beyond Spencer,
    into the Unknowable. Political science and economics, law and
    criminology--I studied them with unprejudiced mind, and sought
    to slacken my soul's thirst by delving deeply into religion and
    theology, seeking the "Key to Life" at the feet of Mrs. Eddy,
    expectantly listening for the voice of disembodied, studying
    Koreshanity and Theosophy, absorbing the _prana_ of knowledge
    and power, and concentrating upon the wisdom of the Yogi. And
    after years of contemplation and study, chastened by much
    sorrow and suffering, I arise from the broken fetters of the
    world's folly and delusions, to behold the threshold of a new
    life of liberty and equality. My youth's ideal of a free
    humanity in the vague future has become clarified and
    crystallized into the living truth of Anarchy, as the sustaining
    elemental force of my every-day existence.

    Often I have wondered in the years gone by, was not wisdom dear
    at the price of enthusiasm? At 30 one is not so reckless, not so
    fanatical and one-sided as at 20. With maturity we become more
    universal; but life is a Shylock that cannot be cheated of his
    due. For every lesson it teaches us, we have a wound or a scar
    to show. We grow broader; but too often the heart contracts as
    the mind expands, and the fires are burning down while we are
    learning. At such moments my mind would revert to the days when
    the momentarily expected approach of the Social Revolution
    absorbed our exclusive interest. The raging present and its
    conflicting currents passed us by, while our eyes were riveted
    upon the Dawn, in thrilling expectancy of the sunrise. Life and
    its manifold expressions were vexatious to the spirit of revolt;
    and poetry, literature, and art were scorned as hindrances to
    progress, unless they sounded the tocsin of immediate
    revolution. Humanity was sharply divided in two warring
    camps,--the noble People, the producers, who yearned for the
    light of the new gospel, and the hated oppressors, the
    exploiters, who craftily strove to obscure the rising day that
    was to give back to man his heritage. If only "the good People"
    were given an opportunity to hear the great truth, how joyfully
    they would embrace Anarchy and walk in triumph into the promised

    The splendid naivety of the days that resented as a personal
    reflection the least misgiving of the future; the enthusiasm
    that discounted the power of inherent prejudice and
    predilection! Magnificent was the day of hearts on fire with the
    hatred of oppression and the love of liberty! Woe indeed to the
    man or the people whose soul never warmed with the spark of
    Prometheus,--for it is youth that has climbed the heights....
    But maturity has clarified the way, and the stupendous task of
    human regeneration will be accomplished only by the purified
    vision of hearts that grow not cold.

    And you, my dear friend, with the deeper insight of time, you
    have yet happily kept your heart young. I have rejoiced at it
    in your letters of recent years, and it is especially evident
    from the sentiments you have expressed regarding the happening
    at Buffalo. I share your view entirely; for that very reason, it
    is the more distressing to disagree with you in one very
    important particular: the value of Leon's act. I know the
    terrible ordeal you have passed through, the fiendish
    persecution to which you have been subjected. Worse than all
    must have been to you the general lack of understanding for such
    phenomena; and, sadder yet, the despicable attitude of some
    would-be radicals in denouncing the man and his act. But I am
    confident you will not mistake my expressed disagreement for

    We need not discuss the phase of the _Attentat_ which manifested
    the rebellion of a tortured soul, the individual protest against
    social wrong. Such phenomena are the natural result of evil
    conditions, as inevitable as the flooding of the river banks by
    the swelling mountain torrents. But I cannot agree with you
    regarding the social value of Leon's act.

    I have read of the beautiful personality of the youth, of his
    inability to adapt himself to brutal conditions, and the
    rebellion of his soul. It throws a significant light upon the
    causes of the _Attentat_. Indeed, it is at once the greatest
    tragedy of martyrdom, and the most terrible indictment of
    society, that it forces the noblest men and women to shed human
    blood, though their souls shrink from it. But the more
    imperative it is that drastic methods of this character be
    resorted to only as a last extremity. To prove of value, they
    must be motived by social rather than individual necessity, and
    be directed against a real and immediate enemy of the people.
    The significance of such a deed is understood by the popular
    mind--and in that alone is the propagandistic, educational
    importance of an _Attentat_, except if it is exclusively an act
    of terrorism.

    Now, I do not believe that this deed was terroristic; and I
    doubt whether it was educational, because the social necessity
    for its performance was not manifest. That you may not
    misunderstand, I repeat: as an expression of personal revolt it
    was inevitable, and in itself an indictment of existing
    conditions. But the background of social necessity was lacking,
    and therefore the value of the act was to a great extent

    In Russia, where political oppression is popularly felt, such a
    deed would be of great value. But the scheme of political
    subjection is more subtle in America. And though McKinley was
    the chief representative of our modern slavery, he could not be
    considered in the light of a direct and immediate enemy of the
    people; while in an absolutism, the autocrat is visible and
    tangible. The real despotism of republican institutions is far
    deeper, more insidious, because it rests on the popular delusion
    of self-government and independence. That is the subtle source
    of democratic tyranny, and, as such, it cannot be reached with a

    In modern capitalism, exploitation rather than oppression is the
    real enemy of the people. Oppression is but its handmaid. Hence
    the battle is to be waged in the economic rather than the
    political field. It is therefore that I regard my own act as far
    more significant and educational than Leon's. It was directed
    against a tangible, real oppressor, visualized as such by the

    As long as misery and tyranny fill the world, social contrasts
    and consequent hatreds will persist, and the noblest of the
    race--our Czolgoszes--burst forth in "rockets of iron." But does
    this lightning really illumine the social horizon, or merely
    confuse minds with the succeeding darkness? The struggle of
    labor against capital is a class war, essentially and chiefly
    economic. In that arena the battles must be fought.

    It was not these considerations, of course, that inspired the
    nation-wide man-hunt, or the attitude even of alleged radicals.
    Their cowardice has filled me with loathing and sadness. The
    brutal farce of the trial, the hypocrisy of the whole
    proceeding, the thirst for the blood of the martyr,--these make
    one almost despair of humanity.

    I must close. The friend to smuggle out this letter will be
    uneasy about its bulk. Send me sign of receipt, and I hope that
    you may be permitted a little rest and peace, to recover from
    the nightmare of the last months.





The discussion with the Girl is a source of much mortification. Harassed
on every side, persecuted by the authorities, and hounded even into the
street, my friend, in her hour of bitterness, confounds my appreciative
disagreement with the denunciation of stupidity and inertia. I realize
the inadequacy of the written word, and despair at the hopelessness of
human understanding, as I vainly seek to elucidate the meaning of the
Buffalo tragedy to friendly guards and prisoners. Continued
correspondence with the Girl accentuates the divergence of our views,
painfully discovering the fundamental difference of attitude underlying
even common conclusions.

By degrees the stress of activities reacts upon my friend's
correspondence. Our discussion lags, and soon ceases entirely. The world
of the outside, temporarily brought closer, again recedes, and the
urgency of the immediate absorbs me in the life of the prison.


A spirit of hopefulness breathes in the cell-house. The new commutation
law is bringing liberty appreciably nearer. In the shops and yard the
men excitedly discuss the increased "good time," and prisoners flit
about with paper and pencil, seeking a tutored friend to "figure out"
their time of release. Even the solitaries, on the verge of despair, and
the long-timers facing a vista of cheerless years, are instilled with
new courage and hope.

The tenor of conversation is altered. With the appointment of the new
Warden the constant grumbling over the food has ceased. Pleasant
surprise is manifest at the welcome change in "the grub." I wonder at
the tolerant silence regarding the disappointing Christmas dinner. The
men impatiently frown down the occasional "kicker." The Warden is
"green," they argue; he did not know that we are supposed to get currant
bread for the holidays; he will do better, "jest give 'im a chanc't."
The improvement in the daily meals is enlarged upon, and the men thrill
with amazed expectancy at the incredible report, "Oysters for New Year's
dinner!" With gratification we hear the Major's expression of disgust at
the filthy condition of the prison, his condemnation of the basket cell
and dungeon as barbarous, and the promise of radical reforms. As an
earnest of his régime he has released from solitary the men whom Warden
Wright had punished for having served as witnesses in the defence of
Murphy and Mong. Greedy for the large reward, Hopkins and his stools had
accused the two men of a mysterious murder committed in Elk City several
years previously. The criminal trial, involving the suicide of an
officer[50] whom the Warden had forced to testify against the
defendants, resulted in the acquittal of the prisoners, whereupon
Captain Wright ordered the convict-witnesses for the defence to be

  [50] Officer Robert G. Hunter, who committed suicide August 30,
       1901, in Clarion, Pa. (where the trial took place). He left
       a written confession, in which he accused Warden E. S.
       Wright of forcing him to testify against men whom he knew
       to be innocent.

The new Warden, himself a physician, introduces hygienic rules,
abolishes the "holy-stoning"[51] of the cell-house floor because of the
detrimental effect of the dust, and decides to separate the consumptive
and syphilitic prisoners from the comparatively healthy ones. Upon
examination, 40 per cent. of the population are discovered in various
stages of tuberculosis, and 20 per cent. insane. The death rate from
consumption is found to range between 25 and 60 per cent. At light tasks
in the block and the yard the Major finds employment for the sickly
inmates; special gangs are assigned to keeping the prison clean, the
rest of the men at work in the shop. With the exception of a number of
dangerously insane, who are to be committed to an asylum, every prisoner
in the institution is at work, and the vexed problem of idleness
resulting from the anti-convict labor law is thus solved.

  [51] The process of whitening stone floors by pulverizing sand
       into their surfaces.

The change of diet, better hygiene, and the abolition of the dungeon,
produce a noticeable improvement in the life of the prison. The gloom of
the cell-house perceptibly lifts, and presently the men are surprised at
music hour, between six and seven in the evening, with the strains of
merry ragtime by the newly organized penitentiary band.


New faces greet me on the range. But many old friends are missing. Billy
Ryan is dead of consumption; "Frenchy" and Ben have become insane;
Little Mat, the Duquesne striker, committed suicide. In sad remembrance
I think of them, grown close and dear in the years of mutual suffering.
Some of the old-timers have survived, but broken in spirit and health.
"Praying" Andy is still in the block, his mind clouded, his lips
constantly moving in prayer. "Me innocent," the old man reiterates, "God
him know." Last month the Board has again refused to pardon the
lifetimer, and now he is bereft of hope. "Me have no more money. My
children they save and save, and bring me for pardon, and now no more
money." Aleck Killain has also been refused by the Board at the same
session. He is the oldest man in the prison, in point of service, and
the most popular lifer. His innocence of murder is one of the traditions
of Riverside. In the boat he had rented to a party of picnickers, a
woman was found dead. No clew could be discovered, and Aleck was
sentenced to life, because he could not be forced to divulge the names
of the men who had hired his boat. He pauses to tell me the sad news:
the authorities have opposed his pardon, demanding that he furnish the
information desired by them. He looks sere with confinement, his eyes
full of a mute sadness that can find no words. His face is deeply
seamed, his features grave, almost immobile. In the long years of our
friendship I have never seen Aleck laugh. Once or twice he smiled, and
his whole being seemed radiant with rare sweetness. He speaks abruptly,
with a perceptible effort.

"Yes, Aleck," he is saying, "it's true. They refused me."

"But they pardoned Mac," I retort hotly. "He confessed to a cold-blooded
murder, and he's only been in four years."

"Good luck," he remarks.

"How, good luck?"

"Mac's father accidentally struck oil on his farm."

"Well, what of it?"

"Three hundred barrels a day. Rich. Got his son a pardon."

"But on what ground did they dismiss your application? They know you are

"District Attorney came to me. 'You're innocent, we know. Tell us who
did the murder.' I had nothing to tell. Pardon refused."

"Is there any hope later on, Aleck?"

"When the present administration are all dead, perhaps."

Slowly he passes on, at the approach of a guard. He walks weakly, with
halting step.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Old Sammy" is back again, his limp heavier, shoulders bent lower. "I'm
here again, friend Aleck," he smiles apologetically. "What could I do?
The old woman died, an' my boys went off somewhere. Th' farm was sold
that I was borned in," his voice trembles with emotion. "I couldn't find
th' boys, an' no one wanted me, an' wouldn't give me any work. 'Go to
th' pogy',[52] they told me. I couldn't, Aleck. I've worked all me
life; I don't want no charity. I made a bluff," he smiles between
tears,--"Broke into a store, and here I am."

  [52] Poorhouse.

With surprise I recognize "Tough" Monk among the first-grade men. For
years he had been kept in stripes, and constantly punished for bad work
in the hosiery department. He was called the laziest man in the prison:
not once in five years had he accomplished his task. But the new Warden
transferred him to the construction shop, where Monk was employed at his
trade of blacksmith. "I hated that damn sock makin'," he tells me.
"I've struck it right now, an' the Major says I'm the best worker in th'
shop. Wouldn't believe it, eh, would you? Major promised me a ten-spot
for the fancy iron work I did for them 'lectric posts in th' yard. Says
it's artistic, see? That's me all right; it's work I like. I won't lose
any time, either. Warden says Old Sandy was a fool for makin' me knit
socks with them big paws of mine. Th' Major is aw' right, aw' right."

       *       *       *       *       *

With a glow of pleasure I meet "Smiling" Al, my colored friend from the
jail. The good-natured boy looks old and infirm. His kindness has
involved him in much trouble; he has been repeatedly punished for
shouldering the faults of others, and now the Inspectors have informed
him that he is to lose the greater part of his commutation time. He has
grown wan with worry over the uncertainty of release. Every morning is
tense with expectation. "Might be Ah goes to-day, Aleck," he hopefully
smiles as I pause at his cell. But the weeks pass. The suspense is
torturing the young negro, and he is visibly failing day by day.

       *       *       *       *       *

A familiar voice greets me. "Hello, Berk, ain't you glad t' see an old
pal?" Big Dave beams on me with his cheerful smile.

"No, Davy. I hoped you wouldn't come back."

He becomes very grave. "Yes, I swore I'd swing sooner than come back.
Didn't get a chanc't. You see," he explains, his tone full of
bitterness, "I goes t' work and gets a job, good job, too; an' I keeps
'way from th' booze an' me pals. But th' damn bulls was after me. Got me
sacked from me job three times, an' den I knocked one of 'em on th'
head. Damn his soul to hell, wish I'd killed 'im. 'Old offender,' they
says to the jedge, and he soaks me for a seven spot. I was a sucker all
right for tryin' t' be straight."


In the large cage at the centre of the block, the men employed about the
cell-house congregate in their idle moments. The shadows steal silently
in and out of the inclosure, watchful of the approach of a guard. Within
sounds the hum of subdued conversation, the men lounging about the
sawdust barrel, absorbed in "Snakes" Wilson's recital of his protracted
struggle with "Old Sandy." He relates vividly his persistent waking at
night, violent stamping on the floor, cries of "Murder! I see snakes!"
With admiring glances the young prisoners hang upon the lips of the old
criminal, whose perseverance in shamming finally forced the former
Warden to assign "Snakes" a special room in the hospital, where his
snake-seeing propensities would become dormant, to suffer again violent
awakening the moment he would be transferred to a cell. For ten years
the struggle continued, involving numerous clubbings, the dungeon, and
the strait-jacket, till the Warden yielded, and "Snakes" was permanently
established in the comparative freedom of the special room.

Little groups stand about the cage, boisterous with the wit of the
"Four-eyed Yegg," who styles himself "Bill Nye," or excitedly discussing
the intricacies of the commutation law, the chances of Pittsburgh
winning the baseball pennant the following season, and next Sunday's
dinner. With much animation, the rumored resignation of the Deputy
Warden is discussed. The Major is gradually weeding out the "old gang,"
it is gossiped. A colonel of the militia is to secure the position of
assistant to the Warden. This source of conversation is inexhaustible,
every detail of local life serving for endless discussion and heated
debate. But at the 'lookout's' whimpered warning of an approaching
guard, the circle breaks up, each man pretending to be busy dusting and
cleaning. Officer Mitchell passes by; with short legs wide apart, he
stands surveying the assembled idlers from beneath his fierce-looking

"Quiet as me grandmother at church, ain't ye? All of a sudden, too. And
mighty busy, every damn one of you. You 'Snakes' there, what business
you got here, eh?"

"I've jest come in fer a broom."

"You old reprobate, you, I saw you sneak in there an hour ago, and
you've been chawin' the rag to beat the band. Think this a barroom, do
you? Get to your cells, all of you."

He trudges slowly away, mumbling: "You loafers, when I catch you here
again, don't you dare talk so loud."

One by one the men steal back into the cage, jokingly teasing each other
upon their happy escape. Presently several rangemen join the group.
Conversation becomes animated; voices are raised in dispute. But anger
subsides, and a hush falls upon the men, as Blind Charley gropes his way
along the wall. Bill Nye reaches for his hand, and leads him to a seat
on the barrel. "Feelin' better to-day, Charley?" he asks gently.

"Ye-es. I--think a little--better," the blind man says in an uncertain,
hesitating manner. His face wears a bewildered expression, as if he has
not yet become resigned to his great misfortune. It happened only a few
months ago. In company with two friends, considerably the worse for
liquor, he was passing a house on the outskirts of Allegheny. It was
growing dark, and they wanted a drink. Charley knocked at the door. A
head appeared at an upper window. "Robbers!" some one suddenly cried.
There was a flash. With a cry of pain, Charley caught at his eyes. He
staggered, then turned round and round, helpless, in a daze. He couldn't
see his companions, the house and the street disappeared, and all was
utter darkness. The ground seemed to give beneath his feet, and Charley
fell down upon his face moaning and calling to his friends. But they had
fled in terror, and he was alone in the darkness,--alone and blind.

"I'm glad you feel better, Charley," Bill Nye says kindly. "How are your

"I think--a bit--better."

The gunshot had severed the optic nerves in both eyes. His sight is
destroyed forever; but with the incomplete realization of sudden
calamity, Charley believes his eyesight only temporarily injured.

"Billy," he says presently, "when I woke this morning it--didn't seem
so--dark. It was like--a film over my eyes. Perhaps--it may--get better
yet," his voice quivers with the expectancy of having his hope

"Ah, whatcher kiddin' yourself for," "Snakes" interposes.

"Shut up, you big stiff," Bill flares up, grabbing "Snakes" by the
throat. "Charley," he adds, "I once got paralyzed in my left eye. It
looked just like yours now, and I felt as if there was a film on it. Do
you see things like in a fog, Charley?"

"Yes, yes, just like that."

"Well, that's the way it was with me. But little by little things got to
be lighter, and now the eye is as good as ever."

"Is that right, Billy?" Charley inquires anxiously. "What did you do?"

"Well, the doc put things in my eye. The croaker here is giving you some
applications, ain't he?"

"Yes; but he says it's for the inflammation."

"That's right. That's what the doctors told me. You just take it easy,
Charley; don't worry. You'll come out all right, see if you don't."

Bill reddens guiltily at the unintended expression, but quickly holds up
a warning finger to silence the giggling "Snowball Kid." Then, with
sudden vehemence, he exclaims: "By God, Charley, if I ever meet that
Judge of yours on a dark night, I'll choke him with these here hands, so
help me! It's a damn shame to send you here in this condition. You
should have gone to a hospital, that's what I say. But cheer up, old
boy, you won't have to serve your three years; you can bet on that.
We'll all club together to get your case up for a pardon, won't we,

With unwonted energy the old yegg makes the rounds of the cage, taking
pledges of contributions. "Doctor George" appears around the corner,
industriously polishing the brasswork, and Bill appeals to him to
corroborate his diagnosis of the blind man's condition. A smile of timid
joy suffuses the sightless face, as Bill Nye slaps him on the shoulder,
crying jovially, "What did I tell you, eh? You'll be O. K. soon, and
meantime keep your mind busy how to avenge the injustice done you," and
with a violent wink in the direction of "Snakes," the yegg launches upon
a reminiscence of his youth. As far as he can remember, he relates, the
spirit of vengeance was strong within him. He has always religiously
revenged any wrong he was made to suffer, but the incident that afforded
him the greatest joy was an experience of his boyhood. He was fifteen
then, and living with his widowed mother and three elder sisters in a
small country place. One evening, as the family gathered in the large
sitting-room, his sister Mary said something which deeply offended him.
In great rage he left the house. Just as he was crossing the street, he
was met by a tall, well-dressed gentleman, evidently a stranger in the
town. The man guardedly inquired whether the boy could direct him to
some address where one might pass the evening pleasantly. "Quick as a
flash a brilliant idea struck me," Bill narrates, warming to his story.
"Never short of them, anyhow," he remarks parenthetically, "but here was
my revenge! 'you mean a whore-house, don't you?' I ask the fellow. Yes,
that's what was wanted, my man says. 'Why,' says I to him, kind of
suddenly, 'see the house there right across the street? That's the place
you want,' and I point out to him the house where the old lady and my
three sisters are all sitting around the table, expectant like--waiting
for me, you know. Well, the man gives me a quarter, and up he goes,
knocks on the door and steps right in. I hide in a dark corner to see
what's coming, you know, and sure enough, presently the door opens with
a bang and something comes out with a rush, and falls on the veranda,
and mother she's got a broom in her hand, and the girls, every blessed
one of them, out with flatiron and dustpan, and biff, baff, they rain it
upon that thing on the steps. I thought I'd split my sides laughing. By
an' by I return to the house, and mother and sisters are kind of
excited, and I says innocent-like, 'What's up, girls?' Well, you ought
to hear 'em! Talk, did they? 'That beast of a man, the dirty thing that
came to the house and insulted us with--' they couldn't even mention the
awful things he said; and Mary--that's the sis I got mad at--she cries,
'Oh, Billie, you're so big and strong, I wish you was here when that
nasty old thing came up.'"

The boys are hilarious over the story, and "Doctor George" motions me
aside to talk over "old times." With a hearty pressure I greet my
friend, whom I had not seen since the days of the first investigation.
Suspected of complicity, he had been removed to the shops, and only
recently returned to his former position in the block. His beautiful
thick hair has grown thin and gray; he looks aged and worn. With sadness
I notice his tone of bitterness. "They almost killed me, Aleck!" he
says; "if it wasn't for my wife, I'd murder that old Warden." Throughout
his long confinement, his wife had faithfully stood by him, her
unfailing courage and devotion sustaining him in the hours of darkness
and despair. "The dear girl," he muses, "I'd be dead if it wasn't for
her." But his release is approaching. He has almost served the sentence
of sixteen years for alleged complicity in the bank robbery at
Leechburg, during which the cashier was killed. The other two men
convicted of the crime have both died in prison. The Doctor alone has
survived, "thanks to the dear girl," he repeats. But the six months at
the workhouse fill him with apprehension. He has been informed that the
place is a veritable inferno, even worse than the penitentiary. However,
his wife is faithfully at work, trying to have the workhouse sentence
suspended, and full liberty may be at hand.



The presence of my old friend is a source of much pleasure. George is an
intelligent man; the long years of incarceration have not circumscribed
his intellectual horizon. The approach of release is intensifying his
interest in the life beyond the gates, and we pass the idle hours
conversing over subjects of mutual interest, discussing social theories
and problems of the day. He has a broad grasp of affairs, but his
temperament and Catholic traditions are antagonistic to the ideas dear
to me. Yet his attitude is free from personalities and narrow prejudice,
and our talks are conducted along scientific and philosophical lines.
The recent death of Liebknecht and the American lecture tour of Peter
Kropotkin afford opportunity for the discussion of modern social
questions. There are many subjects of mutual interest, and my friend,
whose great-grandfather was among the signers of the Declaration, waxes
eloquent in denunciation of his country's policy of extermination in the
Philippines and the growing imperialistic tendencies of the Republic. A
Democrat of the Jeffersonian type, he is virulent against the old Warden
on account of his favoritism and discrimination. His prison experience,
he informs me, has considerably altered the views of democracy he once

"Why, Aleck, there _is_ no justice," he says vehemently; "no, not even
in the best democracy. Ten years ago I would have staked my life on the
courts. To-day I know they are a failure; our whole jurisprudence is
wrong. You see, I have been here nine years. I have met and made friends
with hundreds of criminals. Some were pretty desperate, and many of them
scoundrels. But I have to meet one yet in whom I couldn't discover some
good quality, if he's scratched right. Look at that fellow there," he
points to a young prisoner scrubbing an upper range, "that's 'Johnny the
Hunk.' He's in for murder. Now what did the judge and jury know about
him? Just this: he was a hard-working boy in the mills. One Saturday he
attended a wedding, with a chum of his. They were both drunk when they
went out into the street. They were boisterous, and a policeman tried to
arrest them. Johnny's chum resisted. The cop must have lost his head--he
shot the fellow dead. It was right near Johnny's home, and he ran in and
got a pistol, and killed the policeman. Must have been crazy with drink.
Well, they were going to hang him, but he was only a kid, hardly
sixteen. They gave him fifteen years. Now he's all in--they've just
ruined the boy's life. And what kind of a boy is he, do you know? Guess
what he did. It was only a few months ago. Some screw told him that the
widow of the cop he shot is hard up; she has three children, and takes
in washing. Do you know what Johnny did? He went around among the cons,
and got together fifty dollars on the fancy paper-work he is making;
he's an artist at it. He sent the woman the money, and begged her to
forgive him."

"Is that true, Doctor?"

"Every word. I went to Milligan's office on some business, and the boy
had just sent the money to the woman. The Chaplain was so much moved by
it, he told me the whole story. But wait, that isn't all. You know what
that woman did?"


"She wrote to Johnny that he was a dirty murderer, and that if he ever
goes up for a pardon, she will oppose it. She didn't want anything to do
with him, she wrote. But she kept the money."

"How did Johnny take it?"

"It's really wonderful about human nature. The boy cried over the
letter, and told the Chaplain that he wouldn't write to her again. But
every minute he can spare he works on that fancy work, and every month
he sends her money. That's the _criminal_ the judge sentenced to fifteen
years in this hell!"

My friend is firmly convinced that the law is entirely impotent to deal
with our social ills. "Why, look at the courts!" he exclaims, "they
don't concern themselves with crime. They merely punish the criminal,
absolutely indifferent to his antecedents and environment, and the
predisposing causes."

"But, George," I rejoin, "it is the economic system of exploitation, the
dependence upon a master for your livelihood, want and the fear of want,
which are responsible for most crimes."

"Only partly so, Aleck. If it wasn't for the corruption in our public
life, and the commercial scourge that holds everything for sale, and the
spirit of materialism which has cheapened human life, there would not be
so much violence and crime, even under what you call the capitalist
system. At any rate, there is no doubt the law is an absolute failure in
dealing with crime. The criminal belongs to the sphere of therapeutics.
Give him to the doctor instead of the jailer."

"You mean, George, that the criminal is to be considered a product of
anthropological and physical factors. But don't you see that you must
also examine society, to determine to what extent social conditions are
responsible for criminal actions? And if that were done, I believe most
crimes would be found to be misdirected energy--misdirected because of
false standards, wrong environment, and unenlightened self-interest."

"Well, I haven't given much thought to that phase of the question. But
aside of social conditions, see what a bitch the penal institutions are
making of it. For one thing, the promiscuous mingling of young and old,
without regard to relative depravity and criminality, is converting
prisons into veritable schools of crime and vice. The blackjack and the
dungeon are surely not the proper means of reclamation, no matter what
the social causes of crime. Restraint and penal methods can't reform.
The very idea of punishment precludes betterment. True reformation can
emanate only from voluntary impulse, inspired and cultivated by
intelligent advice and kind treatment. But reformation which is the
result of fear, lacks the very essentials of its object, and will vanish
like smoke the moment fear abates. And you know, Aleck, the
reformatories are even worse than the prisons. Look at the fellows here
from the various reform schools. Why, it's a disgrace! The boys who come
from the outside are decent fellows. But those kids from the
reformatories--one-third of the cons here have graduated there--they are
terrible. You can spot them by looking at them. They are worse than
street prostitutes."

My friend is very bitter against the prison element variously known as
"the girls," "Sallies," and "punks," who for gain traffic in sexual
gratification. But he takes a broad view of the moral aspect of
homosexuality; his denunciation is against the commerce in carnal
desires. As a medical man, and a student, he is deeply interested in the
manifestations of suppressed sex. He speaks with profound sympathy of
the brilliant English man-of-letters, whom the world of cant and
stupidity has driven to prison and to death because his sex life did not
conform to the accepted standards. In detail, my friend traces the
various phases of his psychic development since his imprisonment, and I
warm toward him with a sense of intense humanity, as he reveals the
intimate emotions of his being. A general medical practitioner, he had
not come in personal contact with cases of homosexuality. He had heard
of pederasty; but like the majority of his colleagues, he had neither
understanding for nor sympathy with the sex practices he considered
abnormal and vicious. In prison he was horrified at the perversion that
frequently came under his observation. For two years the very thought of
such matters filled him with disgust; he even refused to speak to the
men and boys known to be homosexual, unconditionally condemning
them--"with my prejudices rather than my reason," he remarks. But the
forces of suppression were at work. "Now, this is in confidence, Aleck,"
he cautions me. "I know you will understand. Probably you yourself have
experienced the same thing. I'm glad I can talk to some one about it;
the other fellows here wouldn't understand it. It makes me sick to see
how they all grow indignant over a fellow who is caught. And the
officers, too, though you know as well as I that quite a number of them
are addicted to these practices. Well, I'll tell you. I suppose it's the
same story with every one here, especially the long-timers. I was
terribly dejected and hopeless when I came. Sixteen years--I didn't
believe for a moment I could live through it. I was abusing myself
pretty badly. Still, after a while, when I got work and began to take an
interest in this life, I got over it. But as time went, the sex instinct
awakened. I was young: about twenty-five, strong and healthy. Sometimes
I thought I'd get crazy with passion. You remember when we were celling
together on that upper range, on R; you were in the stocking shop then,
weren't you? Don't you remember?"

"Of course I remember, George. You were in the cell next mine. We could
see out on the river. It was in the summer: we could hear the excursion
boats, and the girls singing and dancing."

"That, too, helped to turn me back to onanism. I really believe the
whole blessed range used to 'indulge' then. Think of the precious
material fed to the fishes," he smiles; "the privies, you know, empty
into the river."

"Some geniuses may have been lost to the world in those orgies."

"Yes, orgies; that's just what they were. As a matter of fact, I don't
believe there is a single man in the prison who doesn't abuse himself,
at one time or another."

"If there is, he's a mighty exception. I have known some men to
masturbate four and five times a day. Kept it up for months, too."

"Yes, and they either get the con, or go bugs. As a medical man I think
that self-abuse, if practised no more frequently than ordinary coition,
would be no more injurious than the latter. But it can't be done. It
grows on you terribly. And the second stage is more dangerous than the

"What do you call the second?"

"Well, the first is the dejection stage. Hopeless and despondent, you
seek forgetfulness in onanism. You don't care what happens. It's what I
might call mechanical self-abuse, not induced by actual sex desire. This
stage passes with your dejection, as soon as you begin to take an
interest in the new life, as all of us are forced to do, before long.
The second stage is the psychic and mental. It is not the result of
dejection. With the gradual adaptation to the new conditions, a
comparatively normal life begins, manifesting sexual desires. At this
stage your self-abuse is induced by actual need. It is the more
dangerous phase, because the frequency of the practice grows with the
recurring thought of home, your wife or sweetheart. While the first was
mechanical, giving no special pleasure, and resulting only in increasing
lassitude, the second stage revolves about the charms of some loved
woman, or one desired, and affords intense joy. Therein is its
allurement and danger; and that's why the habit gains in strength. The
more miserable the life, the more frequently you will fall back upon
your sole source of pleasure. Many become helpless victims. I have
noticed that prisoners of lower intelligence are the worst in this

"I have had the same experience. The narrower your mental horizon, the
more you dwell upon your personal troubles and wrongs. That is probably
the reason why the more illiterate go insane with confinement."

"No doubt of it. You have had exceptional opportunities for observation
of the solitaries and the new men. What did you notice, Aleck?"

"Well, in some respects the existence of a prisoner is like the life of
a factory worker. As a rule, men used to outdoor life suffer most from
solitary. They are less able to adapt themselves to the close quarters,
and the foul air quickly attacks their lungs. Besides, those who have no
interests beyond their personal life, soon become victims of insanity.
I've always advised new men to interest themselves in some study or
fancy work,--it's their only salvation."

"If you yourself have survived, it's because you lived in your theories
and ideals; I'm sure of it. And I continued my medical studies, and
sought to absorb myself in scientific subjects."

For a moment George pauses. The veins of his forehead protrude, as if he
is undergoing a severe mental struggle. Presently he says: "Aleck, I'm
going to speak very frankly to you. I'm much interested in the subject.
I'll give you my intimate experiences, and I want you to be just as
frank with me. I think it's one of the most important things, and I want
to learn all I can about it. Very little is known about it, and much
less understood."

"About what, George?"

"About homosexuality. I have spoken of the second phase of onanism. With
a strong effort I overcame it. Not entirely, of course. But I have
succeeded in regulating the practice, indulging in it at certain
intervals. But as the months and years passed, my emotions manifested
themselves. It was like a psychic awakening. The desire to love
something was strong upon me. Once I caught a little mouse in my cell,
and tamed it a bit. It would eat out of my hand, and come around at meal
times, and by and by it would stay all evening to play with me. I
learned to love it. Honestly, Aleck, I cried when it died. And then, for
a long time, I felt as if there was a void in my heart. I wanted
something to love. It just swept me with a wild craving for affection.
Somehow the thought of woman gradually faded from my mind. When I saw my
wife, it was just like a dear friend. But I didn't feel toward her
sexually. One day, as I was passing in the hall, I noticed a young boy.
He had been in only a short time, and he was rosy-cheeked, with a smooth
little face and sweet lips--he reminded me of a girl I used to court
before I married. After that I frequently surprised myself thinking of
the lad. I felt no desire toward him, except just to know him and get
friendly. I became acquainted with him, and when he heard I was a
medical man, he would often call to consult me about the stomach trouble
he suffered. The doctor here persisted in giving the poor kid salts and
physics all the time. Well, Aleck, I could hardly believe it myself, but
I grew so fond of the boy, I was miserable when a day passed without my
seeing him. I would take big chances to get near him. I was rangeman
then, and he was assistant on a top tier. We often had opportunities to
talk. I got him interested in literature, and advised him what to read,
for he didn't know what to do with his time. He had a fine character,
that boy, and he was bright and intelligent. At first it was only a
liking for him, but it increased all the time, till I couldn't think of
any woman. But don't misunderstand me, Aleck; it wasn't that I wanted a
'kid.' I swear to you, the other youths had no attraction for me
whatever; but this boy--his name was Floyd--he became so dear to me,
why, I used to give him everything I could get. I had a friendly guard,
and he'd bring me fruit and things. Sometimes I'd just die to eat it,
but I always gave it to Floyd. And, Aleck--you remember when I was down
in the dungeon six days? Well, it was for the sake of that boy. He did
something, and I took the blame on myself. And the last time--they kept
me nine days chained up--I hit a fellow for abusing Floyd: he was small
and couldn't defend himself. I did not realize it at the time, Aleck,
but I know now that I was simply in love with the boy; wildly, madly in
love. It came very gradually. For two years I loved him without the
least taint of sex desire. It was the purest affection I ever felt in my
life. It was all-absorbing, and I would have sacrificed my life for him
if he had asked it. But by degrees the psychic stage began to manifest
all the expressions of love between the opposite sexes. I remember the
first time he kissed me. It was early in the morning; only the rangemen
were out, and I stole up to his cell to give him a delicacy. He put both
hands between the bars, and pressed his lips to mine. Aleck, I tell you,
never in my life had I experienced such bliss as at that moment. It's
five years ago, but it thrills me every time I think of it. It came
suddenly; I didn't expect it. It was entirely spontaneous: our eyes met,
and it seemed as if something drew us together. He told me he was very
fond of me. From then on we became lovers. I used to neglect my work,
and risk great danger to get a chance to kiss and embrace him. I grew
terribly jealous, too, though I had no cause. I passed through every
phase of a passionate love. With this difference, though--I felt a touch
of the old disgust at the thought of actual sex contact. That I didn't
do. It seemed to me a desecration of the boy, and of my love for him.
But after a while that feeling also wore off, and I desired sexual
relation with him. He said he loved me enough to do even that for me,
though he had never done it before. He hadn't been in any reformatory,
you know. And yet, somehow I couldn't bring myself to do it; I loved the
lad too much for it. Perhaps you will smile, Aleck, but it was real,
true love. When Floyd was unexpectedly transferred to the other block, I
felt that I would be the happiest man if I could only touch his hand
again, or get one more kiss. You--you're laughing?" he asks abruptly, a
touch of anxiety in his voice.

"No, George. I am grateful for your confidence. I think it is a
wonderful thing; and, George--I had felt the same horror and disgust at
these things, as you did. But now I think quite differently about them."

"Really, Aleck? I'm glad you say so. Often I was troubled--is it
viciousness or what, I wondered; but I could never talk to any one about
it. They take everything here in such a filthy sense. Yet I knew in my
heart that it was a true, honest emotion."

"George, I think it a very beautiful emotion. Just as beautiful as love
for a woman. I had a friend here; his name was Russell; perhaps you
remember him. I felt no physical passion toward him, but I think I loved
him with all my heart. His death was a most terrible shock to me. It
almost drove me insane."

Silently George holds out his hand.



                                               Castle on the Ohio,
                                                      Aug. 18, 1902.


    You know the saying, "Der eine hat den Beutel, der andere das
    Geld." I find it a difficult problem to keep in touch with my
    correspondents. I have the leisure, but theirs is the advantage
    of the paper supply. Thus runs the world. But you, a most
    faithful correspondent, have been neglected a long while.
    Therefore this unexpected _sub rosa_ chance is for you.

    My dear boy, whatever your experiences since you left me, don't
    fashion your philosophy in the image of disappointment. All life
    is a multiplied pain; its highest expressions, love and
    friendship, are sources of the most heart-breaking sorrow. That
    has been my experience; no doubt, yours also. And you are aware
    that here, under prison conditions, the disappointments, the
    grief and anguish, are so much more acute, more bitter and
    lasting. What then? Shall one seal his emotions, or barricade
    his heart? Ah, if it were possible, it would be wiser, some
    claim. But remember, dear Carl, mere wisdom is a barren life.

    I think it a natural reaction against your prison existence that
    you feel the need of self-indulgence. But it is a temporary
    phase, I hope. You want to live and enjoy, you say. But surely
    you are mistaken to believe that the time is past when we
    cheerfully sacrificed all to the needs of the cause. The first
    flush of emotional enthusiasm may have paled, but in its place
    there is the deeper and more lasting conviction that permeates
    one's whole being. There come moments when one asks himself the
    justification of his existence, the meaning of his life. No
    torment is more excruciating and overwhelming than the failure
    to find an answer. You will discover it neither in physical
    indulgence nor in coldly intellectual pleasure. Something more
    substantial is needed. In this regard, life outside does not
    differ so very much from prison existence. The narrower your
    horizon--the more absorbed you are in your immediate
    environment, and dependent upon it--the sooner you decay,
    morally and mentally. You can, in a measure, escape the
    sordidness of life only by living for something higher.

    Perhaps that is the secret of my survival. Wider interests have
    given me strength. And other phases there are. From your own
    experience you know what sustaining satisfaction is found in
    prison in the constant fight for the feeling of human dignity,
    because of the constant attempt to strangle your sense of
    self-respect. I have seen prisoners offer most desperate
    resistance in defence of their manhood. On my part it has been a
    continuous struggle. Do you remember the last time I was in the
    dungeon? It was on the occasion of Comrade Kropotkin's presence
    in this country, during his last lecture tour. The old Warden
    was here then; he informed me that I would not be permitted to
    see our Grand Old Man. I had a tilt with him, but I did not
    succeed in procuring a visiting card. A few days later I
    received a letter from Peter. On the envelope, under my name,
    was marked, "Political prisoner." The Warden was furious. "We
    have no political prisoners in a free country," he thundered,
    tearing up the envelope. "But you have political grafters," I
    retorted. We argued the matter heatedly, and I demanded the
    envelope. The Warden insisted that I apologize. Of course I
    refused, and I had to spend three days in the dungeon.

    There have been many changes since then. Your coming to
    Pittsburgh last year, and the threat to expose this place (they
    knew you had the facts) helped to bring matters to a point. They
    assigned me to a range, and I am still holding the position. The
    new Warden is treating me more decently. He "wants no trouble
    with me," he told me. But he has proved a great disappointment.
    He started in with promising reforms, but gradually he has
    fallen into the old ways. In some respects his régime is even
    worse than the previous one. He has introduced a system of
    "economy" which barely affords us sufficient food. The dungeon
    and basket, which he had at first abolished, are in operation
    again, and the discipline is daily becoming more drastic. The
    result is more brutality and clubbings, more fights and cutting
    affairs, and general discontent. The new management cannot plead
    ignorance, for the last 4th of July the men gave a demonstration
    of the effects of humane treatment. The Warden had assembled
    the inmates in the chapel, promising to let them pass the day in
    the yard, on condition of good behavior. The Inspectors and the
    old guards advised against it, arguing the "great risk" of such
    a proceeding. But the Major decided to try the experiment. He
    put the men on their honor, and turned them loose in the yard.
    He was not disappointed; the day passed beautifully, without the
    least mishap; there was not even a single report. We began to
    breathe easier, when presently the whole system was reversed. It
    was partly due to the influence of the old officers upon the
    Warden; and the latter completely lost his head when a trusty
    made his escape from the hospital. It seems to have terrorized
    the Warden into abandoning all reforms. He has also been
    censured by the Inspectors because of the reduced profits from
    the industries. Now the tasks have been increased, and even the
    sick and consumptives are forced to work. The labor bodies of
    the State have been protesting in vain. How miserably weak is
    the Giant of Toil, because unconscious of his strength!

    The men are groaning, and wishing Old Sandy back. In short,
    things are just as they were during your time. Men and Wardens
    may come and go, but the system prevails. More and more I am
    persuaded of the great truth: given authority and the
    opportunity for exploitation, the results will be essentially
    the same, no matter what particular set of men, or of
    "principles," happens to be in the saddle.

    Fortunately I am on the "home run." I'm glad you felt that the
    failure of my application to the Superior Court would not
    depress me. I built no castles upon it. Yet I am glad it has
    been tried. It was well to demonstrate once more that neither
    lower courts, pardon boards, nor higher tribunals, are
    interested in doing justice. My lawyers had such a strong case,
    from the legal standpoint, that the State Pardon Board resorted
    to every possible trick to avoid the presentation of it. And now
    the Superior Court thought it the better part of wisdom to
    ignore the argument that I am being illegally detained. They
    simply refused the application, with a few meaningless phrases
    that entirely evade the question at issue.

    Well, to hell with them. I have "2 an' a stump" (stump, 11
    months) and I feel the courage of perseverance. But I hope that
    the next legislature will not repeal the new commutation law.
    There is considerable talk of it, for the politicians are angry
    that their efforts in behalf of the wealthy U. S. grafters in
    the Eastern Penitentiary failed. They begrudge the "common"
    prisoner the increased allowance of good time. However, I shall
    "make" it. Of course, you understand that both French leave and
    Dutch act are out of the question now. I have decided to
    stay--till I can _walk_ through the gates.

    In reference to French leave, have you read about the Biddle
    affair? I think it was the most remarkable attempt in the
    history of the country. Think of the wife of the Jail Warden
    helping prisoners to escape! The boys here were simply wild with
    joy. Every one hoped they would make good their escape, and old
    Sammy told me he prayed they shouldn't be caught. But all the
    bloodhounds of the law were unchained; the Biddle boys got no
    chance at all.

    The story is this. The brothers Biddle, Jack and Ed, and Walter
    Dorman, while in the act of robbing a store, killed a man. It
    was Dorman who fired the shot, but he turned State's evidence.
    The State rewards treachery. Dorman escaped the noose, but the
    two brothers were sentenced to die. As is customary, they were
    visited in the jail by the "gospel ladies," among them the wife
    of the Warden. You probably remember him--Soffel; he was Deputy
    Warden when we were in the jail, and a rat he was, too. Well, Ed
    was a good-looking man, with soft manners, and so forth. Mrs.
    Soffel fell in love with him. It was mutual, I believe. Now
    witness the heroism a woman is capable of, when she loves. Mrs.
    Soffel determined to save the two brothers; I understand they
    promised her to quit their criminal life. Every day she would
    visit the condemned men, to console them. Pretending to read the
    gospel, she would stand close to the doors, to give them an
    opportunity to saw through the bars. She supplied them with
    revolvers, and they agreed to escape together. Of course, she
    could not go back to her husband, for she loved Ed, loved him
    well enough never even to see her children again. The night for
    the escape was set. The brothers intended to separate
    immediately after the break, subsequently to meet together with
    Mrs. Soffel. But the latter insisted on going with them. Ed
    begged her not to. He knew that it was sheer suicide for all of
    them. But she persisted, and Ed acquiesced, fully realizing that
    it would prove fatal. Don't you think it showed a noble trait in
    the boy? He did not want her to think that he was deserting her.
    The escape from the jail was made successfully; they even had
    several hours' start. But snow had fallen, and it was easy to
    trace two men and a woman in a sleigh. The brutality of the
    man-hunters is past belief. When the detectives came upon the
    boys, they fired their Winchesters into the two brothers. Even
    when the wounded were stretched on the ground, bleeding and
    helpless, a detective emptied his revolver into Ed, killing him.
    Jack died later, and Mrs. Soffel was placed in jail. You can
    imagine the savage fury of the respectable mob. Mrs. Soffel was
    denounced by her husband, and all the good Christian women cried
    "Unclean!" and clamored for the punishment of their unfortunate
    sister. She is now here, serving two years for aiding in the
    escape. I caught a glimpse of her when she came in. She has a
    sympathetic face, that bears signs of deep suffering; she must
    have gone through a terrible ordeal. Think of the struggle
    before she decided upon the desperate step; then the days and
    weeks of anxiety, as the boys were sawing the bars and preparing
    for the last chance! I should appreciate the love of a woman
    whose affection is stronger than the iron fetters of convention.
    In some ways this woman reminds me of the Girl--the type that
    possesses the courage and strength to rise above all
    considerations for the sake of the man or the cause held dear.
    How little the world understands the vital forces of life!





It is September the nineteenth. The cell-house is silent and gray in the
afternoon dusk. In the yard the rain walks with long strides, hastening
in the dim twilight, hastening whither the shadows have gone. I stand at
the door, in reverie. In the sombre light, I see myself led through the
gate yonder,--it was ten years ago this day. The walls towered
menacingly in the dark, the iron gripped my heart, and I was lost in
despair. I should not have believed then that I could survive the long
years of misery and pain. But the nimble feet of the rain patter
hopefully; its tears dissipate the clouds, and bring light; and soon I
shall step into the sunshine, and come forth grown and matured, as the
world must have grown in the struggle of suffering--

"Fresh fish!" a rangeman announces, pointing to the long line of striped
men, trudging dejectedly across the yard, and stumbling against each
other in the unaccustomed lockstep. The door opens, and Aleck Killain,
the lifetimer, motions to me. He walks with measured, even step along
the hall. Rangeman "Coz" and Harry, my young assistant, stealthily crowd
with him into my cell. The air of mystery about them arouses my

"What's the matter, boys?" I ask.

They hesitate and glance at each other, smiling diffidently.

"You speak, Killain," Harry whispers.

The lifetimer carefully unwraps a little package, and I become aware of
the sweet scent of flowers perfuming the cell. The old prisoner stammers
in confusion, as he presents me with a rose, big and red. "We swiped it
in the greenhouse," he says.

"Fer you, Aleck," Harry adds.

"For your tenth anniversary," corrects "Coz." "Good luck to you, Aleck."

Mutely they grip my hand, and steal out of the cell.

       *       *       *       *       *

In solitude I muse over the touching remembrance. These men--they are
the shame Society hides within the gray walls. These, and others like
them. Daily they come to be buried alive in this grave; all through the
long years they have been coming, and the end is not yet. Robbed of joy
and life, their being is discounted in the economy of existence. And all
the while the world has been advancing, it is said; science and
philosophy, art and letters, have made great strides. But wherein is the
improvement that augments misery and crowds the prisons? The discovery
of the X-ray will further scientific research, I am told. But where is
the X-ray of social insight that will discover in human understanding
and mutual aid the elements of true progress? Deceptive is the advance
that involves the ruthless sacrifice of peace and health and life;
superficial and unstable the civilization that rests upon the
treacherous sands of strife and warfare. The progress of science and
industry, far from promoting man's happiness and social harmony, merely
accentuates discontent and sharpens the contrasts. The knowledge gained
at so much cost of suffering and sacrifice bears bitter fruit, for lack
of wisdom to apply the lessons learned. There are no limits to the
achievements of man, were not humanity divided against itself,
exhausting its best energies in sanguinary conflict, suicidal and
unnecessary. And these, the thousands stepmothered by cruel stupidity,
are the victims castigated by Society for her own folly and sins. There
is Young Harry. A child of the slums, he has never known the touch of a
loving hand. Motherless, his father a drunkard, the heavy arm of the law
was laid upon him at the age of ten. From reform school to reformatory
the social orphan has been driven about.--"You know, Aleck," he says, "I
nev'r had no real square meal, to feel full, you know; 'cept once, on
Christmas, in de ref." At the age of nineteen, he has not seen a day of
liberty since early childhood.

Three years ago he was transferred to the penitentiary, under a sentence
of sixteen years for an attempted escape from the Morganza reform
school, which resulted in the death of a keeper. The latter was foreman
in the tailor shop, in which Harry was employed together with a number
of other youths. The officer had induced Harry to do overwork, above the
regular task, for which he rewarded the boy with an occasional dainty of
buttered bread or a piece of corn-cake. By degrees Harry's voluntary
effort became part of his routine work, and the reward in delicacies
came more rarely. But when they entirely ceased the boy rebelled,
refusing to exert himself above the required task. He was reported, but
the Superintendent censured the keeper for the unauthorized increase of
work. Harry was elated; but presently began systematic persecution that
made the boy's life daily more unbearable. In innumerable ways the
hostile guard sought to revenge his defeat upon the lad, till at last,
driven to desperation, Harry resolved upon escape. With several other
inmates the fourteen-year-old boy planned to flee to the Rocky
Mountains, there to hunt the "wild" Indians, and live the independent
and care-free life of Jesse James. "You know, Aleck," Harry confides to
me, reminiscently, "we could have made it easy; dere was eleven of us.
But de kids was all sore on de foreman. He 'bused and beat us, an' some
of de boys wouldn' go 'cept we knock de screw out first. It was me pal
Nacky that hit 'im foist, good an' hard, an' den I hit 'im, lightly. But
dey all said in court that I hit 'im both times. Nacky's people had
money, an' he beat de case, but I got soaked sixteen years." His eyes
fill with tears and he says plaintively: "I haven't been outside since I
was a little kid, an' now I'm sick, an' will die here mebbe."


Conversing in low tones, we sweep the range. I shorten my strokes to
enable Harry to keep pace. Weakly he drags the broom across the floor.
His appearance is pitifully grotesque. The sickly features, pale with
the color of the prison whitewash, resemble a little child's. But the
eyes look oldish in their wrinkled sockets, the head painfully out of
proportion with the puny, stunted body. Now and again he turns his gaze
on me, and in his face there is melancholy wonder, as if he is seeking
something that has passed him by. Often I ponder, Is there a crime more
appalling and heinous than the one Society has committed upon him, who
is neither man nor youth and never was child? Crushed by the heel of
brutality, this plant had never budded. Yet there is the making of a
true man in him. His mentality is pathetically primitive, but he
possesses character and courage, and latent virgin forces. His emotional
frankness borders on the incredible; he is unmoral and unsocial, as a
field daisy might be, surrounded by giant trees, yet timidly tenacious
of its own being. It distresses me to witness the yearning that comes
into his eyes at the mention of the "outside." Often he asks: "Tell me,
Aleck, how does it feel to walk on de street, to know that you're free
t' go where you damn please, wid no screw to foller you?" Ah, if he'd
only have a chance, he reiterates, he'd be so careful not to get into
trouble! He would like to keep company with a nice girl, he confides,
blushingly; he had never had one. But he fears his days are numbered.
His lungs are getting very bad, and now that his father has died, he has
no one to help him get a pardon. Perhaps father wouldn't have helped
him, either; he was always drunk, and never cared for his children. "He
had no business t' have any children," Harry comments passionately. And
he can't expect any assistance from his sister; the poor girl barely
makes a living in the factory. "She's been workin' ev'r so long in the
pickle works," Harry explains. "That feller, the boss there, must be
rich; it's a big factory," he adds, naïvely, "he oughter give 'er enough
to marry on." But he fears he will die in the prison. There is no one to
aid him, and he has no friends. "I never had no friend," he says,
wistfully; "there ain't no real friends. De older boys in de ref always
used me, an' dey use all de kids. But dey was no friends, an' every one
was against me in de court, an' dey put all de blame on me. Everybody
was always against me," he repeats bitterly.

       *       *       *       *       *

Alone in the cell, I ponder over his words. "Everybody was always
against me," I hear the boy say. I wake at night, with the quivering
cry in the darkness, "Everybody against me!" Motherless in childhood,
reared in the fumes of brutal inebriation, cast into the slums to be
crushed under the wheels of the law's Juggernaut, was the fate of this
social orphan. Is this the fruit of progress? this the spirit of our
Christian civilization? In the hours of solitude, the scheme of
existence unfolds in kaleidoscope before me. In variegated design and
divergent angle it presents an endless panorama of stunted minds and
tortured bodies, of universal misery and wretchedness, in the elemental
aspect of the boy's desolate life. And I behold all the suffering and
agony resolve themselves in the dominance of the established, in
tradition and custom that heavily encrust humanity, weighing down the
already fettered soul till its wings break and it beats helplessly
against the artificial barriers.... The blanched face of Misery is
silhouetted against the night. The silence sobs with the piteous cry of
the crushed boy. And I hear the cry, and it fills my whole being with
the sense of terrible wrong and injustice, with the shame of my kind,
that sheds crocodile tears while it swallows its helpless prey. The
submerged moan in the dark. I will echo their agony to the ears of the
world. I have suffered with them, I have looked into the heart of Pain,
and with its voice and anguish I will speak to humanity, to wake it from
sloth and apathy, and lend hope to despair.

       *       *       *       *       *

The months speed in preparation for the great work. I must equip myself
for the mission, for the combat with the world that struggles so
desperately to defend its chains. The day of my resurrection is
approaching, and I will devote my new life to the service of my
fellow-sufferers. The world shall hear the tortured; it shall behold the
shame it has buried within these walls, yet not eliminated. The ghost
of its crimes shall rise and harrow its ears, till the social conscience
is roused to the cry of its victims. And perhaps with eyes once opened,
it will behold the misery and suffering in the world beyond, and Man
will pause in his strife and mad race to ask himself, wherefore?




With deep gratification I observe the unfoldment of Harry's mind. My
friendship has wakened in him hope and interest in life. Merely to
please me, he smilingly reiterated, he would apply himself to reading
the mapped-out course. But as time passed he became absorbed in the
studies, developing a thirst for knowledge that is transforming his
primitive intelligence into a mentality of great power and character.
Often I marvel at the peculiar strength and aspiration springing from
the depths of a prison friendship. "I did not believe in friendship,
Aleck," Harry says, as we ply our brooms in the day's work, "but now I
feel that I wouldn't be here, if I had had then a real friend. It isn't
only that we suffer together, but you have made me feel that our minds
can rise above these rules and bars. You know, the screws have warned me
against you, and I was afraid of you. I don't know how to put it, Aleck,
but the first time we had that long talk last year, I felt as if
something walked right over from you to me. And since then I have had
something to live for. You know, I have seen so much of the priests, I
have no use for the church, and I don't believe in immortality. But the
idea I got from you clung to me, and it was so persistent, I really
think there is such a thing as immortality of an idea."

For an instant the old look of helpless wonder is in his face, as if he
is at a loss to master the thought. He pauses in his work, his eyes
fastened on mine. "I got it, Aleck," he says, an eager smile lighting up
his pallid features. "You remember the story you told me about them
fellers--Oh,"--he quickly corrects himself--"when I get excited, I drop
into my former bad English. Well, you know the story you told me of the
prisoners in Siberia; how they escape sometimes, and the peasants,
though forbidden to house them, put food outside of their huts, so that
an escaped man may not starve to death. You remember, Aleck?"

"Yes, Harry. I'm glad you haven't forgotten it."

"Forgotten? Why, Aleck, a few weeks ago, sitting at my door, I saw a
sparrow hopping about in the hall. It looked cold and hungry. I threw a
piece of bread to it, but the Warden came by and made me pick it up, and
drive the bird away. Somehow I thought of the peasants in Siberia, and
how they share their food with escaped men. Why should the bird starve
as long as I have bread? Now every night I place a few pieces near the
door, and in the morning, just when it begins to dawn, and every one is
asleep, the bird steals up and gets her breakfast. It's the immortality
of an idea, Aleck."


The inclement winter has laid a heavy hand upon Harry. The foul hot air
of the cell-house is aggravating his complaint, and now the physician
has pronounced him in an advanced stage of consumption. The disease is
ravaging the population. Hygienic rules are ignored, and no precautions
are taken against contagion. Harry's health is fast failing. He walks
with an evident effort, but bravely straightens as he meets my gaze. "I
feel quite strong, Aleck," he says, "I don't believe it's the con. It's
just a bad cold."

He clings tenaciously to the slender hope; but now and then the cunning
of suspicion tests my faith. Pretending to wash his hands, he asks: "Can
I use your towel, Aleck? Sure you're not afraid?" My apparent confidence
seems to allay his fears, and he visibly rallies with renewed hope. I
strive to lighten his work on the range, and his friend "Coz," who
attends the officers' table, shares with the sick boy the scraps of
fruit and cake left after their meals. The kind-hearted Italian, serving
a sentence of twenty years, spends his leisure weaving hair chains in
the dim light of the cell, and invests the proceeds in warm underwear
for his consumptive friend. "I don't need it myself, I'm too
hot-blooded, anyhow," he lightly waves aside Harry's objections. He
shudders as the hollow cough shakes the feeble frame, and anxiously
hovers over the boy, mothering him with unobtrusive tenderness.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the first sign of spring, "Coz" conspires with me to procure for
Harry the privilege of the yard. The consumptives are deprived of air,
immured in the shop or block, and in the evening locked in the cells. In
view of my long service and the shortness of my remaining time, the
Inspectors have promised me fifteen minutes' exercise in the yard. I
have not touched the soil since the discovery of the tunnel, in July
1900, almost four years ago. But Harry is in greater need of fresh air,
and perhaps we shall be able to procure the privilege for him, instead.
His health would improve, and in the meantime we will bring his case
before the Pardon Board. It was an outrage to send him to the
penitentiary, "Coz" asserts vehemently. "Harry was barely fourteen then,
a mere child. Think of a judge who will give such a kid sixteen years!
Why, it means death. But what can you expect! Remember the little boy
who was sent here--it was somewhere around '97--he was just twelve years
old, and he didn't look more than ten. They brought him here in
knickerbockers, and the fellows had to bend over double to keep in
lockstep with him. He looked just like a baby in the line. The first
pair of long pants he ever put on was stripes, and he was so frightened,
he'd stand at the door and cry all the time. Well, they got ashamed of
themselves after a while, and sent him away to some reformatory, but he
spent about six months here then. Oh, what's the use talking," "Coz"
concludes hopelessly; "it's a rotten world all right. But may be we can
get Harry a pardon. Honest, Aleck, I feel as if he's my own child. We've
been friends since the day he came in, and he's a good boy, only he
never had a chance. Make a list, Aleck. I'll ask the Chaplain how much
I've got in the office. I think it's twenty-two or may be twenty-three
dollars. It's all for Harry."

       *       *       *       *       *

The spring warms into summer before the dime and quarter donations total
the amount required by the attorney to carry Harry's case to the Pardon
Board. But the sick boy is missing from the range. For weeks his dry,
hacking cough resounded in the night, keeping the men awake, till at
last the doctor ordered him transferred to the hospital. His place on
the range has been taken by "Big Swede," a tall, sallow-faced man who
shuffles along the hall, moaning in pain. The passing guards mimic him,
and poke him jocularly in the ribs. "Hey, you! Get a move on, and quit
your shammin'." He starts in affright; pressing both hands against his
side, he shrinks at the officer's touch. "You fakir, we're next to
_you_, all right." An uncomprehending, sickly smile spreads over the
sere face, as he murmurs plaintively, "Yis, sir, me seek, very seek."




The able-bodied men have been withdrawn to the shops, and only the old
and decrepit remain in the cell-house. But even the light duties of
assistant prove too difficult for the Swede. The guards insist that he
is shamming. Every night he is placed in a strait-jacket, and gagged to
stifle his groans. I protest against the mistreatment, and am cited to
the office. The Deputy's desk is occupied by "Bighead," the officer of
the hosiery department, now promoted to the position of Second Assistant
Deputy. He greets me with a malicious grin. "I knew you wouldn't
behave," he chuckles; "know you too damn well from the stockin' shop."

The gigantic Colonel, the new Deputy, loose-jointed and broad, strolls
in with long, swinging step. He glances over the report against me. "Is
that all?" he inquires of the guard, in cold, impassive voice.

"Yes, sir."

"Go back to your work, Berkman."

But in the afternoon, Officer "Bighead" struts into the cell-house, in
charge of the barber gang. As I take my turn in the first chair, the
guard hastens toward me. "Get out of that chair," he commands. "It ain't
your turn. You take _that_ chair," pointing toward the second barber, a
former boilermaker, dreaded by the men as a "butcher."

"It _is_ my turn in this chair," I reply, keeping my seat.

"Dat so, Mr. Officer," the negro barber chimes in.

"Shut up!" the officer bellows. "Will you get out of that chair?" He
advances toward me threateningly.

"I won't," I retort, looking him squarely in the eye.

Suppressed giggling passes along the waiting line. The keeper turns
purple, and strides toward the office to report me.


"This is awful, Aleck. I'm so sorry you're locked up. You were in the
right, too," "Coz" whispers at my cell. "But never min', old boy," he
smiles reassuringly, "you can count on me, all right. And you've got
other friends. Here's a stiff some one sends you. He wants an answer
right away. I'll call for it."

The note mystifies me. The large, bold writing is unfamiliar; I cannot
identify the signature, "Jim M." The contents are puzzling. His
sympathies are with me, the writer says. He has learned all the details
of the trouble, and feels that I acted in the defence of my rights. It
is an outrage to lock me up for resenting undeserved humiliation at the
hands of an unfriendly guard; and he cannot bear to see me thus
persecuted. My time is short, and the present trouble, if not corrected,
may cause the loss of my commutation. He will immediately appeal to the
Warden to do me justice; but he should like to hear from me before
taking action.

I wonder at the identity of the writer. Evidently not a prisoner;
intercession with the Warden would be out of the question. Yet I cannot
account for any officer who would take this attitude, or employ such
means of communicating with me.

Presently "Coz" saunters past the cell. "Got your answer ready?" he

"Who gave you the note, Coz?"

"I don't know if I should tell you."

"Of course you must tell me. I won't answer this note unless I know to
whom I am writing."

"Well, Aleck," he hesitates, "he didn't say if I may tell you."

"Then better go and ask him first."

       *       *       *       *       *

Considerable time elapses before "Coz" returns. From the delay I judge
that the man is in a distant part of the institution, or not easily
accessible. At last the kindly face of the Italian appears at the cell.

"It's all right, Aleck," he says.

"Who is he?" I ask impatiently.

"I'll bet you'll never guess."

"Tell me, then."

"Well, I'll tell you. He is not a screw."

"Can't be a prisoner?"


"Who, then?"

"He is a fine fellow, Aleck."

"Come now, tell me."

"He is a citizen. The foreman of the new shop."

"The weaving department?"

"That's the man. Here's another stiff from him. Answer at once."


    DEAR MR. J. M.:

    I hardly know how to write to you. It is the most remarkable
    thing that has happened to me in all the years of my
    confinement. To think that you, a perfect stranger--and not a
    prisoner, at that--should offer to intercede in my behalf
    because you feel that an injustice has been done! It is almost
    incredible, but "Coz" has informed me that you are determined to
    see the Warden in this matter. I assure you I appreciate your
    sense of justice more than I can express it. But I most urgently
    request you not to carry out your plan. With the best of
    intentions, your intercession will prove disastrous, to yourself
    as well as to me. A shop foreman, you are not supposed to know
    what is happening in the block. The Warden is a martinet, and
    extremely vain of his authority. He will resent your
    interference. I don't know who you are, but your indignation at
    what you believe an injustice characterizes you as a man of
    principle, and you are evidently inclined to be friendly toward
    me. I should be very unhappy to be the cause of your discharge.
    You need your job, or you would not be here. I am very, very
    thankful to you, but I urge you most earnestly to drop the
    matter. I must fight my own battles. Moreover, the situation is
    not very serious, and I shall come out all right.

                              With much appreciation,

                                                               A. B.

    DEAR MR. M.:

    I feel much relieved by your promise to accede to my request. It
    is best so. You need not worry about me. I expect to receive a
    hearing before the Deputy, and he seems a decent chap. You will
    pardon me when I confess that I smiled at your question whether
    your correspondence is welcome. Your notes are a ray of sunshine
    in the darkness, and I am intensely interested in the
    personality of a man whose sense of justice transcends
    considerations of personal interest. You know, no great heroism
    is required to demand justice for oneself, in the furtherance of
    our own advantage. But where the other fellow is concerned,
    especially a stranger, it becomes a question of "abstract"
    justice--and but few people possess the manhood to jeopardize
    their reputation or comfort for that.

    Since our correspondence began, I have had occasion to speak to
    some of the men in your charge. I want to thank you in their
    name for your considerate and humane treatment of them.

    "Coz" is at the door, and I must hurry. Trust no one with notes,
    except him. We have been friends for years, and he can tell you
    all you wish to know about my life here.



    MY DEAR M.:

    There is no need whatever for your anxiety regarding the effects
    of the solitary upon me. I do not think they will keep me in
    long; at any rate, remember that I do not wish you to intercede.

    You will be pleased to know that my friend Harry shows signs of
    improvement, thanks to your generosity. "Coz" has managed to
    deliver to him the tid-bits and wine you sent. You know the
    story of the boy. He has never known the love of a mother, nor
    the care of a father. A typical child of the disinherited, he
    was thrown, almost in infancy, upon the tender mercies of the
    world. At the age of ten the law declared him a criminal. He has
    never since seen a day of liberty. At twenty he is dying of
    prison consumption. Was the Spanish Inquisition ever guilty of
    such organized child murder? With desperate will-power he
    clutches at life, in the hope of a pardon. He is firmly
    convinced that fresh air would cure him, but the new rules
    confine him to the hospital. His friends here have collected a
    fund to bring his case before the Pardon Board; it is to be
    heard next month. That devoted soul, "Coz," has induced the
    doctor to issue a certificate of Harry's critical condition, and
    he may be released soon. I have grown very fond of the boy so
    much sinned against. I have watched his heart and mind blossom
    in the sunshine of a little kindness, and now--I hope that at
    least his last wish will be gratified: just once to walk on the
    street, and not hear the harsh command of the guard. He begs me
    to express to his unknown friend his deepest gratitude.


    DEAR M.:

    The Deputy has just released me. I am happy with a double
    happiness, for I know how pleased you will be at the good turn
    of affairs. It is probably due to the fact that my neighbor, the
    Big Swede--you've heard about him--was found dead in the
    strait-jacket this morning. The doctor and officers all along
    pretended that he was shamming. It was a most cruel murder; by
    the Warden's order the sick Swede was kept gagged and bound
    every night. I understand that the Deputy opposed such brutal
    methods, and now it is rumored that he intends to resign. But I
    hope he will remain. There is something big and broad-minded
    about the gigantic Colonel. He tries to be fair, and he has
    saved many a prisoner from the cruelty of the Major. The latter
    is continually inventing new modes of punishment; it is
    characteristic that his methods involve curtailment of rations,
    and consequent saving, which is not accounted for on the books.
    He has recently cut the milk allowance of the hospital patients,
    notwithstanding the protests of the doctor. He has also
    introduced severe punishment for talking. You know, when you
    have not uttered a word for days and weeks, you are often seized
    with an uncontrollable desire to give vent to your feelings.
    These infractions of the rules are now punished by depriving you
    of tobacco and of your Sunday dinner. Every Sunday from 30 to 50
    men are locked up on the top range, to remain without food all
    day. The system is called "Killicure" (kill or cure) and it
    involves considerable graft, for I know numbers of men who have
    not received tobacco or a Sunday dinner for months.

    Warden Wm. Johnston seems innately cruel. Recently he introduced
    the "blind" cell,--door covered with solid sheet iron. It is
    much worse than the basket cell, for it virtually admits no air,
    and men are kept in it from 30 to 60 days. Prisoner Varnell was
    locked up in such a cell 79 days, becoming paralyzed. But even
    worse than these punishments is the more refined brutality of
    torturing the boys with the uncertainty of release and the
    increasing deprivation of good time. This system is developing
    insanity to an alarming extent.

    Amid all this heartlessness and cruelty, the Chaplain is a
    refreshing oasis of humanity. I noticed in one of your letters
    the expression, "because of economic necessity," and--I
    wondered. To be sure, the effects of economic causes are not to
    be underestimated. But the extremists of the materialistic
    conception discount character, and thus help to vitiate it. The
    factor of personality is too often ignored by them. Take the
    Chaplain, for instance. In spite of the surrounding swamp of
    cupidity and brutality, notwithstanding all disappointment and
    ingratitude, he is to-day, after 30 years of incumbency, as full
    of faith in human nature and as sympathetic and helpful, as
    years ago. He has had to contend against the various
    administrations, and he is a poor man; necessity has not stifled
    his innate kindness.

    And this is why I wondered. "Economic necessity"--has Socialism
    pierced the prison walls?



    Can you realize how your words, "I am socialistically inclined,"
    warmed my heart? I wish I could express to you all the intensity
    of what I feel, my dear _friend_ and _comrade_. To have so
    unexpectedly found both in you, unutterably lightens this
    miserable existence. What matter that you do not entirely share
    my views,--we are comrades in the common cause of human
    emancipation. It was indeed well worth while getting in trouble
    to have found you, dear friend. Surely I have good cause to be
    content, even happy. Your friendship is a source of great
    strength, and I feel equal to struggling through the ten months,
    encouraged and inspired by your comradeship and devotion. Every
    evening I cross the date off my calendar, joyous with the
    thought that I am a day nearer to the precious moment when I
    shall turn my back upon these walls, to join my friends in the
    great work, and to meet you, dear Chum, face to face, to grip
    your hand and salute you, my friend and comrade!

                                        Most fraternally,




                                               On the Homestretch,
                                         _Sub Rosa_, April 15, 1905.


    The last spring is here, and a song is in my heart. Only three
    more months, and I shall have settled accounts with Father Penn.
    There is the year in the workhouse, of course, and that prison,
    I am told, is even a worse hell than this one. But I feel strong
    with the suffering that is past, and perhaps even more so with
    the wonderful jewel I have found. The man I mentioned in former
    letters has proved a most beautiful soul and sincere friend. In
    every possible way he has been trying to make my existence more
    endurable. With what little he may, he says, he wants to make
    amends for the injustice and brutality of society. He is a
    Socialist, with a broad outlook upon life. Our lengthy
    discussions (per notes) afford me many moments of pleasure and

    It is chiefly to his exertions that I shall owe my commutation
    time. The sentiment of the Inspectors was not favorable. I
    believe it was intended to deprive me of two years' good time.
    Think what it would mean to us! But my friend--my dear Chum, as
    I affectionately call him--has quietly but persistently been at
    work, with the result that the Inspectors have "seen the light."
    It is now definite that I shall be released in July. The date is
    still uncertain. I can barely realize that I am soon to leave
    this place. The anxiety and restlessness of the last month would
    be almost unbearable, but for the soothing presence of my
    devoted friend. I hope some day you will meet him,--perhaps even
    soon, for he is not of the quality that can long remain a
    helpless witness of the torture of men. He wants to work in the
    broader field, where he may join hands with those who strive to
    reconstruct the conditions that are bulwarked with prison bars.

    But while necessity forces him to remain here, his character is
    in evidence. He devotes his time and means to lightening the
    burden of the prisoners. His generous interest kept my sick
    friend Harry alive, in the hope of a pardon. You will be
    saddened to hear that the Board refused to release him, on the
    ground that he was not "sufficiently ill." The poor boy, who had
    never been out of sight of a guard since he was a child of ten,
    died a week after the pardon was refused.

    But though my Chum could not give freedom to Harry, he was
    instrumental in saving another young life from the hands of the
    hangman. It was the case of young Paul, typical of prison as the
    nursery of crime. The youth was forced to work alongside of a
    man who persecuted and abused him because he resented improper
    advances. Repeatedly Paul begged the Warden to transfer him to
    another department; but his appeals were ignored. The two
    prisoners worked in the bakery. Early one morning, left alone,
    the man attempted to violate the boy. In the struggle that
    followed the former was killed. The prison management was
    determined to hang the lad, "in the interests of discipline."
    The officers openly avowed they would "fix his clock."
    Permission for a collection, to engage an attorney for Paul, was
    refused. Prisoners who spoke in his behalf were severely
    punished; the boy was completely isolated preparatory to his
    trial. He stood absolutely helpless, alone. But the dear Chum
    came to the rescue of Paul. The work had to be done secretly,
    and it was a most difficult task to secure witnesses for the
    defence among the prisoners terrorized by the guards. But Chum
    threw himself into the work with heart and soul. Day and night
    he labored to give the boy a chance for his life. He almost
    broke down before the ordeal was over. But the boy was saved;
    the jury acquitted him on the ground of self-defence.

       *       *       *       *       *

    The proximity of release, if only to change cells, is
    nerve-racking in the extreme. But even the mere change will be a
    relief. Meanwhile my faithful friend does everything in his
    power to help me bear the strain. Besides ministering to my
    physical comforts, he generously supplies me with books and
    publications. It helps to while away the leaden-heeled days, and
    keeps me abreast of the world's work. The Chum is enthusiastic
    over the growing strength of Socialism, and we often discuss the
    subject with much vigor. It appears to me, however, that the
    Socialist anxiety for success is by degrees perverting essential
    principles. It is with much sorrow I have learned that political
    activity, formerly viewed merely as a means of spreading
    Socialist ideas, has gradually become an end in itself.
    Straining for political power weakens the fibres of character
    and ideals. Daily contact with authority has strengthened my
    conviction that control of the governmental power is an illusory
    remedy for social evils. Inevitable consequences of false
    conceptions are not to be legislated out of existence. It is not
    merely the conditions, but the fundamental ideas of present
    civilization, that are to be transvalued, to give place to new
    social and individual relations. The emancipation of labor is
    the necessary first step along the road of a regenerated
    humanity; but even that can be accomplished only through the
    awakened consciousness of the toilers, acting on their own
    initiative and strength.

    On these and other points Chum differs with me, but his intense
    friendship knows no intellectual distinctions. He is to visit
    you during his August vacation. I know you will make him feel my
    gratitude, for I can never repay his boundless devotion.



    It seemed as if all aspiration and hope suddenly went out of my
    life when you disappeared so mysteriously. I was tormented by
    the fear of some disaster. Your return has filled me with joy,
    and I am happy to know that you heard and responded
    unhesitatingly to the call of a sacred cause.

    I greatly envy your activity in the P. circle. The revolution in
    Russia has stirred me to the very depths. The giant is
    awakening, the mute giant that has suffered so patiently,
    voicing his misery and agony only in the anguish-laden song and
    on the pages of his Gorkys.

    Dear friend, you remember our discussion regarding Plehve. I may
    have been in error when I expressed the view that the execution
    of the monster, encouraging sign of individual revolutionary
    activity as it was, could not be regarded as a manifestation of
    social awakening. But the present uprising undoubtedly points to
    widespread rebellion permeating Russian life. Yet it would
    probably be too optimistic to hope for a very radical change. I
    have been absent from my native land for many years; but in my
    youth I was close to the life and thought of the peasant. Large,
    heavy bodies move slowly. The proletariat of the cities has
    surely become impregnated with revolutionary ideas, but the
    vital element of Russia is the agrarian population. I fear,
    moreover, that the dominant reaction is still very strong,
    though it has no doubt been somewhat weakened by the discontent
    manifesting in the army and, especially, in the navy. With all
    my heart I hope that the revolution will be successful. Perhaps
    a constitution is the most we can expect. But whatever the
    result, the bare fact of a revolution in long-suffering Russia
    is a tremendous inspiration. I should be the happiest of men to
    join in the glorious struggle.

    Long live the Revolution!



    Thanks for your kind offer. But I am absolutely opposed to
    having any steps taken to eliminate the workhouse sentence. I
    have served these many years and I shall survive one more, I
    will ask no favors of the enemy. They will even twist their own
    law to deprive me of the five months' good time, to which I am
    entitled on the last year. I understand that I shall be allowed
    only two months off, on the preposterous ground that the
    workhouse term constitutes the first year of a _new_ sentence!
    But I do not wish you to trouble about the matter. You have more
    important work to do. Give all your energies to the good cause.
    Prepare the field for the mission of Tchaikovsky and Babushka,
    and I shall be with you in spirit when you embrace our brave
    comrades of the Russian Revolution, whose dear names were a
    hallowed treasure of my youth.

    May success reward the efforts of our brothers in Russia.



    Just got word from the Deputy that my papers are signed. I
    didn't wish to cause you anxiety, but I was apprehensive of some
    hitch. But it's positive and settled now,--I go out on the 19th.
    Just one more week! This is the happiest day in thirteen years.
    Shake, Comrade.



    My hand trembles as I write this last good-bye. I'll be gone in
    an hour. My heart is too full for words. Please send enclosed
    notes to my friends, and embrace them all as I embrace you now.
    I shall live in the hope of meeting you all next year. Good-bye,
    dear, devoted friend.

                                        With my whole heart,

                                              Your Comrade and Chum.

                                                      July 19, 1905.


    It's Wednesday morning, the 19th, at last!

      Geh stiller meines Herzens Schlag
          Und schliesst euch alle meine alten Wunden,
      Denn dieses ist mein letzter Tag
          Und dies sind seine letzten Stunden.

    My last thoughts within these walls are of you, my dear, dear
    Sonya, the Immutable!






The gates of the penitentiary open to leave me out, and I pause
involuntarily at the fascinating sight. It is a street: a line of houses
stretches before me; a woman, young and wonderfully sweet-faced, is
passing on the opposite side. My eyes follow her graceful lines, as she
turns the corner. Men stand about. They wear citizen clothes, and scan
me with curious, insistent gaze.... The handcuff grows taut on my wrist,
and I follow the sheriff into the waiting carriage. A little child runs
by. I lean out of the window to look at the rosy-cheeked, strangely
youthful face. But the guard impatiently lowers the blind, and we sit in
gloomy silence.

       *       *       *       *       *

The spell of the civilian garb is upon me. It gives an exhilarating
sense of manhood. Again and again I glance at my clothes, and verify the
numerous pockets to reassure myself of the reality of the situation. I
am free, past the dismal gray walls! Free? Yet even now captive of the
law. The law!...

       *       *       *       *       *

The engine puffs and shrieks, and my mind speeds back to another
journey. It was thirteen years and one week ago this day. On the wings
of an all-absorbing love I hastened to join the struggle of the
oppressed people. I left home and friends, sacrificed liberty, and
risked life. But human justice is blind: it will not see the soul on
fire. Only the shot was heard, by the Law that is deaf to the agony of
Toil. "Vengeance is mine," it saith. To the uttermost drop it will shed
the blood to exact its full pound of flesh. Twelve years and ten months!
And still another year. What horrors await me at the new prison? Poor,
faithful "Horsethief" will nevermore smile his greeting: he did not
survive six months in the terrible workhouse. But my spirit is strong; I
shall not be daunted. This garb is the visible, tangible token of
resurrection. The devotion of staunch friends will solace and cheer me.
The call of the great Cause will give strength to live, to struggle, to


Humiliation overwhelms me as I don the loathed suit of striped black and
gray. The insolent look of the guard rouses my bitter resentment, as he
closely scrutinizes my naked body. But presently, the examination over,
a sense of gratification steals over me at the assertiveness of my

       *       *       *       *       *

The ordeal of the day's routine is full of inexpressible anguish.
Accustomed to prison conditions, I yet find existence in the workhouse a
nightmare of cruelty, infinitely worse than the most inhuman aspects of
the penitentiary. The guards are surly and brutal; the food foul and
inadequate; punishment for the slightest offence instantaneous and
ruthless. The cells are even smaller than in the penitentiary, and
contain neither chair nor table. They are unspeakably ill-smelling with
the privy buckets, for the purposes of which no scrap of waste paper is
allowed. The sole ablutions of the day are performed in the morning,
when the men form in the hall and march past the spigot of running
water, snatching a handful in the constantly moving line. Absolute
silence prevails in cell-house and shop. The slightest motion of the
lips is punished with the blackjack or the dungeon, referred to with
caustic satire as the "White House."

The perverse logic of the law that visits the utmost limit of barbarity
upon men admittedly guilty of minor transgressions! Throughout the
breadth of the land the workhouses are notoriously more atrocious in
every respect than the penitentiaries and State prisons, in which are
confined men convicted of felonies. The Allegheny County Workhouse of
the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enjoys infamous distinction as
the blackest of hells where men expiate the sins of society.

       *       *       *       *       *

At work in the broom shop, I find myself in peculiarly familiar
surroundings. The cupidity of the management has evolved methods even
more inhuman than those obtaining in the State prison. The tasks imposed
upon the men necessitate feverish exertion. Insufficient product or
deficient work is not palliated by physical inability or illness. In the
conduct of the various industries, every artifice prevalent in the
penitentiary is practised to evade the law limiting convict competition.
The number of men employed in productive work by far exceeds the legally
permitted percentage; the provisions for the protection of free labor
are skilfully circumvented; the tags attached to the shop products are
designed to be obliterated as soon as the wares have left the prison;
the words "convict-made" stamped on the broom-handles are pasted over
with labels giving no indication of the place of manufacture. The
anti-convict-labor law, symbolic of the political achievements of labor,
is frustrated at every point, its element of protection a "lame and
impotent conclusion."

How significant the travesty of the law in its holy of holies! Here
legal justice immures its victims; here are buried the disinherited,
whose rags and tatters annoy respectability; here offenders are punished
for breaking the law. And here the Law is daily and hourly violated by
its pious high priests.


The immediate is straining at the leash that holds memory in the
environment of the penitentiary, yet the veins of the terminated
existence still palpitate with the recollection of friends and common
suffering. The messages from Riverside are wet with tears of misery, but
Johnny, the young Magyar, strikes a note of cheer: his sentence is about
to expire; he will devote himself to the support of the little children
he had so unwittingly robbed of a father. Meanwhile he bids me courage
and hope, enclosing two dollars from the proceeds of his fancy work, "to
help along." He was much grieved, he writes, at his inability to bid me
a last farewell, because the Warden refused the request, signed by two
hundred prisoners, that I be allowed to pass along the tiers to say
good-bye. But soon, soon we shall see each other in freedom.

Words of friendship glow brightly in the darkness of the present, and
charm my visions of the near future. Coming liberty casts warming rays,
and I dwell in the atmosphere of my comrades. The Girl and the Chum are
aglow with the fires of Young Russia. Busily my mind shapes pictures of
the great struggle that transplant me to the days of my youth. In the
little tenement flat in New York we had sketched with bold stroke the
fortunes of the world--the Girl, the Twin, and I. In the dark, cage-like
kitchen, amid the smoke of the asthmatic stove, we had planned our
conspirative work in Russia. But the need of the hour had willed it
otherwise. Homestead had sounded the prelude of awakening, and my heart
had echoed the inspiring strains.

       *       *       *       *       *

The banked fires of aspiration burst into life. What matter the
immediate outcome of the revolution in Russia? The yearning of my youth
wells up with spontaneous power. To live is to struggle! To struggle
against Caesar, side by side with the people: to suffer with them, and
to die, if need be. That is life. It will sadden me to part with Chum
even before I had looked deeply into the devoted face. But the Girl is
aflame with the spirit of Russia: it will be joyous work in common. The
soil of Monongahela, laden with years of anguish, has grown dear to me.
Like the moan of a broken chord wails the thought of departure. But no
ties of affection will strain at my heartstrings. Yet--the sweet face of
a little girl breaks in on my reverie, a look of reproaching sadness in
the large, wistful eyes. It is little Stella. The last years of my
penitentiary life have snatched many a grace from her charming
correspondence. Often I have sought consolation in the beautiful
likeness of her soulful face. With mute tenderness she had shared my
grief at the loss of Harry, her lips breathing sweet balm. Gray days had
warmed at her smile, and I lavished upon her all the affection with
which I was surcharged. It will be a violent stifling of her voice in my
heart, but the call of the _muzhik_ rings clear, compelling. Yet who
knows? The revolution may be over before my resurrection. In republican
Russia, with her enlightened social protestantism, life would be fuller,
richer than in this pitifully _bourgeois_ democracy. Freedom will
present the unaccustomed problem of self-support, but it is premature to
form definite plans. Long imprisonment has probably incapacitated me
for hard work, but I shall find means to earn my simple needs when I
have cast off the fetters of my involuntary parasitism.

The thought of affection, the love of woman, thrills me with ecstasy,
and colors my existence with emotions of strange bliss. But the solitary
hours are filled with recurring dread lest my life forever remain bare
of woman's love. Often the fear possesses me with the intensity of
despair, as my mind increasingly dwells on the opposite sex. Thoughts of
woman eclipse the memory of the prison affections, and the darkness of
the present is threaded with the silver needle of love-hopes.


The monotony of the routine, the degradation and humiliation weigh
heavier in the shadow of liberty. My strength is failing with the hard
task in the shop, but the hope of receiving my full commutation sustains
me. The law allows five months' "good time" on every year beginning with
the ninth year of a sentence. But the Superintendent has intimated to me
that I may be granted the benefit of only two months, as a "new"
prisoner, serving the first year of a workhouse sentence. The Board of
Directors will undoubtedly take that view, he often taunts me.
Exasperation at his treatment, coupled with my protest against the abuse
of a fellow prisoner, have caused me to be ordered into the solitary.
Dear Chum is insistent on legal steps to secure my full commutation;
notwithstanding my unconditional refusal to resort to the courts, he has
initiated a _sub rosa_ campaign to achieve his object. The time drags in
torturing uncertainty. With each day the solitary grows more stifling,
maddening, till my brain reels with terror of the graveyard silence.
Like glad music sounds the stern command, "Exercise!"

In step we circle the yard, the clanking of Charley's chain mournfully
beating time. He had made an unsuccessful attempt to escape, for which
he is punished with the ball and chain. The iron cuts into his ankle,
and he trudges painfully under the heavy weight. Near me staggers Billy,
his left side completely paralyzed since he was released from the "White
House." All about me are cripples. I am in the midst of the social
refuse: the lame and the halt, the broken in body and spirit, past work,
past even crime. These were the blessed of the Nazarene; these a
Christian world breaks on the wheel. They, too, are within the scope of
my mission, they above all others--these the living indictments of a
leprous system, the excommunicated of God and man.

       *       *       *       *       *

The threshold of liberty is thickly sown with misery and torment. The
days are unbearable with nervous restlessness, the nights hideous with
the hours of agonizing stillness,--the endless, endless hours.
Feverishly I pace the cell. The day will pass, it _must_ pass. With
reverent emotion I bless the shamed sun as he dips beyond the western
sky. One day nearer to the liberty that awaits me, with unrestricted
sunshine and air and life beyond the hated walls of gray, out in the
daylight, in the open. The open world!... The scent of fresh-mown hay is
in my nostrils; green fields and forests stretch before me; sweetly
ripples the mountain spring. Up to the mountain crest, to the breezes
and the sunshine, where the storm breaks in its wild fury upon my
uncovered head. Welcome the rain and the wind that sweep the foul prison
dust off my heart, and blow life and strength into my being!
Tremblingly rapturous is the thought of freedom. Out in the woods, away
from the stench of the cannibal world I shall wander, nor lift my foot
from soil or sod. Close to the breath of Nature I will press my parched
lips, on her bosom I will pass my days, drinking sustenance and strength
from the universal mother. And there, in liberty and independence, in
the vision of the mountain peaks, I shall voice the cry of the social
orphans, of the buried and the disinherited, and visualize to the living
the yearning, menacing Face of Pain.





All night I toss sleeplessly on the cot, and pace the cell in nervous
agitation, waiting for the dawn. With restless joy I watch the darkness
melt, as the first rays herald the coming of the day. It is the 18th of
May--my last day, my very last! A few more hours, and I shall walk
through the gates, and drink in the warm sunshine and the balmy air, and
be free to go and come as I please, after the nightmare of thirteen
years and ten months in jail, penitentiary, and workhouse.

My step quickens with the excitement of the outside, and I try to while
away the heavy hours thinking of freedom and of friends. But my brain is
in a turmoil; I cannot concentrate my thoughts. Visions of the near
future, images of the past, flash before me, and crowd each other in
bewildering confusion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Again and again my mind reverts to the unnecessary cruelty that has
kept me in prison three months over and above my time. It was sheer
sophistry to consider me a "new" prisoner, entitled only to two months'
commutation. As a matter of fact, I was serving the last year of a
twenty-two-year sentence, and therefore I should have received five
months time off. The Superintendent had repeatedly promised to inform me
of the decision of the Board of Directors, and every day, for weeks and
months, I anxiously waited for word from them. None ever came, and I
had to serve the full ten months.

Ah, well, it is almost over now! I have passed my last night in the
cell, and the morning is here, the precious, blessed morning!

       *       *       *       *       *

How slowly the minutes creep! I listen intently, and catch the sound of
bars being unlocked on the bottom range: it is the Night Captain turning
the kitchen men out to prepare breakfast--5 A. M.! Two and a half hours
yet before I shall be called; two endless hours, and then another thirty
long minutes. Will they ever pass?... And again I pace the cell.


The gong rings the rising hour. In great agitation I gather up my
blankets, tincup and spoon, which must be delivered at the office before
I am discharged. My heart beats turbulently, as I stand at the door,
waiting to be called. But the guard unlocks the range and orders me to
"fall in for breakfast."

The striped line winds down the stairs, past the lynx-eyed Deputy
standing in the middle of the hallway, and slowly circles through the
centre, where each man receives his portion of bread for the day and
returns to his tier. The turnkey, on his rounds of the range, casts a
glance into my cell. "Not workin'," he says mechanically, shutting the
door in my face.

"I'm going out," I protest.

"Not till you're called," he retorts, locking me in.

       *       *       *       *       *

I stand at the door, tense with suspense. I strain my ear for the
approach of a guard to call me to the office, but all remains quiet. A
vague fear steals over me: perhaps they will not release me to-day; I
may be losing time.... A feeling of nausea overcomes me, but by a strong
effort I throw off the dreadful fancy, and quicken my step. I must not
think--not think....

       *       *       *       *       *

At last! The lever is pulled, my cell unlocked, and with a dozen other
men I am marched to the clothes-room, in single file and lockstep. I
await my turn impatiently, as several men are undressed and their naked
bodies scrutinized for contraband or hidden messages. The overseer
flings a small bag at each man, containing the prisoner's civilian garb,
shouting boisterously: "Hey, you! Take off them clothes, and put your
rags on."

I dress hurriedly. A guard accompanies me to the office, where my
belongings are returned to me: some money friends had sent, my watch,
and the piece of ivory the penitentiary turnkey had stolen from me, and
which I had insisted on getting back before I left Riverside. The
officer in charge hands me a railroad ticket to Pittsburgh (the fare
costing about thirty cents), and I am conducted to the prison gate.


The sun shines brightly in the yard, the sky is clear, the air fresh and
bracing. Now the last gate will be thrown open, and I shall be out of
sight of the guard, beyond the bars,--alone! How I have hungered for
this hour, how often in the past years have I dreamed of this rapturous
moment--to be alone, out in the open, away from the insolent eyes of my
keepers! I'll rush away from these walls and kneel on the warm sod, and
kiss the soil and embrace the trees, and with a song of joy give thanks
to Nature for the blessings of sunshine and air.

The outer door opens before me, and I am confronted by reporters with
cameras. Several tall men approach me. One of them touches me on the
shoulder, turns back the lapel of his coat, revealing a police officer's
star, and says:

"Berkman, you are to leave the city before night, by order of the

       *       *       *       *       *

The detectives and reporters trailing me to the nearby railway station
attract a curious crowd. I hasten into a car to escape their insistent
gaze, feeling glad that I have prevailed upon my friends not to meet me
at the prison.

My mind is busy with plans to outwit the detectives, who have entered
the same compartment. I have arranged to join the Girl in Detroit. I
have no particular reason to mask my movements, but I resent the
surveillance. I must get rid of the spies, somehow; I don't want their
hateful eyes to desecrate my meeting with the Girl.

       *       *       *       *       *

I feel dazed. The short ride to Pittsburgh is over before I can collect
my thoughts. The din and noise rend my ears; the rushing cars, the
clanging bells, bewilder me. I am afraid to cross the street; the flying
monsters pursue me on every side. The crowds jostle me on the sidewalk,
and I am constantly running into the passers-by. The turmoil, the
ceaseless movement, disconcerts me. A horseless carriage whizzes close
by me; I turn to look at the first automobile I have ever seen, but the
living current sweeps me helplessly along. A woman passes me, with a
child in her arms. The baby looks strangely diminutive, a rosy dimple in
the laughing face. I smile back at the little cherub, and my eyes meet
the gaze of the detectives. A wild thought to escape, to get away from
them, possesses me, and I turn quickly into a side street, and walk
blindly, faster and faster. A sudden impulse seizes me at the sight of
a passing car, and I dash after it.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Fare, please!" the conductor sings out, and I almost laugh out aloud at
the fleeting sense of the material reality of freedom. Conscious of the
strangeness of my action, I produce a dollar bill, and a sense of
exhilarating independence comes over me, as the man counts out the
silver coins. I watch him closely for a sign of recognition. Does he
realize that I am just out of prison? He turns away, and I feel thankful
to the dear Chum for having so thoughtfully provided me with a new suit
of clothes. It is peculiar, however, that the conductor has failed to
notice my closely cropped hair. But the man in the seat opposite seems
to be watching me. Perhaps he has recognized me by my picture in the
newspapers; or may be it is my straw hat that has attracted his
attention. I glance about me. No one wears summer headgear yet; it must
be too early in the season. I ought to change it: the detectives could
not follow me so easily then. Why, there they are on the back platform!

At the next stop I jump off the car. A hat sign arrests my eye, and I
walk into the store, and then slip quietly through a side entrance, a
dark derby on my head. I walk quickly, for a long, long time, board
several cars, and then walk again, till I find myself on a deserted
street. No one is following me now; the detectives must have lost track
of me. I feel worn and tired. Where could I rest up, I wonder, when I
suddenly recollect that I was to go directly from the prison to the
drugstore of Comrade M----. My friends must be worried, and M---- is
waiting to wire to the Girl about my release.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is long past noon when I enter the drugstore. M---- seems highly
wrought up over something; he shakes my hand violently, and plies me
with questions, as he leads me into his apartments in the rear of the
store. It seems strange to be in a regular room: there is paper on the
walls, and it feels so peculiar to the touch, so different from the
whitewashed cell. I pass my hand over it caressingly, with a keen sense
of pleasure. The chairs, too, look strange, and those quaint things on
the table. The bric-a-brac absorbs my attention--the people in the room
look hazy, their voices sound distant and confused.

"Why don't you sit down, Aleck?" the tones are musical and tender; a
woman's, no doubt.

"Yes," I reply, walking around the table, and picking up a bright toy.
It represents Undine, rising from the water, the spray glistening in the

"Are you tired, Aleck?"


"You have just come out?"


It requires an effort to talk. The last year, in the workhouse, I have
barely spoken a dozen words; there was always absolute silence. The
voices disturb me. The presence of so many people--there are three or
four about me--is oppressive. The room reminds me of the cell, and the
desire seizes me to rush out into the open, to breathe the air and see
the sky.

"I'm going," I say, snatching up my hat.


The train speeds me to Detroit, and I wonder vaguely how I reached the
station. My brain is numb; I cannot think. Field and forest flit by in
the gathering dusk, but the surroundings wake no interest in me. "I am
rid of the detectives"--the thought persists in my mind, and I feel
something relax within me, and leave me cold, without emotion or desire.

       *       *       *       *       *

With an effort I descend to the platform, and sway from side to side, as
I cross the station at Detroit. A man and a girl hasten toward me, and
grasp me by the hand. I recognize Carl. The dear boy, he was a most
faithful and cheering correspondent all these years since he left the
penitentiary. But who is the girl with him, I wonder, when my gaze falls
on a woman leaning against a pillar. She looks intently at me. The wave
of her hair, the familiar eyes--why, it's the Girl! How little she has
changed! I take a few steps forward, somewhat surprised that she did not
rush up to me like the others. I feel pleased at her self-possession:
the excited voices, the quick motions, disturb me. I walk slowly toward
her, but she does not move. She seems rooted to the spot, her hand
grasping the pillar, a look of awe and terror in her face. Suddenly she
throws her arms around me. Her lips move, but no sound reaches my ear.

We walk in silence. The Girl presses a bouquet into my hand. My heart is
full, but I cannot talk. I hold the flowers to my face, and mechanically
bite the petals.


Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee pass before me like a troubled dream. I
have a faint recollection of a sea of faces, restless and turbulent, and
I in its midst. Confused voices beat like hammers on my head, and then
all is very still. I stand in full view of the audience. Eyes are turned
on me from every side, and I grow embarrassed. The crowd looks dim and
hazy; I feel hot and cold, and a great longing to flee. The
perspiration is running down my back; my knees tremble violently, the
floor is slipping from under my feet--there is a tumult of hand
clapping, loud cheers and bravos.

We return to Carl's house, and men and women grasp my hand and look at
me with eyes of curious awe. I fancy a touch of pity in their tones, and
am impatient of their sympathy. A sense of suffocation possesses me
within doors, and I dread the presence of people. It is torture to talk;
the sound of voices agonizes me. I watch for an opportunity to steal out
of the house. It soothes me to lose myself among the crowds, and a sense
of quiet pervades me at the thought that I am a stranger to every one
about me. I roam the city at night, and seek the outlying country,
conscious only of a desire to be alone.


I am in the Waldheim, the Girl at my side. All is quiet in the cemetery,
and I feel a great peace. No emotion stirs me at the sight of the
monument, save a feeling of quiet sadness. It represents a woman, with
one hand placing a wreath on the fallen, with the other grasping a
sword. The marble features mirror unutterable grief and proud defiance.

I glance at the Girl. Her face is averted, but the droop of her head
speaks of suffering. I hold out my hand to her, and we stand in mute
sorrow at the graves of our martyred comrades.... I have a vision of
Stenka Razin, as I had seen him pictured in my youth, and at his side
hang the bodies of the men buried beneath my feet. Why are they dead? I
wonder. Why should I live? And a great desire to lie down with them is
upon me. I clutch the iron post, to keep from falling.

       *       *       *       *       *

Steps sound behind me, and I turn to see a girl hastening toward us. She
is radiant with young womanhood; her presence breathes life and the joy
of it. Her bosom heaves with panting; her face struggles with a solemn

"I ran all the way," her voice is soft and low; "I was afraid I might
miss you."

The Girl smiles. "Let us go in somewhere to rest up, Alice." Turning to
me, she adds, "She ran to see--you."

How peculiar the Girl should conceive such an idea! It is absurd. Why
should Alice be anxious to see me? I look old and worn; my step is
languid, unsteady.... Bitter thoughts fill my mind, as we ride back on
the train to Chicago.

"You are sad," the Girl remarks. "Alice is very much taken with you.
Aren't you glad?"

"You are mistaken," I reply.

"I'm sure of it," the Girl persists. "Shall I ask her?"

She turns to Alice.

"Oh, I like you so much, Sasha," Alice whispers. I look up timidly at
her. She is leaning toward me in the abandon of artless tenderness, and
a great joy steals over me, as I read in her eyes frank affection.


New York looks unexpectedly familiar, though I miss many old landmarks.
It is torture to be indoors, and I roam the streets, experiencing a
thrill of kinship when I locate one of my old haunts.

I feel little interest in the large meeting arranged to greet me back
into the world. Yet I am conscious of some curiosity about the comrades
I may meet there. Few of the old guard have remained. Some dropped from
the ranks; others died. John Most will not be there. I cherished the
hope of meeting him again, but he died a few months before my release.
He had been unjust to me; but who is free from moments of weakness? The
passage of time has mellowed the bitterness of my resentment, and I
think of him, my first teacher of Anarchy, with old-time admiration. His
unique personality stands out in strong relief upon the flat background
of his time. His life was the tragedy of the ever unpopular pioneer. A
social Lear, his whitening years brought only increasing isolation and
greater lack of understanding, even within his own circle. He had
struggled and suffered much; he gave his whole life to advance the
Cause, only to find at the last that he who crosses the threshold must
leave all behind, even friendship, even comradeship.

       *       *       *       *       *

My old friend, Justus Schwab, is also gone, and Brady, the big Austrian.
Few of the comrades of my day have survived. The younger generation
seems different, unsatisfactory. The Ghetto I had known has also
disappeared. Primitive Orchard Street, the scene of our pioneer
meetings, has conformed to business respectability; the historic lecture
hall, that rang with the breaking chains of the awakening people, has
been turned into a dancing-school; the little café "around the corner,"
the intellectual arena of former years, is now a counting-house. The
fervid enthusiasm of the past, the spontaneous comradeship in the common
cause, the intoxication of world-liberating zeal--all are gone with the
days of my youth. I sense the spirit of cold deliberation in the new
set, and a tone of disillusioned wisdom that chills and estranges me.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Girl has also changed. The little Sailor, my companion of the days
that thrilled with the approach of the Social Revolution, has become a
woman of the world. Her mind has matured, but her wider interests
antagonize my old revolutionary traditions that inspired every day and
colored our every act with the direct perception of the momentarily
expected great upheaval. I feel an instinctive disapproval of many
things, though particular instances are intangible and elude my
analysis. I sense a foreign element in the circle she has gathered about
her, and feel myself a stranger among them. Her friends and admirers
crowd her home, and turn it into a sort of salon. They talk art and
literature; discuss science and philosophize over the disharmony of
life. But the groans of the dungeon find no gripping echo there. The
Girl is the most revolutionary of them all; but even she has been
infected by the air of intellectual aloofness, false tolerance and
everlasting pessimism. I resent the situation, the more I become
conscious of the chasm between the Girl and myself. It seems
unbridgeable; we cannot recover the intimate note of our former
comradeship. With pain I witness her evident misery. She is untiring in
her care and affection; the whole circle lavishes on me sympathy and
tenderness. But through it all I feel the commiserating tolerance toward
a sick child. I shun the atmosphere of the house, and flee to seek the
solitude of the crowded streets and the companionship of the plain,
untutored underworld.

       *       *       *       *       *

In a Bowery resort I come across Dan, my assistant on the range during
my last year in the penitentiary.

"Hello, Aleck," he says, taking me aside, "awful glad to see you out of
hell. Doing all right?"

"So, so, Dan. And you?"

"Rotten, Aleck, rotten. You know it was my first bit, and I swore I'd
never do a crooked job again. Well, they turned me out with a five-spot,
after four years' steady work, mind you, and three of them working my
head off on a loom. Then they handed me a pair of Kentucky jeans, that
any fly-cop could spot a mile off. My friends went back on me--that
five-spot was all I had in the world, and it didn't go a long way.
Liberty ain't what it looks to a fellow through the bars, Aleck, but
it's hell to go back. I don't know what to do."

"How do you happen here, Dan? Could you get no work at home, in Oil

"Home, hell! I wish I had a home and friends, like you, Aleck. Christ,
d'you think I'd ever turn another trick? But I got no home and no
friends. Mother died before I came out, and I found no home. I got a job
in Oil City, but the bulls tipped me off for an ex-con, and I beat my
way here. I tried to do the square thing, Aleck, but where's a fellow to
turn? I haven't a cent and not a friend in the world."

Poor Dan! I feel powerless to help him, even with advice. Without
friends or money, his "liberty" is a hollow mockery, even worse than
mine. Five years ago he was a strong, healthy young man. He committed a
burglary, and was sent to prison. Now he is out, his body weakened, his
spirit broken; he is less capable than ever to survive in the struggle.
What is he to do but commit another crime and be returned to prison?
Even I, with so many advantages that Dan is lacking, with kind comrades
and helpful friends, I can find no place in this world of the outside. I
have been torn out, and I seem unable to take root again. Everything
looks so different, changed. And yet I feel a great hunger for life. I
could enjoy the sunshine, the open, and freedom of action. I could make
my life and my prison experience useful to the world. But I am
incapacitated for the struggle. I do not fit in any more, not even in
the circle of my comrades. And this seething life, the turmoil and the
noises of the city, agonize me. Perhaps it would be best for me to
retire to the country, and there lead a simple life, close to nature.


The summer is fragrant with a thousand perfumes, and a great peace is in
the woods. The Hudson River shimmers in the distance, a solitary sail on
its broad bosom. The Palisades on the opposite side look immutable,
eternal, their undulating tops melting in the grayish-blue horizon.

Puffs of smoke rise from the valley. Here, too, has penetrated the
restless spirit. The muffled thunder of blasting breaks in upon the
silence. The greedy hand of man is desecrating the Palisades, as it has
desecrated the race. But the big river flows quietly, and the sailboat
glides serenely on the waters. It skips over the foaming waves, near the
spot I stand on, toward the great, busy city. Now it is floating past
the high towers, with their forbidding aspect. It is Sing Sing prison.
Men groan and suffer there, and are tortured in the dungeon. And I--I am
a useless cog, an idler, while others toil; and I keep mute, while
others suffer.

       *       *       *       *       *

My mind dwells in the prison. The silence rings with the cry of pain;
the woods echo the agony of the dungeon. I start at the murmur of the
leaves; the trees with their outstretched arms bar my way, menacing me
like the guards on the prison walls. Their monster shapes follow me in
the valley.

At night I wake in cold terror. The agonized cry of Crazy Smithy is in
my ears, and again I hear the sickening thud of the riot clubs on the
prisoner's head. The solitude is harrowing with the memory of the
prison; it haunts me with the horrors of the basket cell. Away, I must
away, to seek relief amidst the people!

       *       *       *       *       *

Back in the city, I face the problem of support. The sense of dependence
gnaws me. The hospitality of my friends is boundless, but I cannot
continue as the beneficiary of their generosity. I had declined the
money gift presented to me on my release by the comrades: I felt I could
not accept even their well-meant offering. The question of earning my
living is growing acute. I cannot remain idle. But what shall I turn to?
I am too weak for factory work. I had hoped to secure employment as a
compositor, but the linotype has made me superfluous. I might be engaged
as a proof-reader. My former membership in the Typographical Union will
enable me to join the ranks of labor.

My physical condition, however, precludes the immediate realization of
my plans. Meanwhile some comrades suggest the advisability of a short
lecture tour: it will bring me in closer contact with the world, and
serve to awaken new interest in life. The idea appeals to me. I shall be
doing work, useful work. I shall voice the cry of the depths, and
perhaps the people will listen, and some may understand!


With a great effort I persevere on the tour. The strain is exhausting my
strength, and I feel weary and discontented. My innate dread of public
speaking is aggravated by the necessity of constant association with
people. The comrades are sympathetic and attentive, but their very care
is a source of annoyance. I long for solitude and quiet. In the midst of
people, the old prison instinct of escape possesses me. Once or twice
the wild idea of terminating the tour has crossed my mind. The thought
is preposterous, impossible. Meetings have already been arranged in
various cities, and my appearance widely announced. It would disgrace
me, and injure the movement, were I to prove myself so irresponsible. I
owe it to the Cause, and to my comrades, to keep my appointments. I must
fight off this morbid notion.

       *       *       *       *       *

My engagement in Pittsburgh aids my determination. Little did I dream in
the penitentiary that I should live to see that city again, even to
appear in public there! Looking back over the long years of
imprisonment, of persecution and torture, I marvel that I have survived.
Surely it was not alone physical capacity to suffer--how often had I
touched the threshold of death, and trembled on the brink of insanity
and self-destruction! Whatever strength and perseverance I possessed,
they alone could not have saved my reason in the night of the dungeon,
or preserved me in the despair of the solitary. Poor Wingie, Ed Sloane,
and "Fighting" Tom; Harry, Russell, Crazy Smithy--how many of my friends
have perished there! It was the vision of an ideal, the consciousness
that I suffered for a great Cause, that sustained me. The very
exaggeration of my self-estimate was a source of strength: I looked upon
myself as a representative of a world movement; it was my duty to
exemplify the spirit and dignity of the ideas it embodied. I was not a
prisoner, merely; I was an Anarchist in the hands of the enemy; as such,
it devolved upon me to maintain the manhood and self-respect my ideals
signified. The example of the political prisoners in Russia inspired me,
and my stay in the penitentiary was a continuous struggle that was the
breath of life.

Was it the extreme self-consciousness of the idealist, the power of
revolutionary traditions, or simply the persistent will to be? Most
likely, it was the fusing of all three, that shaped my attitude in
prison and kept me alive. And now, on my way to Pittsburgh, I feel the
same spirit within me, at the threat of the local authorities to prevent
my appearance in the city. Some friends seek to persuade me to cancel my
lecture there, alarmed at the police preparations to arrest me.
Something might happen, they warn me: legally I am still a prisoner out
on parole. I am liable to be returned to the penitentiary, without
trial, for the period of my commutation time--eight years and two
months--if convicted of a felony before the expiration of my full
sentence of twenty-two years.

But the menace of the enemy stirs me from apathy, and all my old
revolutionary defiance is roused within me. For the first time during
the tour, I feel a vital interest in life, and am eager to ascend the

An unfortunate delay on the road brings me into Pittsburgh two hours
late for the lecture. Comrade M---- is impatiently waiting for me, and
we hasten to the meeting. On the way he informs me that the hall is
filled with police and prison guards; the audience is in a state of
great suspense; the rumor has gone about that the authorities are
determined to prevent my appearance.

I sense an air of suppressed excitement, as I enter the hall, and elbow
my way through the crowded aisle. Some one grips my arm, and I recognize
"Southside" Johnny, the friendly prison runner. "Aleck, take care," he
warns me, "the bulls are layin' for you."


The meeting is over, the danger past. I feel worn and tired with the
effort of the evening.

My next lecture is to take place in Cleveland, Ohio. The all-night ride
in the stuffy smoker aggravates my fatigue, and sets my nerves on edge.
I arrive in the city feeling feverish and sick. To engage a room in a
hotel would require an extra expense from the proceeds of the tour,
which are intended for the movement; moreover, it would be sybaritism,
contrary to the traditional practice of Anarchist lecturers. I decide to
accept the hospitality of some friend during my stay in the city.

For hours I try to locate the comrade who has charge of arranging the
meetings. At his home I am told that he is absent. His parents, pious
Jews, look at me askance, and refuse to inform me of their son's
whereabouts. The unfriendly attitude of the old folks drives me into the
street again, and I seek out another comrade. His family gathers about
me. Their curious gaze is embarrassing; their questions idle. My pulse
is feverish, my head heavy. I should like to rest up before the lecture,
but a constant stream of comrades flows in on me, and the house rings
with their joy of meeting me. The talking wearies me; their ardent
interest searches my soul with rude hands. These men and women--they,
too, are different from the comrades of my day; their very language
echoes the spirit that has so depressed me in the new Ghetto. The abyss
in our feeling and thought appalls me.

With failing heart I ascend the platform in the evening. It is chilly
outdoors, and the large hall, sparsely filled and badly lit, breathes
the cold of the grave upon me. The audience is unresponsive. The lecture
on Crime and Prisons that so thrilled my Pittsburgh meeting, wakes no
vital chord. I feel dispirited. My voice is weak and expressionless; at
times it drops to a hoarse whisper. I seem to stand at the mouth of a
deep cavern, and everything is dark within. I speak into the blackness;
my words strike metallically against the walls, and are thrown back at
me with mocking emphasis. A sense of weariness and hopelessness
possesses me, and I conclude the lecture abruptly.

The comrades surround me, grasp my hand, and ply me with questions about
my prison life, the joy of liberty and of work. They are undisguisedly
disappointed at my anxiety to retire, but presently it is decided that I
should accept the proffered hospitality of a comrade who owns a large
house in the suburbs.

The ride is interminable, the comrade apparently living several miles
out in the country. On the way he talks incessantly, assuring me
repeatedly that he considers it a great privilege to entertain me. I nod

Finally we arrive. The place is large, but squalid. The low ceilings
press down on my head; the rooms look cheerless and uninhabited.
Exhausted by the day's exertion, I fall into heavy sleep.

Awakening in the morning, I am startled to find a stranger in my bed.
His coat and hat are on the floor, and he lies snoring at my side, with
overshirt and trousers on. He must have fallen into bed very tired,
without even detaching the large cuffs, torn and soiled, that rattle on
his hands.

The sight fills me with inexpressible disgust. All through the years of
my prison life, my nights had been passed in absolute solitude. The
presence of another in my bed is unutterably horrifying. I dress
hurriedly, and rush out of the house.

A heavy drizzle is falling; the air is close and damp. The country looks
cheerless and dreary. But one thought possesses me: to get away from the
stranger snoring in my bed, away from the suffocating atmosphere of the
house with its low ceilings, out into the open, away from the presence
of man. The sight of a human being repels me, the sound of a voice is
torture to me. I want to be alone, always alone, to have peace and
quiet, to lead a simple life in close communion with nature. Ah, nature!
That, too, I have tried, and found more impossible even than the turmoil
of the city. The silence of the woods threatened to drive me mad, as did
the solitude of the dungeon. A curse upon the thing that has
incapacitated me for life, made solitude as hateful as the face of man,
made life itself impossible to me! And is it for this I have yearned and
suffered, for this spectre that haunts my steps, and turns day into a
nightmare--this distortion, Life? Oh, where is the joy of expectation,
the tremulous rapture, as I stood at the door of my cell, hailing the
blush of the dawn, the day of resurrection! Where the happy moments that
lit up the night of misery with the ecstasy of freedom, which was to
give me back to work and joy! Where, where is it all? Is liberty sweet
only in the anticipation, and life a bitter awakening?

The rain has ceased. The sun peeps through the clouds, and glints its
rays upon a shop window. My eye falls on the gleaming barrel of a
revolver. I enter the place, and purchase the weapon.

I walk aimlessly, in a daze. It is beginning to rain again; my body is
chilled to the bone, and I seek the shelter of a saloon on an obscure

In the corner of the dingy back room I notice a girl. She is very young,
with an air of gentility about her, that is somewhat marred by her
quick, restless look.

We sit in silence, watching the heavy downpour outdoors. The girl is
toying with a glass of whiskey.

Angry voices reach us from the street. There is a heavy shuffling of
feet, and a suppressed cry. A woman lurches through the swinging door,
and falls against a table.

The girl rushes to the side of the woman, and assists her into a chair.
"Are you hurt, Madge?" she asks sympathetically.

The woman looks up at her with bleary eyes. She raises her hand, passes
it slowly across her mouth, and spits violently.

"He hit me, the dirty brute," she whimpers, "he hit me. But I sha'n't
give him no money; I just won't, Frenchy."

The girl is tenderly wiping her friend's bleeding face. "Sh-sh, Madge,
sh--sh!" she warns her, with a glance at the approaching waiter.

"Drunk again, you old bitch," the man growls. "You'd better vamoose

"Oh, let her be, Charley, won't you?" the girl coaxes. "And, say, bring
me a bitters."

"The dirty loafer! It's money, always gimme money," the woman mumbles;
"and I've had such bad luck, Frenchy. You know it's true. Don't you,

"Yes, yes, dear," the girl soothes her. "Don't talk now. Lean your head
on my shoulder, so! You'll be all right in a minute."

The girl sways to and fro, gently patting the woman on the head, and all
is still in the room. The woman's breathing grows regular and louder.
She snores, and the young girl slowly unwinds her arms and resumes her

I motion to her. "Will you have a drink with me?"

"With pleasure," she smiles. "Poor thing," she nods toward the sleeper,
"her fellow beats her and takes all she makes."

"You have a kind heart, Frenchy."

"We girls must be good to each other; no one else will. Some men are so
mean, just too mean to live or let others live. But some are nice. Of
course, some twirls are bad, but we ain't all like that and--" she

"And what?"

"Well, some have seen better days. I wasn't always like this," she adds,
gulping down her drink.

Her face is pensive; her large black eyes look dreamy. She asks

"You like poetry?"

"Ye--es. Why?"

"I write. Oh, you don't believe me, do you? Here's something of mine,"
and with a preliminary cough, she begins to recite with exaggerated

  Mother dear, the days were young
  When posies in our garden hung.
  Upon your lap my golden head I laid,
  With pure and happy heart I prayed.

"I remember those days," she adds wistfully.

We sit in the dusk, without speaking. The lights are turned on, and my
eye falls on a paper lying on the table. The large black print announces
an excursion to Buffalo.

"Will you come with me?" I ask the girl, pointing to the advertisement.

"To Buffalo?"


"You're kidding."

"No. Will you come?"


Alone with me in the stateroom, "Frenchy" grows tender and playful. She
notices my sadness, and tries to amuse me. But I am thinking of the
lecture that is to take place in Cleveland this very hour: the anxiety
of my comrades, the disappointment of the audience, my absence, all prey
on my mind. But who am I, to presume to teach? I have lost my bearings;
there is no place for me in life. My bridges are burned.

The girl is in high spirits, but her jollity angers me. I crave to speak
to her, to share my misery and my grief. I hint at the impossibility of
life, and my superfluity in the world, but she looks bored, not grasping
the significance of my words.

"Don't talk so foolish, boy," she scoffs. "What do you care about work
or a place? You've got money; what more do you want? You better go down
now and fetch something to drink."

Returning to the stateroom, I find "Frenchy" missing. In a sheltered
nook on the deck I recognize her in the lap of a stranger. Heart-sore
and utterly disgusted, I retire to my berth. In the morning I slip
quietly off the boat.

       *       *       *       *       *

The streets are deserted; the city is asleep. In the fog and rain, the
gray buildings resemble the prison walls, the tall factory chimneys
standing guard like monster sentinels. I hasten away from the hated
sight, and wander along the docks. The mist weaves phantom shapes, and I
see a multitude of people and in their midst a boy, pale, with large,
lustrous eyes. The crowd curses and yells in frenzied passion, and arms
are raised, and blows rain down on the lad's head. The rain beats
heavier, and every drop is a blow. The boy totters and falls to the
ground. The wistful face, the dreamy eyes--why, it is Czolgosz!

Accursed spot! I cannot die here. I must to New York, to be near my
friends in death!


Loud knocking wakes me.

"Say, Mister," a voice calls behind the door, "are you all right?"


"Will you have a bite, or something?"


"Well, as you please. But you haven't left your room going on two days

       *       *       *       *       *

Two days, and still alive? The road to death is so short, why suffer? An
instant, and I shall be no more, and only the memory of me will abide
for a little while in this world. _This_ world? Is there another? If
there is anything in Spiritualism, Carl will learn of it. In the prison
we had been interested in the subject, and we had made a compact that he
who is the first to die, should appear in spirit to the other. Pretty
fancy of foolish man, born of immortal vanity! Hereafter, life after
death--children of earth's misery. The disharmony of life bears dreams
of peace and bliss, but there is no harmony save in death. Who knows but
that even then the atoms of my lifeless clay will find no rest, tossed
about in space to form new shapes and new thoughts for aeons of human

And so Carl will not see me after death. Our compact will not be kept,
for nothing will remain of my "soul" when I am dead, as nothing remains
of the sum when its units are gone. Dear Carl, he will be distraught at
my failure to come to Detroit. He had arranged a lecture there,
following Cleveland. It is peculiar that I should not have thought of
wiring him that I was unable to attend. He might have suspended
preparations. But it did not occur to me, and now it is too late.

The Girl, too, will be in despair over my disappearance. I cannot notify
her now--I am virtually dead. Yet I crave to see her once more before I
depart, even at a distance. But that also is too late. I am almost dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

I dress mechanically, and step into the street. The brilliant sunshine,
the people passing me by, the children playing about, strike on my
consciousness with pleasing familiarity. The desire grips me to be one
of them, to participate in their life. And yet it seems strange to think
of myself as part of this moving, breathing humanity. Am I not dead?

I roam about all day. At dusk I am surprised to find myself near the
Girl's home. The fear seizes me that I might be seen and recognized. A
sense of guilt steals over me, and I shrink away, only to return again
and again to the familiar spot.

I pass the night in the park. An old man, a sailor out of work, huddles
close to me, seeking the warmth of my body. But I am cold and cheerless,
and all next day I haunt again the neighborhood of the Girl. An
irresistible force attracts me to the house. Repeatedly I return to my
room and snatch up the weapon, and then rush out again. I am fearful of
being seen near the "Den," and I make long detours to the Battery and
the Bronx, but again and again I find myself watching the entrance and
speculating on the people passing in and out of the house. My mind
pictures the Girl, with her friends about her. What are they discussing,
I wonder. "Why, myself!" it flits through my mind. The thought appalls
me. They must be distraught with anxiety over my disappearance. Perhaps
they think me dead!

I hasten to a telegraph office, and quickly pen a message to the Girl:
"Come. I am waiting here."

In a flurry of suspense I wait for the return of the messenger. A little
girl steps in, and I recognize Tess, and inwardly resent that the Girl
did not come herself.

"Aleck," she falters, "Sonya wasn't home when your message came. I'll
run to find her."

The old dread of people is upon me, and I rush out of the place, hoping
to avoid meeting the Girl. I stumble through the streets, retrace my
steps to the telegraph office, and suddenly come face to face with her.

Her appearance startles me. The fear of death is in her face, mute
horror in her eyes.

"Sasha!" Her hand grips my arm, and she steadies my faltering step.


I open my eyes. The room is light and airy; a soothing quiet pervades
the place. The portières part noiselessly, and the Girl looks in.

"Awake, Sasha?" She brightens with a happy smile.

"Yes. When did I come here?"

"Several days ago. You've been very sick, but you feel better now, don't
you, dear?"

Several days? I try to recollect my trip to Buffalo, the room on the
Bowery. Was it all a dream?

"Where was I before I came here?" I ask.

"You--you were--absent," she stammers, and in her face is visioned the
experience of my disappearance.

       *       *       *       *       *

With tender care the Girl ministers to me. I feel like one recovering
from a long illness: very weak, but with a touch of joy in life. No one
is permitted to see me, save one or two of the Girl's nearest friends,
who slip in quietly, pat my hand in mute sympathy, and discreetly
retire. I sense their understanding, and am grateful that they make no
allusion to the events of the past days.

The care of the Girl is unwavering. By degrees I gain strength. The room
is bright and cheerful; the silence of the house soothes me. The warm
sunshine is streaming through the open window; I can see the blue sky,
and the silvery cloudlets. A little bird hops upon the sill, looks
steadily at me, and chirps a greeting. It brings back the memory of
Dick, my feathered pet, and of my friends in prison. I have done nothing
for the agonized men in the dungeon darkness--have I forgotten them? I
have the opportunity; why am I idle?

       *       *       *       *       *

The Girl calls cheerfully: "Sasha, our friend Philo is here. Would you
like to see him?"

I welcome the comrade whose gentle manner and deep sympathy have
endeared him to me in the days since my return. There is something
unutterably tender about him. The circle had christened him "the
philosopher," and his breadth of understanding and non-invasive
personality have been a great comfort to me.

His voice is low and caressing, like the soft crooning of a mother
rocking her child to sleep. "Life is a problem," he is saying, "a
problem whose solution consists in trying to solve it. Schopenhauer may
have been right," he smiles, with a humorous twinkle in his eyes, "but
his love of life was so strong, his need for expression so compelling,
he had to write a big book to prove how useless is all effort. But his
very sincerity disproves him. Life is its own justification. The
disharmony of life is more seeming than real; and what is real of it, is
the folly and blindness of man. To struggle against that folly, is to
create greater harmony, wider possibilities. Artificial barriers
circumscribe and dwarf life, and stifle its manifestations. To break
those barriers down, is to find a vent, to expand, to express oneself.
And that is life, Aleck: a continuous struggle for expression. It
mirrors itself in nature, as in all the phases of man's existence. Look
at the little vine struggling against the fury of the storm, and
clinging with all its might to preserve its hold. Then see it stretch
toward the sunshine, to absorb the light and the warmth, and then freely
give back of itself in multiple form and wealth of color. We call it
beautiful then, for it has found expression. That is life, Aleck, and
thus it manifests itself through all the gradations we call evolution.
The higher the scale, the more varied and complex the manifestations,
and, in turn, the greater the need for expression. To suppress or thwart
it, means decay, death. And in this, Aleck, is to be found the main
source of suffering and misery. The hunger of life storms at the gates
that exclude it from the joy of being, and the individual soul
multiplies its expressions by being mirrored in the collective, as the
little vine mirrors itself in its many flowers, or as the acorn
individualizes itself a thousandfold in the many-leafed oak. But I am
tiring you, Aleck."

"No, no, Philo. Continue; I want to hear more."

"Well, Aleck, as with nature, so with man. Life is never at a
standstill; everywhere and ever it seeks new manifestations, more
expansion. In art, in literature, as in the affairs of men, the struggle
is continual for higher and more intimate expression. That is
progress--the vine reaching for more sunshine and light. Translated into
the language of social life, it means the individualization of the mass,
the finding of a higher level, the climbing over the fences that shut
out life. Everywhere you see this reaching out. The process is
individual and social at the same time, for the species lives in the
individual as much as the individual persists in the species. The
individual comes first; his clarified vision is multiplied in his
immediate environment, and gradually permeates through his generation
and time, deepening the social consciousness and widening the scope of
existence. But perhaps you have not found it so, Aleck, after your many
years of absence?"

"No, dear Philo. What you have said appeals to me very deeply. But I
have found things so different from what I had pictured them. Our
comrades, the movement--it is not what I thought it would be."

"It is quite natural, Aleck. A change has taken place, but its meaning
is apt to be distorted through the dim vision of your long absence. I
know well what you miss, dear friend: the old mode of existence, the
living on the very threshold of the revolution, so to speak. And
everything looks strange to you, and out of joint. But as you stay a
little longer with us, you will see that it is merely a change of form;
the essence is the same. We are the same as before, Aleck, only made
deeper and broader by years and experience. Anarchism has cast off the
swaddling bands of the small, intimate circles of former days; it has
grown to greater maturity, and become a factor in the larger life of
Society. You remember it only as a little mountain spring, around which
clustered a few thirsty travelers in the dreariness of the capitalist
desert. It has since broadened and spread as a strong current that
covers a wide area and forces its way even into the very ocean of life.
You see, dear Aleck, the philosophy of Anarchism is beginning to pervade
every phase of human endeavor. In science, in art, in literature,
everywhere the influence of Anarchist thought is creating new values;
its spirit is vitalizing social movements, and finding interpretation
in life. Indeed, Aleck, we have not worked in vain. Throughout the world
there is a great awakening. Even in this socially most backward country,
the seeds sown are beginning to bear fruit. Times have changed, indeed;
but encouragingly so, Aleck. The leaven of discontent, ever more
conscious and intelligent, is moulding new social thought and new
action. To-day our industrial conditions, for instance, present a
different aspect from those of twenty years ago. It was then possible
for the masters of life to sacrifice to their interests the best friends
of the people. But to-day the spontaneous solidarity and awakened
consciousness of large strata of labor is a guarantee against the
repetition of such judicial murders. It is a most significant sign,
Aleck, and a great inspiration to renewed effort."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Girl enters. "Are you crooning Sasha to sleep, Philo?" she laughs.

"Oh, no!" I protest, "I'm wide awake and much interested in Philo's

"It is getting late," he rejoins. "I must be off to the meeting."

"What meeting?" I inquire,

"The Czolgosz anniversary commemoration."

"I think--I'd like to come along."

"Better not, Sasha," my friend advises. "You need some light

"Perhaps you would like to go to the theatre," the Girl suggests.
"Stella has tickets. She'd be happy to have you come, Sasha."

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning home in the evening, I find the "Den" in great excitement. The
assembled comrades look worried, talk in whispers, and seem to avoid my
glance. I miss several familiar faces.

"Where are the others?" I ask.

The comrades exchange troubled looks, and are silent.

"Has anything happened? Where are they?" I insist.

"I may as well tell you," Philo replies, "but be calm, Sasha. The police
have broken up our meeting. They have clubbed the audience, and arrested
a dozen comrades."

"Is it serious, Philo?"

"I am afraid it is. They are going to make a test case. Under the new
'Criminal Anarchy Law' our comrades may get long terms in prison. They
have taken our most active friends."

       *       *       *       *       *

The news electrifies me. I feel myself transported into the past, the
days of struggle and persecution. Philo was right! The enemy is
challenging, the struggle is going on!... I see the graves of Waldheim
open, and hear the voices from the tomb.

       *       *       *       *       *

A deep peace pervades me, and I feel a great joy in my heart.

"Sasha, what is it?" Philo cries in alarm.

"My resurrection, dear friend. I have found work to do."

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