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Title: The Case and Exceptions - Stories of Counsel and Clients
Author: Hill, Frederick Trevor, 1866-1930
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "The Case and Exceptions - Stories of Counsel and Clients" ***

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THE CASE AND EXCEPTIONS

Stories of Counsel and Clients

by

FREDERICK TREVOR HILL

Second Edition



New York
Frederick A. Stokes Company
Publishers

Copyright, 1900,
By Frederick A. Stokes Company.



_To_

M. W. H.



CONTENTS.

                                        PAGE

 OUTSIDE THE RECORD                       1
 IN THE MATTER OF BATEMAN                18
 THE FINDING OF FACT                     45
 A CONCLUSION OF LAW                     59
 THE BURDEN OF PROOF                     75
 IN HIS OWN BEHALF                      101
 HIS HONOUR                             115
 AN ABSTRACT STORY                      141
 BY WAY OF COUNTERCLAIM                 162
 IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE              184
 THE LATEST DECISION                    201
 THE DISTANT DRUM                       209



THE CASE AND EXCEPTIONS.



OUTSIDE THE RECORD.


                              IN GENERAL SESSIONS
                          COURT ROOM, _June 5, 1896_.

DOROTHY DEAR:

It is over. Warren's fate is in the hands of the jury. I have done the
little I could, but the strain has been almost too much for me.

Even now, my heart sinks at the thought that I may have left something
undone or failed to see some trap of the District Attorney.

For more than two hours I have been sitting here fighting it all through
again.

You have not known what this case means to me, and doubtless have often
found me a dull companion and neglectful lover during the past months.
But I will not cry "peccavi," my Lady, unless you pronounce me guilty
after reading what I write. See how confident I am--not of myself but of
you!

The Court Room is quiet now, for it is ten o'clock at night. Only a few
reporters and officials have lingered, and these yawn over the
protracted business. Think of it! This is merely a matter of business to
them--the life of this man. I cannot blame them, yet the thought of such
indifference to what is so terribly vital to me, crushes with its awful
significance.

Godfrey Warren is only a name to you, or at most only the name of one of
my clients. You have not known that he is my oldest and dearest friend.
How hard it has been to keep this from you! But it was his wish that you
should not know it--and, if I do not send this letter, you never will.

Warren and I have been friends from boyhood. We attended the same school
where we "raised the devil in couples" after a manner bad to record but
good to remember. So inseparable were we that our families planned to
send us to different Universities, thinking, I suppose, that our
continued intimacy would be at the expense of a broader knowledge of
mankind. But their purpose, whatever it was, came to nothing, for we
flatly rejected any college education upon such terms.

As a result we entered Yale together and left there four years later
with our boyish affection welded in a friendship such as comes into the
lives of but few men.

Warren showed, even as a lad, those characteristics which have since
marked him as a man apart. He was quick at his studies and slow in his
friendships. But his judgment of men, though slow, was sure. A more
accurate reader of character never lived. But of late years, whenever I
remarked on this, he would laugh and say the credit did not belong to
him but rather to Fantine, who told him all he knew.

This brings me to another striking trait in the man--his devotion to
animals and their worship of him. Dogs were his for his whistle, and
horses once touched by his hand would whinny a welcome if he only neared
the stable door. When he held a moment's silent conference with a cat,
it behooved the owner to watch lest pussy followed the charmer, and the
way birds looked at him was positively uncanny.

Good God! I am writing this as though he were dead, and my heart is
beating louder than the great clock in this silent Court Room!

Warren is not a handsome man, honey. You must not picture any Prince
Charming in his person. He has--he has red hair. There--one would think
I was making a confession. How he would laugh at me! He always says I
try to make him out an Adonis when he's about as ugly an animal as ever
walked upright. This is nonsense, of course. He is not handsome, but his
features are strong, and when he smiles, his eyes light up the whole
face and he is splendid.

But it is the mind of the man that has always fascinated me. His ideas
are so clean--his breadth of view so comprehensive--his intellect so
keen and his purpose so high.

If I could only have told the jury about the man himself!--But all this
is "outside the record." Do you understand, dear?

Never have I known a more sunny disposition or a more even temper in
anyone. But he could get angry. Half a dozen times I have seen him lose
control of himself, but, awful though his passion was, it always rose in
some cause that made me think the better of him as a man.

Once I remember he overheard a foul-mouthed fellow repeating a filthy
story in the presence of a little child. In an instant his face utterly
changed, and before I could prevent him he struck the man a fearful
blow, and I shall never forget the torrent of invective he hurled at the
offender. I had not believed him capable of such tongue-lashing. (Little
did I then dream how this would be used against him.)

It was on that day I first noted that, as long as Warren's anger lasted,
Fantine kept on growling. When I spoke of it he smiled and answered,

"Fantine recognized the cur, I fancy."

I have written that Warren was my oldest and dearest friend, but I have
not claimed to be his.

I would not presume to usurp Fantine's place.

Fantine was a Gordon setter. When I first saw her she was little more
than a fluffy ball in Warren's lap to which he was addressing some
remarks as he sat upon the floor of our study.

I did not disturb the conference.

"Puppy," he was saying, "your name is Fantine. Do you understand,
Fantine?"

For a moment the puppy gazed solemnly into his face, tilted its head
slightly first on one side and then on the other, cocking it more and
more in a puzzled effort at comprehension. Then it panted a puppy
smile--licked Godfrey's hand and wagged its little feather of a tail.

"Ah, you understand, do you?" Warren went on. "Well, you and I will
understand one another thoroughly after a while. I can teach you a
little--not much, but still something worth knowing. For instance--not
to bite my watch chain with those tiny milk teeth of yours! And you'll
teach me--O, lots of things I want to know.--You'll show me the men I
ought to trust and the ones to keep an eye on. Won't you, Fantine?"

The puppy put a fat paw on Warren's breast and wagged its whole body
with its tail.

"And, Fantine, you'll never forget me as some people do, or think me
ugly because I've got red hair? You have red hair yourself, you
minx!--See those tiny flecks through your black coat? Tan, you say?
Well, you'll have beauty enough for both of us some day. I'll teach you
how to hunt too--Is that a yawn? I make you tired, do I, Mademoiselle?
Well, I dare say you do know more about hunting than I ever shall. I
apologise. But we'll be great friends anyway--inseparables--worse than
your master and this great oaf who's stolen in upon our confidential
chat,--eh, Fantine?"

The puppy gave a sleepy sigh, nestling under Godfrey's coat and, as he
stooped to peer at her, lifted a baby head and licked his face.

From that hour I was to a certain extent supplanted. But Fantine
approved of me which was all I could hope. Of extraordinary intelligence
she seemed to interpret every mood of her master and sometimes almost to
anticipate his orders. The man and the dog were indeed inseparables. If
he left a room where she was sleeping it was as though the very air she
breathed had been exhausted, and she would wake with a start and follow
him instantly. The first time Warren sent her to his country place, some
fifty miles from town, he forwarded her in a crate by express, and, the
morning after she arrived he returned to town, leaving her with the
gardener. Before nightfall she was at his office door whining for
admittance. How she had found her way back no one ever knew.

It was more than instinct. The animal seemed to feel the man as the
Martian felt the north. No mere instinct could make a dog growl in
sympathetic response to a man's moods, and yet Fantine, as I have said,
would do this very thing. Yes, and sometimes the hair on her back would
rise in silent warning against some stranger--a warning Warren never
disregarded. This devotion was no one-sided affair, for Godfrey was a
man--

--There! I am lapsing into the past tense again. God grant there is no
evil omen in my pen!--

--It all happened so suddenly. I have not yet lived down the shock of
it, and am nervous as any woman. Just now there was a noise in the rear
of the room and I leaped to my feet barely repressing a cry. I thought
the Jury were entering. But they are still talking.--About what I dare
not think.

It is foolish, I suppose, to let my mind dwell on this "case," but I
cannot get away from it and it calms me to "talk" with you in this way
and to feel your quiet sympathy. I could not sit idle in this gloomy
room--fearful to me now, and full of shadows. I should go mad.--I am a
cheerful counsellor--am I not?

It was in the early evening of May tenth, a year ago, that Warren passed
through Washington Square with Fantine at his heels. As they crossed the
plaza on the north, a two-horse hack suddenly wheeled through the Arch
on the wrong side of the road, narrowly missing the man and dog. Enraged
at having to check his team, the driver, a burly Irishman named Dineen,
snatched up his whip and, cursing fiercely, struck the dog with all his
might. The lash wound itself about her head and flicked out one of
Fantine's eyes. With a howl she ran a few rods down the Square and then
crouched in the roadway, rubbing her bloody eye between her paws.

In an instant Warren was at the horses' heads and the hack stopped.

"Let go them horses--Let them go, I tell you! Ye won't, ye scum?--Then
take that and that!"

The lash fell twice on the horses' backs and Warren was thrown to the
ground, but still kept his grip upon the reins. Then the whip cut him in
the face, his hold loosened, and the team plunged forward, the driver
guiding straight for the spot where Fantine lay. An instant more and
the iron hoofs had trampled her down and the wheels of the carriage had
crushed out her life.

Dineen shook the reins over the flying horses and shouted as he turned
on his seat,

"Now pick up yur dirty cur--you loafin' scut you!"

But his victim leaping and bounding alongside the thundering carriage
made no answer, and the laugh the fellow started was never finished, for
two strong hands gripped his throat as Warren swung up beside him.
Literally torn from his seat by the shock, the reins flew from the
driver's hands and the frightened team became a runaway. For a moment
the two men, locked in deadly grapple, were struggling on the box. In
another instant they were over the dashboard swaying to right and left
above the wheels, until at last they crashed back upon the roof of the
carriage rolling horribly to the fearful lurching of the wheels. One
moment Warren was on top--another moment he was under. Then suddenly the
wheels of the hack struck a curb and the dark mass was hurled from the
roof to the ground with a sickening thud. There was a short struggle in
the street and then Warren raised the driver's head and dashed it
fiercely against the stones.

Half an hour later he staggered into my rooms--the blood trickling down
his face and Fantine's crushed and bleeding body in his arms.

He would hear of no other counsel. In vain I begged him to retain some
criminal practitioner.

"Why should I?" he replied. "You know the facts and believe in me.
That is all I want. Only remember this. I would rather die than be
imprisoned, and no trick or technicality shall ever clear me."

What weary months of waiting we have gone through! The Grand Jury
indicted for murder, the case has been much talked about and the
District Attorney has been very--zealous.

How my spirits rose when I found so many animal lovers among the men
summoned as jurors, and how the District Attorney and I fought for and
against them the whole of one long day! But he couldn't get rid of them
all, lass. Every man who admitted that he had no feeling for animals
possessed some other trait which made even the District Attorney fear
him.

There were dozens of witnesses but little controversy of fact. Without
difficulty I proved that Dineen was a drunken sot of evil reputation,
who had been drinking heavily on the day of his death, and then I placed
Warren on the stand.

How splendid he looked as he faced the jury and told his story to their
eyes.

The District Attorney was powerless before such a witness and he knew
it. His only chance lay in the fearless candour of the man and, God
forgive him, he took it. He asked only one question.

"Warren, do you feel any regret for the death of Dineen?"

I sprang to my feet with an objection, but Godfrey waved me back.

In breathless silence the Court awaited his answer. The District
Attorney saw his advantage in the pause, and judging the man rightly,
spoke with a show of fairness deliberately planned to his own purposes.

"You can decline to answer upon the ground that it will tend to
incriminate you."

As he expected, Warren flushed angrily, and flashed a scornful glance at
his questioner.

What a noble sensation it must give one to convict a man of murder by a
trick!

"You do not decline to answer? Then tell us, Warren, do you feel any
regret for the death of this man?"

"None whatsoever."

The answer was given slowly and distinctly with his face full to the
jury.

Oh, how my heart sank as I heard his words! I felt it was useless, but I
tried to soften them by explanation.

"Mr. Warren, tell the jury why you have no regret for the man's death."

"Because I saw him do foul murder which no law would reach. Because I
looked in the creature's face and saw in it something far lower than the
lowest brute, and I killed him in the same spirit as I would kill any
dangerous beast."

I suppose I should have foreseen the awful hush which followed and
prevented it with a flood of questions no matter how futile or
meaningless. But at that moment, and in this place reeking with the
breath of falsehood, his answer rang forth so true and brave that I
closed the case without another word and began my summing up to the
jury.

Dearest, I cannot now remember a single phrase I uttered. Twelve men sat
before me, but I could only see one face, and to that face I spoke.
Again and again the District Attorney interrupted, claiming that what I
said was outside the record, but I paid no heed. Behind me the crowd was
restless, and, once or twice, I think, the Justice rapped for order with
his gavel on the desk, but I never paused. This man's life was dearer to
me than life itself, yet, in that moment of supreme effort, I failed.

Yes, I know it now, I utterly failed. But I did not realise it, dearest,
even when I heard the pitiful feebleness of my argument exposed in the
cool and cutting words of the District Attorney. Why could I not have
seen the fatal weakness of my plea before it mocked me through the
maddening calmness of the Judge's charge, to echo all these weary hours
from every nook and corner of this dreadful room!

Why did I not insist that he have some able counsel! To think that
I--his closest friend, did not do for him what some hired advocate
could have done! His blood is on my hands--the hands he grasped as the
jurors filed from the Court Room--and I did not hide my head in shame.

How gloomy this place is. I shudder at its every shadow, and the very
air is poison. They're lighting more gas jets now. That's better. I
could not have stood it much longer.

I can at least be quiet in my humiliation. They shall not startle me
again, and I will write on calmly.

Are you ashamed of me? You must be. You believed in me--thought me a man
of some power--not a weakling who failed his friend. And you are right.
I will never----

They are lighting the Judge's desk. I must look up--

Dorothy--Dorothy! The Jury is coming in!--

       *       *       *       *       *

          To
               Miss Dorothy Bentham,
                    Forest Lodge,
                         Adirondacks, N. Y.

MY DEAR MISS BENTHAM:

There is no justification for these lines save the request of the man
you love, but in that you will find a reason if not excuse for me--will
you not? This, he says, is to be a postscript to some letter telling you
of the dark days we have passed and which, if it please God, shall not
have been lived through in vain.

I have no right at this time to say what has been in my heart for you
ever since my friend told me of his happiness. It is more fitting now
that I write you what I am sure he has not, and what he seems to realise
so little--his personal triumph in this day's work.

Twice, dear Miss Dorothy, the audience broke into uncontrollable
applause during his wonderful address, and when the jury brought in
their verdict those who heard it set up a mighty cheer for him which
shook the very building. He bids me write that the jury found for
acquittal on the first ballot, and were delayed two hours by a slight
illness of one of their number. It was this period of anxious waiting, I
fear, which told upon him so sadly. Let me hasten to reassure you,
however, as to his health. He is now resting at my rooms, and to-morrow
I hope to send him to the only physician whose presence he needs, and
who, I hope, will make him take a long summer vacation.

That God may bless and keep you both is the earnest prayer of

                         GODFREY WARREN.

_June 6, 1896._



IN THE MATTER OF BATEMAN.


I have hesitated to tell this story because it involves confidential
relations between lawyer and client which are, of course, absolutely
sacred to all who love and honour their profession as I do--and there
are many such, thank God.

But I'm--well, I'm old enough to be sensitive about my age, and not old
enough to be proud of it. Almost all my companions are dead--Bateman and
his enemies have passed away, and I think there ought to be a Statute of
Limitations for the relief of old lawyers who must live on memories.
Then, too, if a man has had the lessons which a matter like this
teaches, I think his experiences belong to his profession.

But when I think of it again, there is little in what I have to tell
that will serve either as instruction or warning, because there never
was, and never will be, another case like Bateman's.

I am satisfied, however, that there is no impropriety in disclosing the
facts after all these years, and of this I trust my professional record
is sufficient guaranty.

At the time of which I write I was junior partner in the firm of
Paulding & Wainwright, and our offices were on Front Street, in the
heart of the shipping business.

Josiah Bateman had been a client of Mr. Paulding long before I was
admitted to a partnership. His Will had been in our safe for fifteen
years, but neither my partner nor I knew its terms, for the old man had
drawn it up himself. "He guessed he knew enough law to give away his
property," he told us as we witnessed the instrument.

Mr. Bateman ought to have known some law. Certainly he had expended
enough money in litigation to pay for a hundred legal educations. Indeed
his genius for disputes would have made him an ideal client save for one
fact--he seldom took the advice of his lawyers. It naturally followed
that his success in the Courts was by no means encouraging. Whenever he
won a suit he claimed all the credit, and if he lost, our responsibility
was voiced by the loser in a tone only a little more offensive than his
self-gratulation. People used to wonder how we got on with the man, but
we were accustomed to his vagaries, and despite his declamations he paid
handsomely and promptly for every service rendered.

As he grew older Mr. Bateman's tendency to litigate increased
tremendously and the Office Register coupled his name with every kind of
law suit from a dispossess proceeding to a knotty problem in the law of
nations.

Mr. Bateman had never married, and he never spoke of his relatives to
anyone. Down-town New York knew him as a clear-headed, obstinate,
hard-working, irascible merchant who had made a great deal of money. But
there information stopped. His fortune was variously estimated from a
million up to five millions--one guess being as good as another in the
absence of any known facts.

So when the news came that Josiah Bateman was dead I think everybody
connected with our firm, from the senior partner to the office boy, was
curious to learn how the old man had left his money.

The news of his death did not reach us until a week after he had been
buried. We were then advised by letter that he had been on a hunting
trip in the Adirondacks and had become ill and died when far away from
any town. The guides seem to have known nothing about him and he was
buried at the nearest cemetery. No papers or documents were found upon
the body, and it was not until a week after his funeral that a crumpled
piece of paper was discovered in his game bag. This proved to be one of
our letters to him and we were at once put in possession of the facts.
At the same time we were informed that the body had been exhumed and
positively identified by an old friend of our client. Mr. Paulding was
away from Town on his vacation when the news came and in his absence the
responsibility for proper action devolved upon me.

The letter announcing Mr. Bateman's death arrived in the morning mail,
but I was engaged in Court all day and it was nearly seven o'clock in
the evening before I returned to the office. Letters and papers had
accumulated on my desk during my absence, but I was too tired and hungry
to attack the work they suggested, so dismissing the clerks for the
night I sought out the nearest restaurant.

All thought of Bateman's affairs had been crowded out by the events of
the day, and it was not until I had finished my after-dinner cigar that
they were recalled to me by seeing Mr. Bateman's obituary printed in an
evening paper.

It was the usual "boneyard" article which had doubtless been set up in
the newspaper office years before. Any way, after reading three quarters
of a column I learned nothing about the man I did not already know, and
what I knew could have been condensed into a dozen lines. It set me
thinking, however, about our queer old client. Perhaps his Will
contained some directions for the disposition of his body which should
govern my immediate instructions to the people in the Adirondacks. His
end would have been lonely enough anywhere, but up there in the silent
mountains, away from the city's bustle and battle which he loved, death
must have seemed fearful to that lonesome old man. Late as it was I
determined to return to the office and look at Mr. Bateman's Will.

I always carried a key to the front door of our office building, for no
one slept on the premises and sometimes it was important to gain
admission after the closing hour.

The streets were absolutely deserted as I left the restaurant and my
footsteps echoed upon the flagstones.

Surely down-town New York is the most dismal spot in the world at
night--a veritable city of the dead. The silent, empty streets have an
atmosphere of utter gloom--the buildings dark and forbidding stand in
gruesome solemnity or huddle together in hideous attitudes of fear--the
deserted offices here and there show a shaded light in some rear room,
but the ghastly glow only intensifies the darkness, and over all is the
silence--the awful silence--of the night. It is not the restful quiet of
sleep--it is not the peaceful stillness of death--it is the horrid,
breathing, staring silence of the trance. It is the silence that makes
you stop and listen--hush and whisper, or gently motion with your finger
on your lips.

The feeling of all this was upon me as I turned toward my office. The
unaccustomed stillness filled me with absurd apprehension, and tricked
me into starting at every shadow. My footsteps echoed more and more
rapidly upon the sidewalk, and louder and louder until I found myself
actually running along deserted Front Street.

I had been in the offices at night before, but I stumbled and tripped
up the familiar stairway as though the steps and the very walls
themselves had changed positions in the darkness.

I lit a lamp in our front room, but the big black shadows transformed
the well-known surroundings so that nothing seemed the same.

The globe on the corner shelf took the shape of some great bird sitting
gorged and sombre on its ample perch--the document cases with their
white letterings suggested dark heads and shining rows of teeth, and the
green baize doors studded with brass-nails seemed like monster coffins
set on end, each staring silently through an oval eye of glass.

I carried the lamp into my private room, but the draught from the hall
blew it out, so I closed the door before lighting it again.

In those days my private room in the rear of our office suite was
connected with the main rooms by a short hall, from which it was
separated by a green baize and glass-panelled door. In this room was the
firm safe, a cavern-like affair built into and occupying the entire rear
wall. The interior was lined with sheet iron, and the huge doors of the
same material were opened and locked with a key weighing perhaps half a
pound.

Sitting down at my desk I touched the secret spring of the drawer
containing this key. I am not a nervous man, but I had been under more
or less tension all day, and the stillness of the streets and the ugly
suggestions of the dark shadows in the outer offices had had their
effect upon my nerves, making me start as the spring snapped and the
drawer shot out. Holding the lamp in my left hand close to the safe
directly behind my chair, I fitted the huge key into the keyhole, and
unfastened the lock. The bolts turned easily, and placing the lamp upon
the desk again I pulled at the handle of the safe door. For a moment it
resisted and then swung open with a sound like a sob, emitting a breath
of cold air that chilled me and set the flame of the lamp flaring above
the chimney. It was like the damp breath of some underground tomb.
Moreover, it seemed to circle around me, blowing upon my neck and making
the papers on my desk rustle and whisper. So strong was this impression
that I swung about in my chair and stared into the blackness at the
other end of the room, and even as I did so, one of the papers before
me was silently wafted off the desk. I watched it as it floated slowly
and noiselessly towards the doorway, and when at last it settled gently
on the floor, I felt the beads of perspiration trickling down my face.
For fully a minute I must have sat peering into the darkness as though
fascinated by the gigantic shadows on the walls.

Then I laughed nervously, mopped my forehead, turned again to the safe,
and hastily took from the inner compartment a bundle of wills. Bateman's
testament was the third in the bundle. It was sealed up in a plain
envelope and the endorsement was in his own handwriting.

          "_Will of Josiah Bateman. Dated June 10, 1855._"

The papers had that musty smell peculiar to old documents, and to which
I was entirely accustomed, but that night the odor had a sickening
effect upon me. It seemed to dry up the very air and make it suffocating
with the horrible stench of decay. I stood up and stretched my neck to
get an upper stratum of air, but the whole room seemed tainted with the
foul cloying breath.

I sat down at the desk again and turned my back upon the lamp so that
the light would fall over my shoulder. With a shudder I picked up the
envelope, which seemed to reek with the unendurable odor, and as I did
so, noticed the window close beside me. Why had I not thought of that
before? I dropped the paper and rose to open the sash.

The darkness outside and the light within had turned the window pane
into a mirror reflecting the room behind me with perfect clearness. The
whole effect was fearfully weird, and for an instant it held me
spellbound. In the foreground was my own ghastly white face--the eyes
apparently gazing not into mine, but at something behind me. In the
background the lamp, the desk, the papers, and the brass-nailed green
baize door, jet black in the night light, stood out clearly.

As I stared into this reflected room, I noted a peculiar dark spot on
the oval glass panel of the door. Was it at this my mirrored eyes seemed
to look?

I knew I was in no fit condition to withstand the tricks of imagination,
so I turned, not without an effort, to ascertain what really caused this
strange reflection. But my imagination would have served my over-wrought
nerves better than the fact, for the dark spot was unquestionably
something pressed against the glass from outside the room. Steadily I
gazed at this object, and endeavored with all the power I possessed to
reason myself out of the nameless dread that had settled down upon me.

It could not be what it seemed.--Hair against the panel of that
coffin-like door was too full of horrible suggestions! It must be a mop
which had fallen against the glass.--Of course it must be that. A mop,
too, would account for those damp breath stains on the glass.

Thus I reasoned, never taking my eyes off that oval pane in the door.
But as I gazed my theory fell to pieces and my reasoning stopped. The
moist spots on the glass began to expand and contract, vanish and
reappear slowly and regularly as to some heavy breathing. Every
exhalation seemed to blow that fearful odor of death toward my nostrils!

After a few moments however I could no longer deceive myself, for my
eyes, accustomed to the light, made out too plainly for doubt a face
pressed close against the glass watching my every movement.

With that discovery my reason and coolness seemed to return instantly.
Without taking my eyes off the face framed in the door panel, I slid
open the drawer immediately beneath my hand, groped for, and at last
grasped, the revolver I always kept there.

At last the face withdrew from the glass, but so sure was I that no
illusion had deceived me that I waited without moving a muscle. At
length the handle turned and the door was pulled open slowly. As slowly
I turned the chamber of my revolver, touching each cartridge with my
finger. The door continued to swing cautiously, and with my elbow still
in the drawer I raised my forearm, covering the widening slit with the
muzzle of my weapon.

The door opened outward into the hall, and at first I could see nothing
of the person pulling it. Then suddenly a hand darted out and grasped
the inside knob, and at the same moment the figure of a man, his back
turned toward me, blocked the opening. Had I fired then I could not have
missed my aim, but the opportunity was so complete it seemed murderous.
The fellow paused in the doorway and seemed to listen or look for
something in the hall or rooms beyond.

I tried to speak, but my throat only responded with a dry click. When
at last I controlled my voice its utterance was a harsh whisper,

"Stop where you are, or I'll fire! Don't turn or move a muscle! I have
you covered with a revolver."

The figure in the doorway started convulsively, but made no other
motion, and for a moment everything was so still I could hear my watch
ticking. Then I heard the man say,

"Don't shoot, Mr. Wainwright. I'm going to face you."

My heart almost stopped beating as I recognised the voice, but the
horror of the situation did not burst upon me until Josiah Bateman
turned and stood before me under the glare of the flaring lamp.

For a moment neither of us spoke, but I noticed the haggard look of the
man, the unkempt condition of his grey hair, and his soiled and tattered
clothing.

There was no doubt that the living man stood before me, but everything
about him breathed a horrid suggestiveness. At last I motioned to a seat
and addressed him.

"What does this mean?"

The old man smiled wearily, but his voice was much the same as usual.

"I'm afraid I've given you a scare, without intending it, Mr.
Wainwright. I owe you an apology. But you were plucky, Sir, and I--well,
I took some risks too."

"What does all this mean?" I repeated, with some annoyance in my tone.

"It's hard to tell in a few words, Mr. Wainwright, but I haven't risen
from the dead. Yes, I see you looking at my clothes, but I haven't been
inside a grave, and no undertaker has handled me yet."

"Don't you think we've had enough of mysteries, Mr. Bateman?" I inquired
impatiently.

"Surely--surely," replied the old man, "but I want to give you time to
recover yourself and----"

"I have quite recovered, thank you."

"Everything but your temper, Mr. Wainwright, everything but your temper.
You need to have that in hand before giving me advice."

"You seek a strange hour for consultation, Mr. Bateman. Allow me to
suggest an appointment for to-morrow morning."

"No time like the present, Mr. Wainwright. I might say no time except
the present. But while we are talking of time we waste it."

Mr. Bateman's manner was usually abrupt, almost brusque, and his present
oily tone had a peculiar menace to my ears.

"I cannot listen very long to-night, Mr. Bateman, so I must ask you to
explain your business at once," I answered shortly.

"Certainly my dear Sir,--though you can have no business more important
than this.--Do you mind if I close the door? The draught is annoying and
makes your miserable lamp sputter continually."

I felt I would rather not have that door closed again, but could give no
reason, so I simply nodded.

Mr. Bateman rose and closed the door. He even slipped the bolt, but upon
this I made no comment. Then he resumed his seat, ran his hands through
his long hair once or twice, and fixing his eyes on my face began
speaking rapidly in an entirely different tone.

"This is no time for details. You see I am alive, therefore the report
of my death is false. It is no case of mistaken identity. I arranged it
all. An unknown man did die in the Adirondacks. No, I did not kill him.
It was a natural death for him--an opportunity for me. I merely
supplied the evidence for his identification. No need of asking how I
did it. Enough that it's done and done with practically no confederates.
The question now I suppose is--why?"

I nodded.

"I will tell you, Mr. Wainwright. It was the only way to avoid
failure--the one chance to save me from utter financial ruin. You look
at me as though I were crazy.--Well, I'm not. You think you know a good
deal of my business affairs, but you know precious little and I tell you
now, without discussing it, I had to die to make life worth living. If I
had failed--well, there's no use talking 'ifs.' The point is this. I've
been carrying a load that's pretty nearly done for me, but which'll give
me the biggest harvest I've ever reaped. The devils think they've got me
down, but I'll teach 'em who Josiah Bateman is!"

The old man's eyes glittered and he struck the desk with his fist, but
his manner was no more extravagant than usual, so I only said, "We are
still dealing in mysteries, Mr. Bateman."

"I'm explaining as fast as I can, Sir! When I first entered upon the
deal I'm now carrying through I thought I had plenty of money for it.
But the unexpected happened again and again, and last month I began to
turn things into cash. Since then I've needed more and more money,
needed it so badly I dare not ask for it, needed it cruelly, horribly.
I've borrowed in every place where it would not ruin me to negotiate a
loan--I'm at the end of my rope and I must have more money by Tuesday
next."

"By Tuesday next?" I queried.

"Yes. Do you know how much life insurance I carry and where?"

"A hundred thousand in the Equitable and a hundred thousand in the
Mutual," I replied.

"Quite so--" he answered. "Well then--I've got to have that money."

I looked at the stern, haggard face before me. Anxiety and sleeplessness
had wrought great havoc with the man.--What if it had touched his brain?
He interpreted my thought instantly.

"Leave your revolver alone, Mr. Wainwright! I'm quite as sane as you are
and a good bit smarter if you don't yet see my scheme."

"I think I prefer not to see it or hear it either," I answered.

"Nonsense, you've got to do both, and in the shortest possible time too,
for I've had to waste a week already. I observe you were about to open
my old Will. Well, it's no good. I've made another and here it is,
signed, sealed, published, declared, witnessed and all the rest of the
rot. This you will probate to-morrow morning. It appoints you my sole
executor, gives you absolute power for five years to continue and
conduct my business just as it is, leaves the bulk of my property to
clerks and charities (for I haven't got as much as a second cousin
living in the world), and it provides that my executor have one hundred
thousand dollars in lieu of his fees."

"That is generous," I observed.

"I think it just," he replied, taking no notice of my smile. "Now
listen," he continued. "By Tuesday morning you will be able to collect
on my life insurance. The proofs are complete. Yes, and genuine too. The
doctor, the undertaker, the guides, all honestly believe I'm the corpse,
and it does resemble me wonderfully. Lord, but I've sweated in working
it out! By Tuesday, I say, those Insurance Companies will be satisfied,
and they pay promptly, for the bigger the claim the better the
advertisement. But if they delay, the fact of my death will tie up those
devils who are trying to down me, for a few days at least. When you get
the cash, pay it out under my directions and we'll roast the whole gang
of them and Josiah Bateman will return to life ten times a millionaire,
for I tell you, Wainwright, this is the biggest thing you've ever been
in!"

"It is unique in more respects than one," I answered.

"It is simplicity itself. Only the details were difficult. Even getting
here, disguised as I am, was not easy without attracting too much
notice, and----"

"You might have saved yourself that trouble," I interrupted.

"No, I had to see you to-night. To-morrow you would have probated that
old Will instead of----"

"Writing out our resignations."

"What do you mean?" he gasped.

"Am I not clear enough?"

"You don't mean to say you won't carry this thing through?"

"I hoped you would come to your senses, Mr. Bateman, before a
declination was necessary," I observed, keeping my eyes steadily upon
the twitching face of my client.

He stared at me for a moment in silence, and then burst out,

"Nonsense, Wainwright, nonsense! You don't understand! What's the matter
with you, anyway? I have desperate need of money and cannot get it from
any ordinary channel without ruin. I so arrange that I shall be thought
dead. I have absolutely no relations. You collect my life insurance and
pay the money where I direct, and I am saved financially. I can then
return and the amount paid by the life Insurance Companies will be
refunded, and who, in God's name, is hurt?"

"I have heard," I began, smiling, "that emergency evolves ethics,
but----"

"O don't go sermonizing about ethics, and stop that silly smiling!
Either I'm crazy, in which case you ought to humour me, or sane, and
entitled to an intelligent hearing. I understand the proposition is a
new one. It is made for new facts. But that does not argue it a crime.
The only possible wrong in it is involved in the probate affidavits,
but you know in nine out of ten cases you don't comply with the statutes
in making affidavits, so there's no perjury. I only ask you to tell a
lie--a lie which cannot possibly hurt anybody, but which will save me."

"And incidentally help to perpetrate a fraud on the Insurance
Companies."

"An innocent fraud!--We will return the money with interest the moment
it goes through."

"And if it does not go through?"

"It will.--It cannot fail, I tell you! But if it does," Mr. Bateman
looked me steadily in the eyes, "if it does fail, no harm will be done.
I shall be dead. Before God, I swear it."

There was tragedy written on the man's earnest face, and a note of
pathos sounded in his voice. For a moment neither of us spoke.

"Mr. Bateman," I said at last. "Because I have listened to you, you must
not suppose I have for one instant countenanced your scheme. It is
impossible from beginning to end. Suppose we terminate this
interview----"

"I see it!" he exclaimed suddenly--"I see it! You think the plan will
fail and you take some risk for no gain in case my estate is bankrupt. I
have said that if I do not get money I am ruined. I would not be,
strictly speaking, a bankrupt. With my plans gone wrong my estate would
still amount to $75,000. Your fee is safe. I have provided for that in
the Will. Read it and see if I am not right. I cannot prove to-night the
accuracy of my figures. To that extent you must trust me."

It was pathetic to hear this rough old man pleading in such a manner. I
suddenly felt more sorry than indignant and answered him quite gently.

"I'm not practicing law, Mr. Bateman, merely for fees, or for only one
case. I am following it as a career."

"What in hell's name has that got to do with it?" he burst forth
angrily. "I'm sick and tired of your hypocrisy and that of your whole
legal crew. You take cases you don't believe in, argue to prove what you
know is false, defeat the laws, shield the dishonest, help criminals to
escape, bully and insult honest men, tell lies, act lies, live lies,--do
anything and everything that's safe and disgusting--and yet you prate
to me about your career! Your career indeed! God save me from the smirch
and smirk of it all!"

"Have you quite finished, Mr. Bateman?"

The old man's face was purple with rage and his hands trembled as they
clutched the arms of his chair. It was not until the look of hate faded
from his eyes that he spoke again.

"No, Sir, I've not finished--but I apologise for what I said. It was
childish--foolish. I was at the end of my patience for it seems so
unjust that you should take such a stand. I ask you to save me from what
would be ruin to me, for what should be a fortune to you. I ask you to
do no wrong to any man, woman or child in the world. I have toiled years
and years in my business. I have suffered to get what I have, and I
made every dollar honestly, by my brains alone. I have only one
ambition--have had only one thought for years--to die a rich man--the
successful merchant of my time. A poor ambition you think? Well, it's my
heart's desire. Take it away and I am dead. I have no wife, no children,
no relatives of any sort. Examine my Will and see what I propose to do
with my money. What have I to live for save the joy of making? Oh, man,
man, can't you understand? Don't you see what this means to me?"

I could not at once find an answer for the poor wretch, almost frantic
with anxiety. He interpreted my silence hopefully, for he continued,

"I ask you to take but little upon faith. If my plan succeeds, as it
must, no one will lose save those who in commercial venture have staked
upon my failure, and who have no idea to-day how near I am to it. The
Insurance Companies will regain their money and more advertisement than
they could get elsewhere in twenty years. If I fail, they will only have
paid the money a few days too soon. You believe that? You must know I
could not survive failure. But you need not rely on this, for you are
safe in the fact that I cannot return without facing a prison for my few
remaining years. When first I came here to-night, Mr. Wainwright, it was
to open your safe and substitute the Wills and let you do unknowingly
what I now ask and implore you to do knowingly.--You will do it, will
you not?"

"Mr. Bateman,--once and for all,--I will not."

"You won't help me? Then, by God, you shan't hinder me!"

I sprang to my feet, but before I understood what was taking place I saw
a flash, and one of the window panes behind me shattered. Almost at the
same instant I launched myself upon the old man with such force that we
both crashed to the floor, I upon his prostrate body. The struggle was
brief, for I was young and powerfully built, and the man beneath me well
advanced in years. Pinning his arms with my knees I tore the revolver
from his hand and hurled it across the room. Then he ceased struggling
and I turned him over easily, tying his arms with my handkerchief. But
there was little need of this precaution, for his strength was gone, and
it was necessary to help him into a chair. Some moments passed before he
said anything. When he spoke there were tears in his voice.

"Forgive me, Mr. Wainwright. I don't know what possessed me. The
disappointment--the disappointment of a life's work must have suddenly
crazed me. But I am sane now and I was before. Everything I told you is
true.--I know it is impossible now to hope for anything.--Will you take
me to a hospital? I am a sick man, Mr. Wainwright--a very sick man, but
I do not wish to live. Everything--I told you--is true."

       *       *       *       *       *

Ten days later Josiah Bateman died at the hospital where I took him that
night.

"It is a singular case," the House Physician told me, "but not unheard
of. He simply lacked the zest for living."

Mr. Bateman's second Will was never probated. A few days before he died
he sent for it.

"What is to-day?" he asked as I gave him the document.

"Wednesday," I answered.

"It is too late now," he whispered. "I have lived too long. I revoke
this." He tore the paper as he spoke.

We proved the old Will, but he had perfected his plans only too well. It
was difficult to make out a case of mistaken identity for the body in
the Adirondacks, and it was months before we established our rights to
the insurance moneys. His estate did not realise quite $100,000, but
after a close examination into his affairs I am persuaded all Josiah
Bateman claimed he could accomplish was possible, and that everything he
told me that night was absolutely true.



THE FINDING OF FACT.

     "But their wild exultation was suddenly checked,
     As the Jailer informed them with tears,
     Such a verdict would not have the slightest effect,
     As the pig had been dead for some years."

                         LEWIS CARROLL.


"Anything on this morning, Counsellor?"

The title was still music to Holden's ears, so he smiled encouragingly
at the fat reporter. In an instant a bethumbed court calendar was shoved
under his nose and the reportorial pencil questioned,

"_Grafton against the Milling Companies?_ Are you in that? Say, what's
doing there to-day? Is it any good?"

The reportorial arm was slipped confidentially through his, and Holden
thus accompanied threaded his way through the crowded rotunda of the
County Court House.

"Hello--must be something up in Holden's office. Look at that leech
Plimpton glued to him!"

"Yes--_Grafton against The Milling Companies_."

"Good Lord! Is that on? I might as well go back to the office then.
We'll never be reached to-day."

"That's right. We're not ready, so thank goodness they're ahead of us.
It's a dandy case,--wish we had it."

"Think I'll stay and hear the arguments.--Old man Harter's in fine form,
they say."

So the managing clerks talked as they leaned against the walls of the
rotunda or sat upon the railing of the "Well."

It is an interesting place that rotunda--a trifle impossible, perhaps,
from an academic point of view,--but still an interesting place.

It is the big noisy ante-chamber to the stuffy court rooms of a big
noisy city. It has an atmosphere of tobacco, shirt sleeves and hurry--an
atmosphere of the people--its architecture is big and plain--an
architecture for the people, and its dirt and smears bespeak a daily use
and occupation by the people.

To the casual visitor the same persons seem to live in it all the year
round. To the habitué the masses are kaleidoscopic--never and yet ever
the same. Messengers,--process-servers, office boys--all the fledglings
of the law gather there in groups and blow cigarette smoke into each
other's faces. Court officials loll about the railing patronising the
managing clerks, who must cultivate them or yield all claims to
management. Big-girthed men hold one another by watch chains and lapels
and tell loud-mouthed stories of their triumphant practice. Bloated
gentlemen and shifty seek out corners to breathe moist secrets into each
other's ears. But heedless of all these a hurrying crowd is ever
streaming this way and that--here a haggard face and there a laughing
one--now a brutal type and now a mask of breeding--so they go--shuffle,
shuffle, click-a-clack, all day long, outside the halls of Justice.

Holden pushed open the swinging doors labelled

                         SPECIAL TERM
                            PART I.

and entered a small court room crowded to suffocation. Every seat was
occupied and men were standing about everywhere--jammed in between the
chairs--plastered against the wall--crushed against the rail. The
counsels' table and its two chairs were the only unoccupied bits of
furniture in the room.

The Court criers glanced despairingly at the throng and shouted
mechanically, "Gentlemen will please take seats!" and then, more
hopefully, "Gentlemen will please stop talking!"

But the babel of conversation was finally hushed by an attendant who
announced the entrance of the Judge by pounding with an ample fist upon
the panels of a door. Not a very dignified heralding of the presence of
the Court, but understood by the late comers whose view is limited to
the judicial canopy--that pall-like canopy of red rep which sets one
panting to gaze with relief at the steam-screened windows. They at least
are wet.

"_Grafton_ vs. _The Milling Companies!_"

Holden fought his way like a foot-ball player through the "rush line" of
lawyers, and as he pitched into the cleared space before the counsels'
table his impulse was to dodge the one man before him and race down "the
side-line." But he checked himself in time. Then two other young men
plunged into the open and stood somewhat breathlessly before the Bench.


"If it please the Court," began Holden, "this is a motion in a case of
great importance and----"

"All cases are equally important in this Court, Sir!"

"I recognise that, your Honour, but I was about to say----"

"Well, well, never mind! Are you ready?"

"Yes, Sir, but I was about to tell your Honour----"

"That'll do, Sir!"

"That Mr. Harter, who is to argue this motion, thinks it will take till
recess."

"Ah, Mr. Harter? Well, his opinions are interesting, of course, but not
quite conclusive on this Court. Not necessarily conclusive. Eh?"

A titter from the crowd acknowledged this retort. Is there anything so
irresistibly infectious as the wit of the Bench?

The other young men then came to the rescue of their fellow clerk. This
is such an old, old play that every one knows his cue.

"Col. Partridge thinks he will need half an hour, your Honour."

"Col. Partridge? Ah,--well,--what does the other side say?"

"Mr. Coates thinks he will take twenty minutes more."

"Um--Mr. Coates? Tell--er--tell Mr. Harter I'll take it up as soon as
the cases ahead of it are disposed of. No cases after _Grafton_ vs. _The
Milling Companies_ will be heard before two o'clock. _Morton_ vs.
_Sheldon_, are you ready?"

"The defendant's Counsel has just stepped into the hall. If your Honour
will hold it a moment----"

"This Court waits for no one, Sir. Its time belongs to the People.
Motion dismissed. _Vone_ vs. _Taunton_. What's that about?"

"It's a motion to change the place of trial, if the Court please."

"Well, hand in your papers."

"But I'd like to be heard, your Honour. This means much to my client."

"Now, Mister,--er--Mister--er--Counsellor, what is the use of arguing
that? I know all about it--I have hundreds of such cases--and seldom
grant them. Hand up your papers."

"Will not the Court allow me----"

"No, Sir; no, Sir! That'll do! Hand up your papers.--_Grafton_ vs. _The
Milling Companies_! Ah, Mr. Harter; good-morning, Sir. Officer, get Mr.
Harter a chair. Good-morning, Colonel Partridge, how are you to-day,
Sir? We are all ready now, I think, Mr. Coates? Yes? Well, no other
cases will be heard this morning."

And the Judge leans back in his comfortable swing-chair, and beams in
courteous attention upon the distinguished counsel.

"If the Court please," begins Mr. Coates, "this is a case of great
importance----"

Yes, his Honour knows its importance. He has gathered this from the
retainer of Messrs. Harter and Partridge and Coates, and the reporters
know its importance as they scribble on their pads, and the newspaper
artists know it as they sketch illustrations for the "story," and the
Court officials know it reflecting his Honour on the Bench. But the one
who knows it best of all is the grey-haired plaintiff, Grafton, who sits
behind Mr. Harter and listens with a puzzled air to the learned
arguments.

To Grafton the case was indeed important. It involved all he had in the
world. It had seemed a simple case to him when he first brought it to
his attorney, but matters had not gone smoothly from the start. Delay
and postponement were followed by more delay and further postponement.

"The defendants were putting up a stiff fight," his attorney told him.
What about? Well, they had "demurred," or "counterclaimed," or "made a
motion," or "appealed,"--had done some of these things, or all of
them--goodness knows just what--it was not very clear.

Why couldn't his case be tried? Well, they were "stayed by appeal," or
"enjoined pending a motion," or were "stricken off the calendar." Some
of these things, or all of them, had happened. "But the fact was," his
attorney told him, "the defendant's Counsel stood in too well with the
Court--he really ought to retain Mr. Harter."

So Mr. Harter was retained, and the case bristled with nice legal points
and pretty questions of practice, to the utter amazement of Grafton, who
blindly stumbled along in the ruck of the legal battle, hopelessly
confused and growing daily more and more anxious, like the suitor in
_Jarndyce_ vs. _Jarndyce_.

But such a case as _Jarndyce_ vs. _Jarndyce_ could never happen in New
York, because, as any lawyer can tell you, there is no Court of
Chancery, or anything like----

Well, there is no Court of Chancery.

The argument of Mr. Coates was ably sustained, and Mr. Harter's reply
was so masterly that Col. Partridge said in his rejoinder that nothing
but his knowledge of the law kept him from being persuaded.

The Court laughed, and the officials laughed, and the listening Bar
laughed. Everyone laughed except Grafton, who had no sense of humour,
anyway.

But at last it was over.

"Well, Mr. Grafton, I hope you are satisfied--I feel sure his Honour was
with us.... Holden, hand up your brief.... It was very good, Sir.... Mr.
Grafton, this is young Mr. Holden of our office who wrote the brief for
you on the motion to-day--and wrote it well, too."

Holden blushed like a school-girl as he shook Mr. Grafton's hand. It was
no small thing to be praised by Mr. Harter at any time, but about
"_Grafton_ vs. _The Milling Companies_," it was positive distinction.

Mr. Harter was right about the Court being with him, for the plaintiff
won that motion.

He was right again in the two appeals which followed the decision. He
was right on several other like occasions and won no less than six
different motions and five appeals by the end of the next three years.

But the case didn't get to trial.

It was then that Grafton began to grow surly and instead of
congratulating Mr. Harter on his triumphant practice, snapped out that
such practice made perfect fools of honest men.

Which was decidedly ungrateful as well as impolitic.

However, he sensibly gave up trying to follow the maze of procedure, and
hammered away with expostulation and question at the fact that the case
wasn't tried.

With less wisdom he took to talking about the litigation with his
friends and neighbours--with lawyers at the Club--with officials in the
Court--with clerks in the office--with anyone and everyone who would
listen, until he bored them beyond politeness and began to get snubbed.
But the case itself was less interesting than at first. Almost all the
fine points of "practice" had been exhausted and only the dry fodder of
facts remained.

Harter hadn't appeared in Court with it for many a day and plainly
intimated that he'd retire altogether if Grafton didn't stop boring him.
But in Holden the plaintiff always had an interested listener. Ever
since the morning when Mr. Harter had praised his work Holden had
studied the case in every phase and knew its every detail. So when, a
few months after he set up in practice for himself, Grafton brought him
all the papers and made him his sole attorney, Holden knew no words with
which to express his thanks.

He had always despised the flagging interest of his seniors. Doubtless
they had done their best--Mr. Harter and the attorney, but despite their
fruitless efforts he felt his ability to push the matter to a successful
issue. It was a great case, and there was his chance, and into it he
threw himself with all the splendid enthusiasm of his youth and
strength. He pressed his adversaries this way and that, worried them
with unending work and harassed them with ceaseless attack until he saw
his case actually set down for trial on "a day certain." Then his
excitement knew no bounds. He worked hour after hour with Grafton's
witnesses, prepared schedules and accounts, compiled digests of
testimony and indices of all the papers, made himself an expert
bookkeeper and a master-expert on every detail of Grafton's business. He
raised every question that legal ingenuity could conjure up, and every
quibble that cunning could devise and met them in his trial-brief--the
work of months of careful study. There was no suggestion of a defence
which was not ferreted out and run down by question and answer--no
technicality neglected, until at length even Grafton laughingly
protested.

"My dear boy, let's leave it alone now! There's no one can beat you on
either the facts or the law."

But Holden wouldn't leave it alone. They were already talking about the
approaching trial in the rotunda, and this was his start in life. So
night and day he studied and planned with the increasing confidence
which comes of perfect preparation.

At last they were in the Court crowded with witnesses, counsel,
litigants and reporters.

Would there be another adjournment? Not if he could help it, and Holden
squared his jaw and looked determination at the veteran Mr. Coates.

"_Grafton_ vs. _The Milling Companies_--How long will that take?"

"About two days--your Honour, I think." Holden's voice fairly faltered
as he answered glancing at the witnesses clustered near him and the
immense pile of books and papers.

But Mr. Coates did not dissent. He was ready.

At last! At last they were at trial.

"Then no other matters will be heard to-day. _Grafton_ vs. _The Milling
Companies_. Proceed with your case, Sir."

But Mr. Coates had arisen and was addressing the Court.

"I think it only right to say to your Honour that I shall not interpose
any defence in this action. The Milling Companies made an assignment
last night, and I only represent the Assignee. The gentleman will, of
course, take our default, but I should hardly think he would occupy the
whole day."

Holden stared silently at the speaker. The familiar scene darkened,
faded, disappeared and flared up in a new light completely transforming
it--a strange room with strange people--a stage setting in the white
unmasking light of day.--A mocking face leered at him from a raised
dais--mocking figures elbowed him with impatient scorn--mocking fingers
pointed at him with derisive joy--fat clammy hands touched his breast
and pushed him from the rail over which he glared with the most
desperate hatred known to the world--the hatred of a man against
mankind.

Then someone burst out laughing.

"What does he mean, Holden?"

Grafton's voice sounded a mile away, but the words of Belden, Coates'
clerk, were clear enough as he whispered in Holden's ear:

"Wasn't it great? Kept you all off for over three years without a ghost
of a defence! Our people only wanted time to get things fixed and we got
it for them all right enough, I guess. Give you a dime for your
judgment! I tell you----"

But Holden suddenly struck Belden across the mouth and was promptly
adjudged guilty of contempt of Court.--Of which the payment of his fine
did not purge him, an order of the Court to the contrary
notwithstanding.



A CONCLUSION OF LAW.


This story will not be understood by half the people who read it and the
other half will not believe it, so it should be perfectly innocuous.

Hartruff, it is true, took offence when Norris told it in his
presence,--but trust Norris for picking out the hundredth man. He has
about as much tact as Hartruff has conscience, so they are admirably
adapted for mutual misunderstanding.

They encountered in the smoking-room of the Equity Club after lunch,
where the usual number of lawyers were gathered to bore one another with
dissertations on their respective cases. One can sometimes obtain useful
information by listening to a good deal of tiresome boasting, but the
real reward for enduring long blasts of someone else's horn is, of
course, the privilege of blowing your own. Norris, however, cared
nothing for performances of this kind, and the first professional toot
was, as a rule, the signal for his departure.

The man who doesn't boast is apt to be popular, but the man who won't
listen to boasting is invariably disliked. Norris was not popular, and
the loudest performers hinted that he hadn't any practice to talk about.
What induced him to depart from his usual custom on this particular
occasion I do not know, unless, as I have said, it was his fatal genius
for picking out the hundredth man.

Groton had been discoursing for twenty minutes on his triumphant
progress through a case with which all his hearers were supposed to be
familiar--for Groton thinks a breathless world watches his career--when
he happened to mention somebody as being of "no political importance."

"There isn't any such person," interrupted Norris.

Groton stopped and looked at the speaker in surprise.

"I didn't mean to interrupt you, Groton," continued Norris, "I've a bad
habit of thinking aloud. Go on with what you were saying."

Groton resumed his recital, and when at last his story reached the
Court of Appeals and the final discomforture of all his opponents he
turned indulgently to Norris.

"And now tell us, Norris, why you say there is no one politically
unimportant."

"I was thinking of an experience Jack Holcomb had a few years ago----"

"Yes?"

"You remember Jack Holcomb--don't you? No? Well, he practised here for
many years. He wasn't much of a lawyer, but he had the faculty of making
his clients believe he was, which is quite as effective. Barney McCarren
was introduced to him by some real-estate broker, and though any lawyer
could have accomplished what Holcomb did for McCarren, yet such was his
way of doing it that the man swore by him ever afterward.

"Barney McCarren was the proprietor of two or three little oyster-stands
in the lower part of the City. As may be imagined he was not a person of
any great wealth. He was of so little prominence in the down-town ward
where he had lived all his life, that even his immediate neighbours only
knew him as a quiet, self-supporting man, who devoted himself to his
family and interfered with no one.

"Well, McCarren came to Holcomb one day some years ago and said that a
judgment had been entered against him by the District Attorney's office
on a forfeited bail bond. It appeared that one of his neighbours had
been arrested for assault, and Barney, having a small piece of real
estate, became bail for him. When the case was called for trial,
however, the prisoner failed to appear, and consequently McCarren's
small property was in peril. High and low he searched for his principal,
but a month elapsed before Barney chanced upon the fellow. They saw one
another at the same moment, and instantly a chase began, which lasted
until the fugitive tripped on the Canal Street car tracks and McCarren
fell on top of him and hauled him to the nearest police station. A
little later the man was put on trial and acquitted, and at that stage
of the proceedings Barney sought Holcomb's aid. The matter was, of
course, a very simple one, and Holcomb assured his client he would have
the property cleared of the judgment forthwith. To this end he prepared
the proper papers, which, as you know, include a receipt from the
Sheriff showing payment of all the fees of that official.

"Holcomb therefore looked up the matter in the Code and found the proper
fee was fifty cents. Then he went to the Deputy in charge of the case
and presented the certificate for signature, at the same time tendering
the statutory amount. The man read through the papers and then pointed
to the money Holcomb had placed on the table.

"'What's that for?' he asked insolently.

"'It's your fee,' explained Holcomb.

"'It ain't _my_ fee.'

"'Well, what is your charge then?'

"'Fifty dollars, I guess--about fifty dollars.'

"'You are very much mistaken. Here is the section regulating the
matter.'

"'Aw, what do I care about the statue?--The fee's fifty plunks I tell
yer!'

"'And I tell you, my friend, I will not pay it!' answered Holcomb,
growing angry at the man's insolent manner. 'I will pay you half a
dollar and not one cent more.'

"'Then yer don't get the certif. See?'

"'I'll see that I get it at once and teach you a lesson at the same
time!'

"Holcomb swung angrily out of the room and made straight for the
Sheriff's private office. He knew the Sheriff well, and handing his
card to the door-keeper was immediately ushered into the room, where he
reported the actions of the Deputy. The Sheriff was indignant and rang
the bell sharply.

"'Send Mulqueen to me at once.'

"Mulqueen reported immediately and as soon as he had entered the room
and closed the door the Sheriff turned on him angrily.

"'What does this mean, Mulqueen? Here is Mr. Holcomb, who says you
demand $50 for a matter covered by a fifty-cent charge. You must be
crazy, man! What do you mean by it?'

"'Fifty dollars is the fee--Sheriff,' answered the man sullenly.

"'It is not, Sir! I have looked at the Code, which Mr. Holcomb says he
showed you. Make out the certificate instantly, and I'll take up your
case later.'

"'Can I speak to you for a moment--Sheriff?' asked the Deputy.

"'Yes--go ahead,' snapped the official.

"Holcomb moved to the window to be out of hearing, and the man shuffling
up to the desk whispered a few words in the Sheriff's ear. When the
lawyer looked into the room again the Deputy had disappeared and the
Sheriff was gazing at the pattern of the rug under his desk.

"'I'm awfully sorry, Holcomb,' he began, without looking at his visitor,
'but I find--but the fact is,--the Deputy is quite right. The fee is--is
fifty dollars.'

"Holcomb stared at the official in amazement.

"'The Deputy right!' he exclaimed after a pause. 'Why, what's the matter
with you, Townly? Here's the law--you just quoted it yourself!'

"'I know, I know,' muttered the Sheriff, turning his head and gazing out
of the window, 'but I was mistaken--I find I was mistaken.'

"'But I am not mistaken,' persisted Holcomb. 'You must be bewitched! I
don't understand.'

"'Well, don't try to, old man. I'd do anything for you--you know, but I
can't do this.'

"'I don't want you to do anything for me!' interrupted Holcomb,
indignantly. 'I only want you to enforce the law as you find it, and
not----'

"He paused, feeling that he might say too much.

"'You'll have to excuse me,' murmured the Sheriff, impatiently, 'I'd do
anything to oblige, but really, this time----'

"Holcomb gazed at the man in silence for a moment--nodding his head in
comprehending pity and contempt, and left the room without another
word."

--"When did you say your friend dreamed all this rot?"

It was Hartruff who roughly interrupted the story.

At the sound of his voice Norris turned his gaze toward the window, and
continued looking out of it while he answered slowly:

"Why do you think he dreamed it? Have you heard the rest of the story?"

"No--but anyone can see what's coming."

"Is it such an every-day affair with you? So much the less reason for
thinking Holcomb dreamed it."

Hartruff laughed contemptuously.

"O, well, never mind--go on with your tarradiddle."

"You will pardon me then for telling what must, of course, be
commonplace to a member of the General Committee?"

"O, go to the devil!"

"You forget yourself, my dear Hartruff. Why direct me to headquarters,
when his deputies are members of decent down-town clubs?"

"Come, come, gentlemen," interposed Lawton, "this is going too far."

"Precisely what I just remarked to Hartruff," drawled Norris.

Hartruff saw the smile on the faces of the company, and rose from his
seat.

"I will leave this gentleman to continue his pipe-dreaming, advising
him, however, that it is a dangerous practice."

"Is that a warning, Hartruff? If so, write it out, please. Those
warnings always look so much fiercer in mis-spelled words signed with
crosses. But I forget, your Organisation never puts itself on paper."

"No--but it puts itself on record!"

"Makes its mark, you mean? Well, that's merely a defect of early
education, easily overcome with men like you to guide its fist."

"Take care you don't feel the weight of it."

"My dear Hartruff, haven't they taught you yet to keep your teeth on
your temper? Really, you'll never rise from the ranks unless you learn
to smile and smile and,--well--you'd better learn to smile."

Hartruff turned on his heel, strode to the door and slammed it behind
him.

"When Holcomb left the Sheriff," continued Norris calmly, "he promptly
sent for his client Barney McCarren and explained the entire situation
to him. McCarren expressed no surprise, but when Holcomb announced his
intention of bringing mandamus proceedings to compel the Sheriff to give
the required certificates, Barney laid a protesting hand on his
counsel's arm.

"'Shure 'tis no use, Counsellor,' he said. 'I was afraid you couldn't do
anything, but I knew if you couldn't, nobody could.'

"'What do you mean by its being "no use"--and why should you "be
afraid"? I'm going to get out papers this instant and show those fellows
up.'

"'Please don't do it, Sir. At least not until I come again.'

"'For goodness' sake, why not, man? It shan't cost you a cent.'

"'It isn't that, Sir. But--well--I shouldn't have troubled you--I might
have known----'

"'Might have known what?'

"'That they'd lay for me.'

"'Why?'

"'For not attending meetings at the Club.'

"'What Club?'

"'The District Club.'

"Then it came out, bit by bit, that McCarren had been a 'regular' in the
Organisation and a member of the District Club. During the last year,
however, he had wearied of the proceedings and had absented himself from
the meetings. At the last election he hadn't voted. The District Leader
had spoken to him once jokingly about his absence from the meetings, and
once, not jokingly, about his absence from the polls.--'I knew they had
it up for me,' concluded McCarren resignedly.

"'Well, don't you let them frighten you, Barney. I'll soon show them
they can't play with the law.'

"'You mustn't do it, Sir. You really mustn't do it.'

"Holcomb argued and expostulated at length. He explained to his client
that the Courts would not permit such violations of the law, and that
the legal proceedings would be free of cost. He showed him that prompt
action would not only gain him his rights, but would make them respected
in future. He urged his personal and professional interest in the matter
and begged his client to take action. But all in vain. McCarren knew
he'd win the lawsuit--but there were his oyster-stands for which
licenses were necessary. He'd like to stand up for his rights--but he
wanted his children to get into the schools next Fall. He knew how Mr.
Holcomb felt about the matter--but it helped out for his wife to
continue as janitoress of the tenement where they lived.--In a word
there were a hundred points where the Powers could and would reach him.
He couldn't afford it!

"Holcomb looked hopelessly at his client, and seeing the disappointment
in his face, McCarren tried to soften the effect of his decision.

"'Wait--just wait a few days, Sir. Then maybe I'll come and see you
about it again.'

"At the end of a week he came.

"'Will you take up that matter again, Mr. Holcomb?' he said, 'Try it
once more just as though'--he hesitated a moment--'just as though I
hadn't asked you before.'

"Holcomb 'took it up again' with the same papers he had prepared the
first time, and called on the Sheriff's deputy.

"'I want a receipt for your fees in this case,' he said, laying the
papers before the official and placing a fifty-cent piece on his desk.

"The man read the papers slowly, thoughtfully inserted the date and
blotted the ink. Then he signed the Sheriff's name by his own and handed
the papers to Holcomb.

"'There ain't no fees in this case,' he said, as he pushed the
fifty-cent piece toward the lawyer.

"'I think you are mistaken. There is the statutory fee on 'entering
execution.'

"'There weren't nothing done in this case.'

"'No?'

"'No.'

"'Thank you.'

"Holcomb entered the proper order and returned to his client.

"'How did you do it, Barney?' he asked.

"'How did I do it, Sir?'

"'Yes.'

"'I didn't do anything.'

"'But why was it matters went so smoothly to-day? You must have used
some influence.'

"'No, Sir,--that is--well,--I think the Leader saw me at Tuesday's
meeting, Sir.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

Young Hudson was the first to break the silence which followed Norris'
recital.

"I've always said," he began, "that some of the most annoying things in
practice come from the obstinacy of clients. Now I had a case----"

"If a man wants to get blackmailed," interrupted Harlow, "there's no law
in the land to prevent or protect him."

"I guess Holcomb put on too much 'side' with that deputy," commented
Truslow. "Those fellows are easy enough to handle if you only go about
it in the right way. Now I had occasion one time to need----"

"I don't believe any Sheriff would make such a break as to call down a
deputy without inquiring about the inside facts," interrupted Patton.
"You take my word for it, Norris, there's something wrong with that
story."

Norris looked straight at the speaker.

"You're right," he answered, "there is something wrong with that story."

"I knew there was. What?"

"The dates and the names. It happened yesterday and I was the lawyer. I
told it to you men because you're Members of the Bar, interested in the
administration of justice and the maintenance of law. I'm glad I did so,
if only to learn we're so accustomed to such things nowadays that we see
nothing in them but the obstinacy of clients and the need of jollying
petty officials. Isn't it a pretty commentary that the only doubt cast
upon the truth of this story is that the Sheriff should have failed to
inform himself of the conspiracy? Such things are going on every day and
we wink at them if we don't actually aid and abet them to facilitate our
private business. A fearful tyranny sways this whole city, clutching or
shadowing the tenements, brutalising the prisons, frustrating the
laws--wasting the treasury--corrupting the courts--and we not only
suffer it, but we tolerate the men of education who associate themselves
with such work--allow them to be members of our clubs and degrade
ourselves until----"

"Say--old man--hire a hall for next Tuesday evening and I'll take a
ticket. Honest I will. But I've got to leave you now and get back to
work."

Lawton rose and smiled good-naturedly at Norris, whose crimsoned face
bespoke repentance of his sudden outburst.

The other members followed Lawton's example, and soon there was no one
left in the room except Norris and "Silent" Bancroft.

For some moments neither man spoke. Then Bancroft rose and rolling his
cigar between his fingers thoughtfully studied its glowing ashes.

"Say, Norris," he began slowly, "do you--do you attend primaries?"

"Er--no."

"Um,--I thought not," remarked the old gentleman as he walked toward the
door.



THE BURDEN OF PROOF.


I.

It had been snowing ever since the Buffalo express left New York, but
the Pullman car passengers, comfortably housed, were no more conscious
of the weather than they were of each other. When the train stopped
unexpectedly at a flag station, the whispering of the snowflakes against
the window-panes made itself heard, and the presence of the passengers
made itself felt. The car instantly became a room whose occupants
discovered one another at the same moment, and sat staring into each
other's faces with all the gloom of fellow-patients in a doctor's
office. The silence was embarrassing and absurd. A nervous passenger
coughed to relieve the tension, and felt himself flushing under the
concentrated attention of the entire company. A woman leaned forward to
speak to her neighbour, but stopped as though conscious of some
indecorum. Then everyone sat perfectly quiet, and the slow throb of the
engine was the only sound from the frosty world outside.

At last the conductor opened the door, and the passengers gazed at him
as if they had never seen his like before. When he stamped the snow off
his feet they watched him with a charmed intensity. When he spoke they
started perceptibly.

--"Anybody named Glenning in this car?"

--"Yes--here."

All eyes centred on the speaker, a middle-aged, well-dressed,
commonplace man occupying a corner chair.

--"A telegram for you, Sir."

Mr. Glenning slowly adjusted his glasses, peered at the address on the
yellow envelope, took a penknife from his pocket and cut the flap with
great deliberation.

The passengers watched his face with the breathless interest of an
audience viewing the climax of some mighty drama where every movement of
the actors must be noted. But Mr. Glenning read the message without the
slightest change of expression.

"If you want to send an answer you can do it. We wait here for a few
minutes longer."

"I'll tell you in a moment."

Mr. Glenning took from his vest-pocket a small, red book with indexed
margin, opened it about the middle, ran his finger down the edge,
stopped toward the foot of the page and said:

"No answer. Any charge? No? Thank you."

The audience gave vent to its relief in a relaxing stir and rustle. Mr.
Glenning picked up his newspaper and began to read. The engine whistled
two sharp warnings, the wheels slipped once or twice on the icy rails,
the whispering of the snowflakes hushed and the inmates of the flying
Pullman once more forgot each other.

When the train reached Albany the last passenger to leave the car picked
up the telegram which Mr. Glenning had crumpled and thrown upon the
floor. But his curiosity was only partly satisfied by reading:

                    _Mr. John Glenning,
                         Passenger on No. 44.
Effervescent Albany._

Had he possessed Mr. Glenning's code he would not have been much wiser,
for the translated message simply read as follows:

                    _The party wanted is in Albany._


II.

Messrs. Constable, Glenning and Hertzog were engaged in the general
practice of the law, but Hertzog was the only lawyer in the partnership.
The others were merely members of the Bar.

Mr. Constable's aptitudes lay in the line of drumming up business. He
was known, although he did not know it, as the "barker" for the firm. He
belonged to eight clubs; he was identified with fourteen charities,
among which he counted three chairmanships; he was in the vestry of a
prosperous church and on the Visiting Board of two hospitals; sixteen
corporations published his name as a director, and the same sixteen
acknowledged his firm as Counsel. Mr. Constable was in the public eye.

Mr. Glenning was not in the public eye, but he had its ear, provided
public was spelled with a capital P and the right political party was in
power. Mr. Glenning had been a member of the firm for twenty years,
which proved that the right political party generally was in power. What
his functions were no one seemed to know, but unquestionably he was a
very busy man. A very serious, earnest believer too in his profession
was Mr. Glenning, and impatient of the silly slights and slurs ever
ready on the tongues of the outsiders. Thus when an alleged wit said
something about "more cases being decided at the trench than at the
Bench," Mr. Glenning, who dined more with the Judges and knew them
better than any other man in town, snubbed the speaker and disposed of
his remark as "a sneer of the unsuccessful."

Everybody understood Hertzog's work. It used to be said that his two
best clients were Constable and Glenning, but then people are always
saying bitter things for want of better.

Mr. Constable was a florid-faced, white-whiskered, well-dressed
little man, bright, quick and full of energy. There were those who
considered him pompous, and it is true he regarded himself very
seriously. But most people took him at his own estimate. In the
outer office his manner was sharp, short and decisive; in the inner
office he was silent, impressive and indecisive. That is to say he
listened thoughtfully, earnestly, sympathetically, intelligently,
comprehendingly--in any and every way that inspires confidence, but no
one ever lured him into expressing an off-hand opinion. His decisions
were always "decisions reserved."--"Reserved for Hertzog," muttered
"the unsuccessful."--But luckily Mr. Constable never heard them, for,
like Mr. Glenning, he was intolerant of flippancy in every form. He
was also intolerant of details.

If anything went wrong in the office Mr. Constable shook off all
responsibility for it. "That is a detail of which I know nothing," was
his ever present phrase in time of trouble, and this, accompanied by a
wave of his hands, cleared the atmosphere in his vicinity. A detail in
Mr. Constable's meaning was anything uncomfortable to remember. "That is
a detail with which I do not charge my memory," he would say, and he was
never contradicted.

There was no firm in the city more prominent than Constable, Glenning
and Hertzog, and none more highly esteemed. Possibly Mr. Constable
emphasised this a little too often, but perhaps his insistence impressed
some of the very people who pretended to laugh at it. "A firm of our
standing," was another of his pet phrases, and on this he rang the
changes with such genuine pride that those who did not envy readily
forgave him the touch of conceit.

Still there were those who would not have grieved had the firm lost its
standing in the Hydroid Fibre case. But the mud there only reached
Horton, the office Notary Public, and he went to Sing Sing for his
cleansing.

It was at the annual meeting of the great Hydroid Fibre Co., during a
bitter fight for control, that one of the stockholders repudiated a
proxy bearing his name and carrying votes in favour of Mr. Constable.
The signature was an evident forgery, and ugly things were said. Horton,
the Notary Public who had witnessed the paper and taken the signer's
"acknowledgment," was sent for, but could give no adequate explanation.

Mr. Constable, though dumfounded at the disclosure, acted with
commendable promptness. He instantly ordered the arrest of Horton and
silenced accusation by placing himself in the hands of his counsel,
Mr. Hertzog, and demanding an investigation. This inquiry clearly
demonstrated that Mr. Constable controlled more votes than were
necessary without the disputed shares. Horton swore that the bogus
stockholder had been properly identified, and claimed that he had been
artfully imposed upon, but of this there was absolutely no proof. Not
a trace of the swindler could be found.

But the firm did not rest satisfied with this vindication. A clerk in
the office had proved untrustworthy, and of him it was determined to
make an example.

The District Attorney's office was not a little proud of the short work
it made of Horton's case, and Messrs. Constable, Glenning & Hertzog,
each in his own way, complimented the officials on having promptly
closed what threatened to be quite a scandal, involving the fair name of
the firm.

But Horton's case would not stay closed, and it was that which was
"effervescing."

Horton's counsel, Barton Mackenzie, was one of those irrepressible
persons who answer defeat with defiance, and gather courage with every
fresh discouragement. But Mackenzie built up a record of disaster in
Horton's case which surpassed anything he had ever experienced before.
He was defeated before the Police Magistrate and Horton was held for the
Grand Jury, which promptly indicted him on half a dozen different
charges. At the trial the presiding Justice ruled steadily against him,
and the verdict of the jury adjudged his client guilty. Another judge
refused a "certificate of reasonable doubt," and Horton went to Sing
Sing with his case still on appeal. Eight weeks slipped by and then the
Appellate Division affirmed the conviction. Three months later Mackenzie
argued his client's cause before the Court of Appeals in Albany, but
Horton had served nearly six months of his sentence before that tribunal
decided he had been legally convicted. This brought Mackenzie to a
stand-still for a while, though Hertzog thought he recognised his hand
in the subsequent badgering of Mr. Constable and the Hydroid Fibre Co.

One of those insignificant five-share stockholders, the pest of every
corporation, began to worry the company with ceaseless questions,
demanding every possible privilege accorded by the statutes. Who he
was, or how he got his shares, was a detail of which Mr. Constable
regretfully admitted "he knew nothing," and Glenning, exploring every
underground passage known to politics, could not run the thing to earth.

This irrepressible shareholder examined the list of stockholders,
obtained statements of the treasurer, called for papers and particulars,
and made a general nuisance of himself. His specialty, however, was
interviewing President Constable. Hardly a week passed without his
calling on this official.

"Here's that five-share man again," Mr. Constable would say, slipping
into Mr. Hertzog's private room. "Shall I see him?"

"Of course--see him."

"You will--er--drop in?"

"No--confound it! You've seen him with me often enough. What have you
got to worry about?"

"Nothing. Nothing, of course--but----"

"Well, see him!"

Then Mr. Constable gaining confidence from his Hebrew partner's shrewd
face would answer decisively:

"Very well, I will see him."

But in his own private office the President would be apt to run his
fingers along the inside of his collar, as though it choked him,
muttering, "Damn this business!" before he pushed his bell and ordered
in his visitor.

Mr. Constable was subjected to another constant annoyance. Several of
the daily papers invariably coupled his name with some reference to the
Horton case. A paragraph announcing his election to a trusteeship would
identify him as "_the President of the Hydroid Fibre Co., who recently
had a most unfortunate experience with a Notary Public now serving
sentence in Sing Sing_." Or, if his name appeared in some list, the
paragrapher would add: "_Mr. Constable, it will be remembered, disposed
of quite a serious charge in the Hydroid Fibre matter, some of the
parties now being in Sing Sing_."

It was incessant, intolerable, and intangible.

But one evening, in an after-dinner chat, Mr. Glenning had a short,
whispered conference about the matter with a city official, and the city
official dropped a hint next day to his advertising agent which must
have reached the city editors, for the "squibbing" stopped. However,
when Mr. Constable resigned from the Presidency of the Hydroid Fibre
Co., the paragraphers took occasion to revive the whole story.

Then, as though tired of being in the public eye, Mr. Constable began to
resign his trusteeships one after another, until his partners took alarm
and vigorously protested.

"I'm not well," he answered, "and I don't want so much responsibility."

"But what about the business?" suggested Mr. Glenning.

Then Mr. Constable astounded them.

"Let me retire," he answered wearily.

But Mr. Constable's partners did not propose to have the business
sacrificed in any such way. They would not hear of his retirement, and
when he insisted, Mr. Hertzog remarked very pointedly that he did not
presume to understand this gentle resignation business, but if there was
any little game on hand he proposed to be in it for the next three years
at least. About money matters Mr. Hertzog cherished no illusions, and at
the word dollar Hester Street instantly reclaimed him.

There was no "little game," Mr. Constable hastened to assure him. It was
simply that he could not do justice to the firm or himself. He was a
sick man--a very sick man.

"Then take a vacation. Go into the country and stay as long as you like,
but drop this retirement nonsense," commanded Mr. Hertzog, and the
senior partner turned away wearily without another word.

"It's the reaction after that cussed Horton affair," Mr. Glenning
remarked; "he was snappy enough about that until Mackenzie was finally
knocked out, but since then he's drooped. Reaction, I suppose--don't
you?"

"Yes."

Mr. Hertzog was seldom more than monosyllabic, but his eyes followed the
wilted little figure of his partner with more anxiety than the word
implied. Alone in his private room he frowned, muttering to himself:

"Reaction--yes or action.--Costing us thousands of dollars anyway.
Confound the little fool!"


III.

Mr. Constable's physician recommended rest and a complete change of
scene. With all the world to choose from, the patient made a peculiar
selection for his place of sojourn. It was Sing Sing, on the Hudson. But
Mr. Constable strictly complied with the Doctor's advice in not allowing
anyone to know his address.

There is not much to be seen in Sing Sing except the State Prison, but
Mr. Constable saw that very thoroughly. For two days he spent all the
time allotted to visitors in making himself acquainted with convict
life. He was writing a novel, he told the Warden, and wanted local
colour. No--he did not know any one in the prison--he was an Englishman,
and only on a visit to this country. Would he like to make a tour of the
buildings with the Warden? Nothing, he declared, would give him greater
pleasure--he was interested in every detail. So, escorted by the Warden,
he passed through the clean, well-aired corridors, inspected the orderly
kitchens and the huge laundries, viewed the immense workshops filled
with convicts toiling in splendid, disciplined silence, watched the men
file to their meals, their hands hooked over one another's shoulders,
their heads bent down, eyes upon the ground, bodies close together, and
their feet keeping time in the lock-step prescribed by the regulations.

It was all very impressive, he told the Warden--a wonderful triumph of
system and discipline. He congratulated the official, and was invited
into the private office for a smoke and chat.

Did the Warden suppose there were any innocent men in the cells? Very
likely there were some--it was not uncommon for prisoners to have new
trials granted them, and occasionally a man would be acquitted on these
second trials. Did many of the men return after serving sentence? Yes, a
good many. Why? Well, principally, the Warden supposed, because it was
hard for an ex-convict to get an honest job after he got out. "Damned
near impossible, unless he has mighty good friends," the official added
feelingly.

Was not that a reflection on the system? Well, the Warden wasn't there
to pass on that--the Prison Association had undertaken to handle the
question, but he couldn't see that they'd done much with it.

But the innocent men--the men who were afterwards acquitted--they would
be--they were not ex-convicts? No, the Warden guessed they were all
right. And the pardoned ones? The Warden smiled.

"I'm not very strong on pardons myself," he admitted. "I'd about as soon
employ an out-and-outer. Too much politics in pardons for me. Moreover,
sometimes they're not appreciated. We had a queer fellow here once who
served five years, and was a model prisoner too. Well, when he was
discharged someone met him at the station with a pardon from the
Governor. 'You cur,' he shouted at the man who handed it to him, 'get
pardons for those who need them!' With that he tore the paper into bits,
threw the pieces in the man's face and gave him a terrible thrashing. We
never learned what the trouble was, though the fellow served two more
years for the assault. But some of us thought he must have been innocent
all the time. However, when he came out again nobody offered him another
pardon."

The next day Mr. Constable visited the prison without the escort of the
Warden. In the work-rooms the silence of the workers oppressed him, but
it was better than the language of some of the under-keepers which
fairly sickened him. He had heard foul-mouthed men hurl epithets and
profanity back and forth often enough, but never before had he seen the
frightful answers which human beings can make without the utterance of a
syllable. Many times that day he saw murder done with the eyes--the
foulest, fiercest, most glutting murder of which the human heart is
capable. In every regulation he saw manhood debased, individuality
destroyed, education neglected, reformation defeated, and glancing from
the faces of the convicts to those of the keepers, he could not say
which this "splendid system" had most brutalised.

Then Mr. Constable returned to his cheerless room at the hotel and
locking himself in, lay down on the sofa, only to offer his body as a
pavement for files of close-cropped and shaven men who passed over him
with the steady tramp-tramp, tramp-tramp of the lock-step, stamping him
into the ground gladly and sternly, gloatingly and viciously--deeper and
deeper, until he felt the damp earth upon his face and heard less and
less clearly the tread of those marching feet.

Then it ceased altogether and Mr. Constable smiled in his sleep as he
dreamed he was dead, only to awake with a shriek when he felt that he
was living.

The next morning the Warden met him on the street.

"How's the local colour getting on?" he asked pleasantly.

"I was working with it all last night."

The Warden stared silently at the speaker for a moment, frowned slightly
and passed on.

"Good God!" he muttered to himself, "if it makes a man look like that to
write, I never want to read again."

Mr. Constable left Sing Sing for Niagara, where he stopped long
enough to write a letter in the public writing-room of an hotel. The
composition of this missive, however, consumed several hours, for the
writer kept glancing apprehensively over his shoulder and when anyone
approached the table he covered his paper with the blotter and waited
until he was alone again. But when at last the letter was finished he
omitted to sign it, which was the more neglectful since no one could
possibly have recognised the shaky handwriting as that of the snappy,
energetic, confident Mr. Theodore Constable. Even the clerk in the New
York Post Office who handled the envelope cursed the writer as he
puzzled out the address.

Mr. Constable next visited Detroit presumably for the sole purpose of
dictating curious statements to the hotel typewriter. These he mailed
to New York with some enclosures, addressing the envelopes in large,
childish capitals.

The rest of his vacation was spent in the bedroom of a second class
boarding-house in Chicago.

At the end of three weeks he returned to New York looking far worse
than when he went away. Mr. Hertzog therefore hesitated to tell him that
Horton had moved for another trial on newly-discovered evidence.

But the matter could not be kept secret, for Horton's counsel had done
more than claim he could prove his client's innocence; he not only
produced one or two strikingly significant exhibits received anonymously
from Detroit, but also asserted he was daily obtaining clues from
unknown friends in other cities which might lead to the discovery of a
conspiracy, if not to the conspirators themselves.

Even a careless student of human nature must have observed the marked
change which had taken place in Mr. Constable.

The lines that come gradually with age and experience give meaning
and character to the face--even the traces of illness are not without
a certain dignity. But when care begins to crease the face of
self-complacence its effects are distortions, terrible as those
which some iron implement of torture would suddenly produce.

Mr. Constable's florid countenance was without a line until it was
wrinkled and furrowed and scarred.

Mr. Hertzog was shocked by the appearance of his partner. Was the man
going mad? He had seen such changes foreshadow insanity. But if he was
going mad--from what cause? He must make sure.

Mr. Constable sat in the junior partner's private office reading a copy
of the affidavits supporting the latest move in Horton's long fight, and
Mr. Hertzog watched him. He noted that the trembling hands left little
spots of perspiration on the pages, he saw the twitching lips every now
and then forming words--he counted the rapid throbbing of the arteries
in head and neck. All this he had expected and discounted, but he was
unprepared for the horrid look of cunning in the man's eyes, as he
glanced up from his reading.

For a few moments neither of the partners spoke. Then Mr. Constable
broke the silence.

"You think--you would say these papers were--that they made a strong
case?"

Mr. Constable's eyes were fixed upon his partner in anxious inquiry,
like a sick man waiting the decision of a doctor testing the heart or
lungs.

"Yes, it's strong. Too damned strong."

The answer given slowly and with emphasis was received with a smile such
as the face of a dead man might attempt with cracking skin and snapping
muscles.

"And the papers--are they--should you say they were well drawn?"

"Yes--that fellow Mackenzie seems to have learned something during these
years--damn him! By the way, how long did he get?"

"Who?"

"Horton, of course."

"Three, I think--yes, it was three years."

"Then he's served two years and--let's see--two years and three months."

Mr. Hertzog pushed the electric button in his desk. "Get me the Revised
Statutes covering Sing Sing regulations," he said to the boy who
answered the summons. The book was brought and Mr. Hertzog began
studying its pages, his head resting on his hands and his elbows on the
desk. For five minutes--ten minutes, there was silence.

"Don't let's take up this thing, Hertzog--I think--I think he'll win."
Mr. Constable's voice was almost a whisper.

But Hertzog, engrossed in the volume before him, did not hear. Mr.
Constable glanced at the stern Hebraic face, flushed and changed his
remark to a question.

"Do you think he'll win?"

The junior partner started up nervously.

"How the devil can I tell!" he burst out angrily. "What's the
use of sitting there parroting 'Do-you-think-he-can-win?
Do-you-think-he-can-win?' He's got a damned good case on the merits.
There's something in the Code that may fix him, but I don't count on it.
Don't ask such idiotic questions. Of course I think he can win, but I
also think he mustn't. If you want my opinion"--Mr. Hertzog swung
himself about and cast a searching glance at the shrivelled, mean little
figure crushed into the leather easy-chair beside him. "If you want my
real opinion, Constable," he repeated, "I think we've _got_ to win.
Haven't we?"

For a moment Mr. Constable stared silently at his partner. Then shaking
his head he mumbled a word or two, stopped, put his hand to his throat,
began again, stammered a disjointed sentence and suddenly poured forth a
torrent of confused and incoherent words that thickened into a clotted
gurgle and freed itself in a sputter swelling to peal upon peal of
hideous, shattering, mirthless laughter--laughter which forced the man
to his feet and rocked him with its spasms.

Hertzog leaped toward the door and fastened it. The clerks must not hear
the horror of this. Then he darted to the window, but by the time he had
closed it the laughter had died out, and Constable was quivering upon
the floor, the blood gushing from his mouth.


IV.

"O, I know, Nurse, but I won't excite him--I'll go a long way toward
curing him. You can trust me for that."

Mr. Hertzog pushed himself into the sick-room and walked toward the bed,
waving a telegram in his hand. Mr. Constable smiled feebly at his
visitor.

"Now, old man, I'm the doctor to-day. Are you up to taking my
prescription in the form of a story?"

The invalid nodded.

"Even if it's about the--the Horton case?"

Mr. Constable nodded positively.

"Well, you remember, just before you were taken sick, I told you I
thought they'd got a pretty good case----"

"Yes, yes." The whisper was eager, expectant.

--"And the more I examined it the more positive I became that there was
no chance for attacking it on the merits----"

The invalid lay back on the pillows and smiled foolishly at the man
beside him.

--"So, of course, I advised the District Attorney to adjourn the matter
for a week, and he did it. In the meantime I began to see daylight, and
I told him to adjourn it again. But Mackenzie either saw the point or
suspected something, for he fought like a devil against further delay,
and we only got three days. Three days! Good lord--I had to have two
weeks. And, to make things worse, yesterday old Judge Masterton was
unexpectedly assigned to hold court, and Geddes is the only man in town
who can approach Masterton on a delicate matter of this kind. But Geddes
wasn't at home, and for nearly a day we couldn't get on his trail. Then
we learned he was in Buffalo, but we couldn't find the District Attorney
to get his consent to retaining Geddes. My God, we sweated blood, but we
couldn't find him--and every hour was precious. Finally Glenning had to
start for Buffalo without the necessary consent. Two hours later I
located the District Attorney, got what I wanted, and then learned
Geddes had left Buffalo for Albany! Well, it was one chance in a
thousand, but I wired Glenning on the express, caught it before it
reached Albany--and Geddes is retained! What do you think of that?"

There was no response from the bed, and Hertzog bent forward to see if
the patient was asleep, but stopped as the laboured speech of the sick
man reached him.

"And Geddes--he will apply for another adjournment?"

"Yes, and win it, too. He's got Judge Masterton in his pocket, I tell
you!"

"I don't--I'm not sure--I understand."

"Can't you see that Horton's sentence will expire before the motion for
new trial can be heard?"

"Yes--but----"

The sick man raised himself on his elbow, and stared at his visitor.

"Well, when a man's served his sentence, the Court won't entertain an
application for a new trial. So there won't be any public discussion of
Horton's interesting yarns. See? Pretty good, isn't it? You'll have to
study law when you get well, Constable. I tell you it pays. Tricks in
all trades, you know, and there's nothing like---- Why, Constable, old
man, what's the matter? Here, Nurse! Nurse! Come and look after your
patient. He's struck me and he's trying to get out of his bed! You've
got him?--Yes, of course I'll go--but I didn't say anything to excite
him. All right, I'm going--but what in the world----"

"Write!" panted the sick man as the door closed, "and for God's sake
write quickly, Nurse. Are you ready? Yes? Now then----

                    "_Barton Mackenzie,
                         "99 Wall Street_.

     "_Another adjournment fatal. Constable dying. Makes full
     confession. See him at once._

"Wire it, Nurse, wire it, and--let no one know! I thought I had done
enough--but I'll do it--I'll beat them yet. Help me to live--till--he
comes!"



IN HIS OWN BEHALF.


"Well, Clancy, your case is on the Day Calendar, and is likely to be
reached this week."

"'Tis thankful Oi am, Sorr."

Michael Clancy's two hundredweight of flesh and bones rested in my most
reliable office chair, and Michael Clancy's huge hands were clasped over
his capacious stomach, while his outstretched legs were crossed in a
settled attitude.

Clancy had been entrusted to me by a sympathetic House Physician of an
up-town hospital. The story made a "negligence case."

I had taken up the matter merely out of good nature, but the old man was
a character, and I soon became interested in his personality.

For two years he had been a regular visitor at my office, ostensibly to
make inquiries as to the progress of his law suit, but really, I think,
for social recreation. A litigation does not advance very rapidly in a
New York Court for the first two years, and he knew this at the outset,
but his calls were made with a regularity which suggested routine. If he
chanced to come in while I was busy he never interrupted, but sat in the
outer offices chatting with the clerks until such time as he judged his
social duty had been discharged.

Clancy's confidence in me was certainly gratifying, but it took the form
of completely transferring to my shoulders all responsibility for the
case. His attitude toward it was that of a friend interested but not
especially involved in the outcome. Whenever he referred to it, which
was not often, he spoke of it as "yur kase," as though he had washed his
hands of it but wished me well. There was no question about his
gratitude, but his idea of expressing this was to put himself wholly in
my care and give as little trouble as possible.

I once thought that the possession of another's confidence was a proper
matter for self-congratulation, but I have never felt quite the same
about this since I finished Clancy's case.

Michael's injuries had completely incapacitated him for work and his
massive frame had taken on flesh until the ponderous body made his head
appear ridiculously small. His clean-shaven face was round, his eyes
were almost tiny, and his mouth was like that of a child.

Although loquacious to a degree, his delivery was slow, and whenever he
talked to me his every word was accompanied by an apologetic smile, so
that even when he spoke of his troubles his cheeks wore a "permanent
puff."

"Have you ever been in a court, Michael?" I asked as Clancy sat by my
desk smiling his benedictions upon my news of an early trial.

"Oi hov not, Sorr--leastways not since Dolan's Nannie wuz afther bein'
kilt be Beagan's pup."

I did not investigate Clancy's experience in that _cause célèbre_,
although I saw reminiscence in his eye.

"I think we better go over your testimony, Clancy," I said. "It's
two years since the accident occurred and you may have forgotten
details--I'm sure I have. But you remember making this affidavit at
the time--do you not?"

Clancy looked at the paper in my hand and then cast a knowing glance in
my direction.

"Am Oi ter say--'Yiz'--Sorr?"

"Why you're to tell the truth, of course," I answered rather sharply.
"But you must remember swearing to this."

"Must Oi now, Sorr? Thot's all right thin. But whisper, Oi only remimber
a shlip av a gurl comin' in an' makin' little burd thracks in a bit av a
book an' you spakin' to her thot pleasant-loike--'twas fascinayted Oi
wuz."

I began to foresee trouble with this willing witness and to view Clancy
in a new light. However I tried explanation.

"That was the stenographer taking down this affidavit," I answered.

"Wuz it now, Sorr? Oi'll not forgit ut."

I felt somewhat embarrassed by the gleam of cunning in Clancy's little
eyes, but I pretended not to notice it and continued:

"I'll read the statement to you and that will refresh your memory. Then
we can go over the questions you are liable to be asked."

"'Tis as you loike, Sorr."

Clancy settled himself, with resignation rather than interest expressed
in his good-natured face, but I knew he was all attention.

"_City and County of New York ss:_" I began.

"Shure, Counsellor, Oi niver said thot. Faith, Oi want ter hilp yiz
with yur kase, but sorra a wurd loike thim iver passed me lips."

"O, never mind, Clancy!" I exclaimed, silently cursing my indiscretion.
"That's only a legal phrase with which every affidavit begins."

"All right, Sorr. 'Tis for you ter know."

Again Clancy assumed his attitude of resignation and I read on:

     "_Michael Clancy being duly sworn deposes and says that he
     resides at No. -- West Ninety-third Street, in the City of
     New York, and that on the 15th day of May, 1896, he was in
     the employ of the Cavendish Tool Company._"

"Thrue for you, Sorr--an' bad cess ter thim," commented Clancy.

     "_That previous to May 15, 1896, he had been in the employ
     of said Company for nine years_----"

"'Twas not so long, Sorr, for whin me sisther-in-law Theresa's sicond
child, she thot aftherwards married Bicie Sullivan's lad, wuz sick at
th' toime av me wife's brother's wake, Oi stayed from wurrk two days fur
ter luk ter th' child an' so----"

"O, well--that's near enough--say nine years," I interrupted.

"Oi'll say whativer you want, Sorr--but, be th' same token, 'tis thruth
Oi do be tellin' you now--betwane oursilves loike."

I looked sternly at Clancy's rotund countenance. This case was looming
up pregnant with possibilities in the presence of a witness with
ready-made testimony and confidential truths. Clancy as a character was
all right, but, as a client? I began to be alarmed. This had to be
stopped.

"Now, understand once and for all, Clancy," I exclaimed almost
threateningly, "I don't want you to tell anything at any time except the
truth."

Clancy relapsed again.

"'Tis for you ter know, Sorr," was all he said.

I looked at the man with desperation in my eyes.

"Now, Michael, listen to me. If there's anything really wrong in the
affidavit, stop me; but, if it's unimportant, don't let's waste time on
it. Now, where were we? Here it is:--'_had been in the employ of said
Company for nine years_----'"

"Av coorse, thot's moindin' what Oi do be afther tellin' you, Sorr."

"Good lord, man! For _nearly_ nine years then. Will that satisfy you?
We'll never finish if you keep this up!"

"'Tis dumb Oi am, Sorr."

Clancy's big hands waved off further reproaches in a little gesture half
soothing, half disclaiming.

Then all intelligence faded from his face, and he sat with closed eyes,
punctuating my sentences with nodding head, as I continued from the text
of the affidavit.

     "_During those nine years_" (Clancy winced, but kept
     silent), "_he was engaged as a porter in the Company's main
     office, in Fulton Street. On the morning of May 15, 1896,
     while engaged in sorting merchandise on the fourth floor of
     said building, a shelf on the north side of the room gave
     way, and a keg of nails fell upon his spine, inflicting
     serious injuries_.

     "_Deponent did not erect said shelf, nor was the same
     erected under his direction, nor was the merchandise upon it
     placed there by deponent or deponent's orders._

     "_Deponent further avers that he never knew the said shelf
     was unsafe, although the Superintendent had been told that
     one of its brackets needed repairing._"

I continued reading the rest of the long statement without interruption
from Clancy. Even when I finished he made no comment, and I thought him
depressed in spite of his smile, so I spoke up cheerfully.

"That's the story, Michael. It all comes back clearly enough now,
doesn't it? There's nothing like having these affidavits made out at the
time, so one can recall all the facts. Now there's very little more work
to be done. You remember I had diagrams made of the room where you were
working, so we have those, and the Doctor's sent me word that he's ready
at any time. There were no other witnesses, you say? Well, then, let me
hear you tell the story in your own way, without any prompting from me.
Begin by describing the place. Now, go on."

Clancy smiled contentedly, leaned forward in his chair and slowly rubbed
his knees with the palms of his hands.

"Beyant th' dure," he began, "there do be a laarge room, with foive
windows in ut, an' a stairkase ter th' left hand soide goin' upstairs.
In th' cintre av this room they do hov two rows av stoof an' th' same is
on shilves foreninst an' behoind thim----"

The picture was not entirely clear, but I spoke up hopefully:

"Yes; and in this room you worked?"

"Oi niver did, Sorr."

"Then describe the room where you did work," I answered, wearily. "No
other room is of any importance."

"Will you leave me tell ut in my own way, Sorr?"

"Yes."

"Well, Sorr, 'twas this way ut wuz. There do be a gang av min on th'
fourth flure handlin' stoof thot's afther comin' outer th' elevaytor.
Th' elevaytor do be nixt th' stairkase, an' th' min stand in loine an'
roll th' barruls wan to anither clane acrost th' flure. Th' furst feller
do be called 'the guide,' an'----"

"And you worked with these men?" I interposed.

"Shure Oi niver had onythin' at all to do with thim. But minny a toime
Oi've seen thim----"

"Wait," I said, "this won't do. I'll start at the beginning, and ask you
questions just as though you were in Court, and you answer them."

Clancy looked a bit troubled, but he shifted himself in his chair and
said, "Yiz, Sorr," brightly enough.

"Mr. Clancy," I began in my best jury manner, "where do you reside?"

A light gleamed in the witness's eyes.

"City an' County av New York--SS!" he burst out proudly.

I dropped the paper on my desk and groaned aloud. But when I saw the
look of crushing disappointment on Clancy's face I forced a smile and
said,

"Try to forget that, Michael. It has nothing whatever to do with your
testimony. Now let's begin again--Where do you reside?"

"Shure you know, Sorr."

"Yes, I know, Clancy, but the jury doesn't and we're supposed to be in
Court. Answer just as you would before the jury. Now--who employed you
in May, 1896?"

"A boonch av scuts--no less!"

I sighed hopelessly. It was useless to continue this game.

"Perhaps we've had about enough for to-day, Michael," I said. "Go to
Court to-morrow and listen to some witnesses testify. You'll soon get
the idea. Then come down to the office in the afternoon and I'll have
some questions written out so that you'll know about what you're to be
asked. There's nothing like thorough preparation. By the way, do you
want to add anything to the affidavit? The facts are all right as far as
they go, I suppose?"

Clancy hesitated, wiped his mouth once or twice--smiled out of the
window and ended by a general shift of his bulk. But he did not speak.

"What is it?" I asked encouragingly.

A gesture of disclaimer, almost coy this time, prefaced his reply.

"Shure Oi don't loike ter throuble you, Sorr, an' 'tis as loike as not
to be wan av thim deetales you was spakin' av----"

"Never mind, what is it?"

"Well, Sorr, Oi don't seem ter call ter moinde th' lad thot's been
afther sayin' an' doin' some av thim things."

The excitement had evidently been too much for Michael's head, but to
soothe him I asked,

"What lad, Clancy?"

"Daypont, Sorr."

"Daypont?" I repeated.

Then I picked up the affidavit, and light dawned upon me.

"You don't mean _deponent_, do you?"

"'Tis the same, Sorr--Shure he niver wurrked fer thim in all me toime."

A penholder broke, but I slowly minced a blotter before I trusted myself
to explain.

"Deponent means you, Clancy."

"Is ut me?"

"Certainly. For instance----" here I picked up the affidavit.--"This
reads '_Deponent did not erect said shelf_', and that means, you did not
erect it,----"

"But Begorra, that's just what Oi did, Sorr----"

"What!" I shrieked.

"Oi builded----"

"You built the shelf that fell?"

My voice was desperately calm but the pencil in my hands was playing a
tattoo on the desk.

"Shure, Oi did, Sorr."

"Then why in the name of common sense, man, didn't you say so before?" I
burst out.

"Shure Oi didn't loike ter throuble yiz, an' you readin' it out so
beautiful-loike. An' faith, Oi thought 'twas some scut av a Daypont you
wuz spakin' av as not doin'----"

Clancy looked at me and my face must have been awesome, for he stopped
with mouth agape.

"_Nor was the merchandise upon said shelf placed there by deponent?_" I
read inquiringly.

"'Twas Oi that put ut there av a Friday marnin,' Sorr, an'----"

"_Deponent further avers_," I continued with fearful calm, "_that he
never knew the said shelf was unsafe?_"

"Shure 'twas the day befure Oi was spakin' to th' Super, an' ses Oi to
him--O'Toole, ses Oi, the shilf foreninst the dure is broke, ses Oi, but
Oi've stooffed a bit of sthick in fur a nail, ses Oi, an' 'twill holt
good an' ut don't come down, Oi ses. Moike, ses he----"

"For Heaven's sake man, stop! You must have known all this two years
ago--why didn't you speak then?"

"'Twas afraid av throublin' yiz with deetales Oi wuz. Do ut make any
difference, Sorr?"

"Difference!" I burst out. "Your case is absurd--utterly impossible and
absurd! Why, man--you haven't got a leg to stand on!"

Clancy looked at his feet for a moment.

"'Tis me spoine----" he began.

Then he stopped and smiled.

"'Tis for you to know, Sorr," he added, sadly.

I didn't laugh, for I saw tears in Clancy's childlike eyes.

But I discontinued that action, and my affidavits now read with
unprofessional clarity.



HIS HONOUR.[A]


[Footnote A: The Judge who hears litigated motions does not now sign ex
parte orders. The inside history of this change in the practice may some
day be found in a biography. Meanwhile this tale is told "without
prejudice."]

Van was out of temper. Van, the calm squelcher of office boys--the
recognised saviour of managing clerks--the patient instructor of
sophomoric attorneys--the courteous Guide, Philosopher and Friend for
all busy members of the New York Bar--Van, whose serenity and sanity had
withstood some thirty years of service as Chambers Clerk, was in ill
humour.

Unusual as this was, it might have been explained if the Judge who
throws papers on the floor had been upon the Bench. But his Honour was
presiding over another Court. Martin, therefore, put it down to the
weather, which was hot, and resigned himself to waiting, which was
wearisome.

The Court Room was stuffy as usual, and crowded as always. Martin
languidly studied the lawyers about him, trying to guess the kind of
business each represented. Here he prophesied a struggle for "costs,"
and there a contest for "time." In one face he read the cunning of the
technical trickster, in another the earnest belief in a Cause, and idly
took to betting with himself on his prognostications.

The low droning of voices had a soothing note, and the hot atmosphere of
the room soon set him nodding. A moment more and he was out of the
Court, far away from the lawyers--at the east end of Long Island, with
the strength and vigour of early Autumn in the air. For some seconds he
was dimly conscious of a man standing near him asking an oft-repeated
question. Then he woke with a start and saw Allison.

"Do you always sleep with your eyes open?"

"Ye--yes," he yawned, rubbing the optics in question, "it's a trick I
learned from a front seat and a dull lecturer at college."

"Well, what are you doing here beside dreaming?"

"Waiting to get some papers from Van."

"Why don't you get them then, and go home to sleep?"

"Van's off his trolley to-day. Got to wait."

"Um.--'Furioso' on the Bench?"

"No.--Hot weather, I guess."

"Ah. Who's on deck then?"

"I don't know, and Van couldn't, or wouldn't, tell."

"Well, I was about to ask you to take charge of a little matter for me,
but I'm afraid I oughtn't to keep you out of bed."

"What's it about?"

"Nothing but opposing an application for a bill of particulars. I don't
care very much whether I win or lose. Merely contest it as a matter of
form. You can submit it without argument, if you'd rather, but I've
another case in Part IV., and can't wait here. Will you do it, you
dormouse?"

"Yes--provided you won't damn me if you lose."

"Don't care a cuss."

"All right."

"Thank you. Good-bye."

Martin glanced lazily at the papers Allison tossed into his lap.
_Phelps_ vs. _Orson_? What number was it on the calendar? He pulled the
_Law Journal_ out of his pocket and consulted the list of "motions."
Twenty-second case? Good lord--Allison had buncoed him! If he argued
that motion he'd have to stay in the stuffy Court Room all morning. But
he wouldn't argue it--he'd give the papers to Van, and let him hand them
up to the Court when the case was called. Martin stuffed the documents
into his pocket, and lolling back in his chair, tried to regain those
scenes from which Allison had rudely torn him. To further this, he
rested his head in his hand and closed his eyes. But try as he might, he
could not again rid himself of his surroundings, for there was more
movement all over the room as the waiting crowd grew restless, and
directly back of him two men whispered with maddening persistency. For a
time Martin tried to fuse their sibilants into the general buzz, but
failing in this, began to listen to their conversation. In a few seconds
he ceased to hear any of the other sounds going on about him.

--"Then Van doesn't know," one of the men asserted. "I tell you Colton's
ill and he's been assigned to take his place. He's never sat here
before? Well, of course not. That's just the point. You've got a head
like a tack! Now listen to what I say, and, for God's sake, don't make a
mess of it. The order's in a green cover like this----"

The speaker paused and Martin almost turned, but checked himself in
time.

"No, there ain't many this colour.--You can't miss it if you keep awake.
It'll be handed to Van sometime before recess. When he gives it to His
Nibs you watch it like a cat, and the minute he signs it make for the
telephone and notify 'em at the office. They'll keep the wire open. Now
d'ye think you've got sense enough to work this thing straight?"

The other man made no response, but probably nodded, for his companion
continued:

"All right then. I'm o double f. But remember if you botch it, you'll be
wanting a new job."

The speaker rose and passed before Martin, who languidly glanced at him
and then strolled into the Rotunda. Mullin the process-server stood, as
usual, near the door. Martin touched his arm.

"Mullin," he began, "didn't you want to bet me a few days ago that you
knew every man who entered this Court House?"

"Sure. Wanter take me up?"

"Yes," answered Martin, hurrying him toward the right hand stairway.
"Bet you a good cigar you won't know the man in grey clothes we'll see
coming down from the other side."

They had just reached the first landing when the person in question
passed through the open hall below.

Mullin laughed.

"I'll take a 'Carolina Perfecto,'" he said and began to move up the
steps again.

"Do you know him?" questioned Martin, slowly following.

"Sure. Everybody knows him. Give us something harder."

"Well, who is he?"

"Nevis--of course."

"Who's he?"

"Boss reporter of _The Guardian_."

"O, I thought he was a lawyer."

Martin spoke in a tone of disappointment.

"Nope. Too smart for that!" laughed the process-server.

"Well, I owe you a cigar, I suppose. We can't get a Carolina Perfecto
here, but I'll see you when Court adjourns, or if not then, some other
day."

"All right, Mr. Martin, your credit's good, I guess."

Nevis of _The Guardian_? What did that dirty sheet have to do with
Court orders in green covers or any other covers? What sort of boys
worked for such papers nowadays? Martin had himself served an
apprenticeship in the newspaper world and still felt a lively interest
in the ways of Park Row. He would have a look at the cub reporter left
on guard. With this purpose in view he returned to the Court Room, but
the moment he entered the door the object of his quest was completely
forgotten. The judge had already ascended the Bench, and His Honour was
Charles Blagden, Esq.

Martin slipped into a rear seat and watched the youthful face of the man
behind the desk.

There was no love lost between Martin and the Hon. Charles Blagden. They
had met as lawyers and Blagden had been the victor; they had met as men
to differ on every matter of opinion and taste; they had met as rivals
and Martin had written a letter of congratulation which had cost him the
bitterest thoughts of his life. But Fortune continued to shower gifts
upon her favourite and not very long after his marriage, an appointment
to a vacancy on the Supreme Court Bench made Blagden the youngest Judge
in the City.

Charles Blagden was a careful lawyer and he made a capable Judge--so
capable, indeed, that his political party had just nominated him as its
Judicial candidate for the coming November elections.

But not satisfied with the start which Fortune had thus given, the
hero-worshippers set out to make Fame meet him half way.

What silly discoveries are made in the light of one small success; what
senseless tributes are inspired by achievement--no matter what the
agency. Blagden's capability as a lawyer became "distinguished ability"
on the tongues of hundreds of his fellow-citizens who never knew him.
There were dozens of prophets who had always "marked him out," and
scores of men ready with stories and anecdotes of his prowess and skill.

Martin had watched Blagden's career with a jealousy but little removed
from positive hatred, and every word of this indiscriminate praise
fretted him almost past endurance. He felt himself as able a man as his
rival, he knew many lawyers more worthy of distinction and, smarting
under the injustice of these sudden acclamations, he began to grow
contemptuous of public esteem.

It was not long, however, before he awoke to the danger of brooding over
such thoughts. The world was big enough for them both, and the mighty
metropolis was a world so wide that the blotting out of any face was
only the matter of a step in the crowd. This man should not spoil or
embitter his life.

From the moment of that resolution Blagden disappeared from his horizon,
and Martin began to view life again from his normal standpoint.

It was only when business threatened to bring him into Blagden's Court
that he experienced the old feeling of bitterness. But then it returned
with a rush. One such lesson had been sufficient to warn him however,
and Martin thereafter appeared before Judge Blagden by proxy only.

It was just as well, he thought, as he felt the hot blood surging
through his veins, that Allison didn't insist upon his arguing
_Phelps_ vs. _Orson_. It would have been impossible to address that
Self-Satisfied Piece of Humanity with respect. Thank goodness he could
escape by handing the papers to the Clerk!

He rose and passed along the rear of the Court Room. In the far corner
sat a newspaper artist sketching the Judge and the scene about his desk.
Martin glanced sharply at the man, but he was absorbed in his work and
obviously not on the outlook for green-covered law papers. Nearer the
front, however, sat a young fellow studying every movement behind the
rail, and sometimes even rising nervously from his seat in his efforts
to keep a clear view. This was undoubtedly the youth whose place
depended on his vigilant watch of the Bench. What the devil was it all
about? In an instant his old newspaper instinct had carried everything
before it and Martin passed down the middle aisle, seating himself
immediately behind the young reporter.

"_Phelps_ vs. _Orson_."

Martin started at the sound of the Judge's voice, every fibre in his
body tingling with instant defiance.

The defendant's attorney answered "Ready," but Martin made no response.
He knew he did not intend to argue the case and should promptly state
the fact.

"_Phelps_ vs. _Orson_?" repeated the Justice inquiringly.

"Ready!" answered Martin, yielding to the call of sheer perversity.

It was childish, petty, absurd--and he knew it. But at that moment to
defy custom, to oppose everything and everybody, to hamper and obstruct
the Court in every possible manner, no matter how futile, seemed
absolutely essential to the assertion of his independence and the
maintenance of his self-respect.

Some one vacated a seat immediately in front of the nervous reporter who
hastily gathered his papers together and moved into the empty chair.
Martin at once rose and took the journalist's place. As he did so he
felt something crackle beneath him, and rising picked up a crumpled
piece of paper from the seat. It was a sheet torn from a reporter's pad,
and as he lazily unfolded it Martin saw it was covered with writing in a
weak, boyish hand. To the initiated the scribbles were unmistakable
studies in newspaper captions or headings--the "makeup" of which Martin
recalled as a fad of his cub-reporter days.

The first attempt was as follows:

                    "A CANDIDATE CORALLED."

Then came several other "settings:"

                    "A SUPREME COURT SCANDAL."

                    "A JUDICIAL JUDAS."

                    "A DANIEL COME TO GRIEF."

This last effort apparently satisfied the embryo city editor, for his
sub-headings were written below:

                    "AN EXTRAORDINARY COURT ORDER
                    UNEARTHED BY _The Guardian_."

"It Bears the Initials of the Hon. Charles Blagden, Candidate for
Judicial Office."

"A Searching Investigation to be Instituted. Lawyers Indignant.
Litigants Astonished."

Martin read the words with savage satisfaction.

So, the Hon. Justice was playing tricks, was he--and not very good
tricks either? He was on the point of being exposed--was he? Well, it
was about time something happened to those noiseless wheels of the
little tin god! People were beginning to believe there was something
miraculous in his transit. It had long been heretical to suggest either
pull or push. But both agencies have to be paid for in one way or
another, and at some time.--To pay whom or what was this green-covered
order required?--What a shock it would be for the worshippers to see
their metal divinity wobbling on his stand and to hear the shrieking
of his squeaky rollers! Fortunately for him some of his triumphs
were secure, but it would be interesting for at least one person to
discover---- No, she would never discover anything. Charlie would tell
her it was all right--and that would make it so.--"Charlie,"
indeed!--Ugh!

A sharp movement in front of him aroused Martin from his bitter musing.
The young reporter was leaning forward in his chair, staring at a little
clean-shaven Hebrew who had entered the room and was leaning on the
rail, a green-covered legal paper in his hand.

Van took the document from the messenger, shook it open and placed it at
the bottom of the pile of orders on the Judge's desk. The Court had
already begun to hear arguments, and as the Counsel talked the Judge
occasionally took up one of these orders and signed it. Clerks kept
entering the room from time to time, handing papers and orders to Van,
who added them to the rapidly-increasing pile on the Judge's desk.

Meanwhile Martin stared at the green edge of the order in which _The
Guardian_ took such a lively interest. How did that paper come to know
its contents? _The Guardian_ was politically opposed to the Judge's
party--was, indeed, the semi-official organ of the enemy. It could not
be in the confidence of the Judge's friends. No avenue of exposure would
be more carefully watched than that which led to the columns of _The
Guardian_. There must be a traitor in the camp. Or perhaps some honest
man, despising underhand methods, had given the clue to the most
effective police. But if an honest man desired to protect his party,
would he not frustrate the scheme rather than expose it after it was
accomplished? Yes, some traitor must be selling information to the
opposition. _The Guardian_ certainly would not hesitate to buy dirty
secrets. It was savagely partisan--unscrupulous and daring. It fairly
slobbered with the froth of sensation--lived on scandal, and obtained
its pabulum by any and every means. Thus far there had been little to
feed upon in the career of the Hon. Charles Blagden. But it would not
shrink from providing itself with carrion if a touch of one of its
underground wires would suffice.--Might not _The Guardian_ know the
history of the green-covered order at first hand?

Martin dismissed the thought again and again, but it gathered strength
and substance and forced itself upon him. He recalled the words of the
Boss Reporter about Blagden's never having sat at Chambers before. He
had explained that that was "just the point." And the point was--?
Obviously that the work at Chambers was hurried, and that a novice would
be apt to sign papers without due deliberation.

What could be easier for a sheet like _The Guardian_ than to trump up a
legal proceeding of some sort, and to concoct, with the aid of cunning
lawyers, an order unobjectionable on its face, but which would
compromise the reputation of any Judge who signed it? If the plot
miscarried, the conspirators could readily cover their tracks and make
good their escape.--It was a dangerous game but not a new one.

And if all this were so, what had he, Martin, to do with it?

Of course if Blagden was playing tricks he deserved to get caught and no
one but the hero-worshippers could be expected to cry.--But if he was
being tricked?--That was just the question to be decided. He, Martin,
was merely a spectator, interested in the event, it is true, but still
only an onlooker.--Was that true? Had not that rôle been forfeited when
he acquired special information? Was his attitude a perfectly passive
one? If any other man than Blagden was on the Bench would he not
instantly communicate what he had heard? Would he feel no disappointment
whatsoever if Blagden refused to sign the order? Frankly--was he not
waiting to see his enemy walk into what he believed was a trap?

Martin flushed at the silent self-accusation and instantly pronounced it
absurd. What could he do? Any man who goes on the Bench has to assume
grave responsibilities and take the risk with the honours. Blagden's
attitude had always been a silent boast of needing no help from anyone.
Would not interference give him an opportunity for retorting that "he
had the office and Martin the officiousness." How he would roll that
under his tongue!--No, Blagden could take care of himself. He would
never thank anyone for playing nurse for him.

The papers on the Judge's desk were piling higher and higher, and he
began to sign or reject them more rapidly as the time wore on. Martin
glanced at _The Guardian's_ order. It was still buried under a dozen
others.

Why did he think of it as "_The Guardian's_ order"? He had no proof of
the matter. But were not his suspicions strong enough to excuse a
warning? What did he fear? A snub? Well, that was better than "_the
laughter of the soul against itself when conscience has condemned it,
which the soul never hears once in its fulness without hearing it
forever after_."

How often he had repeated those lines to himself! What a hopeless,
haunting sound they had in them! He hated this man--but was he willing
to wear the _The Guardian's_ mask and hear forever after the hideous
laughter of the soul?

Martin glanced again at the Judge's desk, and then rapidly writing a few
words on a piece of paper, folded and addressed it to the Hon. Charles
Blagden, and carried it to the Clerk's desk.

Van, restored to his usual good humour, met him with a smile.

"Why didn't you come earlier for your papers, Mr. Martin?" he whispered.
"I've had them here for you ever since Court opened."

"Much obliged, Van. Just hand this note up to Judge Blagden--will you?"

"I can't do it, Mr. Martin. His Private Secretary says it's one of his
fads. He won't even let us hand him telegrams when he's on the Bench."

"But this is more important than a telegram, Van," replied Martin in a
low tone. "Hand it up to him and I'll assume all the responsibility."

"I'd like to oblige you, Mr. Martin, but----"

"You will not be obliging me, Van, but him."

The veteran clerk gazed at the earnest face of the lawyer for a moment,
and then reached out his hand for the letter.

"I'll try it, Mr. Martin," he whispered.

It was some moments before the Justice noticed Van standing near his
chair, and raised his eyes inquiringly. The clerk held out the folded
piece of paper, but Blagden frowned and impatiently waved the official
away. For a moment Van lingered, but when the Magistrate swung his chair
so as to turn his back on the interruption, he rejoined Martin and
handed him the rejected note, with a smile and a shrug.

Martin took it and sat down again with a distinct feeling of relief. He
had done all he could. If there was anything wrong with the order he had
tried his best to call it to the Judge's attention, and that pompous
fool had rejected the opportunity. He might as well hand up the _Phelps_
vs. _Orson_ papers and go back to the office.

Martin pulled the small bundle out of his pocket and studied the
indorsement. _Phelps_ against _Orson_? Why, that must be the case Dick
Phelps had talked about for half an hour at the Club the other night. Of
course it was--Allison was his attorney. Well, that was rather odd.
Martin wrote "_submitted_" on the first paper in the bundle, and then
glanced at the Bench. The green order was fourth from the top.

Why the devil did his heart keep thumping with excitement! He had done
more than ninety-nine men out of a hundred would do. Anything more would
be asinine interference for which he would have time to repent at
leisure. He'd get right out of that stifling Court Room--

"_Phelps_ against _Orson_" called the Judge.

For a heart-beat Martin hesitated. Then he rose to his feet and walking
directly to the Counsel's table slipped the rubber band from his bundle
of papers and sat down.

As his opponent began to speak, Martin lazily read through his papers,
making an occasional note on a loose sheet of legal cap. When he looked
up again the green order was second from the top. Then he shoved his
chair back and watched the Judge who, as the Counsel ceased speaking,
took up another paper, leaving the green-covered order at the top of the
pile.

Martin glanced at the clock and noted that recess would begin in
twenty-five minutes. Then he sat quietly and waited till the Judge,
surprised at the unusual pause, looked at him, and nodded.

"Proceed, Mr. Martin."

Martin gazed fixedly at the Bench and rose with great deliberation and
dignity.

"If it please the Court," he began solemnly, "this is, on its face, a
simple motion for a bill of particulars--part of that sparring for
position which precedes every legal encounter. But at the outset I ask
the closest possible attention from the Court, for before I have
finished I expect to show that this apparently simple motion cloaks a
matter of vital importance, not only to these litigants but to the
public at large."

Judge Blagden leaned back in his chair and listened to the lawyer with
grave attention. The attorney for the defendant stared at the speaker in
blank astonishment.

It was, Martin continued impressively, a case in which a knowledge of
all the facts was of supreme importance. To understand certain actions
one must follow the wires that control them, underground or overhead,
until the hand which clutches them be discovered. For this reason he
would take the liberty of detailing to the Court the history of the
litigation.

Martin then launched into a minute and deliberate recital of the facts.
He dwelt upon the private history of the plaintiff, traced his business
career from its beginning up to the day of the transaction with the
defendants, described the fruitless efforts of the parties to settle
their differences out of Court, and the failure of the attorneys to come
to any agreement.

At this point the defendant's attorney interrupted, claiming that none
of these facts, however interesting they might be, was to be found in
the papers, and that Counsel must be confined to what was therein
stated.

Martin admitted that, ordinarily, this would be proper, but in this case
he asked for "great latitude for grave reasons." Then, with marked
emphasis, he recapitulated all the various points he had detailed and
asked the Court to note their important bearing upon what he was about
to disclose.

The opposing Counsel shifted uneasily in his chair and shook his head in
utter bewilderment, and the Justice leaned forward on his desk.

Then Martin picked up the bill of complaint and began to read it with
great deliberation. That seemed to break the spell.

"Mr. Martin, I must ask you to come to your point, please," interrupted
the Justice.

"I am coming to it now, Sir."

He again took up the complaint and once more began to read it aloud.

Judge Blagden revolved his chair restlessly from side to side and again
interrupted--this time impatiently.

"You have already occupied almost twenty minutes, Mr. Martin. This is
not, you know, the Court of Appeals."

"Where your Honour's decision can be reviewed if incorrect? I am aware
of that, Sir."

The Magistrate looked sharply at the speaker, who regarded him with a
calm, cold glance.

"The Court cannot allow you to consume much more time, Sir. The decision
of this motion is largely a matter of discretion----"

"Which your Honour will remember is the better part of valour."

Judge Blagden frowned angrily at the speaker and picked up the
green-covered order.

The Court Room was hushed to almost breathless stillness.

"Go on with your argument, Mr. Martin, but be brief." The words came
from behind the paper in the Judge's hand.

Martin instantly sat down.

The Judge stopped reading and peered over the desk.

"Well," he queried, "have you finished?"

"No, Sir, I have not," answered Martin positively.

"Then proceed, Sir."

"When the Court honours me with the courtesy of its attention I will
proceed--but not until then."

The answer was a challenge, sharp and decisive.

"I am listening, Sir," retorted Blagden, in a tone of marked annoyance,
"and I have been listening much longer than should be necessary. Get to
your point at once."

"If the Court is willing to undertake a divided duty," Martin paused
until the Judge's eyes met his--"I am unwilling to receive a divided
attention."

"The Court has no inclination to hear further suggestions from Counsel
on this point."

The Judge took up his pen, dipped it in the ink, and turned to the last
page of the green-covered order.

Behind him Martin could hear the cub-reporter tiptoeing to the door.

"Then if the Court will not give me a hearing I demand that it read my
brief!"

Martin thundered out the words so fiercely that the audience started
perceptibly and the Judge looked up in angry astonishment.

"Sit down, Mr. Martin," he ordered sternly.

"I hand you my brief, Sir," answered Martin, holding out a folded sheet
of legal cap, "and request its immediate consideration."

"You may hand it to the clerk, Sir; it will be considered at the proper
time."

"I request the Court to read it now."

"The Court will not entertain it at present."

"I demand it as a right!"

"Mr. Martin, you forget yourself."

"You are right, but still I demand that this brief be now read."

Martin leaned over the rail and placed the document upon the Judge's
desk.

In the pause that followed, the Magistrate's eyes followed these lines
indorsed on the cover of the paper thrust before him:

"_Look out for the green-covered order in your hand. Suspect something
fraudulent. Parties now in Court watching you. Am talking against
time._"

Then the stillness of the room was broken by the Justice speaking in a
constrained voice:

"The Court will now adjourn for recess. In the meantime, Mr. Martin, I
will consider your brief."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was some days after the crowd had ceased discussing the way Blagden
"got called down by Martin" that the latter wrote a short reply to the
former's long epistle.

     "_Mr. Martin respectfully acknowledges Judge Blagden's
     letter of the 10th inst., and is gratified to learn that the
     warning was not wholly uncalled for. The Justice, however,
     may rest assured that he is under no obligation to Mr.
     Martin, whose sole concern in the matter was his honour--but
     not His Honour Charles Blagden._"



AN ABSTRACT STORY.


Williams ought to have known that whenever Meyer wanted a title searched
he shopped with it until competition eliminated the margin of profit.
But whether he knew this or not it was perfectly plain that there was no
money in the East Broadway work at the figures he agreed upon. However,
year after year the legal arena is gladdened by the advent of certain
rosy-cheeked, enthusiastic youths who fancy they can change the instinct
of Chatham Square and acquire control of big real estate operators like
Meyer, through the simple expedient of doing some of their work for
nothing. Moreover, each newcomer thinks he has evolved an entirely novel
plan for working up a practice. At first I thought Williams was one of
these delightfully optimistic individuals, but subsequent events have
demonstrated there was more method in his madness.

Williams was in love with Miss Thornton. Everybody knew it, though, as
Parsons said, Miss Thornton didn't seem to know it by heart. The more
fool she, I thought, for Williams was a first-rate fellow and a far
better man than that doll-faced, shallow chit had any right to expect. I
admit it isn't very gallant to speak of a girl in this way, but I
sometimes think a little plain truth about the fair sex would make them
more fair. Miss Thornton had prettiness enough of a certain kind, she
wore her gowns well and looked the girl of good breeding that she was.
But beyond that--well, I never could see what made Williams so
desperately in love with her. Therefore when R. Castelez Forbes appeared
on the scene, though I sympathised with the discomforted swain, I could
not really feel very sorry for him.

Where R. Castelez Forbes came from was more or less of a mystery. Mrs.
Thornton told me she met him on the "Teutonic" and that he had been
"awfully kind" to Daisy and her during the passage. She had invited him
to spend a day or two in the Berkshires, and since then they had seen a
good deal of him. To my inquiry as to his business Mrs. Thornton replied
that he was "something in the manufacturing line" and she believed
"quite a rising young fellow." She was a hopelessly silly woman. Mr.
Thornton was an able man, but too easy going and good-natured to trouble
himself about the antecedents of Miss Daisy's callers.

It did not take much to frighten Williams off. He was sensitive as most
manly fellows are when in love. But had he possessed far more
self-confidence there was quite enough in the situation to have
discouraged him. Miss Thornton and Forbes were constantly together, and
although no engagement had been announced most people spoke of it as "an
understood thing."

Such was the situation when Meyer brought the East Broadway papers to
Williams and inquired his fee for searching the title.

Williams glanced at the contract of sale for a moment, turned to the
last deed in the Abstract and promptly named a figure so low that even
Meyer feared to ask for a reduction, although he did insist on the work
being finished in a week. The bargain was closed then and there, and
everybody who heard of it cursed Williams for cutting prices to a point
where neither he nor anyone else could hope to make money.

But the last item in the East Broadway Abstract would have explained to
the initiated why Williams undertook the work at losing rates, and it
certainly excused him for beginning his investigation of the title wrong
end foremost. This item read as follows:

                               } _Warranty Deed, F. & C._
     _Reginald C. Forbes_,     } _Dated May 1, 1887._
              _To_             } _Ack. May 1, 1887._
     _Beatrice Gordon Forbes_, } _Rec. May 2, 1887._
                               } _Cons. $1._

                    _Conveys premises under examination._

which meant that, at the date named, one Reginald C. Forbes had
transferred the East Broadway property to a woman named Forbes at a
nominal price. The contract of sale showed that this same Miss or Mrs.
Forbes had agreed to sell the property to Meyer.

Within ten minutes after he had received the papers, Williams was hot
upon the trail. Within an hour he had learned all he wished to know.

The Register's Office showed that the deed made by Reginald C. Forbes
was recorded at the request of Messrs. Harmon & Headly, and at their
offices Williams made his first inquiry.

"Yes, I know Mr. Forbes," replied Mr. Harmon--"at least, I did know
him. He was a client of mine some years ago. Why do you ask?"

Williams exhibited the Abstract and pointed out the deed in question.

"I recall the transaction," continued the old lawyer, after a moment's
thought. "Forbes conveyed the property to his wife for one dollar, in
consideration of her releasing him from alimony and dower rights.--Yes,
she obtained a divorce from him some time in '86 or '87. I think you'll
find her agreement on record, but perhaps Forbes didn't record it. I
haven't seen him for years, and don't know what's become of him.--Do I
remember what name the initial C stood for? Yes, I believe I do. It had
a Spanish sound. Something like Castilian. Castelez? Yes--that was it."

Williams thanked Mr. Harmon and went home to work his way through a maze
of tangled thoughts to the conclusion that his duty to his neighbour,
Miss Thornton, was to love her far better than himself.

His reasoning was something like this: Miss Thornton had been cruelly
deceived. She had honoured a scamp by receiving his attention. Perhaps
she had even given him her love. But in any case, humiliation was to be
her portion. The blow to her self-esteem she could not escape--but might
he not save her pride the lasting sting of even a partial publicity? How
could this best be done? To speak to a man of Forbes' character would be
a waste of words and give no protection to the girl. Mr. and Mrs.
Thornton were in Bermuda, and every moment's delay must add insult to
the injury. The girl's chaperone was a foolish hysterical old aunt whose
idea of action in emergency would probably begin and end in a telegram.
What if he undertook the task himself? He was a rival and she might not
believe him? There was no chance for disbelief. If she required
proofs--they were at hand. His knowledge of her humiliation would make
her hate the sight of his face, and she would never forget or forgive
it? He would still have saved her something of bitterness, and for this
there was no sacrifice he would not make.

Now I do not propose to argue that Williams took the wisest course even
if Mr. and Mrs. Thornton were in Bermuda--I am not prepared to say he
was not quixotic--I am ready to admit he was disqualified from acting
either as tale-bearer or guardian, but I do maintain that in taking
upon himself the responsibility of putting the girl in possession of the
facts, he showed far more moral courage than nine out of ten men would
display under similar circumstances.

Had Miss Thornton's mind been built upon broader lines, she would have
appreciated the admirable tact with which Williams handled the whole
subject and understood the delicacy and deference which disclosed the
truth so gradually that she seemed to discover it for herself. But Miss
Thornton's mind was somewhat self-centred, and as she heard his story
her pretty face showed nothing but its prettiness. She listened to the
words of the man, but took no note of his quiet, sympathetic tone.
Suddenly the situation dawned upon her. Her cheeks flushed, her hands,
which had been clasped behind her shapely head, fell, and she sat there
in the half light of the cozy drawing-room gazing before her without
seeing the pained and tenderly anxious glance of the man who stood
looking down at her.

"Good night, Miss Thornton.--Won't you even say good-bye?"

There was no answer from the girl who, with elbows on knees and her
chin in her hands, stared into the fading fire as though unconscious of
his presence.

"Good-bye, then, Miss Thornton, and--and God keep you--dear!"

Now it may be true, as her garrulous old aunt told me, that Miss
Thornton was discovered in the drawing-room that night weeping bitterly,
but if so, I venture to assert her tears were those of anger--the tears
of a spoilt child. However, the point is not what I think, but what
Williams thought. He left the Thorntons' house firmly convinced that he
had wholly failed in his mission and succeeded only in making the woman
he loved hate him. But as he lay awake brooding over the situation the
possibility presented itself that the girl might go to Forbes with the
story and assert her loyalty by offering to marry him then and there.
Such things had happened before. As he thought it over, the possibility
became a fear, and the fear a resolution to protect the girl, not only
against Forbes, but if necessary against herself. The step he took was
theoretically quite as impossible as his original action. But to attempt
the impossible is sometimes to achieve it.

Early the next morning Williams looked up Pierce & Butler, the attorneys
who had represented Mrs. Forbes in the divorce proceedings, obtained her
address, and straightway called upon the lady herself. His interview was
short, but at its close he made another extraordinary move. He
telegraphed Meyer that the East Broadway business was to be closed
within twenty-four hours. Seeing that he had not up to that time made
any adequate examination of the title, his action must have seemed
somewhat rash to his clerks--especially as he spent most of the
intervening hours, not at the Register's office, but in the building of
the green lamps on Mulberry Street known as Police Headquarters.

As a result of this, the first callers at Williams' offices on the
following morning were afforded singular accommodations. One of them was
stationed behind the portières, another was supplied with a seat in a
closet, and another was ensconced in a coat-cupboard.

Then Williams sat down at the big table in the Title-closing room and
waited for Meyer and the other parties to the purchase and sale of the
property. They came promptly.

Meyer arrived first, accompanied by Jacobs, his confidential clerk, for
that prudent Hebrew never did anything without one of his own people
being present as a witness; then Mr. Winter, the real estate broker,
dropped in, and when finally Mr. August Stein, Attorney-at-law,
introduced himself and his client Mrs. Forbes. Williams showed no
surprise that Mr. Stein's client did not in any way resemble the Mrs.
Forbes he had interviewed only the day before.

Mr. Stein was a nervous, active little man who spoke in the sharp brisk
tones of one who has much to do and but little time to do it in.

"Now, Mr. Williams, you are all ready, I hope. I have another
appointment at 11.30. You found everything clear? Of course--of course.
It isn't everyone who can carry East Broadway property free and
clear.--No, indeed, Mrs. Forbes."

The attorney smiled approvingly at his client.

Williams studied the papers in his hand and answered without looking up.

"Everything is completed except the formality of identification. Of
course it's all right, but you know I have not had the pleasure of
meeting Mrs. Forbes and I don't think my client has----"

Meyer shook his head.

"Well, don't let's waste time on that," Mr. Stein interrupted, "you know
Mr. Winter here, and he will identify Mrs. Forbes to your satisfaction."

Williams glanced inquiringly at the broker whom he had known for a
couple of years.

"Do you identify this lady as the owner of this East Broadway property,
Mr. Winter?" he asked.

"Surely--surely," was the answer.

"How long have you known her, Mr. Winter?"

"Well, about--I should say--it must be--two years."

"Who introduced you--or how did you meet?"

"Now, Mr. Williams," interrupted Mr. Stein, "this is very interesting,
but it's wasting my time. All this should have been attended to before I
was summoned. I am a very busy man and you'll have to postpone the whole
matter until to-morrow. I really can't wait."

Mr. Stein began buttoning up his coat and reached for his hat.

Williams fumbled among his papers for a moment and drew forth an
affidavit.

"Perhaps we can save time with your aid. This is rather a large
transaction for me, so I have to go slowly. You will have no objection
to signing this affidavit of identification--will you, Mr. Stein?"

The attorney adjusted his glasses.

"It's not necessary, Sir," he remarked, merely glancing at the paper and
handing it back.--"It's not at all necessary. There is already
sufficient evidence to satisfy any reasonable man and we are not obliged
to satisfy you. It was your duty to have convinced yourself before the
time of closing."

"I didn't suppose you would have any objection to giving the proof
required."

"I don't know that there is any objection, but I've been closing real
estate titles all my life and I know my rights and don't intend to be
imposed upon."

"I'm not trying to impose upon you, my dear Sir."

"That's just what you are trying to do and I don't propose"--the lawyer
rose and began to gather up his papers.

"What is the matter, Mr. Stein? Why are you getting excited?"

"I'm not excited, Sir, but I propose to be treated with decent respect
and not like a shyster, and since you insist----"

"But I don't insist----" interrupted Williams. "Sit down, Mr. Stein."

----"Since you insist," persisted the lawyer, walking toward Mr. Meyer,
"I make a tender to your client of this deed----" he drew a document
from his pocket and handed it to Meyer's clerk.

"Sit down, Mr. Stein," repeated Williams sharply,--"unless you want me
to think you are seeking an excuse to break this contract.--Sit down at
once, Sir!--Mr. Jacobs--let me look at that deed."

The clerk handed the paper to him and Williams glanced at the signature.

"This is already signed and acknowledged before you as witness and
Notary, Mr. Stein. It is perfectly satisfactory. Let us proceed."

The attorney slowly sat down again and then laughed uneasily.

"I had completely forgotten that, Mr. Williams. Your insistence nettled
me for the moment and quite put it out of my head. A tempest in a
tea-pot--much ado about nothing, of course!--But rights are rights, you
know.--It's instinct with us lawyers to insist upon them, isn't it?"

"Mr. Meyer, kindly hand your check to this lady who will deliver her
deed," directed Williams, as he passed the paper to the woman.

Meyer beckoned the young lawyer to the window.

"Is everything all right?" he whispered, as he fumbled in his pocket for
the check, "are you sure?"

"Do as I tell you!" was the whispered answer, so sharp and savage that
the old man started and his cunning eyes flashed angrily. For a moment
he hesitated, gazing earnestly into the calm face of his counsel and
then turned suddenly and handed the check to the woman.

"Is that check certified? Let me see it!" cried Stein starting to his
feet. The woman handed it to him, at the same time delivering the deed
into Meyer's outstretched hand.

"Now what did you do that for?" Stein snapped angrily at his
client--"can't you wait----"

He stopped suddenly, for something clicked behind him and he turned just
in time to see Winter handcuffed and struggling in the arms of a
detective.

With a cry the fellow leaped across the long, narrow table, but as he
landed on the other side he found himself facing the muzzle of a
revolver pointing at him from the window curtains. Without a word he
threw up his hands, and as he did so passed the check into his mouth.
The movement did not escape Williams, and like a flash his revolver was
between the fellow's eyes.

"Spit it out," he said quietly. "Don't chew it! This revolver is
self-cocking! One--two----"

The check came again into evidence.

"Hands down for the bangles--my son," ordered the detective as he
stepped toward Stein. As the handcuffs snapped, Williams lowered his
weapon and picked up the check. Then as the men moved their prisoners
toward the door he turned to the woman.

"Mrs.--Forbes," he began in a low tone, "won't you be good enough to
tell me your right name?"

The reply was a paroxysm of tears and sobs. Williams waited for the
outburst to subside and then quietly repeated his question. The answer
came brokenly between sobs.

"It'd be--it'd be Mrs. Forbes--if--if--I had my rights!"

Williams stared at the speaker in utter amazement. Was there something
more in this case? Who was this woman, anyway, and why did she claim any
right to Forbes' name?

"And until you get your rights," he said, "what shall I call you?"

"Mary Halpin--Miss," answered the woman, sullenly.

Williams signalled the waiting detective to stop where he was.

"Well, Mary," he continued, "will you kindly go into my room for a
moment?"

The woman rose and passed into the room indicated.

"Miss Halpin," began Williams when the door closed, "I suppose you are
well aware what your position is, and that it can't be made much worse.
I cannot, of course, promise you any leniency, but if you want to answer
a few questions you can regard yourself as speaking confidentially to
your Counsel, and I may possibly be able to give you some advice."

The woman looked at him in silence for a moment and then nodded.

"Are you the Mary Halpin mentioned in the divorce case of _Forbes_ vs.
_Forbes_?"

"Yes."

Williams studied the face before him, and as he did so, possibilities
began to crowd thick and fast upon his mind. He determined to risk
something in his next question.

"Mr. Forbes suggested that you impersonate Mrs. Forbes," he asserted
boldly.

"How do you know that?" snapped Miss Halpin.

"No matter--I do know it. What reason did he give for wanting you to
impersonate his wife?"

The woman buried her face in her hands and Williams let her cry it out.

Here was a nice ending to all his plans for Miss Thornton! If Forbes'
connection with this case was known what a splendid newspaper story his
courtship of the young society girl would make! All the horrors of
publicity would be crowded upon her with crushing force. She might bear
humiliation in the sight of her friends, but not before the gaze of the
world. If anything was to be done to strangle that journalistic tid-bit
it must be done then and there.

"Why did he want you to impersonate his wife?" repeated Williams.

The woman looked at him through her tears.

"He said he had to have the money and--if I did it--he'd have plenty. He
said--he said there was no harm--that I was--I was--that I had a right
to say I was Mrs. Forbes, and he'd marry me afterwards. But he'll never
do it now!" she sobbed, "he'll never do it now!"

"I think he will."

Miss Halpin stopped weeping and stared eagerly at Williams.

"O if I thought that!" she began. "I'd do anything--anything!"

"Listen then. Does Winter or Stein know of Forbes in this matter?"

"No, no."

"Don't they know he's back of you?"

"No."

"All your own game?--You bought them yourself?"

"Yes."

"And you don't want revenge on Forbes?"

"No, no. God forgive me, I love him!"

"Then prove it. You will be taken to the Tombs now. Don't get
frightened. Say nothing to anyone. Before night Forbes will get bail for
you and you will go at once with him to Dr. Strong's in Jersey City.
Forbes has promised to marry you before?"

"Yes."

"So I suppose you wouldn't mind having some sort of hold on him?"

The woman smiled.

"All right, I'll give you some advice. If he hesitates at the altar this
time tell him you've been asked to turn State's evidence and remind him
that it is difficult for wives to testify against their husbands. That's
all. Good-bye."

Williams opened the door and stepped into the outer office.

"You will find your prisoner in my room, Sergeant," he said to the
waiting detective.

"Dan," he called to the office boy, as the door closed upon the officer
and his charge. "Ring up Mr. R. Castelez Forbes, and say I want to see
him here at once."

Ten minutes later Williams was retained by R. Castelez Forbes, and gave
that gentleman some sound advice. The same day toward evening, Mrs. R.
C. Forbes, _née_ Halpin, and her husband, _alias_ R. Castelez Forbes,
started very privately for the West, and the City of New York was the
richer in forfeited bail.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is often difficult to differentiate between the accessory to a crime
and the counsel defending the criminal. Williams, of course, might plead
confidential communications, which certainly cover a multitude of sins.
But I prefer to pardon him on the theory that all is fair in love
and--well, law is a sort of civil war. Sometimes not even civil.

If this wasn't a true story, I might report that Williams married a fine
woman in every way worthy of him, and that Meyer as a reward for that
day's good work gave him all his business ever afterwards. But the facts
are Williams never married, and Meyer refused to pay his fee. Whereupon
Williams promptly sued him for the money, won the suit and collected
every cent due him. That is the real reason why the old scamp respects
him nowadays and gives him so much of his business.



BY WAY OF COUNTERCLAIM.


I.

There are office buildings still standing in down-town New York where
the occupant does not merge his identity with the numerals on his door.
But they are very old buildings and the tenants are apt to be as
old-fashioned as their surroundings. It was in one of these venerable
piles that Clayton Sargent passed his legal apprenticeship, and perhaps
this explains some things in his career which are otherwise
inexplicable.

When Sargent was first ushered into the offices of Messrs. Harding,
Peyton, Merrill and Van Standt he found a suite of plainly furnished
rooms connected by green baize doors and surrounded by law books from
floor to ceiling. The desks were large and dignified--almost learned in
their solidity, as though they had soaked in all the wisdom that had
dripped from the pens and all the experience of the pen holders.--The
large iron safe built into the wall of the rear room looked a very
monster of mystery from whose cavernous jaws no secrets would ever
escape, and in whose keeping confidences were secure as with the Sphinx.

No sound of the typewriter was ever heard in those rooms, though the
crackle and snapping of the soft cannel coal in the open fireplaces
would occasionally lure someone into betting that "the Ancients had
surrendered." No telephone ever tinkled its call inside those doors and
no member of the firm ever learned to use that instrument.

Harding, Peyton, Merrill and Van Standt's law papers were a joke in the
profession. They were engrossed on parchment-like paper and tied with
blue or red silk string, and if a seal was used two bits of ribbon
always protruded from its edge. But those who read these documents,
though they laughed at the outside, respected the inside, for "the
Ancients" had a large practice and knew how to keep it.

"They're harmless old birds," said Elmendorff, whose place Sargent was
taking, "but utterly impractical. I've been three years in a live office
and I tell you I couldn't stand this. You'll waste your time here. Why,
not a week ago I heard old man Peyton tell a client that he'd better
put everything on the altar of compromise and then offer to divide,
rather than get into litigation. They're dying of dry rot. You can't get
up a scrap here to save your eternal. Just think of this for instance.
Last month I began an action for the Staunton Manufacturing Company
against Mundel and it was dead open and shut, too. Well, in walks
Harding one morning madder than hops. 'How did this get in the office?'
says he, waiving the complaint. I told him I advised the plaintiffs that
they had a good case. 'Good case!' he roars. 'There's not the slightest
justice in the claim--not a scintilla of justice, Sir!' 'But we can
win,' I told him, and I showed the old fool where the defendant had
slipped up in the wording of his contract and how we had him cold. Well,
darn me, if he didn't get hotter under the collar than before, asking me
if I thought his firm were hired tricksters and bravos and I don't know
what. Finally he bundled all the papers back to the Staunton Company and
wrote them they oughtn't to sue. That settled me, and so I told them I'd
have to get out into the world again before the moss grew. It's a pity,
too, for they've really got a smooth lot of clients if they only knew
how to work them."

So Elmendorff departed, but no one ever heard that he took any of the
Ancients' practice with him.

It was this atmosphere which Sargent breathed for three years, and
perhaps, as has been said, that may account for some of his many
eccentricities and explain, in a measure, his treatment of Fenton.

Fenton had married the daughter of Brayton Garland, one of Mr. Harding's
clients, and when his wife sued him for divorce he brought the papers to
Sargent.

It was in offices very different from the Ancients' that Fenton found
his counsel. They were on the 17th floor of the Titan Building, on lower
Broadway, where the draught in the hall steadily sucked a stream of
people into elevators, which, with the regularity of trip-hammers, shot
them up breathless and dropped them gasping.

There were three law firms in the same suite with Sargent,--four
attorneys "on their own hook," a Seamless Mattress Company, an Electric
Drying Company and a Collection Agency. Typewriters clicked in every
room, messengers clattered up and down the long hallway, brass gates on
the railed-off spaces swung to and fro crashing with every swing, the
telephones sung a constant chorus, electric bells buzzed and tinkled,
doors banged, papers rustled, voices droned or struck the air in sharp
staccato, and yet in the midst of all this restless human energy there
were times when Sargent felt lonely. It was not merely that he missed
the atmosphere of quiet and study, but the very rush and scramble seemed
to generate ideas and actions foreign to the code of professional ethics
and dignity which governed the Ancients.

Sometimes the denizens of the Titan Building discussed the matter with
him.

"Theoretically your venerable friends are all right," a brilliant,
pushing young lawyer told him one day. "The man who lives by maxims in
this day and generation will have food for thought, but he'll never earn
his salt. We start with the same point of view, but----"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"But someone throws gold-dust in our eyes?" suggested Sargent.

"Bosh!" was the retort. "Don't talk the cant of the incompetent. The
Bar is of a higher average to-day than it ever was before."

But despite the "high average," Sargent often felt himself a solitary
outsider looking on at the mad clamour and pitiless pursuit and
wondering if it was worth all it seemed to cost. A defect in early
education--this pausing to think--for philosophers on lower Broadway are
apt to have but brief careers.

"There's nothing in the case," Fenton told his counsel, who sat gazing
out of the window at the tiny human ants crawling in and out of the
stone heaps in the street below.

Sargent looked narrowly at his client, but the side face told him
nothing, so he made no comment and Fenton continued,

"I don't know why she wants to drag us into court. I suppose some
long-whiskered tabby has been telling her I ought to stay home every
night. Say, Sargent, isn't there some way of bringing her to her
senses?"

The speaker turned from the window with a gesture of impatience, and
Sargent studied the handsome though somewhat boyish face. He knew Fenton
for an easy-going fellow, but no fool. He was a young man who had earned
his money by his own brains, acquiring all the self-confidence and
other characteristics, good and bad, which accompany achievement. There
was strength of character in his face, and a certain firmness of purpose
about the mouth that suggested something which the clear blue eyes
contradicted.

"You say there is nothing in the case," Sargent answered. "Why do you
suppose she brings suit? I don't know Mrs. Fenton, of course, but women
are not anxious as a rule to get themselves into court. Have you tried
to see her and obtain an explanation?"

"Lord, no! If you knew her you'd see how useless it would be. There's no
way out of this except by showing her we mean business. She's nearly
killed all the affection I ever had for her by this nonsense, but I want
it stopped--and stopped right now."

The suggestive lines of Fenton's mouth were strongly marked as he
snapped out the last words.

"If you no longer love your wife,--am I to understand that you want a
divorce? Have you anything to set up by way of counterclaim?"

"By way of counterclaim? No.--Yes, I have. I want the children."

Sargent smiled. "That's hardly a counterclaim," he answered.

"Well, it's counterclaim enough for me.--That's just the thing. You push
that and we'll see about the rest afterwards. If she wants to go into
court she'll have to go without the children."

Fenton's mouth was firmly set, and its lines were almost grim. The
boyish look had faded, and without it his features developed coarseness.

Sargent hesitated.

"Mr. Fenton," he said at last, "I don't like these cases, and when a man
dislikes his work, you know, he's not apt to do it well. I think you
would do better to retain other counsel."

"Now that's all nonsense, Sargent. You are just the man for me. I don't
want one of those advertising roarers who'll have us in every paper. I
want this thing stopped. You'll only have to apply for the children and
that'll end it. There are plenty of legal ruffians to be had. I have
chosen you because you are a gentleman and know how this business should
be handled."

There was no note of flattery in Fenton's tone.

"But, Mr. Fenton, admitting there is nothing in the case, the custody of
the children is still a matter resting wholly in the discretion of the
Court and you may not succeed. Mr. Harding is an excellent lawyer and
will doubtless make a good fight. You remember, of course, that I was in
his office some years ago?"

Fenton looked sharply at his counsel and his eyes narrowed slightly as
he answered.

"Well, that doesn't make any difference, does it? It ought to be all the
better. You must know all the old chap's tricks."

There was a suggestion of cunning about the man which completely
transformed him for a moment. His watchful eyes, however, read the doubt
in Sargent's face and bespoke a charming sincerity as he added:

"Why, of course, I knew you were brought up with 'the Ancients,'
Sargent. I was only joking. But that is merely another reason why you
are best fitted to undertake this case. If it were the ordinary divorce
dirt I wouldn't ask you to plough it up. But it's not. Mr. Harding knows
you and you will be able to approach him easily. Mrs. Fenton has been
poorly advised, I think, but the mischief's not yet wholly done. Make
your 'motion' or whatever you call it, and then you'll find the rest is
easy. I know you can handle the matter as few men could. I've wanted to
give you some business for a long time and I'm sorry to begin with this.
However, it will not be the last, you know."

Sargent had built up a fair practice since he left "the Ancients," but
this was the first time he had ever been opposed to them. He confessed
to himself that he did not like it.

Fenton was not wholly convincing, but if he did not take up this case
someone else would. If he was better than his profession it was high
time to retire from it. Then, too, Mr. Harding was growing old, and
doubtless the woman deceived by silly stories had deceived him. Very
probably, as Fenton said, the first aggressive move would settle the
whole affair. What fools women were to listen to every Old Wife who came
along with idle tittle-tattle seeking recruits for the great Army of the
Misunderstood! Fenton's business was worth having, and if this matter
went well there was no knowing where it might lead. Moreover all the
essential facts were in the defendant's favour, and as Sargent
skilfully set them forth in his "moving papers" he experienced that
subtle influence, known to every lawyer, which can turn the most
judicial counsel into a partisan, and make the silliest quarrel a matter
of deadly moment between strangers to its cause.


II.

Any Court with jurisdiction in divorce proceedings draws an audience
peculiar to itself.

Every Court Room has, of course, its individual devotees. For instance
"Dutch Pete" is accustomed to the corner bench in Part XV. and would not
change it for any other sleeping quarters, and even the migratory
loafers seem to know and respect old "Lawyer" Brady's seat in Trial Term
Part XX.

But, with divorce matters on the calendar, Special Term Part I. appeals
to a particular class. One can recognise its women out in the Rotunda
long before they turn toward the haven, and one can almost feel its
moist and clammy type of man.

To see the women with their hard faces well nigh intelligent with
curiosity--their long necks and ears turned to catch each salacious
morsel--is a sight to sicken every man with memory of a mother. To watch
the flabby-jowled, pimply persons of the masculine gender, their
drooling mouths fashioned to a grin, and their perspiring hands
clutching the soiled and soiling newspapers, is to understand the cynic
who protested that "the more he saw of men the better he liked dogs."

"Mr. Harding," said the Justice, as the arguments in _Fenton_ vs.
_Fenton_ closed, "it seems to me the defendant has made out a reasonable
case. As you have said, this matter rests wholly in the discretion of
the Court, and although we hold the parents joint and equal guardians of
their children and do not follow the old world rule that a father has a
superior claim to the possession of his offspring, yet, as it seems to
me, this is a case where that rule should apply. Mrs. Fenton has left
her husband's house without just cause, as he alleges. She makes no
claim for his support, and the complaint, as has been shown, is
deficient in its detail. If I am wrong, a trial will set the matter
right. In the meantime I award the possession of the children to the
father. If you can agree with Mr. Sargent upon the terms of the order,
I will make such provision for occasional visits of the mother as
justice may----"

A scraping of chairs and rustling of skirts drowned the closing words of
the Judge and Sargent turned to see a woman entering the Court Room with
two little children at her side. She walked directly toward the
counsel's table, and the restless eye-lashes of the unsexed "painted"
her in rapid sweeping glances, now up--now down--and the fat-paunched
leerers followed her with looks scarcely less offensive.

"My child, you should not have come here," whispered Mr. Harding, as he
rose and offered her his chair.

She was scarcely more than a girl, but her tall graceful figure bespoke
a quiet dignity, and the grey eyes with their steady gaze told of
developed character.

Sargent glanced at his client. Fenton must have seen the doubt expressed
in the lawyer's face, for he spoke up sharply.

"Let's finish this business, Sargent. I suppose I can take the children
now."

But his counsel did not answer, and Fenton, growing impatient, addressed
the Court.

"Your Honour, these are my children--I suppose I may take them now?"

The Judge, busy with the signing of papers, frowned but took no other
notice of the questioner.

Mrs. Fenton laid her hand on Mr. Harding's arm and almost shook it as
she asked,

"What does he mean? What--does--he--mean?"

How the necks stretched and the ears strained to catch the counsel's
answer!

But he whispered to the woman at his side, who, with her arms thrown
about the children, seemed oblivious of the eyes glutting themselves
upon her.

"Impossible!" she kept repeating, "it is impossible!"

The old lawyer shook his head gravely and glanced uneasily at the
defendant. Again he whispered to the young wife, speaking rapidly and
stopping her interruptions with the pressure of his hand upon her arm,
till at length she burst out in a frightened undertone,

"But I tell you it is impossible! It _shall_ not be done!"

Sargent rose and crossed to where the two were talking.

"Pardon me for interrupting," he said to Mr. Harding, "but I apprehend
this decision is a surprise to Mrs. Fenton. Can we not arrange that the
matter shall go no further?"

"Gladly, Sargent, but how?"

"I am authorised by my client to withdraw this motion if Mrs. Fenton
will discontinue her case."

Mr. Harding looked at the fair face turned toward him.

"You understand," he said. "This is Mr. Sargent,--your husband's
attorney."

With a gesture, half terror and half disdain, the young mother drew the
children closer to her side and Sargent felt the hot blood flying to his
cheeks. But she seemed only conscious of Mr. Harding's presence as she
answered him.

"Does he dare offer to bribe me with my own children? It is monstrous!"

Mr. Harding glanced sadly at the younger lawyer as the latter turned
again to his impatient client.

"She won't consent?" muttered Fenton. "Nonsense! You've worked the
smooth business right enough, Sargent, but we've won the motion and done
the decent. Now knock things about. You've got to scare her half out of
her wits----"

Sargent's face flushed.

"I think you are mistaking her," he said. "I know you are mistaking me."

"Good Lord--man, don't get mussy just when everything's in our own
hands. We've got to push it through now or never. Why--damn it," he
whispered fiercely, "don't you understand we can't defend this case?
We've got to bluff her out!"

The word "we" stung Sargent as though someone had slapped his face. Yet
he was associated with this man. Associated for what purpose--to do
what? His client's angry outburst had made it plain enough.

Fenton saw the glance of scorn in his lawyer's eyes.

"I'll be my own attorney then--and a damn sight better one," he muttered
and turned toward the group at the other end of the table.

"Well, now, let's have the children--Come, kids."

He rose and took a step forward. As he did so his wife sprang to her
feet and faced him. He stopped with an uneasy laugh before the splendid
figure of the woman drawn up to her full height, and met her measured
look of courage and contempt. Then he turned again toward his counsel,
speaking in an ugly undertone.

"See here, Sargent, I'm not going to make a fool of myself before all
these people. Get the officers to bring the children out to the
carriage."

But Sargent did not reply, and for a moment there was dead silence in
the Court Room.

Fenton stooped toward his counsel.

"What do you think you're paid for?" he whispered menacingly.

What was he paid for? That was plain talk--that made the truth stand out
clearly! He was the hireling of this man--not his associate. He was
hired to do contemptible work and he had done it,--was doing it. No
wonder his employer stood ready with insult to show how he despised his
creature. It was perfectly safe. An officer of the Court was bound by
professional duty and gagged by confidential communications. He must sit
still and see this outrage on Justice perpetrated. Even aid in it. And
for what? For money. How far had he sold himself--how much of his
manhood was included in the purchase? He could retire from the case?
Yes, after the day's dirty work was finished and the wrong could not be
righted.

If he raised his hand to stop this thing, how many lawyers in the City
would uphold him? Not many in the Titan Building. It was easy to
foreshadow the construction which would be placed upon his conduct. He
could almost hear the fierce denunciation. To defend himself he would
have to violate professional secrecy still further. True, there were
those who would understand--men to whom their calling was and always
would be "the honourable profession of the law"--men who would never
permit the Law's mantle of dignity to become a cloak for the vicious.
But the others--"the high average"? Had he the courage to face their
verdict?

Perspiration poured down Sargent's face and his hand shook with
suppressed wrath as Fenton rose and again addressed the Court.

"I presume your Honour will enforce your order? I don't wish to make a
scene."

The Justice looked inquiringly at the lawyers, but neither of them made
any sign.

"Madam," he said at last, "I have awarded your husband the custody of
his children pending this action. You will kindly put no obstacle in the
way of the execution of my order."

The chairs of the leerers grated on the floor with eagerness, and the
skirts of the shameless shivered with delicious tremors.

Ah--this was worth coming for! A woman's tenderest feelings were to be
exposed and crushed. Privacy was to be invaded--delicacy was to be
unveiled--the sacred was to be handled. Ah--this well repaid the
waiting!

Mrs. Fenton flushed as the Judge addressed her, and then grew ashy pale
as she answered.

"You have no right, no man has any right, to dispose of my children.
They shall not leave me! I will not permit it!"

The Judge glanced at the bulging eyes and gaping mouths of the audience
and frowned angrily.

"Officer," he said sharply, "take those children and deliver them to the
defendant."

There are moments when the Bar does not envy the Bench.

As the Judge's words reached her, the young mother leaped to her feet
and swept the children behind her. Then she backed toward the wall and
crouched there like some magnificent wild thing, trembling with that
mingling of terror and courage which warns the fiercest beast to
caution.

"Let him," she panted, hoarsely, "let him come--come and take them
if--if he dare!"

Mr. Harding rose and stepped toward the woman, laying his hand gently
upon her arm. She gazed at him for an instant with no recognition in her
eyes, then flung her arms about his neck and laughed the hideous
shuddering laughter of hysteria.

Here was entertainment indeed! A red-letter day in the annals of the
audience! To-morrow the Court Room would be packed with expectants--all
the floating population of the Rotunda would be on hand.

The Judge seemed to think of this.

"Remove that woman!" he ordered.

A court officer stepped forward, and at the same time Fenton moved
toward the children.

Then Sargent's voice broke the stillness of the Court.

"If your Honour please, I wish to withdraw the motion in this case."

There was a moment of absolute, breathless silence.

Then Fenton sprang to his feet.

"Withdraw?" he almost shouted. "What do you mean? This is my case. It's
been decided in my favour. I won't permit it!"

Sargent only addressed the Court as he answered,

"Nevertheless, I withdraw the motion."

The Justice looked steadily at the lawyer's face, and his gaze was not
without a trace of approval.

"I must warn you, Counsellor," he said at length, "that this is very
unusual. It is a most serious matter."

"I will take all responsibility, your Honour."

"Very well, Mr. Sargent. You consent, I presume, Mr. Harding? I am not
sure that I have the power, but if not, the error can be corrected by
appeal. Mark the motion, 'withdrawn.'"

"This is treachery!" Fenton shouted at his lawyer. "I'll have you
disbarred, Sir! You'll lose every client you've got----"

"But I'll keep my self-respect," answered Sargent, in a whisper.

"I'll have you disbarred, Sir!--I'll ruin you utterly. Your Honour,
he's conspired with the other side--he used to be in their office. I can
prove----"

"Clear the Court Room!" thundered the Justice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Outside in the Rotunda the audience placed Sargent on trial and
straightway condemned him. In legal circles his conduct was denounced,
eulogised, and on the whole deplored.

But the Court of Conscience (hear the cynic mutter "Court of last
resort!") held him guiltless, and from its judgment there is no appeal.



IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE.


Valentine Willard was not a bad fellow at heart, although Gordon will
never admit it. But Gordon is a crank who carries his professional
enmity into private life.

Their trouble began about an "affidavit of merits."

Gordon had a case in which he was about to enter judgment, when Willard
blocked him off with an extension obtained from the Court by means of an
affidavit, in which he swore that "his client had fully and fairly
stated the matter to him, and from that statement he verily believed the
defendant had a good and substantial defence to the action upon the
merits."

This, of course, was utter fiction. There was no thought of a defence.
But delay defeats, and later Willard withdrew, allowing Gordon to take
the twenty-fifth instead of the first judgment against his man.

The same thing is done every day of practice in the City of New York.
Lawyers who are Officers of the Court prostitute the Court with
cheerful zeal--men with a high sense of self-respect in their private
lives, demean themselves beyond expression in their professional
careers--gentlemen who would not stoop to the slightest equivocation
up-town, perjure themselves for money down-town, or teach their clerks
to do it for them. It is not a pretty practice, but Gordon ought to have
known the custom. However, being young at that time, it still shocked
him. To-day he says it only fills him with disgust. But he was just as
much of a crank then as he is now, so he took Willard's affidavit before
the Grievance Committee of the Bar Association.

He might have seen the smile on the faces of his auditors as he told his
story, had he not been blinded by zeal. However the Chairman was grave
and judicial enough when he announced it was not the province of the
Committee to take up the quarrels of counsel, and that they did not
propose to investigate light accusations of perjury.

Indeed, the Chairman was so very judicial, and his speech so well
delivered, that he might have been suspected of having said something of
the same sort before under similar circumstances. But Gordon, crank
that he was, thought of nothing but his point, and stoutly maintained
that false swearing was being practised every day by lawyers, great and
small--that tricks and treachery were personal matters reflecting on but
not involving the profession as a whole, while licensed perjury was a
travesty of law, striking at the very foundations of Justice. So he went
on, boiling over with intensity and utterly innocent of tact.

But when the Chairman stopped him and said something about "seeking aid
in legislative action," or "going before a Grand Jury," Gordon, young as
he was, looked straight into the speaker's eyes and drank in experience,
if not wisdom, from their glance.

Later on Willard's client quarrelled with his counsel, and put into
Gordon's hands the very proofs he needed. But the Grievance Committee
never saw them, for Gordon locked the papers in his safe and spoke no
word.

But that did not close the episode.

It was, however, the beginning of the end as far as Gordon and Willard
were concerned.

More than a year passed before the two men met again. Willard had in the
meantime been appointed an Assistant District Attorney, and practised
only in the Criminal Courts. Their encounter was entirely a matter of
accident, though Gordon doesn't think so. Nevertheless, the facts are
that Gordon chanced to wander into General Sessions while waiting for
some papers, and happened to find his _bête-noir_ prosecuting a case of
burglary, and it was merely a matter of habit that caused him to study
the prisoner as closely as he did.

The man's face was gentle, and almost expressionless in its vague wonder
at the scene before him. Something had its grip on him--just what he did
not seem to know--but something monstrous and merciless in its
mechanism, and something was being said about him--just what he did not
appear to comprehend.

Gordon watched the listless figure, and the weary droop of the head, and
interpreted for himself.

Perhaps the poor wretch had struggled when arrested, but without
avail--had stormed and protested to the sergeant at the police station,
with no result--had denied and explained to the Magistrate at the
hearing, but to no end. The Law--a hideous Something--resistless in its
power, relentless in its purpose, wanted him. These men--the one on the
Bench, the one behind the rail, those others in uniform--wished him out
of the way. Perhaps he had concluded he could best propitiate them by
giving as little trouble as possible. So he sat there inert and silent,
fascinated into non-resistance, watching the doors of his prison open
somewhat as a rabbit must watch the widening jaws of a snake.

It is impossible to comprehend the feeling without experiencing it, but
Gordon was a lonely sort of man, who sometimes felt himself apart from,
instead of a part of, the universe, and so he understood.

Mr. Assistant District Attorney Willard was presenting his case ably,
handling his points with so much care that Gordon asked the policeman
sitting beside him if the trial was of any importance.

"Importance? Well, I should say so! Don't you see the Chief sitting up
near the rail?"

Gordon glanced in the direction indicated and observed the Chief of
Police, note book in hand, watching every move of the District Attorney.

"Who is he?" he asked, nodding toward the prisoner.

"Why the larrup says his name is Winter--and don't he look innocent?
Well, he's really Red Farrell, a crook we've been after for years. But
there's nothin' much gets by us, I guess.--Eh?"

But Gordon was studying the prisoner again and did not respond.

Winter? Where had he heard that name? Why, of course, Winter was the
married name of his old nurse, who had been in his father's family for
thirty years. But who was this man?

"Mr. Duncan----"

Gordon turned as he heard the whisper behind him and found himself face
to face with the very woman of whom he had been thinking.

"Why, Margaret, what are you doing here?"

"O, Mr. Duncan--it's him."

"Who?"

"Jack--there--my son." She glanced toward the prisoner.

Gordon motioned toward the door and they passed out together into the
Rotunda.

"O, Mr. Duncan, can you save him?--You will, won't you, dearie? He's my
only boy! Indeed, indeed, he's not guilty for all he's been a wild lad
at times. O, why do they say he's Red Farrell, or some such man? O
please tell them, Mr. Duncan."

And then the story came out with a burst of tears which the Rotunda saw
and heard without any emotion whatsoever. It has witnessed so many
tears--that Rotunda--heard so many, many stories.

Before Court adjourned Gordon found himself committed to aid in the
defence of John Winter--his first criminal case. By evening he was
working enthusiastically, confident in the innocence of his client.

Winter was a stupid fellow and impossible as a witness, but this only
further convinced his new counsel, who believed a bad witness could not
be a good liar. But the defence had been poorly prepared at the hands of
the attorney assigned by the Court. Proper witnesses had not been
subpoenaed--details had been neglected, while the prosecution seemed
unusually keen. This last fact worried and puzzled Gordon more than all
the others, and finally started him out on a tour of personal
investigation.

When he returned he had learned enough to make him admit that with the
time at his command there was small hope of clearing his man from the
closely pressed charge.

One chance, however, remained--to see the Assistant District Attorney
and obtain an adjournment. But to beg a favour from that source was gall
and wormwood to Gordon. Moreover, what he had discovered was not
calculated to cool his hot head or make him more diplomatic. So the
mission did not promise well, and he had about determined not to attempt
it, when the look of despair and mute appeal in Margaret's face made him
reconsider, and drove him late at night to visit a man he would have
gone miles to avoid.

The Assistant District Attorney was the opposite of Gordon in every
way--smooth, politic, even tempered, and ambitious to drop the word
"Assistant" from his title. This, it was rumoured, he would do at the
next election. In an encounter between these two men it was not
difficult to foresee with whom would rest the advantage.

Willard welcomed Gordon to his study and opened with easy commonplaces.
But Gordon, hopelessly fanatic and stiff-necked in his honesty,
disdained the aid of conventions and pushed directly to his point.

"Mr. Willard, you are prosecuting a young man--John Winter by name----"

"Ah yes, I thought I saw you at the trial to-day, but didn't know you
practised in the Criminal Courts. Yes,--John Winter, alias Red Farrell."

"I do not think so and that is why I am here. This young man is the son
of Margaret Winter, an old family servant of ours on whose word I would
stake my life. I have examined the prisoner and some of the witnesses,
and am sure a mistake is being made and that I can prove the man's
innocence."

"Well, I shall at least have the satisfaction of being beaten by a
worthy adversary. But you didn't come here merely to throw down the
gauntlet, Mr. Gordon."

The District Attorney smiled inquiringly at his visitor.

"No, Sir. I want you to withdraw a juror in this case and consent to a
mistrial. Meanwhile we can both make further investigations and the
cause of Justice will not suffer."

If the speaker had asked for his head, Willard's face could not have
expressed more absolute amazement. He stared in silence for a
moment--then checked a sudden inclination to laugh and answered calmly
enough:

"Of course you have not practised very extensively in the Criminal
Courts, Mr. Gordon, or you would know that what you ask is really
absurd."

The expression was unfortunate and Gordon blazed up instantly.

"I see nothing absurd about it, Sir. I ask you for time to ascertain
this man's guilt or his innocence which cannot now be properly
determined.--Do you mind telling me just why this seems absurd to the
District Attorney?"

The speaker's tone and manner would have nettled a man less on his
guard, but Willard only laughed pleasantly as he answered:

"The District Attorney's office is satisfied to proceed, and you will
admit the case must be fairly strong when we are undaunted by the
presence of distinguished counsel."

"This is no matter for jests, Mr. Willard. Do you consider that the duty
of the District Attorney is to convict as many persons as possible--to
win as many cases as you can?"

"O come, come, Mr. Gordon, we are not here to discuss ethical
questions."

"Mr. Willard, I am not here to be trifled with or side-tracked. Will
you tell me what investigations you have made to ascertain if this man
is innocent or not?"

The District Attorney leaned back wearily in his chair and gazed at the
earnest face confronting him. Then he lazily reached for a cigarette.

"I am trying to keep my temper and be polite," he replied, "but you
surely do not expect me to detail my case to my adversary?"

"Your case? Is that how you term the solemn duty you are charged with?
Does the District Attorney condescend to tricks--does he hope to make
convictions by surprise?"

Willard struck a match angrily, but he applied it to the cigarette in
his mouth before he answered:

"Red Farrell must pay you a good fee, Mr. Gordon, to make this worth
your while."

For a moment Gordon was the cooler man of the two.

"Is it not the duty of the District Attorney to ascertain the truth?" he
asked as though the other had not spoken. "Are you, a public officer,
interested in withholding any part of the truth? Have you anything to
conceal?"

"Mr. Gordon, I do not propose to listen to these insinuations----"

"Let us cease bantering then, Mr. Willard. I am ready to talk plainly.
Must I?"

"You must indeed, unless you wish me to interpret for myself."

He flicked the ashes from his cigarette and glanced with a bored
expression toward the clock.

But Gordon did not speak until Willard's eyes met his again.

"Very well then. I will see that you understand. The police have been
hunting a man called Red Farrell, but they have not been successful. The
Chief has blamed the Captains--the Captains the detectives, and the
papers have ridiculed them all. The police of other cities too have
twitted them about it. Suddenly this young man is arrested under
suspicious circumstances. No one seems particularly interested in him or
knows much about him. Why shouldn't he be Red Farrell? He is Red
Farrell. Do you understand me?"

"I hear you making a very nasty and uncalled-for charge against the
police of this City and----"

"One that you well know has both foundation and precedent. You know the
men who compose the force. So do I. They have the same pride and
ambition and morals that other men have. No more and no less. They
discover Red Farrell and remove a reproach. Suppose Winter isn't
Farrell--well, he's probably guilty anyhow. _They want to win cases
too!_"

"Mr. Gordon, you have said about enough----"

"To persuade you that this is a proper case for further investigation?"

"No, Sir, and I will tell you right now that this case will not be
adjourned for one hour!"

Gordon rose to his feet and faced his opponent, wording his question
slowly and with deliberate emphasis.

"Of course you personally have no special interest in convicting this
particular prisoner?"

Willard sprang from his seat and angrily tossed his cigarette into the
fire.

"Mr. Gordon, take care you do not go too far."

"Are you not especially anxious to win this case?"

"I am prosecuting, Sir, in the name of the People."

"In the name of the People!"

Gordon laughed the words out with stinging scorn, and the Attorneys
faced one another with a rage that in men of less refinement would have
set them at each other's throats. But the grapple was as deadly and the
purpose as grim as though the struggle had been physical. There was no
possible chance for argument now and Gordon flung off all restraint as
he poured forth his torrent of contempt.

"In the name of the People! What people gave you a commission to tamper
with the liberty of the meanest thing alive? What people privileged you
to prosecute an innocent man--for you know he is innocent--I have seen
it in every false smirk of your face ever since I entered this room. And
to prosecute him for what? For your own personal advancement--to win a
case for your client. Do you want me to tell you who your client is----"

"I want you to understand that you can't blackmail me, Sir!"

"Blackmail you? By the Lord Harry, you shall hear the truth from one
man if you never hear it again. Don't lay a hand on me or I'll break you
like this pencil! Blackmail you? To-night you've got to know that
another man knows you through and through. To-night you have to go
unmasked. Are you afraid of hearing me say who your client is? Are you
afraid of having me name the politicians whose orders you execute and
whose nod is your law? You have been ordered by the police to win this
case. This _case_ indeed! And you, the Assistant District Attorney, in
the name of the People, will win it by fair means or foul. You have
never investigated one fact, or asked one question, calculated to bring
out the truth, but by trick and wile you stoop to serve your master's
purpose. And do you think I do not know why? You poor fool! Every honest
man knows who cares to follow your dirty tracks, and the knaves whose
gifts you buy know whom they sell to and for what. But remember this,
the day you run for District Attorney will be the day I take these
papers where they will do the most good, and we will see if the People
want a perjurer to prosecute in their name!"

Gordon tore from his pocket the "affidavit of merits," with the proofs
of its falsity, and slapped them down upon the desk.

Willard glanced at the papers and then at his adversary. His answer was
almost a whisper--hard and rasping.

"Gordon, I will convict your man if I never win another case in my
life!"

"By God--you dare not!"

The study door slammed as with a threat--"You dare not!"

The front door echoed "You dare not!" as a challenge.

When Willard looked up again the clock was striking three. But it chimed
"You dare not," in the even tone of statement.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second day of John Winter's trial brought a series of reverses for
the prosecution, and the prisoner was acquitted, to the utter disgust of
the police.

About that time the Assistant District Attorney's career suffered one of
those sudden blights, the origin of which is the mystery of a city's
politics.

A few years after this Red Farrell was really found and convicted, but
then Willard had been so long on the political shelf that those who put
him there had completely forgotten his existence.

But I believe they were right in accusing him of bungling that case. Of
course, he may have been intimidated, but the chances are he could never
have been convicted of perjury. The crime has almost the sanction of
custom. This he must have known. So why not credit him with worthy
motives and say he was a good fellow at heart, even though Gordon,
Indian-hater that he is, will never admit it?



THE LATEST DECISION.


There was a black-edged card on the bulletin board. That means a vacancy
in the club membership until some one of the waiting-list steps into the
dead man's shoes.

The card bore the inscription:

                    JOHN FURMAN DELAFIELD.
                      December 30, 1898.

Jack Delafield had been no chum of mine, but I never thought the
Governors did right by him, and I was glad to remember my partisanship
in the days when his mere name was sufficient to provoke instant debate
among the Thespians. I liked him then for some of the enemies he made,
and perhaps my enthusiasm was always more for the cause than the man.
However, I was sorry--very sorry, to see his name on that card, and I
said as much to the group of men among whom I took my accustomed seat
in the club corner.

"Well, I'm sorry he's gone, but I never knew him at all," remarked
Chandler.

"I never met him either," said Paddock.

Hepburn had never heard of him, neither had Joline, and Grafton knew him
not.

I looked at the speakers. Was it possible I was as old as they seemed to
intimate?

"Delafield hasn't been regular at the club for many a long day," I
said--clinging to a straw. "I doubt if he's been inside the door for
five years--so it isn't very strange you haven't met. But you all know
of him. He was the Delafield of the Hawkins-Delafield affair."

The blank look on the faces of my companions surprised and, I admit,
shocked me. It was ridiculous, but Osborne's laugh grated, and I
welcomed Chandler's interrupting question, even though it pronounced
sentence on my senility.

"Yes--I'll tell you the story," I answered, "but after retailing to
members of this club something that was absolutely discussed to death
here, and labelling it a 'story,' I shall never address you again except
as 'my sons.'"

"Father, may I have a cigar?" asked Chandler, as he rang the bell.

I signed the check.

"Jack Delafield was a man of good family," I began, "but to vary the
conventional opening and adhere to the truth, I may as well say his
parents were honest though not poor. He was a fellow of many talents, so
many, in fact, that he became known as a 'versatile genius.' He never
attained a more notable title. Not that he hid his talents under a
napkin. He sealed their fate in a bottle--in many bottles. I'm afraid
we didn't do much to help him here. Everyone thought he'd come out all
right in the long run, and when he lost his money and settled down
seriously to the law, his friends supposed his wild oats had all been
sown. But somebody left him more money, and back he went to literature
and painting, and music. The old set welcomed him with open arms, but
didn't help him to write, or paint or practise. Then Miss--well, I won't
say what girl--put him on probation, and he wrote two really notable
stories before the probation was declared unsatisfactory. After that he
never seemed to care much about anything except art, and he took that
out in dreaming of the things he didn't do. Yet no one seemed to blame
him much, perhaps everybody liked him too well, and nobody loved him
enough. Anyway he went from bad to worse, until 'poor fellow' used to
be coupled with his name, and Delafield in various states of
intoxication became a familiar sight in these rooms.

"He must have been a handsome fellow before drink coarsened and aged
him, for he was still good looking, though prematurely old, when I first
met him, shortly after my election to the club. About that time Galloway
gave his bachelor dinner in the private dining-room upstairs. I attended
as one of the ushers, and there were perhaps a dozen other guests--among
them Delafield. The dinner was as most such dinners are, a toast for
every sentiment, and sentiments galore, so when we adjourned to the
grill-room for coffee, Jack tipped his chair against the wall over there
and fell asleep. We sat about the centre-table smoking, and testing some
remarkable port sent to grace the occasion.

"I don't recall what led up to the conversation, but I do remember that
the general subject was women, and that Hawkins coupled the name
of--well, a decent girl, with a remark so coarse that most of us stopped
talking, though two or three laughed. It was a speech such as I suppose
you've all heard made at some time or another, and which always seems
to receive the tribute of a laugh before being buried in the silence of
self-respecting men.

"It was in the hush following this remark that Delafield's chair fell
sideways to the floor with a crash, making us start to our feet and
setting the glasses tinkling. The roar of mirth that burst out at this
mishap ceased instantly, as we saw Delafield's ghastly face, down which
the blood was running from a deep gash in his forehead.

"Someone hurried forward, offering help, but Delafield pushed him aside,
staggered to his feet, closed the door and leaned his back against
it--his arms spread out as though to bar an exit.

"We stood around the table in silence, watching him. Two or three
minutes must have passed before he spoke.

"'Is--Mi--Miss Smith en--gaged?'

"The question was asked slowly in a low tone, as though the man was
struggling to control voice and speech.

"We looked at one another and at the swaying figure before the door, but
no one answered.

"'Is--Miss Smith's--father here?'

"No answer.

"'Is Miss Smith's brother here?'

"It was difficult to see all the faces in the smoky half-light of the
lamps, but those about me showed a pallor of apprehension.

"Was Miss Smith's uncle there--or her guardian--or her cousin? Was
anybody present who had a claim to represent her? No?

"The broadening trickle of blood on Delafield's face dripped down the
white shirt front, but no one stirred or spoke.

"'Then I wa--want to say'--here he lurched forward from the door and
stood rocking slightly at the end of the table. 'I want to say that
I--I'm drunk an'--and I know it. But I'm--I'm a gentleman. An'--and
yonder's nothing but a cur--a low-lived cur--drunk or sober. You--you've
heard him--now see him!'

"Something flashed before his eyes, and then a wine-glass struck Hawkins
square on the forehead, scattering in fragments over the table.

"And Hawkins stood there, his face dripping with the wine, and his
clothes showing great stains of it--stood there without moving as
Delafield leaned over the table and laughed--

"'If--if you only had as much re--red blood in you--you--you----'

"And then he fell fainting across the table, crashing among the bottles.

"The Governing Board expelled Delafield, but the club sentiment was so
strongly in his favour that they afterward rescinded the expulsion, and
suspended him for three years. But that never satisfied his friends."

"I should think not, indeed," exclaimed Joline, "it was outrageous! I've
always claimed you can't be sure a man's a thorough gentleman until
you've seen him drunk. And that proves it."

"Oh, the many times I've heard your theory debated in this place! The
walls fairly ached with listening to the discussions."

"Well, I'm sorry I didn't know the chap," interrupted Chandler. "Let's
drink to his memory!"

He struck the bell as he spoke. As the waiter filled the orders, I
noticed one of the older members on the stairs bending close to the
bulletin board and peering through his glasses at the notice of John
Delafield's death.

Chandler touched me on the shoulder.

"To the memory of a gentleman--Jack Delafield!" he cried. We rose to the
toast.

The old man on the stairs turned quickly and saw the lifted glasses. His
face was a study.

"Hush!" I whispered, "that's Hawkins."



THE DISTANT DRUM.

     "Some for the Glories of this World; and some
     Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come;
     Ah, take the Cash and let the Credit go,
     Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum!"

                    --_Rubáiyát._


I.

Almost everyone knows Governor Tilden's residence in Gramercy Park, but
those who don't know it as such, may remember a big house with
bas-reliefs over the door, on the south side of that quiet square.
However, the house has nothing to do with this story, except that it was
upon its door-steps I encountered Sandy McWhiffle, on my way to the
club. I use the word "encountered" advisedly, for Sandy, finding the
bottom step somewhat narrow for a couch, had allowed one of his legs the
freedom of the sidewalk, and it was over this protruding member that I
stumbled into the arms of the gentleman slumbering on the Governor's
steps.

It was late at night--and Sandy protested. His opening remarks served
to advise me that the cop couldn't get around the Square again for at
least fifteen minutes--that he (Sandy) hadn't slept five, and that I'd
destroyed his night's rest. It did seem unfair.--I certainly could have
discovered his leg if I'd looked sharp, and twenty minutes' rest
is--well, it's twenty minutes' heaven when you need it--and Sandy needed
it--there was no question about that. But the advent of the cop making
slumber inexpedient, if not impracticable for the time being, we
adjourned, at my suggestion, to the all-night restaurant on Fourth
Avenue, near Twenty-fifth Street. You know food is a fair substitute
for sleep at times, especially after one has experimented considerably
with sleep as a substitute for food. Sandy had made quite thorough
investigations along that line. But experiments were difficult, what
with the grey Bastinado Brigade in the Squares and Park, and their blue
accomplices in the side streets.

I agreed with my vis-à-vis over the poached eggs and ale at Gibson's
that it did seem queer the air wasn't free, and that sleeping in public
was a misdemeanour. Of course one does it when pressed, but while the
Island gives the needed respite, it lessens the chances of earning
money to buy a sleeping privilege--and many trips over the river are apt
to permanently impair claims to good citizenship. Sandy hadn't been
obliged to cross the upper East River yet, but he was getting very weary
and careless about concealing it. Hadn't he been able to get any work?
Not for a long time. Didn't he do anything at all? Yes--he looked for a
job about four hours a day. Why only four hours? Because he tired easily
and had to save his strength for the line at night. The line? Yes--the
bread line at Fleischmann's.

On the main artery of the chief city of this land of plenty--on
Broadway under the shadow of Grace Church--there forms nightly a line
of men that stretches for more than a block. Men with pale faces that
show haggard under the white electric light, and haggard faces that show
hideous,--shiveringly cold men who blink at you like dazed animals or
glare at you like wild beasts;--hot, panting, almost pulseless men who
gasp in the scorched atmosphere of the city's streets--solemn, mournful
creatures, with their filthy rags loosened for any breath of air, no
matter how fetid--miserables of every type, exhausted, wretched, but
human beings all--stand every night at the edge of the curb on Broadway
and Tenth Streets waiting for a baker's over-baking.

It all flashed before my eyes in a moment.

You can see it any night, winter or summer--January or July--from ten
o'clock till two, gentlemen. Look at it and pity it--you who have pity
in your hearts. Look at it and fear it--you who have none!

Had he been there to-night? Yes, but there was a fellow near the end of
the line whose wife and children were waiting for him, so he and Sandy
exchanged places, and--well, the supply gave out about one o'clock, so
of course---- Yes, he would take another egg. Was he married? No, thank
God!

There was nothing romantic about Sandy McWhiffle, and nothing Scotch
about him except his name. Neither was his face in any way remarkable,
nor his speech, nor his story; but it struck me then that there were
dramatic possibilities in him as a man--dramatic probabilities in him
as a type.


II.

I was in a hurry to have the position filled; it wasn't much of a job,
and I wanted to waste as little time as possible, so I advertised and
gave my office address. Of course it was foolish, but I was pressed
with work and did it without thought. However, I saw no reason why the
janitor should lose his temper. Anyway, I can't abide impertinence in an
inferior, and I let him understand this before the elevator reached the
top floor. Once there I admitted to myself he had reason for--well, for
respectful annoyance. A pathway was forced for me through the crowd of
men which choked the hallway and blocked the entrance to my office, but
I couldn't get in until a score or so were driven down the stairs. I
locked myself in my private room and cursed my folly and the janitor's
impudence. But there was no time to lose--we had to be rid of those
men--so I slipped a note under the door directing my clerk to send them
in to me, one at a time, until further orders.

It didn't take long to find the man I wanted. He was the third in line,
I think--a respectable fellow--far above the position, I should have
said, but he told me he wasn't, that he had a family to support, and all
that sort of thing, so I engaged him and sent him out with a note to the
superintendent. As he left the room I hastily tore open a letter which
looked as though it needed an immediate answer. At the same moment my
door opened again.

"Confound that ass Junkin, why the devil didn't he give me time to ring
the bell and tell him I'd engaged a man!--Why the devil doesn't he----"

It was just as I expected. That letter was important to a degree, and
during the next ten minutes I was so deeply absorbed that when I looked
up from my reading and saw a man standing beside me, I started with a
nervous exclamation which turned to a surprised greeting as I recognised
Sandy McWhiffle. He had changed somewhat since I'd seen him last--six
months before--and not for the better. His gaunt face was even more
sallow than before, giving to the features a harder caste, chiselling
the nose into more of a hook, and deepening the lines under the eyes.
He looked ravenous, but not with the hunger of appetite, and I
thought--yes, I was quite sure--he smelt rather strongly of liquor.

"Well, Sandy," I began, "where did you come from?"

"From the hospital," he answered.

"Ah," I observed, "bad places--those--er--hospitals, Sandy. They breed a
great deal of sickness. There are seventy-two in my district."

"You think I've been in a saloon, drinking?"

"No, I don't think so," I answered, with a mental reservation favouring
knowledge.

"Well, I haven't been, anyway. You smell whisky on me. They gave it to
me at the hospital so's I could get down here. I ain't discharged yet,
but I was bound to come when I saw your name in the papers and knew I'd
get the job if I could only see you. I've been here since six this
morning. Will you give me a try at it?"

"Well, no, I can't, McWhiffle," I said, with a good deal more ease than
I could have felt if I hadn't smelt the liquor and heard that hospital
story. "The fact is, I've taken a man on, and so the job's gone."

Sandy gazed at me with a bewildered, frightened look, but his answer was
only a mumble about his being sure of a steady job this time, seeing how
he knew me and all.

Mechanically I made a memorandum of the hospital at which he was
allegedly a patient, but my mail was awaiting me, and he must have gone
while I was intent upon its contents. Anyway, he'd disappeared when I
looked up, but the odour of whisky in the room was strong enough to
destroy any interest I might have felt in my late supper companion.

Whisky and "that tired feeling" are mainly responsible for the army of
the "unemployed." They talk about there not being enough work to go
around! One good job'd last the whole shiftless lot a year. They don't
want work, they want help--permanent and increasing help.

Some such thoughts occupied me until I happened to see a telegram
protruding from the bundle of unopened letters on my desk.

"Gods and powers! Will that triple idiot never learn to separate the
telegrams from the letters? What the devil--Junkin! Junkin!" I crashed
the bell with each repetition of the fool's name, at the same time
tearing open the yellow envelope.

"For God's sake, Junkin, how many times must you be told to keep these
things separate? Half an hour gone, and here's this cipher still
untranslated. Do you think you've nothing to do but draw your
salary----"

"I'm sorry, Sir, but you see these men came----"

"Quick, get the code and translate--don't stand around arguing! Here,
give me the book!"

I rushed into the outer office, but stopped almost at the threshold
of my door. The room was completely encircled by a line of men, and
every eye in the crowd was turned upon me. What a motley throng it
was--shabbily dressed and unshaven for the most part--untidy to the
point of dirtiness. Hardly a bright, healthy face among the lot--surly
and ill-tempered looking many of them. Bah! I don't like humanity in the
abstract, and loathe it in the concrete of crowds. My disgust must have
been apparent, and my thought audible as I said:

"Now, my men, the place is filled. You'd better all clear out."

But my words, forbidding as they were, did not free me.

"No, I haven't any other job. No, I don't expect to have any.... Yes,
well, I can't help it, can I?... Of course, I know--don't bother me! I
tell you the place is gone.... No, we never have any places in this
office.... Charity Organisation, Twenty-third Street and Fourth
Avenue.... Yes, yes, yes, I don't doubt it, but I tell you I've filled
the job--Junkin--get the janitor and clear the room--they'll drive me
mad!"

Almost frenzied, I rushed back to my private office.

How I was worked that day! The Section Traction Company almost caught us
napping, and they'd have done it surely if we hadn't obtained the
Judge's signature to the injunction by four o'clock that afternoon. They
not only laid two miles of track inside of eighteen hours, and came
within four blocks of crossing our main line, but they sold our stock on
the market, thousands and thousands of shares--poured it in from ten
o'clock till three, pounding and hammering every supporting bid we made,
and the only thing that saved us was the Exchange closing at three
o'clock. As it was, our Board man, Reynolds, became hysterical as the
gong struck, and he's never been up to much since.

Well, it was a shrewd, ably-planned move, and, executed earlier, would
have succeeded in wrecking us. But it cost them, as we figured it, two
millions, and sent them higher than a kite. I didn't know they were so
big--employed three thousand men, they say.


III.


The name on a passing ambulance directed my steps to Roosevelt
Hospital at the close of business, a few nights later. I don't think
I wanted to nail that very poor lie of Sandy's but I knew Waldron, the
Superintendent, and thought I'd invite him to dinner and joke him a bit
about his new whisky ward.

Waldron was in, but could not go to dinner. Worst time in the day for
him to get off, he said.

"By the way," he continued, "too bad you couldn't give Sandy McWhiffle a
job--he would have it you'd take him, so we let him go, with a dose of
whisky to carry him through. But you lazy devils get down so late it
didn't last him, and he fainted in the street on the way back. Queer
fellow, but I liked him--his sense of humour hasn't disappeared as it
has with most of his class."

Perhaps my sense of humour had disappeared, but I saw no fun in my
rehearsed jokes of a few minutes previous.

"Is he here now?" I asked.

"No, we discharged him yesterday.--Hope he'll get a job, but there's
an awful lot of men looking for work."

It was probably because I was out of temper with myself, but the city
seemed hideously cruel to me as I walked down Broadway from the
Hospital. The clang of the car gongs sounded like fierce commands--the
electric lights snapped and glittered like cunning, wicked eyes--the hot
air from the shops offended like venomous breath--the rattle of the
carts and cabs sounded reckless--the crowds seemed to jostle and
grapple. The gaily-lighted windows mocked me with their glitter, and the
darkened ones had a menace in their black indifference. In every elbow
touching me I seemed to feel some threat--in every eye looking at me I
seemed to read some impatient question asked in brutal scorn. These
masses of men rushing by me this way and that--they hated me--longed to
trample me down and crush me into the dirt beneath their feet!--No, they
didn't.--And wouldn't?--Unless they found me in their path, and then
they'd wipe me from it with scarce a thought--yes, and rush on without a
sign, without knowledge of my obliteration.--Well, it wasn't worth
struggling against--the odds were too great.--And anyway, what
difference did it make?

I felt a touch on my shoulder, and almost screamed. It was St. Clair
Mowbray. I don't like him much, but any companion was a friend just
then, so we walked along together, he chatting and I silent.

As we passed the Metropolitan Opera House a line of people stretched
from the box-office out into the street.

"What fools," said Mowbray, "they must want tickets damned badly to do
that. Don't they look like a chain gang?"

"More like the bread line at Fleischmann's," I answered gloomily.

"Yes--but better bred."

Mowbray chuckled approvingly at his sally.

I parted with him at the next corner feeling his wit would not appeal to
me that evening.


IV.

The Club disappointed me. I thought companionship would relieve, but it
only served to aggravate my loneliness. Everything talked about seemed
local and trivial, and everybody appeared to sail under a different flag
of interest. So after enduring this as long as possible I wandered out,
walking down town for no other reason than to be among people I didn't
know and who didn't know me--a hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you cure for
loneliness.

A conservative investor once told me there was no better or safer
property than a cheap lodging-house on the Bowery. Possibly my informant
imparted his discovery to others, for the number of these establishments
has increased tremendously during the last few years. But when many
Conservative Investors undertake to walk the same road, the result is
usually the elimination of some of them--only those, of course, who
are not really entitled to be termed conservative. This sorting of the
just from the unjust does not occur, however, until the Malthusian
Doctrine needs a business illustration. As I walked along the
east-side thoroughfare and noted the lodging-houses packed to their
utmost capacity, I concluded that the number of applicants for such
accommodation must have increased in a manner at once flattering to the
judgment of the Conservative Investor, and satisfactory to his highest
interest.

Who inhabit these houses? Well, men who have no better homes--drunken,
idle and shiftless men--strangers in this somewhat inhospitable
town--men looking for work and men looking for mischief--great, hulking,
ignorant brutes whose hope lies in their muscle, and well-formed fellows
with intelligent faces--all sorts and conditions of men--a great tide of
humanity that flows in at night and ebbs out in the morning, never and
yet ever the same. A steadily rising tide? O, yes, perhaps,--but look at
the embankments!

It was curiosity and not a desire to educate myself for the day when I
might become a Conservative Investor that led me to enter No. 99-1/2
Bowery.

Its sign offered attractions suited to almost any purse, the management
apparently catering to every taste in the scale of social refinement.
It read

     ROOMS BY THE WEEK $1.25

         ROOMS BY THE NIGHT 25c.

             BEDS BY THE WEEK 60c.

                 BEDS BY THE NIGHT 10c.

There were several similar houses in the immediate vicinity, but this
one seemed to secure most of the stragglers who came by during the ten
or fifteen minutes I watched it from the opposite side of the street.
The reasons for its popularity were not to be spelled out of the sign,
so I crossed over and climbed the ladder-like stairs upon which the
street door opened.

I knew just about what was inside before I mounted a step. Everybody
knows who's travelled on the Third Avenue L at night and looked out of
the windows of the train anywhere below Ninth Street.

It was one o'clock in the morning when I left the Club, so it must have
been quite two when I entered the "Columbian," but even at that hour the
smoking-room was more than comfortably filled.

A cloud of malodorous smoke so lowered the ceiling that one
involuntarily stooped to avoid contact with it. Occasionally some
current of air would draw a funnel-shaped drift from this cloud and
whirl it like an inverted sea-spout toward the steam-screened windows
and out of the cracks at their top, and occasionally the draught in the
red-hot stove sucked down a whiff of it. Otherwise it hung motionless
like some heavy, breathless canopy.

A long, narrow table filled the centre of the room, reaching almost from
the windows in the front to the stove in the rear. Around this sat or
lounged a score of men, and perhaps as many more occupied chairs about
the stove and along the wall. Half a dozen were reading newspapers,
tattered and greasy through constant handling, but the rest of the
company stared idly at each other, or at nothing, talking little, but
smoking almost to a man.

An artist could have found a study for almost every emotion in the
figures and faces of that dimly-lighted room. Excitement in the
expression of the fair-haired lad following with his finger the
closely-printed "ads.," and quickly noting the promising ones on a scrap
of paper by his side.--Anxiety on the face of the handsome fellow with
the pointed beard, turning the pages of the long-coveted newspaper to
find his particular "want column."--Indifference in the attitude of the
strong but unhealthy looking man with hands in pockets, his outstretched
legs forming a V, as he lolled back in his chair, pipe in mouth, his
eyes on vacancy.--Despair in the huddled bit of humanity at the head of
the table, with head on arms--his hair showing very white against the
black coat-sleeve.

I walked into the room and took a seat at the long table, near the front
windows. My entrance attracted no attention, either owing to the smoke
in the room or the indifference of its occupants. But I viewed the
neglect with complacency, whatever the cause.

"What are they waiting for--why don't they go to bed?" I asked in a low
tone of my neighbour at the table--a rough but shrewd looking fellow.

"Who's _they_?" he replied surlily--"What's yer waiting for yourself?"

"Nothing," I answered--"not sleepy, that's all."

"Well, that's what the rest's waiting for--for nothing--not sleepy
nor--nor anything." He gave a sharp glance at my face, and then,
appearing to see a puzzled look on it, added, "Say, d'yer mean ter tell
me yer don't know what's bitin' this crowd?"

"No," I replied, and my voice must have demonstrated my ignorance, for
he exclaimed:

"Then yer must be a jay, sure. Why, they're waiting for the morning
papers, of course. Do yer think yer'll ever get a job if yer wait till
the noospapers gets on the stands? Well, yer will--I guess not! Where in
hell did yer drift from, anyway?"

"Hist--there he comes," exclaimed a man opposite.

I glanced towards the door, and saw a man standing with his hand on the
door-knob. His tall figure was so slight as to be almost emaciated, and
his clean though threadbare clothing hung loosely, as if it had once
fitted a far stouter frame. His face was refined, and had that look of
calmness which now and again follows some great storm of mind and rack
of body. The skin was drawn tightly over the cheek bones, making the
eyes seem disproportionately large in their sunken sockets. His mouth
and chin were strong, and the prominent, slightly hooked nose gave the
clean-shaven face a sternness which contrasted rather oddly with his
abundant light-yellow hair.

He closed the door, moved to the table, and seated himself at it near
the centre of the room. Almost every eye had been fixed upon him as he
entered, but no greetings were given, and the interest in the newcomer
flagged the moment he opened a book and began to read.

"Who is he?" I ventured to ask my neighbour.

"Schrieber," he replied, and then in a bored tone, as though remembering
my greenness--"the fellow who's been talkin' at the lodgin'-houses for
the last two weeks or so--at the 'Crescent,' and the 'Owl,' and the
'American,' and all of 'em."

I desisted from asking the further questions that immediately suggested
themselves, for my informant turned his back on me and rested his head
on the table, as though to discourage further conversation.

"Here comes Bill Nevins," announced the man opposite, but just whom he
addressed could not be gathered from the faces around me. His remark,
however, referred to an individual who entered with a "Howdy!" directed
to the room in general.

"Cold morning, boys!" he exclaimed, as he walked towards the stove
rubbing his hands together.

No one responded, but this did not seem to affect the speaker, who stood
smiling cheerfully at the crowd, with his back to the red-hot stove. A
healthy, well-fed, kindly-looking man, with vigour in his limbs and
character in his genial face, he looked like some good-natured priest
or head-groom.

"What's the news, Bill?" called out a man with his chair tipped against
the wall.

"Well, they strike to-morrow at noon, unless the companies concede
something, but, as everybody knows they won't, I might just as well
say--they strike to-morrow at noon."

The voice was clear and the tone cheery, though decisive. All the
newspapers seemed to have been drained of their contents, for everyone
was staring at the speaker--some with interest, others listlessly. But
no answer or comment greeted the news.--The silence was solemn or
absurd--one scarcely knew which.

"And as this strike's on," continued Nevins, "the question for us
is--will we aid the men, or help to defeat 'em? If we want to beat 'em,
we've just got to take the places they're givin' up. Things has got to
be pretty bad when a working-man leaves his job these days--you know
that--so there's no use discussin' why they strike. Of course you know
the answer of these car companies, and all other companies--'supply and
demand.' And I'll tell you what rules the 'supply and demand.'--It's the
supply of stock and the demand for dividends. It's greed that makes this
demand, and it's poverty and sickness, and many mouths to feed, that
makes the supply. It's greed, and not decent competition, that milks the
companies and busts them, and drags men down to lower wages, or throws
them out of work altogether. What we've got to do is to demonstrate
which side we're on. If we're for the men, we must stand off and
persuade others to do the like; and if we're for our children, we must
do the same thing. But if we don't give a damn either for our own people
or anybody else, we'd better go and take the places until the companies
decide on the next reduction!"

The determination in his voice would have been fierce but for the smile
accompanying the words. Half-muffled applause and ejaculations of
approval could be heard from different parts of the room.

The man Schrieber looked up, his glance travelling from one face to
another down the long room until it reached Bill Nevins and settled
on him with an intensity that compelled an answering glance.

"You say, my friend," he began slowly, "we must demonstrate on which
side we stand. So say I. We must demonstrate--but not by waiting. We
must make a great spectacle--but not by idle tableaux. You think you
will compel these rich corporations to give in to these men by
withholding your services? It is an empty dream. There will come other
men from other places--you cannot prevent them from coming or the
companies from hiring them. The disease is body-spread--you cannot
doctor it locally. The longer we sit idle the fiercer will the disease
ravage, the deeper will it enter. Idle waiting will not do,--no, nor
throwing stones. That will only make a holiday for the militia--stories
for their armouries--child's play, forgotten by the children when the
game is over. It does not turn the attention of prosperous humanity
towards its suffering brothers, but it gives a pretext for 'man's
inhumanity to man.' It only costs a little money--a very little
money--easily saved by the corporations in the decreased wages, and made
up to the State by increased taxation. It will not do, I tell you. We
need a much bigger and a dearer demonstration."

The speaker had risen, and was gazing into the faces of his auditors.
As he paused and brushed the light hair away from his eyes, the air
disturbed by the movement sent the smoke cloud blowing about his head.

"Now, that's just what we don't want, Schrieber!" broke in Nevins
impatiently. "You go 'round raisin' a row and gettin' up a riot, and
you'll turn all the sympathy of the press and the public against the
people we're tryin' to help."

The man did not reply at once, but stood gazing at the labour leader as
though struggling to keep back some retort.

"You do not understand me," he said at length--"I counsel no violence--I
do not advocate riot. But not because I fear to lose the sympathy of the
press and the public. You have had that, and with what result? Aren't
wages lower than ever, and isn't work more difficult to get every day we
live? And who is your 'public'? The few well-to-do who never think
unless their comfort's disturbed? I tell you the real public is the
many poor, the constantly increasing poor, and not the few rich! Your
demonstration must teach the rich to think--it must redeem the poor from
themselves!"

His glance turned from the faces before him, and seemed to centre beyond
and above them. The listening men drew closer to the speaker. The room
was so still I could hear the empty cable rattling in the street below.

"It is an awful disease--a disease of the blood--to be cured by
blood--the only price the rich cannot afford to pay--blood, the
redemption of the world throughout all generations--the blood of the
Lamb."

He spoke the words dreamily, as though to himself. Then, with gathering
energy and rapidity--

"Wait as you have waited, and you will see the disease spread--the
public you are trying to reach grow blind to your affliction, deaf to
your cries. Riot, and you will only lend virtue to oppression and
injustice. The hour is at hand for a great sacrifice--the time is ripe
for redemption. The public you would propitiate fears death--loathes
blood. For these alone will it stop and think--all else touches only
what money can cure. But death arrests--blood you cannot buy. Make them
take what they cannot return--make them shed blood they cannot wash out.
No, not with their tears!"

He paused again and gazed into the faces half hid by the smoky
atmosphere. Mystic, dreamer, lunatic--what you will,--he held the men in
weird fascination. They crouched, rather than sat before him. Had he
spoken in whispers, not a word would have been lost. His eyes shone with
a new light, and his voice softened as he continued:

"We are on the verge of another battle in the great conflict over
the right to live. Battles without number have been fought in this
conflict--blood without stint has been poured upon its fields.--With
what result? Here, in this land of plenty, the hosts are gathering for
a contest of such magnitude that, compared to it, all former conflicts
will seem mere skirmishes. Why? Because the sword never has touched,
and never can touch, the soul of man--because blood not shed in
consecration cannot heal. The eyes of the world must look upon a
blameless death-devotion to a cause. If I am mad, it is a madness
learned of Christ. Are your lives so valuable that you fear to lose
them? Is death a terror to you who die daily? Humanity bleeds from
every pore--do you shudder at blood? Civilisation calls upon you, her
outcasts, for salvation. Will you answer her--you who, here in the City
of New York, see the rich digging a gulf between themselves and the
poor--a gulf that may be a grave for countless thousands--a trench for
oceans of blood that a few drops shed now may save? We must demonstrate
which side we are on--we must make a great spectacle! I want volunteers
for death--volunteers for the death that redeems!"

With hands spread out in appeal--the fine head thrown back--he stood
like the shade of some great Being encircled by the mists of unreality.

From out of the smoke there staggered and stumbled toward him a man who
grasped the outstretched hand--

"I volunteer!" he cried.

Schrieber's calm face bespoke a benediction.

"My brother," he answered, simply.

The recruit was Sandy McWhiffle.

I started to my feet with a cry of protest on my lips, but the great
smoke bank above seemed suddenly to descend and envelop me, choking and
stifling me. For a moment I fought it, gasping for breath, but only
drawing the foul air deeper down into my lungs. Then I remembered
nothing more. They said at the hospital it was nicotine poisoning.


V.

For some days--just how many I don't remember--I had been in the
condition which often follows sudden illness, when the mind is groping
about to connect things one with another, and to adjust relative values.
But I was not delirious. I want to state that distinctly, because when,
like a fool, I told the stripling hospital doctor what I am now about to
relate, he smiled in sickly imitation of the veteran practitioner, and
soothingly patted my counterpane. It makes me wild, even now, to recall
that superior youth pretending to humour me--a grown man with a clear
head and more experience than will be his in many a long year. The
nurses are all right--God bless them, I say--but, good Lord, what do the
sick in the hospitals not suffer from the tactless wisdom of the embryo
physicians!

However, that's neither here nor there, so I simply repeat I never was
delirious, and when I say I saw these things, I know what I am talking
about.

I lay perfectly still because I was tired. I don't remember ever to have
been so tired before or since.--Occasionally I dozed, but for the most
part I gazed steadily, hour after hour, at the brass setting of the
push-bell in the wall, too weary even to avert my gaze. I knew the room
was a ward of some hospital, but I was too indifferent to ask which one.
I could see the nurses passing back and forth. I felt one of them
resettle my pillow, which allowed me to observe a screen placed around
the adjoining bed. I knew what that meant. It was not cheerful, so I
turned again to the brass disk and watched it in sunlight, shadow,
twilight and darkness.

I was conscious too of all the different sounds about me--the stopping
and starting of the elevator--the sliding and locking of its iron
door--the rolling of the rubber-tire trucks about the halls--the
creaking of a bed--the tinkle of a glass--the rattle and clatter of
vehicles and horses in the street--even the peculiar rumble, rumble,
rumble of the cart that passed the hospital and which I took to
following through street after street, twisting and turning with it past
towering tenements and squatting rookeries, plodding along under the
broken roofs of the hissing elevated roads and over the singing trenches
of the cables--through wide avenues and narrow alleys, until I found
myself fairly launched into the sea of faces which spread out before me.

What a crowd that was! It is impossible to imagine such a scene. All the
descriptions they've written fail to picture it, for the flaring lights
with their play of shadows changed it every instant, darkening one
group, illuminating another, running up and down lines of faces,
flashing some individual into prominence for an instant, blotting him
into the surging mass the next. And then the hum and mutter, rising to a
babel of voices,--swelling into a shout, bursting with the shock of a
world-tongued roar ending in a single piercing shriek, and the hush--the
awful hush as Schrieber spoke his wondrous words--they're all part of
this tableau utterly beyond the power of pen or brush.

I stood there pinioned and upheld by the press about me which silently
surged and swung with the motion of some sluggish sea. I felt the human
steam hot upon my face--I breathed the fearful reek of that matted
throng, but not for my life would I have missed one word of that which
hushed those thousands. Pale and impassive I could see Sandy as he stood
beside Schrieber on the tail-board of the cart. Once I thought he
recognised me, but wedged in I could not signal, and the words I drank
in held me speechless. What words!--If I could only remember them! But
I cannot--and all the papers lie.

I heard them above the roar of the maddened crowd as it parted behind
me, crushing some and trampling others under foot in its wild stampede.
I saw the rush of uniformed men clearing the triangle back of Cooper
Union and was hurled with the throng to Third Avenue. Then I heard
Schrieber calling on us to form a procession and march to the Mayor's
house with our petition--heard him tell the Chief of Police that all
should be orderly--heard the official warn the people not to cross
Third Avenue at the peril of their lives.--I saw the dead-line formed
and felt the onward surge of the crowd as it swept the thin sentry-line
away and moved toward Broadway. I saw the glitter of levelled rifles as
we neared the Cox statue, felt the mass hesitate and recoil. Then from
out the ranks I saw Schrieber and Sandy emerge and start to cross the
open space alone. I caught the sharp summons to halt, and even as I
leaped toward them heard the crash of the volley before which they
staggered and fell.

"Sandy!" I shrieked....

... "Sandy. Yes--that's the name.--Who said that?--Sandy McWhiffle
and the fellow Schrieber--they're under arrest, you know, Mr.
Superintendent,--and the Inspector orders me to take their
statements,--me and my side partner here."

A strange voice was speaking quite near me.

"Well, you can't do it, Officer. Neither patient can be seen to-night."

Was that Waldron's voice?

"Can't do it? What's that mean? Me tell the Old Man that? Step one side
please!--I guess you don't know who I'm from!"

"Then you guess wrong, my man. They're your prisoners, but they're my
patients, and, by God Almighty, so long as they are, it makes no
difference whom you come from!"

I raised myself on my elbow and gazed at the speaker. Yes, there was
Waldron. A nurse stepped up to him and whispered in his ear. He turned
quickly on his heel.

"Officer, tell the Inspector you came too late," he said.

I must have called out, for I remember the orderly hushed me, whispering
that it was "nothing but a couple of rioting strikers, who'd just died
of their wounds--which ought to stop such folly and teach the other
fools a lesson."

But I made no answer, recollecting something about "wise folly" and
"foolish wisdom." Then too I was wondering, quite as calmly as I am now,
just how high and strong those embankments are which a restless, rising
tide is ever lapping--lapping.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors;
otherwise, every effort has been made to remain true to the author's
words and intent.





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