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Title: Seven Wives and Seven Prisons
 - Or, Experiences in the Life of a Matrimonial Monomaniac. A True Story
Author: Abbott, L. A.
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 "Seven Wives and Seven Prisons
 - Or, Experiences in the Life of a Matrimonial Monomaniac. A True Story" ***

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SEVEN WIVES AND SEVEN PRISONS

Or Experiences In The Life Of A Matrimonial Maniac. A True Story.
Written By Himself.


By L.A. Abbott


New York:

Published For The Author. 1870.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER 1. THE FIRST AND WORST WIFE My Early History. The First
Marriage. Leaving Home to Prospect. Sending for My Wife. Her Mysterious
Journey. Where I Found Her. Ten Dollars for Nothing. A Fascinating Hotel
Clerk. My Wife’s Confession. From Bad to Worse. Final Separation. Trial
for Forgery. A Private Marriage. Summary Separation.

CHAPTER II. MISERIES FROM MY SECOND MARRIAGE. Love-Making in
Massachusetts. Arrest for Bigamy. Trial at Northampton. A Stunning
Sentence. Sent to State Prison. Learning the Brush Business. Sharpening
Picks. Prison Fare. In the Hospital. Kind Treatment. Successful
Horse-Shoeing. The Warden my Friend. Efforts for my Release. A Full
Pardon.

CHAPTER III. THE SCHEIMER SENSATION. The Scheimer Family. In Love
With Sarah. Attempt to Elope. How it was Prevented. Second Attempt. A
Midnight Expedition. The Alarm. A Frightful Beating. Escape, Flogging
the Devil out of Sarah. Return to New Jersey. “Boston Yankee.” Plans to
Secure Sarah.

CHAPTER IV. SUCCESS WITH SARAH. Mary Smith as a Confederate. The Plot.
Waiting in the Woods. The Spy Outwitted. Sarah Secured. The Pursuers
Baffled. Night on the Road. Efforts to Get Married. “The Old Offender.”
 Married at Last. A Constable after Sarah. He Gives it Up. An Ale Orgie.
Return to “Boston Yankee’s.” A Home in Goshen.

CHAPTER V. HOW THE SCHEIMERS MADE ME SUFFER. Return to Scheimer’s.
Peace, and then Pandemonium. Frightful Family Row. Running for Refuge.
The Gang Again. Arrest at Midnight. Struggle with my Captors. In Jail
Once More. Put in Irons. A Horrible Prison. Breaking Out. The Dungeon.
Sarah’s Baby.. Curious Compromises. Old Scheimer my Jailer. Signing a
Bond. Free Again. Last Words from Sarah.

CHAPTER VI. FREE LIFE AND FISHING. Taking Care of Crazy Men. Carrying
off a Boy. Arrested for Stealing my Own Horse and Buggy. Fishing in Lake
Winnepisiogee. An Odd Landlord. A Woman as Big as a Hogshead. Reducing
the Hogshead to a Barrel. Wonderful Verification of a Dream. Successful
Medical Practice. A Busy Winter in New Hampshire. Blandishments of
Captain Brown. I go to Newark, New Jersey.

CHAPTER VII. WEDDING A WIDOW AND THE CONSEQUENCES. I Marry a Widow.
Six Weeks of Happiness. Confiding a Secret, and the Consequences. The
Widow’s Brother. Sudden Flight from Newark. In Hartford, Conn. My
Wife’s Sister Betrays Me. Trial for Bigamy. Sentenced to Ten Years’
Imprisonment. I Become a “Bobbin Boy.” A Good Friend. Governor Price
Visits me in Prison. He Pardons Me. Ten Years’ Sentence Fulfilled in
Seven Months.

CHAPTER VIII. ON THE KEEN SCENT. Good Resolutions. Enjoying Freedom.
Going After a Crazy Man. The Old Tempter in a New Form. Mary Gordon.
My New “Cousin.” Engaged Again. Visit to the Old Folks at Home. Another
Marriage. Starting for Ohio. Change of Plans. Domestic Quarrels.
Unpleasant Stories about Mary. Bound Over to Keep the Peace. Another
Arrest for Bigamy. A Sudden Flight. Secreted Three Weeks in a Farm
House. Recaptured at Concord. Escaped Once More. Traveling on the
Underground Railroad. In Canada.

CHAPTER IX. MARRYING TWO MILLINERS. Back in Vermont. Fresh Temptations.
Margaret Bradley. Wine and Women. A Mock Marriage in Troy. The False
Certificate. Medicine and Millinery. Eliza Gurnsey. A Spree at Saratoga.
Marrying Another Milliner. Again Arrested for Bigamy. In Jail Eleven
Months. A Tedious Trial. Found Guilty. Appeal to Supreme Court. Trying
to Break Out of Jail. A Governor’s Promise. Second Trial. Sentenced to
Three Years’ Imprisonment.

CHAPTER X. PRISON LIFE IN VERMONT. Entering Prison. The Scythe Snath
Business. Blistered Hands. I Learn Nothing. Threaten to Kill the Shop
Keeper. Locksmithing. Open Rebellion. Six Weeks in the Dungeon. Escape
of a Prisoner. In the Dungeon Again. The Mad Man Hall. He Attempts
to Murder the Deputy. I Save Morey’s Life. Howling in the Black Hole.
Taking Off Hall’s Irons. A Ghastly Spectacle. A Prison Funeral. I am Let
Alone. The Full Term of my Imprisonment.

CHAPTER XI. ON THE TRAMP. The Day of my Deliverance. Out of Clothes.
Sharing with a Beggar. A Good Friend. Tramping Through the Snow. Weary
Walks. Trusting to Luck. Comfort at Concord. At Meredith Bridge. The
Blaisdells. Last of the “Blossom” Business. Making Money at Portsmouth.
Revisiting Windsor. An Astonished Warden. Making Friends of Enemies.
Inspecting the Prison. Going to Port Jervis.

CHAPTER XII. ATTEMPT TO KIDNAP SARAH SCHEIMER’S BOY. Starting to See
Sarah. The Long Separation. What I Learned About Her. Her Drunken
Husband. Change of Plan. A Suddenly-Formed Scheme. I Find Sarah’s Son.
The First Interview. Resolve to Kidnap the Boy. Remonstrance of my Son
Henry. The Attempt. A Desperate Struggle. The Rescue. Arrest of Henry.
My Flight into Pennsylvania. Sending Assistance to my Son. Return to
Port Jervis. Bailing Henry. His Return to Belvidere. He is Bound Over to
be Tried for Kidnapping. My folly.

CHAPTER XIII. ANOTHER WIDOW. Waiting for the Verdict. My Son Sent to
State Prison. What Sarah Would Have Done. Interview with my First Wife.
Help for Henry. The Biddeford Widow. Her Effort to Marry Me. Our Visit
to Boston. A Warning. A Generous Gift. Henry Pardoned. Close of the
Scheimer Account. Visit to Ontario County. My Rich Cousins. What Might
Have Been. My Birthplace Revisited.

CHAPTER XIV. MY SON TRIES TO MURDER ME. Settling Down in Maine. Henry’s
Health. Tour Through the South. Secession Times. December in New
Orleans. Up the Mississippi. Leaving Henry in Massachusetts. Back in
Maine Again. Return to Boston, Profitable Horse-Trading. Plenty of
Money. My First Wife’s Children. How they Have Been Brought Up. A
Barefaced Robbery. Attempt to Blackmail Me. My Son Tries to Rob and Kill
Me. My Rescue Last of the Young Man.

CHAPTER XV. A TRUE WIFE AND HOME AT LAST. Where Were All my Wives? Sense
of Security. An Imprudent Acquaintance. Moving from Maine. My Property
in Rensselaer County. How I Lived. Selling a Recipe. About Buying a
Carpet. Nineteen Lawsuits. Sudden Departure for the West. A Vagabond
Life for Two Years. Life in California. Return to the East. Divorce from
any First Wife. A Genuine Marriage. My Farm. Home at Last.



SEVEN WIVES AND SEVEN PRISONS



CHAPTER I. THE FIRST AND WORST WIFE

My Early History--THE FIRST MARRIAGE--LEAVING HOME TO PROSPECT--SENDING
FOR MY WIFE--HER MYSTERIOUS JOURNEY--WHERE I FOUND HER--TEN DOLLARS FOR
NOTHING--A FASCINATING HOTEL CLERK--MY WIFE’S CONFESSION--FROM BAD TO
WORSE--FINAL SEPARATION--TRIAL FOR FORGERY--A PRIVATE MARRIAGE--SUMMARY
SEPARATION.



SOME one has said that if any man would faithfully write his
autobiography, giving truly his own history and experiences, the ills
and joys, the haps and mishaps that had fallen to his lot, he could not
fail to make an interesting story; and Disraeli makes Sidonia say
that there is romance in every life. How much romance, as well as sad
reality, there is in the life of a man who, among other experiences,
has married seven wives, and has been seven times in prison--solely on
account of the seven wives, may be learned from the pages that follow.

I was born in the town of Chatham, Columbia County, New York, in
September, 1813. My father was a New Englander, who married three times,
and I was the eldest son of his third wife, a woman of Dutch descent,
or, as she would have boosted if she had been rich, one of the
old Knickerbockers of New York. My parents were simply honest,
hard--working, worthy people, who earned a good livelihood, brought up
their children to work, behaved themselves, and were respected by their
neighbors. They had a homestead and a small farm of thirty acres, and on
the place was a blacksmith shop in which my father worked daily, shoeing
horses and cattle for farmers and others who came to the shop from miles
around.

There were three young boys of us at home, and we had a chance to go to
school in the winter, while during the summer we worked on the little
farm and did the “chores” about the house and barn. But by the time I
was twelve years old I began to blow and strike in the blacksmith
shop, and when I was sixteen years old I could shoe horses well, and
considered myself master of the trade. At the age of eighteen, I went
into business with my father, and as I was now entitled to a share
of the profits, I married the daughter of a well-to-do neighboring
farmer, and we began our new life in part of my father’s house, setting
up for ourselves, and doing our own house-keeping.

I ought to have known then that marrying thus early in life, and
especially marrying the woman I did, was about the most foolish thing
I could do. I found it out afterwards, and was frequently and painfully
reminded of it through many long years. But all seemed bright enough
at the start. My wife was a good-looking woman of just my own age; her
family was most respectable; two of her brothers subsequently became
ministers of the gospel; and all the children had been carefully brought
up. I was thought to have made a good match; but a few years developed
that had wedded a most unworthy woman.

Seventeen months after our marriage, our oldest child, Henry, was born.
Meanwhile we had gone to Sidney, Delaware County, where my father opened
a shop. I still continued in business with him, and during our stay at
Sidney, my daughter, Elizabeth, was born. From Sidney, my father wanted
to go to Bainbridge, Chenango, County, N.Y., and I went with him,
leaving my wife and the children at Sidney, while we prospected. As
usual my father started a blacksmith-shop; but I bought a hundred acres
of timber land, went to lumbering, and made money. We had a house about
four miles from the village, I living with my father, and as soon as
found out that we were doing well in business, I sent to Sidney for
my wife and children. They were to come by stage, and were due, after
passing through Bainbridge, at our house at four o’clock in the morning.
We were up early to meet the stage; but when it arrived, the driver told
us that my wife had stopped at the public house in Bainbridge.

Wondering what this could mean, I at once set out with my brother and
walked over to the village. It was daylight when we arrived, and knocked
loudly at the public house door. After considerable delay, the clerk
came to the door and let us in. He also asked as to “take something,”
 which we did. The clerk knew us well, and I inquired if my wife was in
the house; he said she was, told us what room she was in, and we went up
stairs and found her in bed with her children. Waking her, I asked her
why she did not come home, in the stage? She replied that the clerk down
stairs told her that the stage did not go beyond the house, and that she
expected to walk over, as soon as it was daylight, or that possibly we
might come for her.

I declare, I was so young and unsophisticated that I suspected nothing,
and blamed only the stupidity, as I supposed, of the clerk in telling
her that the stage did not go beyond Bainbridge. My wife got up and
dressed herself and the children, and then as it was broad daylight,
after endeavoring, ineffectually, to get a conveyance, we started for
home on foot, she leading the little boy, and I carrying the youngest
child. We were not far on our way when she suddenly stopped, stooped
down, and exclaimed:

“O! see what I have found in the road.”

And she showed me a ten dollar bill. I was quite surprised, and
verdantly enough, advised looking around for more money, which my wife,
brother and I industriously did for some minutes. It was full four weeks
before I found out where that ten dollar bill came from. Meanwhile, my
wife was received and was living in her new home, being treated with
great kindness by all of us. It was evident, however, that she had
something on her mind which troubled her, and one morning, about a
month after her arrival, I found her in tears. I asked her what was the
matter? She said that she had been deceiving me; that she did not pick
up the ten dollar bill in the road; but that it was given to her by the
clerk in the public house in Bainbridge; only, however, for this: he
had grossly insulted her; she had resented it, and he had given her the
money, partly as a reparation, and partly to prevent her from speaking
of the insult to me or to others.

But by this time my hitherto blinded eyes were opened, and I charged
her with being false to me. She protested she had not been; but finally
confessed that she had been too intimate with the clerk at the hotel.
I began a suit at law against the clerk; but finally, on account of my
wife’s family and for the sake of my children, I stopped proceedings,
the clerk paying the costs of the suit as far as it had gone, and giving
me what I should probably have got from him in the way of damages. My
wife too, was apparently so penitent, and I was so much infatuated with
her, that I forgave her, and even consented to continue to live with
her. But I removed to Greenville, Greene County, N. Y., where I went
into the black-smithing business, and was very successful. We lived
here long enough to add two children to our little family; but as time
went on, the woman became bad again, and displayed the worst depravity.
I could no longer live with her, and we finally mutually agreed upon
a life-long separation--she insisting upon keeping the children, and
going to Rochester where she subsequently developed the full extent of
her character.

This, as nearly as I remember, was in the year 1838, and with this came
a new trouble upon me. Just before the separation, I received from my
brother’s wife a note for one hundred dollars, and sold it. It proved to
be a forgery. I was temporarily in Troy, N. Y., when the discovery
was made, and as I made no secret of my whereabouts at any time, I was
followed to Troy, was there arrested, and after lying in jail at Albany
one night, was taken next morning to Coxsackie, Greene County, and front
thence to Catskill. After one day in jail there, I was brought before a
justice and examined on the charge of uttering a forged note. There was
a most exciting trial of four days duration. I had two good lawyers who
did their best to show that I did not know the note to be forged when
I sold it, but the justice seemed determined to bind me over for
trial, and he did so, putting me under five hundred dollars’ bonds. My
half-sister at Sidney was sent for, came to Catskill, and became bail
for me. I was released, and my lawyers advised me to leave, which I did
at once, and went to Pittsfield, and from there to Worthington,
Mass., where I had another half-sister, who was married to Mr. Josiah
Bartlett, and was well off.

Here I settled down, for all that I knew to the contrary, for life. For
some years past, I had devoted my leisure hours from the forge to
the honest endeavor to make up for the deficiencies in my youthful
education, and had acquired, among other things, a good knowledge
of medicine. I did not however, believe in any of the “schools”
 particularly those schools that make use of mineral medicines in
their practice. I favored purely vegetable remedies, and had been very
successful in administering them. So I began life anew, in Worthington,
as a Doctor, and aided by my half-sister and her friends, I soon
secured a remunerative practice.

I was beginning to be truly happy. I supposed that the final separation,
mutually agreed upon between my wife and myself, was as effectual as all
the courts in the country could make it, and I looked upon myself as
a free man. Accordingly, after I had been in Worthington some months I
began to pay attentions to the daughter of a flourishing farmer. She was
a fine girl; she received my addresses favorably, and we were finally
privately married. This was the beginning of my life-long troubles. In
a few weeks her father found out that I had been previously married, and
was not, so far as he knew, either a divorced man or a widower. And
so it happened, that one day when I was at his house, and with his
daughter, he suddenly came home with a posse of people and a warrant for
my arrest. I was taken before a justice, and while we were waiting for
proceedings to begin, or, possibly for the justice to arrive, I took the
excited father aside and said:

“You know I have a fine horse and buggy at the door. Get in with me, and
ride down home. I will see your daughter and make everything right with
her, and if you will let me run away, I’ll give her her the horse and
buggy.”

The offer was too tempting to be refused. The father had the warrant in
his pocket, and he accepted my proposal. We rode to his house, and he
went into the back-room by direction of his daughter while she and I
talked in the hall. I explained matters as well as I could; I promised
to see her again, and that very soon. My horse and buggy were at the
door. Hastily bidding my new and young wife “good-bye,” I sprang into
the buggy and drove rapidly away. The father rushed to the door and
raised a great hue and cry, and what was more, raised the neighbors; I
had not driven five miles before all Worthington was after me. But I had
the start, the best horse, and I led in the race. I drove to Hancock,
N.Y., where my pursuers lost the trail; thence to Bennington, Vt., next
to Brattleboro, Vt., and from there to Templeton, Mass. What befel me at
Templeton, shall be related in the next chapter.



CHAPTER II. MISERIES FROM MY SECOND MARRIAGE.

LOVE-MAKING IN MASSACHUSETTS--ARREST FOR BIGAMY--TRIAL AT
NORTHAMPTON--A STUNNING SENTENCE--SENT TO STATE PRISON--LEARNING THE
BRUSH BUSINESS--SHARPENING PICKS--PRISON FARE--IN THE HOSPITAL--KIND
TREATMENT--SUCCESSFUL HORSE SHOEING--THE WARDEN MY FRIEND--EFFORTS FOR
MY RELEASE--A FULL PARDON.



At Templeton I speedily made known my profession, and soon had a very
good medical practice which one or two “remarkable cures” materially
increased. I was doing well and making money. I boarded in a respectable
farmer’s family, and after living there about six months there came
another most unhappy occurrence. From the day, almost, when I began
to board with this farmer there sprung up a strong attachment between
myself and his youngest daughter which soon ripened into mutual love.
She rode about with me when I went to see my patients, who were getting
to be numerous, and we were much in each other’s company.

On one occasion she accompanied me to Worcester where I had some
patients. We went to a public house where she and her family were well
known, and when she was asked by the landlord how she happened to come
there with the doctor, her prompt answer was:

“Why, we are married; did’nt you know it?”

She refused even to go to the table without my attendance, and when I
was out visiting some patients, she waited for her meals till I came
back. We stayed there but two days and returned together to Templeton.

A month afterward her brother was in Worcester, and stopped at this
house. The landlord, after some conversation about general matters,
said:

“So your sister is married to the Doctor?”

“I know nothing about it,” was the reply.

This led to a full and altogether too free disclosure to the astonished
brother about the particulars of our visit to the same house a month
before, and his sister’s representations that we were married. The
brother immediately started for home, and repeated the story, as it was
told to him, to his father and the family. Without seeing his daughter,
the father at once procured a warrant, and had me arrested and brought
before a justice on charge of seduction. The trial was brief; the
daughter herself swore positively, that though she had been imprudent
and indiscreet in going to Worcester with me, no improper communication
had ever, there or elsewhere, taken place between us.

Of course, there was nothing to do but to let me go and I was
discharged. But out of this affair came the worst that had yet fallen
to my lot in life. The story got into the papers, with particulars and
names of the parties, and in this way the people at Worthington, who had
chased me as far as Hancock and had there lost all trace of me, found
out where I was. If I had been aware of it, they might have looked
elsewhere for me; but while I was felicitating myself upon my escape
from the latest difficulty, down came an officer from Worthington with a
warrant for my arrest. This officer, the sheriff, was connected with the
family into which I had married in Worthington, and with him came two or
three more relatives, all bound, as they boasted, to “put me through.”
 They were excessively irate against me and very much angered, especially
that their race after me to Hancock had been fruitless. I had fallen
into the worst possible hands.

They took me to Northampton and brought me before a Justice, on a
charge of bigamy: The sheriff who arrested me, and the relatives who
accompanied him were willing to swear my life away, if they could, and
the justice was ready enough to bind me over to take my trial in court,
which was not to be in session for full six months to come. Those long,
weary six months I passed in the county jail. Then came my trial. I had
good counsel. There was not a particle of proof that I was guilty of
bigamy; no attempt was made on the part of the prosecution to produce
my first wife, from whom I had separated, or, indeed, to show that there
was such a woman in existence. But, evidence or no evidence, with all
Worthington against me, conviction was inevitable. The jury found me
guilty. The judge promptly sentenced me to three years’ imprisonment in
the State Prison, at Charlestown, with hard labor, the first day to be
passed in solitary confinement.

This severe sentence fairly stunned me. I was taken back to jail, and
the following day I was conveyed to Charlestown with heavy irons on my
ankles and handcuffed. No murderer would have been more heavily ironed.
We started early in the morning, and by noon I was duly delivered to
the warden at Charlestown prison. I was taken into the office, measured,
asked my name, age, and other particulars, and then if I had a trade. To
this I at once answered, “no.” I wanted my twenty-four hours’
solitary confinement in which to reflect upon the kind of “hard labor,”
 prescribed in my sentence, I was willing to follow for the next three
years; and I also wanted information about the branches of labor pursued
in that prison. The next words of the warden assured me that he was a
kind and compassionate man.

“Go,” he said to an officer, “and instantly take off those irons when
you take him inside the prison.”

I was taken in and the irons were taken off. I was then undressed, my
clothes were removed to another room, and I was redressed in the prison
uniform. This was a grotesque uniform indeed. The suit was red and blue,
half and half, like a harlequin’s, and to crown all came a hat or cap,
like a fool’s cap, a foot and a half high and running up to a peak.
Miserable as I was, I could scarcely help smiling at the utterly absurd
appearance I knew I then presented. I even ventured to remark upon it;
but was suddenly and sternly checked with the command:

“Silence! There’s no talking allowed here.”

Then began my twenty-four hours’ solitary confinement, and twenty-four
wretched hours they were. I had only bread and water to eat and drink,
and I need not say that my unhappy thoughts would not permit me to
sleep. At noon next day I was taken from my cell, and brought again
before the warden, Mr. Robinson, who kindly said:

“You have no trade, you say; what do you want to go to work at?”

“Anything light; I am not used to hard labor,” I replied.

So the warden directed that I should be put at work in the brush shop,
where all kinds of brushes were made. Mr. Eddy was the officer in charge
of this shop, and Mr. Knowles, the contractor for the labor employed in
the brush business, was present. Both of these gentlemen took pains to
instruct me in the work I was to begin upon, and were very kind in their
manner towards me. I went to work in a bungling way and with a sad and
heavy heart. At 12 o’clock we were marched from the shop to our
cells, each man taking from a trap in the wall, as he went by, his pan
containing his dinner, which consisted, that day, of boiled beef and
potatoes. It was probably the worst dinner I had ever eaten, but I had
yet to learn what prison fare was. From one o’clock to six I was in the
shop again; then came Supper--mush and molasses that evening which was
varied, as I learned afterwards, on different days by rye bread,
or Indian bread and rye coffee. These things were also served for
breakfast, and the dinners were varied on different days in the week.
The fare was very coarse, always, but abundant and wholesome. After
supper prisoners were expected to go to bed, as they were called out at
six o’clock in the morning.

I stayed in the brush shop three or four months, but I made very little
progress in learning the trade. I was willing enough to learn and did my
best. From the day I entered the prison I made up my mind to behave as
well as I could; to be docile and obedient, and to comply with every
rule and order. Consequently I had no trouble, and the officers all
treated me kindly. Warden Robinson was a model man for his position. He
believed that prisoners could be reformed more easily by mild than by
harsh measures--at least they would be more contented with their lot and
would be subordinate. Every now and then he would ask prisoners if they
were well treated by the officers; how they were getting on; if they had
enough to eat, and so on. The officers seemed imbued with the warden’s
spirit; the chaplain of the prison, who conducted the Sunday, services
and also held a Sunday school, was one of the finest men in the world,
and took a personal interest in every prisoner. Altogether, it was
a model institution. But in spite of good treatment I was intensely
miserable; my mind was morbid; I was nearly, if not quite, insane; and
one day during the dinner hour, I opened a vein in each arm in hopes
that I should bleed to death. Bleed I did, till I fainted away, and as
I did not come out when the other prisoners did, the officer came to
my cell and discovered my condition. He at once sent for the Doctor who
came and stopped the hemorrhage, and then sent me to the hospital where
I remained two weeks.

After I came out of the hospitals the Warden talked to me about my
situation and feelings. He advised me to go into the blacksmith shop,
of course not dreaming that I knew anything of the work; but he said I
would have more liberty there; that the men moved about freely and could
talk to each other; that the work mainly was sharpening picks and tools,
and that I could at least blow and strike. So I went into the blacksmith
shop, and remained their six weeks. But, debilitated as I was, the work
was too hard for me, and so the warden put me in the yard to do what I
could. I also swept the halls and assisted in the cook-room. One day
when the warden spoke to me, I told him that I knew something about
taking care of the sick, and after some conversation, he transferred me
to the hospital as a nurse.

Here, if there is such a things as contentment in prison, I was
comparatively happy. I nursed the sick and administered medicines under
direction of the doctor. I had too, with all easy position, more liberty
than any other prisoner. I could go anywhere about the halls and yard,
and in a few weeks I was frequently sent on an errand into the town.
Everyone seemed to have the fullest confidence in me. The Warden talked
to me whenever he saw me, and always had some kind word for me. One day
I ventured to speak to him about his horse, of which he was very proud,
and indeed the horse was a very fine one.

Mr. Warden, said I “that’s a noble horse of yours; but he interferes
badly, and that is only because he is badly shod. If you will trust me,
I can shoe him so as to prevent all that.”

“Can you?” exclaimed the Warden in great surprise; “Well, if you can,
I’ll give you a good piece of bread and butter, or, anything else you
want.”

“I don’t want your bread and butter,” said I “but I will shoe your horse
as he has never been shod before.”

“Well take the horse to the shop and see what you can do.”

Of course, I knew that by “bread and butter” the warden meant that if I
could shoe his favorite horse so as to prevent him from interfering, he
would gladly favor me as far as he could; and I knew, too, that I could
make as good a shoe as any horse need wear. I gladly led the horse to
the shop where I had so signally failed in pick and tool sharpening, and
was received with jeers by my old comrades who wanted to know what I was
going to do to that horse.

“O, simply shoe him,” I said.

This greatly increased the mirth of my former shopmates; but their
amusement speedily changed to amazement as they saw me make my nails,
turn the shoes and neatly put them on. In due time the horse was shod,
and I led him to the Warden for inspection; and before him and an
officer who stood by him, I led the horse up and down to show that he
did not interfere. The Warden’s delight was unbounded; he never saw such
a set of shoes; he declared that they fitted as if they had grown to the
horse’s hoofs. I need not say that from that day till the day I left the
prison, I had everything I wanted from the Warden’s own table; I fared
as well as he did, and had favors innumerable.

About once a month I shod that horse, little thinking that he was to
carry me over my three years’ imprisonment in just half that time. Yet
so it was. For talking now almost daily, in the hospital or in the
yard, with the Warden, he became interested in me, and in answer to his
inquiries I told him the whole story of my persecution, as I considered
it, my trial and my unjust and severe sentence. When he had heard all he
said:

“You ought not to be here another day; you ought to go out.”

The good chaplain also interested himself in my case, and after hearing
the story, he and the Warden took a lawyer named Bemis, into their
counsel, laid the whole matter before him and asked his opinion. Mr.
Bemis, after hearing all the circumstances, expressed the belief that I
might get a pardon. He entered into the matter with his whole heart. He
sent for my son Henry and my first wife, and they came and corroborated
my statement about the mutual agreement for separation, and told how
long we had been parted. Mr. Bemis and they then went to Governor
Briggs, and told him the story, and that I had served out half of
my severe sentence, and pressed for a pardon. The Governor after due
deliberation consented to their request. They came back to Charlestown
with the joyful intelligence. Warden Robinson advised my son, that
considering my present mental and physical condition, he had better
break the intelligence gradually to me, and so Henry came to me and
said, simply, that he thought he would soon have “good news” for me. The
next day I was told that my pardon was certain. The day following, at 12
o’clock, I walked out, after eighteen months’ imprisonment, a free man.
I was in the streets of Charlestown with my own clothes on and five
dollars, given to me by the Warden, in my pocket, I was poor, truly, but
I was at liberty, and that for the day was enough.



CHAPTER III. THE SCHEIMER SENSATION.

THE SCHEIMER FAMILY--IN LOVE WITH SARAH--ATTEMPT TO ELOPE--HOW IT WAS
PREVENTED--THE SECOND ATTEMPT--A MIDNIGHT EXPEDITION--THE ALARM--A
FRIGHTFUL BEATING--ESCAPE--FLOGGING THE DEVIL OUT OF SARAH--WINTER IN
NEW HAMPSHIRE--RETURN TO NEW JERSEY--“BOSTON YANKEE”--PLANS TO SECURE
SARAH.



I went at once to the Prisoners Home, where I was kindly received, and
I stayed there two days. The superintendent then paid my passage to
Pittsfield where I wished to go and meet my son. From Pittsfield I went
to Albany, then New York, and from there to Newtown N. J. Here I went
into practice, meeting with almost immediate success, and staid there
two months. It was my habit to go from town to town to attend to cases
of a certain class and to sell my vegetable preparations; and from
Newtown I went to Belvidere, stopping at intermediate towns on the way,
and from Belvidere I went to Harmony, a short distance below, to attend
a case of white swelling, which I cured.

Now just across the Delaware river, nine miles above Easton, Penn.,
lived a wealthy Dutch farmer, named Scheimer, who heard of the cure
I had effected in Harmony, and as he had a son, sixteen years of age,
afflicted in the same way, he sent for me to come and see him. I crossed
the river, saw the boy, and at Scheimer’s request took up my residence
with him to attend to the case. He was to give me, with my board, five
hundred dollars if I cured the boy; but though the boy recovered under
my treatment, I never received my fee for reasons which will appear
anon. I secured some other practice in the neighborhood, and frequently
visited Easton, Belvidere, Harmony, Oxford, and other near by places, on
either side of the river.

The Scheimer family consisted of the “old folks” and four sons and four
daughters, the children grown up, for my patient, sixteen years old, was
the youngest. The youngest daughter, Sarah, eighteen years old, was an
accomplished and beautiful girl. Now it would seem as if with my
sad experience I ought by this time, to have turned my back on women
forever. But I think I was a monomaniac on the subject of matrimony.
My first wife had so misused me that it was always in my mind that
some reparation was due me, and that I was fairly entitled to a good
helpmate. The ill-success of my efforts, hitherto, to secure one,
and my consequent sufferings were all lost upon me--experience, bitter
experience, had taught me nothing.

I had not been in the Scheimer family three months before I fell in love
with the daughter Sarah and she returned my passion. She promised to
marry me, but said there was no use in saying anything to her parents
about it; they would never consent on account of the disparity in
our ages, for I was then forty years old; but she would marry me
nevertheless, if we had to run away together. Meanwhile, the old
folks had seen enough of our intimacy to suspect that it might lead to
something yet closer, and one day Mr. Scheimer invited me to leave his
house and not to return. I asked for one last interview with Sarah,
which was accorded, and we then arranged a plan by which she should meet
me the next afternoon at four o’clock at the Jersey ferry, a mile below
the house, when we proposed to quietly cross over to Belvidere and get
married. I then took leave of her and the family and went away.

The next day, at the appointed time, I was at the ferry--Sarah, as I
learned afterwards, left the house at a much earlier hour to “take a
walk” and while she was, foolishly I think, making a circuitous route
to reach the ferry, her father, who suspected that she intended to run
away, went to the ferryman and told him his suspicions, directing him
if Sarah came there by no means to permit her to cross the river.
Consequently when Sarah met me at the ferry, the ferryman flatly refused
to let either of us go over. He knew all about it, he said, and it was
“no go.” I had two hundred dollars in my pocket and I offered him any
reasonable sum, if he would only let us cross; but no, he knew the
Scheimers better than he knew me, and their goodwill was worth more
than mine. Here was a block to the game, indeed. I had sent my baggage
forward in the morning to Belvidere; Sarah had nothing but the clothes
she wore, for she was so carefully watched that she could carry or send
nothing away; but she was ready to go if the obstinate ferryman had not
prevented us.

While we were pressing the ferryman to favor us, down came one of
Sarah’s brothers with a dozen neighbors, and told her she must return
home or he would carry her back by force. I interfered and said she
should not go. Whereupon one fellow took hold of me and I promptly
knocked him down, and notified the crowd that the first who laid hands
on me, or who attempted to take her home violently, would get a dose
from my pistol which I then exhibited:

“Sarah must go willingly or not at all,” said I.

The production of my pistol, the only weapon in the crowd, brought about
a new state of affairs, and the brother and others tried persuasion; but
Sarah stoutly insisted that she would not return. “Now hold on,” boys,
said I, “I am going to say something to her.” I then took her aside and
told her that there was no use in trying to run away then; that she had
better go home quietly, and tell the folks that she was sorry for what
she had done, that she had broken off with me, and would have nothing
more to do with me; that I would surely see her to-morrow, and then we
could make a new plan. So she announced her willingness to go quietly
home with her brother and she did so. I went to a public house half a
mile below the ferry. That night the gang came down to this house with
the intention of driving me away from the place, or, possibly, of doing
something worse; but while they were howling outside, the landlord sent
me to my room and then went out and told the crowd I had gone away.

The next morning I boldly walked up to Scheimer’s house to get a few
books and other things I had left there, and I saw Sarah. I told her
to be ready on the following Thursday night and I would have a ladder
against her window for her to escape by. She promised to be ready.
Meantime, though I had been in the house but a few minutes, some one who
had seen me go in gathered the crowd of the day before, and the first
thing I knew the house was beseiged. Mrs. Scheimer had gone up stairs
for my things. I went out and faced the little mob. I was told to leave
the place or they would kill me. One of Sarah’s brothers ran into the
house, brought out a musket and aimed it at me; but it missed fire. I
drew my pistol the crowd keeping well away then, and told him that if he
did not instantly bring that musket to me I would shoot him. He brought
it, and I threw it over the fence, Sarah crying out from the window,
“good! good!” The mob then turned and abused and blackguarded her. Then
the old lady came out, bringing a carpet bag containing my books and
things, asking me to see if “it was all right.” I had no disposition
to stop and examine just then; I told the mob I had no other business
there; that I was going away, and to my surprise, I confess, I was
permitted to leave the place unmolested.

It is quite certain the ferryman made no objection to my crossing, and
I went to Belvidere where I remained quietly till the appointed Thursday
night, when I started with a trusty man for Scheimer’s. We timed our
journey so as to arrive there at one o’clock in the morning. Ever since
her attempt to elope, Sarah had been watched night and day, and to
prevent her abduction by me, Mr. Scheimer had two or three men in the
house to stand guard at night. Sarah was locked in her room, which is
precisely what we had provided for, for no one in the house supposed
that she could escape by the window. There was a big dog on the
premises, but he and I were old friends, and he seemed very glad to see
me when I came on the ground on this eventful night. Sarah was watching,
and when I made the signal she opened the window and threw out her ready
prepared bundle. Then my man and I set the ladder and she came safely
to the ground. A moment more and we would have stolen away, when, as ill
luck would have it, the ladder fell with a great crash, and the infernal
dog, that a moment before seemed almost in our confidence, set up a howl
and then barked loud enough to wake the dead.

Forthwith issued from the house old Scheimer, two of his sons and his
hired guard--a half dozen in all. There was a time then. The girl was
instantly seized and taken into the house. Then all hands fell upon us
two, and though I and my man fought our best they managed to pound us
nearly to death. The dog, too, in revenge no doubt for the scare the
ladder had given him, or perhaps to show his loyalty to his master,
assisted in routing us, and put in a bite where he could. It is a wonder
we were not killed. Sarah, meanwhile, was calling out from the house,
and imploring them not to murder us. How we ever got away I hardly know
now, but presently we found ourselves in the road running for our lives,
and running also for the carriage we had concealed in the woods, half
a mile above. We reached it, and hastily unhitching and getting in we
drove rapidly for the bridge crossing over to Belvidere. That beautiful
August night had very few charms for us. It would have been different
indeed if I had succeeded in securing my Sarah; and to think of having
the prize in my very grasp, and the losing all!

We reached the hotel in Belvidere at about half-past two o’clock in
the morning, wearied, worn, bruised and disheartened. My man had not
suffered nearly as severely as I had; the bulk of their blows fell upon
me, and I had the sorest body and the worst looking face I had ever
exhibited. I rested one day and then hurried on to New York. Of course,
I had no means of knowing the feelings or condition of the loved girl
from whom I had been so suddenly and so violently parted. I only learned
from an Easton man whom I knew and whom I met in the city, that “Sarah
Scheimer was sick”--that was all; the man said he did’nt know the family
very well, but he had heard that Miss Scheimer had been “out of her
head, if not downright crazy.”

Crazy indeed! How mad and how miserable that poor girl was made by her
own family, I did not know till months afterward, and then I had the
terrible story from her own lips. It seems that when her father and his
gang returned from pursuing me, as they did a little way up the road
towards Belvidere, they found her almost frantic. They locked her up in
her room that night with no one to say so much as a kind word to her.
How she passed that night, after the scenes she had witnessed, and the
abuse with which her father and brothers had loaded her before they
thrust her into her prison, may be imagined. The next day she was
wrought up to a frenzy. Her parents pronounced her insane, and called in
a Dutch doctor who examined her and said she was “bewitched!” And this
is the remedy he proposed as a cure; he advised that she should be
soundly flogged, and the devil whipped out of her. Her family, intensely
angered at her for the trouble she had made them, or rather had caused
them to make for themselves, were only too glad to accept the advice.
The old man and two sons carried a sore bruise or two apiece they got
from me the night before, and seized the opportunity to pay them off
upon her. So they stripped her bare, and flogged her till her back was a
mass of welts and cuts, and then put her to bed. That bed she never left
for two months, and then came out the shadow of her former self. But the
Dutch doctor declared that the devil was whipped out of her, and that
she was entirely cured. A few months afterward the family had the best
of reasons for believing that they had whipped the devil into her,
instead of out of her.

After staying in New York a few days, I went to Dover, N.H., where I had
some acquaintances, and where I hoped to get into a medical practice,
which, with the help of my friends, I did very soon. I lived quietly in
that place all winter, earning a good living and laying by some money.
During the whole time I never heard a word from Sarah. I wrote at least
fifty letters to her, but as I learned afterward, and, indeed, surmised
at the time, every one of them was intercepted by her father or
brothers, and she did not know where I was and so could not write to me.
I left Dover in May and went down to New York. I had some business
there which was soon transacted, and early in June I went over to New
Jersey--to Oxford, a small place near Belvidere.

This place I meant to make my base of operations for the new campaign I
had been planning all winter. I “put up” at a public house kept by a man
who was known in the region round about as the “Boston Yankee,” for he
migrated from Boston to New Jersey and was doing a thriving business
at hotel keeping in Oxford. What a thorough good-fellow he was will
presently appear. I had been in the hotel four days and had become
pretty intimate with the landlord before I ventured to make inquiries
about what I was most anxious to learn; but finally I asked him if he
knew the Scheimers over the river? He looked at me in a very comical
way, and then broke out:

“Well, I declare, I thought I knew you, you’re the chap that tried to
run away with old Scheimer’s daughter Sarah, last August; and you’re
down here to get her this time, if you can.”

I owned up to my identity, but warned Boston Yankee that if he told any
one who I was, or that I was about there, I’d blow his brains out.

“You keep cool,” said he, “don’t you be uneasy; I’m your friend and the
gal’s friend, and I’ll help you both all I can; and if you want to carry
off Sarah Scheimer and marry her, I’ll tell you how to work it. You see
she has been watched as closely as possible all winter, ever since she
got well, for she was crazy-like, awhile. Well, you could’n’t get nearer
to her, first off, than you could to the North Pole; but do you remember
Mary Smith who was servant gal, there when you boarded with Scheimer?” I
remembered the girl well and told him so, and he continued: “Well, I saw
her the other day, and she told me she was living in Easton, and where
she could be found; now, I’ll give you full directions and do you take
my horse and buggy to-morrow morning early and go down and see her, and
get her to go over and let Sarah know that you’re round; meantime I’ll
keep dark; I know my business and you know yours.”

I need not say how overjoyed I was to find this new and most unexpected
friend, and how gratefully I accepted his offer. He gave me the street,
house and number where Mary Smith lived and during the evening we
planned together exactly how the whole affair was to be managed, from
beginning to end. I went to bed, but could scarcely sleep; and all night
long I was agitated by alternate hopes and fears for the success of the
scheme of to-morrow.



CHAPTER IV. SUCCESS WITH SARAH.

MARY SMITH AS A CONFEDERATE--THE PLOT--WAITING IN THE WOODS--THE
SPY OUTWITTED--SARAH SECURED--THE PURSUERS BAFFLED--NIGHT ON THE
ROAD--EFFORTS TO GET MARRIED--THE “OLD OFFENDER” MARRIED AT LAST--A
CONSTABLE AFTER SARAH--HE GIVES IT UP--AN ALE ORGIE--RETURN TO “BOSTON
YANKEE’S”--A HOME IN GOSHEN.



It was Saturday morning, and after an early breakfast I was on the road
with Boston Yankee’s fast horse; towards Easton. On my arrival there I
had no difficulty in finding Mary Smith, who recognized me at once, and
was very glad to see me. She knew I had come there to learn something
about Sarah; she had seen her only a week ago; she was well again, and
the girls had talked together about me. This was pleasant to hear, and
I at once proposed to Mary to go to Scheimer’s and tell Sarah that I
was there; I would give her ten dollars if she would go. “O! she would
gladly serve us both for nothing.”

So she made herself ready, got into the buggy, and we started for
Scheimer’s. When we were well on the road I said to her:

“Now, Mary, attend carefully to what I say: you will need to be very
cautious in breaking the news to Sarah that I am here; she has already
suffered a great deal on my account, and may be very timid about my
being in the neighborhood; but if she still loves me as you say she
does, she will run any risk to see me, and, if I know her, she will be
glad to go away with me. Now, this is what you must do; you must see her
alone and tell her my plan; here, take this diamond ring; she knows it
well; manage to let her see it on your finger; then tell her that if
she is willing to leave home and marry me, I will be in the woods half a
mile above her house to-morrow afternoon at 5 o’clock, with a horse
and buggy ready to carry her to Belvidere. If she will not, or dare not
come, give her the ring, and tell her we part, good friends, forever.”

It was a beautiful afternoon as we drove along the road. We talked about
Sarah and old times, and I made her repeat my instructions over and
over again and she promised to convey every word to Sarah. We neared
Scheimer’s house about six o’clock, and when we were a little way from
there I told Mary to get out, so as to excite no suspicions as to who I
was; she did so, and I waited till I saw her go into the house, and then
drove rapidly by towards the Belvidere bridge, and was safely at Oxford
by nightfall. I told my friend, the landlord, what I had done, and he
said that everything was well planned. He also promised to go with me
next day to assist me if necessary, and, said he:

“If everything is all right, do you carry off the girl and I’ll walk
up to Belvidere; but don’t bring Sarah this way--head toward Water Gap.
When you’re married fast and sure, you can come back here as leisurely
as you’re a mind to, and nobody can lay a hand upon you or her.”

We arranged some other minor details of our expedition and I went to
bed.

The next afternoon at four o’clock I was at the appointed place, and
Boston Yankee was with me. I did not look for Sarah before five o’clock,
so we tied our horse and kept a good watch upon the road. An hour went
by and no Sarah appeared. I told Boston Yankee I did not believe she
would come.

“Don’t be impatient; wait a little longer,” said my friend.

In twenty minutes we saw emerge, not from Scheimer’s house, but from his
eldest son’s house, which was still nearer to the place where we were
waiting, three women, two of whom I recognized as Sarah and Mary, and
the third I did not know, nor could I imagine why she was with the other
two; but as I saw them, leaving Boston Yankee in the woods, I drove the
horse down into the road. As Sarah drew near she kissed her hand to me
and came up to the wagon. “Are you ready to go with me?” I asked. “I
am, indeed,” was her reply, and I put out my hand to help her into the
buggy. But the third woman caught hold of her dress, tried to prevent
her from getting in, and began to scream so as to attract attention at
Sarah’s brother’s house. I told the woman to let her go, and threatened
her with my whip. “Get away,” shouted Boston Yankee, who had come upon
the scene. “Drive as fast as you can; never mind if you kill the horse.”

We started; the woman still shouting for help, and I drove on as rapidly
as the horse would go. When we had gone on a mile or two, I asked
Sarah what all this meant? She told me that the woman was her brother’s
servant; that Mary and herself left her father’s house a little after
four o’clock to go over and call at her brother’s; that just before
five, when she was to meet me, she and Mary proposed to go out for a
walk; that the whole family watched her constantly, and so her brother’s
wife told the servant woman to get on her things and go with them.
“You, may be sure,” she, added, “that the woman will arouse the whole
neighborhood, and that they will all be after us.” I needed no further
hint to push on. We were going toward Water Gap, as Boston Yankee had
advised, and when we were about eight miles on the way, I deemed it
prudent to drive into the woods and to wait till night before going on.
We drove in just off the road, and tied our horse. We were effectually
concealed; our pursuers, if there were any, would be sure to go by us,
and meantime we could talk over our plans for the future. Sarah told me
that when Mary came to the house the night before, she was not at all
surprised to see her, as she occasionally came up from Easton to
make them a little visit, and to stay all night; that she went to the
summer-house with Mary to sit down and talk, and almost immediately saw
the ring on Mary’s finger; that when she saw it she at once recognized
it, and asked her: “O! Mary, where did you get that ring?” “Keep
quiet,” said Mary: “don’t talk loud, or some one may hear you; don’t
be agitated; your lover is near, and has sent me to tell you.” It was
joyful news to Sarah, and how readily she had acquiesced in my plan for
an elopement was manifest in the fact that she was then by my side.

We bad not been in the woods an hour when, as I anticipated, we heard
our pursuers, we did not know how many there were, drive rapidly by.
“Now we can go on, I suppose,” said Sarah. “Oh no, my dear,” I replied,
“now is just the time to wait quietly here;” and wait we did till eight
o’clock, when our pursuers, having gone on a few miles, and having seen
or learned nothing of the fugitives, came by again “on the back track.”
 They must have thought we had turned off into some other road. I waited
a while longer to let our friend’s get a little nearer home and further
away from us, and then took the road again toward Water Gap.

We reached Water Gap at midnight, had some supper and fed the horse. We
rested awhile, and then drove leisurely on nine miles further, where we
waited till daylight and crossed the river. We were in no great hurry
now; we were comparatively safe from pursuit. We soon came to a public
house, where we stopped and put out the horse, intending to take
breakfast. While I was inquiring of the landlord if there was a justice
of the peace in the neighborhood, the landlord’s wife had elicited from
Sarah the fact of our elopement, who she was, who her folks were, and so
on. The well-meaning landlady advised Sarah to go back home and get
her parents consent before she married. Sarah suggested that the very
impossibility of getting such consent was the reason for her running
away; nor did it appear how she was to go back home alone even if she
desired to. We saw that we could get no help there, so I countermanded
my order for breakfast, offering at the same time to pay for it as if we
had eaten it, ordered out my horse and drove on. After riding some
ten miles we arrived at another public house on the road, and as the
landlord come out to the door I immediately asked him where I could
find a justice of the peace? He laughed, for he at once comprehended the
whole situation, and said:

“Well, well! I am an old offender myself; I ran away with my wife; there
is a justice of the peace two miles from here, and if you’ll come in
I’ll have him here within an hour.”

We had reached the right place at last, for while the landlady was
getting breakfast for us, and doing her best to make us comfortable and
happy, the Old Offender himself took his horse and carriage and went for
the justice. By the time we had finished our breakfast he was back
with him, and Sarah and I were married in “less than no time,” the Old
Offender and his wife singing the certificate as witnesses. I never
paid a fee more gladly. We were married now, and all the Scheimers in
Pennsylvania were welcome to come and see us if they pleased.

No Scheimers came that day; but the day following came a deputation from
that family, some half dozen delegates, and with them a constable from
Easton, with a warrant to arrest Sarah for something--I never knew
what--but at any rate he was to take her home if necessary by force. The
Old Offender declined to let these people into his house; Sarah told me
to keep out of the way and she would see what was wanted. Whereupon she
boldly went to the door and greeted those of her acquaintances who were
in the party. The constable knew her, and told her he had come to take
her home. “But what if I refuse to go?” “Well then, I have a warrant
to take you; but if you are married, I have no power over you.” Well
married I am, said Sarah, and she produced the certificate, and the
Old Offender and his wife came out and declared that they witnessed the
ceremony.

What was to be done? evidently nothing; only the constable ordered a
whole barrel of ale to treat his posse and any one about tire town who
chose to drink, and the barrel was rolled out on the grass, tapped, and
for a half hour there was a great jollification, which was not exactly
in honor of our wedding, but which afforded the greatest gratification
to the constable, his retainers, and those who happened to gather to see
what was going on. This ended, and the bill paid, the Easton delegation
got into their wagons and turned their horses heads towards home.

We passed three delightful days under the Old Offender’s roof, and
then thanking our host for his kindness to us, and paying our bill, we
started on our return journey for Oxford. We arrived safely, and staid
with Boston Yankee a fortnight. We were close by the Scheimer homestead,
which was but a few miles away across the river; but we feared neither
father nor brothers, nor even the woman who was so unwilling to let
Sarah go with me. The constable, and the rest had carried home the news
of our marriage, and the old folks made the best of it. Indeed, after
they heard we had returned to Oxford, Sarah’s mother sent a man over to
tell her that if she would come home any day she could pack her clothes
and other things, and take them away with her. The day after we received
this invitation, Boston Yankee offered to take Sarah over home, and
promised to bring her safely back. So she went, was treated tolerably
well, at any rate, she secured her clothes and brought them home with
her.

It was now time to bid farewell to our staunch friend, Boston Yankee. I
had inducements to go to Goshen, Orange County, N. Y., where I had many
acquaintances, and to Goshen we went. We found a good boarding place,
and I began to practice medicine, After we had been there a while, Sarah
wrote home to let her family know where she was, and that she was well
and happy. Her father wrote in reply that we both might come there at
any time, and that if she would come home he would do as well by her as
he would by any of his children. This letter made Sarah uneasy. In spite
of all the ill usage she had received from her parents and family, she
was nevertheless homesick, and longed to get back again. I could see
that this feeling grew upon her daily. We were pleasantly situated
where we were; I had a good and growing practice, and we had made many
friends; but this did not satisfy her; she had some property in her own
right, but her father was trustee of it, and he had hitherto kept it
away from her from spite at her love affair with me. But now she was to
be taken into favor again, and she represented to me that we could go
back and get her money, and that I could establish myself there as well
as anywhere; we could live well and happily among her friends and old
associations. These things were dinged in my ears day after day, till I
was sick of the very sound. I could see that she was bound, or, as the
Dutch doctor would have said, “bewitched” to go back, and at last, after
five happy months in Goshen, in an evil hour I consented to go home with
her.



CHAPTER V. HOW THE SCHEIMERS MADE ME SUFFER.

RETURN TO SCHEIMER--PEACE AND THEN PANDEMONIUM--FRIGHTFUL FAMILY
ROW--RUNNING FOR REFUGE--THE GANG AGAIN--ARREST AT MIDNIGHT--STRUGGLE
WITH MY CAPTORS--IN JAIL ONCE MORE--PUT IN IRONS--A HORRIBLE PRISON
BREAKING OUT--THE DUNGEON--SARAH’S BABY--CURIOUS COMPROMISES--OLD
SCHEIMER MY JAILER--SIGNING A BOND--FREE AGAIN--LAST WORDS FROM SARAH.



We went back to the Scheimer homestead and were favorably received.
There was no special enthusiasm over our return, no marked
demonstrations of delight; but they seemed glad to see us, and all the
unpleasant things of the past, if not forgotten, were tacitly ignored
on all sides. We passed a pleasant evening together in what seemed a
re-united family circle--one of the brothers only was absent--and next
morning we met cordially around the breakfast table. I really began to
think it was possible that all the old difficulties might be healed, and
that the pleasant picture Sarah painted, at Goshen, about settling down
happily in Pennsylvania, could be fully realized.

After breakfast I took a conveyance to go three or four miles to see a
man who owed me some money for medical services in his family, and was
away from Scheimer’s three or four hours. During this brief absence I
could not help thinking with genuine satisfaction of the happiness Sarah
was experiencing in the gratification of her longing to return home
again. Surely, I thought, she must be happy now. No more homesickness,
and a full and complete reconciliation with her family; all the anger,
abuse, and blows forgotten or forgiven; she restored to her place in the
family; and even her objectionable husband received with open arms.

But what an enormous difference there is between fancy and fact. During
this brief absence of mine, had come home the brother who had always
seemed to concentrate the hatred of the whole family towards me for the
wrong they assumed I had done to the youngest daughter who loved me.
On my return I found the peaceful home I left in the morning a perfect
pandemonium. Sarah was fairly frantic. The whole family were abusing
her. The returned brother especially, was calling her all the vile names
he could lay his tongue to. I learned afterwards that he had been doing
it ever since he came into the house that day and found her at home and
heard that I was with her. They had picked, wrenched rather, out of her
the secret I had confided to her that I had another wife from whom I was
“separated,” but not divorced. My sudden presence on this scene was not
exactly oil on troubled waters; it was gunpowder to fire. As soon as
Sarah saw me at the door she cried out:

“O! husband, let us go away from here.”

Her mother turned and shouted at me that I had better fly at once or
they would kill me. Meanwhile, that mob, which the Scheimer boys seemed
always to have at hand, was gathering in the dooryard. I managed to get
near enough to Sarah to tell her that I would send a man for her next
day, and then if she was willing to come with me she must get away
from her family if possible. I then made a rush through the crowd, and
reached the road. I think the gang had an indistinct knowledge of the
situation, or they would have mobbed me, and perhaps killed me. They
knew something was “to pay” at Scheimer’s, but did not know exactly
what. Once on the road it was my intention to have gone over to
Belvidere, and then on to Oxford, where I should have found a sure
refuge with my friend Boston Yankee.

Would that I had done so; but I was a fool; I thought I could be of
service to Sarah by remaining near her; might see her next day; I might
even be able to get her out of the house, and then we could once more
elope together and go back again to Goshen where we had been so happy.
So I went to a public house three miles above Scheimer’s, and remained
there quietly during the rest of the day, revolving plans for the
deliverance of Sarah. I thought only of her. It is strange that I did
not once realize what a perilous position I was in myself--that, firmly
as I believed myself to be wedded to Sarah, I was in fact amenable to
the law, and liable to arrest and punishment. All this never occurred to
me. I saw one or two of the gang who were at Scheimer’s about the hotel,
but they did not offer to molest me, and I paid no particular attention
to them. I did not know then that they were spies and were watching my
movements. At nine o’clock I went to bed. At midnight, or thereabouts,
I was roughly awakened and told to get up. Without waiting for me,
to comply, five men who had entered my room pulled me out of bed, and
almost before I could huddle on my clothes I was handcuffed. Then one of
them, who said he was a constable from Easton, showed a warrant for my
arrest. What the arrest was for I was not informed. I was taken down
stairs, put into a wagon, the men followed, and the horses started in
the direction of Easton. By Scheimer’s on the way, and I could see a
light in Sarah’s window. I remembered how in, all the Bedlam in
the house that morning she still cried out: “I will go with him.” I
remembered how, only a few months before, she had been brutally flogged
in that very chamber, to “get the devil out of her.” I remembered, too,
the many happy, happy hours we had passed together. And here was I,
handcuffed and dragged in a wagon, I knew not whither.

This for thoughts--in the way of action, was all the while trying to
get my handcuffs off, and at last I succeeded in getting one hand free.
Waiting my opportunity till we came to a piece of woods, I suddenly
jumped up and sprang from the wagon. It was a very dark night, and in
running into the woods I struck against a tree with such force as
to knock me down and nearly stun me. Two of the men were on me in an
instant. After a brief struggle I managed to get away and ran again. I
should have escaped, only a high rail fence brought me to a sudden stop,
and I was too exhausted to climb over it. My pursuers who were hard at
my heels the whole while now laid hold of me. In the subsequent struggle
I got out my pocket knife, and stabbed one of them, cutting his arm
badly. Then they overpowered me. They dragged me to the roadside,
brought a rope out of the wagon, bound my arms and legs, and so at last
carried me to Easton.

It was nearly daylight when I was thrust into jail. There were no cells,
only large rooms for a dozen or more men, and I was put, into one of
these with several prisoners who were awaiting trial, or who had been
tried and were there till they could be sent to prison. It was a day
or two before I found out what I was there for. Then a Dutch Deputy
Sheriff, who was also keeper of the jail, came and told me that I was
held for bigamy, adding the consoling intelligence that it would be a
very hard job for me, and that I would get five or six years in State
prison sure. I was well acquainted in Easton, and I sent for lawyer
Litgreave for assistance and advice. I sent also to my half-sister in
Delaware County, N. Y., and in a day or two she came and saw me, and
gave Mr. Litgreave one hundred dollars retaining fee. My lawyer went to
see the Scheimers and when he returned he told me that he hoped to save
me from State prison--at all events he would exercise the influence he
had over the family to that end; but I must expect to remain in jail a
long time. Precisely what this meant I did not know then; but I found
out afterwards.

Soon after this visit from the lawyer, the Deputy Sheriff came in and
said that he was ordered “by the Judge” to iron me, and it was done.
They were heavy leg-irons weighing full twelve pounds, and I may say
here that I wore them during the whole term of my imprisonment in this
jail, or rather they wore me--wearing their way in time almost into
the bone. I had been here a week now, and was well acquainted with the
character of the place. It was indescribably filthy; no pretence was
made of cleansing it. The prisoners were half fed, and, at that, the
food was oftentimes so vile that starving men rejected it. The deputy
who kept the jail was cruel and malignant, and took delight in torturing
his prisoners. He would come in sometimes under pretence of looking at
my irons to see if they were safe, and would twist and turn them about
so that I suffered intolerable pain, and blood flowed from my wounds
made by these cruel irons. Such abuse as he could give with his tongue
he dispensed freely. Of course he was a coward, and he never dared to
come into one of the prisoner’s rooms unless he was armed. This is a
faithful photograph of the interior of the jail at Easton, Penn., as
it was a few years ago; there may have been some improvement since that
time; for the sake of humanity, I hope there has been.

After I had been in this jail about six weeks, and had become well
acquainted with my room-mates, I communicated to them one day, the
result of my observation:

“There,” said I, showing them a certain place in the wall, “is a loose
stone that with a little labor can be lifted out, and it will leave a
hole large enough for us to get out of and go where we like.”

Examination elicited a unanimous verdict in favor of making the attempt.
With no tools but a case knife we dug out the mortar on all sides of the
stone doing the work by turns and covering the stone by hanging up an
old blanket--which excited no suspicion, as it was at the head of one of
the iron bedsteads--whenever the Deputy or any of his men were likely to
visit us. In twelve days we completed the work, and could lift out the
stone. The hole was large enough to let a man through, and there was
nothing for us to do but to crawl out one after the other and drop down
a few feet into the yard. This yard was surrounded by a board fence that
could be easily surmounted. I intended to take the lead, after taking
off my irons (which I had learned to do, and indeed, did every day,
putting them on only when I was liable to be “inspected”) and after
leaving these irons at the Deputy’s door, I intended to put myself on
the Jersey side of the river as speedily as possible.

Liberty was within reach of every man in that room, and the night was
set for the escape. But one of the crowd turned traitor, and, under
pretence, of speaking to the Deputy about some matter, managed to be
called out of the room and disclosed the whole. The man was waiting
transportation to prison to serve out a sentence of ten years, and,
with the chance of escape before him, it seemed singular that he should
reveal a plan which promised to give him liberty; but probably he
feared a failure; or that he might be recaptured and his prison sentence
increased; while on the other hand by disclosing the plot he could
curry favor enough to get his term reduced, and perhaps he might gain a
pardon. Any how, he betrayed us. The Deputy came in and found the stone
in the condition described, and forthwith we were all removed to the
dungeon, or dark room, and kept there on bread and water for twelve
days. We heard afterwards that our betrayer did get five years less than
his original sentence for subjecting his comrades in misery to twelve
days of almost indescribable suffering. We were not only in a totally
dark and frightfully filthy hole, but we were half starved, and the
Deputy daily took delight in taunting us with our sufferings.

At the end of the twelve days we were taken back to the old room where
we found the stone securely fastened in with irons. Moreover, we were
now under stricter observation, and at stated hours every day, an
inspector came in and examined the walls. This soon wore off, however,
and when the inspection was finally abandoned, about two months from the
time of our first attempt, we managed to find another place in the old
wall where we could dig out and we went to work. We were a fortnight at
it, and had nearly completed our labor when we were discovered.

This time we spent fourteen days in the dungeon for our pains.

And now comes an extraordinary disclosure with regard to my
imprisonment. A few days after my removal from the dungeon to the old
quarters again, the Deputy, in one of his rare periods of what, with
him, passed for good humor, informed me that Sarah had been confined,
and had given birth to a fine boy; that she was crying for my release;
that Lawyer Sitgreave was interceding for me; but that the old man
Scheimer was still obstinate and would not let me out. Passing over
my feelings with regard to the birth of my son, here was a revelation
indeed! It will be remembered that I had only been told that I was under
indictment for bigamy. I had never been brought before a justice for
a preliminary examination; never bound over for trial; and now it
transpired that old Scheimer, a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer, had the
power to put me in jail, put me in irons, and subject me to long months,
perhaps years of imprisonment. I had something to occupy my thoughts
now, and for the remaining period of my jail life.

Next came a new dodge of the Scheimers, the object of which was to show
that Sarah’s marriage to me was no marriage at all, thus leaving her
free to marry any other man her family might force upon her. When I had
been in jail seven months, one day the Deputy came in and said that he
was going to take off my irons. I told him I wouldn’t trouble him to
do that, for though I had worn them when he and his subordinates were
around till the irons had nearly killed me, yet at other times I had
been in a habit of taking them off at pleasure; and to prove it, I sat
down and in a few minutes handed him the irons. The man was amazed; but
saying nothing about the irons, he approached me on another subject. He
said he thought if I would sign an acknowledgment that I was a married
man when I married Sarah Scheimer, and would leave the State forever, I
could get out of jail; would I do it? I told him I would give no answer
till I had seen my counsel.

Well, the next day Lawyer Sitgreave came to me and told me I had better
do it, and I consented. Shortly afterwards, I was taken to court, for
the first time in this whole affair, and was informed by the judge that
if I would sign a bond not to go near the Scheimer house or family he
would discharge me. I signed such a bond, and the judge then told me I
was discharged; but that I ought to have gone to State prison for ten
years for destroying the peace and happiness of the Scheimer family.
Truly the Scheimer family were a power, indeed, in that part of the
country!

My lawyer gave me five dollars and I went to Harmony and staid that
night. The next day I went to an old friend of mine, a Methodist
minister, and persuaded him to go over and see what Sarah Scheimer’s
feelings were towards me, and if she was willing to come to me with our
child. He went over there, but the old Scheimers suspected his errand,
and watched him closely to see that he held no communication with Sarah.
He did, however, have an opportunity to speak to her, and she sent me
word that if she could ever get her money and get away from her parents,
she would certainly join me in any part of the world. I was warned, at
the same time, not to come near the house, for fear that her father or
some of her brothers would kill me.



CHAPTER VI. FREE LIFE AND FISHING.

TAKING CARE OF CRAZY MEN--CARRYING OFF A BOY--ARRESTED FOR STEALING MY
OWN HORSE AND BUGGY--FISHING IN LAKE WINNIPISEOGEE--AN ODD LANDLORD--A
WOMAN AS BIG AS A HOGSHEAD--REDUCING THE HOGSHEAD TO A BARREL--WONDERFUL
VERIFICATION OF A DREAM--SUCCESSFUL MEDICAL PRACTICE--A BUSY WINTER
IN NEW HAMPSHIRE--BLANDISHMENTS OF CAPTAIN BROWN--I GO TO NEWARK, NEW
JERSEY.



The next day I left Harmony and walked to Port Jarvis, on the Erie
Railroad, N. Y., arriving late at night, and entirely footsore, sick,
and disheartened. I went to the hotel, and the next morning I found
myself seriously sick. Asking advice, I was directed to the house of
a widow, who promised to nurse and take care of me. I was ill for two
weeks, and meantime, my half-sister in Delaware County, to whom I
made known my condition, sent me money for my expenses, and when I
had sufficiently recovered to travel, I went to this sister’s house in
Sidney, and there I remained several days, till I was quite well and
strong again.

Casting about for something to do, a friend told me that he knew of
an opportunity for a good man at Newbury to take care of a young man,
eighteen years of age, who was insane. I went there and saw his father,
and he put him under my charge. I had the care of him four months, and
during the last two months of the time I traveled about with him,
and returned him, finally, to his friends in a materially improved
condition. The friends of another insane man in Montgomery, near
Newbury, hearing of my success with this young man, sent for me to come
and see them. I went there and found a man who had been insane seven
years, but who was quiet and well-behaved, only he was “out of his
head.” I engaged to do what I could for him. The father of my Newbury
patient had paid me well, and with my medical practice and the sale of
medicines in traveling about, I had accumulated several hundred dollars,
and when I went to Montgomery I had a good horse and buggy which cost me
five hundred dollars. So, when my new patient had been under my care and
control two months, I proposed that he should travel about with me in my
buggy, and visit various parts of the State in the immediate vicinity.
His friends thought well of the suggestion, and we traveled in this way
about four months, stopping a few days here and there, when I practiced
where I could, and sold medicines, making some money. At the end of
this time I went back to Montgomery with my patient, as I think, fully
restored, and his father, besides, paying the actual expenses of our
journey, gave me six hundred dollars.

Returning to Sidney I learned that my first and worst wife was then
living with the children at Unadilla, a few miles across the river in
Otsego County. I had no desire to see her, but I heard at the same time
that my youngest boy, a lad ten years old, had been sent to work on a
farm three miles beyond, and that he was not well taken care of. I drove
over to see about it, and after some inquiry I was told that the boy
was then in school. Going to the schoolhouse and asking for him, the
school-mistress, who knew me, denied that he was there, but I pushed
in, and found him, and a ragged, miserable looking little wretch he was.
I brought him out, put him into the carriage and took him with me on the
journey which I was then contemplating to Amsterdam, N. Y., stopping
at the first town to get him decently clothed. The boy went with me
willingly, indeed he was glad to go, and in due time we arrived at
Amsterdam, and from there we went to Troy.

I had not been in Troy two hours before I was arrested for stealing my
own horse and buggy! My turnout was taken from me, and I found myself in
durance vile. I was not long in procuring bail, and I then set myself,
to work to find out what this meant. I was shown a handbill describing
my person, giving my name, giving a description of my horse, and
offering a reward of fifty dollars for my arrest. This was signed by
a certain Benson, of Kingston, Sullivan County, N.Y. I then remembered
that while I was traveling with my insane patient from Montgomery
through Sullivan County, I fell in with a Benson who was a very
plausible fellow, and who scraped acquaintance with me, and while I was
at Kingston he rode about with me on one or two occasions. One day he
told me that he knew a girl just out of the place who was subject to
fits, and wanted to know if I could do anything for her; that her father
was rich and would pay a good price to have her cured. I went to see the
girl and did at least enough to earn a fee of one hundred dollars,
which her father gladly paid me. Benson also introduced me to some other
people whom I found profitable patients. I thought he was a very good
friend to me, but he was a cool, calculating rascal. He meant to rob me
of my horse and buggy, and went deliberately to work about it. First, he
issued the handbill which caused my arrest in Troy, where he knew I was
going. Next, as appeared when he came up to Troy to prosecute the suit
against me, he forged a bill of sale. The case was tried and decided
in my favor. Benson appealed, and again it was decided that the horse
belonged to me. I then had him indicted for perjury and forgery, and he
was put under bonds of fourteen hundred dollars in each case to appear
for trial. Some how or other he never appeared, and whether he forfeited
his bonds, or otherwise slipped through the “meshes of the law,” I never
learned, nor have I ever seen him since he attempted to swindle me.
But these proceedings kept me in Troy more than a month, and to pay
my lawyer and other expenses, I actually sold the horse and buggy the
scoundrel tried to steal from me.

Taking my boy to Sidney and putting him under the care of my half
sister, I went to Boston, where I met two friends of mine who were
about going to Meredith Bridge, N.H., to fish through the ice on Lake
Winnipiseogee. It was early in January, 1853, and good, clear, cold
weather. They represented the sport to be capital, and said that plenty
of superb lake trout and pickerel could be taken every day, and urged me
to go with them. As I had nothing special to do for a few days, I went.
When we reached Meredith we stopped at a tavern near the lake, kept by
one of the oddest landlords I have ever met. After a good supper, as
we were sitting in the barroom, the landlord came up to me and at once
opened conversation in the following manner:

“Waal, where do you come from, anyhow?”

“From Boston,” I replied.

“Waal, what be you, anyhow?”

“Well, I practice medicine, and take care of the sick.”

“Dew ye? Waal, do ye ever cure anybody?”

“O, sometimes; quite frequently, in fact.”

“Dew ye! waal, there’s a woman up here to Lake Village, ‘Squire
Blaisdell’s wife, who has had the dropsy more’n twelve years; been
filling’ all the time till they tell me she’s bigger’n a hogshead now,
and she’s had a hundred doctors, and the more doctors she has the bigger
she gets; what d’ ye think of that now?”

I answered that I thought it was quite likely, and then turned away
from the landlord to talk to my friends about our proposed sport for
to-morrow, mentally making note of ‘Squire Blaisdell’s wife in Lake
Village.

After breakfast next morning we went out on the lake, cut holes in the
ice, set our lines, and before dinner we had taken several fine trout
and pickerel, the largest and finest of which we put into a box with
ice, and sent as a present to President Pierce, in Washington. We had
agreed, the night before, to fish for him the first day, and to send
him the best specimens we could from his native state. After dinner my
friends started to go out on the ice again, and I told them “I guess’d I
wouldn’t go with them, I had fished enough for that day.” They insisted
I should go, but I told them I preferred to take a walk and explore the
country. So they went to the lake and I walked up to Lake Village.

I soon found Mr. Blaisdell’s house, and as the servant who came to the
door informed me that Mr. Blaisdell was not at home, I asked to see
Mrs. Blaisdell, And was shown in to that lady. She was not quite the
“hogshead” the landlord declared her to be, but she was one of the worst
cases of dropsy I had ever seen. I introduced myself to her, told her my
profession, and that I had called upon her in the hope of being able to
afford her some relief; that I wanted nothing for my services unless I
could really benefit her.

“O, Doctor,” said she, “you can do nothing for me; in the past twelve
years I have had at least forty different doctors, and none of them have
helped me.”

“But there can be no harm in trying the forty-first;” and as I said
it I took from my vest pocket and held out in the palm of my hand some
pills:

“Here, madame, are some pills made from a simple blossom, which cannot
possibly harm you, and which, I am sure, will do you a great deal of
good.”

“O, Mary!” she exclaimed to her niece, who was in attendance upon her,
“this is my dream! I dreamed last night that my father appeared to me
and told me that a stranger would come with a blossom in his hand; that
he would offer it to me, and that if I would take it I should recover.
Go and get a glass of water and I will take these pills at once.”

“Surely,” said Mary, “you are not going to take this stranger’s medicine
without knowing anything about it, or him?”

“I am indeed; go and get the water.”

She took the medicine and then told me that her father, who had died two
years ago, was a physician, and had carefully attended to her case as
long as he lived; but that she had a will of her own, and had sent far
and near for other doctors, though with no good result.

“You have come to me,” she continued, “and although I am not
superstitious, your coming with a blossom in your hand, figuratively
speaking, is so exactly in accordance with my dream, that I am going to
put myself under your care.”

She then asked me if I lived in the neighborhood, and I told her no;
that I had merely come up from Boston with two friends to try a few
days’ fishing through the ice on the lake.

“You can fish to better purpose here, I think,” she said; “you can get
plenty of practice in the villages and farm houses about here: at any
rate, stay for the present and undertake my case, and I will pay you
liberally.”

I went back to Meredith Bridge--I believe it is now called Laconia--and
had another day’s fishing with my friends. When they were ready to pack
up and return to Boston, I astonished them by informing them that I
should stay where I was for the present, perhaps for months, and that I
believed I could find a good practice in Meredith and adjoining places.
So they left me and I went to Lake Village, and made that pleasant place
my headquarters.

The weeks wore on, and if Mrs. Blaisdell was a hogshead, as the Meredith
landlord said, when I first saw her, she soon became a barrel under my
treatment, and in four months she was entirely cured, and was as sound
as any woman in the State. I had as much other business too as I could
attend to, and was very busy and happy all the time.

In May I went to Exeter, alternating between there and Portsmouth, and
finding enough to do till the end of July. While I was in Portsmouth
on one of my last visits to that place, I received a call from a
sea-captain by the name of Brown, who told me that he had heard of my
success in dropsical cases, and that I must go to Newark, N. J., and
see his daughter. “Pay,” he said, “was no object; I must go.” I told him
that I had early finished my business in that vicinity, and that when I
went to New York, as I proposed to do shortly, I would go over to
Newark and see his daughter. A few days afterward, when I had settled my
business and collected my bills in Portsmouth and Exeter, I went to New
York, and from there to Newark.



CHAPTER VII. WEDDING A WIDOW, AND THE CONSEQUENCES.

I MARRY A WIDOW--SIX WEEKS OF HAPPINESS--CONFIDING A SECRET AND THE
CONSEQUENCES--THE WIDOW’S BROTHER--SUDDEN FLIGHT FROM NEWARK--IN
HARTFORD, CONN.--MY WIFE’S SISTER BETRAYS ME--TRIAL FOR
BIGAMY--SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT--I BECOME A “BOBBIN BOY”--A
GOOD FRIEND--GOVERNOR PRICE VISITS ME IN PRISON--HE PARDONS ME--TEN
YEARS’ SENTENCE FULFILLED IN SEVEN MONTHS.



Why in the world did Captain Brown ever tempt me with the prospect of
a profitable patient in Newark? I had no thought of going to that city,
and no business there except to see if I could cure Captain Brown’s
daughter. With my matrimonial monomania it was like putting my hand into
the fire to go to a fresh place, where I should see fresh faces, and
where fresh temptations would beset me. And when I went to Newark, I
went only as I supposed, to see a single patient; but Captain Brown
prevailed upon me to stay to take care of his daughter, and assured me
that he and his friends would secure me a good practice. They did. In
two months I was doing as well in my profession as I had ever done in
any place where I had located. I might have attended strictly to my
business, and in a few years have acquired a handsome competence. But,
as ill luck, which, strangely enough, I then considered good luck, would
have it, when I had been in Newark some two months, I became acquainted
with a buxom, good-looking widow, Mrs. Elizabeth Roberts. I protest
to-day that she courted me--not I her. She was fair, fascinating, and
had a goodly share of property. I fell into the snare. She said she was
lonely; she sighed; she smiled, and I was lost.

Would that I had observed the elder Weller’s injunction: “Bevare of
vidders;” would that I had never seen the Widow Roberts, or rather that
she had never seen me. Eight weeks after we first met we were married.
We had a great wedding in her own house, and all her friends were
present. I was in good practice with as many patients as I could attend
to; she had a good home and we settled down to be very happy.

For six weeks, only six weeks, I think we were so. We might have been
so for six weeks, six months, six years longer; but alas! I was a fool I
confided to her the secret of my first marriage, and separation, and she
confided the same secret to her brother, a well-to-do wagon-maker in
Newark. So far as Elizabeth was concerned, she said she didn’t care;
so long as the separation was mutual and final, since so many years
had elapsed, and especially since I hadn’t seen the woman for full six
years, and was not supposed to know whether she was alive or dead, why,
it was as good as a divorce; so reasoned Elizabeth, and it was precisely
my own reasoning, and the reasoning which had got me into numberless
difficulties, to say nothing of jails and prisons. But the brother had
his doubts about it, and came and talked to me on the subject several
times. We quarrelled about it. He threatened to have me arrested for
bigamy. I told him that if he took a step in that direction I would flog
him. Then he had me brought before a justice for threatening him, with a
view to having me put under bonds to keep the peace. I employed a lawyer
who managed my case so well that the justice concluded there was no
cause of action against me.

But this lawyer informed me that the brother was putting, even then,
another rod in pickle for me, and that I had better clear out. I took
his advice, I went to the widow’s house, packed my trunk, gathered
together what money I could readily lay hands upon, and with about $300
in my pocket, I started for New York, staying that night at a hotel in
Courtland street.

The following morning I went over to Jersey City, hired a saddle-horse,
and rode to Newark. The precise object of my journey I do not think I
knew myself; but I must have had some vague idea of persuading Elizabeth
to leave Newark and join me in New York or elsewhere. I confess, too,
that I was more or less under the influence of liquor, and considerably
more than less. However, no one would have noticed this in my appearance
or demeanor. I rode directly to Elizabeth’s door, hitched my horse, and
went into the house. The moment my wife saw me she cried out:

“For God’s sake get out of this house and out of town as soon as you
can; they have been watching for you ever since yesterday; they’ve got a
warrant for your arrest; don’t stay here one moment.”

I asked her if she was willing to follow me, and she said she would
do so if she only dared but her brother had made an awful row, and had
sworn he would put me in prison anyhow; I had better go back to New York
and await events. I started for the door, and was unhitching my horse,
when the brother and a half dozen more were upon me. I sprang to the
saddle. They tried to stop me; the over-eager brother even caught me
by the foot; but I dashed through the crowd and rode like mad to Jersey
City, returned the horse to the livery stable, crossed the ferry to New
York, went to my hotel, got my trunk, and started for Hartford, Conn.,
where I arrived in the evening.

This was in the month of June, 1854. I went to the old Exchange Hotel in
State street, and very soon acquired a good practice. Indeed, it seems
as if I was always successful enough in my medical business--my mishaps
have been in the matrimonial line. When I had been in Hartford about
three months, and was well settled, I thought I would go down to New
York and see a married sister of Elizabeth’s, who was living there, and
try to find out how matters were going on over in Newark. That I found
out fully, if not exactly to my satisfaction, will appear anon.

When I called at the sister’s house, the servant told me she was out,
but would be back in an hour; so I left my name, promising to call
again. I returned again at one o’clock in the afternoon, and the sister
was in, but declined to see me. As I was coming down the steps, a
policeman who seemed to be lounging on the opposite side of the street,
beckoned to me, and suspecting nothing, I crossed over to see what he
wanted. He simply wanted to know my name, and when I gave it to him he
informed me that I was his prisoner. I asked for what? and he said “as a
fugitive from justice in New Jersey.”

This was for taking the pains to come down from Hartford to inquire
after the welfare of my wife! whose sister, the moment the servant told
her I had been there, and would call again, had gone to the nearest
police station and given information, or made statements, which led to
the setting of this latest trap for me. The policeman took me before a
justice who sent me to the Tombs. On my arrival there I managed to pick
up a lawyer, or rather one of the sharks of the place picked me up, and
said that for twenty-five dollars he would get me clear in three or
four hours. I gave him the money, and from that day till now, I have
never set eyes upon him. I lay in a cell all night, and next morning
Elizabeth’s brother, to whom the sister in New York had sent word that
I was caged, came over from Newark to see me. He said he felt sorry for
me, but that he was “bound to put me through.” He then asked me if I
would go over to Newark without a requisition from the Governor of
New Jersey, and I told him I would not; whereupon he went away without
saying another word, and I waited all day to hear from the lawyer to
whom I had given twenty-five dollars, but he did not come.

So next day when the brother came over and asked me the same question,
I said I would go; wherein I was a fool; for I ought to have reflected
that he had had twenty-four hours in which to get a requisition, and
that he might in fact have made application for one already, without
getting it, and every delay favored my chances of getting out. But I had
no one to advise me, and so I went quietly with him and an officer to
the ferry, where we crossed and went by cars to Newark. I was at once
taken before a justice, who, after a hearing of the case, bound me over,
under bonds of only one thousand dollars, to take my trial for bigamy.

If I could have gone into the street I could have procured this
comparatively trifling bail in half an hour; as it was, after I was in
jail I sent for a man whom I knew, and gave him my gold watch and one
hundred dollars, all the money I had, to procure me bail, which he
promised to do; but he never did a thing for me, except to rob me.

A lawyer came to me and offered to take my case in hand for one hundred
dollars, but I had not the money to give him. I then sent to New York
for a lawyer whom I knew, and when he came to see me he took the same
view of the case that Elizabeth and I did; that is, that the long
separation between my first wife and myself, and my presumed ignorance
as to whether she was alive or dead, gave me full liberty to marry
again. At least, he thought any court would consider it an extenuating
circumstance, and he promised to be present at my trial and aid me all
he could.

I lay in Newark jail nine months, awaiting my trial. During that time I
had almost daily quarrels with the jailor, who abused me shamefully, and
told me I ought to go to State prison and stay there for life. Once he
took hold of me and I struck him, for which I was put in the dark cell
forty-eight hours. At last came my trial. The court appointed counsel
for me, for I had no money to fee a lawyer, and my New York friend was
on hand to advise and assist. I lad witnesses to show the length of time
that had elapsed since my separation from my first wife, and we also
raised the point as to whether the justice who married me, was really
a legal justice of the peace or not. The trial occupied two days. I
suppose all prisoners think so, but the Judge charged against me in
every point; the jury was out two hours, and then came in for advice on
a doubtful question; the judge gave them another blast against me, and
an hour after they came in with a verdict of “guilty.” I went back to
jail and two days afterwards was brought up for sentence which was--“ten
years at hard labor in the State prison at Trenton.”

Good heavens! All this for being courted and won by a widow!

The day following, I was taken in irons to Trenton. The Warden of
the prison, who wanted to console me, said that, for the offence, my
sentence was an awful one, and that he didn’t believe I would be obliged
to serve out half of it. As I felt then, I did not believe I should live
out one-third of it. After I had gone through the routine of questions,
and had been put in the prison uniform, a cap was drawn down over my
face, as if I was about to be hung, and I was led, thus blind-folded,
around and around, evidently to confuse me, with regard to the interior
of the prison--in case I might ever have any idea of breaking out. At
last I was brought to a cell door and the cap was taken off. There were,
properly no “cells” in this prison--at least I never saw any; but good
sized rooms for two prisoners, not only to live in but to work in. I
found myself in a room with a man who was weaving carpets, and I was at
once instructed in the art of winding yarn on bobbins for him--in fact,
I was to be his “bobbin-boy.”

I pursued this monotonous occupation for two months, when I told the
keeper I did not like that business, and wanted to try something that
had a little more variety in it. Whereupon he put me at the cane chair
bottoming business, which gave me another room and another chum, and I
remained at this work while I was in the prison. In three weeks I could
bottom one chair, while my mate was bottoming nine or ten as his day’s
work; but I told the keeper I did not mean to work hard, or work at all,
if I could help it. He was a very nice fellow and he only laughed and
let me do as I pleased. Indeed, I could not complain of my treatment
in any respect; I had a good clean room, good bed, and the fare was
wholesome and abundant. But then, there was that terrible, terrible
sentence of ten long years of this kind of life, if I should live
through it.

After I had been in prison nearly seven months, one day a merchant
tailor whom I well knew in Newark, and who made my clothes, including
my wedding suit when I married the Widow Roberts, came to see me. The
legislature was in session and he was a member of the Senate. He knew
all the circumstances of my case, and was present at my trial. After the
first salutation, he laughingly said:

“Well, Doctor, those are not quite as nice clothes as I used to furnish
you with.”

“No,” I replied, “but perhaps they are more durable.”

After some other chaff and chat, he made me tell him all about my first
marriage and subsequent separation, and after talking awhile he went
away, promising to see me soon. I looked upon this only as a friendly
visit, for which I was grateful; and attached no great importance to it.
But he came again in a few days, and after some general conversation, he
told me that there was a movement on foot in my favor, which might bring
the best of news to me; that he had not only talked with his friends in
the legislature, and enlisted their sympathy and assistance, but he had
laid the whole circumstances, from beginning to end, before Governor
Price; that the Governor would visit the prison shortly, and then I must
do my best in pleading my own cause.

In a day or two the Governor came, and I had an opportunity to relate
my story. I told him all about my first unfortunate marriage, and the
separation. He said that he knew the facts, and also that he had lately
received a letter from my oldest son on the subject, and had read it
with great interest. I then appealed to the Governor for his clemency;
my sentence was an outrageously severe one, and seemed almost prompted
by private malice; I implored him to pardon me; I went down on my knees
before him, and asked his mercy. He told me to be encouraged; that he
would be in the prison again in a few days, and he would see me. He then
went away.

I at once drew up a petition which my friend in the Senate circulated
in the legislature for signatures, and afterwards sent it to Newark,
securing some of the best names in that city. It was then returned to
me, and two weeks afterwards when the Governor came again to the prison
I presented it to him, and he put it in his pocket.

In two days’ time, Governor Price sent my pardon into the prison. The
Warden came and told me of it, and said he would let me out in an hour.
Then came a keeper who once more put the cap over my face and led me
around the interior--I was willingly led now--till he brought me to a
room where he gave me my own clothes which I put on, and with a kind
parting word, and five dollars from the Warden, I was soon in the
street, once more a free man. My sentence of ten years had been
fulfilled by an imprisonment of exactly seven months.

I went and called on Governor Price to thank him for his great goodness
towards me. He received me kindly, talked to me for some time, and gave
me some good advice and a little money. With this and the five dollars I
received from the Warden of the prison I started for New York.



CHAPTER VII. ON THE KEEN SCENT.

GOOD RESOLUTIONS--ENJOYING FREEDOM--GOING AFTER A CRAZY MAN--THE
OLD TEMPTER IN A NEW FORM--MARY GORDON--MY NEW “COUSIN”--ENGAGED
AGAIN--VISIT TO THE OLD FOLKS AT HOME--ANOTHER MARRIAGE--STARTING FOR
OHIO--CHANGE OF PLANS--DOMESTIC QUARRELS--UNPLEASANT STORIES ABOUT
MARY--BOUND OVER TO KEEP THE PEACE--ANOTHER ARREST FOR BIGAMY--A
SUDDEN FLIGHT--SECRETED THREE WEEKS IN A FARM HOUSE--RECAPTURED AT
CONCORD--ESCAPED ONCE MORE--TRAVELING ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD--IN
CANADA.



It would seem as if, by this time, I had had enough of miscellaneous
marrying and the imprisonment that almost invariably followed. I had
told Governor Price, when I first implored him for pardon, that if he
would release me I would begin a new life, and endeavor to be in all
respects a better man. I honestly meant to make every effort to be so,
and on my stay to New York I made numberless vows for my own future
good behavior. I bound myself over, as it were, to keep the pace--my own
peace and quiet especially--and became my own surety. That I could not
have had a poorer bondsman, subsequent events proved to my sorrow. But I
started fairly, and meant to let liquor alone; to attend strictly to my
medical business, which I always managed to make profitable, and above
all, to have nothing to do with women in the love-making or matrimonial
way.

With those good resolutions I arrived in New York and went to my old
hotel in Courtland Street, where I was well known and was well received.
My trunk, which I had left there sixteen months before, was safe, and
I had a good suit of clothes on my back--the clothes I took off when
I went to prison in Trenton--and which were returned to me when I came
away. I went to a friend who loaned me some money, and I remained two or
three days in town to try my new-found freedom, going about the city,
visiting places of amusement, enjoying myself very much, and keeping, so
far, the good resolutions I had formed.

From New York I went to Troy, and at the hotel where I stopped I became
acquainted with a woman who told me that her husband was in the Insane
Asylum at Brattleboro, Vt. She was going to see him, and if he was fit
to be removed, she proposed to take him home, with her. I told her
of the success I had had in taking care of two men at Newbury and
Montgomery; and how I had traveled about the country with them, and with
the most beneficial results to my patients. She was much interested,
inquired into the particulars, and finally thought the plan would be a
favorable one for her husband. She asked me to go with her to see him,
and said that if he was in condition to travel he should go about with
me if he would; at any rate, if he came out of the Asylum she would put
him under my care. We went together to Brattleboro, and the very day we
arrived her husband was taken in an apoplectic fit from which he did not
recover. She carried home his corpse, and I lost my expected patient.

But I must have something to do for my daily support, and so I went to
work and very soon sold some medicines and recipes, and secured a few
patients. I also visited the adjoining villages, and in a few weeks
I had a very good practice. I might have lived here quietly and made
money. Nobody knew anything of my former history, my marriages or my
misfortunes, and I was doing well, with a daily increasing business.
And so I went on for nearly three months, gaining new acquaintances, and
extending my practice every day.

Then came the old tempter in a new form, and my matrimonial monomania,
which I hoped was cured forever, broke out afresh. One day, at the
public house where I lived, I saw a fine girl from New Hampshire, with
whom I became acquainted--so easily, so far as she was concerned--that I
ought to have been warned to have nothing to do with her; but, as usual,
in such cases, my common sense left me, and I was infatuated enough to
fancy that I was in love.

Mary Gordon was the daughter of a farmer living near Keene, N. H., and
was a handsome girl about twenty years of age. She was going, she told
me, to visit some friends in Bennington, and would be there about a
month, during which time, if I was in that vicinity, she hoped I would
come and see her. We parted very lovingly, and when she had been in
Bennington a few days she wrote to me, setting a time for me to visit
her; but in business in Brattleboro was too good to leave, and I so
wrote to her. Whereupon, in another week, she came back to Brattleboro
and proposed to finish the remainder of her visit there, thus blinding
her friends at home who would think she was all the while at Bennington.

Our brief acquaintance when she was at the house before, attracted no
particular attention, and when she came now I told the landlord that she
was my cousin, and he gave her a room and I paid her bills. The cousin
business was a full cover to our intimacy; she sat next to me at the
table, rode about with me to see my patients, and when I went to places
near by to sell medicine, and we were almost constantly together. Of
course, we were engaged to be married, and that very soon.

In a fortnight after her arrival I went home with her to her father’s
farm near Keene, and she told her mother that we were “engaged.” The old
folks thought they would like to know me a little better, but she said
we were old friends, she knew me thoroughly, and meant to marry me.
There was no further objection on the part of her parents, and in the
few days following she and her mother were busily engaged in preparing
her clothes and outfit.

I then announced my intention of returning to Brattleboro to settle up
my business in that place, and she declared she would go with me; I
was sure to be lonesome; she might help me about my bills, and so on.
Strange as it may seem, her parents made no objection to her going,
though I was to be absent a fortnight, and was not to be married till
I came back. So we went together, and I and my “cousin” put up at the
hotel we had lately left. For two weeks I was busy in making my final
visits to my patients acquaintances, she generally going with me every
day.

At the end of that time we went back to Keene, and in three weeks we
were married in her father’s house, the old folks making a great wedding
for us, which was attended by all the neighbors and friends of the
family. We stayed at home two weeks, and meanwhile arranged our plans
for the future. We proposed to go out to Ohio, where she had some
relatives, and settle down. She had seven hundred dollars in bank in
Keene which she drew, and we started on our journey. We went to Troy,
where we stayed a few days, and during that time we both concluded that
we would not go West, but return to Keene and live in the town instead
of on the farm, so that I could open an office and practice there.

So we went back to her home again, but before I completed my plans for
settling down in Keene, Mary and I had several quarrels which were worse
than mere ordinary matrimonial squabbles. Two or three young men in
Keene, with whom I had become acquainted, twitted me with marrying Mary,
and told me enough about her to convince me that her former life had not
been altogether what it should have been. I had been too blinded by
her beauty when I first saw her in Brattleboro, to notice how extremely
easily she was won. Her parents, too, were wonderfully willing, if not
eager, to marry her to me. All these things came to me now, and we had
some very lively conversations on the subject, in which the old folks
joined, siding with their daughter of course. By and by the girl went
to Keene and made a complaint that she was afraid of her life, and I was
brought before a magistrate and put under bonds of four hundred dollars
to keep the peace. I gave a man fifty dollars to go bail for me, and
then, instead of going out to the farm with Mary, I went to the hotel in
Keene.

The well-known character of the girl, my marriage to her, the brief
honeymoon, the quarrels and the cause of the same, were all too tempting
material not to be served up in a paragraph, and as I expected and
feared, out came the whole story in the Keene paper.

This was copied in other journals, and presently came letters to the
family and to other persons in the place, giving some account of my
former adventures and marriages. Of this however I knew nothing, till
one day, while I was at the hotel, I was suddenly arrested for bigamy.
But I was used to this kind of arrest by this time, and I went before
the magistrate with my mind made up that I must suffer again for my
matrimonial monomania.

It was just after dinner when I was arrested, and the examination, which
was a long one, continued till evening. Every one in the magistrate’s
office was tired out with it, I especially, and so I took a favorable
opportunity to leave the premises. I bolted for the door, ran down
stairs into the street, and was well out of town before the astonished
magistrate, stunned constable, and amazed spectators realized that I had
gone.

Whether they than set out in pursuit of me I never knew, I only know
they did not catch me. I ran till I came to the house of a farmer whom
I had been attending for some ailment, and hurriedly narrating the
situation, I offered him one hundred dollars if he would secrete me till
the hue and cry was over and I could safely get away. I think he would
have done it from good will, but the hundred dollar bill I offered him
made the matter sure. He put my money into his pocket, and he put me
into a dark closet, not more than five feet square, and locked me in.

I stayed in that man’s house, never going out of doors, for more than
three weeks, and did my best to board out my hundred dollars. The day
after my flight the whole neighborhood was searched, that is, the woods,
roads, and adjacent villages. They never thought of looking in a house,
particularly in a house so near the town; and, as I heard from my
protector, they telegraphed and advertised far and near for me.

I anticipated all this, and for this very reason I remained quietly
where I was, in an unsuspected house, and with my dark closet to retire
to whenever any one came in; and gossiping neighbors coming in almost
every hour, kept me in that hole nearly half the time. I heard my own
story told in that house at least fifty times, and in fifty different
ways.

At last, when I thought it was safe, one night my host harnessed up his
horses and carried me some miles on my way to Concord. He drove as far
as he dared, for he wanted to get back home by daylight, so that his
expedition might excite no suspicion. Twenty miles away from Keene he
set me down in the road, and, bidding him “good-bye,” I began my march
toward Concord. When I arrived there, almost the first man I saw in the
street was a doctor from Keene. I did not think he saw me, but he did,
as I soon found out, for while I was waiting at the depot to take the
cars to the north, I was arrested.

The Keene doctor owed me a grudge for interfering, as he deemed it; with
his regular practice, and the moment he saw me he put an officer on my
trail. I thought it was safe here to take the cars, for I was footsore
and weary, nor did I get away from Keene as fast and as far as I wanted
to. I should have succeeded but for that doctor.

When the officer brought me before a justice, the doctor was a willing
witness to declare that I was a fugitive from justice, and he stated the
circumstances of my escape. So I was sent back to Keene under charge of
the very officer who arrested me at the depot.

I would not give this officer’s name if I could remember it, but he was
a fine fellow, and was exceedingly impressible. For instance, on our
arrival at Keene, he allowed me to go to the hotel and pack my trunk to
be forwarded to Meredith Bridge by express. He then handed me over to
the authorities, and I was immediately taken before the magistrate from
whom I had previously escaped, the Concord officer accompanying the
Keene officer who had charge of me.

The examination was short; I was bound over in the sum of one thousand
dollars to take my trial for bigamy. On my way to jail I persuaded the
Concord officer--with a hundred dollar bill which I slipped into his
hand--to induce the other officer to go with me to the hotel under
pretense of looking after my things, and getting what would be necessary
for my comfort in jail. My Concord friend kept the other officer down
stairs--in the bar-room, I presume--while I went to my room. I put a
single shirt in my pocket; the distance from my window to the ground
was not more than twelve or fifteen feet, and I let myself down from the
window sill and then dropped.

I was out of the yard, into the street, and out of town in less than no
time. It was already evening, and everything favored my escape. I had
no idea of spending months in jail at Keene, and months more, perhaps
years, in the New Hampshire State Prison. All my past bitter experiences
of wretched prison life urged me to flight.

And fly I did. No stopping at the friendly farmer’s, my former refuge,
this time; that would be too great a risk. No showing of myself in any
town or village where the telegraph might have conveyed a description
of my person. I traveled night and day on foot, and more at night than
during the day, taking by-roads, lying by in the woods, sleeping in
barns, and getting my meals in out-of-the-way farm houses.

I had plenty of money; but this kind of travelling is inexpensive, and,
paying twenty-five cents for one or two meals a day, as I dared to get
them, and sleeping in barns or under haystacks for nothing, my purse
did not materially diminish. I was a good walker, and in the course of
a week from the night when I left Keene, I found myself in Biddeford,
Maine.

There was some sense of security in being in another State, and here I
ventured to take the cars for Portland, where I staid two days, sending
in the meantime for my trunk from Meredith Bridge, and getting it by
express. Of course it went to a fictitious address at Meredith, and it
came to me under the same name which I had registered in my hotel at
Portland.

I did not mean to stay there long. My departure was hastened by the
advice of a man who knew me, and told he also knew my New Hampshire
scrape, and that I had better leave Portland as soon as possible. Half
an hour after this good advice I was on my way by cars to Canada. In
Canada I stayed in different small towns near the border, and “kept
moving,” till I thought the New Hampshire matter had blown over a
little, or at least till they had given me up as a “gone case,” and I
then reappeared in Troy.



CHAPTER IX. MARRYING TWO MILLINERS.

BACK IN VERMONT--FRESH TEMPTATIONS--MARGARET BRADLEY--WINE AND
WOMEN--A MOCK MARRIAGE IN TROY--THE FALSE CERTIFICATE--MEDICINE
AND MILLINERY--ELIZA GURNSEY--A SPREE AT SARATOGA--MARRYING ANOTHER
MILLINER--AGAIN ARRESTED OR BIGAMY--IN JAIL ELEVEN MONTHS--A TEDIOUS
TRIAL--FOUND GUILTY--APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT--TRYING TO BREAK OUT OF
JAIL--A GOVERNOR’S PROMISE--SECOND TRIAL--SENTENCE TO THREE YEARS’
IMPRISONMENT.



From Troy I went, first to Newburyport, Mass., where I had some
business, and where I remained a week, and then returned to Troy again.
Next I went to Bennington, Vt., to sell medicines and practice, and I
found enough to occupy me there for full two months. From Bennington to
Rutland, selling medicines on the way, and at Rutland I intended to stay
for some time. My oldest son was there well established in the medical
business, and I thought that both of us together might extend a wide
practice and make a great deal of money.

No doubt we might have done so, if I had minded my medical business
only, and had let matrimonial matters alone. I had just got rid of a
worthless woman in New Hampshire with a very narrow escape from State
prison. But, as my readers know by this time, all experience, even the
bitterest, was utterly thrown away upon me; I seemed to get out of one
scrape only to walk, with my eyes open, straight into another.

At the hotel where I went to board, there was temporarily staying a
woman, about thirty-two years old, Margaret Bradly, by name, who kept a
large millinery establishment in town. I became acquainted with her, and
she told me that she owned a house in the place, in which she and her
mother lived; but her mother had gone away on a visit, and as she did
not like to live alone she had come to the hotel to stay for a few days
till her mother returned. Margaret was a fascinating woman; she knew it,
and it was my miserable fate to become intimate, altogether too intimate
with this designing milliner.

I went to her store every day, sometimes two or three times a day, and
she always had in her backroom, wine or something stronger to treat me
with, and in the evening I saw her at the hotel. When her mother came
back, and Margaret opened her house again, I was a constant visitor. I
was once more caught; I was in love.

Matters went on in this way for several weeks, when one evening I told
her that I was going next day to Troy on business, and she said she
wanted to go there to buy some goods, and that she would gladly take the
opportunity to go with me, if I would let her. Of course, I was only too
happy; and the next day I and my son, and she and one of the young women
in her employ, who was to assist her in selecting goods, started for
Troy. When I called for her, just as we were leaving the house, the old
lady, her mother, called out:

“Margaret, don’t you get married before you come back.”

“I guess I will,” was Margaret’s answer, and we went, a very jovial
party of four, to Troy and put up at the Girard House, where we had
dinner together, and drank a good deal of wine. After dinner my son and
myself went to attend to our business, she and her young woman going to
make their purchases, and arranging to meet us at a restaurant at half
past four o’clock, when we would lunch preparatory to returning to
Rutland.

We met at the appointed place and hour, and had a very lively lunch
indeed, an orgie in fact, with not only enough to eat, but altogether
too much to drink. I honestly think the two women could have laid me and
my son under the table, and would have done it, if we had not looked out
for ourselves; as it was, we all drank a great deal and were very merry.
We were in a room by ourselves, and when we had been there nearly an
hour, it occurred to Margaret that it would be a good idea to humor the
old lady’s dry joke about the danger of our getting married during this
visit to Troy.

“Henry,” said she to my son; “Go out and ask the woman who keeps the
saloon where you can get a blank marriage certificate, and then get one
and bring it here, and we’ll have some fun.”

We were all just drunk enough to see that there was a joke in it, and
we urged the boy to go. He went to the woman, who directed him to a
stationer’s opposite, and presently he came in with a blank marriage
certificate. We called for pen and ink and he sat down and filled out
the blank form putting in my name and Margaret Bradley’s, signing it
with some odd name I have forgotten as that of the clergyman performing
the ceremony. He then signed his own name as a witness to the marriage,
and the young woman who was with us also witnessed it with her
signature. We had a great deal of fun over it, then more wine, and then
it was time for us to hurry to the depot to take the six o’clock train
for Rutland.

Reaching home at about eleven o’clock at night, we found the old lady
up, and waiting for Margaret. We went in and Margaret’s first words
were:

“Well, mother! I’m married; I told you, you know, I thought I should be;
and here’s my certificate.”

The mother expressed no surprise--she knew her daughter better than
I did, then--but quietly congratulated her, while I said not a single
word. My son went to see his companion home, and, as I had not achieved
this latest greatness, but had it thrust upon me, I and my new found
“wife” went to our room. The next day I removed from the hotel to
Margaret’s house and remained there during my residence in Rutland, she
introducing me to her friends as her husband, and seeming to consider it
an established fact.

Three weeks after this mock marriage, however, I told Margaret that I
was going to travel about the State a while to sell my medicines, and
that I might be absent for some time. She made no objections, and as I
was going with my own team she asked me to take some mantillas and a few
other goods which were a little out of fashion, and see if I could not
sell them for her. To be sure I would, and we parted on the best of
terms.

Behold rue now, not only a medical man and a marrying man, but also
a man milliner. When I could not dispose of my medicines, I tried
mantillas, and in the course of my tour I sold the whole of Margaret’s
wares, faithfully remitting to her the money for the same. I think she
would have put her whole stock of goods on me to work off in the same
way; but I never gave her the opportunity to do so.

My journeying brought me at last to Montpelier where I proposed to stay
awhile and see if I could establish a practice. I had disposed of my
millinery goods and had nothing to attend to but my medicines--alas that
my professional acquirements as a marrying man should again have been
called in requisition. But it was to be. It was my fate to fall into the
hands of another milliner.

“Insatiate monster! would not one suffice?”

It seems not. There was a milliner at Rutland whose family and, friends
all believed to be my wife, though she knew she was not; and here in
Montpelier, was ready waiting, like a spider for a fly, another milliner
who was about to enmesh me in the matrimonial net. I had not been in
the place a week before I became acquainted with Eliza Gurnsey. I could
hardly help it, for she lived in the hotel where I stopped, and although
she was full thirty-five years old, she was altogether the most
attractive woman in the house. She was agreeable, good-looking,
intelligent, and what the vernacular calls “smart.” At all events, she
was much too smart for me, as I soon found out.

She had a considerable millinery establishment which she and her younger
sister carried on, employing several women, and she was reputed to
be well off. Strange as it may seem in the light of after events, she
actually belonged to the church and was a regular attendant at the
services. But no woman in town was more talked about, and precisely what
sort of a woman she was may be estimated from the fact that I had known
her but little more than a week, when she proposed that she, her sister
and I should go to Saratoga together, and have a good time for a day or
two.

I was fairly fascinated with the woman and I consented. The younger
sister was taken with us, I thought at first as a cover, I knew
afterwards as a confederate, and Eliza paid all the bills, which were
by no means small ones, of the entire trip. We stopped in Saratoga at a
hotel, which is now in very different hands, but which was then kept
by proprietors who, in addition to a most excellent table and
accommodations, afforded their guests the opportunity, if they desired
it, of attending prayers every night and morning in one of the parlors.
This may have been the inducement which made Eliza insist upon going to
this house, but I doubt it.

For our stay at Saratoga, three or four days, was one wild revel. We
rode about, got drunk, went to the Lake, came back to the hotel, and
the second day we were there, Eliza sent her sister for a Presbyterian
minister, whose address she had somehow secured, and this minister came
to the hotel and married us. I presume I consented, I don’t know, for I
was too much under the effect of liquor to know much of anything. I have
an indistinct recollection of some sort of a ceremony, and afterwards
Eliza showed me a certificate--no Troy affair, but a genuine document
signed by a minister residing in Saratoga, and witnessed by her sister
and some one in the hotel who had been called in. But the whole was like
a dream to me; it was the plot of an infamous woman to endeavor to make
herself respectable by means of a marriage, no matter to whom or how
that marriage was effected.

Meanwhile, the Montpelier papers had the whole story, one of them
publishing a glowing account of my elopement with Miss Gurnsey, and the
facts of our marriage at Saratoga was duly chronicled. This paper fell
into the hands of Miss Bradley, at Rutland, and as she claimed to be my
wife, and had parted with me only a little while before, when I went
out to peddle medicines and millinery, her feelings can be imagined. She
read the story and then aroused all Rutland. I had not been back from
Saratoga half an hour before I was arrested in the public house in
Montpelier and taken before a magistrate, on complaint of Miss Bradley,
of Rutland, that I was guilty of bigamy.

The examination was a long one, and as the facts which were then shown
appeared afterwards in my trial they need not be noted now. I had two
first-rate lawyers, but for all that, and with the plainest showing
that Margaret Bradley had no claim whatever to be considered my wife, I
was bound over in the sum of three thousand dollars to appear for
trial, and was sent to jail. There was a tremendous excitement about the
matter, and the whole town seemed interested.

To jail I went, Eliza going with me, and insisting upon staying; but the
jailer would not let her, nor was she permitted to visit me during my
entire stay there, at least she got in to see me but once. I made
every effort to get bail, but was unsuccessful. Eight long weary months
elapsed before my trial came on, and all this while I was in jail. My
trial lasted a week. The Bradley woman knew she was no more married to
me than she was to the man in the moon; but she swore stoutly that we
were actually wedded according to the certificate. On the other hand,
my son swore to all the facts about the Troy spree, and his buying and
filling out the certificate, which showed for itself that, excepting the
signature of the young woman who also witnessed it, it was entirely in
Henry’s handwriting. I should have got along well enough so far as
the Bradley woman was concerned; but the prosecution had been put in
possession of all the facts relative to my first and worst marriage, and
the whole matter came up in this case. The District Attorney had sent
everywhere, as far even as Illinois, for witness with regard to that
marriage. It seemed as if all Vermont was against me. I have heard that
with the cost of witnesses and other expenses, my trial cost the state
more than five thousand dollars. My three lawyers could not save me.
After a week’s trial the case went to the jury, and in four hours they
returned a verdict of “guilty.”

My counsel instantly appealed the case to the Supreme Court, and,
meanwhile I went back to jail where I remained three months more. A few
days after I returned to jail a friend of mine managed to furnish me
with files and saws, and I went industriously to work at the gratings
of my window to saw my way out. I could work only at night, when the
keepers were away, and I covered the traces of my cuttings by filling in
with tallow. In two months I had everything in readiness for my escape.
An hour’s more sawing at the bars would set me free. But just at that
time the Governor of the State, Fletcher, made a visit to the jail.
I told him all about my case. He assured me, after hearing all the
circumstances, that if I should be convicted and sentenced, he would
surely pardon me in the course of six or eight weeks. Trusting in this
promise, I made no further effort to escape though I could have done
so easily any night; but rather than run the risk of recapture, and a
heavier sentence if I should be convicted, I awaited the chances of the
court, and looked beyond for the clemency of the Governor.

Well, finally my case came up in the Supreme Court. It only occupied
a day, and the result was that I was sentenced for three years in the
State prison. I was remanded to jail, and five days from that time I was
taken from Montpelier to Windsor.



CHAPTER X. PRISON-LIFE IN VERMONT.

ENTERING PRISON--THE SCYTHE SNATH BUSINESS--BLISTERED HANDS--I
LEARN NOTHING--THREAT TO KILL THE SHOP--KEEPER--LOCKSMITHING--OPEN
REBELLION--SIX WEEKS IN THE DUNGEON--ESCAPE OF A PRISONER--IN THE
DUNGEON AGAIN--THE MAD MAN, HALL--HE ATTEMPTS TO MURDER THE DEPUTY--I
SAVE MOREY’S LIFE--HOWLING IN THE BLACK HOLE--TAKING OFF HALL’S
IRONS--A GHASTLY SPECTACLE--A PRISON FUNERAL--I AM LET ALONE--BETTER
TREATMENT--THE FULL TERM OF MY IMPRISONMENT.



We arrived at Windsor and I was safely inside of the prison at three
o’clock in the afternoon. Warden Harlow met me with a joke, to the
effect that, had it not been for my handcuffs he should have taken the
officer who brought me, to be the prisoner, I was so much the better
dressed of the two. He then talked very seriously to me for a long time.
He was sorry, and surprised, he said, to see a man of my appearance
brought to such a place for such a crime; he could not understand how a
person of my evident intelligence should get into such a scrape.

I told him that he understood it as well as I did, at all events; that
I could not conceive why I should get into these difficulties, one
after the other; but that I believed I was a crazy man on this one
subject--matrimonial monomania; that when I had gone through with one
of these scrapes, and had suffered the severe punishment that was almost
certain to follow, the whole was like a dream to me--a nightmare and
nothing more. With regard to what was before me in this prison I
should try and behave myself, and make the best of the situation; but I
notified the Warden that I did not mean to do one bit of work if I could
help it.

He took me inside, where my fine clothes were taken away, and I. was
dressed in the usual particolored prison uniform. I was told the rules,
and was warned that if I did not observe them it would go hard with
me. Then followed twenty-four hours solitary confinement, and the next
afternoon I was taken from my cell to a shop in which scythe snaths were
made.

It had transpired during my trial at Montpelier, that when I was a young
man, I was a blacksmith by trade. This information had been transmitted
to prison and I was at once put to work making heel rings. It was some
years since I had worked at a forge and handled a hammer. Consequently,
in three or four days, my hands were terribly blistered, and as the
Warden happened to come into the shop, I showed them to him, and quietly
told him that I would do that work no longer. He told me that I must do
it; he would make me do it. I answered that he might kill me, or punish
me in any way he pleased, but he could not make me do that kind of
labor, and I threw down my hammer and refused to work a moment longer.

The Warden left me and sent Deputy Warden Morey to try me. He approached
me in a kindly way, and I showed my blistered hands to him. He thought
that was the way to “toughen” me. I thought not, and said so, and,
moreover, told him I would never make another heel ring in that prison,
and I never did.

He sent me to my cell and I stayed there a week, till my hands were
well. Then the Deputy came to me and asked me if I was willing to learn
to hew out scythe snaths in the rough for the shavers, who finished
them? I said I would try. I went into the shop and was shown how the
work was to be done. Every man was expected to hew out fifty snaths in a
day. In three or four days the shop-keeper came and overlooked me while
I was working in my bungling way, and said if I couldn’t do better than
that I must clear out of his shop and do something else. My reply was
that I did not understand the business, and had no desire or intention
to learn it. He sent for the Deputy Warden, who came and expressed
the opinion that I could not do anything. I said I was willing to do
anything I could understand.

“Do you understand anything?” asked the Deputy.

“Well, some things, marrying for instance,” was my answer.

“I want no joking or blackguardism about this matter,” said the Deputy;
“them simple fact is, you’ve got to work; if you don’t we’ll make you.”

So I kept on at hewing, making no improvement, and in a day or two
more the shopkeeper undertook to show me how the work should be done. I
protested I never could learn it.

“You don’t try; and I have a good mind to punish you.”

The moment the shop-keeper said it I dropped the snath, raised my
axe, and told him that if he came one step nearer to me I would make
mincemeat of him. He thought it was advisable to stay where he was; but
one of the prison-keepers was in the shop, and as he came toward me I
warned him that he had better keep away.

All the men in the shop were ready to break out in insubordination; when
I threatened the shop keeper and the guard, they cheered; the Deputy
Warden was soon on the ground; he stood in the doorway a moment, and
then, in a kind tone called me to him. I had no immediate quarrel with
him, and so I dropped my axe and went to him. He told me that there
was no use of “making a muss” there, it incited the other prisoners to
insubordination, and was sure to bring severe punishment upon myself.
“Go and get your cap and coat,” said he “and come with me.”

“But if you are going to put me into that black hole of yours,” I
exclaimed, “I won’t go; you’ll have to draw me there or kill me on the
way.”

He promised he would not put me in the dungeon, he was only going to
put me in my cell, he said, and to my cell I went, willingly enough,
and stayed there a week, during which time I suppose everyone of my
shopmates thought I was in the dungeon, undergoing severe punishment for
my rebellions conduct.

I had learned now the worst lesson which a prisoner can learn--that is,
that my keepers were afraid of me. To a limited extent, it is true, I
was now my own master and keeper. In a few days Deputy Morey came to
me and asked me if I was “willing” to come out and work. I was sick
of solitary confinement, and longed to see the faces of men, even
prisoners: so I told him if I could get any work I could do I was
willing to try it, and would do as well as I knew how. He asked me if I
knew anything of locksmithing? I told him I had some taste for it, and
if he would show me his job I would let him see what I could do.

The fact is, I was a very fair amateur locksmith, and had quite
a fondness for fixing, picking, and fussing generally over locks.
Accordingly, when he gave me a lock to work upon to make it “play
easier,” as he described it, I did the job so satisfactorily that I had
nearly every lock in the prison to take off and operate upon, if it was
nothing more than to clean and oil one. This business occupied my
entire time and attention for nearly three months. Then I repaired iron
bedsteads, did other iron work, and I was the general tinker of the
prison.

It came into my head, however, one day, that I might as well do nothing.
The prison fare was indescribably bad, almost as bad as the jail fare at
Easton. We lived upon the poorest possible salt beef for dinner, varied
now and then with plucks and such stuff from the slaughter houses, with
nothing but bread and rye coffee for breakfast and supper, and mush and
molasses perhaps twice a week.

I was daily abused, too, by the Warden, his Deputy, and his keepers.
They looked upon me as an ugly, insubordinate, refractory, rebellious
rascal, who was ready to kill any of them, and, worst of all, who would
not work. I determined to confirm their minds in the latter supposition,
and so one day I threw down my tools and refused to do another thing.

They dragged me to the dungeon and thrust me in. It was a wretched dark
hole, with a little dirty straw in one corner to lie upon. My entire
food and drink was bread and water. The man who brought it never spoke
to me. His face was the only one I saw during the livelong day. Day and
night were alike to me; I lost the run of time; but at long intervals,
once in eight or ten days, I suppose, the Deputy came to this hole and
asked me if I would come out and work.

“No, no!” I always answered, “never!” Then I paced the stone floor in
the dark, or lay on my straw. I lay there till my hips were worn raw.
No human being can conceive the agony, the suffering endured in this
dungeon. At last I was nearly blind, and was scarcely able to stand up.
I presume that the attendant who brought my daily dole of bread and my
cup of water, reported my condition. One day the door opened and I was
ordered out. They were obliged to bring me out; I was so reduced that I
was but the shadow of myself. They meant to cure my obstinacy or to kill
me, and had not quite succeeded in doing either.

There was no use in asking me if I would go to work then; I was just
alive. A few days in my own cell, in the daylight, and with something
beside bread and water to eat, partially restored me. I was then taken
into the shop where the snaths were finished by scraping and varnishing,
the lightest part of the work, but I would not learn, would not do,
would not try to do anything at all. They gave me up. The whole struggle
nearly killed me, but I beat them. I was turned into the halls and told
to do what I could, which, I knew well enough, meant what I would.

After that I worked about the halls and yard, sometimes sweeping, and
again carrying something, or doing errands for the keepers from one part
of the prison to another. I was what theatrical managers call a general
utility man, and, not at all strangely, for it is human nature, now
that I could do what I pleased, I pleased to do a great deal, and was
tolerably useful, and far more agreeable than I had been in the past.

There was a young fellow, twenty-two years of age, in one of the cells,
serving out a sentence of six years. When I was sweeping around I used
to stop and talk to him every day. One day he was missing. He had been
supposed to be sick or asleep for several hours, for apparently lie
lay in bed, and was lying very still. But that was only an ingeniously
constructed dummy. The young man himself had made a hole under his bed
into an adjoining vacant cell, the door of which stood open. He had
crawled through his hole, come out of the vacant cell door, and gone up
to the prison garret, where he found some old pieces of rope. These he
tied together, and getting out at the cupola upon the roof, he managed
to let himself down on the outside of the building and got away. He was
never recaptured. The Warden said that some one must have told him about
the adjoining vacant cell, with its always open door, else how would the
young man have known it?

I was accused of imparting this valuable information, and I suffered
four weeks’ confinement in that horrible dungeon on the mere suspicion.
This made ten weeks in all of my prison-life in a hole in which I
suffered so that I hoped I should die there.

One of the prisoners was a desperate man, named Hall. He was a convicted
murderer, and was sentenced for life. He too, worked about in the prison
and the yards, dragging or carrying a heavy ball and chain. When bundles
of snaths were to be carried from one shop to the other in the various
processes of finishing, Hall had to do it, and to carry his ball and
chain as well, so that he was loaded like a pack-horse. No pack-horse
was ever so abused.

Of course he was ugly; the wardens and the keepers knew it, and
generally kept away from him.

I talked with him more than once, and he told me that with better
treatment he should be a better man. “Look at the loads which are put on
me every day,” he would say; as if this ball and chain were not as much
as I can carry; and this for life, for life!

One day when Hall and I were working together in the prison, Deputy
Warden Morey came in and said something to him, and in a moment the man
sprung upon him. He had secured somehow, perhaps he had picked it up in
the yard, a pocket knife, and with this he stabbed the Warden, striking
him in the shoulder, arm, and where he could.

Morey was a man sixty-five years of age, and he made such resistance
as he could, crying out loudly for help. I turned, ran to Hall, and with
one blow of my fist knocked him nearly senseless; then help came and we
secured the mad man. Morey was profuse in protestations of gratitude to
me for saving his life.

There was a great excitement over this attempt to murder the Deputy, and
for a few hours, with wardens and keepers, I was a hero. I had been in
the prison more than a year, and was generally regarded as one of the
worst prisoners, one of the “hardest cases;” a mere chance had suddenly
made me one of the most commendable men within those dreary walls. As
for Hall, he was taken to the dungeon and securely chained by the feet
to a ring in the center of the stone floor. There is no doubt whatever
that the man was a raving maniac. He howled night and day so that he
could be heard everywhere in the prison--“Murder, murder! they are
murdering me in this black hole; why don’t they take me out and kill
me?”

The Warden said it could not be helped; that the man must be kept there;
he was dangerous to himself and others; the dark cell was the only place
for him. So Hall stayed there and howled, his cries growing weaker from
day to day; by-and-by we heard him only at intervals, and after that
not at all.

One morning there was a little knot of men around the open dungeon door,
the Deputy Warden and two or three keepers. Mr. Morey called to me to go
and get the tools and come there and take off Hall’s irons. I went into
the cell and in a few minutes I unfastened his feet from the ring;
then I took the shackles off his limbs. I thought he held his legs very
stiff, but knew he was obstinate, and only wondered he was so quiet.

Somebody brought in a candle and I looked at Hall’s face. I never saw a
more ghastly sight. The blood from his mouth and nostrils had clotted
on the lower part of his face, and his wild eyes, fixed and glassy, were
staring at the top wall of the dungeon. He must have been dead several
hours. The Deputy and the rest knew he was dead--the man who carried in
the bread and water told them--me it came with a shock from which I did
not soon recover.

They buried Hall in the little graveyard which was in the yard of the
prison. An Episcopal clergyman, who was chaplain of the prison, read the
burial service over him. The prisoners were brought out to attend the
homely funeral. The ball and chain, all the personal property left by
Hall, were put aside for the next murderer sentenced for life, or for
the next “ugly” prisoner. “If I were only treated better, and not abused
so, I should be a better man.” This is what Hall used to say to me
whenever he had an opportunity. The last and worst and best in that
prison had been done for him now.

From the day when I rescued Morey from the hands of Hall, his whole
manner changed towards me, and he treated me with great kindness,
frequently bringing me a cup of tea or coffee, and something good to
eat. He also promised to present the circumstances of the Hall affair to
the Governor, and to urge my pardon, but I do not think he ever did so,
at least I heard nothing of it. When I pressed the matter upon Morey’s
attention he said it would do no good till I had served out half my
sentence, and then he would see what could be done.

I served half my sentence, and then the other half, every day of it. But
during the last two years I had very little to complain of except the
loss of my liberty. I was put into the cook shop where I could get
better food, and I did pretty much what I pleased. By general consent
I was let alone. They had found out that ill usage only made me “ugly,”
 while kindness made me at least behave myself. And so the three weary
years of my confinement were on to an end.



CHAPTER XI. ON THE TRAMP.

THE DAY OF MY DELIVERANCE--OUT OF CLOTHES--SHARING WITH A BEGGAR--A
GOOD FRIEND--TRAMPING THROUGH THE SNOW--WEARY WALKS--TRUSTING TO
LUCK--COMFORT AT CONCORD--AT MEREDITH BRIDGE--THE BLAISDELLS--LAST
OF THE “BLOSSOM” BUSINESS--MAKING MONEY AT PORTSMOUTH--REVISITING
WINDSOR--AN ASTONISHED WARDEN--MAKING FRIENDS OF OLD ENEMIES--INSPECTING
THE PRISON--GOING TO PORT JERVIS.



At last the happy day of my deliverance came. The penalty for pretending
to marry one milliner and for being married by another milliner was
paid. My sentence was fulfilled. I had looked forward to this day for
months. Of all my jail and prison life in different States, this in
Vermont was the hardest, the most severe. My obstinacy, no doubt, did
much at first to enhance my sufferings, and it was the accident only
of my saving Morey’s life that made the last part of my imprisonment
a little more tolerable. When I was preparing to go, it was discovered
that the fine suit of clothes I wore into the prison had been given by
mistake or design to some one else, and my silk hat and calf-skin boots
had gone with the clothes. But never mind! I would have gone out into
the world in rags--my liberty was all I wanted then. The Warden gave me
one of his own old coats, a ragged pair of pantaloons, and a new pair
of brogan shoes. He also gave me three dollars, which was precisely a
dollar a year for my services, and this was more than I ever meant to
earn there. Thus equipped and supplied I was sent out into the streets
of Windsor.

I had not gone half a mile before I met a poor old woman whom I had
known very well in Rutland. She recognized me at once, though I know I
was sadly changed for the worse. She was on her way to Fall River, where
she had relatives, and where she hoped for help, but had no money to pay
her fare, so I divided my small stock with her, and that left me just
one dollar and a half with which to begin the world again. I went down
to the bridge and the toll--gatherer gave me as much as I could eat,
twenty five cents in money, and a pocket-full of food to carry with me.
I was heading, footing rather, for Meredith Bridge in New Hampshire.
It was in the month of December; and I was poorly clad and without an
overcoat. I must have walked fifteen miles that afternoon, and just at
nightfall I came to a wayside public house and ventured to go in. As
I stood by the fire, the landlord stepped up and slapping me on the
shoulder, said:

“Friend, you look as if you were in trouble; step up and have something
to drink.”

I gladly accepted the invitation to partake of the first glass of liquor
I had tasted in three years. It was something, too, everything to be
addressed thus kindly. I told this worthy landlord my whole story; how
I had been trapped by the two milliners, and how I had subsequently
suffered. He had read something about it in the papers; he felt as if
he knew me; he certainly was sorry for me; and he proved his sympathy
by giving me what then seemed to me the best supper I had ever eaten,
a good bed, a good breakfast, a package of provisions to carry with me,
and then sent me on my way with a comparatively light heart.

It rained, snowed, and drizzled all day long. I tramped through the wet
snow ankle deep, but made nearly forty miles before night, and then came
to a public house which I knew well. When I was in the bar-room drying
myself and warming my wet and half-frozen feet, I could not but think
how, only a few years before, I had put up at that very house, with a
fine horse and buggy of my own in the stable, and plenty of money in my
pocket. The landlord’s face was familiar enough, but he did not know
me, nor, under my changed circumstances, did I desire that he should.
Supper, lodging, and breakfast nearly exhausted my small money capital;
I was worn and weary, too, and the next day was able to walk but twenty
miles, all told. On the way, at noon I went into a farm house to warm
myself. The woman had just baked a short-cake which stood on the
hearth, toward which I must have cast longing eyes, for the farmer said:

“Have you had your dinner, man?”

“No, and I have no money to buy any.”

“Well, you don’t need money here. Wife, put that short-cake and some
butter on the table; now, my man, fall to and eat as much as you like.”

I was very hungry, and I declare I ate the whole of that short-cake.
I told these people that I had been in better circumstances, and that
I was not always the poor, ragged, hungry wretch I appeared then. They
made we welcome to what I had eaten and when I went away filled my
pockets with food. At night I was about thirty miles above Concord. I
had no money, but trusting to luck, I got on the cars--the conductor
came, and when he found I had no ticket, he said he must put me off. It
was a bitter night and I told him I should be sure to freeze to death.
A gentleman who heard the conversation at once paid my fare, for which I
expressed my grateful thanks, and I went to Concord.

On my arrival I went to a hotel and told the landlord I wanted to stay
there till the next day, when a conductor whom I knew would be going to
Meredith Bridge; that I was going with him, and that he would probably
pay my bill at the hotel. “All right,” said the landlord, and he gave me
my supper and a room. The next noon my friend, the conductor, came and
when I first spoke to him he did not recognize me; I told him who I
was, but to ask me no questions as to how I came to appear in those old
clothes, and to be so poor; I wanted to borrow five dollars, and to go
with him to Meredith Bridge. He greeted me very cordially, handed me a
ten-dollar Bill--twice as much as I asked for--said he was not going to
the Bridge till next day, and told me meanwhile, to go to the hotel and
make myself comfortable.

I went back to the hotel, paid my bill, stayed there that day and night,
and the next morning “deadheaded,” with my friend the conductor to
Meredith Bridge. Everybody knew me there. The hotel-keeper made me
welcome to his house, and said I could stay as long as I liked.

“Say, dew ye ever cure anybody, Doctor?” asked my old friend, the
landlord, and he laughed and nudged me in the ribs, and asked me to take
some of his medicine from the bar, which I immediately did.

I was at home now. But the object of my visit was to see if I could
not collect some of my old bills in that neighborhood, amounting in the
aggregate to several hundred dollars. They were indeed old bills of five
or six years’ standing, and I had very little hope of collecting much
money. I went first to Lake Village, and called on Mr. John Blaisdell,
the husband of the woman whom I had cured of the dropsy, in accordance,
as she believed at the time, with her prophetic dream. Blaisdell didn’t
know me at first; then he wanted to know what my bill was; I told him
one hundred dollars, to say nothing of six years’ interest; he said he
had no money, though he was regarded as a rich man, and in fact was.

“But sir,” said I, “you see me and how poor I am. Give me something on
account. I am so poor that I even borrowed this overcoat from the
tailor in the village, that I might present a little more respectable
appearance when I called on my old patients to try to collect some of my
old bills. Please to give me something.”

But he had no money. He would pay for the overcoat; I might tell the
tailor so; and afterwards he gave me a pair of boots and an old shirt.
This was the fruit which my “blossom” of years before brought at last.
I saw Mrs. Blaisdell, but she said she could do nothing for me. She had
forgotten what I had done for her.

Of all my bills in that vicinity, with a week’s dunning, I collected
only three dollars; but a good friend of mine, Sheriff Hill, went around
and succeeded in making up a purse of twenty dollars which he put into
my hands just as I was going away. My old landlord wanted nothing for my
week’s board; all he wanted was to know “if I ever cured anybody;” and
when I told him I did, “sometimes” he insisted upon my taking more of
his medicine, and he put up a good bottle of it for me to carry with me
on my journey.

With my twenty dollars I went to Portsmouth, where I speedily felt that
I was among old and true friends. I had not been there a day before I
was called upon to take care of a young man who was sick, and after a
few weeks charge of him I received in addition to my board and expenses,
three hundred dollars. I was now enabled to clothe myself handsomely,
and I did so and went to Newburyport, where I remained several weeks and
made a great deal of money.

In the spring I went to White River Junction, and while I was in
the hotel taking a drink with some friends, who should come into the
bar-room but the Lake Village tailor from whom I had borrowed the
overcoat which I had even then on my back. I was about to thank him for
his kindness to me when he took me aside and said reproachfully:

“Doctor, you wore away my overcoat and this is it, I think.”

“Good heavens! didn’t John Blaisdell pay you for the coat? He told me he
would; its little enough out of what he owes me.”

“He never said a word to me about it,” was the reply. I told the tailor
the circumstances; I did not like to let him to know that I had then
about seven hundred dollars in my pocket; I wished to appear poor
as long as there was a chance to collect any of my Meredith and Lake
Village bills; so I offered him three dollars to take back the coat. He
willingly consented and that was the last of the “Blossom” business with
the Blaisdells.

I was bound not to leave this part of the country without revisiting
Windsor, and I went there, stopping at the best house in the town, and,
I fear, “putting on airs” a little. I had suffered so much in this
place that I wanted to see if there was any enjoyment to be had there.
Satisfaction there was, certainly--the satisfaction one feels in going
back under the most favorable circumstances, to a spot where he has
endured the very depths of misery. After a good dinner I set out to
visit the prison. Here was the very spot in the street where, only a few
months before, I, a ragged beggar, had divided my mere morsel of money
with the poor woman from Rutland. What change in my circumstances those
few months had wrought. I had recovered my health which bad food, ill
usage, and imprisonment had broken down, and was in the best physical
condition. The warden’s old coat and pantaloons had been exchanged for
the finest clothes that money would buy. I had a good gold watch and
several hundred dollars in my pocket. I had seen many of my old friends,
and knew that they were still my friends, and I was fully restored to
my old position. My three years’ imprisonment was only a blank in my
existence; I had begun life again and afresh, precisely where I left off
before I fell into the hands of the two Vermont milliners.

All this was very pleasant to reflect upon; but do not believe I thought
even then, that the reason for this change in my circumstances, and
changes for the better, was simply because I had minded my business and
had let women alone.

When I called on Warden Harlow, and courteously asked to be shown about
the prison, he got up and was ready to comply with my request, when he
looked me full in the face and started back in amazement:

“Well, I declare! Is this you?”

“Yes, Warden Harlow; but I want you to understand that while I am here
I do not intend to do a bit of work, and you can’t make me. You may as
well give it up first as last; I won’t work anyhow.”

The Warden laughed heartily, and sent for Deputy Morey who came in to
“see a gentleman,” and was much astonished to find the prisoner, who,
two years before, had saved his life from the hands and knife of the
madman Hall. I spent a very pleasant hour with my old enemies, and
I took occasion to give them a hint or two with regard to the proper
treatment of prisoners. I then made the rounds of the prison, and went
into the dungeon where I had passed so many wretched hours for weeks
at a time. The warden and his deputy congratulated me upon my improved
appearance and prospects, and hoped that my whole future career would be
equally prosperous.

Nor did I forget to call up my friend in need and friend indeed in
the toll-house at the bridge. I stayed three or four days in Windsor,
finding it really a charming place, and I was almost sorry to leave it.
But my only purpose in going there, that is to revisit the prison, was
accomplished, and I started for New York, and went from there to Port
Jervis, where I met my eldest son.



CHAPTER XII. ATTEMPT TO KIDNAP SARAH SCHEIMER’S BOY.

STARTING TO SEE SARAH--THE LONG SEPARATION--WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT
HER--HER DRUNKEN HUSBAND--CHANGE OF PLAN--A SUDDENLY--FORMED
SCHEME--I FIND SARAH’S SON--THE FIRST INTERVIEW--RESOLVE TO
KIDNAP THE BOY--REMONSTRANCES OF MY SON HENRY--THE ATTEMPT--A
DESPERATE STRUGGLE--THE RESCUE--ARREST OF HENRY--MY FLIGHT
INTO PENNSYLVANIA--SENDING ASSISTANCE TO MY SON--RETURN TO PORT
JERVIS--BAILING HENRY--HIS RETURN TO BELVIDERE--HE IS BOUND OVER TO BE
TRIED FOR KIDNAPPING--MY FOLLY.



After I had been in Port Jervis three or four days I matured a plan that
had long been forcing in my mind, and that was, to try and see Sarah
Scheimer once more, or at least to find out something about her and
about our son. The boy, if he was living, must be about ten years of
age. I had never seen him; nor, since the night when I was taken out of
bed and carried to the Easton jail had I ever seen Sarah, or even heard
from her, except by the message the Methodist minister brought to me
from her the day after I was released from jail. In the long interval
I had married the Newark widow, and had served a brief term in the New
Jersey State prison for doing it; I had married Mary Gordon, in New
Hampshire, and had run away, not only from her, but from constables and
the prison in that state; the mock marriage with the Rutland woman at
Troy, and the altogether too real marriage with the Montpelier milliner
had followed; I had spent three wretched years in the Vermont prison at
Windsor; and numerous other exciting adventures had checkered my career.
What had happened to Sarah and her son during all this while? There was
not a week in the whole time since our sudden separation when I had
not thought of Sarah; and now I was near her old home, with means at
my command, leisure on my hands, and I was determined to know something
about her and the child.

So long a time had elapsed and I was so changed in my personal
appearance that I had little fear of being recognized by any one in
Pennsylvania or the adjoining part of New Jersey, who would molest me.
The old matters must have been pretty much forgotten by all but the very
few who were immediately interested in them. It was safe to make the
venture at all events, and, I resolved to make the venture to see and
learn what I could.

I had the idea in my mind that if Sarah was alive and well, and free,
I should be able to induce her to fulfil her promise to come to me, and
that we might go somewhere and settle down and live happily together. At
any rate, I would try to see her and our child.

I did not communicate a word of all this to my son Henry. I told him I
was going to New Jersey to visit some friends, to look for business, and
I would like to have him accompany me. He consented; I hired a horse and
carriage, and one bright morning we started. I had no friends to visit,
no business to do, except to see Sarah--the dearest and best--loved of
all my wives.

When we reached Water Gap I found an old acquaintance in the landlord of
the hotel, and I told him where I was going, and what I hoped to do. He
knew the Scheimers, knew all that had happened eleven years before, and
he told me that Sarah had married again, seven years ago, and was the
mother of two more children. She lived on a farm, half a mile from
Oxford, and her husband who had married her for her money, and had
been urged upon her by her parents, was a shiftless, worthless, drunken
fellow. The boy--my boy--was alive and well, and was with his mother.

This intelligence changed, or rather made definite my plan. Sarah was
nothing to me now. The boy was everything. I must see him, and if he was
what he was represented to be, a bright little fellow, I determined that
he should no longer remain in the hands and under the control of his
drunken step-father, but I would carry him away with me if I could. It
was nearly noon when we arrived at Oxford, and going to my old quarters,
I found that “Boston Yankee,” had long since left the place. There was
a new landlord, and I saw no familiar faces about the house; all was new
and strange to me. I made inquiries, and soon found out that Sarah’s
boy went to a school in town not far from the hotel, and I went there to
“prospect,” leaving Henry at the public house.

It was noon now, and fifty or more boys were trooping out of school. I
carefully scanned the throng. The old proverb has it that it is a wise
child who knows its own father; but it is not so difficult for a father
to know his own children. The moment I put my eyes on Sarah’s son, I
knew him; he was the very image of me; I could have picked him out of a
thousand. I beckoned to the boy and he came to me. He was barefoot; and
his very toes betrayed him, for they “overrode” just as mine did; but
his face was enough and would have been evidence of his identity as my
son in any court in Christendom.

“Do you know me, my little man?” said I.

“No, sir, I do not.”

“Do you know what was your mother’s name before she was married?”

“Yes Sir, it was Sarah Scheimer.”

“Do you know that the man with whom you live is not your rather?”

“Oh, yes, Sir, I know that; mother always told me so; but she never told
me who my father was.”

“My son,” said I taking him in my arms, “I am your father; wait about
here a few minutes till I can go and get my horse and carriage, and I
will take you to ride.”

I ran over to the hotel; ordered my horse to be brought to the door at
once, got into the wagon with Henry and told him that Sarah Scheimer’s
boy was just across the way, and that I was going to carry him off with
us. Henry implored me not to do it, and said it was dangerous. I never
stopped to think of danger when my will impelled me. I did not know that
at that moment, men who had noticed my excited manner, and who knew I
was “up to something,” were watching me from the hotel piazza. I drove
over where the boy was waiting, called him to me, and Henry held the
reins while I put out my hands to pull the boy into the carriage. Two of
the men who were watching me came at once, one of them taking the horse
by the head, and the other coming to me and demanding:

“What are you going to do with that boy?”

“Take him with me; he is my son.”

“No you don’t,” said the man, and he laid hold of the boy and attempted
to pull him out of the wagon. I also seized the lad who began to scream.
In the struggle for possession, I caught up the whip and struck the man
with the handle, felling him to the ground. All the while the other man
was shouting for assistance. The crowd gathered. The boy was roughly
torn from me, in spite of my efforts to retain him. Henry was thoroughly
alarmed; and while the mob were trying to pull us also out of the
carriage he whipped the horse till he sprang through the crowd and was
well off in a moment.

“Get out of town as fast as you can drive,” said I to Henry.

We were not half an hour in reaching Belvidere. There I stopped
to breathe the horse a few minutes, and Henry insisted that he was
starving, and must have something to eat; he would go into the hotel he
said, and get some dinner. I told him it was madness to do it; but he
would not move an inch further on the road till he had some dinner. He
went into the dining room, and I paced up and down the piazza, nervous,
anxious, fearing pursuit, dreading capture, well knowing what would
happen when those Jerseymen should get hold of me and find out who I
was. At that moment I saw the pursuers coming rapidly up the road. I
called to my son:

“Henry, Henry! for God’s sake come out here, quick!”

But he thought I was only trying to frighten him so as to hurry him away
from his dinner, and get him on the road, and he paid no attention to my
summons. I knew that I was the man who was wanted, and, without waiting
for Henry, I jumped into my wagon and drove off. I just escaped, that’s
all. The moment I left, my pursuers were at the door. I looked back and
saw them drag my son out of the house, and take him away with them. I
turned my horse’s head towards the Belvidere Bridge. All the country
about there was as familiar to me as the county I was born in. I knew
every road, and I had no fear of being caught. Once across the bridge
and in Pennsylvania, and I was comparatively safe, unless I myself
should be kidnapped as I was at midnight, only a little way from this
very spot, eleven years before. Here was an opportunity now to rest and
reflect. Confound those Scheimers and all their blood! Was I never to
see the end of the scrapes that family would get me into, or which I was
to get myself into, on account of the Scheimers?

Surely they could not harm Henry. They might have taken him merely in
the hope of drawing me back to try to clear him, or rescue him, and then
they would get hold of the man they wanted. My son had done nothing. He
did not even know of the contemplated abduction till five minutes before
it was attempted, and then he protested against it. He only held the
horse when I pulled the lad into the wagon.

Nothing showed so completely the consciousness of his own entire
innocence in the matter, as the coolness with which he sat down to his
dinner in Belvidere, and insisted upon remaining when I warned him of
our danger. These facts shown, any magistrate before whom he might be
taken, must let him go at once. I thought, perhaps, if I waited a few
hours where I was, he would be sure to rejoin me, and we could then
return to Port Jervis without Sarah’s son to be sure; but, otherwise, no
worse off than we were when we set out on this ill-starred expedition
in the morning.

All this seemed so plain to me that I sent over to Belvidere for a
lawyer, who soon came across the bridge to see me, and to him I narrated
the whole circumstances of the case from, beginning to end. I asked him
if I had not a right to carry off the boy whom I knew to be my own? His
reply was that he would not stop to discuss that question; all he knew
was that there was a great hue and cry after me for kidnapping the boy;
that my son was seized and held for aiding and abetting in the attempted
abduction; and he advised me, as a friend, to leave that part of the
country as soon as possible. I gave him fifty dollars to look after
Henry’s case. He thought, considering how little, and that little
involuntarily, my son had to do with the matter, he might be got off; he
would do all he could for him anyhow. He then returned to Belvidere, and
I took the road north.

When I arrived at Port Jervis I detailed to my landlord the whole
occurrences of the day--what I had tried to do, and how miserably I had
failed, and asked him what was to be done next. He said “nothing;” we
could only wait and see what happened.

The day following I received a letter from the Belvidere lawyer
informing me that Henry had been examined, had been bound over in
the sum of three hundred dollars to take his trial on a charge of
kidnapping, and he was then in the county jail. I at once showed this
letter to the landlord, and he offered to go down with another man to
Belvidere and see about the bail. I gave him three hundred dollars,
which he took with him and put into the bands of a resident there who
became bail, and in a day or two Henry came back with them to Port
Jervis.

My son was frantic; he had been roughly treated; and to think, he said,
that he should be thrust into the common jail and kept there two days
with all sorts of scoundrels, when he had done actually nothing! He
would go back there, stand his trial, and prove his innocence, if
he died for it. He reproached me for attempting to carry off the boy
against his advice and warning; he knew we should into trouble; but he
would show them that he had nothing to do with it; that’s what he would
do.

Now this was precisely what I did not wish to have him do. A trial of
this case, even if Henry should come off scott free, would be certain to
revive the whole of the old Scheimer story, which had nearly died away,
and which I had no desire to have brought before the public again in
any way whatever. The bail bond I was willing, eager even to forfeit, if
that would end the matter. But Henry was sure they couldn’t touch him,
and he meant to have the three hundred dollars returned to me.

Seeing how sensitive the boy was on the subject, and how bent he was
on proving his innocence, I thought it best to draw him away from the
immediate locality, and so, in the course of a week, I persuaded him to
go to New York with me, and we afterward went to Maine for a few weeks
to sell my medicines. This Maine trip was a most lucrative one, which
was very fortunate, for the money I made there, to the amount of
several hundred dollars, was shortly needed for purposes which I did not
anticipate when I put the money by.

We returned to New York, and I supposed that Henry had given up all idea
of attempting to “prove his innocence;” indeed we had no conversation
about the kidnapping affair for several weeks. But he slipped away from
me. One day I came back to the hotel, and, inquiring for him, was told
at the office he had left word for me that he had gone to Belvidere. A
letter from him a day or two afterward confirmed this, to me, unhappy
intelligence. The time was near at hand for his trial, and he had gone
and given himself up to the authorities. He wrote to me again that he
had sent word about his situation to his mother--my first and worst
wife--and she and his sister were already with him.

Of course it was impossible for me to go there, if there were no other
reasons, I was too immediately interested in this affair to be present,
and I had no idea of undergoing a trial and a certain conviction for
myself. But I sent down a New York lawyer with one hundred dollars,
directing him to employ council there, and to advise and assist as much
as he could. Meanwhile, I remained in New York, anxious, it is true, yet
almost certain that it would be impossible, under the circumstances, to
convict Henry of the kidnapping for which he was indicted. He had not
even assisted in the affair, and was sure his counsel would be able to
so convince the court and jury.

And reviewing the whole matter, now in my cooler moments, this scheme of
trying to carry away Sarah’s son, seemed to be as foolish, useless, and
mad, as any one of my marrying adventures. Till I picked him out from
among his schoolmates, I had never seen the child at all. When I started
from Port Jervis to go down, as I supposed, into Pennsylvania, I had no
more idea of kidnapping the boy than I had of robbing a sheep-fold.
It was only when the landlord at Water Gap told me that Sarah had
remarried, and was wedded to a worthless, drunken husband, that I
conceived the plan of removing the boy from such associations. I was
going to bring him up in a respectable manner. Alas! I did not succeed
even in bringing him away.



CHAPTER XIII. ANOTHER WIDOW.

WAITING FOR THE VERDICT--MY SON SENT TO STATE PRISON--WHAT SARAH WOULD
HAVE DONE--INTERVIEW WITH MY FIRST WIFE--HELP FOR HENRY--THE BIDDEFORD
WIDOW--HER EFFORT TO MARRY ME--OUR VISIT TO BOSTON--A WARNING--A
GENEROUS GIFT--HENRY PARDONED--CLOSE OF THE SCHEIMER ACCOUNT--VISIT TO
ONTARIO COUNTY--MY RICH COUSINS--WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN--MY BIRTH--PLACE
REVISITED.



I waited with nervous impatience for the close of the trial in New
Jersey, when I hoped to welcome my son Henry to New York. It was
so plain a case, as it seemed to me, and must appear, I thought, to
everybody, that I hardly doubted his instant acquittal. But very shortly
the New York lawyer whom I had sent to Belvidere, came back and brought
terrible news. Henry had been tried, and notwithstanding the fairest
showing in his favor, he was convicted and sentenced to eighteen months
imprisonment at Trenton.

As it appeared, it was I really, and not Henry, who was on trial. The
circumstances of the desperate struggle, and my knocking down one of
the men with the butt of my whip, were conspicuous in the case. Even
the little boy was put on the stand, and was made to testify against his
older half-brother. Henry himself was astounded at the result of the
trial, and was firmly convinced that instead of “proving his innocence”
 to Jersey jurymen, he had better have let his innocence go by default.
We never even got back again the three hundred dollars which had been
put into the hands of the man who went bail for Henry when he was bound
over for trial. For us, it was bad business from beginning to end.

Henry wrote a letter to me, that just before his trial, before he had
delivered himself up, and while he was still under bail, he had gone to
see Sarah Scheimer on the little farm which was bought with her money,
and was worked, so far as it was worked at all, by her drunken husband.
The family were even poorer than the landlord at Water Gap had reported.
Sarah herself was miserable and unhappy. She told Henry, when he
informed her who he was, that if I had wanted to see her or her son, I
should have been welcome. She would have been very glad to have had me
take the boy and clothe him decently; but she could not part with him,
and would not have let me take him away; still, I could see him at any
time, and as often as I liked, and the boy should grow up to know and to
look upon me as his father.

And this, really, was all I desired, all I wanted; and it was all easily
within my grasp, ready in fact to be put into my hands, and I had gone
ahead in my usual mad, blundering way, acting, not only without advice,
but against such advice as came from Henry at the last moment, and had
alienated the mother from me, lost the boy, and had sent Henry, who was
wholly innocent, to state prison for eighteen months.

The poor fellow was take to Trenton and was put into the prison where
I had spent seven months. He was almost crazy when he got there. His
mother and sister went with him, and took lodgings in the place so as to
be near him, to render him any assistance that might be in their power.

I had been idle now for some weeks in New York, and I went back to
Maine, to Biddeford, where I lad a good practice. I picked up a good
deal of money, and in two months I returned to New York to make a brief
visit, and to see if something could not be done for the release of
Henry from prison. At my solicitation a friend of mine wrote to
Trenton to Henry’s mother to come on to New York, and meet me at the
Metropolitan Hotel on a specified day, to transact some business. She
came, and we met for the first time in several years. We met now simply
on business, and there was no expression of sentiment or feeling on
either side. We cared nothing for each other. I commended her for her
devotion to Henry, and then told her I believed, if the proper efforts
were made, he could be pardoned out of prison. I told her what lawyer
and other persons to see, and how to proceed in the matter. I gave her
the most minute instructions, and then handed her five hundred dollars
with which to fee her lawyer, and to pay her and her daughter’s living
expenses in Trenton. She was grateful for the money, and was only too
glad to go to work for Henry; she would have done it long ago if she had
only known what to do. We then parted, and I have never seen the woman,
since that day.

This business transacted, I at once returned to my practice at
Biddeford. Among my patients was a wealthy widow, “fat, fair, and
forty,” and I had not attended her long before a warm affection sprung
up between us, and in time, when the widow recovered, we began to think
we were in love with each other. I confess that I agreed to marry
her; but it was to be at some distant day--a very distant day as I
intended--for, strange as it may seem, and as it did seem to me, I had
at last learned the lesson that I had better let matrimony alone. I had
married too many wives, widows, milliners, and what not, already,
and had suffered too severely for so doing. I meant that my Vermont
imprisonment, the worst of all, should be the last.

So I only “courted” the widow, calling upon her almost every day, and
I was received and presented to her acquaintances as her affianced
husband. Her family and immediate friends were violently opposed to the
match, thereby showing their good sense. I was also informed that they
knew something of my previous history, and I was warned that I had
better not undertake to marry the widow. Bless their innocent hearts! I
had no idea of doing it. I was daily amazed at my own common sense. My
memory was active now; all my matrimonial mishaps of the past, with all
the consequences, were ever present to my mind, and never more present
than when was in the company of the fascinating widow. As for her,
the more her relatives opposed the match, the more she was bent upon
marrying me. Her family, she, said, were afraid they were going to lose
her property, but she would never give them a cent of it, anyhow, and
she would marry when and whom she pleased.

Not “when,” exactly; because, as she protested she would marry me, I
had something to say about it; I had been run away with by a milliner
in Vermont, and I had no idea of beings forcibly wedded by a widow in
Maine. I pleaded that my business was not sufficiently established; I
was liable to be called away from time to time; I had affairs to arrange
in New York and elsewhere before I could settle down; and so the happy
day was put off to an indefinite future time.

By-and-by I had business in Boston, and the widow declared that she
would go with me; she wanted to visit her friend’s there and do some
shopping; and without making particular mention of her intention to her
relatives, she went with me, and we were in Boston together more
than two weeks. At the end of that time she returned to Biddeford and
notified her friends treat she was married to the doctor, though she had
no certificate, not even a Troy one, to show for it.

I deemed it advisable not to go back with her, but went to Worcester for
a while. In a few days I went to Biddeford, keeping somewhat close, for
I did not care to meet any of the relatives, and at night I called upon
the widow. She told me that her family had raised a tremendous fuss
about me, and had learned as much as they, and indeed she, wanted to
know about my adventures in Vermont and New Hampshire. They had not gone
back of that, but that was enough. It was dangerous, she told me, for me
to stay there; I was sure to be arrested; I had better get away from the
place as soon as possible. We might meet again by-and-by, but unless I
wanted to be arrested I must leave, the place that very night. She gave
me seven hundred dollars, pressed the money upon me, and I parted from
her, returning to Worcester, and going from there to Boston. Besides
what the widow bad given me, I had made more than one thousand dollars
in Maine, and was comparatively well off.

Then came the joyful intelligence that Henry was released. His mother
had worked for him night and day. She bad drawn up a petition, secured
a large number of sterling signatures, had gone with her counsel to see
the Governor, had presented the petition and all the facts in the case,
and the Governor had granted a pardon. Henry served only six months of
the eighteen for which he was sentenced, and very soon after I received
word that he was free, he came to me in Boston, stayed a few days, and
then went home to his mother in Unadilla.

With the release of my son, I considered the Scheimer account closed,
and I have never made any effort to see Sarah or our boy since that
time.

From Boston I went to Pittsford, Ontario County, N. Y., where I had many
friends, who knew nothing about any of my marriages or misfortunes, my
arrests or imprisonments. I went visiting merely, and enjoyed myself so
much that I stayed there nearly three months, going about the country,
and practicing a little among my friends. I was never happier than I was
during this time. I was free from prisons, free from my wives, and
free from care. As a matrimonial monomaniac I now looked upon myself as
cured.

Among the friends whom I visited in Ontario County, and with whom I
passed several pleasant weeks, were two cousins of mine whom I had not
seen for many years, since we were children in fact, but who gave me a
most cordial welcome, and made much of me while I was there. They knew
absolutely nothing of my unhappy history--no unpleasant rumor even
respecting me, had ever penetrated that quiet quarter of the State. I
told them what I pleased of my past career, from boyhood to the present
time, and to them I was only a tolerably successful doctor, who made
money enough to live decently and dress well, and who was then suffering
from overwork and badly in need of recuperation. This, indeed, was the
ostensible reason for my visit to Ontario. I was somewhat shattered; my
old prison trials and troubles began to tell upon me. I used to think
sometimes that I was a little “out of my head;” I certainly was so
whenever I entered upon one of my matrimonial schemes, and I must have
been as mad as a March hare when I attempted to kidnap Sarah Scheimer’s
boy. After all the excitement and suffering of the past few years, I
needed rest, and here I found it.

My cousins were more than well-to-do farmers; they were enormously
rich in lands and money. Just after the war of 1812, their father,
my uncle, and my own father, had come to this, then wild and almost
uninhabited, section of the State to settle. Soon after they arrived
there my father’s wife died, and this loss, with the general loneliness
of the region, to say nothing of the fever and ague, soon drove my
father back to Delaware County to his forge for a living, and to the
day of his death he was nothing more than a hard-working,
hand-to-mouth-living, common blacksmith.

But my uncle stayed there, and, as time went on, he bought hundreds of
acres of land for a mere song, which were now immensely valuable, and
had made his children almost the richest people in that region. My
Cousins were great farmers, extensive raisers of stock, wool-growers,
and everything else that could make them prosperous. There seemed to be
no end to their wealth, and their fiat farms, spread out on every side
as far as the eye could see.

And if my father had only stayed there, I could not help but think what
a different life mine might have been. Instead of being the adventurer
I was, and had been ever since I separated from my first and worst
wife--doing well, perhaps, for a few weeks or a few months, and then
blundering into a mad marriage or other difficulty which got me into
prison; well-to-do to-day and to-morrow a beggar--I, too, might
have been rich and respectable, and should have, saved myself a world of
suffering. This was but a passing thought which did not mar my visit,
or make it less pleasant to me. I went there to be happy, not to be
miserable, and for three months I was happy indeed.

From there I went to my birthplace in Columbia County, revisiting old
scenes and the very few old friends and acquaintances who survived, or
who had not moved away. I spent a month there and thereabouts, and at
the end of that time I felt full restored to my usual good health, and
was ready to go to work again, not in the matrimonial way, but in my
medical business, that was enough for me now.



CHAPTER XIV. MY OWN SON TRIES TO MURDER ME.

SETTLING DOWN IN MAINE--HENRY’S HEALTH--TOUR THROUGH THE
SOUTH--SECESSION TIMES--DECEMBER IN NEW ORLEANS--UP THE
MISSISSIPPI--LEAVING HENRY IN MASSACHUSETTS--BACK IN MAINE AGAIN--RETURN
TO BOSTON--PROFITABLE HORSE TRADING--PLENTY OF MONEY--MY FIRST WIFE’S
CHILDREN--HOW THEY HAD BEEN BROUGHT UP--A BAREFACED ROBBERY--ATTEMPT TO
BLACKMAIL ME--MY SON TRIES TO ROB AND KILL ME--MY RESCUE--LAST OF THE
YOUNG MAN.



Where to go, not what to do, was the next question. Wherever I might go
and establish myself, if only for a few days, or a few weeks, I was sure
to have almost immediately plenty of patients and customers enough for
my medicines--this had been my experience always--and unfortunately for
me, I was almost equally sure to get into some difficulty from which
escape was not always easy. Looking over the whole ground for a fresh
start in business, it seemed to me that Maine was the most favorable
place. Whenever I had been there I had done well; it was one of the very
few States I had lived in where I had not been in jail or in prison; nor
had I been married there, though the Biddeford widow did her best to wed
me, and it is not her fault that she did not succeed in doing it.

To Maine, then, I went, settling down in Augusta, and remaining there
four months, during which time I had as much as I could possibly attend
to, and laid by a very considerable sum of money. While I was there
I heard the most unfavorable reports with regard to the health of my
eldest son Henry. Prison life at Trenton had broken him down in body
as well as in spirit, and he had been ill, some of the time seriously,
nearly all the time since he went to Unadilla. The fact that he was
entirely innocent of the offence for which he was imprisoned, preyed
upon his mind, and with the worst results. As these stories reached me
from week to week, I became anxious and even alarmed about him, and at
last I left my lucrative business in Augusta and went to New York. I
could not well go to Unadilla to visit Henry without seeing his mother,
whom I had no desire to see; so I sent for him to come to me in the
city if was able to do so. I knew that if medicine or medical attendance
would benefit him, I should be able to help him.

In a few days he came to me in a most deplorable physical condition. He
was a mere wreck of his former self. Almost immediately he began to talk
about the attempt to abduct the boy from Oxford; how innocent he was in
the matter, and how terribly he had suffered merely because he happened
to be with me when I rashly endeavored to kidnap the lad. All this went
through me like a sharp sword. It seemed as if I was the cause, not only
of great unhappiness to myself, but of pain and misery to all who were
associated or brought in contact with me. For this poor boy, who had
endured and suffered so much on my account, I could not do enough. My
means and time must now be devoted to his recovery, if recovery, was
possible.

He was weak, but was still able to walk about, and he enjoyed riding
very much. I kept him with me in the city a week or two, taking daily
rides to the Park and into the country, and when he felt like going out
in the evening I made him go to some place of amusement with me. I had
no other business, and meant to have none, but to take care of Henry,
and I devoted myself wholly to his comfort and happiness. In a few days
he had much improved in health and spirits, so much so, that I meditated
making a long tour with him to the South, hoping that the journey there
and back again would fully restore him.

Fortunately, my recent Maine business had put me in possession of
abundant funds, and when I had matured my scheme, and saw that Henry
was in tolerable condition to travel, I proposed the trip to him, and he
joyfully assented to my plan. I wanted to get him far away, for awhile,
from a part of the country which was associated in his mind, more than
in mine, with so much misery, and he seemed quite as eager to go. Change
of air and scene I knew would do wonders for him bodily, and would build
him up again.

We made our preparations and started for the South, going first to
Baltimore and then on through the Southern States by railroad to New
Orleans. It was late in the fall of 1860, just before the rebellion,
when the south was seceding or talking secession, and was already
preparing for war. Henry’s physical condition compelled us to rest
frequently on the way, and we stopped sometimes for two or three days
at a time, at nearly every large town or city on the entire route.
Everywhere there was a great deal of excitement; meetings were held
nearly every night secession was at fever heat, and there was an
unbounded expression and manifestation of ill-feeling against the north
and against northern men. Nevertheless, I was never in any part of
the Union where I was treated with so much courtesy, consideration and
genuine kindness as I was there and then. I was going south, simply to
benefit the invalid who accompanied me; everybody seemed to know it;
and everybody expressed the tenderest sympathy for my son. Wherever we
stopped, it seemed as if the people at the hotels, from the landlord
to the lowest servant, could not do enough for us. At Atlanta, Augusta,
Mobile, and other places, where we made our stay long enough to get a
little acquainted, my son and myself were daily taken out to ride, and
were shown everything of interest that was to be seen. Henry did not
enjoy this journey more than I did--to me as well as to him, the trip
was one prolonged pleasure, and by the time we reached New Orleans
nearly a month after we left New York, my son had so recuperated that I
had every hope of his speedy and full restoration.

It was the beginnings of winter when we reached New Orleans; but during
the whole month of December while we remained in that city, winter,
if indeed it was winter, which we could hardly believe, was only a
prolongation of the last beautiful autumn days we had left at the north.
Now Orleans was then at the very height of prosperity; business
was brisk, money was plenty, the ships of all nations and countless
steamboats from St. Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville and all points up the
Mississippi and Ohio rivers lay at the levee. The levee itself, from
end to end, for miles along the river front, was one mass of merchandise
which had come to the city, or was awaiting shipment. I had never seen a
livelier city. Indescribably gay, too, was New Orleans that winter. The
city was full of strangers; the hotels were thronged; there were balls
every night; the theatres were crowded, and everybody seemed bent
on having a good time. With all the rest, there was an extraordinary
military furor, and militia companies and regiments paraded the streets
every day, while secession meetings were held in various halls, or in
the public squares, nearly ever night.

From the St. Charles hotel where we stopped, St. Charles street seemed
ablaze and alive all night, and densely thronged all day. Sunday brought
no rest, for Sunday, so far as military parades, amusement and general
gaiety were concerned, was the liveliest day in the week; and Sunday
night the theatres were sure to present their best performances and to
draw their largest audiences. And so, from morning till night, and
from night till morning again, all was whirl, stir, bustle, business,
enjoyment, and excitement. To me, unaccustomed as I was to such scenes,
New York even seemed tame and dull, and slow in comparison with New
Orleans.

This is a picture of the Crescent City as it presented itself to me and
to my son in the early part of the winter before the war. No one knew
or even dreamed of the terrible times that were to come. No one believed
that war was probable, or even possible; it was well enough, perhaps,
to prepare for it; but secession was to be an accomplished fact, and
the North and all the world would quietly acknowledge it. This was the
general sentiment in the city; though secession, and what would, or what
might come of it, was the general topic of talk in the hotels, in the
restaurants, at the theatres, in the streets, everywhere. Now and then
some southerner with whom I had become acquainted would try to draw me
out to ascertain my sentiments on the subject, but I always laughed, and
said good naturedly:

“My dear sir, I didn’t come down here to talk about secession, but to
see if the southern climate would benefit my sick son.”

The fact was that I minded my own business, and minded it so well that
while I was in New Orleans I managed to find a few patients and sold
recipes and medicines enough to pay the entire expenses of our journey
thus far, from the North.

Almost every day my son and I drove somewhere up to Carrolton, down to
the battle-ground, or on the shell road to Lake Ponchartrain. It was a
month of genuine enjoyment to us both; of profit to me pecuniarily; and
of the best possible benefit to Henry’s health.

Early in January we took passage on one of the finest of the Mississippi
steamboats for St. Louis. The boat was crowded, and among the passengers
were a good many merchants, Northern men long resident in New Orleans,
who thought they saw trouble coming, and accordingly had closed up their
business in the Crescent City, and were now going North to stay there.
We had on board, too, the usual complement of gamblers and amateur or
professional poker-players, who kept the forward saloon near the bar,
and known in the river vernacular as the “Texas” of the boat, lively all
day long and well into the night, or rather the next morning. It was ten
or eleven days before we reached St. Louis. Nothing notable occurred
on the trip; but day after day, as we proceeded northward, and left
the soft, sunny south behind us, with the daily increasing coldness and
wintry weather, Henry seemed to decline by degrees, and gradually to
lose nearly all that he had gained since we left New York. When we
reached St. Louis he was seriously sick. I was very sorry we had come
away so soon in the season, and proposed that we should return and stay
in the south till spring; but Henry would not consent. There was nothing
to be done, then, but to hurry on to the east, and when we arrived in
New York Henry would not go home to his mother in Unadilla, but insisted
upon accompanying me to Boston. I was willing enough that he should go
with me, for then I could have him under my exclusive care; but when we
arrived in Boston he was so overcome by the excitement of travel, and
was so feeble from fatigue as well as disease, that instead of having
him go with me to Augusta, as I intended, by the advice of a friend I
took him into the country where he could be nursed, be quiet, and be
well taken care of till spring. I left him in good hands, promising
to come and see him as soon as I could, and then went back to my old
business in Augusta.

It required a little time to knot the new end of that business to the
end where I had broken off three months before; but I was soon in full
practice again and was once more making and saving money. I had no
matrimonial affair in hand, no temptation in fact, and none but strictly
professional engagements to fulfil. In Augusta and in several other
towns which I visited, for the whole of the rest of the winter, I was
as busy as I could be. Early in the spring I made up my mind to run away
for a week or two, and arranged my business so that I could go down into
Massachusetts and visit Henry, hoping, if he was better, to bring him
back with me to Maine.

Two of my patients in Paris, Maine, had each given me a good horse in
payment for my attendance upon them and their families, and for what
medicines I had furnished, and I took these horses with me to sell in
Boston. I drove them down, putting a good supply of medicines in my
wagon to sell in towns on the way, and when I arrived in Boston sold out
the establishment, getting one hundred and twenty-five dollars for the
wagon, three hundred dollars for one horse, and four hundred dollars
for the other--a pretty good profit on my time and medicine for the two
patients--and I brought with me besides about eighteen hundred dollars,
the net result, above my living expenses, of about three months’
business in Maine, and what I had done on the way down through
Massachusetts. I am thus minute about this money because it now devolves
upon me to show what sort of a family of children my first and worst
wife had brought up.

Of these children by my first marriage, my eldest son Henry, since he
had grown up, had been with me nearly as much as he had been with his
mother, and I loved him as I did my life. Since he became of age, at
such times when I was not in prison, or otherwise unavoidably separated
from him, we had been associated in business, and had traveled and lived
together. I knew all about him; but of the rest of the children I knew
next to nothing. Shortly after I sold my horses, one day I was in my
room at the hotel, when word was brought to me that some one in the
parlor wanted to see me.

I went down and found a young man, about twenty-one years of age, who
immediately came to me addressing me as “father,” and he then presented
a young woman, about two years older than he was, as his sister and my
daughter. I had not seen this young gentleman since the time when I had
carried him off from school and from the farmer to whom he was bound,
and had clothed him and taken him with me to Amsterdam and Troy,
subsequently sending him to my half-sister at Sidney. The ragged little
lad, as I found him, had grown up into a stout, good-looking young man;
but I had no difficulty in recognizing him, though I was much at loss to
know the precise object of this visit; so after shaking hands with them,
and asking then how they were, I next inquired what they wanted?

Well, they had been to see Henry, and he was a great deal better.

I told them I was very glad to hear it, and that I was then on my way to
visit him, and hoped to see him in a few days, as soon as I could finish
my business in Boston; if Henry was as well as they reported I should
bring him away with me.

“But if you are busy here,” said my young man, “we can save you both
time and trouble. We will go to Henry again and settle his bills for
board and other expenses, and will bring him with us to you at this
hotel.”

This, at the time, really seemed to me a kindly offer; it would enable
me to stay in Boston and attend to business I had to do, and Henry
would come there with his brother and sister in a day or two. I at once
assented to the plan, and taking my well-filled pocket-book from the
inside breast pocket of my coat, I counted out two hundred and fifty
dollars and gave them to the young man to pay Henry’s board, doctor’s
and other bills, and the necessary car fares for the party. They then
left me and started, as I supposed, to go after Henry.

But a few days went on and I saw and heard nothing of Henry. At last
word came to me one day that some one down stairs wanted to see me and I
told the servant to send him to my room, hoping that it might be Henry.
But no; it was my young man, of whom I instantly demanded:

“Where is your brother, whom you were to bring to me a week ago? What
have you done with the money I gave you for his bills?”

“I hadn’t been near Henry; sister has gone home; and I’ve spent the
money on a spree, every cent of it, here in Boston, and I want more.”

“Want more!” I exclaimed in blank amazement:

“Yes, more; and if you don’t give it to me, I’ll follow you wherever you
go, and tell people all I know about you.”

“You scoundrel,” said I, “you come here and rob, not me, but your poor,
sick brother, and then return and attempt to blackmail me. Get out of
my sight this instant.”

He sprung on me, and made a desperate effort to get my money out of my
pocket. We had a terrible struggle. He was younger and stronger than
I was, and as I felt that I was growing weaker I called out loudly for
help and shouted “Murder!”

The landlord himself came running into the room; I succeeded in tearing
myself away, from the grasp of my assailant, and the landlord felled
him to the floor with a chair. He then ran to the door and called to a
servant to bring a policeman.

“No, don’t!” I exclaimed; “Don’t arrest the villain, for I can make no
complaint against him--he is my son!”

But the landlord was bound to have some satisfaction out of the affair;
so he dragged the young man into the hall and kicked him from the top of
the stairs to the bottom, where, as soon as he had picked himself up, a
convenient servant kicked him out into the street. I have never set eyes
on my young man since his somewhat sudden departure from that hotel.

And when I went to visit my poor Henry a day or two afterwards, I can
hardly say that I was surprised, though I was indignant to learn that
his brother and sister had never been near him at all since he had been
in Massachusetts. They knew where and how he was from his letter’s to
his mother; they knew, too, from the same letters--for I had notified
Henry--at what time I would be in Boston, and with this information they
had come on to swindle me. I have no doubt, when the young man came the
second time to rob me, he would have murdered me, if the landlord had
not come to my assistance. And this was the youngest son of my first and
worst wife!!

I found Henry in better condition than I expected, and I took him back
with me to Augusta. I did not tell him of his brother’s attempt to rob
and kill. Me--it would have been too great a shock for him. He stayed
with me only a few days and then, complaining of being homesick, he went
to visit his mother again.



CHAPTER XV. A TRUE WIFE AND HOME, AT LAST.

WHERE WERE ALL MY WIVES?--SENSE OF SECURITY--AN IMPRUDENT
ACQUAINTANCE--MOVING FROM MAINE--MY PROPERTY IN RENSSELAER COUNTY--HOW
I LIVED--SELLING A RECIPE--ABOUT BUYING A CARPET--NINETEEN
LAW--SUITS--SUDDEN DEPARTURE FOR THE WEST--A VAGABOND FOR TWO
YEARS--LIFE IN CALIFORNIA--RETURN TO THE EAST--DIVORCE FROM MY FIRST
WIFE--A GENUINE MARRIAGE--MY FARM--HOME AT LAST.



I remained in Maine nearly two years, hardly ever going out of the
State, except occasionally to Boston on business. Making Augusta my
residence and headquarters, I practiced in Portland and in nearly all
the towns and cities in the eastern part of the State. During all this
time, I behaved myself, in all respects better than I had ever before
done in any period of my life. I began to look upon myself as a reformed
man; I had learned to let liquor alone, and was consequently in far
less, indeed, next to no danger of stepping into the traps in which
my feet had been so often caught. I may as well confess it--it was
intoxicating liquor, and that mainly, which had led me into my various
mad marrying schemes and made me the matrimonial monomaniac and lunatic
lover that I was for years. What my folly, my insanity caused me to
suffer, these pages have attempted to portray. I had grown older, wiser,
and certainly better. I now only devoted myself strictly to my business,
and I found profit as well as pleasure in doing it.

What had become of all my wives in the meantime, I scarcely knew and
hardly cared. Of course from time to time I had heard more or less about
them--at least, a rumor of some sort now and then reached me. About my
first and worst wife, at intervals I heard something from Henry, who was
still with her, and who frequently wrote to me when he was well enough
to do so. Margaret Bradley and Eliza Gurnsey were still carrying on
the millinery business in Rutland, and in Montpelier, and were no
doubt weaving other and new webs in hopes of catching fresh flies. Mary
Gordon, as I learned soon afterwards, was married almost before I had
fairly escaped from New Hampshire in my flight to Canada, and she had
gone to California with her new husband. Of the Newark widow I knew
nothing; but two years of peace, quiet, and freedom from molestation
in Maine had made me feel quite secure against any present or future
trouble from my past matrimonial misadventures.

I was living in Maine, prudently I think under an assumed name, and as
the respectable, and, to my patients and customers, well-known Doctor
Blank, I was scarcely liable to be recognized at any time or by any
one as the man who had married so many wives, been in so many jails and
prisons, and whose exploits had been detailed from time to time in the
papers.

Nor, all this while, did I have the slightest fear of detection. I
looked upon myself as a victim rather than as a criminal, and for what
I had done, and much that I had not done, I had more than paid the
penalty. So far as all my business transactions were concerned, my
course had always been honorable, and in my profession, for my cures and
for my medicines, I enjoyed a good reputation which all my efforts were
directed to deserve.

Of course, now and then, I met people in Portland, and especially in
Boston, who had known me in former years, and who knew something of my
past life; but these were generally my friends who sympathized with my
sufferings, or who, at least, were willing to blot out the past in my
better behavior of the present. One day in Boston a young man came up to
me and said:

“How do you do, Doctor?”

“Quite well,” I replied; “but you have the advantage of me; I am sure I
do not remember you, if I ever knew you.”

“You don’t remember me! Why, I am the son of the jailer in Montpelier
with whom you spent so many months before you went to Windsor; I knew
you in a minute, and Doctor, I’ve been in Boston a week and have got
‘strapped;’ how to get back to Montpelier I don’t know, unless you will
lend me five or six dollars which I will send back to you the moment I
get home.”

“I remember you well, now,” said I; “you are the little rascal who
wouldn’t even go and buy me a cigar unless I gave you a dime for doing
it; and then, sometimes, you cheated me out of my money; I wouldn’t lend
you a dollar now if it would save you from six month’s imprisonment in
your father’s filthy jail. Good morning.”

And that was the last I saw of him.

I was getting tired of Maine. I had been there longer than I had stayed
in any place, except in the Vermont State Prison, for the past fifteen
years, and I began to long for fresh scenes and a fresh field for
practice. I had accumulated some means, and thought I might take life
a little easier--make a home for myself somewhere, practicing my
profession when I wanted to, and at other times enjoying the leisure
I loved and really needed. So I closed up my business in Augusta and
Portland, put my money in my pocket, and once more went out into the
world on a prospecting tour. My first idea was to go to the far West,
and I went to Troy with the intention of staying there a few days,
and then bidding farewell to the East forever. The New England States
presented no attractions to me; I had exhausted Maine, or rather it had
exhausted me; New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts had too many
unpleasant associations, if indeed they were safe states for me, with my
record to live in, and Connecticut I knew very little about. Certainly I
had no intention of trying to settle in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. The
west was the place; anywhere in the west.

Here was I in Troy, revolving plans in my own mind for migrating to the
west, just as Mary Gordon and I had done in the very same hotel, only a
few years before; and in the course of a week I came to exactly the same
conclusion that Mary and I did--not to go. I heard of a small farm--it
was a very small one of only twelve acres--which could be bought in
Rensselaer County, not more than sixteen miles from Albany and Troy.
I went to see the place, liked it, and bought it for sixteen hundred
dollars. There was a small but good house and a barn on the place,
and altogether it was a cheap and desirable property. I got a good
housekeeper, hired a man, and began to carry on this little farm,
raising garden vegetables and fruit mainly, and sending them to market
in Albany and Troy. Generally I took my own stuff to market, and sold
medicines and recipes as well, and in Albany I had a first rate practice
which I went to that city to attend to once or twice a week. While
my man was selling vegetables and fruit--I remember I sold a hundred
dollars worth of cherries from my farm the first summer--in the market,
I was Doctor Blank receiving my patients at Stanwix Hall, or calling
upon them at their residences; and when the day’s work was over, my man
and I rode home in the wagon which had brought us and the garden truck
early in the morning. On the whole, this kind of life was exceedingly
satisfactory, and I liked it.

I made frequent expeditions to Saratoga and to other places not far from
home to attend to cases to which I was called, and to sell medicines;
and considering that the main object I had in settling in Rensselaer
County was rest and more leisure than I had enjoyed for some years, I
had a great deal more to do than I desired. Nevertheless, I might
have continued to live on my little farm, raising vegetables, picking
cherries, and practicing medicine in the neighborhood, had not the fate,
which seemed to insist that I should every little while come before
a court of justice for something or other, followed me even here. A
certain hardware dealer in Albany, with whom I had become acquainted,
proposed to buy one of my recipes, and to go into an extensive
manufacture of the medicine. He had read and heard of the fortunes that
had been made in patent medicines, by those who understand the business,
and he thought he would see if he could not get rich in a year or less
in the same way.

After some solicitation I sold him the recipe for one thousand dollars,
receiving six hundred dollars down, and a promise of the balance when
the first returns from sales of the medicine came in. I also entered
into a contract to show the man how to make the medicine, and to give
him such advice and assistance in his new business as I could. My
hardware friend understood his legitimate business better than he did
that which he had undertaken, and although be learned how to manufacture
the medicine he did not know how to sell it; and after trying it a few
weeks, and doing next to nothing, he turned upon me as the author of his
misfortunes and sued me for damages.

Incidental to this, and only incidental, is the following: Shortly after
I purchased my property, as I was very fond of calling my little farm,
in Rensselaer County, I was in Albany one day when it occurred to
me that I wanted a carpet for my parlor. I went to the store of a
well-known carpet-dealer, and asked to be shown some of his goods.
While I was going through the establishment I came across a man who
was industriously sewing together the lengths of a cut carpet, and I
recognized in him one of my fellow convicts at Windsor. He, however, did
not know me, and I doubt if he could have been convinced of my identity
as the wretch who plied the broom in the halls of the prison. To him,
as he glanced at me, I was only a well-dressed gentleman whom the
proprietor was courteously showing through the establishment in the
hope of securing a good customer. It was this little circumstance, I
think--my chance meeting with my old fellow-prisoner, and my changed
circumstances and appearance which put me beyond recognition by
him--that prompted me to the somewhat brazen business that followed:

“I only came in to look to-day,” I said to the carpet-dealer; “for the
precise sum of money in my pocket at present is eighteen pence, and no
more; but if you will cut me off forty yards of that piece of carpeting,
and trust me for it, I will pay your bill in a few days, as sure as I
live.”

My frank statement with regard to my finances seemed to attract the
attention of the merchant who laughed and said:

“Well, who are you, anyhow? Where do you live?”

I told him that I was Doctor Blank; that I lived in Rensselaer county
on a small place of my own; I raised fruit and vegetables for market; I
cured cancers, dropsy, and other diseases when I could; sold medicines
readily almost where I would; and was in Albany once or twice a week.

“Measure and cut off the carpet,” said he to the clerk who was following
us, “and put it in the Doctor’s wagon”

The bill was about a hundred dollars, and I drove home with the carpet.
It was nearly six weeks afterwards when I went into the store again, and
greeted the proprietor. He had seen me but once before and had totally
forgotten me. I told him I was Doctor Blank, small farmer and large
medical practitioner of Rensselaer County.

“The devil you are! Why, you’re the man that bought a carpet of me a few
weeks ago; I was wondering what had become of you.”

“I’m the man, and I must tell you that the carpet doesn’t look well;
but never mind--here’s a hundred dollars, and I want you to receipt the
bill.”

“Now,” said I, when he returned the bill to me receipted, “the carpet
looks firstrate; I never saw a handsomer one in my life.”

“Well, you are an odd chap, any how,” said the carpet-dealer, laughing,
and shaking me by the hand. Almost from that moment we were more than
mere acquaintances, we were fast friends. In the course of the long
conversation that followed, I told him of my trouble with the hardware
man--how I had sold him the recipe; that he had failed, from ignorance
to conduct the business properly, and had sued me for damages.

“I know the man,” said my new friend; “let him go ahead and sue and
be benefited, if he can; meanwhile, do you keep easy; I’ll stand by
you.”

And stand by me he did through thick and thin. The hardware man sued me
no less than nineteen times, and for pretty much everything--damages,
debt, breach of contract, and what not. With the assistance of a
lawyer whom my friend recommended to me, I beat my opponent in eighteen
successive suits; but as fast as one suit was decided he brought
another, almost before I could get out of the court room. At last he
carried the case to the Supreme Court, and from there it went to a
referee. The matter from beginning to end, must have cost him a mint
of money; but he went on regardless of the costs which he hoped and
expected to get out of me at last.

My long and painful experience, covering many years, had given me a
pretty thorough knowledge of the law’s uncertainty, as well as the law’s
delay, and very early in the course of the present suit, I had quietly
disposed of my property in Rensselaer County. I sold the little farm,
which cost me sixteen hundred dollars, for twenty-one hundred dollars,
and I had had, besides, the profits of nearly two years’ farming and a
good living from and on the place. I also arranged all my money matters
in a manner that I felt assured would be satisfactory to me, if not
to my opponent, and then, following the advice of my friend, the
carpet-dealer, I let the hardware man sue and be “benefited if he
could.” When, however, the case went finally to a referee who was
certain, I felt sure, to decide against me, I took no further personal
interest in the matter, nor have I ever troubled myself to learn the
filial decision. I made up my mind in a moment and decided that the time
had come, at last, when it was advisable for me to go to the West.

Westward I went, towards sunset almost, and for the two following years
I led, I fear, what would be considered a very vagabond life. I went
to Utah, thinking while I was in Salt Lake City, if they only knew my
history there I was sure to be elected an apostle, or should be, at any
rate, a shining light in Mormondom--only I had taken my wives in regular
succession, and had not assembled the throng together. I pushed across
the plains, and went to California, remaining a long time in San
Francisco. This may have been vagabondism, but it was profitable
vagabondism to me. During this long wandering I held no communication
with my friends in the East; friends and foes alike had an opportunity
to forget me, or if they thought of me they did not know whether I was
dead or alive; they certainly never knew, all the time, where I was;
and while I was journeying I never once met a man or woman who had
been acquainted with me in the past. All the time, too, I had plenty of
money; indeed, when, I returned at last I was richer far than I was when
I left Albany, and left as the common saying graphically expresses it,
“between two days.” I had my old resources of recipes, medicines and my
profession, and these I used, and had plenty of opportunity to use, to
the best advantage. I could have settled in San Francisco for life
with the certainty of securing a handsome annual income. I never feared
coming to want. If I had lost my money and all other resources had
failed, I was not afraid to make a horse-nail or turn a horse-shoe
with the best blacksmith in California, and I could have got my living,
as I did for many a year, at the forge and anvil.

But I made more money in other and easier ways, and I made friends. In
every conceivable way my two years’ wandering was of far more benefit to
me than I dreamed of when I wildly set out for the West without knowing
exactly where, or for what, I was going. The new country, too, had given
me, not only a fresh fund of ideas, but a new stock of health--morally
and physically I was in better condition than I ever was before in
my life. I had a clear head; a keen sense of my past follies; a vivid
consciousness of the consequences which such follies, crimes they may be
called, are almost certain to bring. I flattered myself that I was not
only a reformed prisoner, but a reformed drunkard, and a thoroughly
restored matrimonial monomaniac.

And when I returned, at last, to the East, and went once more to visit
my near and dear friends in Ontario County, I was received as one who
had come back from the dead. When I had been here a few weeks, and had
communicated to my cousins so much of the story of my life as I then
thought advisable, I took good counsel and finally did what I ought to
have done long years before. I commenced proper legal proceedings for
a divorce from my first and worst wife. I do not need to dwell upon the
particulars; it is enough to say, that the woman, who was then living,
so far from opposing me, aided me all she could, even making affidavit
to her adultery with the hotel clerk at Bainbridge, long ago, and I
easily secured my full and complete divorce. Now I was, indeed, a free
man--all the other wives whom I had married, or who had married me,
whether I would or no, were as nothing; some were dead and others were
again married. It may be that this new, and to me strange sense of
freedom, legitimate freedom, set me to thinking that I might now secure
a genuine and true wife, who would make a new home happy to me as long
as we both should live.

Fortune, not fate now, followed me, led me rather and guided my
footsteps. It was not many months before I met a woman who seemed to me
in every way calculated to fill the first place in that home which I had
pictured as a final rest after all my woes and wanderings. From mutual
esteem our acquaintance soon ripened into mutual love. She was all
that my heart could desire. I was tolerably well off; my position was
reputable; my connections were respectable. To us, and to our friends,
the match seemed a most desirable one. It was no hasty courtship; we
knew each other for months and learned to know each other well; and with
true love for each other, we had for each other a genuine respect. I
frankly told her the whole story of my life as I have now written it.
She only pitied my misfortunes, pardoned my errors, and, one bright,
golden, happy autumn day, we were married.

In the northeastern part of the State of New York on the banks of a
broad and beautiful river, spread out far and near the fertile acres
of one of the finest farms in the country. It is well stocked and well
tilled. The surrounding country is charming--game in the woods, and fish
in the streams afford abundant sport, and the region is far away from
large cities, and remote even from railroads. I do not know of a more
delightful place in the whole world to live in. On the farm I speak
of, a cottage roof covers a peaceful, happy family, where content and
comfort always seem to reign supreme. A noble woman, a most worthy wife
is mistress of that house; joyous children move and play among the trees
that shade the lawns; and the head of the household, the father of the
family, is the happiest of thee group.

That farm, that family, that cottage, that wife, that happy home are
mine--all mine. I have found a true wife and a real home at last.

My story is told; and if it should suggest to the reader the moral which
is too obvious to need rehearsal, one object I had in telling the story
will have been accomplished.

THE END.





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