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Title: Poker Jim, Gentleman and other Tales and Sketches
Author: Lydston, Frank G.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Poker Jim, Gentleman and other Tales and Sketches" ***

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[Illustration: “JIM, THIS YER’S DOC WEYMOUTH”]



  POKER JIM,
  GENTLEMAN

  AND
  Other Tales and Sketches


  BY
  G. FRANK LYDSTON


  PUBLISHERS
  MONARCH BOOK COMPANY
  CHICAGO



  COPYRIGHT 1906 BY
  MONARCH BOOK COMPANY
  CHICAGO



  _To
  The Most Indulgent of My Friends
  And the Least Charitable of My Critics
  This Book will Give Joy.
  To Them I Dedicate It.

  The Author_



ILLUSTRATIONS


  “JIM, THIS YER’S DOC WEYMOUTH”                          _Frontispiece_

                                                                    PAGE
  JIM WAS BOUNDING TOWARD THE OPEN DOOR, LEAVING HIS INSULTER LYING
      UPON THE FLOOR WITH A CLEAN CUT IN HIS CHEST                    42

  THERE WAS A SHORT, SHARP STRUGGLE, A HARMLESS SHOT, AND JIM’S
      INSULTER WAS LYING ON THE FLOOR WITH A CLEAN CUT IN HIS CHEST   63

  JOHNNY GOT A STRANGLE HOLD ON THE FILIPINO’S THROAT WITH HIS LEFT
      HAND, WHILE WITH HIS RIGHT HE DREW HIS KNIFE                   143

  “CUSTOM-MADE SORROW”                                               160

  A ROPE WAS SPEEDILY FOUND AND TIED ABOUT MY NECK                   202

  A WISE CHILD                                                       216

  “IS MY COUSIN JUAN A COWARD, THAT HE LIES IN AMBUSH?”              286



CONTENTS


  POKER JIM, GENTLEMAN                                                 1

  TOMMY THE OUTCAST                                                   81

  JOHNNY                                                             114

  MY FRIEND THE UNDERTAKER                                           160

  A GRIM MEMENTO                                                     182

  A WISE CHILD                                                       216

  LEAVES FROM A SUICIDE’S DIARY                                      247

  CHICQUITA                                                          266

  A DEAD IDEAL                                                       297

  A MATTER OF PROFESSIONAL SECRECY                                   323

  A LEGEND OF THE YOSEMITE                                           351

  A GREAT CITY’S SHAME                                               372



PREFACE


It requires some assurance to step out of the conventional in story
writing. Especially does it require courage on the part of one whose
ideals of what a story should be are far beyond what his productions
can ever attain. But the physician, who gets closer to things human
than others do, may perhaps be forgiven unorthodox subjects and methods
of expression. Surely, also, he will be excused for drawing upon his
own field of work for his subject matter.

I have this to say of my material characters--they are all taken from
life. Even Tommy the Outcast was the genuine article of hero. He
crept into my life through a hole in my cellar window one furiously
stormy night. He went out of it _via_ a dose of poison, meant for his
hereditary foes--the rats. Talk? No, he did not talk, but I’m sure he
used to think--hard and often--and I fancy no one will upbraid me for
trying in my feeble way to read his mind and act as his proxy in the
expression of the things he thought, and in telling the sad story of
his life.

The mythical red hero and the golden haired goddess of the Yosemite
are the more beautiful for being unsubstantial. The pretty little
legend on which their story was founded was anonymously published
nearly fifty years ago in some eastern magazine, the name of which
escapes me. I found it among the rubbish of my grandfather’s attic,
when a lad. It seems that the legend was originally obtained from an
old Indian warrior, who related it essentially as it had descended to
him through many generations of ancestors. Like many other beautiful
traditions of our American aborigines, the legend of the Yosemite has
been buried in the mists of obscurity and the dust of forgetfulness.
I trust that my amplified version is not unworthy of the original. It
will at least serve to resurrect from the Valley of the Lost a bit of
beautiful sentiment that deserved a better fate. I hope this may not
be its second burial, and that the paleface may find something sweetly
sentimental in the mythical tale of Tis-sa-ack and Tu-toch-a-nu-lah.
For the benefit of those who may chance to discern in the hero of the
Yosemite a slight tinge of Frederick Cozzens’ ancient legend of the
Palisades, I freely acknowledge the debt I owe to the “Big Pappoose.”

Most of the incidents related in the various stories in this volume are
authentic. Those upon which the story of the Dead Ideal is founded come
back to me vividly from my student days with all the halo of bright
romance which they then possessed. To this day I have longed to know
who and what the beautiful subject was. He who could not weave romance
about that fair unfortunate must needs be the victim of that worst of
fates--soul death.

Nearly all the characters in Poker Jim are real. There was no dearth of
material from which to select subjects. I was born amid the California
Sierras in the placer mines of Tuolumne. Some of the years of my early
childhood were spent in the mountains of Calaveras. Here in the midst
of a rude mining population were to be found interesting characters a
plenty.

A few--alas! how very few--of those rugged, homely, adventurous spirits
whom I knew in my boyhood are still living. I have within a few months
past been privileged to clasp their dear old hands and listen to their
oft told tales of the romantic early days of my native state.

I recently spent several hours at the house of a friend in San
Francisco, watching the play of emotion on the wrinkled face of an
aged Argonaut as he listened while our host and I were discussing the
various characters of the story of Poker Jim. Needless to say, old time
memories were revived in the mind of the poor old man. I shall never
forget his tear dimmed eyes as he looked up at me and said, reverently,
“Doc, I knowed ’em well--your pa, an’ your gran’pa, an’ Poker Jim an’
all on ’em.”

As I sit here in my quiet study harking back to my last trip to the
mountains and valleys of Tuolumne and Calaveras, there appears before
my mind’s eye a picture of the old golden days brought down to the year
1900. In the foreground, at the door of his rude log cabin, stands
that dear old octogenarian, “French Tom” of Tuolumne, gazing toward
the green verdured hills on the opposite bank of the river, just where
Moccasin Creek debouches into the swift running crystal waters of the
Tuolumne. He shades his poor old eyes with his hand, and looks long and
earnestly at a man who is slowly passing along the old Yosemite trail.
When he reached the summit of the hill the man turned and stood limned
against the brilliant morning sky, a ghost of happier days.

Long past three score and ten, bent and withered, crippled with
the “rheumatiz,” with pick on shoulder and pan and grub wallet by
his side, “Dixie” was still pursuing the Golden Fleece. On the
morrow--Sunday--Tom and Dixie would meet and talk it all over, and tell
each other the same old wonderful lies of enormous golden finds, and
“saltings” of the tenderfoot, that they had been exchanging since ’49.

“Good luck, old pard!” and “The same to you!” were wafted gently down
the beautiful valley to the heart-full wanderer who had come home after
so many years.

Dixie vanished over the brow of the hill, and Tom dove into his
tumble-down shack to prepare the breakfast of fish fresh from the river
to which he had invited his doctor friend.

And the picture that my memory paints is no longer possible, for dear
old Dixie has gone over the Divide, to dig for gold at the foot of
eternal rainbows in the placers of the Great Beyond. And I am glad
that I went in quest of childhood’s memories while it was yet time.

Out of the Valley of Shadows, Mnemosyne--most puissant goddess of them
all--leads forth a procession of misty familiar shapes that bring the
warmth of affection to my heart and the smile of welcome to my lips.
And they smile back at me in that quiet way which friendly shadows have.

As the vague and unsubstantial forms flit silently past me from out
the ivory portals where Memory’s golden scepter holds undisputed sway,
I recognize a host of my boyhood’s friends; “Poker Jim”, “Boston”,
“Toppy,” “Big” Brown, “Yankee”, “Jersey”, “Link” Spears, Tom Chandler,
Dave Smuggins, Ike Dessler, Bill Loveless, and many more of the
bronzed, deep-chested, red-shirted, hair-triggered Knights of the
Golden Fleece smile back at me from the ghostly file.

Last, but not least, comes my boyhood’s hero, that Turpin of the
border, “Three Fingered Jack” of Calaveras, who has been served up to
us in so many and various forms of literary hash that I shall one day
write his true history as a matter of pious duty.

  G. FRANK LYDSTON.



POKER JIM, GENTLEMAN



POKER JIM, GENTLEMAN


It was in the spring of 1860, that the faculty of the University of
Pennsylvania concluded to confer the degree of Doctor of Medicine upon
your humble servant. Whether the faculty of that now famous school
allowed me to graduate on the principle that actuated the performers
in a western band, who implored their audiences not to shoot, as they
were doing the best they could, I cannot say, but graduate I did, and
as with all other students of medicine, it was then that my troubles
began. I was not long in discovering that the piece of crisp parchment
which the members of the faculty had endorsed as showing the scientific
qualifications of William Weymouth, M. D. and which entitled him to
practice medicine, was no open sesame to fame and prosperity.

My parents were at that time living in Kentucky, in a small town that
offered little encouragement to a young man beginning practice. The
confidence of one’s old neighbors is of even slower growth than the
beard for which the young doctor yearns, as a badge of wisdom and
learning that he who runs may read.

The country in which I spent my boyhood--I was born in the state of
Maine--was even less inviting than the state of my adoption. It is
possible that I entertained a little of my mother’s prejudice against
Yankeedom in those days. She was a native of Kentucky, and had never
become thoroughly reconciled to the country to which my father had
taken her soon after her marriage. It was in acquiescence to her
homesick pleadings that my father finally moved to Kentucky, and
settled in the little town wherein my parents lived for the rest of
their days in such happiness as people of modest means can secure only
among the warm hearted, generous people south of Mason and Dixon’s line.

Had my home surroundings offered any inducements to the professional
career I had planned for myself, I should certainly have returned home
to practice. My parents were living alone, and my natural impulse was
to return to them and do the best I could at practice, as long as they
should live. It was with some twinges of conscience, therefore, that I
finally decided against going back to Kentucky to locate.

There were but three of us children, a brother, younger than myself,
and a sister, two years older. My sister had married a gentleman from
Memphis, and had long since gone to that city to live. My young brother
had left home some years before I graduated, and no one knew what had
become of him, much to my regret and to the sorrow of his parents,
whose favorite, I must admit, the boy had ever been.

Jim had always been a wild lad, and was stamped as an incorrigible
almost as soon as he could toddle alone. It was said that a little
of the old strain of Indian blood, with which tradition had endowed
our family, had cropped out in him. He was one of those rollicking,
handsome dare-devils; that everybody fears and loves at the same
moment. The very sight of Jim’s curly, black head and mischievous eyes
struck the good neighbors with terror. Trouble was expected from the
moment that boy put in an appearance--and the good folks were seldom
disappointed. Sometimes they would acknowledge that “it might have been
worse,” but such occasions were rare.

But all who knew the curly headed little rascal admitted that he
possessed two excellent qualities; he was as brave as a lion, and
kind-hearted to a fault. He would fight at “the drop of the hat,” and
no boy ever heard him cry quits. He was as ready to split a cord of
wood for a poor widow, as he was to tie a tin can to her house-dog’s
tail, and that’s saying a great deal.

As the boy grew toward manhood, he fell in with evil associates, and
as is always the case with boys of his peculiar disposition, he became
thoroughly demoralized. Cards, whisky, horses and women--these were
the unsubstantial foundation upon which rested the new world that his
vicious companions opened up to him.

While living at the old home in Kentucky, I had always had a great
controlling influence over little Jim, and even after I left home
for college, I maintained a certain degree of influence over him.
Gradually, however, our correspondence became infrequent, until we
heard from each other only at very long intervals.

Knowing how much I thought of the lad, my parents never alluded to
Jim’s discrepancies in their letters to me. I have sometimes thought
that possibly they were actuated to a certain degree by false pride;
they did not care to expose the failings of their idol to his natural
rival in their affections--his brother. Whatever the explanation of
the reticence of my parents may have been, I had no intimation of the
true state of affairs until after the poor boy had fled from home,
never to return.

It was the old story; a woman, a rival, a quarrel--ostensibly the
outcome of a game of cards--the lie, a shot, and my young brother a
fugitive. What a monotonous sameness there is in all such stories,
to be sure. No one has invented a single new character or a single
new situation in the play of passion, through all the ages. What new
phases have the romanticists of the world added to human hopes, fears,
sentiments, passions and vices in all the centuries? None--and yet the
world demands originality of its authors!

It will be seen that I was between two fires, in deciding on my course
after graduation--a sense of filial duty to my sorrowing and lonely
parents, and a new-born professional ambition. As is usually the case,
ambition conquered, and I decided to seek my fortune in new fields, far
away from the paternal roof. California was, at that time, by no means
a new sensation, but the novelty of the gold craze had not yet worn
off. I had no particular ambition to seek my fortune in foreign lands,
and as the Pacific coast was to ambitious Americans still the El Dorado
of all youthful dreams, I very naturally turned my thoughts in that
direction. I was not long in coming to a decision, and after writing my
plans to my parents, I made my arrangements to depart for San Francisco.

The choice of routes to California was a very simple matter, for one
who was within easy access of the Atlantic sea board. There was no
railroad communication with the Pacific coast in those days, hence
I was compelled to select from the several ocean routes that which
promised to consume the least time. With this idea I embarked at New
York City for San Francisco, on a steamer of the Panama line, and,
after a pleasant and uneventful voyage, arrived in San Francisco, the
portals of promise through which so many hopeful Jasons had passed
before me in search of the Golden Fleece.

       *       *       *       *       *

The San Francisco gambling house was the common ground upon which the
flotsam and jetsam of the early cosmopolitan population of the city
met. The proprietors of the gambling hells certainly knew human nature
thoroughly, judging by the variety of excitement which they provided.
Every known game and every variety of liquor distinguished for its
vital-reaching propensities, was at the disposal of their patrons, day
and night. The boast of the gambling house keeper was, that he had
thrown away his front door key the day the house was opened.

When the gambling fever struck the good citizen or unwary visitor from
the mines, he could have his choice of a variety of remedies; monte,
faro, roulette, poker--anything he pleased, providing he had his “dust”
with him.

And do not imagine that the proprietors and dealers of the games were
low-browed, ugly ruffians. Smooth, sleek and handsome were the nimble
fingered gentry who attended to the wants of the fever-stricken fools
who had more ounces in their pockets than in their brain-pans--until
the fever was cured, when the loss of balance was in the other
direction. Many a college education was wasted--or utilized, if you
please--on the dealer’s side of a “sweat-cloth” in some of those dens.
My fine gentleman would not swing a pick--unless it were an ivory one
with which he could take away a sturdy miner’s golden ounces much more
quickly than the hapless fool had dug them with the implements of
honest toil.

But the scene was an alluring one, nevertheless. The rattle of chips
and dice; the ringing of silver and the clink of gold; the thud of
the buckskin bags of gold dust as they were recklessly thrown upon
the table; the duller, yet more portentous, shuffling of the cards;
the whir of the wheel where _rouge et noir_ was being played, were
entertaining to my ear, untrained as it was to such sounds.

“Come up and make your bets, gentlemen! The game is made! Five
-- eleven -- eighteen -- twenty -- twenty-two -- twenty-four --
twenty-eight -- thirty-one. Red wins!”--and the never ending procession
of excited fools stepped up to diversion and disaster.

There was one thing the proprietors of those gambling houses
forgot--they should have had a suicide room and an undertaking
department. It would have saved the city fathers a deal of trouble in
the disposal of the large crop of unknown remains that the morning
light disclosed in obscure corners of the city--poor fugitives from
self; victims of dens where Venus, Momus, Terpsichore and Bacchus
grovelled in the dirt yet held undisputed sway.

There was a grim irony, and yet, withal, a tinge of comedy, in the
farewell treat of fiery liquor with which the management bowed out its
ruined guests--bowed them out of the den of iniquity and into a slough
of despond from which they oft-times never emerged--on this side of
eternity.

I was standing one evening in “The Palace”--a gambling den with the
usual appurtenances of tributary and dependent vice--curiously watching
the movements of the dealer at one of the numerous faro games. Every
table was crowded with players and surrounded by spectators, some of
whom, like myself, were mere curiosity seekers, but most of them being
devotees of the shrine of the goddess, Chance, who were impatiently
awaiting the occurrence of a vacancy at the table--when a bankrupt
player should make way for fatter victims.

Sitting just opposite the dealer was a young lad, who could not have
been more than seventeen years of age, betting away with a recklessness
that would have done credit to a millionaire. The youngster was
evidently flushed with liquor and laboring under the highest degree of
excitement.

Standing just behind the boy, was a woman--evidently of the under
world--who, it was easy to see, was influencing his betting. Whether
this creature was giving direct advice and encouragement or not,
I cannot say, but the lad was certainly trying to appear as brave
and recklessly extravagant as possible, for the apparent purpose of
impressing the woman. The furtive glance which the dealer exchanged
with his charming “capper” now and then, was sufficient to enable even
one of my limited experience, to form a correct conclusion as to the
status of affairs.

Just opposite me and almost directly behind the dealer, stood a man
who, I was certain, had been studying my face from time to time
ever since I had taken my place among the spectators of the game. A
stealthy glance at my _vis à vis_ when he happened to be watching
the boy’s playing--which seemed to be dividing his attention with
myself--revealed a person of most striking appearance and unique
individuality.

Apparently about twenty-five years of age, judging by his heavy black
moustache and mature development; a tall, athletic figure; long curling
locks of jet black hair hanging loosely down over his shoulders; eyes
as black as sloes and as piercing as those of a hawk--the stranger was
indeed a handsome and most picturesque character. His closely buttoned
coat of fashionable cut, small, neat boots, and surmounting all, his
broad-brimmed hat, made him even more striking, if possible. I glanced
at his hands and noted that they were well formed, and of a color that
indicated bath gentility and a life in which manual labor bore no part.

As I stole a second glance at the handsome stranger, our eyes met, and
I fancied that he started slightly. He glanced away quickly, but as the
boy in whom he appeared to take such an interest was apparently getting
pretty near the end of his funds, I concluded that the unknown’s
emotion--if indeed he had really displayed any--was due to the evident
bad luck of his unconscious _protegé_. It was plain to me that he was
interested in the boy, for there was an expression about the corners
of his mouth, and an almost tender gleam in his eyes, that could not
be mistaken by any one who possessed even a fair ability in character
reading.

I knew not why the picturesque stranger interested me, but there seemed
to be some indefinable attraction about him, which caused me to forget
the game and watch him as closely as I could without risk of giving
offense. As our eyes met, I experienced a peculiar sense of mutual
recognition, and yet it was seemingly impossible, or at least, highly
improbable, that we had ever met before.

But the occurrences of the next few minutes entirely diverted my mind
for the time being from the question of recognition.

The poor, foolish boy soon exhausted his money, and vacated his place
at the unholy altar. I saw him whisper to the female, in whose company
he evidently was, and apparently request her to step aside with him.
She did so, and they stood for some time in earnest, confidential
discussion of a subject which their gestures made all too apparent. The
bird was plucked, his charms were gone, and he was not only refused a
“stake” wherewith to possibly retrieve his losses, but the light of his
first romance was extinguished forever--or until he had procured more
money, which, to the woman’s mind, probably amounted to the same thing.

The expression on that poor boy’s face was a horror and a sermon both
in one. As the woman coldly and haughtily swept away from him, her
tainted skirts swishing suggestively and ominously over the floor,
gathering up tobacco and other filth which was purity itself beside her
harpy-like soul, the lad stood gazing after her as if in a dream. He
was stunned into obliviousness to everything but the realization of his
disaster.

He stood for a moment as though incapable of motion, then with an
expression of desperation in his eyes, and a countenance that was the
typification of utterly hopeless despair, he passed through the green
baize doors out into the night--his first black night of fathomless woe
and absolute demoralization.

I had watched the boy from the time we left the table, and his
expression, as the hawk that had plucked away his youthful plumage
flew away from her victim, at once appealed to my young professional
eye. I made my diagnosis almost intuitively, and instinctively started
to follow the lad, as quickly as I could without attracting his
attention. As I turned toward the exit, I caught a glimpse of some one
just passing out. As the doors swung back before him, I recognized the
stalwart form of the picturesque unknown.

I breathed a sigh of relief, and strolled leisurely along after the
stranger. I do not know why, but I felt that the boy was safe. I was
sure I could not be mistaken in my interpretation of the play of
emotions that had animated the stranger’s face, as he watched the game
which had ruined the poor lad whom he was evidently following.

I soon saw that I was right. The stranger caught up with the boy just
as he stepped into the brilliant light that illuminated the sidewalk in
front of the gambling den. Placing one hand upon the boy’s shoulder, he
gently but firmly halted him, I meanwhile drawing back into the shadow
of the outer door of the Palace, determined, with the best of motives,
to see the thing through.

“Don’t be frightened, my lad,” said the man, “I just want to say a word
to you, that’s all.”

The boy looked at him as though dazed for a moment, and then replied
slowly:

“I’m not frightened, sir. You’re not apt to do anything worse to me
than I’ve already done to myself. My money is all gone, and you can’t
do any more than kill me, if you don’t want money. As for killing
me,--well, I have more lead than gold left, and I’ve not forgotten how
my father taught me to die, like a gentleman.”

I fancied that the boy looked quite the hero as he spoke. There was a
little touch of the southron born about him that brought my Kentucky
home back to me. I had seen such boys there, and I knew--well, there
was one who was something like that, whom I would have given the world
to see, and my heart went out to that poor, unfortunate lad. And, yet,
for some reason, I had an even kinder feeling for the man who was
evidently going to act the friend and adviser of our mutual _protegé_.

“Pardon me for even suggesting that you might be frightened,” said
the unknown, “but you are young; San Francisco has some queer ways
and still queerer people, and it’s not every man who gets the drop on
you who means well. I am free to say that I should be uneasy myself,
were I to be similarly accosted, and they say I am--well, that I’m ‘no
chicken’, you know. Where are you from, my boy?”

“I’m from Virginia, sir,” replied the boy, straightening up with a
little of the Old Dominion pride, I thought.

“Ah!” exclaimed his new-found friend, “I was sure I detected a little
of the old cavalier strain in your face. What is your name, may I ask?”

“Gordon Cabell, sir.”

“Well, Master Cabell, I know your breed pretty well; I’m from--well,
I’ve met southern boys before. Now, I’m going to talk plainly to you,
and you mustn’t be offended. I’m going to be your friend, for to-night,
at least, and you must listen to me.

“I’m not going to give you a moral lecture on gambling or liquor
drinking. I presume that the Gordons, Cabells, and many more of your
ancestors, have played cards, drunk whisky, raced horses, attended
cock fights, and fought duels, and have done many other things that
people with colder blood object to, but they did all these things like
gentlemen, I’ll warrant you. Now, tell me, young fellow, did you ever
know of a Cabell doing what you have done, and still worse, what you
were going to do to-night?”

“Sir!” said the boy indignantly, reaching toward his pistol, “I will--”

“Oh, no you won’t, Master Cabell. Look me in the eye, please!” and the
boy gazed at the stranger wonderingly, as he drew his tall form up to
its full height, calmly folded his arms, and looked down upon him.

“I have already told you that I am your friend, Gordon, and the
Cabells do not make targets of their friends. Give me your pistol, sir!”

The boy almost mechanically drew his pistol from the holster beneath
his loose-fitting coat, and obeying the mandate of a will more powerful
than his own, handed it to his companion.

“Thank you, Gordon,” said the stranger, “I’ll return it to you
presently.

“Now, my boy, let us get to business. You have fallen among thieves,
and have been plucked, like the unsuspecting, foolish pigeon that you
are. I don’t want to know your past history; life is too short, but I
do want a hand in your future.

“You are the scion of aristocratic stock. Your ancestors before you
were worshippers at the shrine of beauty, but it was the beauty of
purity and virtue. You have been dragging your family pride down into
the dirt, and offering up your young soul upon an altar which a true
son of the Old Dominion should loathe. You have squandered your money
trying to beat a game that’s a ‘dead-open-and-shut’ against you. You
are listening to one who knows whereof he speaks, I assure you, my boy.

“Not satisfied with what you had already done, which after all is
easily remedied, you were about to stain your family name and record
with a crime that nothing on earth could ever wipe out. You were about
to kill--a fool, Gordon, who may yet be made a wise man.

“I once knew a boy who played the fool--much as you have done--and who
is still expiating his folly. He might eventually have done as you
were about to do, only he happened to be compelled to--well, he didn’t
shoot himself, that’s one thing to his credit, although his family, and
not himself, was perhaps the gainer by it, or will be sometime, if the
truth is ever known. He couldn’t avoid the other--there was nothing
about that of which he had cause to be ashamed, although the world,
that knows not the circumstances, thinks differently.

“Now, Gordon, I’m going to stake you. Don’t say no--it is a loan if you
please, or anything you choose to call it. Take this, and get out of
this hell-hole of a town as quick as the Lord will let you.”

The boy stood for a moment with the tears streaming down his cheeks,
and then hesitatingly took the proffered bag of dust.

“And you will really let me pay it back to you, sir, when I am able?”

“I certainly will, if we ever meet again,” replied the man. “As I have
already told you, my boy, I know your breed; it is not the kind that
likes to remain under obligations to one who is an entire stranger.
But, after all, your honorable intention clears the obligation.

“And, Gordon, here’s your pistol. I think it will be safer in your
hands than it was a short time ago. And now I am going to give you a
few parting words of advice.

“In the first place, young fellow, don’t gamble. If your blood is too
red to heed this admonition, learn to play poker. It’s a scientific
game and a square one, usually--always so among gentlemen. Never bet
against another man’s game, nor play against a percentage. Gambling
games of that kind are like the play of life, the percentage is in
favor of the dealer, and it fetches you sooner or later.

“In the second place, young man, set up a shrine in your heart, and
worship female purity and virtue; then you are safe. If you have a
mother or sisters, don’t forget that a woman who is not fit for their
society is not worthy of your regard.

“Youthful affection, my boy, is not inexhaustible. Keep it for future
reference--and worthy objects. You may yet live to wish that the
worldly heart of to-morrow were the young and fresh one of yesterday.

“And now, I must leave you. Good-night, my boy, and don’t forget what I
have said to you.”

“But, sir,” cried the lad, “your name, who shall I--?”

His benefactor had disappeared in the darkness.

The boy stood for a time gazing blankly into the night in the direction
in which the stranger had disappeared; then, drawing himself up
proudly, as became a son of fair Virginia, he placed the bag of gold in
his pocket and his pistol in its holster, cast a scornful glance toward
the windows of the Palace and strode resolutely away.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days after the scene at the gaming house, I chanced to meet an
old time friend of my father’s, hailing from Maine. Mr. Allen, it
seemed, had “struck it rich” and was on his way back to the “States.”
From this gentleman I received a glowing account of the wealth of the
placer mining region in Tuolumne county, which at once determined my
future course. When he informed me that the country where he had made
his “pile” was not only rich in gold, but badly in need of doctors, I
decided that Tuolumne should have at least one medical celebrity.

Investing some of my greatly diminished capital in an outfit which I
thought might harmonize to a certain extent with the new field for
which I was about to depart, I bade farewell to San Francisco and set
my face toward the fame and the pot of gold that lay at the foot of the
rainbow of my dreams.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a calm sultry evening in the month of July, 1860, that I
embarked on board a steamboat plying between San Francisco and
Stockton, the latter city being the gateway to the wonderful country
distinguished by its wealth and scarcity of doctors, so graphically
described by my friend, Mr. Allen.

The trip up the Sacramento river, although pleasant enough, had very
little novelty about it, and I confess that I at first experienced
a feeling of disappointment at the lack of entertainment which the
scenery afforded.

Our route lay for a comparatively short distance up the Sacramento,
the major portion of my journey being comprised by one of its
tributaries--the San Joaquin--a stream that is insignificant enough
during the dry season, but which in the early spring is formidable
enough to those who live sufficiently near the river to get the benefit
of its overflow during the spring freshets.

The San Joaquin river is, without doubt, the crookedest navigable
stream in the world. There was never a snake that could contort himself
into so fantastic an outline as presented by that lazily meandering
branch of the Sacramento. So crooked is it, that one entertains a
constant dread of running ashore; the bank is always dead ahead and
unpleasantly near.

This serpentine river traverses a perfectly level plain throughout the
navigable part of its course, its banks being flanked by tule beds
which extend farther than the eye can see. Indeed, the valley of the
San Joaquin is one vast bed of tules, extending fully one hundred and
fifty miles. When, as sometimes happens during the dry season, the tule
beds take fire, the spectacle, especially at night, is at once grand
and terribly impressive. I remember on one occasion taking a night trip
up the river during one of these fires. The scene in the vicinity
of Monte Diablo, was one of the most majestic and awe inspiring I
have ever witnessed. The name of “Devil’s Mountain” seemed singularly
appropriate.

It was nearly three in the morning when I arrived at Stockton, and, as
there was nothing to be gained by going ashore, I remained on board
the boat, determined to get the full benefit of a morning nap. It
seemed to me that I had just closed my eyes, when I was awakened by the
yelling of the roustabouts and stage agents on the wharf. I had barely
time to dress, hustle ashore and hurriedly swallow a cup of coffee,
before my stage was ready to start, and I was off for Jacksonville--the
particular town of Tuolumne county that I had determined to favor with
my medical skill and fortune-hunting ambition.

There was nothing pleasant about that stage ride--it was memorable
only for its inconveniences and its motley load pf passengers. A hot,
dusty, bumping journey in the old time California stage makes pretty
reading as Bret Harte has described it but I am free to say that the
reality was not so enjoyable. The red dust of the California stage road
gets into a fellow’s system so deeply that his ideas are likely to be
of a practical or even profane sort, even though he be normally quite
sentimental.

Picturesque, however, the ride certainly was. Several red-shirted,
rough-bearded miners, lent just the right touch of local color, while
the imitation frontiersman--of whom I was the type--was sufficiently
well represented to afford a suitable foil for the genuine article, as
typified by my brawny-chested, be-pistoled, unkempt fellow passengers.

In one corner of the stage was a little chap who was evidently what we
would call a dude nowadays. This young gentleman had done his level
best to put a bold front on matters, by rigging himself out like a
cowboy. The result was somewhat ludicrous, as may be imagined. Nor
was the poor little idiot by any means unconscious of his features of
incongruity--he realized most keenly the absurdity of his position and
the fact that he was being guyed. The miners, however, seemed to enjoy
the situation immensely.

“Say, pardner,” said one tawny-bearded giant, leaning toward the
innocent, and startling him so that his eye glasses nearly dropped off
his nose--“Gimme a pull at yer pistol, wont ye?”

“Ah, beg pawdon, sir, what did you say?” stammered the dude.

“W’y I s’posed you could understan’ th’ English langwidge,” replied the
miner, “but seein’ ez how ye don’t, I’ll translate her to ye. I asked
ye ter give me a pull at yer whisky bottle.”

“Ah, really,” said the innocent, “I’d be chawmed, you know, doncher
know, but I don’t carry the article. In fact, sir, I nevah drink.”

“Ye don’t say so? Well, I want ter know!” answered the miner. “Now, see
hyar, sonny, seein’ ez how you aint got no whisky, jest gimme a chaw uv
terbacker an’ we’ll call it squar’.”

“I--aw--I’m sorry to say that I don’t use tobacco, sir.”

“Sho! g’long, young feller! Is--that--so? How the h--l d’ye keep a
goin’? Whut d’ye do fer excitement--p’raps ye plays poker, eh?” said
the stalwart son of the pick.

“Oh no!” exclaimed the tenderfoot in dismay, “I nevah play cards!”

“Ye don’t tell me!” replied the miner. “Well, well, well! By the way,
young feller; be keerful not ter lose ’em--ye mout need ’em ter git
home with.”

“Need what, sir?” asked the victim.

“Yer wings!”--and the miners broke out in a huge guffaw that bade fair
to dislocate a wheel of the stage, and impelled the driver to look
anxiously and inquiringly at his passengers.

The tenderfoot collapsed and remained in a state of complete
innocuousness until he arrived at his destination, which, fortunately
for his sensitive organization, happened to be the first town where we
changed horses. As he minced gingerly away toward the hotel, the miners
winked at each other most prodigiously. Happening to catch the big
fellow’s eye, by a happy inspiration I was impelled to wink also. This
at once established me on a friendly footing with my rough companions,
and, as I happened to have a bottle of fairly good liquor with me,
the rest of the way into the regard of those simple miners was easily
traversed.

During the conversation that naturally followed the unconventional
formation of our acquaintance, the big-bearded fellow, who appeared
to be the leader of the little party of miners, following the blunt
fashion of the country, suddenly remarked:

“By the way, stranger, whut might yer name be, an’ whut part uv the
diggin’s might yer be headin’ fer?”

“Well,” I replied smilingly, “it is about time we introduced ourselves,
isn’t, it? My name is William Weymouth, recently of Kentucky, a doctor
by profession, and bound for Jacksonville, where I contemplate digging
gold when the weather will permit, and practicing medicine when it will
not.”

“A doctor, an’ bound fer Jacksonville, eh? Well, Doc,” said my new
acquaintance, reaching out his grimy paw with a cordiality that could
not be mistaken, “I’m d--d glad ter know ye! Jacksonville is our town,
an’ a h--l uv a good town she is at that, y’u bet! We’re jest gittin’
back from Frisco, an’ doin’ it on tick, too. We’ve been doin’ the sport
racket down yonder, an’ I reckon the sports hev done us, eh, pards?”
His “pards” having acquiesced, my brawny friend cut off a huge chew of
“nigger heel,” stowed it away in his capacious cheek, and after a few
preliminary expectorations that resembled geysers, continued:

“If it hadn’t been fer ole Tom McDougal up thar on the box, we’d a
took Walker’s line back ter our claims”--and the big miner glanced
gratefully in the direction of the generous Mr. McDougal.

“And now that I have found that you are to be my fellow townsmen,” I
said pleasantly, “permit me to remind you that the introduction has
been one-sided. What are your names, may I ask?”

The miner winked at his companions, laughed a little deep down in his
huge red beard, and replied:

“D--d if I didn’t fergit that ther was two sides to the interdoocin’
bizness. Ye see, stranger, we aint payin’ much attention ter feller’s
handles in the mines. Most enny ole thing’ll do fer a name. That’s why
we sometimes fergits our manners. This yere gang is purty well supplied
with names, but ye mightn’t hev sich good luck ev’ry time, ’specially
in Tuolumne county, eh, pards?”

His “pards” having again nodded and winked their approval, my brawny
friend proceeded with his introductions.

“I’m called in the diggin’s by sev’ral names an’ y’u kin do like the
rest uv my fren’s--take yer pick. I’m mostly known as Big Brown, tho’
some folks calls me Big Sandy. When I was in the states, I b’lieve
they used to call me Daniel W. Brown, but I wouldn’t swar to it. This
feller nex’ ter me hyar, is the hon’able Mr. Dixie,’ or Snub-nose Dixie
fer short, who aint never hed much ter say about his other name, if he
ever had enny, eh, Dixie? That lantern-jawed cuss a settin’ long side
uv y’u, is Deacon Jersey, utherwise an’ more favor’bly known ez Link
Spears. We calls him Deacon, cuz he never was inside of a church in his
hull life. He’s the only genooine deacon this side of the Sierras. Thar
aint none uv the hypercrit’ erbout him, neither, I kin tell ye. Ye’ll
find us fellers’ tastes kinder runs erlike, f’r instance,”--and Big
Brown looked longingly in the direction of my “pistol” pocket.

“In the matter of thirst,” I suggested.

“Right y’u air, Doc! I kin see yer goin ter be a valooable addition to
our diggin’s. We need a doctor ez kin tell whut’s the matter with a
feller ’thout cuttin’ him wide open. Ye see, we likes ter keep our own
han’s in, an’ don’t calkerlate ter leave much of the cuttin’ ter the
doctor--ennyhow, ’till we’ve had our little innin’s, eh, boys?”

Once again the boys agreed, with, I thought, just a slight suspicion
of gratified vanity in their expressions.

It was a long weary way to Jacksonville, but my time was well spent.
Thanks to the kindness and garrulity of my new-found yet none the
less sincere, friends, and the confidence engendered by my rapidly
diminishing supply of stimulants, I found myself, by the time I arrived
at my destination, fairly well acquainted with the town, its ways and
its citizens.

Jacksonville, at the time I landed in the then thriving place, was
one of the most noted mining centers in the placer country. Its
location was most picturesque. Nestled among the foot-hills of the
glorious Sierras on the banks of the Tuolumne river, and peopled by as
cosmopolitan and heterogeneous a population as was ever gathered within
the confines of one small town, my new home was attractive because of
its novelty, if nothing more.

Ages and ages of alternately falling and receding waters, centuries
of snow and enormous rainfalls, had washed down from the mountains
into the valley of the Tuolumne, those auriferous particles, the great
abundance of which had made Jacksonville spring into busy life and
thriving prosperity, almost in a single day.

But the very elements which had laid the alluring foundation of the
valley’s wealth, were even then conspiring to avenge the rifling of
the rich deposits of the valley by the irreverent hands of the modern
Argonauts.

The Tuolumne river was a variable stream. During the dry season, it was
but a thin, disjointed, silvery ribbon, across which one could walk
dry-shod, in places. But in the early spring, the little stream at
which the wayfarer was wont to laugh, and in whose bed the eager miner
delved with impunity and profit, took revenge upon the disturbers of
its ancient course. It became a raging torrent, resistlessly carrying
all before it and sometimes severely punishing for his temerity the
unwary miner who had pitched his tent or built his rude cabin too near
the river bank. But all the revenge which the Tuolumne had taken in
all the years since the settlement of the valley, was as nothing to
that which was yet to come. That vale of thrift, industry and smiling
prosperity was destined to become a valley of death, destruction,
desolation and ruin.

But were not Pompeii and Herculaneum, and in later days, our own San
Francisco, joyful and unsuspecting to the last? And why should the
people of Tuolumne dread a danger of which familiarity and fancied
security had made them forgetful, or possibly even contemptuous. The
average citizen of Jacksonville could calmly face death in a material
form, and why should he concern himself with that which passed by upon
the other side with each succeeding spring?

By no means the least attractive feature of Jacksonville was the rugged
self-confidence and honesty of the majority of its people. Even the
Chinese, who composed a large part of the population, seemed to be a
better variety of the almond-eyed heathen than I had supposed could
possibly exist. The hair-triggered sensibility and powder-and-ball
ethics of the dominant race seemed to be most effective civilizers.

I am far from claiming that Jacksonville presented an ideal state of
civilization, but this I do say, in justice to my old town; life and
property were safer there than they are to-day in many more pretentious
communities, that claim to rank as centers from which civilization
radiates like the rays of a star. A sense of personal responsibility
made the French the politest nation on the face of the earth; it was
the foundation upon which the spirit of the “Old South” was builded
firmer than a rock; it was the soul that beat back the furious waves of
shot and shell that so often hailed upon the southern chivalry on many
a hard fought field. A similar spirit of self-assertion and personal
responsibility pervaded the Tuolumne valley, and raised its average
moral standard to a height far beyond that of many a metropolis of a
more vicious and effete civilization.

Warm-hearted, impulsive, honest, courageous, fiery-tempered,
quick-triggered Argonauts of the Tuolumne valley--a health to those
of you who still live, and peace to those who have laid down the pick
and pan forever and have inspected their sluice-boxes for the last
time! When the final “clean-up” comes, may the “find” be full of
nuggets--“sixteen dollars to the ounce.”

There was no better opportunity of becoming intimately acquainted
with the town of Jacksonville, its people and its customs, than was
afforded by the Tuolumne House, where I made my headquarters. There
may be better hotels in the world than that primitive one, but it
had outgrown its canvas period and had become a pretentious frame
structure, and this fact alone made it famous. It had no rival, for the
old “Empire,” so long presided over by that honest, sturdy old Scot,
Rob McCoun, had long since been converted into a Chinese grocery, while
its erstwhile owner had been dead for several years. As for the only
other hotel, McGinnis, its proprietor, had never been in the race since
his cook, one unlucky day, brewed the coffee and tea simultaneously in
the same pot. The hundred and seventy-odd boarders who fed at McGinnis’
“festive” rack were not to be consoled--they “quit him cold” and went
over to the enemy. Tradition says that “Mac.” half killed the luckless
cook, one Mike Corcoran, “Fer puttin’ coffee in the tay pot, ther d--d
scoundrel!” but the boarders were not to be placated.[A] My fellow
citizens of Jacksonville were very particular, and quite sensitive,
with respect to the quality and quantity of liquids that entered their
stomachs.

    [A] Axin’ Mr. McGinnis’ pardon--if he be still living.--Author.

The material comforts of the Tuolumne House aside, there was never a
cheerier, heartier, pluckier boniface than George Keyse. He was to
the manner born, and could take a gun or a knife away from an excited
boarder quite as gracefully and quickly as he could, if necessary, turn
his own flapjacks.

Mr. Keyse had an invaluable assistant in one Dave Smuggins, who
officiated alternately as barkeeper, porter and hotel clerk. Smuggins
was a well-bred man, and, it was said, was originally educated for the
ministry. The only evidence at hand, however, was certain oratorical
propensities that overcame him and made him forget his real position
when he awakened the boarders early o’ mornings. I can hear him
now, as he stood at the top of the stairway, yelling in stentorian
tones--“Arouse all ye sleepers, an’ listen to the purty little airly
birds singin’ praises tew the Lord! D--n yer bloody eyes! Git up!”
saying which the modern psalmist discreetly went below and took his
position behind the bar, ready to dispense “eye-openers” to the early
caller.

Jacksonville proved to be not only a pleasant place of residence but
an excellent field for my professional work. The climate was almost
germ-proof, and it was a real pleasure to practice the semi-military
surgery characteristic of my field of labor. Primary union was my
speciality in those days, and I used to get results the memory of
which sometimes makes me blush for those I occasionally get with our
modern aseptic and antiseptic methods. No matter how much my patients
might shoot or carve each other, any fellow who had life enough left in
him to crawl or be carried off the field of battle, usually got well.

Beyond accompanying an occasional prospecting party, largely for
recreation but partly in my professional capacity, I did but little in
the way of mining. My practice gave me plenty to do, and was lucrative
enough as practices go, so I soon settled down to as routine a life as
my curious and lively surroundings would permit.


I was sitting in that portion of the Tuolumne House yclept by courtesy
“the office,” quite late one evening, listening to the quaint talk of
my miner friends and marvelling on the quantity of fluid the human body
could lose by way of expectoration and still live, when I was recalled
to a realization of the fact that I was a practitioner of medicine, by
a voice at the hotel door.

“Say, Doc, kin I see y’u a minute?”

Looking up I saw standing in the doorway one of the boys, who was
familiarly known as Toppy, his States’ name being Ike Dexter. Toppy
motioned for me to come out on the porch, and impressed by his gravity
of manner and earnestness of gesticulation, I hastened to comply.

“What is it, Toppy?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, “thar’s one uv my friends whut’s bin an’ got hisself
hurt, an’ I want y’u ter come an’ fix him up. He’s a very parti’cler
friend, an’ I’d like ter hev yer do yer best on him. Ye needn’t say
nuthin’ ter the boys about it, jes’ now, Doc.”

“Very well, Toppy, I’ll go with you, but what kind of an accident has
befallen your friend?” I asked.

“Oh, I dunno ez ye could jes’ call it a accident, Doc. It’s jest a
little shootin’ scrape, that’s all, an’ I reckon ye’d better take some
’stracters erlong.”

In accordance with the honest miner’s suggestion I did take some bullet
extractors with me.

“Ye see, Doc,” said Toppy, by way of preparatory explanation of the
case I was about to see, “this yere friend of mine hez bin down in
’Frisco fer a spell, an’ might hev staid thar a good while longer,
only some feller picked a row with him. Thar wuz a duel, an’ duels
ain’t so pop’lar down ’Frisco way ez they useter wuz, ’specially when
somebody gits hurt. A real bad accident happened ter th’ uther feller,
an’ he passed in his checks. Jim--that’s my friend--got a ball in his
thigh, whut stuck thar, and ez he didn’t hev much time to hunt fer a
doctor, he jest come up hyar, whar its kinder quiet like, an’ we thort
we’d hev y’u sorter look arter the thing. Ye see, Jim won’t keer to git
’round much fer a few weeks--not ’till that little accident gits blowed
over”--and Toppy’s eyes gleamed humorously.

My friend led me down to the river bank, and pushing aside a clump of
willows revealed a small, rudely constructed row-boat.

“Ah!” I said, as I took my seat in the somewhat insecure-looking and
cranky little craft, “It is evident that you have taken your friend to
your own cabin.”

Toppy, as I well knew, had the only abode on the opposite bank of
the river, where, high up on the hillside, in full though somewhat
distant view of the little town, he had built a small but neat cabin,
which nestled in the bosom of the hill, looking not unlike a child’s
playhouse as seen from the town proper.

“Yep,” replied the miner, “thar’s whar he is. It aint best ter depen’
too much on pop’larity, ye know, Doc, an’ Jim’ll be a little safer over
thar than in town. Nobody goes ter my place--less’n I invite ’em,” and
Toppy grinned sardonically.

I recalled the fate of a poor devil who did go to his cabin without an
invitation--from Toppy--in the early days of his housekeeping on the
hillside, when a more or less charming little Mexican half-breed damsel
was said to have presided over Toppy’s domestic affairs.

Being averse to the discussion of other people’s family matters, I had
never conversed with my miner friend on that delicate subject. To tell
the truth, there seemed to be very little encouragement for gossip in
Jacksonville--town-talk was too direct a cut to the little collection
of white head-boards that decorated a small plateau just outside the
town. All my information on such subjects, was therefore derived from
more subtle and less dangerous airy rumor.

The river was quite low, and a few vigorous pulls from Toppy’s stalwart
arms brought us to the opposite shore, from which I could see, far up
the hillside, the gleaming white walls of the miner’s rude little home,
where lay my prospective patient.

Toppy was notoriously careless in his personal grooming, but the
little half-breed had evidently inspired a coat of whitewash for the
cabin, that endured longer than the sentiment with which its owner
had inspired that swarthy little traitress. Possibly that gleaming
white cabin was her monument--who knows? The river ran dangerously
and temptingly near, considering how short a time it takes to fall a
few hundred feet down a steep and rocky hillside, and rumor whispered
that Pepita--well, no one knew where she was, and women were not so
plentiful in the Tuolumne valley that hiding was easy.

But the Tuolumne kept its secret well, if secret there was. Its
quick-sands told no tales. They could hide the precious gold of the
river bottom; why not a mouldering skeleton?

On entering Toppy’s cabin, completely winded after my climb up the hill
that constituted his front yard, I found my new patient lying on a cot
in the middle of the room. He turned inquiringly toward the door as
his host and I entered, and what was my amazement to see reflected in
the dim light of the candle with which the cabin was illuminated, the
features of the handsome unknown of the San Francisco gambling-house,
whose adventure with the unfortunate young southerner I have already
related. The recognition was evidently mutual, but I fancied that
my patient looked at me with an expression slightly suggestive of
annoyance.

Toppy’s introduction was laconic, and as characteristic as was he
himself:

“Doc, this is Jim--Jim, this yer’s Doc Weymouth, an’ he’s all right,
y’u bet, ’specially on bullets an’ sich things.”

I was used to California customs, hence the cognomen, “Jim” was
sufficiently comprehensive and perfectly satisfactory to me, and after
the brief introduction that my miner friend gave me, I proceeded to
investigate the case.

As Toppy had already informed me of the circumstances that led to the
reception of my patient’s wound, I made no inquiry in that direction. I
found also, that Toppy was correct as to the location of the injury--as
he had said, the ball had entered his friend’s thigh.

The wound had been inflicted several days before I saw my patient, and
would probably have healed promptly enough if it had not been for the
weary ride he had taken immediately after the shooting---he had come
to Jacksonville on horse back. The result of the necessary movement in
the saddle, together with the hot sun and dust of the roads, had been
to produce considerable inflammation of the injured part. I presume
that nowadays the surgeon would seek for no other cause than germ
infection for such a condition as followed the wound which my patient
had received--but at that time things were different; the various
sources of irritation to which he had been exposed were a reasonable
explanation of the state in which I found his wound.

The wound was merely muscular, neither important vessels nor bone
having been injured, and, much to my gratification, I almost
immediately succeeded in finding and extracting the ball.

[Illustration: “JIM WAS BOUNDING TOWARD THE OPEN DOOR, LEAVING HIS
INSULTER LYING UPON THE FLOOR WITH A CLEAN CUT IN HIS CHEST”]

Jim, as I will now call him, stood my manipulations and the cutting
necessary for the extraction of the bullet without the slightest
indication that such operations were not an every-day experience with
him. This was not without its effect upon Toppy, who looked upon his
heroic friend with all the pride and tenderness imaginable.

When I was first introduced to the wounded man, he had merely nodded
his head in greeting. He did not speak thereafter, until I had finished
dressing the wound, Toppy meanwhile answering all necessary questions.
It seemed to me, also, that my patient rather avoided scrutiny of his
countenance. He either averted his face or shaded it with his hand,
under the pretense that the flickering light of the candle which Toppy
held for me affected his eyes, during the entire time of my surgical
attention.

I gave this circumstance hardly a second thought; nothing seemed more
natural than that my patient should desire to conceal any little
involuntary expression of suffering that might have disturbed his
features during my exceedingly painful manipulations. I was struck,
however, by his conduct as I was preparing to leave.

“Doctor,” he said, “I am very sorry that my old friend, Toppy, insisted
upon calling you to-night. I could have stood the racket till morning,
and your rest was much more important than my worthless existence. I
appreciate your kindness, sir, and wish that I could reciprocate in
some more fitting manner than by mere financial compensation. However
that’s the best I can do now;” saying which, my patient reached beneath
the rude mattress upon which he was lying, drew out a bag of gold, and
without further ceremony handed it to me.

“I wish it might have been more, doctor,” said Jim, “but I came
away from ’Frisco in a deuce of a hurry, and without heeling myself
properly. However, I have divided evenly with you, and I believe such a
rate of compensation is usually considered fair by professional men,”
and he smiled somewhat mischievously, his black eyes twinkling with
humor.

My heart warmed toward my patient, I knew not why. It certainly was
not because of his liberality, for that was common enough in that
rude mining town, where the people were so crude as to believe that a
physician’s services should be liberally compensated. I kept no books
in those days, my patients were so wild and uncivilized that I did not
find it necessary.

“I will see you again to-morrow, sir,” I said, as I nodded in
recognition of the liberal fee that my interesting patient had given
me, and extended my hand to bid him good-morning--for it was then long
past midnight.

“Oh, no,” replied Jim, hastily, “it will probably not be necessary, and
my friend, Toppy, here, who is an exceptionally good nurse, can give me
all the attention I require. Be assured, sir, that you shall be called
in again if anything unfavorable arises. There’s something healing in
the California air. The bullet is out and as I can rest quietly in
Toppy’s cabin, there will be no further trouble, I am sure. I have been
there before, Doctor,” and he smiled grimly.

“Very well then,” I said, “if you insist on assuming the responsibility
of your own case, I suppose I have no right to protest. Remember your
promise, however, and call me at the slightest intimation of trouble.
I will learn how you are, from time to time, through Toppy, and if I
should at any time hear an unfavorable report, I might be discourteous
enough to call without an invitation.”

“I think we understand each other, Doctor,” replied Jim, “and now I
believe I’ll take a nap; sleep has been a scarce commodity with me for
a few days past.”

As I left the cabin I could not rid myself of the impression that
there was something strangely familiar about my patient. My first
acquaintance with him was certainly the night of the affair at the
Palace in San Francisco, and yet, he impressed me differently from what
might have been expected in meeting an entire stranger. I had an ill
defined impression that Jim had been a factor in my life before. But
when, and where? My mind was a blank upon this point, nor was I likely
to become enlightened, considering the lack of encouragement with which
inquiries into the personal histories of the early California citizen
were usually met.

When we arrived at the bank of the river on our return to the town,
Toppy safely secured his little boat to the overhanging willows
and insisted on escorting me back to the hotel. Although this was
unnecessary, I was very glad to have the kind-hearted fellow’s company,
the more especially as I desired to learn something of my new and
interesting patient.

Arriving at the Tuolumne House, I said--“Toppy, you have furnished me
the opportunity of losing my sleep, and I propose to get even. It is
almost daylight, and we may as well make a full night of it. I want
to know more of your friend Jim. I don’t know why, but he greatly
interests me. Not but that I am always interested in my patients, but
my feeling toward your friend is rather a peculiar one. Suppose we
find a quiet seat somewhere and talk a little about him?”

Toppy acquiesced, and having declined the cigar I proffered him, in
favor of a stubby black pipe that he produced and lighted, we seated
ourselves upon an old stump, a little way from the hotel.

“Well, Doc, I don’t s’pose it’s ness’ary fer me ter tell y’u that
Jim’s my best friend. He’s the best I ever hed, since--well, since I
come from the States. I’ve got good reasons fer likin’ him, ez you’ll
obsarve.

“I fust met Jim at Angel’s Camp, about three years ago. I was
prospectin’ round in Calaveras county, an’ used ter make my
headquarters at Angel’s.

“I used ter booze a lot in them days--mor’n I do now, Doc. I guess
my hide was stretchier then, an’ used ter hold more. I was allus a
leetle bit excitable when I was drunk, an’ everlastin’ly gittin’ inter
trouble. That’s how I fell in with Jim.

“I happened to be raisin’ partickler h--l round town one night, an’
drifted inter Ned Griffiths place. I’d been thar lots uv times, an’ ez
everybody in Angel’s knowed me, an’ I was purty poplar, I’d never hed
no trouble, till this night I’m tellin’ y’u about.

“It jest happened that a crowd uv fellers hed come down from Murphy’s
camp ter have a little fun on ther own account, an’ it was jes’ my d--d
luck ter run agin the gang ’bout the time they was beginnin’ ter feel
ther oats purty lively, an’ of course, I hed ter git into a muss with
’em.

“Ez I didn’t hev no friends in the place at the time, an’ folks don’t
mix in other fellers’ rows much in the diggin’s, I was buckin’ agin a
dead tough game. Ez luck’d hev it, I happened ter git mixed up with
the toughest cuss in the crowd--Three Fingered Jack, a feller what’ll
ornyment a tree yit, y’u see if he don’t![B]

    [B] And ornament the gallows tree he did, several years later.
        Author.

“I got my gun out, all right, but the d--d thing was outer fix, an’ if
it hadn’t been, I was too bilin’ drunk ter hit a cow at three paces.

“Well, Jack jest played with me with his knife, kinder carvin’ me up on
the installment plan, ye know. He’d socked a few purty good sized holes
inter my ole carkiss, an’ was gittin’ ready ter finish up the job in
good shape, when Jim come in an’ took a han’ in the game with his own
little bowie.

“I was too full er booze ter ’preciate the show, but they do say ez how
Jim did a purty neat job. Jack got well arter a while, but he didn’t
act very sosherble with the folks at Angel’s enny more.”

“When I found out how Jim had saved my life, y’u kin bet I didn’t
lose no time a looking him up an’ squarin’ myself. I’d heard er Jim
afore, an’ I knowed he was a gambler by perfession, but he played a
game that night, that made a big winnin’ fer yores trooly, an’ I’ve
jest bin layin’ fer a chance ter do him a good turn ever since. He may
be a gambler, but he plays a squar’ game--an’ poker at that--that’s
why they call him ‘Poker Jim.’ He’s a gentleman born an’ bred, that’s
dead sartin, an’ he’s got more eddication an’ squar’ness than a hull
lot er people whut never gambled in ther lives. When Poker Jim makes a
promise, it’s kept. If he shud borrer a thousan’ dollars uv me--an’ he
could hev it too, if I hed it, you bet! an’ he shud say, ‘Lookee hyar,
Toppy, I’ll give this back to yer nex’ Monday et five o’clock,’ an’
he wasn’t on han’ with the stuff, w’y, then I’d know that suthin had
happened to him. Poker Jim’ll keep enny promise that he makes, if he’s
alive when the time fer squar’in things comes.”

“You have excellent reasons for loyalty to your friend Jim,” I said.
“He certainly deserves your friendship and respect, no matter what his
occupation may be. I have met him before, and under circumstances that
proved him to be a truly noble character. But tell me, Toppy, how does
it happen that you and Jim drifted apart?”

“Well, ye see, Doc, ’twas this way. The folks up at Angel’s got so
virtoous arter a while, that gamblers was too rich fer ’em, an’ they
ordered all the gams ter vamoose. Jim got ketched in the round-up ’long
with the rest, an’ hed ter git out ’twixt the light uv two days. He
couldn’t lick ’em all, less’n they’d come on one at a time, so he jest
played git up an’ git with t’other sports. He went to Frisco ter play
higher stakes than Angel’s Camp could put up, an’ I came down hyar.
Ye see, I wasn’t none too pop’lar, on account er standin’ up fer Jim,
an’ ez I don’t gin’rally fergit ter say my say, I got inter a little
argyment with one uv the prominent citizens uv Angel’s one day. I was
sober on that erkasyun an’, well--I come down ter Jacksonville fer my
health. I writ ter Jim ez soon ez I got hyar, an’ told him whar I was,
an’ ez soon ez he got inter trouble he knowed whar ter find a fren’
whut’ll stan’ by him ez long ez ther’s a shot in ther locker--savvy?”

“Well,” I said, “Poker Jim will soon be able to take care of himself
again, and I hope he will not experience any annoyance from his recent
duelling experience. He certainly is possessed of great courage, and I
should dislike to see his bravery get him into further trouble.”

“Y’u kin jest bet Jim’s got sand! Y’u air all right on that pint, Doc.
Thar ain’t no braver man livin’. D’ye know whut I seed him do one night
up ter Sonora? Well, thar was eight of us fellers went up thar ter a
fandango, an’ Jim went along ter kinder give the thing a little tone,
ye know.

“‘Mericans aint none too pop’lar with the greasers nohow, ’cept with
their women folks, an’ them fellers up thar was jes’ bilin’, when they
seed us come inter ther ole fandango. When we got ter cuttin’ ’em out
with their black eyed senoritas, they was ugly enough ter slit our
throats, en it was jest our blind luck that fin’ly kep’ ’em from doin’
it.

“Jim don’t often drink enny licker, but he was a feelin’ purty good
that night, an’ jest spilin’ fer a row with the d--d greasers. Things
was goin’ too slow fer him, so he takes a piece er chalk, goes out
inter the middle of the hall an’ draws a great big ’Merican eagle on
the floor. Then he pulled his gun an’ called for some d--d greaser ter
step on the bird! We seed he was in for it, an’ gathered ’round him
ready fer the music ter begin. Each side was waitin’ fer t’other ter
open the ball, when the feller what run the hall blowed the lights out.
We grabbed Jim an’ hustled him out, an’ made him take leg bail ’long
with the rest uv us. He wanted ter go back, but we wouldn’t hev it--the
game was jest a little too stiff fer us, y’u bet! Oh, yes, Poker Jim is
dead game, all right.

“An’ now, Doc, I’m goin’ ter tell ye suthin’ on the dead quiet. Jim’s
got a wife an’ child down in Frisco. He married a little Spanish gal
about two years ago, an’ she was a bute, I kin tell ye! They’ve got a
little baby a year ole, an’ Jim’s the proudes’ feller y’u ever seed. Ez
soon ez that Frisco scrape is through with, he’s goin’ ter send fer
his family, an’ I’m goin’ ter quit my cabin an’ let Jim an’ his folks
hev it. My place is kinder outer the way an’ private like, an’ that’ll
jest suit Jim.”

“Well, Toppy,” I said, “I am more interested in your friend than ever,
and I hope that you may soon consummate your plans to domicile him and
his family among us.”

Day was now breaking, and the voice of the devout Dave Smuggins could
be heard ringing through the halls and vibrating the very roof of
the hotel, as he hoarsely shouted his pious appeal to the slumbering
boarders.

Toppy accompanied me to the hotel bar and joined me in an “eye-opener,”
after which he bade me good morning and returned home, while I prepared
to do full justice to Keyse’s immortal flapjacks.

       *       *       *       *       *

As Toppy had planned, Poker Jim subsequently became a citizen of
Jacksonville. Advices from San Francisco showed the excitement caused
by the duel to be practically over after a few weeks, and, his wound
having healed, my patient quietly installed himself among the sporting
element of our population, resuming the occupation that had earned for
him the sobriquet of “Poker Jim.”

The inhabitants of Jacksonville had often heard of the cool, quiet
gentleman who had called down and cut up Three Fingered Jack. Many
of his fellow townsmen knew him personally. No questions were asked
therefore, when Poker Jim quietly and unostentatiously identified
himself with our thriving town. Nor did the citizens become more
inquisitive, when, a short time afterward, Jim’s family arrived and
took possession of Toppy’s cabin. A few curious looks were bestowed
on Toppy, when it was learned that he had given up his cabin to the
gambler and his family and had taken quarters at the Tuolumne House.
Curiosity being at a discount in our little burg, however, and Toppy
being inclined to keep his own counsel, there was no disposition to
press matters to the point of disturbing his serenity.

The same conservative tendency with which the towns-people regarded
the arrangement between Toppy and his friend Jim, also protected the
family of the latter from intrusion. Jim never alluded to his domestic
affairs, and, as Toppy did all of the necessary chores and errands for
his friend’s family, the personnel of the latter was entirely a matter
of speculation.

Despite the social prejudice which even a mining town entertains
against the professional gambler, however leniently his occupation
may be regarded, Poker Jim became very popular. His squareness and
undisputed courage, associated with his quiet, unobtrusive demeanor and
the never-failing accuracy with which he handled his revolver, gained
for him an esteem which, if it was not respect, had about the same
market value as that sentimental commodity.

Jim’s field of operation was necessarily such that I did not often
come in contact with him. I had endeavored to cultivate him at first,
but he seemed to be decidedly averse to continuing my acquaintance and
even appeared to avoid me, much to my bewilderment. I often wondered
why he should have conducted himself so strangely, and also why his
appearance and ways seemed so familiar. I sometimes wished I might have
the opportunity of conversing with him, but he so persistently avoided
me that I finally gave up all hope of ever learning more about him.

Time passed quickly in Jacksonville, and in the pressure of work that
was forced upon me by numerous cases of rheumatism and other effects
of exposure during the stormy weather of the winter season, I found
plenty to occupy my attention, hence I heard very little of the affairs
of our people at large, for some time. I was therefore quite surprised
one evening to find that my fellow citizens were in a state of rather
pronounced excitement, and, incidentally, greatly concerned about the
moral status of our community.

It seemed that a wave of moral purification had been gradually passing
through the mining region from one town and camp to another and the
fever of moral reaction had finally struck Jacksonville.

At a more or less informal meeting held at the Tuolumne House, at
which Tennessee Dick presided with more enthusiasm than knowledge of
parliamentary law, it was finally decided that the gambling element
of Jacksonville was a superfluous and dangerous quantity in the body
social, and must therefore be removed--and that quickly. With the
gambling fraternity there was included in a sweepingly condemnatory
resolution, certain other unwholesome elements in our primitive social
system--of the feminine persuasion.

It was noticeable that those of our citizens whose losses at the
gambling table were largest and most recent, or whose morals in other
directions were least worthy of commendation, were the noisiest
champions of social reform. As is usually the case with meetings where
the dominant impulse is to pretend a virtue though one has it not, the
party of reform--and noise--carried the day.

The meeting was well timed, for the only man who might have interposed
an objection to the sweeping tone of the final resolution was absent
from town--Toppy had been in Stockton for several weeks. Poor fellow!
He remained in blissful ignorance of the social revolution that menaced
the safety of Poker Jim, until long after it was too late to defend his
friend--in this world at least.

Public opinion developed into concerted popular action very quickly in
California mining towns, and by the following morning, due notice had
been served on every individual who was in any way identified with the
undesirable element of the population, to leave town within twenty-four
hours.

Most of the persons who were ordered to move on, had been in similar
straits before, and were constantly on the _qui vive_ of expectation
of some such emergency. As practice makes perfect, and delay is not
healthful after one has been told to leave a mining town for the
good of its morals, the majority of the tabooed ones took time by
the forelock and decamped early. Indeed, by nightfall, everybody who
had been given the ultimatum by the citizens, had departed--with one
exception.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was nearly midnight of the day of the exodus. A large party of
our citizens were congregated in the bar-room of the Tuolumne House,
discussing the important event that had so effectually cleared the
moral atmosphere of our town. The subtle essence of sanctity apparently
had already pervaded our social fabric.

Mutual congratulations had been in order for some time, and the
resultant libations had considerably disturbed the equilibrium of the
crowd. Each man, however, felt that he was a thoroughly good fellow,
and that everybody else present was pretty good. There was not a man in
the crowd who did not feel that he was a modern Hercules, jubilating
after the successful accomplishment of a task beside which his ancient
prototype’s experience as chambermaid in the Augean Stables, was but
a trifling thing indeed. Commingled with the self-congratulations of
these moral reformers, were boastful remarks expressive of the awful
things the speakers would have done, had not the persons who had
contaminated the very air of our little burg, opportunely left in good
season after having received their “notice to quit.”

The proceedings of the extempore mutual-admiration
society-of-social-purists were at their height, and our citizens were
fast becoming inflated to a superlative degree, when a step was heard
on the hotel porch, the door opened, and there on the threshold, with a
smile of mocking gravity upon his handsome face, stood--Poker Jim!

He had evidently been riding hard, for his boots and clothing were
covered with the red dust of the Tuolumne roads, and his long curly
hair was in a condition of dusty confusion that was totally unlike his
usual immaculateness.

The sudden quiet that fell upon the noisy crowd was something
phenomenal, and as a disinterested observer I was duly impressed by it.
My fellow townsmen were not cowards, but they were now face to face
with a quality of bravery which was more than physical indifference to
danger. Poker Jim was a man whose presence conveyed the impression of
great intellectual and moral power--and it was not without pronounced
effect upon those rude miners.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” said Jim, blandly, “I hope I’m not intruding
on this scene of festivity and rejoicing”--and he looked about him
somewhat sarcastically. “As you do not seem at all disturbed by my
presence,” he continued, “I conclude that my company is at least
unobjectionable, and with your permission I will join your party,” and
Jim strode up to the Bar, his huge spurs clinking a merry defiance as
he walked.

“You see, gentlemen,” he continued, “I have a very important engagement
which will temporarily necessitate my absence from town, and as I start
early in the morning, I thought I would drop in and bid my fellow
citizens good bye. It will save you the trouble of sending a committee
to see me off--I prefer that you should not give yourselves any trouble
on my account. Should you, however, appoint a committee to escort me
back to town again, I shall not object. Indeed, I should feel obliged
to you if you would turn out _en masse_ and greet me with a brass band.
And, now, fellow townsmen, friends and former patrons, have a parting
drink with me. I see your hand but cannot call you.”

Whether it was because liquor was just then _en régle_, the spontaneous
revival of Jim’s popularity, or his cool, sarcastic assurance, is an
open question, but the crowd fell to with a will, and everybody, with
the exception of one man, drank with him. For the moment it seemed as
though our citizens had forgotten that Jim was under the ban.

Among the party which had been celebrating the reform movement of
our enterprising town, was a fellow by the name of Jeff Hosking, a
comparatively recent addition to our population, who hailed from
Murphy’s Camp. Whether Hosking had an old time grudge to settle with
Poker Jim, no one ever knew, but it was afterward rumored that a feud
of long standing had existed between them.

From whatever cause, however, the gentleman from Calaveras remained
conspicuously apart from his sociable companions, insolently shaking
his head in refusal of Jim’s proffered hospitality. To accentuate his
discourtesy--for such conduct was considered the acme of rudeness in
our little community--he smiled in a manner that was an unpleasant
combination of superciliousness and contempt.

The assembled company looked at Jeff in open mouthed astonishment for a
few seconds, but Jim affected not to notice the implied insult, much to
the bewilderment of the rest of the party.

The situation was, to say the least, embarrassing, and Dixie, with a
pardonable desire to smooth things over, said--

“Well, Jeff, what’s the matter; hev y’u lost yer appetite fer licker?”

“No sirree, Mister Dixie!” replied Hosking, “but I ain’t drinkin’ with
no gamblers jest now, ’specially them that ain’t on the squar’, an’
some folks that I knows of, hain’t improved much since they was chased
outer Murphy’s.”

“Drink your liquor, gentlemen,” said Jim, quietly, “and then we will
investigate this very interesting affair!”

The liquor having been disposed of, Jim lounged leisurely toward his
insulter, looked him steadily in the eye for a moment and then said--

“And some people’s manners have not greatly improved since _they_
left Murphy’s. As for my squareness, that’s a matter for argument, but
one which you are hardly competent to pass an opinion upon, unless you
have changed greatly in the last few years. Now, Mr. Hosking, I’m going
to tell you something that may interest you.

“At nine o’clock this morning, I was notified to change my location
within twenty-four hours. I propose to get away from town as quietly
and pleasantly as possible. Let me inform you, however, that until nine
o’clock to-morrow morning, I am a citizen of Jacksonville, and shall
stand for my rights and self-respect accordingly.”

[Illustration: “THERE WAS A SHORT, SHARP STRUGGLE, A HARMLESS SHOT, AND
JIM’S INSULTER WAS LYING ON THE FLOOR WITH A CLEAN CUT IN HIS CHEST”]

Emboldened by Jim’s apparent indisposition to begin a row, and, like
all bullies, mistaking conservatism for cowardice, Hosking replied:

“Y’u make a mighty purty speech, mister man, but y’u aint on the squar’
jest the same, an’ I--”

We never knew what Hosking was going to say; his mouth was slapped so
quickly that his intentions became a matter for conjecture.

It was impossible to see exactly what happened next--the two men sprang
at each other so fiercely. There was a short, sharp struggle, a shot
from Hosking’s revolver, that sped harmlessly over the heads of the
crowd, lodging in the wall, and Jim, bowie in hand, was bounding toward
the open door, leaving his insulter lying upon the floor with a clean
cut in his chest through which his life was ebbing away as fast as the
escaping blood could carry it!

As Jim ran, some one in the crowd fired a shot after him. Everybody
rushed to the door, but he was in the saddle and away, amid a shower of
pistol balls, which, much to my relief, apparently flew wide of their
mark.

I was so interested in the safety of the fugitive that I forgot poor
Jeff, and, with a pang of remorse, I hastened back to his side, only
to find that Poker Jim’s work had been too skillful for any surgeon to
undo. The man was dead!

       *       *       *       *       *

With the killing of Hosking, well deserved though it may have been,
Poker Jim’s popularity was a thing of the past. While under the ban of
public sentiment, he had killed a reputable citizen of Jacksonville in
a quarrel--he was now an outlaw, upon whose head a price was set. But
he was not to be caught.

No one supposed that Jim would be mad enough to venture near his cabin,
even to see his wife and child, yet the citizens set a watch over
the place as a matter of ordinary precaution, and for the purpose of
learning her destination whenever his wife should undertake to follow
and join her husband. I, meanwhile, saw that Jim’s family wanted for
nothing, a duty in which the sentiment of the town duly supported me,
for, rude as they were, our people were tender-hearted to a fault. With
uncouth yet delicate discernment the boys kept away from the little
cabin, hence no visitor but myself ever crossed the threshold.

Toppy’s description of Jim’s wife had not been overdrawn--she was
indeed beautiful, and as charming a woman as I ever met. She was plucky
too--she was apparently not at all uneasy about her husband, and seemed
to have perfect confidence in his ability to take care of himself. The
child, a boy, resembled his father, and was such a sweet, pretty little
fellow that I fell quite in love with him. The little one vaguely
recalled to my mind a little curly-headed boy baby that I used to tote
about when I was a lad, and who, I thought, was the cutest little
brother that a boy ever had. I resolved that Jim’s family should not
want a friend as long as I could care for them. Toppy’s loyalty I well
knew, and I was therefore sure of being ably seconded on his return
from Stockton.

But our towns-people were soon to have more important matters to think
about than the capture of Poker Jim.

       *       *       *       *       *

The latter part of the winter of 1860, and the early spring of 1861,
will never be forgotten by the inhabitants of the Tuolumne valley. I
certainly have reason to remember it as long as I may live.

As I have already intimated, the spring freshets of the California
valleys were a matter of yearly experience. The inhabitants had
become accustomed to them and had usually been able to escape serious
disaster, hence they had never quite realized what the elements could
do at their worst.

The winter had been a hard one; there had been an excessive rainfall,
and reports from the mountain towns showed a greater amount of snow
than had ever before been experienced in that region. When the mountain
snows began to melt, therefore, and the terrific storms characteristic
of the breaking up of the winter season came on, an enormous volume of
water began pouring down into the valleys, which was as alarming as it
was unprecedented.

We had heard vague rumors of serious trouble in the valleys of the
Sacramento and San Joaquin, and, as the Tuolumne had risen to a point
hitherto unheard of, the oldest settlers became somewhat uneasy.

Fearing lest the Tuolumne--which was fast becoming a raging
torrent--might eventually become impassable, I saw that “Mrs. Jim,” as
I used to call her, was well supplied with necessaries. I knew that the
water rise would be of short duration--for so tradition had it--hence I
was not uneasy about my interesting charges.

The river had finally risen to a point nearly two feet beyond the
highest water mark ever known; it then began to subside and we felt
much easier--the end was apparently in sight. But we deceived ourselves
most thoroughly.

The people of Jacksonville, congratulating themselves on the beginning
of the end of the greatest freshet in their experience, retired one
night to sleep in fancied security, only to be rudely awakened the
following morning by the surging of the waters of the Tuolumne against
the very beds on which they slept. The water was seeking its revenge--a
revenge that was soon to be fully accomplished.

Within twenty-four hours there was but one safe point in the entire
town--the high ground upon which stood the Tuolumne House. Practically
every other building in town, save one, was washed away. One sturdy
miner upon whom fortune had smiled, had built himself a pretty little
cottage, which he determined to save. He passed a cable through a door
and a window at the corner of the house, and guyed it to a huge tree
upon a hill opposite. The cottage swung about at the end of the rope
until the waters subsided, when the triumphant miner anchored it in a
new location, this time on higher ground--the original site of his home
having gently slipped into the river. But Nelson was an exception; his
brother miners were not so fortunate.

The hotel was full to overflowing and tents were at a premium. Mining
was a forgotten industry. The chief occupation of the citizens was
counting noses to see who was missing, and fishing up such articles
of value as they could from amid the debris of the flood. For
entertainment they counted the buildings and studied the wreckage
that the waters brought down from the towns and camps higher up the
valley. An occasional corpse was seen floating along among the flotsam
and jetsam carried past by the raging river--a ghastly reminder of the
seriousness of the situation.

Almost directly opposite the Tuolumne House was a dam in the river.
There were times during the dry season when the Tuolumne was so low
that one could walk across via this dam. Now, however, it was a
veritable Niagara. It was interesting, as well as harrowing, to watch
the destruction of the buildings as they toppled over the brink and
broke up. Occasionally a house, larger than the rest, would lodge at
the dam for some time before going over. At one point quite a mass of
debris had collected and bade fair to remain indefinitely blocked up
against a projecting part of the dam.

Just beyond the further end of the dam I could see Toppy’s little
cabin, gleaming white and clearly cut against the dark green background
of the hillside whereon it stood, far out of the way of all possible
danger from the rising waters.

A group of our citizens was standing on safe ground near the hotel,
quietly discussing the apparently hopeless misery and total destruction
that had befallen our industrious little town, when our attention was
attracted by a house, larger than any we had yet seen, which came
drifting rapidly down the stream in full view.

As the house came nearer, Dixie called out--“By G--d, boys! thar’s a
man in the winder!”

And so there was, and a badly frightened one at that! As he came well
within sight, he could be seen waving a garment of some kind in wild
and emphatic signals of distress. His voice could soon be heard,
calling for assistance in a series of wild yells that would have done
credit to an Indian war-dance.

There was great excitement among my fellow citizens for a few moments,
and groans of despair at our inability to rescue the stranger were
plentiful, when suddenly some one in the crowd yelled--

“Oh, h--l! It’s a d--d Chinaman, ez sure ez shootin’!”

And so it proved to be.

I trust that the philanthropy of my fellow townsmen will not be
underestimated, if I frankly state that an unmistakable sigh of relief
went up from the crowd when it was discovered that the poor devil whose
fate it had just been bewailing, was a despised Mongolian.

The nationality of the hapless passenger in the floating house and the
hopelessness of an attempt at rescue, even, if our citizens had been so
disposed, served to silence the spectators of the Chinaman’s fate. In
justice to my old friends, I will state that I have never doubted that
an effort to save the luckless Mongolian would have been made, had any
means of rescue been at hand. Not a boat was left in town, and even had
there been a hundred at our disposal, it looked like certain death to
attempt to traverse the terrific torrent that confronted us.

The Chinaman was apparently clearly doomed, and the end was only a
question of minutes, a fact which the poor fellow himself appreciated
even more keenly than we did, as was shown by the renewed vigor of his
frantic cries for assistance, as he caught sight of the dam that his
strange craft was so rapidly nearing.

But, as Big Brown was wont to say, “Nobody hez sich good luck ez er
fool, ’ceptin’ a d--d Chinaman.” The house in which the luckless
voyager was making his unwilling and terrible journey, caught upon
the debris that had accumulated near the center of the dam! Here
it remained poised for an instant, almost upon the very verge of
destruction, then swinging squarely about in the rushing current, it
lodged broad-side to, in such a manner that it came to a full stop and
remained motionless.

The unfortunate Chinaman now redoubled his cries for assistance, and
the crowd, in silent awe, awaited the giving way of the temporary
obstruction and the inevitable destruction of the house and its unhappy
tenant.

A moment later, a man was seen to emerge from the scrub pines near the
water’s edge upon the opposite side of the river, some distance below
Toppy’s cabin. He was dragging a small boat, that had evidently been
concealed among the trees.

The man pushed his little craft into the swift running water, sprang
in, and pulled boldly away from the bank! As he did so, he stood
upright for a moment and turned his features squarely toward us. Even
at that distance there was no mistaking that magnificent physique and
fearless bearing!

“It’s Poker Jim, by G--d!” cried a number of men simultaneously. Almost
automatically, several among the crowd drew their pistols and fired at
the far-distant figure--a useless feat of bravery, as their target was
probably beyond rifle-shot, to say nothing of trying to hit a man at
that distance with a six-shooter.

“Hold on, boys!” cried Big Brown, in astonishment. “If he aint goin’
arter that d--d Chinaman I’ll eat my hat! Well, I’ll be kerflummuxed!
If that don’t beat h--l!”

If there was anything the early settlers of the diggings worshipped, it
was reckless, fool-hardy bravery. From that moment Jim was a hero, a
Bayard, _sans peur et sans reproche_, before whose chivalry every man
who saw his courageous act was ready to bow down to the very earth.

The crowd silently watched Jim for a moment, and then broke out in a
chorus of “bravos!” and hand clappings which, although they impressed
the object of their admiration not at all--even if he noticed them,
which is doubtful--expressed in unmistakable language a sudden change
in the sentiment of our towns-people toward him whom they had so
recently outlawed.

The first burst of applause over with, we watched the brave fellow in
almost breathless anxiety, as he skilfully directed his little boat
toward the house, the Chinaman meanwhile having stopped his yelling for
the moment, in anticipation of the approach of his rescuer.

Whether Jim had intended to bring up against the side of the house that
lay up-stream, as seemed wisest, would be difficult to say; if such
was his intention however, he certainly miscalculated, for his boat
disappeared behind the end of the house which was farthest away from us.

The rest of the tragedy we could not see, for we had hardly lost sight
of Jim before the obstructing debris gave way and the house shot over
the dam, sweeping everything before it!

So died a hero!

A searching party went out a short time afterward, and, at great risk,
found and secured the body of Poker Jim, battered and bruised, but
still classically handsome and debonair, even in death. As the boys
were sorrowfully returning to town with the body of the man whom a few
hours before they had tried to kill, they spied upon a mass of wreckage
that had lodged in a partially submerged tree-top a few feet from
shore, a badly frightened but still yelling individual, at the sight
of whom Big Brown almost collapsed.

It was the Chinaman!

       *       *       *       *       *

Early the next morning, a cortége composed of every citizen who was
able to walk, climbed slowly and sorrowfully up the road leading to
the little cemetery, just back of town. At the head of the solemn
procession were six stout miners, hat in hand, bearing upon a rude
stretcher the body of Poker Jim. Just behind the body, another party
was carrying a rough coffin, composed of pieces of wreckage, hastily
thrown together.

By no means the least sorrowful feature of the funeral was the fact
that we had no means of communication with the dead man’s wife, nor did
we indeed, even know whether or not she had witnessed his death.

The cemetery reached, and the body having been laid in the clumsy
coffin beside the grave which the kind-hearted miners had already dug,
there was an embarrassing pause--

I had been asked to say a few words, in lieu of a clergyman, and had
agreed to do so, on condition that some one else was selected to say
something in behalf of the mining population proper. Dixie was selected
to coöperate with me, but was evidently waiting for me to give him his
cue, so I was obliged to open the services as well as I could.

I was so overcome with emotion that I could hardly find voice to say a
word. I finally managed, however, to give a brief eulogy of the dead
man, revolving chiefly around the incident that happened in the San
Francisco gambling-house on the occasion when I met Jim for the first
time. My remarks were received with a running fire of muttered eulogies
of the deceased hero, which were as sincere as they were inelegant.

Dixie now mustered up the necessary courage, mounted a stump and began:

“Feller citizens, we air hyar ter do a solemn dooty. One uv our most
prom’nent an’ respected citizens is a lyin’ hyar dead, an’ we, ez his
fren’s, air hyar ter give him a good send off. Poker Jim hez passed in
his checks; he hez cashed in fer the las’ time, an’ thar aint nobody
hyar whut’ll say that his last deal wasn’t a squar one. Sum mout say ez
how Jim was a d--d fool, ter play agin sich a dead open-an’-shut game,
with a d--d Chinaman fer stakes, but, my feller citizens, Jim cut
the cards on the squar’, an’ he died ez squar’ ez enny man that ever
stepped in shoe leather.

“An’ Jim died game, an’ with his boots on. He wasn’t no white-livered
coyote, Jim wasn’t. Ef thar was enny yaller streaks in him, w’y nobody
ever knowed it. He wuz a sandy man frum way up the creek, y’u bet! He
wuz a dead-game cock fer fair.

“I wish we knowed whut Jim’s States’ name was, but thar aint nobody
hyar ter tell us, an’ ez we hev allus knowed him as Poker Jim, w’y
that’s the name we’ll bury him by. It was good ’nuff fer him, livin’,
an’ it’s good ’nuff fer us, now that he’s dead.

“I aint no speechifier, ez y’u all know, an’ Doc, hyar, hez done the
hansum thing by Jim in that line, so I aint a goin’ ter spile a good
thing, but I’m jes’ goin’ ter say one thing, an’ say it plain. We all
made mistakes on the diseased. He mout hev been a gambler--I don’t say
ez he wasn’t--but, my fren’s, Poker Jim was a gentleman, an’ he died
like one, d--d ef he didn’t!” And Dixie looked about him defiantly, as
though challenging dissent and stamping it as hazardous.

A white head-board, rather more pretentious than was the prevailing
fashion in Jacksonville, was erected at Jim’s grave. I was consulted
regarding an epitaph, but could find no fault with the rudely carved
inscription suggested by Dixie--

  “HERE LIES THE BODY
  OF
  POKER JIM--GENTLEMAN.”

A few days later, the flood had subsided sufficiently to warrant an
attempt at crossing the river. Having succeeded in procuring a large
boat from one of the neighboring towns, a party of us crossed over to
Toppy’s cabin in quest of Jim’s family.

There had been no sign of life about the place since the day of Jim’s
death, hence I was not surprised to find the cabin empty. Not a
trace of the dead man’s wife or child could be found! Nor were they
ever heard of again. Whether the poor little woman had witnessed the
disaster that made her a widow, and the raging Tuolumne had received
the sorrowing, despairing mother and her innocent child, we never knew.
I have always entertained a vague hope that Jim had already conveyed
them to a place of safety when he met his death.

As our party was searching the cabin for clews to the disappearance of
Jim’s family, Big Brown found upon a shelf in the little cupboard where
Toppy’s rather primitive supply of dishes was kept, a letter, carefully
sealed, and addressed to me. He handed me the letter, and I fancied his
voice trembled a little as he said--

“Well, Doc, Jim never forgot his fren’s. I don’t know what Toppy’ll say
when he gits back ter town.”

“Poor Toppy,” I said, “It will grieve him sorely, when he learns that
the gallant Jim is gone forever.”

The burly miner watched me curiously as I opened and read the letter.
The expression of my face as I read must have startled him, for he
grasped me by the arm and exclaimed, “What’s the matter, Doc; air y’u
sick?” I handed him the letter and staggered to a chair.

Big Brown laboriously read the letter through to the end; When he came
to the signature he put his huge hand gently on my shoulder and said:

“Doc, ye needn’t be ashamed uv relations like him, even if he was a
gambler. Who was he, anyhow?”

And I was not ashamed as I answered--

“My brother--little Jim.”



TOMMY THE OUTCAST


“Hello, Fido!”

“I beg pardon, sir; did you speak to me?”

“Why, don’t you know me, Fido?”

“Great heavens! Tommy Baker, as I’m alive! Why, what on earth--?”

“I don’t wonder that you are surprised, Fido, old boy--for I’m not
the same Thomas Baker as of yore. Four years away from the old farm
have wrought great changes in me. Four years of life in a large city,
with its ups and downs, its luxuries and its hardships, are enough to
demoralize anybody. And still, you look sleek and comfortable enough.”

“Oh, thank you, Tommy,” replied Fido, “I am doing tolerably well,
that’s a fact. You see, I’m living with Mrs. Geeswillem--she’s the wife
of old Geeswillem the brewer, you know, who bought me just after you
ran away from home. I’ve got a mighty soft job, and don’t you forget
it. I have only one complaint to make, and that is that my mistress
insists on making me wear this measly red blanket, and this stiff
collar with its confounded bells. Then, too, I have to ride out with
her every pleasant afternoon, and she stuffs me with _bon bons_ and
such truck until I feel like a corner in sugar stock. Why, Tommy, old
chap--do--you--know--I haven’t even _smelled_ a rat since I took my
present place!”

“Ah, me!” said Tommy, “I haven’t had many chances to smell anything
else for the last two years, and the rats I _have_ had, haven’t been
the corn-fed article we used to hunt together down at Baker’s farm,
I can tell you. How I miss ’em! And the cream, and buttermilk, and
sausages and--”

“Great Scott! Tommy,” cried Fido, “don’t ever mention sausage to me
again! If you only knew--!”

“Pardon me, Fido. In my glowing recollection of pleasures past, I
forgot that you have been living in the city for some time and have
probably long since discovered that all is not gold that glitters.
There’s many a tragedy imprisoned within the cover of the city
sausage. And yet, Fido, such reflections should be valuable to you as
inculcating a lesson of Christian humility. If this be not enough,
look at me, and think how ephemeral is terrestrial glory. I was once
as thou art--fat, pampered, happy, and with never a thought of the
morrow. Ah, my boy! who can control his own destiny; who can govern the
mysterious workings of fate?”

“Well, Tommy,” said Fido, “you evidently haven’t regulated yours to any
large extent. If you have, you’d better let somebody else take the job,
for you don’t seem to be making a brilliant success of it. But tell me,
what has brought you to this? You were as sleek and dandified a fellow
as ever wore whiskers when I saw you last. Don’t you remember the time
the boys got up that serenade for you and sang ‘Oh he’s a dude, a dandy
dude!’ until the roofs were covered with boot jacks a foot deep? Whew!
but weren’t you mad though?”

“Heigho!” sighed Tommy, “if anybody should serenade me in that fashion
nowadays, I don’t think I could accuse him of being personal--I look
like ‘the last run o’ shad.’ But you have asked me for my history
since we were on the farm together. If you have patience to listen to
the yarn of a miserable outcast, I’ll gladly tell you my story. My
appearance makes it unnecessary for me to remark that I am no longer
Thomas Baker, Esquire, but Tommy the Tramp, as the haughty young
Duchesse de Maltesa, who lives in the next block, calls me, and you
are likely to lose caste if you are seen talking with me in public.
Let’s make a sneak into the alley over yonder. There’s a big dry-goods
box over there behind that brick barn where we can talk without fear of
interruption.”

“Why, Tommy Baker!” said Fido indignantly, drawing himself up to his
full height, his eyes flashing fire. “What do you take me for--a man?
I’ll have you to understand that I never went back on a friend in my
life. Do you suppose I care a straw for other people’s opinions? Not a
bit of it! I’m all wool and a yard wide, and don’t you forget it. If it
wasn’t necessary to wear this dandy trash in order to hold my job, I’d
tear it off in a holy minute. Not another word, sir!--or I’ll roll in
the mud and prove to you that I am your old pard--_semper fidelis_, and
all that--even if I go to the pound for it.”

“Dear old Fido!” cried Tommy, his eyes filling with tears. “You are
indeed worthy of your name. Greater love than this hath no dog, that he
loseth his job for a friend. But, old fellow, to be candid with you, I
don’t feel as easy as I might. An awful accident happened this morning
to some dear, sweet, tender little chickens in that big yard on the
corner, and while my lean and hungry appearance shows my innocence only
too plainly, it’s best not to take any chances. Besides, I couldn’t
talk freely in this public place.”

“Well, Tommy,” said Fido, “if that’s the way you feel, we will do as
you suggest. So far as the chickens are concerned, however, I don’t
think you need any X ray to prove an alibi.” And Fido glanced pityingly
at poor Tommy’s spectre-like frame and diaphanous hide.

“A little slower, please,” said Tommy, as he limped along after his
friend. “You see, my left fore-foot is a bit lame--I cut it on a piece
of broken glass the other night. There’s a lot of miserable, depraved,
medical students in a boarding house over on Ashland Boulevard, who
amuse themselves by throwing beer bottles at respectable people on the
roofs. They never throw any full ones at a fellow though, you can just
bet on that. It isn’t really safe to venture out on a roof after dark
in that neighborhood. Why, those cruel devils struck a lady friend of
mine, Mrs. Felida Black, the other night, and almost broke her tail
off!”

“Horrible!” cried Fido. “Why is it that those two-legged brutes can’t
be suppressed? Well, that comes of being born without a soul. Such
fellows really don’t know any better. There is a so-called Humane
Society here, the business of which is to look after decent four-footed
people, but it doesn’t do much but pay big salaries to its officers.
The society winks whenever a ragamuffin throws a brickbat at a fellow,
but just let some doctor operate on us under chloroform and--My God!
Tommy, old fellow, what’s the matter? Here, lean on my shoulder. Never
mind the blanket--who cares for that?”

“It’s nothing, Fido, just a little temporary faintness, that’s all. You
see, I--well, I’ll tell you all about it by and by.”

“Well, Tommy, your dry-goods box is quite cozy, after all.”

“I fear it hardly comes up to your usual accommodations,” replied
Tommy, “but it is at least safe, and that’s a very important point with
me. Take a seat on that piece of carpet over yonder; it’s clean and may
be homelike to you. I? Oh, this straw will do for me. It’s a trifle
musty, but we can’t be too particular in these democratic times. Are
you comfortable?”

“Yes, thank you,” replied Fido, “You must remember that I am a country
dog in spite of my cloth.”

“Very well, then,” said Tommy, “not being habituated to that nasty
tobacco used by humans, we will, not light a weed first. I will begin
my story without any such offensive preliminary.

“As you are well aware, my dear Fido, I was a decent enough fellow in
my youth, save for my somewhat foppish tendencies. Being--ahem!--a
rather handsome chap, you will recollect that I was quite popular with
the ladies. As is usually the case with such young fellows, I was at
first pampered and then--spoiled. I remember with keen remorse that
practically all my friends eventually became estranged from me through
my self-conceit. You alone were loyal, and always ready to defend
and advise me. As for my own family--they had long since ceased to
recognize me when I left the old place.

“It was the old story--I became very unhappy, and felt that no one
understood or appreciated me. I did not have sense enough to understand
that it was my own failings that had caused me to lose my former
popularity. I believed that the coldness of my friends was due to their
jealousy and malicious envy.

“It was not long before I determined, with an ‘I’ll show ’em’ desire
for revenge, that I would leave the old farm at the first opportunity,
and seek a field where my talents would be appreciated at their true
value. And then came the tempter.

“One day while you were away with little Tod Baker on a fishing
excursion, I received a call from Pete Tucker of Posyville--I don’t
think you ever met him. Pete had seen a good deal of the world, and his
stories of adventure were perfectly fascinating to me. He had been to
sea several times, had spent a couple of seasons doing the happy family
act with a circus and, at the time of his visit to me, was living in
Chicago--having come home for a few days’ vacation. He said a great
deal about the pleasures of city life, and informed me that he had a
most delightful situation where he mingled with the best society and
had very little to do to earn what he described as an enormous salary.

“‘Tommy, my boy,’ he said, slapping me familiarly on the shoulder, ‘you
are a blamed fool to bury yourself out here in the country! Come back
to the city with me, and I’ll get you a nice soft berth where you can
make something of yourself.’ I yielded only too readily to the tempter
and long before you returned home, my dear Fido, I was on my way to
Chicago.

“I had never before been in a large city, hence Chicago unfolded a new
world to me--a world that seemed as fair as I have since found it to be
corrupt.

“Pete had told me the truth, in some respects, regarding his situation.
He was employed as chief mouser in the bar-room of a fashionable hotel,
and living on the fat of the land. I was soon installed as assistant
mouser, the rat department being under the management of a terrier
gentleman named Foxy. And now came my initiation into the mysteries of
office-holding.

“It was with all the honest enthusiasm of youth that I began my duties,
and without noting the methods of my superiors in office I worked hard
day and night in the conscientious effort to secure the approbation of
my employers. Pete and Foxy observed my industry with great curiosity
at first, and then seemed to be somewhat amused by my actions. I
finally discovered that they were actually laughing at me. This
bewildered me, and I finally ventured to ask for an explanation.

“‘Ha! ha! ha!’ laughed my colleagues. ‘What a young innocent it is, to
be sure!’ ‘Why,’ said Pete, ‘you couldn’t see through a millstone with
a hole in it! We used to work ourselves to death just as you are doing,
but we’ve got a little sense nowadays, eh, Foxy?’

“‘You bet your boots, pardner!’ replied the terrier.

“‘Now, see here, Tommy,’ continued Pete, ‘I’ll tell you just how the
thing stands. We found out long ago that hard work didn’t pay, and
made up our minds to do as little work and have as good a time as we
possibly could.

“‘Among the patrons of this place is a number of politicians and
policemen. I tell you what, Tommy, those are the boys who are on to
their jobs! Chancing to overhear some of their conversation at various
times, I speedily discovered that I was making a blamed fool of myself.
I then resolved to hold my job just as politicians and policemen do.

“‘Foxy and I have come to an understanding with our rodent friends,
and with a little care on their part, we have managed to avoid all
suspicion that we are not attending strictly to business.

“‘Once in a while I pick up a dead rat or mouse in the alley somewhere,
and leave him around where the old man is sure to notice him--see?
Sometimes a strange rodent blows in here, and forgets to bring his
pull with him, and we nail _him_ to the earth in great shape. I tell
you what, Tommy, work was never made for gentlemen--and Foxy and I are
gents from way back. We’ve got a soft thing here, and you’re in on it.
Plenty to eat, drink enough to float a ship, and a soft warm bed. What
more could anybody ask?’

“Alas! Fido, old friend, how alluring to unwary youth is gilded
temptation! I followed the dishonest advice of my companions and fell
into their evil ways, and like most young persons of little experience,
I was soon anxious to outdo my models in the extent and variety of my
dissipation. I ate, drank and made merry with all the abandon of an old
timer.

“The example of my associates, bad as it was, could not be compared
with that set for me by some of the two-legged patrons of the place.
Pete may have been right about their social position, but of all
the vulgar, profane, beastly fellows I ever saw, the young bloods
who frequented that bar were the worst. But my prejudices were soon
overcome, and I came to believe that such qualities were absolutely
essential to fellowship in the smart set of a great city. And so
I continued in my evil ways, my life being one continual round of
hilarious and intemperate pleasure.

“The outcome was precisely what was to have been expected. I fell
seriously ill, and had it not been for a splendid constitution derived
from my early life in the country, I most certainly would have died.
I finally became convalescent and was speculating on how soon I
would likely be able to get to business again, when an unlooked for
complication set in. I caught the mange, and in a few weeks was a
perfect fright. My hide looked as if it had been plucked out in spots.
It was not long before some of the patrons of the place noticed my
condition and commented sarcastically upon it to my employer. One man
said I ought to go to the Springs and boil out, whatever that may mean.

“I received but little consolation from Pete and Foxy; indeed, they
were quite shy of me after my skin trouble developed, and, as you might
suppose, my life was most miserable.

“But my troubles had only begun. A short time after this I overheard my
employer conversing with a rough-looking man, who used to hang about
the place doing odd jobs for drinks. To my consternation, the boss was
making arrangements with that infamous rowdy to take my life that very
night! I listened to the foul plot with my heart in my mouth. I nearly
fainted, so great was my horror and agitation. What to do I hardly knew
at first. I no longer had confidence in Pete and Foxy, and would not
ask their advice. I finally determined to try to make my escape before
the fatal moment should arrive.

“Evening came, and with it my opportunity to escape. Just at dusk,
before the gas was lighted, I sneaked out of the alley door between the
heels of a customer, and arriving in the open air, ran as fast as my
trembling legs could carry me until I reached a part of the city far
distant from the hotel where my would-be assassins were probably even
then searching for their intended victim.

“For some weeks after my escape, I led a paw-to-mouth existence.
Half-starved, despondent, set upon by strange dogs, stoned by cruel
vicious boys--I often regretted that I had not permitted my life to
be taken by that ruffian at the hotel. He would have drowned me, most
likely, and death by drowning would have been far pleasanter than the
life I subsequently led. You may wonder why I did not commit suicide,
but frankly, I hadn’t courage enough for that. Some folks say that only
cowards commit suicide, but don’t you ever believe it.

“The horror of my transition from the easy life at the hotel to that
of a homeless, despised wanderer, was something of which you can have
no conception, my dear Fido, and I sincerely hope you may never pass
through so terrible an experience as I had at that time and have been
having since I--but I am getting ahead of my story.

“I don’t know how I lived through the terrible ordeal of starvation and
abuse to which I was subjected. I was inexperienced and very sensitive
to hardships. Nothing could disturb me now, but then--ah me! How tender
is youth!

“After some weeks of terrible privation and physical torture, I began
to believe that the fates were against me, when the tide of my affairs
unexpectedly turned.

“I had crawled into an open basement window in the rear of a modest
and unpretentious-looking house over on Adams Street one stormy night,
hoping to find something to satisfy my terrible hunger. To my despair,
everything was under lock and key. Noticing a number of rat holes
about, I determined to make an attempt to capture a rodent or two for
my supper, and posted myself at the hole that looked most promising.

“Game was scarce; in my then weakened state my vigil was too fatiguing
and I fell asleep at my post. When I finally awoke I was horrified to
find myself in the hands of a woman!

“You better believe I was frightened! Why, my dear Fido, I never had
such a scare in my life. But fortunately I had no cause for alarm; my
captor--who proved to be the cook--was most kind to me. She took me
up stairs to the kitchen and gave me a good, substantial meal and a
warm, soft bed. For the first time in many weeks I passed a comfortable
night, free from the pangs of hunger and unrest.

“When morning came, I of course supposed I would be told to go. To my
delight I was not only given a sumptuous breakfast, but nothing was
said about my departure, and I began to hope that I might be able to
secure a permanent position with the family.

“After I had finished my breakfast, the cook disappeared for a few
moments. She soon returned accompanied by two children, whom she called
Johnny and Ethel. They spoke to me kindly, and Ethel said:

“‘Oh, Johnny, let’s ask mamma if we can’t keep the poor thing!’

“‘Let’s do,’ cried Johnny, delightedly, ‘and I’ll ask papa to give
us some liniment for him, too, he looks just like he was havin’ the
measles.’

“‘Pshaw! me darlints,’ said the cook, ‘d’ye shpose yer pa’ll be afther
docthorin’ cats?’

“‘Of course he will,’ replied Ethel, ‘didn’t he fix Willie Thompson’s
dog when he broke his leg?’

“Sure enough, my dear Fido, the children’s papa was a doctor, and he
soon cured my skin trouble. After I was myself again, there was no
longer any danger of being asked to leave, for the children became very
fond of me; even the baby seemed to take a great fancy to me.

“I got along famously with the children, although they were a little
rough at times. Johnny was somewhat inclined to be gay once in a while,
but I came out all right. I remember one close call I had, though.
Ethel wanted to play I was sick one day, and that Johnny was a doctor.
They gave me some of the worst stuff a fellow ever tasted--just held
me and poured it down my neck! Then Master Johnny suddenly discovered
that I had ‘tonsillitis,’ whatever that is. He’d heard his papa use
the word, I s’pose. I must be ‘operated,’ the little rascal said, and
going into the doctor’s surgery he got a vicious looking instrument.
Ethel held me, and the amateur doctor proceeded to plunge his devilish
contrivance down my throat! After fishing up a few chunks of spleen,
and liver, and things, Johnny let me go, saying, ‘Madam, your child
will get well now.’ I did get well, but my internal revenue and things
have never since felt just right.

“But Johnny was my friend just the same. Gosh!--how he did lick a rude,
vulgar boy who threw stones at me one day! ’Twould have done your heart
good to see him.

“Ethel and I used to have some awfully nice times together. She used
to dress me up in doll’s clothes and play I was a baby. And then she
would put me in a little cradle and rock me to sleep. The dear child
used to be so pleased because I lay so still, and she used to say I was
‘a dear, good, sweet little kitty.’ To tell the truth, though, I just
had to lie still, for those long clothes used to trip me up every time
I tried to walk. I did try to sneak away one time, and fell down stairs
and almost broke my neck.

“But the baby was my special delight. He was a fat, roly-poly, sweet
faced youngster as ever you saw. His skin was like a pink rose-leaf,
and his mouth was as fresh--well, as fresh as new milk. Whenever the
folks weren’t looking, I used to climb into the crib and little Harry
and I would have a high old time, I tell you. He would maul me about
for a little while and then hug and kiss me just awful nice. And then
when we’d got all tired out he would snuggle up close to me and go to
sleep--and I would lie there quite still and watch him while he slept.

“The folks would catch me in the crib sometimes, and whew! but then
there was a row, and no mistake! They used to just paralyze me--said
I’d suck the baby’s breath, you know. The stupids! Why should I do
that? I like babies, but lunching on babyfied air wouldn’t do me in
those days, though it might be substantial enough now. Human folks have
some queer notions, eh, Fido?”

“Oh, well, you know, Tommy,” said Fido, “that out-of-date ‘sucking the
breath’ business is an old woman’s notion, but humans don’t seem to
have much judgment. They still believe in miracles and all that, and
the breath-sucking theory shouldn’t surprise you.”

“Speaking of the peculiarities of humanity, Fido,” said Tommy, “isn’t
it queer that humans don’t like music?”

“Yes, I have often noted the fact, on occasions when I have sung to the
moon,” replied Fido.

“Well,” said Tommy, “the folks at the doctor’s house used to play on
an old rattle-box of a piano till they fairly made me sick, but just
let me sing ever so little and there was trouble at once. You will
recall that in the old days I used to be quite proud of my voice. I
supposed that I had some vocal talent left and I have done a little
singing since I came to the city. I fear however, that my voice is not
appreciated here. My city neighbors were the worst kind of kickers, and
caused me no end of trouble. You see, there was a young lady cat who
lived near us and--By the way, I didn’t tell you about how I first fell
in love, did I? Well, it was just--the--richest--thing!”--

“No doubt, no doubt,” exclaimed Fido, hastily interrupting, “but just
hear that bell. It’s nine o’clock and--”

“Oh, well, I was digressing anyway,” said Tommy.

“As I was saying, there was a young lady cat living near us with whom I
will confess I was somewhat smitten. I used to call on her evenings. I
was too busy to call day-times, and besides, a tin roof is just awful
on a fellow’s feet when the sun’s out. I often used to serenade her,
accompanying my singing with the violin. She was very fond of stringed
instruments, and especially the violin. She used to say there was no
musical instrument that was so cat-like and natural in its tone and
feeling. The dear girl--what exquisite musical taste she had! Ah! how
I loved her! Why, I felt, when in her presence, as though I were full
of vibrating E strings--_au naturel_, but none the less vibrating.
And I mind me well that she was not unresponsive. Shall I ever forget
that mellow September night when she first confessed she loved me?
‘Ah! Thomaso,’ she cried--(Thomaso, by the way, was a feminine conceit
of hers; she had been abroad, you know)--‘Ah! Thomaso, how bleak and
drear were the most pretentious roof without thee! Where is there such
another form, or voice so sweet as thine? The girl who did not love
thee would be lost to all appreciation of the feline form divine. I
love thee, Thomaso, oh, how I love thee!’

“Of course, I blushed, my dear Fido--I knew only too well how
undeserving I was.

“But, to quote an old chestnut, the course of true love was by no means
smooth with me. It chanced that the attic room of the house next to
the one in which my charmer lived, was occupied by a young man named
Jenkins. Now that fellow Jenkins had the fool notion that he was
musical. That wouldn’t have been so bad, though his singing was vile,
but he wanted to monopolize the singing business altogether. You never
saw such an envious brute! Just as soon as I began my lovely serenades,
that despicable counter-jumper would begin throwing old boots and
chunks of coal at me. But I kept my temper and said nothing, though I
was mad enough to claw the face off him.

“Not content with his vicious assaults, the murderous brute finally
attempted to assassinate me, and very nearly succeeded. I had composed
a madrigal for my sweetheart, and had just finished singing it to her
one evening when that calico-vending dude fired at me with a pistol
and narrowly missed cutting me off in the flower of my youth. The ball
lodged in my shoulder, and gave me no end of trouble. Did you ever hear
of such a cold-blooded attempt to--”

“Pardon me, Tommy,” said Fido, “but what was the song like?”

“Let me see;” said Tommy, “perhaps I can remember it. Oh yes, it ran
like this:

“‘_When the silvery moon doth brightly beam, after the toil of day is
done, how fair my darling dost thou seem, as thou climb’st the fence,
or on the ridge-pole swiftly run. Thy form is sylph-like in its grace;
thy voice seraphic sweet and low; how soft the whiskers on thy face,
that in the moonbeams brightly glow._

“‘_Miow, miow, miow, miow, ’iow, ’iow, ’iow!_’”

“Um-ah,--” said Fido. “Your song has one very admirable feature--it has
but one verse. I am not sure, however, but that I shall have to acquit
the young man who shot you. Self defense, you know, my dear Tommy is--”

“Oh, stow your sarcasm, Fido!” cried Tommy. “It isn’t at all becoming
to you, my boy. If you don’t want to hear the rest of my story, just
say so.”

“Oh, well, Tommy, you mustn’t be so sensitive to the raillery of an
old friend. Go on with your yarn. It is highly interesting.”

“Well, as I was saying, the ball lodged in my shoulder and nearly
killed me. I was sick a long time, and the doctor finally took me to a
veterinary for consultation. Of course I couldn’t say anything about
the bullet--on the lady’s account you know--so the doctor was stumped
for once. The veterinary pounded me black and blue from head to foot,
and after gouging my belly full of finger holes, said--‘He’s got
appendicitis, and we will have to operate.’ That settled _me_--I just
jumped through the window, sash and all, and weak as I was, succeeded
in escaping. A man who doesn’t know lead poisoning from appendicitis,
can’t monkey with Tommy Baker’s domestic economy, you can just bet your
life on that!

“Through the kindly offices of one of my friends I succeeded in getting
accommodations in a stable near by, where I lived on mice and wind for
three weeks, at the end of which time my wound was entirely well. I had
more wind than mice on my stomach most of the time, but the dieting
evidently did me good. I finally went home, and you never saw such
rejoicing as there was among the children. They hugged me ’most to
death.

“The doctor was always kind to me, but at times his attentions were
quite marked. He often kept me in a little room by myself for days and
days at a time. He fed me with his own hand, and was very careful of
my health. He took my temperature and pulse, and looked at my tongue
twice a day. Sometimes he put a little needle in my back and seemed to
be squirting something under the skin. It didn’t hurt much, but I felt
mighty funny a little while afterward. Queer, wasn’t it?”

Fido, who had had diphtheria once and was up on toxins, smiled rather
pityingly and said, dryly, “Rather.”

“I never doubted the doctor’s honesty of purpose but once. There was a
little room just off the library that he called the laboratory. He used
to shut himself up in that little closet--that’s about all it was--for
hours at a time. Now it wasn’t any of my business, but I couldn’t help
being curious to know what he was doing in that little den. Then, too,
I was certain that I smelled nice fresh meat just as he came out one
day. Of course that completely demoralized me and I determined to look
into the matter. Ah me! why did I not remember that old story about
Bluebeard?

“Well, I watched my chance, and one night when the doctor had his back
turned I sneaked into the laboratory, the door of which was slightly
ajar. Noticing that he had left the door open, the doctor came back
and closed and locked it, leaving me a prisoner. I was not frightened,
however, for I was sure the doctor would soon be at work in the
laboratory again and give me an opportunity to escape. I chuckled to
myself, wretch that I was, to think that my curiosity was at last to be
gratified.

“Jumping upon the table that the doctor used as a work bench, I saw
a sight that froze the very whiskers on my cheeks! There, spread out
upon the table lay the ghastly, mangled, lifeless body of a cat whom I
recognized as one of my best friends! I fell in a dead faint.”

“Sort of a cataleptic fit--eh, Tommy?” said Fido, with a sly, humorous
twinkle in his eye. Tommy disdained to answer, and continued:

“How long I lay in my swoon I do not know. When I awoke, the doctor
was standing over me and saying--

“‘I wonder how the devil that blamed cat got in here! He seems to be
sick.’

“Sick? Ye Gods! I should think I was sick!

“I never became quite reconciled to the doctor after that, and when,
some time afterward, he forbade the children to kiss and hug me any
more just because I ate some pickled stuff that stood on a shelf in his
office, I actually grew to dislike him.

“But everybody else loved the doctor, and I have sometimes thought that
perhaps I didn’t quite understand him. He was certainly good and kind
to everybody about him.

“Taken all in all, my life was a very happy one, and I not only had a
pleasant home, but after a time I got a real jolly old chum, by the
name of Towser. When Johnny first brought Towser home he ‘sicked’ him
on me, ‘just for fun,’ he said, and the old dog and I had a terrible
scrap. But I swiped him a good one under the eye, I tell you, and he
treated me fine after that.”

“Scrap? Swiped him? Why, what on earth do you mean, Tommy?” asked Fido.

“Oh! I forgot that you were an aristocrat, my dear Fido. I meant that I
had a fight with Towser and struck him under the eye. See?”

“Ah! now I comprehend,” replied Fido.

“Well, as I was saying,” continued Tommy, “I enjoyed life immensely.
Towser was a fine old fellow, and he and I used to romp and play with
the children most of the time.”

“Your life must indeed have been very happy, and I wonder that you
could ever have left so pleasant a home, friend Tommy,” said Fido.

“Ah! my dear old friend, there was never dream of bliss so fair that no
cloud e’er came to mar the beauty of its skies. Trouble came to that
happy household, and within a few weeks all was sadly changed, and I
was again a waif of the streets.

“The baby had been ailing for some time, and we could see that the
doctor was very uneasy about him. The poor little fellow finally
developed some brain trouble or other--I can’t remember the Latin name
of it, but I believe it was what old Dr. Cochran over at ‘The Corners,’
used to call ‘Water on the brain,’ or Meningeetus,’ or something like
that.

“Well, the poor little fellow didn’t stand his sickness very long. It
was just awful to see him wasting away, getting weaker and weaker
every day. He used to notice me quite a little at first, but after a
while he didn’t seem to know me any more. I had suspected this for a
day or two, but it seemed too horrible for belief. It was soon plain,
however, that dear little Harry no longer recognized those who loved
him, and for the first time it dawned upon me that my darling playmate
was soon to be called away forever. Baby dropped off to sleep one
night, and the doctor said that he thought the little one was better.
He deceived everybody but me--I had seen babies go to sleep that way
before, lots o’ times.

“As I feared, Harry never awoke again in this world. I heard Ethel say
the angels had taken him away to Heaven--a grand, beautiful place that
human folks say is up yonder some where beyond the clouds. If that was
true, the angels were mighty mean--for we were all broken-hearted.

“If Ethel was right about Harry going to Heaven, I hope there’s room
for dogs and cats up there. Poor old Towser fell sick and died soon
after the baby went, and I would feel better about the little one’s
death if I knew that Towser was with him. The faithful old dog used to
take such good care of the dear little pet. Then, too, I might see them
again some day, and we could live the old happy days over again. Don’t
mind my emotion, Fido, I loved Harry very dearly. Bless my whiskers,
old chap, if you are not crying too!

“After they had put our sweet little blossom into a cruel white,
frosted looking box and taken him away, the house seemed as gloomy as
an old cellar. Nobody ever seemed to be happy again. Ethel and Johnny
mourned after little Harry all the time, and many a time I caught the
doctor crying softly to himself when he thought no one was looking. He
didn’t think I understood, poor fellow.

“The doctor appeared to be more like his old self again, after a time,
but he seemed to work harder than ever before. He sat up very late o’
nights reading and writing--that is, when he had no patients to attend
to. My! how he used to slave over those people! And half of ’em never
paid their bills, either. The doctor didn’t mind the poor ones, but he
used to say that ‘God’s patients’ never gave him half so much trouble
as ‘the devil’s patients.’ Sometimes I half suspected that the doctor
was working hard just to get little Harry off his mind, but perhaps I
was not a good judge of such things.

“Well, a man is not a horse; he can’t carry a big load very long
without breaking down, and the doctor soon showed signs of exhaustion.
It grieved me to see him going to pieces, but I was helpless. I felt
that it would be a very delicate matter to even attempt to advise him.
And so I was obliged to watch my unfortunate master dying by inches
before my very eyes.

“The end was not long delayed. The doctor finally contracted an attack
of that new-fangled disease--let me see, what do they call it? Oh
yes, ‘La Grippe.’ Instead of going to bed, as he should have done, he
slopped about in all sorts of weather until he got pneumonia. It was
all up with my poor master then--he died within a week.

“I had always supposed that doctors were all rich men, until I lived
with one. My master left a lot of bad accounts and a little life
insurance; that was all. Why, his wife even had to sell his books and
instruments to defray his funeral expenses.

“After the doctor died, everything was changed. The end of my happy
home-life was not far distant. The children were sent away to
boarding school after a while, and their mamma soon went to live at a
fashionable hotel. The home was completely broken up. I can’t tell you
how bad I felt when I saw all the furniture and things that the doctor
used to prize so highly hauled away to be sold.

“Heigho! ‘How soon we are forgot,’ as old Rip Van Winkle so truly
said. Well, I soon found myself homeless and a vagabond once more. I
have since had all sorts of luck--mostly bad, however. I have tried my
hand at almost everything, but have never been able to secure another
comfortable position. I was a lawyer’s cat for a while, but my family
pride came to my rescue after a time, and I quit the job. There is blue
blood in my veins, Fido, and though I may be down on my luck, I have
not quite lost my self-respect.”

“Ah! you are boasting of blue blood nowadays, are you, Tommy? How does
that happen?” asked Fido.

“Why, don’t you know about the cats that were found in the pyramids
along with Rameses and his folks?” asked Tommy. “You ought to read up,
my dear Fido.”

“Have you ever heard from the doctor’s folks since their home was
broken up?” asked Fido.

“Oh, yes; I have kept track of them right along. The doctor’s wife
finally married again and the children came home to live with her soon
afterward. I called at their house one night, and was unceremoniously
kicked out. Johnny and Ethel were grown-up folks and had no use for
cats any more, besides, they didn’t know me from Adam. I was just a
tramp cat, that was all, and was treated like any other vagrant.

“But I have got used to hard lines, and so long as I can capture an
occasional rat, I suppose I will be able to live. Once in a while a
nice pet canary or toothsome young chicken comes my way; then there is
great joy in the department of the interior.

“My health is none of the best, at times, and I don’t believe I shall
live many years, but the sooner to sleep the sooner to rest, and I
know that brave old Towser and dear little Harry are waiting for me
up yonder. Towser is still a loyal old dog, and Harry is not grown-up
folks, like Johnny and Ethel, but a sweet, winsome little baby boy as
of old.

“Well, Fido, old comrade, I have told you my story, and it is now
nearly midnight, so we must say good night. There is nobody to
complain when _I_ keep late hours, but it’s different with you. Good
jobs are scarce, and I don’t want you to risk losing yours. I will see
you next Tuesday evening if you like.

“Hello! it’s raining. There’s a cold wind blowing too. Awful weather
for the rheumatism and mange, isn’t it? You’ll get that pretty blanket
wet, Fido, my boy.”

“Oh, drat the blanket!” said Fido, “I’ll hurry along though. Good
night, Tommy.”

“Good night, Fido, good night.”



JOHNNY

A STORY OF THE PHILIPPINES


Johnny was a typic gamin from the Chicago slums. He never denied it,
and it would have been useless if he had; the ear marks were too plain.
What had impelled him to enter the volunteer service was a mystery.
Some of the men in the --th Illinois had been heard to say at the
company mess, that a difference of opinion upon matters ethical between
Johnny and the police was the main-spring that had worked the little
tough army-ward. Pertinent inquiries directed at the boy himself had
ceased abruptly when big Tom O’Brien, the battalion sergeant major, got
through swearing, and rubbing the bump on his head with which Johnny,
through the medium of an accurately aimed canteen, had decorated him.
Tom wound up with, “Byes, the little divil is too small to lick, an’
too big to monkey wid, so I’ll sarve yez notice that Mr. T. O’Brien,
Esq. will attind to his own business hereafter. An’ be Jasus,” he added
significantly, “the rist av ye’ll do the same, for be the same token,
I notice yez all be bigger than Johnny.” It was obvious that the boy
did not need a protector, but nevertheless, the warm-hearted Irishman’s
attitude toward him was a peace promoter in no mean degree.

No one had ever accused Johnny of patriotism. He knew all about the
blowing up of the Maine and thought it was a shabby piece of business,
the perpetrators of which should be punished. “But,” he added sagely,
“they ain’t hangin’ none o’ them strikin’ railroad guys, fer wreckin’
trains and sluggin’ scabs, an’ I guess there ain’t much difference.
There’s a lot o’ dead an’ smashed up folks, any way you fix it.”

It was evidently a hopeless task to try and elucidate for Johnny
patriotic reasons for the war with Spain. His philosophy was too strong
to cope with.

When Johnny first joined the regiment he was not a creditable specimen
from a physical standpoint. A subtle sympathy with the under dog in the
breast of the regimental surgeon, Major Brice, was mainly responsible
for the mustering in of the unpromising recruit. Slouchy in gait,
under-sized, weazened, lanky and round shouldered, with the air of one
pursued, the boy was as unsoldier-like as could possibly be imagined.
He said he was nineteen, but it did not require a professional eye to
detect the fraud--a fraud of several years--without much doubt.

The captain of K Company was very particular about the physique of
his men, and the surgeon and he had a confidential arrangement which
had kept out of the service many a man who might have passed a fair
examination before the army board. When Captain Harkins saw Johnny in
the ranks of the “rookies,” he gave a gasp of horror and ran post haste
to the surgeon’s quarters. He entered the tent rather unceremoniously,
somewhat ruffling the self-composure of its occupant, who was rather
austere and dignified at times.

“Ah, Captain,” said the surgeon, “what’s the trouble, somebody hurt?”

“Hurt!” exclaimed the captain, “Hurt! Great Scott! I’m paralyzed. How
in Heaven’s name did you ever pass that little degenerate shrimp of a
gutter snipe that came in with that last batch of rookies? Is this a
practical joke?”

“I never make practical jokes,” replied the surgeon, serenely. “I had
a little whim of my own to gratify. Didn’t know I was whimsical, did
you? Well, I am, and that boy is my latest whim. I fancied the service
would be better for him than the jail. I had him assigned to your
company--well, because you and I understand each other pretty well, and
because I want him myself. Just reassign him to me for special duty,
and I’ll do the rest.”

The captain roared. “Well,” he said, when he had caught his breath,
“you have perpetrated a practical joke all the same, and landed good
and proper. You had me well nigh scared into a fit.”

Johnny, inscribed in regulation form as John Blank, on the muster
roll of K. Company, was formally assigned to duty in the hospital
department, and the following morning found him standing at the door of
the surgeon’s tent, a full-fledged orderly, with a rudely extemporized
cross of red flannel upon the arm of his “big brother” blouse. There
was a little quiet snickering at the surgeon’s expense, but this
soon died out, for the man of saws and pills was sensitive, somewhat
muscular and, above all, wore the maple leaf on his shoulder straps.

The colonel was very indulgent with the surgeon; he knew his failings,
and when his eyes fell upon the new orderly, he smilingly remarked
to the adjutant, “I hope the major will be able to raise that slummy
looking chap to be a soldier, but I’m afraid he has a big contract on
his hands.”

But the surgeon was a practical humanitarian who believed in a
physical basis of things moral. He had a hobby, as the new recruit
soon discovered. Johnny was daily put through a course of physical
“stunts” that made his life something more than a glad, sweet song.
He was a little rebellious at first, and his instructor had hard work
to keep him from deserting. Through the connivance of the colonel,
however, who had the boy brought before him after some very flagrant
act of insubordination and depicted to him in vivid colors a vision
of an early morning firing squad, Johnny was brought back into line
again and went on with his stunts. He was just a little suspicious of
the “Old Man’s” seriousness, but after the major had informed him that
the colonel was a man of great earnestness of purpose and absolutely
devoid of regard for human life--blood-thirsty, in fact--he became in a
measure reconciled to what at first seemed to him a hard lot.

But as Johnny’s training proceeded, he was conscious of a new and
unwonted interest in life. He began to have a sense of physical
strength, and felt an increase of energy that made his course of
physical training pleasurable. His shoulders were beginning to set up
and back. It was no longer necessary to either drive or coax him to his
task of self-development. The surgeon was meanwhile devoting such time
as he could steal from his daily routine of antidoting the endeavors
of the government to prepare our soldiers for Cuba by killing them in
Tampa, to stimulation of the mental side of the neglected boy of the
streets. Johnny had innate capacity enough but, as the major said, he
had never in his whole life had any healthy blood to feed his brain,
hence the development of the latter was not possible until now.

The men of the regiment scarcely appreciated the gradual change
in Johnny. He unfolded just as a plant unfolds. Growth was there,
steadily going on. The major knew, and the colonel remarked upon it,
but the rest did not comprehend until one day the street boy stripped
to the buff and, urged on by the mock encouragement of some of the
privates, entered an improvised ring for a “friendly” contest with
an ex-professlonal, who had entered the service chiefly in search of
novelty in the way of recreation. When the affair was over with,
and the amateur referee had finished the rather prolonged count over
Johnny’s opponent, Tom O’Brien said delightedly; “Begorra, the byes
didn’t get a run fer their money. Yez kin all poke fun at Johnny now,
an’ ask him all the sassy quistions ye loike, an’ divil a wurrud’ll I
say to yez, unless yez go in more than wan at a toime.”

It was evident that Johnny had become soldierly timber, and it was not
long before the captains vied with each other in coaxing him to apply
for a transfer to their companies. Captain Harkins alone refrained from
urging the boy to return to the ranks. He might simply have assigned
him back to company duty, but as he remarked to the colonel, he felt
that “Johnny belonged to the man who had made a soldier out of him.”

The major was not ignorant of the change in sentiment regarding his
protegé. Desiring to be fair with him he said, “Johnny, some of the
officers are beginning to think a little better of you than they used
to. Captain Harkins is entitled to you, but seems to think you ought to
have a chance to use your own discretion in the matter of going back
to the ranks. Taking care of my horse and tent, and rolling bandages
for me is possibly not so much to your liking as being a real, fighting
soldier. We shall probably go to the front soon. The war isn’t over
yet, and they can’t keep us in Florida forever, so we are likely to see
some pretty hot times in Cuba. If you want to go back to the company
just say the word, and back you shall go.”

Johnny stood at the door of the major’s tent for a moment looking at
the gorgeous southern sky. When he turned toward his patron his eyes
were wet.

“Did you think I’d do that, sir?”

And the major replied, “No, Johnny, I didn’t think you would.”

But the war did end very soon, and the pride of the Brigade, the --th
Illinois,--athletes, every mother’s son of them,--did not get out of
Florida and into Cuba until there was nothing remaining to be done
save policing that fair and unfortunate island. As soon as orders came
to leave for Cuba, Major Brice tendered his resignation, intending to
return to civil life and resume his practice. Johnny was disconsolate.
Police duty in Cuba was not an inviting prospect--he recalled that
he never did like the policeman or his works, on principle. Chicago
had no attraction for him. He had been born in the army. His previous
existence, he said, “didn’t count.” He had begun life in the major’s
tent, and when that tent came down there would be no longer home life
for him. The major was deeply touched by his protegé’s devotion, and,
quite alive to the fact that Johnny would be a pretty helpless member
of any society but the army, interested the brigade commander, who had
been assigned for duty in the Philippines, in his case.

Through the combined influence of the general and the major, the boy
received his discharge, and was immediately reenlisted in the --th
Montana, then preparing to start for Manila. The bluff old general
said: “Everything’s over in Cuba, but I suspect that nothing’s begun in
the Philippines; In my opinion, h--l’s brewing in Manila, and unless
my experience in fighting Indians is worthless, I feel pretty safe
in saying that those d--d brown-skinned fellows out yonder are going
to give your Uncle Samuel a devil of a lot of trouble before we get
through with ’em. Dewey didn’t do a thing to us, not to the Spaniards,
when he took Manila. That Montana regiment is as liable to get into a
mix up as any of ’em--they’re scrappers all right--and it’s just as
well for that orderly of yours to get in on the ground floor. But,
Major, will he fight?”

The major’s eyes twinkled as he replied, “Don’t worry yourself about
Johnny, my dear General. He’ll give a good account of himself. He is
a good soldier by profession, even though I could never cure him of
profanity nor teach him what patriotism means. He regards fighting as a
vocation, but believes in attending to it for all he is worth.”

As the general had said, trouble had not yet begun in the Philippines.
It came soon enough, and Johnny got in on the ground floor with a
vengeance. When the fighting finally began he was, to use his own
vernacular, “on the spot,” which fact, as he jestingly remarked,
gave him for the first time the privilege of enjoying “the luxury of
more name than ‘Johnny’.” His comrades exclaimed, apropos of his new
cognomen, “Holy smoke! how it fits.”

The --th Montana had its troubles out there in those tropic isles.
Few realize what it means to plunge a raw volunteer regiment from
a temperate climate into tropic wilds infested with a foe that
recognizes no rule in warfare save implacable, relentless murder of the
enemy, by hook or by crook, by fair means or foul. A foe that fights
manfully and fairly, whether at long range or close quarters, is bad
enough for “raw ones” to face, even though they be the best in the
world--the which is stenographic for American boys.

Bullets and bayonets are integral parts of the soldier’s life.
Familiarity breeds contempt for these--they are his own tools, the
tools with which he blazes his own road to glory or to a hero’s death.
But those terrible bolos, and the Moro swords--those cruel knives that
shear a man from crown to waist, or lop off heads or limbs as though
they were chalk, wielded by little brown fiends who care naught for
rules of fence and are willing to mix it when you compel them to close
with you, just as a rat will set his fangs in your flesh when you
corner him--they are different, quite. And when your soldier boy thinks
of the newspapers that are preaching the milk of human kindness at home
and watching like so many harpies for the slightest mishap from which
political capital may be made, whilst he is wallowing in the blood of
comrades upon whom nameless mutilations have been inflicted, he has
hard work to keep his courage up to the fighting pitch.

Then the dread plasmodium-bearing mosquito of the swamps, with its
trail of death dealing chill and hemorrhage, the hellish amœba of the
foul tropic streams, that are so often the soldier’s only source of
water supply, and that awful typhoid, hovering like a somber-hued,
gigantic bat over an army camp--selecting as its victims the very
flower of the soldiery--these be things, not of glory, but of death,
with no sublimity save that of noble self-sacrifice. And that dreadful
nostalgia, that sickening yearning for home, which so often kills,
or, aided by the pitiless torrid sun, beating down upon devoted heads
unused to a foretaste of hell, sends men with brains awry back to
Frisco by the ship load. Were not these terrors an awful crucible in
which to try the metal of men whom their friends, at home, who do not
know gold when they see it, are wont to call “tin soldiers?”

What a lot of maudlin sentiment the home papers and builders of
political issues lavished upon those Filipino fiends who, it was
alleged, were given more water than was good for them! The soldier
at the front knew the mockery of it all. He had felt the bolo of the
treacherous “amigo” at his back, the while he parleyed, friendly-wise,
with the aforesaid amigo’s snaky comrade in front. He had seen the
pitiful remnant of what were once white human forms, the forms of
his own comrades and friends, still living, perhaps, fresh from
the torturings inflicted by their savage captors. He had seen the
dismembered bodies of children and old men who had been slain in
cold blood because they or their friends had been friendly to the
Americans, and he had heard the wailing of women who had suffered
shameful outrage, aye, a living death, at the hands of our “little
brown brother.” What wonder that the boy in khaki grew tired of making
prisoners of fiends from hell, who deserved nothing better than a short
shrift and a merry trip back to their father, the devil, and drove his
bayonet a little deeper or emptied his magazine a bit faster than would
permit him to see or heed a signal of surrender?

Of all the regiments who were sent to those far away islands, none bore
itself more gallantly, none was more pertinaciously put to the fore
than the --th Montana. A history of the thin, khaki-clad firing line
in the Philippines that did not give more than a modest share of honor
to that gallant regiment would be but a false and biased chronicle.

Johnny, the boy of the slums, may not have been so patriotically
inspired as some of his comrades, but he was a fighter by instinct,
and a soldier by profession. He knew his duty, fear was a thing apart
from him, and he attended strictly to “business” as he understood
it, namely, to obeying orders, shooting true, and keeping tab of the
Filipinos he potted. There be those who say that his game bags were
not only large, but of select contents. He had a keen eye for brown
officers, and, as he said, there were so many Filipino generals and
such folk, that there were enough for everybody, even after he had
taken his multitudinous pick.

It was not long before the mighty ones at staff headquarters became
quite familiar with Johnny’s ways. Our soldier soon found himself
in demand, a demand which, from details of special and hazardous
duty, occasional at first, but finally very frequent, won for him
a sergeant’s stripes, and regrets at headquarters that it was not
possible to immediately decorate his shoulders with strap and bar.
Never did better man wear non-com’s stripes.

The sergeant is the pivot around which, as upon an axis, revolves the
discipline and efficiency of the rank and file. He is the key-stone
of both the individual and company arch of courage. Johnny was all
that a disciplinarian should be, and more, he was idolized by the men.
Twice was he wounded by a ball that smashed several ribs and narrowly
missed taking out so much of his chest wall that, as he said, his
heart and lungs would have been subject to indecent exposure. Again
did the little “brown bellies” get him,--with a bolo this time. But
Johnny’s bayonet was a fraction of a second too quick for the luckless
Filipino who wielded the “chopper” and the heavy blade missed the
vitals by a hair. A siege of typhoid followed, but Johnny said, when
the surgeon wanted to have him sick-leaved home. “Hell! no. It wouldn’t
be business, an’ besides, I’m at home now--anyhow, as near as I’ll ever
be. Shootin’, cuttin’ and typhoid never was calculated to kill gutter
snipes, an’ so long as I keep away from water, which is the only thing
that I hain’t tried, I reckon I’ll pull through. Then there’s old
Miss Krag, here,” and he tenderly patted his rifle, “she can’t get
any furlough, cause she hain’t had any pluggin’ or boloin’, or fever,
an’ she’d be lonesome.” And so Johnny stayed at the front, and shot
Filipinos, swore great oaths and--got well.

The Filipinos were “pacified,” so all the home papers said, save
those few that were politically favorable to the democratic “outs”
and opposed to the republican “ins.” A few boloed soldiers or native
women and children were not evidences of war, they were mere “local
disturbances, occasional manifestations of unrest, etc.” The men at
the front and the friendly brown ones thought differently, but who
cares what the pig under the knife thinks? Uncle Sam didn’t seem quite
so certain of himself as the papers would have us believe he was.
Whilst egging the eagle on to scream peans of victory as a soothing
embrocation for such as might be restive under the war tax, he kept his
weather eye open just the same. To clinch the matter of pacification,
troops were ordered here and there into the towns adjacent to the
swamps and rocky fastnesses where lurked the more troublesome of the
ladrones. Small detachments were often sent, much smaller in some
instances than was safe, as the government learned to its sorrow.

Much of the outpost duty fell upon the --th Montana. K company was
ordered to duty in the province of Zambales, island of Luzon, and took
up its quarters at Poombato, a place which could be called a town by
courtesy only. It was nothing more than a handful of palm thatched
huts, inhabited chiefly by old men, women and children who couldn’t
become enrolled with their “pacified” brethren who, bolo in hand, were
lurking in the neighboring hills and thickets, awaiting a chance for
a sudden dash upon the enemy and a merry boloing in the camp of the
Americanos. The men of K company were no “kickers,” as they were wont
to express it, but the idea of rotting in the wilds while trying to
protect a few miserable natives from possible outlaws who were their
own kith and kin, and with whom the protected ones kept in pretty close
and friendly touch, was not the pleasantest.

The men of K company knew the Filipino--knew him root and branch--they
had fought him long enough, the Lord knows, and had discovered that
caution was the price of sound throats. Their commander, Captain
Benning, was ever a discreet officer and careful of his men, above
all he knew that somewhere in the vicinity hovered the worst of
all the brigands and cut throats the Philippines had yet produced,
“Captain” Agramonte, but the deadly monotony of their daily duties
was more than the men could stand. Despite warnings and, it must be
confessed, not infrequently despite strict orders, the men would stray
away into the jungle, often in quest of a scrap with stray Filipinos,
sometimes seeking such excitement as shooting wild game affords. These
little excursions were apparently safe enough at first. No accidents
happening, however, the men grew bolder, and roamed about almost at
will, and then the trouble came. Man after man was found boloed, or
disappeared as if the earth had swallowed him up. On one occasion a
small searching party, in quest of a missing comrade, was ambushed and
narrowly escaped annihilation. Captain Benning was not left long in
doubt as to whom he was indebted for the loss of his men. The ghastly,
recently severed head of one of his men was hurled from the brake one
night into camp, rolling, as chance would have it, its bloody way to
the very door of the captain’s own tent. Affixed to the awful thing
was a scurrilous note signed, “Agramonte.”

Captain Benning was a brave officer, with just enough revenge
corpuscles in his blood to make the possession of Agramonte’s person
the one thing in all the world to be desired. This last atrocity was
more than he could endure. Agramonte’s life he must and would have.
He knew well enough that there was but one way to kill or capture the
outlaw. Having but one company at his command he could not well send a
large party against the enemy. Indeed, the entire company was scarcely
large enough to make a punitive expedition safe. Whatever was done must
of necessity be done by strategy, and by a small party. A set plan
was impossible. What was wanted was a “man,” and the captain thought
that he knew where to find him. Turning to his orderly he said, “Tell
Sergeant Blank that I want him to report to me at once.”

Johnny promptly appeared at the captain’s quarters and stood
respectfully at attention, awaiting his commander’s pleasure.

“Sergeant,” said the captain, pointing to the outlaw’s grim token of
defiance, “do you know Agramonte when you see him?”

“I think I do, sir,” replied Johnny.

“Well, Sergeant, I want him, and I want him badly. If anybody can get
him, you can. You have done plenty of scouting. What do you think about
it?”

Johnny glanced at the gory head of his comrade, lying at the captain’s
feet, and his jaws set ominously. He answered through his teeth:

“I think I’ll get him sir, or he’ll get me.”

“Very well, then,” said the captain, “go after him, and be sure you get
him.”

“Alive, sir?”

“Alive if you can; I wish to make an example of him, for the benefit
of those cut-throats of his, but don’t take a chance of losing him. I
want to see him at my tent door, and a few holes more or less in his
miserable carcass will not mar his beauty much in my eyes.”

“All right, sir; any instructions?”

“None whatever, Sergeant, except to get him, get him sure and as quick
as the Lord’ll let you.”

The captain rose, and with a total disregard of military etiquette held
out his hand and said,

“Good luck to you Johnny, and don’t forget that you are worth more to
me than that d--d renegade. If you don’t land him, be sure to bring
yourself back. We are old comrades, you know.”

“Don’t bother your head about me, Captain,” replied Johnny, his eyes
glistening, as he grasped his commander’s hand; “I’ll come back all
right, and I’ll bring that d--d renegade with me. We may neither of us
be pretty to look at when we drop in on you, but you can bet we’ll get
here together,” and Johnny disappeared in the darkness.

       *       *       *       *       *

An army scout travels “light” and when he is about to set out on an
expedition, his preparations are a marvel of speed and simplicity.
Johnny was even speedier than usual in getting ready for his perilous
mission. He had little to do save to strap on a brace of navies, his
canteen and haversack and say goodbye to his “bunky.” The latter, as
his friend was leaving, handed him an enormous bowie knife, saying,
“Here’s a western lancet that I want you to take with you, just for
luck. We like ’em out our way. They don’t miss fire, nor go off half
cocked, and they can’t be beat for tickling the solar plexus.” The
bunky forgot to mention the bowie’s chief merit, that it wasn’t noisy.
This was left for Johnny’s own exploitation.

Johnny loosened his belt, slipped the bowie upon it and said, “Thanks,
and speakin’ of the West reminds me of a little trick one of the boys
taught me when we was cooped up in Manila. I almost forgot this,” and
reaching up he took down a coil of rope that hung at the side of the
tent. This he slung over his shoulder, sash-wise.

In less than half an hour after his interview with his captain, our
soldier slipped through the picket lines and plunged into the jungle.
He knew that he must get beyond the outskirts of the town under cover
of darkness if he would elude the watchful eyes of the Filipinos who
hung about in the surrounding hills and jungles. Had he not started
before dawn it would have been necessary to await the coming of the
next night, in order to leave the camp unobserved by the enemy.

Agramonte’s base of operation was so well known that the uninitiated
may naturally wonder why he had not been captured long before. It
requires only a moderate knowledge of the native character and of the
nature of the country to understand why Captain Benning with the small
force at his command, had hitherto refrained from attempts at the
outlaw’s capture. A formal campaign against him would have necessitated
beating up the Filipinos precisely as game is beaten up in a battue.
This would have required a very large and powerful force. Agramonte,
fully cognizant of the situation, had established himself at Masillo,
a little village in the foot hills less than five miles from the camp
of the Americans, where he conducted himself precisely as if there was
no such thing existing as the United States of America or a hostile
army. The Batolan river lay between him and his enemies in khaki. This
was a turbulent mountain stream of considerable width, with no ford
nearer than some seven or eight miles from the renegade’s headquarters.
Granting that his enemies succeeded in crossing the stream, which was
not an easy thing for a small force such as he believed would probably
be sent against him to do under fire, he had but to hide himself amid
his native rocks and ravines and he could snap his brown fingers at the
hated Americanos.

Knowing the outlaw’s lair, and the character of the country, Johnny
had evolved his plans of campaign before leaving camp, while he was
hastily preparing for the expedition. From his experience in scouting
expeditions he knew that the only way to succeed in his mission was to
beat the Filipino chief at his own game, by taking him completely by
surprise at such time as he might be found separated from his companion
ladrones. The lariat which Johnny had slung over his shoulder was
perhaps the most methodic and pertinent of his preparations.

Travelling through the Luzon brake is neither easy nor comfortable,
even in broad daylight, but at night it is practically impossible to
the inexperienced traveller. But Johnny was no novice at the business
in which he was engaged, and seemed to instinctively know the weak
spots in the wild tangle of trees and brake. He was apprised from
time to time that he was an intruder in the jungle. Troops of monkeys
chattered at him saucily as they swung down from limb to limb of the
trees to get a nearer view of the strange object that had disturbed
their sleep. Having seen him, they screamed affrighted warnings to the
other jungle folk and fled back to the topmost boughs, there to hurl
defiant challenges at the intruder. Enormous bats beat their foul wings
fiercely against his face as he toiled on, their whizzing, whirling
flight sending the heavy, strangely perfumed night mist of the tropic
wood pulsing against his face in dank waves. Once, as he crept through
the brake, almost on his hands and knees, he nearly fell face down
upon a huge creature of some kind. Johnny never knew the nature of it,
for startled as he was, the beast was more so. It sprang up with a
frightened yelp and crashed off through the jungle, snarling back at
the strange thing that had roused him from his peaceful slumbers.

Again, as our soldier, breathing more freely as he emerged from the
brake into the open, was skirting a little glade in the forest, a
monster serpent dangling its death dealing loops downward from a bough
struck him fairly upon the chest, with a resounding whack that almost
knocked the breath out of him. A man less nervy and experienced would
have been entangled in the cruel coils of the gigantic reptile, but
with a quick push of his powerful arm against the cold, clammy folds of
the awful thing and a cat-like spring aside he was free. Courageous as
he was, this encounter made his flesh creep. But none the less, he saw
a ludicrous side to the incident, and muttered to himself, “Major Brice
used to say somethin’ to me about the early bird catchin’ the worm. I’m
the early bird, all right, all right, but that worm’s a little too big
for Johnny’s craw. Wonder what the dear old major’d think o’ that chap,
anyhow. I suppose he’d like to bottle him.”

And there were other things, less pretentious relatives of the giant
snake who so nearly did for Johnny. As his feet stumbled on through
the luxuriant tangle of tropic weeds and grasses, he heard certain
rustlings and hissings that warned him of the nearness of reptiles of
lesser bulk, whose fangs were carriers of liquid death, relentless and
sudden, yet slow enough for the victim to suffer the agonies of the
damned ere he died.

But Johnny pulled through the night without mishap and, worn and
haggard, as morning dawned, he found himself upon the banks of the
Batolan. Here he knew he must stop until nightfall. A white man’s head
bobbing up and down in the stream would have made too good a target
for even Filipino marksmen, wretched shots though they are, to miss
at such easy range. It would have been suicidal to attempt to swim the
river in broad day light, besides, at that point the current was too
swift for a tired man to breast. Johnny was nearly exhausted, so after
a bite from the small store in his haversack and a pull at his canteen
he laid down amid the bamboos that fringed the river bank to await
nightfall with what patience he could.

Tired as Johnny was, he did not dare sleep. The day was excessively
warm and it was not easy to keep awake, but under the stimulus of
several parties of Filipinos of whom he caught a glimpse at various
times as they passed to and fro on the hill sides upon the opposite
side of the stream, he managed to fight off the drowsiness with which
his fatigue and the tropic heat combined to overpower him. He did not
dare to even light his pipe, the soldier’s consolation, lest he attract
the attention of the enemy, and with nothing to help him while away the
hours the day seemed almost interminable.

But the fiercely glowing red ball of the sun finally sank behind the
hills to westward, and the tropic twilight mist began to rise from
brake and stream. Not far from the bank opposite the spot where Johnny
lay concealed, he noted through the gathering shadows the twinkle of
lights upon the opposite hillside and the glow of what appeared to be
a camp fire, and said to himself, “I reckon that must be Masillo, an’
if it is I’m pretty close to that d--d brown belly’s headquarters. It
won’t do to let him see me first. We hain’t been introduced and he
might cut me.”

Rising to his feet and pulling himself together, “just to get the kinks
out,” Johnny crept cautiously through the brake up stream, with the
intention of crossing at a point which would be safer from detection
by the enemy. He had traversed the river bank about a mile, when he
noticed that the river had widened out considerably and was dotted here
and there by a number of broad, low lying, bamboo covered islands,
their outlines being clearly discernible in the light of the gorgeous
moon which was just rising. “This ought to be a good place to get
across,” he thought. “I’m likely to find bottom part of the way, an’
the walkin’ must be purty fair on them islands.”

Divesting himself of all his clothing and accouterments save his
belt and lariat, Johnny rolled his effects into as compact a form as
possible, and with his bundle under his arm waded out toward the
nearest island. The water rose only to his waist, and although it was
hard to keep his footing in the swift running current, he was not long
in reaching his destination. The brake was so dense upon the island
that he found it easier to traverse its lower shore to the opposite
side. Between the first island and the next one, a little further down
stream, the water was deeper and swifter than before, and our soldier
had to swim for it. When he reached the second island he was pretty
well blown and was compelled to take a breathing spell. From the second
island to the opposite bank the water was very shallow and easily
forded, a circumstance of which, as the sequel proved, the Filipinos
themselves were fully cognizant, and of which they had showed their
appreciation by stationing a reception committee for possible invaders
at that point.

Johnny clambered up the bank and pausing in a diminutive clearing near
the water, proceeded to leisurely dress himself. He was just stooping
to lace his leggings when two forms sprang upon him from the brake, one
of them landing upon his back. As he went down under the sudden rush,
he was dimly conscious of a heavy cutting blow upon his head. As
he struggled with his foes he felt the hot blood streaming down from
his temple and into his eyes. He managed to turn face upward as the
Filipino bore him to the earth, but for a few seconds he could do no
more than grip his man tightly by the body and prevent his striking
him with the bolo with which he was armed. The other Filipino tried
frantically to land a blow upon the Americano, but without success, as
his comrade was most persistently and unwillingly in the way. As soon
as his wits returned Johnny, suddenly letting go of his adversary’s
body, got a strangle hold on the Filipino’s throat with his left arm,
while with his right hand he drew his bowie. Two quick jabs with the
knife, and the soldier knew that this part of the drama was over.
Practiced wrestler that he was, it was an easy matter to slip from
under the limp body, and spring to his feet and bound away to the edge
of the little clearing.

[Illustration: “JOHNNY GOT A STRANGLE HOLD ON THE FILIPINO’S THROAT
WITH HIS LEFT HAND, WHILE WITH HIS RIGHT HE DREW HIS KNIFE”]

Running away was farthest from Johnny’s mind. He wheeled about and
faced the second Filipino who, having recovered from his astonishment
at the denouement of the struggle in which he had taken a subordinate
part, rushed toward the soldier, swinging his terrible bolo with the
evident intention of bisecting him post haste. Johnny, nothing loth,
awaited the rush, bowie in hand, as calmly as if he were on parade.
And then came a dodging and cutting match that was as unfair as a two
foot bolo wielded by an uninjured Filipino, opposed to a ten inch blade
in the hands of a wounded soldier could make it. But Johnny was an
athlete, and his pugilistic training was not lost in such a contest.

In the first mad rush of his foe Johnny was very nearly done for. As
he sidestepped to avoid the heavy Filipino blade, his foot slipped
and he nearly fell. The weapon missed his head but inflicted a severe
wound upon his right shoulder, crippling for the moment his sword arm.
Feeling himself growing faint, he soon determined to mix matters with
his opponent who, after missing his stroke, had sprung back preparatory
to another rush. As the Filipino closed in with a vicious sweep at
his enemy’s head, Johnny transferred his knife to his left hand and
suddenly ducked under the descending blade squarely into the arms of
the Filipino, who instinctively grappled with him, and forever lost the
opportunity of using his own weapon. One short-arm swing of the bowie
and the Filipino, cut through the chest, hung limp in the soldier’s
arms. The weight of his foe bore Johnny to the ground, where he lost
consciousness, the two combatants lying locked together like two wild
beasts that had fought each other to the death.

All through the night the two men lay motionless upon the ground,
to all appearances lifeless. Meanwhile a storm blew up and just as
the morning dawned the rain fell in torrents. Johnny had merely
fainted from loss of blood, and the cool raindrops beating upon his
face revived him. At first, as he became conscious, he had no clear
conception of where he was or of what had happened. He had a hazy
recollection of a struggle, but not the slightest notion of what it
was all about nor with whom or how many he had fought. As his mind
gradually recovered itself, however, he remembered all the details of
the battle in which, as he now discovered, he had been victorious.
Disengaging himself from the body of his late antagonist, he rolled and
crawled away a little distance, and finally sat up and looked about the
arena in which they had battled.

The Filipino who had first attacked the soldier lay a little distance
away, stark dead. The other, however, was still living. As Johnny
looked in his direction the body moved unmistakably with a slight
convulsive movement of the chest, and a faint groan escaped the lips.

“Hello,” said Johnny, “my friend over there seems pretty lively for a
corpse. Sorry I didn’t cut just right. I’d have saved Uncle Sam and
Sergeant Blank a lot o’ trouble. I s’pose I’d orter fix the d--d cuss
up, story book style, but charity begins at home, and it’s me for first
crack at the aid package.”

With this the sergeant proceeded to take account of stock. After a
careful survey of his wounds, he dressed and bandaged them as best
he could, and took a bracer from the whiskey flask, with which the
haversack of the army scout who knows his business is always supplied.
He followed the stimulant with a meagre breakfast from his rations.

It was not long before Johnny was strong enough to get upon his
feet. The first thing he did was to inspect the wounded Filipino. To
facilitate matters he kneeled beside the fellow and rolled him over
upon his back. As he glanced at the cruel, savage face, it seemed
strangely familiar. Looking at the face more critically, as suspicion
of the identity of his fallen foe entered his mind, he brushed back
the mat of coarse hair that covered the Filipino’s forehead. There,
running transversely across the brow, close to the tangled hair, was
a livid, jagged scar of an old time sword stroke. Forgetting his
own wounds he sprang to his feet in amazed delight and exclaimed,
“Agramonte, or I’m an Indian!”

The Filipino was evidently recovering consciousness. He too, had
suffered from a severe loss of blood. Johnny examined his enemy’s
wound and found that the blood had clotted and was no longer flowing.
He applied a compress and bandage and gave the wounded man a swig of
whiskey, with the result that he soon revived sufficiently to recognize
his surroundings. If he remembered the encounter that had been so
unlucky for him he made no sign. As soon as he became conscious, he
ceased groaning and made no sound thereafter. He lay as stolidly as a
manikin, his beady black eyes watching every move the soldier made.

Noting that his patient was rounding up nicely, and fearing that he
might cry for assistance, Johnny proceeded to make the situation clear
to the Filipino. Not daring to use fire arms for fear of bringing
a swarm of brown bellies about his ears, he had not yet drawn a
revolver. He did so now, however, although with as little intention of
using it as ever. Leveling the navy at the wounded man’s head he said:
“I don’t know whether you savvy my language or not, Mr. Agramonte, but
I reckon you can savvy sign language all right. You saved me a lot o’
trouble when you an’ your partner did the wild cat act on my back. I
was sure lookin’ for you, but I didn’t expect to come up with you quite
so immediate. Seein’ as how you saved me so much trouble, I’ll give you
a tip that’ll save you some. If you open your yap, even to whisper,
I’ll scatter your brains all over the province. I’ve got a pressin’
engagement to take you to headquarters, and this is a mighty good place
to start from. It’s just about time to mosey, too, for some of your
friends is likely to rubber down here to see what’s doin’.”

Agramonte evidently “savvied,” but he contented himself with glaring at
his conqueror as some captive savage beast might have done. It required
little discernment to guess what he would have done to the Americano,
had their respective positions been reversed.

Still menacing the Filipino with the revolver, Johnny compelled him to
struggle to his feet as best he could. Unwinding his lariat he put the
noose about his captive’s neck. Thinking evidently that he was about to
be hanged and thus receive poetic justice, Agramonte would have cried
out, had not his captor suddenly tugged at the lasso, thus choking the
sound of alarm in his brown throat. The strangling process was quite
effective, and when the noose was loosened the prisoner was as docile
as could have been desired.

Leaving some six feet of rope between himself and his captive, the
sergeant, after adjusting the noose, wound the other end of the lariat
about his own body. This done, he said, “Now, Mr. Filipino, you can’t
lose me, and if you don’t object we’ll take a little stroll together.
Just to be perlite I’ll let you go first, so just mosey right along an’
don’t look back or make any noise. If you bat your eye in a way I don’t
like, away’ll go your brains to fertilize the Island of Luzon. It’s us
for the river, so skip along, an’ make it lively.”

But making it lively was easier said than done. Neither the prisoner
nor the captive was in condition to travel rapidly, and the mere
effort of clambering down the river bank was almost the limit of their
endurance. But Johnny shut his teeth together like the bars of a
steel trap, and pushing the tottering Filipino roughly into the water,
waded slowly after him, retracing the same route he had traversed in
crossing the river. In their exhausted condition it was not easy for
the men to maintain their footing. Agramonte’s feet slipped from under
him several times, bringing him face downward on the sand and rocks of
the river bed. The soldier, although himself in little better form than
his prisoner, by a supreme effort raised the latter to his feet and
relentlessly urged him on. The island reached, the two fell exhausted.

As the soldier and his prisoner lay panting upon the ground it seemed
to Johnny that rest was the only thing worth living for. He did not
dare gratify his inclination in that direction, however. The body of
the dead Filipino was likely to be found at any moment, for it was
probable that he had been on picket duty, and if so, a relief would
probably be sent to that point before long. Pursuit once begun, escape
would be well nigh impossible. Should he be captured the soldier knew
only too well what would happen. Another ghastly token of Agramonte’s
affection would be sent to the American camp.

Staggering to his feet, Johnny fairly dragged his prisoner to a
standing posture. He compelled the Filipino to take several swallows of
the whiskey, drank a stiff one himself, and driving Agramonte before
him continued on his way around the edge of the island. When they
arrived at the opposite side, the Filipino, gazing terror stricken at
the swift current in mid-stream, stopped short and shook his head in
feeble protest against entering the water.

“It does look middlin’ dubious, that’s a fact, an’ it’s goin’ to be a
close call, but we’ve got to make it,” said Johnny. “I promised the
Captain that I’d land you at the door of his tent, and land you I will.
He’d be glad to have your head to even up for poor Jack Kennedy’s, but
it’ll please him better if I deliver your ugly carcass to him whole. In
with you, d--n you, and no monkey business or I’ll”--and Johnny cocked
his revolver, which clicked suggestively.

The Filipino slipped into the water and would have gone down post
haste, had not the soldier supported him by his tangle of coarse hair.
And then began the supreme struggle. Many times as he battled with the
current did Johnny regret that he had not decapitated Agramonte and
taken his head into camp. But once in the swift running water he would
not weaken, nor would he let go of his prisoner. He resolved that if
Agramonte went down, he would drown with him, rather than return to the
captain empty handed. Twice the two struggling men were swept under,
but thanks to Johnny’s bull dog grit rose again. They were swimming
diagonally against the current, and it was almost miraculous that both
men were not drowned. Had the middle channel been a few yards wider,
they certainly would never have lived to reach the next island.

But reach the island they did, and with a desperate effort Johnny
pulled himself upon dry land, dragging his half dead charge after him.
After a somewhat longer rest than before, the two again entered the
water, and with great difficulty waded to shore on the opposite side
of the Batolan. Once the awful strain of crossing the river was over,
there was no longer any choice in the matter of resting; both men fell
exhausted; Johnny had barely strength enough left to crawl into the
brake out of the range of vision of possible stray Filipinos and pull
his half dead captive after him.

The sun was well up in the heavens and beating mercilessly down upon
captor and captive before Johnny was able to move. He finally managed
to get upon his feet again and decided to take a fresh start toward the
camp. It seemed safer to take the chance of meeting hostile natives in
the jungle in broad daylight, than to remain until nightfall and then
run the risk of being found by a searching party of the enemy. The
Filipino, however, was unable to rise. He was wounded no more severely
than his captor, and surely should have been no worse affected by the
fatigue of his journey, but he was a prisoner, and lacked the spirit
of a victor, and, like most children of the tropics, he had not the
physical nor moral fibre of which strenuous heroes are made. He was
certainly “all in,” much to our soldier’s dismay. Urging and threats
alike were without avail, and when dragged to his feet the renegade
fell to the ground again as limp as a rag. Knowing that camp was but a
few hours distant, Johnny’s disgust at the situation was most violent,
and he swore in salvos.

“You d--d cut-throat, you’re more trouble than your miserable neck
is worth! You might have been game enough to stick to the finish. But
you wasn’t, so there you are, an’ I reckon it’s up to me to get you to
camp the best way I can. Come, Aggie, old boy, an’ rest on this bosom;”
saying which, the soldier helped the Filipino to his feet once more,
and half carrying, half dragging the almost helpless man, struck out
through the brake.

The will is a wonderful thing;--it conquers worlds,--but no man’s
will is so strong that extreme physical weakness will not defeat it.
Johnny’s nerve was impregnable, but wounded and fatigued as he was,
his physical strength could not withstand the additional strain put
upon it by the endeavor to assist the Filipino through the jungle.
Then too, his wounds had become inflamed and very painful. He felt
alternately hot and cold, and finally had a chill that fairly made his
teeth rattle. This was followed by a tremendous fever. The poor fellow
felt as though he were on fire. Things began to look queer. From time
to time he fancied he saw fantastic shapes amid the brake. Sometimes
huge, fiercely snarling animals seemed to brush by him. Again, a
Filipino, twice as large as life, leered at him from behind every bush
and tree. Once he fancied he saw the huge serpent that had flailed
his chest the night he spent in traversing the jungle. Its horrid
mouth yawned widely, and he heard it calling in a hoarse roaring voice
the multitudinous folk of the jungle. And the soldier knew that the
delirium of wound fever was upon him, and feared lest he should lose
his senses altogether.

Bad as was his captor’s condition, the Filipino’s was much worse. When
nature could stand no more, and Johnny was finally compelled to drop
the renegade, it was evident that the latter’s end was in sight. A
few drops of whiskey poured down his throat revived him for a brief
period, but it was hate’s labor lost, for within the hour Agramonte
gave a faint expiring sigh and joined the shades of his brown skinned
ancestors.

Johnny had fallen exhausted beside the body of his captive and
supporting himself on his elbow had watched, in his lucid intervals,
the passing of his chances of delivering the living Agramonte to
Captain Benning. The Filipino dead, there was but one thing to be done.
The gathering of evidence was as simple as it was gruesome; he drew
his knife and decapitated the body, making in his weakened condition,
it must be confessed, rather a “hacky,” tearing job of it. The head
removed and tied by its long hair to his belt, Johnny rose to his feet
and totteringly resumed his journey toward camp.

As our soldier uncertainly blundered on through the brake, his fever
rose higher and higher and his delirium increased. There were no
longer any lucid intervals, and the direction of his steps was largely
a matter of chance. Good luck, rather than volition guided him, but
while his course was the proper one, luck was not always with him.
Several times his feet became entangled in the undergrowth and he fell
heavily. Again, as he struggled to his feet and stumbled blindly on, he
crashed against a tree so violently that only the fictitious strength
of delirium prevented his being incapacitated from further effort.
But every step was bring him nearer his comrades, and nearer the
fulfillment of the promise which no longer meant anything to him, poor
boy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The evening relief of sentries had just been made by Company K. The sun
had dropped his huge glowing ball of molten copper behind the hills to
the west of Masillo. The waning light was playing hide and seek with
the flickering, erratic shadows of wood and brake. At the edge of the
little clearing just outside the town stood a khaki clad sentry. He
was leaning upon his rifle and gazing abstractedly into the jungle,
thinking, perhaps, of that rancher’s daughter in far-away Montana.
As he stood there musing, his attention was suddenly attracted by a
rustling sound amid the undergrowth some distance away. He instantly
brought his gun to a ready, and peered excitedly into the jungle. The
sound grew plainer.

“Halt! Who goes there?”

A shape as of a man creeping stealthily along through the brake upon
his hands and knees became dimly discernible. Again the sentry’s voice
rang out.

“Halt, or I fire!”

The shape, now plainly that of a man, crept nearer and still nearer.

The Krag cracked like a huge whip, a thin, filmy cloud of smoke arose
from the nitro, and the creeping form in the brake fell forward upon
its face without a sound.

“Corporal of the guard, post seven!” shouted the sentry.

The regulation call was unnecessary for, immediately the rifle cracked,
a squad of the sentry’s comrades with the corporal at their head rushed
to the spot.

“I’ve bagged a brown belly, I think,” said the sentry, waving his hand
in the direction of the spot where his quarry had fallen.

The corporal, followed by his men, cautiously approached the spot
indicated by the sentry. A few minutes search in the cane and they came
upon a body clothed in tattered khaki. Hanging from the belt at the
dead man’s side, was the recently decapitated head of a Filipino.

The startled corporal turned the body over upon its back. He gave one
horrified glance of recognition at the dead man’s face and exclaimed,
“My God! It’s Johnny!”

Tenderly the men in khaki raised the limp form of their fallen comrade
and silently bore it past the horror stricken sentry into the camp.
Halting before the captain’s tent, they laid the body down and covered
it reverently with a blanket.

The corporal approached the door of the tent and addressing his
commander, said sorrowfully, his eyes wet with tears, “Sir, Johnny has
returned.”

Captain Benning sprang to his feet and exclaimed, “Where is he; why
does he not report?”

“He is here, sir,” replied the corporal. The captain went to the door
of the tent, and not seeing Johnny, looked at the corporal inquiringly.

The corporal pointed to the body lying almost at the officer’s feet and
said, “That’s him, sir.”

The captain raised the blanket, and gazed long and silently at the dead
soldier and the gory testimonial of duty performed that lay beside him.

The silence was finally broken by the corporal, who said, as his hand
rose slowly in salute--

“Sir, Johnny has made good.”

And the captain replied, huskily:

“Yes, boys, too good.”



MY FRIEND THE UNDERTAKER


I have become quite convinced that the most entertaining man in the
world is the undertaker. Now, I do not pretend to say that there is
anything original about my observations. Others have in all probability
frequently commented on his peculiarities--but I nevertheless feel that
it is my duty to give him a little attention in order to repay him, at
least in part, for the many favors received at his hands.

Let it be understood that I am no more indebted to the “post-medical
profession” than are many other physicians, but I am peculiar in that
I always like to express my gratitude to those who have befriended
me--and if there is any office that friendship can perform for us,
equal to concealing one’s mistakes and hiding one’s failures from the
gaze of a carping and cruel world, I don’t know what it is.

[Illustration: “CUSTOM-MADE SORROW”]

Another reason for my determination to devote a little personal
attention to the undertaker is that he is a much maligned and
misunderstood person. He is supposed to be heartless and unfeeling,
and is usually considered austere and unapproachable; some say he has
no generosity.

It shall be my pleasure, as well as my duty, to correct these erroneous
impressions regarding a noble craft that has always taken a lively
interest in its patrons--an interest that has never been reciprocated
by those most benefited by the undertaker’s labors.

There may be captious critics who will differ with my belief that the
undertaker is the most entertaining man in the world, on the ground
that those whom he entertains never give him any _encores_. This is
very easily explained. There are no gallery gods at his entertainments,
and the people in the boxes are never demonstrative. They are
people of taste and discretion, and rather reserved and sedate than
otherwise;--knowing when they have had enough of a good thing, they do
not attempt to recall the artist. Unquestionably, the chief patrons of
the undertaker are people of refined susceptibilities and not given
to demonstration. Even when a clod is rung in upon the boards, they
give no sign of anything but courteous and silent attention--although
the nerves of others in the audience may be fairly set on edge. It is
hardly necessary to expatiate further on my first proposition.

The austerity of the undertaker is more apparent than real, and is the
result of association rather than innate acerbity of feeling. Even
when he is iciest and most frigid in his ways it is for the benefit of
others. By such a demeanor he enables his patrons to maintain their
composure even under circumstances the most trying and in all kinds of
weather. What though he does shroud his real feelings in an atmosphere
of chilling reserve, so long as his heart is warm and true! Were he
less calm and philosophic, he might err on the side of sympathy and ere
long some of his friends would find that they had unconsciously been
placed in a very bad box.

As to his being unapproachable, I believe that the undertaker is
misunderstood. It is true that he does not thrust himself forward in
a pretentious manner--as do some people of inferior breeding--nor has
he ever been known to meet a patron half way, but just let one of your
friends hint that you need his services and see how quickly he will
put in an appearance. And he will not pay you unnecessarily prolonged
visits either, and should you be compelled to entertain him for a
time, he is a quite inexpensive guest--he always furnishes his own
board. He is even likely to be offended if you force your hospitality
upon him. One of my friends once made this mistake, and the undertaker
gave him a great laying out, I assure you.

We mustn’t be too hard upon the undertaker, then, even though he is a
trifle stiff and conventional in his ways. His work furnishes him with
subjects for contemplation which are so serious, and of such monumental
importance, that it is small wonder he should acquire a somewhat
funereal and solemn demeanor.

I have often marveled at the equability of temper displayed by the
undertaker. I never heard of his swearing at, or using rough language
to his patrons. He has such a soothing way with him, too; whenever he
notices that his patron is inclined to get a little hotheaded he does
everything in his power to allay his warmth, knowing full well that
the man will get cooled down after a while. And his judgment is rarely
at fault--the other fellow always does cool down. You see, it’s a poor
quarrel that won’t keep--and the undertaker’s differences with his
patrons are no exception to the rule.

It has always been a source of wonderment to me, that any one could
accuse the undertaker of being heartless and unfeeling. Why, I have
known undertakers who were the acme of tender susceptibility and
delicacy of feeling. One mortuary gentleman whom I knew, had such a
sympathetic vein in his composition that he used to mix lamp black with
his embalming fluid. So considerate and thoughtful of him, was it not?
And shall we say of such men, “They are heartless and unfeeling?” Never!

And what shall we say of the “funeral director” who had buried six
husbands for a lady, and who, knowing how sensitive she was upon the
subject, upholstered her own mortuary receptacle with white satin
marked with six delicate bands of heliotrope? Could any human being
display a finer intuitive perception of the eternal fitness of things?

No, the undertaker is not unsympathetic, and he is delicacy personified.

Let us cultivate the undertaker--he does all he can to cultivate us.
And he is an unselfish cultivator too--he knoweth full well that what
he soweth he cannot reap. Let us cultivate him, therefore, and do our
best to repay him for his kindness to humanity. And we may possibly
profit thereby, for pleasant associations retard the decay of these
mortal frames of ours--the remorseless scythe of time blunts upon those
fortunate mortals who are favored by the kindly offices of the skillful
undertaker. To them we may not inappropriately say, “How well preserved
you are!”

How well, indeed!

It would seem unnecessary to say that the popular notion regarding
the undertaker’s lack of generosity is wrong--the fact should be
self-evident. I feel, however, that my whole duty would not be done,
did I not say that in my opinion the undertaker is one of the most
generous of men. What merchant would ever dismiss a patron without an
endeavor to secure his future patronage? None, I fancy. But not so your
undertaker--he is willing, aye, even anxious, to let somebody else
have his patrons after he has filled their first order. He is often,
apparently, very glad to get his customers off his hands--not caring
a whit if some professional rival gets their custom. And the social
position of his patron seems to make no material difference--indeed,
the “higher” the person, the more anxious the undertaker is to see the
case fall into some rival’s hands. Some might say that this is due to a
disposition to make game of the customer, but I don’t believe it.

There is one characteristic that distinguishes the undertaker from
the common herd of men with mercantile instincts; he is scrupulously
honest. He always gives full measure. This is very comforting to his
patrons--especially those who like a comfortable fit. There is not
a tailoring establishment in this blessed town that can show such a
record as my friend Blank, the undertaker. Why, he has been making
underclothing most all his life and never yet had a misfit turned back
on his hands.

I tell you what, my good friends, the undertaker is the last man in the
world with whom we have occasion to find fault.

I shall always entertain a high personal regard for some of the members
of the undertaking profession.

If there is any attribute of man especially to be admired, it is a keen
sense of humor. One of my undertaker friends--long since dead and gone
to a just reward--one Nathaniel Black, had this faculty developed to a
preternatural degree.

There was something very impressive in the skillful manner in which
Nathaniel used to conceal his humorous impulses while in the presence
of death. His air of subdued merriment was, it is true, painful
at times,--especially to himself--but this made it all the more
impressive, as showing how some spirits can, by exercising will power,
rise superior to their immediate surroundings.

When my friend Black was away from the actual presence of a corpse,
he would unbend and show the true inward cussedness of the born
humorist--with the evident self-sacrificing purpose of making life
pleasant for his many friends. I happened to be one of the fortunate
individuals who luxuriated in his friendship, and will cheerfully bear
testimony to his devotion to the occupation of increasing the happiness
of those about him. I feel that I could do no less, without stamping
myself an ingrate.

One of the first things I did on entering practice, many years ago, was
to invest in a typic doctor’s buggy. This was done in self-defense--my
face was as smooth as a pippin, my mustache was a caricature of the
real article and, taken all in all, there was nothing about me to
inspire confidence. There was consequently but one thing to do, and
that was to look and act as professional and prosperous as possible.
It was with this end in view that I bought a buggy which looked
unmistakably professional. As I had many friends and acquaintances, the
moral effect of my turn-out was excellent. Had I been able to live on
moral effect life would have been one vast smile of peaceful, well-fed
joy and contentment, but I could not dine on any sort of effect, least
of all upon the moral variety--which is a delusion and a snare.

Observing the marked attention that was paid to my equipage--and
incidentally to the prosperous young doctor--I was well pleased; there
were times when even my stomach was forgotten. It seemed to me that it
was better to ride on an empty stomach than to walk upon a full one,
provided I attracted sufficient attention to warrant my remaining in
practice--or the hope of practice.

On some occasions the people I met appeared especially delighted with
my appearance. Being self-satisfied with the notion that I was at last
beginning to be appreciated, I made no investigations to determine why
so much more attention should be paid to me on some occasions than upon
others. Such is the blinding power of self-conceit!

The advisability of hiring a colored driver suggested itself to me as
an additional bait for popular applause. The idea so impressed me that
I consulted one of my friends, Jack T---- about it. He advised me to
wait a while, and seemed much entertained by my story of increasing
popularity.

“Well, my boy,” said he, smilingly, “you are indeed getting on in the
world. Let me see--you lecture at a medical college, are surgeon to
a free dispensary, physician to the order of Sons of the Blue Hen,
physician to the hospital of the Big Sisters of the Rich, medical
examiner for the Knights of the Empty Cupboard, and have the swellest
turn-out in town. You certainly are to be congratulated.”

“Yes, Jack,” I said, “I feel that my career is full of promise. By
the way, old man, lend me a dollar, will you? This is my day for
dining--every third day, you know. I’ll pay you back next week.”

“Certainly, doctor, I am happy to contribute to the comfort of one
whose future is so brightly illumined by--promise. But, nevertheless,
I still maintain that it is too early in the action for you to think of
a colored coachman--every third day is--”

“Well, Jack,” I interrupted, “I must be going. Much obliged for your
contribution to the free silver question. And, by the way, I’m just on
my way to a meeting of the county commissioners. I’m slated for the
County Hospital Staff.”

“Oh--h--h!” groaned Jack. “Has your ambition for wealth no bounds?”

A day or two later I was driving at a “sent for” gait, down Michigan
Avenue, enjoying the evident admiring approbation of the people whom I
met, when I saw my friend Jack a short distance ahead of me. He caught
sight of me, stopped short and walked out to the curb, where he awaited
me with a decidedly pleased expression on his handsome face.

“Hello, doctor!” he cried, as I drove up to him and reined in my horse.
“You seem to have a bad case on hand.”

I winked and said, “Never mind the case. Come along with me for a ride.
You have nothing else to do at this hour of the day.”

“Don’t care if I do,” replied my friend, stepping into my buggy
forthwith.

My rig continued to attract considerable attention, much to Jack’s
edification, apparently. He finally said, “Well, doctor, your turn-out
does excite the interest of the public, doesn’t it?”

“So I have already informed you,” I replied.

“Now, see here, doctor,” said Jack, “you know that I am your friend. As
a friend it is my duty to prevent you from acquiring that fatal pride
which ever precedes a fall. I have hesitated to explain your popularity
to you, but for your own sake and to preserve my own health, I must do
so.”

“Why, what the deuce do you mean?” I asked, in astonishment.

“Look behind you, doctor.”

I looked through the rear window of my phæton, and saw, about fifty
yards behind me, a long, black, undertaker’s wagon. On the seat,
driving the sorry-looking steeds that were drawing the horribly
suggestive vehicle, was--my friend, Nathaniel Black!

My undertaking friend was by no means quietly pursuing his gloomy way,
but was gesticulating and winking suggestively to the people on the
side walk. He would first flirt his knobby thumb in my direction with
a “D’ye see him?” gesture, and then, with a “That’s what I’m here for”
wink at everybody in sight, would grin all over his ugly face.

“A horrible coincidence!” I said faintly.

“Coincidence nothing!” howled Jack. “He’s been doing that ever since
you got your new buggy!”

And I bought wine for Nathaniel, and for Jack, and for sundry of their
friends--yea, and for all who were within the sound of their voices in
their daily walks.

But, I borrowed the wherewithal to settle from Jack. And, by and by,
when practice came, I gave my patronage to Nathaniel’s rivals.

Was the joke on me?

I wonder.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are some doctors who do not understand the precise relation that
the noble profession of undertaking desires to bear to the medical man.
I freely confess that I myself was ignorant on this point until quite
recently.

In a certain neighborhood of this metropolis dwells an undertaker of
more than local renown whose reputation has been built up largely by
virtue of certain natural attributes that peculiarly fit him for the
practice of his profession;--indeed, I have never met a man more to
the manner born as regards fitness for his--shall I say, life work, or
would “death work” be more appropriate?

Mr. Weeps is one of those mournful-looking persons, who seem to
be constantly on the verge of tears. His expression is of a most
sympathetic nature, and his eyes seem ever ready to exude the saline
fluid that is so essential to the expression of sincere sorrow and
regret. It might be remarked in passing, that there are numerous
theories explanatory of the redness and humidity of those bleary orbs.
Personally, I repudiate the onion theory altogether, and incline to
the view that Mr. Weeps’ ocular peculiarities are dependent upon a
combination of catarrh and polypi obstructing the nasal ducts. The
“red eye” theory, advanced by one of his homeopathic constituents, is
unworthy of consideration--especially as my lugubrious friend has been
superintendent of a Sunday school for ten years and has served two
terms as alderman.

But, whatever, may be the true explanation, Weeps’ eyes appear to
have been especially designed for his vocation. There is no other
business--unless it be selling milk--to which those watery orbs could
possibly be so well adapted as to undertaking.

I cannot claim to be on terms of intimacy with Mr. Weeps, and therefore
do not feel warranted in attempting a detailed description of his many
physical peculiarities--it would, however, be manifestly unfair to that
most estimable gentleman, did I not dwell upon his eyes.

In the course of my semi-occasional peregrinations into Mr. Weeps’
neighborhood, it transpired that one of my patients, with malice both
prepense and aforethought--and consumption--did leave his little lung
behind and hie him heavenward.

My kindly and well meant offices being no longer necessary, I naturally
supposed that my responsibility had ceased. Not so, however--I was
asked to recommend an undertaker. Having heard of Mr. Weeps and his
phenomenal skill, I suggested that the family consult him as to the
further management of the case. It seems that the family took my advice
and was highly gratified with the pleasant and expeditious manner in
which he performed his important functions. Indeed, the friends of the
party chiefly interested were so well pleased, that they thanked me a
few days later, for recommending a gentleman of so much talent and such
a sympathetic nature. I, of course, appreciated the family’s gratitude,
although the service rendered was quite unusual in my experience. Some
unfeeling persons might say that the large life insurance policies left
by the deceased were an element in the gratitude the family expressed
to me, but, my dear reader, the very thought would be cruel and
ignoble. Without confidence in human nature life would be miserable for
all of us--and especially for doctors.

A few days after the funeral I received a call from Mr. Weeps. There
seemed to be no end to the gratitude which was believed to be due me.
Weeps had called to express his. He appeared to be as well pleased with
the family as its members were with him.

I had never had the honor of meeting Mr. Weeps before, but his suave
and cordial manner of introducing himself put me at my ease at once.
The pleasure of acquaintance was of course mutual; it always is, you
know.

After thanking me most cordially for my courtesy in referring the case
of the late Mr. B---- to him, Mr. Weeps said:

“Now, doctor, I shall always be glad to have you remember me whenever
you happen to be in my neighborhood.”

I looked at him suspiciously, but saw no murder in his eye; he was as
oily and plausible as ever.

“You see,” he continued, “I have never had the honor of serving any
of your patients before, and am very glad to have the opportunity of
getting at least a small portion of your business.”

The fellow seemed to be getting a little personal, but I made no
remark, and he went on with his little piece.

“I will see you again in a few days, doctor--as soon as I have been
compensated for my labors in this particular case. You, of course,
understand that I will extend to you in this case, as in all future
cases, the same courtesies I usually extend to the medical profession.”

“Ah, indeed!” I exclaimed, “and of what do those courtesies consist?”

“Well,” he replied, blandly, “they are quite liberal, considering the
hard times--_about twenty-five per cent._”

  “’Tis strange--but true; for truth is always strange.
  Stranger than fiction.”

Among all the undertakers I ever knew my feelings have been seriously
disturbed by but one.

The gentleman in question is fat, jolly--when off duty--and a _bon
vivant_ of the ideal type. He is a ubiquitous sort of chap, and I find
myself stumbling over him quite frequently--in the most unexpected
places and under the most embarrassing circumstances. No social
gathering seems to be complete without him--much to my discomfiture.

Words cannot express the embarrassment I have suffered at the hands of
my fat friend. The worst of the matter is that the fellow really likes
me--you needn’t smile, gentle reader; his fondness does not depend
upon reasons of a business nature; he likes me for myself alone. It
will be seen, therefore, that I cannot afford to say anything which
might by any possibility offend him. Aside from his affection for me,
there is another motive which impels me to avoid personalities--he is
high-strung and sensitive to a degree, and, if report speaks true, an
expert boxer. To be sure, those whom he has boxed have said nothing
about his proficiency, but where one’s own personal safety is concerned
one is justified in giving due weight even to idle rumor.

Now, it may seem strange that I should find fault with a man who has so
sincere a regard for me as my fat friend, but, you know, even affection
may be over done. When a fellow dresses up on Sunday preparatory to
calling on his best girl, and his pet dog lavishes caresses with his
muddy paws on those eleven dollar lavender trousers, patience ceases to
be a virtue--and the comparison is by no means far-fetched.

Whenever I board a crowded street car, that obese mortuary fiend is
always aboard--and at the end of the car farthest from me. He never
fails to see and recognize me, although I go through as many motions as
a professional contortionist in the vain and frantic effort to avoid
recognition.

And then you should hear him yell, “Hello, Doc! How are all the folks?”

I assure him that I am greatly obliged for his rather suggestive
solicitude for the welfare of my family, and that the folks are all
well.

He next asks me how business is, and when I answer, “First rate,” with
a tone of sorrowing reproof he informs me that it is “very quiet with
_him_.” As if his business is not supposed to be invariably quiet!

The party sitting next me leaves the car; the undertaker pushes through
the crowd and with a “How d’ye do, old man?” and an ostentatious
pump-handle shake of my hand that almost costs me several fingers,
takes the vacant seat beside me.

And now comes a conversation--his part of which is audible to everybody
on the car--relative to the “last case we had together.” The brute even
mentions the party’s name, which, if it happens to be a well known one,
excites the rapt attention of everybody within earshot.

He next proceeds to ask me to dine with him “to-morrow” and comments on
the “elegant time we had together last week.”

Finally arriving at his destination, my demon bids me an affectionate
good night and starts for the farther door of the car. I breathe a sigh
of relief--but too soon. Having reached the platform he re-opens the
door and bellows out--

“By the way, Doc! do you think old man Blank is going to pull through?
Old friend of mine, you know--I’ll probably be in on the case when the
thing’s over.”

       *       *       *       *       *

I went to the opera the other night hoping--aye, determined to enjoy
myself, and feeling that I was entitled to a little enjoyment, for
I had had very little opera in my daily routine for some months. My
wife was looking very well, and my mirror gave positive proof that my
new dress suit was an unexceptionable fit. All things considered I had
every reason to feel well satisfied with myself and the world at large.

But how vain are human hopes. We were hardly comfortably seated, before
I saw in the box directly opposite mine--the fat undertaker who haunted
my dreams!

I endeavored to avoid recognition, but it was no use. He saw me, and
gesticulated so wildly to attract my attention that I was perforce
obliged to respond in self-defense. The house being crowded, this
little episode attracted much attention--especially on the part of
numerous friends of the undertaker and myself, who, as luck would have
it, happened to be present. These people smiled broadly; some even went
so far as to wink significantly at each other.

The fat undertaker is one of those men who succeed in attracting
attention at all times and under all circumstances. On this occasion
he shone with effulgent brilliancy. He enjoyed the play--there was
no doubt about that--and proposed to make me enjoy it also. Whenever
the performance especially pleased him, he applauded vociferously,
quivering all over like a lump of calf’s-foot jelly and gesticulating
furiously in my direction. Having succeeded in attracting my attention,
he would jerk his fat thumb in the direction of the artist who was
favored with his approbation and nod emphatically at me.

The audience enjoyed my friend’s enthusiasm and seemed quite anxious to
know how _I_ was enjoying it. I couldn’t enlighten it as intelligently
as could have been wished, so I did the next best thing--I went out
between acts to see a man--and found him so highly interesting that
I forgot to go back. Suddenly remembering that my wife was still in
the box, I sent an usher to inform her that I wasn’t feeling well and
was waiting for her at the door. Being a wise woman, she divined the
cause of my indisposition and soon joined me. She didn’t feel quite
comfortable herself, and was glad to escape from--the opera.

I have forsworn society. I have bought an automobile, and if ever I go
to the theater again--may the fat undertaker seize me!



A GRIM MEMENTO


My friend, Dr. Fairweather, was engaged when I called, but it so
happened that I was in no hurry and could conveniently wait. I have
since been glad that things happened as they did; had I not been
compelled to wait and amuse myself as best I could, I probably should
not have heard what to me was a most interesting story. The colored
attendant who took my card and announced me to the doctor, returned and
said:

“De doctah is right busy just now, suh. He says fo’ you alls to be sho
to wait, cayse he wants to see you mos’ pow’ful. I reckon you alls
better wait in dis yeh room, suh. De doctah says dat you must mek
yo’sef to home.”

The servant ushered me into a small apartment, evidently the doctor’s
“den,” and handed me the morning paper, which I proceeded to hungrily
devour. The paper was the first I had seen in a month--I was just
returning from my summer outing trip, and had stopped off _en route_
at P. to see my old friend Fairweather.

The doctor was detained for some time, and having finished reading
my paper, I proceeded to inspect the curios with which the room was
garnished. I had examined with great interest the fine collection of
odd Indian relics and the queer weapons from the four quarters of the
earth, and was returning to my seat by the window when a grinning human
skull upon the mantel caught my eye.

It so happens that the human skull is of especial interest to me
because of a certain hobby that I enjoy riding at odd moments. I am
something of an enthusiast in the subjects of criminology and the
relation of the contour and development of the skull to mental and
moral qualities. It was with some curiosity therefore, that I picked
up the skull and proceeded to critically examine it. I found it well
worthy of study and regretted that I could give it only cursory
attention.

The dwarfed frontal development; the great length of the face; the
enormously large, protruding jaw; the huge orbits, with the great
projecting bony prominences--the frontal bosses--above them; the
general lightness of the bones; the unsymmetrical conformation of the
face and the twisted and undeveloped dome of the skull presented a
picture that is very familiar to the student of criminal anthropology.

So absorbed was I in the contemplation of the gruesome relic I held in
my hands, that I was not conscious of the entrance of Dr. Fairweather
until he spoke.

“Hello, old man!--riding your hobby as usual, I see. No time for your
friends, I suppose.”

I grasped the doctor’s welcoming hand and replied, “Well, as you
were busy, I had to kill time as best I might with this gentleman.
He is a poor conversationist, hence I was compelled to utilize him
in any way that I could. I must admit that I have found him very
interesting--inversely to his loquacity, in fact.”

“Ah, indeed; and what do you make of him?”

“Looking for a chance to guy me, eh?” I replied. “Really, old fellow,
time does not mellow you a bit. Well, guy away. I am not prepared to
give you a critical dissertation on this particular skull. This much
I will say, however--it has more of the ear marks of the degenerate
than any I have seen for some time. The party who originally owned
the skull should have been a desperado, or a hold-up man, although
he may have passed the hat in church for aught I know--which may be a
distinction without a difference.”

Dr. Fairweather laughed heartily. “Well, I don’t know but that I ought
to resent your criticisms of the skull. I can forgive your slam at the
church, but it is my duty to inform you that the gentleman of whom that
skull is a relic was a very particular friend of mine.”

“Oh, then you are keeping the skull as a memento of your friend.
There’s no accounting for tastes, you know,” I said, watching the
doctor suspiciously out of the corner of my eye and recalling that he
had as strong a predilection for practical jokes as I had for skulls.

“Yes, that is precisely it,” replied the doctor seriously. “I have two
mementos of my dead friend; one--post mortem--you hold in your hand;
the other--ante mortem--is here,” and he threw back from his forehead
the long, wavy, dark hair in which threads of silver were beginning to
show and pointed to a long, livid, jagged scar that traversed his left
temple.

I looked at the doctor in surprise. Although I had known him for many
years, I had never noticed his disfigurement.

“I don’t think I ever told you the story, did I?” continued the doctor.

I replied in the negative, assuring my friend that nothing could please
me better than to hear him tell it.

“Well, I’m through with patients for to-day, and if you will do me the
honor of dining with me at the club, I shall be most happy to relate it
to you.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“You will remember that I was formerly engaged in general practice in
the little town of R---- in Northern Minnesota. My field was an arduous
one and I could not select my patients--on the contrary, I was mighty
glad when they condescended to select me. It’s quite different now;
I can be ‘in’ or ‘out,’ as I may elect, when patients ring my bell.
Better than all, I can ask an old friend to dine with me at the club.
There _is_ a club, thank heaven, and there is also the wherewithal
nowadays.”

“I was fortunate enough, early in my practice, to receive an
appointment as the local surgeon of the St. Paul road for our little
town.

“The position was a sinecure in a way, but I captured an occasional
accident case that paid something, and the position of surgeon to the
railroad gave me a certain amount of prestige among the country folk
around. Then too, I had an annual pass over the road, and that helped
some. It would have helped more if I had had time to ride and money
for meals on the dining cars. Small though my railroad practice was,
however, I had occasion to thank the Lord that I was a railroad surgeon
and that one of my patients had a good memory, before I was done with
the job.

“The winter of ’80 and ’81 was a hard one, and practice was not a
simple, lightsome game. It seemed to me that when I had important work
to do, my patient was always a long way off in some out of the way farm
house, or at a crossing station where the trains ran every other week.

“The day before Christmas I received a call to attend a gunshot injury,
about fifty miles from my home. The weather was abominable, being
cold and stormy enough to make the hungriest and most ambitious young
surgeon hesitate to face it. They get the blizzards from that devilish
Medicine Hat at first hand up there, you, know--the raw stuff in the
way of weather. But needs must when patients called, and as there was
nothing to do but face the music I took the first and only available
train for X----.

“My patient lived some miles away from the little hen coop of a
station, the several stores and half a dozen houses that constituted
the little town. A couple of young country yokels, eighteen or twenty
years of age, met me at the train with a buck-board. There was just
snow enough drifting to make the roads almost impassable here and
there, but not enough for sleighing, so that the trip was not the
pleasantest I had ever experienced.

“It was supper time before I had finished with the wounded man, and I
was as hungry as a Sioux Indian on a long trail in the Bad Lands. I was
very glad to participate in the humble but abundant meal.

“Supper over, I was informed that there was just time to catch the
south bound train--then to the buckboard and miserable roads again; the
gawky country boys who had met me at the train still doing the honors.
When we arrived at the station, what was my disgust to learn that my
train was fully two hours late.

“The prospect of spending the entire evening at a little tumble
down way station waiting for a belated train was too uninviting for
adequate description. As the storm was increasing every moment and the
fierce wind was piling up the snow drifts higher and higher across the
railroad tracks, there was no certainty that the expected train would
come at all. My prospects for getting home that night were certainly
dubious--locomotives stalled in snow drifts were sufficiently familiar
to me to make me decidedly uneasy.

“My friends, the country boys, seeing my predicament, offered to stay
with me until the train came, and although I protested feebly against
their discommoding themselves to such an extent, I inwardly rejoiced
when they showed their sincerity by insisting on remaining. Alas!
had I but known the horrible thing that was soon to happen, I should
have returned to their home with them rather than to have allowed the
poor fellows to indulge their whole-souled notions of courtesy and
hospitality.

“A cheery fire was burning in the stuffy little drum stove in the
center of the common waiting room, and being pretty well chilled after
our long, weary ride, I huddled up as close to it as I could without
igniting my clothing. The two young farmers meanwhile inaugurated a
playful wrestling bout which answered well in lieu of the fire in
starting up their circulation.

“In one corner of the room was a curtained recess, containing the
station master’s bed, to which the owner had apparently retired early,
as evidenced by the brassy, nasally whistling snores which from time
to time rent the air of the stuffy apartment, making the environment
rather cheerful and homelike.

“I had been warming myself before the fire for fully an hour--the
country lads had grown tired of their rough play and had seated
themselves on a rough bench in the corner of the room, where they were
nodding and occasionally snoring an intermittent, shrill falsetto
accompaniment to the station master’s ruder and less musical bass. I
had just discovered that I myself was growing sleepy and was about to
seat myself with my back to the wall, yield to the pressure of fatigue
and join the sleeping chorus when I was brought back to earth in a very
unceremonious fashion.

“‘Hands up, there!’

“I turned slowly and gazed sleepily in the direction of the voice. The
two country youths awoke with a start and sat staring, more stupidly
than I if possible, in the same direction.

“‘Hands up, there, and be d--d quick about it!’

“I began to comprehend, and my hands, impelled by a will which for the
time being was more masterly than my own, raised themselves, almost
automatically, straight up in the air in the most orthodox fashion
known to the annals of highway robbery. The country boys rose slowly to
their feet and mechanically followed suit.

“The sleep-fog and the psychic confusion of surprise gradually cleared
away, and I saw the tableau clearly--so clearly that, ‘an’ I should
live a thousand years I’d not forget it’.

“Standing in the open door of the little station were two tough
looking men. The taller of the two, the owner of the voice that had so
unmusically and ruthlessly aroused us, was a man considerably over six
feet in height, raw-boned, broad-shouldered, big-hatted, and roughly
dressed, with a coarse red beard that evidently was much the worse for
wear in regions where barbers are a scarce commodity. His eyes were of
that cold steely grey color which makes one think twice before running
counter to the wishes of the man to whom they belong.

“The ruffian held in either hand a cow boy’s pet, a long barreled
Colt’s 45--the kind our fathers loved; the kind that has made American
history, and especially the ‘bad men’ who adorn its pages.

“Say, old man, did you ever have a healthy, well favored, full
stomached Colt’s 45 pointed at you in real earnest? Well, if you
haven’t you can’t appreciate how I felt. I didn’t have to see that
the hammers of those particular guns were raised to the proper angle
and ready for business; it was also entirely unnecessary to waste any
valuable time in speculating as to whether they were loaded or not. I
actually _felt_ that those guns were at full cock and loaded to the
muzzle--‘chock a block’. The muzzles of the weapons were more capacious
than I had believed it possible for pistols to be, and deep down in
each of their yawning throats I fancied I could see a huge conical
ball, ready for flight in my direction. It was as though I were tied
hand and foot and laid upon the track at the mouth of a railroad tunnel
from which an express train was thundering down upon me at the rate of
a mile a minute.

“Not knowing anything of the desperado’s power of self-control my own
self-possession was hard to maintain--I imagined that his fingers were
a little trembly, as though he were tempted to pull the trigger and
have done with it, but was struggling with himself in the effort to
restrain the savage impulse. I mentally resolved that I would neither
do nor say anything which should disturb his poise or ruffle his
equanimity.

“Ugh! I could actually hear the rush of the displaced air and impelling
gases as the bullets started from their hiding places in the breeches
of those mighty pistols and, swifter than lightning, flew toward me.
I even fancied I could feel the impact of the cruel missiles with my
flesh, and the moist warmth of the escaping blood as they rent my skin
and muscles.

“Our hands being elevated to an angle which was satisfactory to the
spokesman of the bandits, he turned to his companion and said:

“‘Go through ’em, Bob, and hustle it up. The train’ll be here before
we can say Jack Robinson. Take that feller with the whiskers an’
spectacles first. Easy, now, gents; take your medicine, and don’t you
bat an eye--if you don’t want a hole plugged through ye big enough for
a cat to crawl into without bloodyin’ her whiskers.’

“The fellow who was officiating as lieutenant for the gentleman with
the artillery was a tough-looking proposition for his inches, but such
a little runt that even the moral suasion of the 45’s did not blunt the
edge of my humiliation when he proceeded to ‘go through’ me.

“But the ignominy and shame of my embarrassing position had not yet
reached the climax. I was raging inwardly and wishing that I could have
a fair field and no favor with either or both of the bandits--I used to
be pretty handy myself, you know--but I did not lose my self-control
during the dextrous and speedy search of my person. A pair of walloping
big guns is a great inhibitor of the warlike spirit.

“I had not collected my fee in the gunshot case, hence the process
of ‘going through’ me was not very productive of spoils. My pockets
were as empty of cash as those of a lamb after a busy day on ‘Change.
A Waterbury watch, about two dollars in small change, a not very
elaborate set of surgical instruments, a jack-knife, a bunch of
keys, my wife’s photograph, and an annual pass on the St. Paul road
constituted my available assets.

“The robber was simply furious when he took account of stock. Dashing
the stuff upon the floor he ripped out:

“‘D--n you for a no account cuss, anyhow! I’ll just give you one for
luck.’

“With this the ruffian suddenly caught me by the shoulders and,
wheeling me to the right about, kicked me full upon the pride center!
What little weight the fellow had was in that kick and I recollect that
the hurt to my anatomy and the still greater injury to my self-respect
was not unmingled with surprise. I never before knew how hard such a
little chap could kick. It was like a blow from a hydraulic ram. It
jarred me so that a plate with several false upper teeth was dislodged
from my mouth, and fell upon the floor.

“The kick the bandit had given me was alone sufficient to impel me to
do murder--my breed does not placidly submit to blows--but the betrayal
of a secret which I had guarded carefully, even from my wife, was the
last straw in my burden of humiliation. I could take a bite of crow,
but I could not bolt him, beak, claws, feathers and all. So enraged was
I that I completely forgot the man behind the guns.

“In the rear of the stove was a shelf upon which stood numerous things
essential to even a bachelor’s housekeeping. Among these various
properties a brace of old fashioned flat irons caught my eye. I rushed
to the shelf, grabbed an iron and hurled it at my enemy’s head, just
missing him by a hair’s breadth.

“Whether because he was taken by surprise or not, I do not know, but
the bandit made no attempt to draw a weapon. He stood with mouth agape,
stupidly gazing at me until, having missed my aim with the iron, I
rushed at him like an infuriated bull; he then aroused himself to the
emergency and clinched for safety, and we went to the floor together,
the highwayman underneath. As I went down I caught a glimpse of the
station agent with a six shooter in his hand, peering cautiously
out between the curtains of the partition behind which he had been
sleeping, apparently seeking an opportunity for a pot shot.

“With the downfall of the nearer robber the country boys regained their
power of motion--and alas! forgot those awful guns and rushed awkwardly
to my assistance.

“The desperado with the guns came into action simultaneously with the
farmer lads. There were two shots, so close together that there seemed
to be but one report! The two unfortunate youths fell dead across us
two who were struggling upon the floor, their blood spouting over me
in hot gushes. They fell with their full weight crushing me, so inertly
that I was compelled to heave them off with my shoulders and elbows.

“The murder of those poor boys brought me to my senses, and then came
an acute realization of the imminence of my own danger--I well knew at
whom the next shot would be fired. With the realization of my danger
my furious anger vanished; I regained my usual presence of mind and my
thinking apparatus began to work again.

“Putting in practice a trick well known on the wrestling mat, I
threw one arm around the neck of my foe, choking him into absolute
helplessness. With the other arm I rolled him over like a trussed
Christmas turkey, so that his body was between me and the danger of a
salute from the 45’s. As I turned him over a shot rang out. The ball
narrowly escaped putting an end to the battle. It was a lucky shot for
me in more ways than one--it not only missed me, but struck the stove,
ricocheted and smashed the hanging-lamp with which the room was dimly
lighted. There was now no light save from the open door of the stove.

“The man with the guns, still bent upon assisting his friend and
incidentally exterminating me, at once came to close quarters. Standing
over our struggling forms, he endeavored to put a shot where it would
do his cause the most good. He shot twice, but fired wide, so great was
his fear of hitting his confederate.

“Never was my mind or muscle more active. I thought of the station
master and his six shooter. ‘My God! Will he never fire?’ I exclaimed
mentally. Meanwhile I twisted my helpless foe about like a bundle of
rags. From side to side I rolled him--always with a view to keeping his
body between me and danger. Suddenly there was a blinding flash, fairly
in my face--and then came oblivion!

“How long I lay insensible I have no means of knowing. When I recovered
consciousness I found myself lying where I had fallen when I went to
the floor with the highwayman. Beside me, so near that I could touch
them with my hand, lay the dead bodies of my late companions. I could
just discern their rigid outlines in the dim light from the stove.

“As my senses grew more acute I became aware of an intense burning pain
in the left side of my head, and felt a stream of warm fluid which I
at once recognized as blood, trickling freely down my face. I touched
the painful spot with my fingers, and knew at once what had happened--I
had been shot through the temple! The serious nature of the injury
would have suggested itself to the merest tyro. You may imagine how I
felt, knowing as you do the extensive experience I had had with gunshot
wounds. There did not seem to be one chance in a hundred that the ball
had failed to penetrate my brain. Realizing this, I was only too well
aware of the probably desperate character of my wound.

“I tried to rise, and after several painful efforts succeeded in
raising myself on my elbow, only immediately to fall helplessly back
to the floor again. As I lay there half dazed, and fearfully exhausted
from the shock and loss of blood, I realized in a hazy sort of way that
there was nothing to do but await the coming of assistance.

“I recalled in a confused fashion the vision of the station master
and his gun, and wondered what had become of him and why he had not
fired at the bandits during the fight. That he had fled from the scene
of battle did not occur to me. It subsequently transpired, however,
that the gallant fellow was too frightened to fire at the desperadoes
and that, after several attempts to muster up courage enough to pull
the trigger on them, he had dropped his weapon and fled incontinently
through a rear window.

“I finally became apathetic and indifferent as to my fate--an
experience by no means unusual to persons who have suffered from
shock and great loss of blood--and lapsed into almost complete
unconsciousness.

“How long I lay there upon the floor in my half dead condition is a
matter for conjecture. I was finally aroused to full consciousness
by the sound of voices and the noise of many feet at the door of the
station. I heard some one say:

“‘I don’t think they both got away, boys. I only seen one feller run.
Perhaps one o’ them men they was holdin’ up got one of ’em; there was a
hull lot o’ shootin’ goin’ on.’

“‘We’d better go kind o’ careful, then,’ said another. ‘If there’s any
of ’em in there, they may have just one kick left in ’em.’

“In my confused state of mind the significance of what I heard was
entirely lost upon me. I knew only that help was at hand and felt that
I must get to it.

“Struggling to my feet by a mighty effort I tottered to the door
through which the feeble rays of a lantern in the hands of one of the
crowd were gleaming. Reaching the door, I stumbled over the threshold
and fairly fell into the arms of several men who were apparently too
startled to follow the example of the rest of the crowd, which had
scattered the instant my form appeared in the doorway.

“I was immediately thrown to the ground and pinned there by a big
strapping fellow, who in his excitement very nearly finished the
bandit’s work by squeezing what little breath I had remaining
completely out of me.

“‘I’ve got him, boys!’ cried the man, who I afterward learned was the
station master. The crowd recovered its nerve, returned to action and
proceeded to inspect the capture, apparently losing all interest in
further investigation of conditions inside the station.

“In the crowd were several women, who, with the curiosity and
enterprise characteristic of the “weaker” sex in mobs, succeeded in
pushing themselves in front of the men. As the man with the lantern
turned the light full upon me, there was a cry from one of the women.

“‘That’s him, that’s the big robber! I seen him through the winder of
our house when they passed by. I’d know him anywhere!’

“I began to realize that I was in danger and, fully aroused, endeavored
to make myself heard. My efforts were futile, however, and I merely
received a choking for my pains.

“‘Let’s string him up, boys; it’ll save the county a lot of expense!’
shouted some one.

“‘Hang him! Hang him!’ chorused the crowd.

“‘Somebody get a rope!’ cried the man who was kneeling on my chest.

“‘Take him to a telegraph pole!’ cried another.

“I was half dragged, half carried to the nearest telegraph pole and
assisted to my feet beneath it. A rope was speedily found and tied
about my neck. A boy was ordered to climb the pole with the other end
of the rope and pass it over the arm that supports the wires.

[Illustration: “A ROPE WAS SPEEDILY FOUND AND TIED ABOUT MY NECK”]

“My situation would not have been so bad if I had lost the power of
thinking and with it the capacity for mental suffering. My mind was
never so acute as at that moment but, with the treatment the bandits
had given me and the mauling and choking I had since received at the
hands of that ignorant mob, I had absolutely lost my power of
speech. But think!--My God! man, of what did I not think, as I stood
there in the shadow of death at the hands of a lot of ignorant farmers
and railroad hands who were about to offer me up on the altar of their
own cowardice and brutality? A mob feels but it does not reason. I had
seen enough of mobs to know that only a miracle could save me.

“It is a trite observation that in the mind of one standing on the
margin of the Valley of Shadows, as I was at that awful moment, all
the events of his past life pass in swift review. So rapidly does one
impression follow another, that one’s previous experiences form a
single composite picture like that of the biograph, or the pictures
that dreams paint upon the brain. Such was my own experience in a
general way, but one feature of the mental life review which my
terrible experience brought me was most peculiar and horrifying.

“For several years before I graduated in medicine, I occupied a
position in the coroner’s office in the city of C----. In the
performance of my official duties I was compelled to witness a number
of executions. Among others was that of a certain wife murderer. The
sheriff, usually expert in such matters, made a bungle of this man’s
case. The noose slipped and he slowly strangled to death! The unhappy
event made a most powerful impression upon my youthful mind, but I
little thought of the mental rehearsal of the awful scene that was in
store for me.

“Standing out in bold relief from the rest of the picture of my past
life that was displayed before my mental vision as the mob completed
its preparations for hanging me, was the frightful scene enacted on the
gallows at the execution of the wife murderer in the jail yard of C----.

“The most peculiar feature of it all was that it was I, and not that
wife murderer whose death throes I saw in my mind’s eye. Horrible
beyond conception were that awful choking, the agonized struggle for
breath, the tumultuous spasms of the diaphragm, the twitchings of the
muscles and the frightful roaring in the ears which I experienced as
the murderer slowly died of strangulation. As the limbs of the dying
man in the mental picture spasmodically flexed and extended themselves,
I felt all of the agonizing pains experienced by sufferers from lock
jaw or strychnine poisoning.

“And this was not all. My chest was encircled as with a band of iron.
Closer and closer drew the band until it seemed as if my diaphragm
must tear clear across its breadth in the fearful effort to get oxygen
into my lungs. I saw brilliant, glittering points and shafts of light
dancing before my eyes. I seemed to be growing delirious and vainly
tried to speak, the result being a queer sort of gibberish. Worst of
all, the black death hood seemed suddenly to become transformed into a
mask of transparent glass, through which I could see my own purpling,
swollen features, with the bulging, blackened lips and protruding
tongue and turgid, popping eye balls, in which I could see the horror
of impending death reflected. Oh, it was horrible! horrible!

“As the struggling body in the picture swayed back and forth from the
initial tipping movement imparted by the falling of the drop, my real
body seemed to oscillate back and forth like a pendulum. Once, when
the picture body struck with cruel impact a corner post of the gallows
tree, an acute, agonizing pain shot through me from head to foot. Then
the swaying movement ceased and the body spun round and round like a
top at the end of the fatal cord, so rapidly that the fuzzy threads of
the hemp stood out like a coating of fur upon the rope. I grew dizzy
and nauseated. Dizzier and dizzier I grew; louder and yet louder grew
the roaring in my ears, until I became unconscious and--all was over.

“Then came the most incomprehensible thing of all. I recovered
consciousness and saw crowding around the dead body upon the scaffold
the lookers on at the execution, and the coroner’s jury, with myself at
its head. Standing beside the corpse was Dr. Cartwright, the coroner’s
physician. Watch in hand, with his fingers on the wrist of the corpse
seeking for signs of the life that had forever departed, the doctor
slowly counted the minutes required by law.

“And then I saw the body lowered into the coffin and taken away!

“All that I have described to you took place very rapidly. I was not
conscious of any appreciable interval between the time of my conveyance
from the station by the mob and the final act of the execution which my
memory had painted for me.

“While the drama of the hanging was being played in my mind, the
preparations for a more tangible execution under the auspices of Judge
Lynch were going on.

“The boy with the rope ‘shinned’ up the telegraph pole like a young
monkey. Arriving at the first cross arm of the pole, he passed the
rope over it and threw the loose end down to the expectant crowd of
bloodthirsty savages below.

“When the free end of the rope struck the ground, the entire crowd,
with the exception of two or three men who were holding me, rushed for
it, and fought for holds upon it. Each was more than willing to do his
share in the killing of their helpless victim.

“The falling of the rope’s end and the mad rush of the crowd to secure
it broke the spell in which I was bound and I regained my voice
sufficiently to indistinctly mumble my name. A few seconds more and my
death by strangulation would have been more than a mental picture--it
would have been a grim reality! One of my guards had sufficient
sense--or curiosity, I don’t know which, nor do I care so long as it
served me well--to call a halt in the ceremonies.

“‘Hold on, boys! Wait a minute--let’s hear what this feller’s tryin’ to
say. We’ve got plenty of time to hear his spiel.’

“Most of the crowd came reluctantly back to listen. The more
ravenously bloodthirsty of the mob still held on to the rope and
waited impatiently for the continuation of the pleasure party. As the
brutes crowded around me I managed to introduce myself a little more
coherently.

“‘Go on, what yer givin’ us?’ said the man who had halted the
execution; ‘He says he’s a doctor, boys’.

“‘Here, let’s have a look at that feller,’ cried a voice from somewhere
in the crowd. A man pressed forward and confronted me.

“‘Gimme that lantern.’

“The lantern was handed to him, and holding it close to my face he
looked at me earnestly for a moment. I in turn, as you may surmise,
stared quite as hard at him. We recognized each other simultaneously!

“‘Dan Williams,’ I stammered weakly, recognizing an old patient of
mine, a railroad hand whose leg I had saved after it had been condemned
to amputation.

“‘Good God! Doc. Fairweather, is that you?’

“I was saved! I shall always believe that the majority of the mob felt
aggrieved at both Dan and myself by the mutual recognition that had
saved my life by such a narrow margin. The rope was dropped, however,
albeit grudgingly, and my neck released from its gruesome embrace.

“Dan impressed several of his friends into service and I was taken to
the nearest house and temporarily cared for as well as possible under
my own rather wabbly and uncertain direction, whilst I told my story as
best I could in my pitiful condition.

“It was several days before I could be moved, a local physician
meanwhile ministering to me with more devotion than surgical skill.
You may imagine how happy I was to learn that my head was so hard that
it had not been feazed by a 45 calibre conical ball. The bullet had
entered my head at the left temple, glancing around the skull, plowing
a huge furrow in the scalp and cutting a groove in the outer table
of the bone along which it left a trail of lead clear around to the
occiput, whence it had been deflected. It was afterward found buried in
the wall of the station and sent to me as a souvenir.

“After my return home I was seriously ill for several weeks. I finally,
however, returned to my practice, a little the worse for wear, but
grateful for my hard-headedness. It was some time before my brain
worked with its usual alertness, but after a few months I had only the
scar to remind me of a most awful experience.

       *       *       *       *       *

“And now for the story of the skull:

“A strong posse was organized for the pursuit of the murderers and they
were soon overtaken, after a running fight some miles north of the
scene of the awful tragedy in which I had enacted such an important
rôle.

“The bandits had entrenched themselves in a deserted farm house, from
which they made a desperate fight against their pursuers. Several
of the attacking party were killed or wounded. During a lull in the
fighting the smaller of the two desperados deserted his comrade,
escaped from the house, and ran for the timber. A clever chap who had
secreted himself in the woods at the rear of the house in anticipation
of some such move on the part of the murderers, received him with a
huge charge of buckshot from both barrels of a shot gun fired at close
range, killing him instantly.

“I have a picture of the result of the shot, taken as the dead outlaw
lay in his coffin. In my leisure moments I comfort myself by gazing
upon it. Through the agency of that photograph the humiliation of
the kick the fellow administered to me has faded into the faintest of
memories. Indeed, when I do chance to recall that particular incident
of the tragedy in which I played so prominent a part, it is with
amusement rather than with chagrin.

“The principal of the two outlaws finally exhausted his ammunition. The
house was rushed, and after a desperate hand to hand battle, in which,
as the sheriff afterwards told me, the desperado ‘made plenty good,
and laid out’ several of the attacking party, he was overpowered and
manacled.

“The captured bandit proved to be Jack McDougall--_nom de guerre_,
‘Reddy McDug’--a many times murderer, bank robber and all round ‘bad
man,’ upon whose head a price had rested for many months.

“McDougall was taken to K----, the county seat, and placed in jail
under a strong guard. He was speedily tried, convicted and sentenced to
be hanged.

“During the trial, the desperado and I became very well acquainted,
and before the date set for the execution I am free to say that I had
become sufficiently interested in him to rather regret the impending
cessation of our relations. Indeed, I am not ashamed to confess that I
finally conceived a warm regard for the poor devil. Call it a whim if
you like, the fact remains that I really did like him.

“Whatever else he may have been, Reddy was not a coward, and if there
is any one thing I admire more than another in a man it is gameness.
McDougall was a moral imbecile--he considered that he had followed a
vocation, and a rather decent one, but he knew the price of the game
and was willing to pay it if needs must. He said to me at one of my
numerous visits:

“‘You see, Doc, it all depends on how you’re born, and how the cards is
stacked. No matter what kind of a game you play, an’ no matter how you
play it, settlin’ time is bound to come sooner or later. I’d like to
sit in the hold up game a little longer, ’cause I’m still able-bodied,
but I dunno as it makes a h--ll of a lot of difference when a feller’s
hand is called. Anyhow, what’s the use o’ kickin’? Mine’s been called
all right, all right, and there you are.’

“I last saw McDougall the day before his execution. He was still game
as a pebble. His principal concern was to have me witness his end.
Said he:

“‘Now, Doc, you an’ me has got to be pretty good pals, even if I did
plug you that time tryin’ to help my pardner--which was part of the
game anyway. You’re all the friend I’ve got, and I’d like to have you
present at the swingin’ party. Just come and watch me cash in, an’
see how nice an’ gentlemanly your friend Reddy ‘ll take his medicine.
There’ll be nary a kick out o’ me before the bottom drops out of
things, an’ nary a kick afterward, if Mr. Sheriff’s onto his job.’

“I saw that McDougall was in earnest, and assured him as I bade him
good-bye that I would be on hand for the ceremony. But, all the same,
I didn’t mean a word of it. I had had about all the experience with
hangings, both as witness and prospective principal, that was necessary
to satisfy a man of my modest desires. Why, I had myself actually been
mentally hanged and nearly physically hanged simultaneously. Besides,
as I have already said, I liked McDougall.

“The execution came off according to schedule, and I was greatly
consoled by the report that the sheriff, was, as McDougall expressed
it, decidedly ‘on to his job.’ Indeed, I was told that the hanging
was as smooth a piece of work as had ever occurred in Minnesota. So
smooth was it, and so agreeable to the sentiments of the population
of that section of the State, that the re-election of Sheriff Jackson
was a foregone conclusion. All of which shows that the artist in his
particular line is not without appreciation, and that the executioner,
unlike the prophet, getteth honor in his own country.

“There were no friends to claim the body of the dead outlaw, and it
finally found its way to the M---- Medical College. The demonstrator
of anatomy, who chanced to be a warm friend of mine, knew the
circumstances under which I had become acquainted with the late
Mr. McDougall, and reasoning that I would be very glad to receive
a souvenir commemorative of the strenuous introduction to that
distinguished gentleman which I had received, dissected the head
with especial care, and after thorough preparation and skillful
bleaching sent the gruesome object to me with his compliments. Since
the reception of the skull my lamented friend in material bone and
ethereal spirit has been the presiding genius of my den--a friend in
whom I have full confidence, because I can trust him, and an enemy whom
I no longer dread, because I have him where all of our enemies should
be placed--in a collection of curios. Rather a nice skull, isn’t it?”



A WISE CHILD


I was enjoying my after dinner cigar, and thinking, with some
amusement, of a remark my little daughter had made. During the
afternoon she had been taken by a party of my friends to a museum--a
great treat for her, as she is of an inquiring turn of mind. Among
the curiosities and freaks on exhibition, was a poor fellow who was
afflicted with some nervous affection that impelled him to keep
constantly in motion. The child was especially impressed with the fact
that the man was unable to sit down. The grown-up folks of the party
were greatly puzzled by the curious phenomenon--not so my hopeful.
Looking at him carefully and with an expression of most profound pity
for a few moments, she exclaimed, “Poor man! What an awful lot of
spankings he must have had when he was a little boy!”

[Illustration: “A WISE CHILD”]

“Well,” I thought, “children are keen observers after all. It might be
interesting to read the thoughts of some of them. Now, there’s that
Smith baby for example--what a wise expression it has, to be sure!
Really, that child ought to be called Solomon. I would suggest the
name to _pater familias_, only he might get frightened at the mere
suggestion of such wisdom on the part of his offspring.”

As a matter of fact, the Smith child is the most remarkable specimen
of a young one I have ever seen. He is now some three years of age,
yet has never made the slightest attempt to talk. As for walking, I
question whether the child will ever be able to use his limbs very
successfully. They are malformed and very imperfectly developed. But
the child’s head has gone to the other extreme; while by no means
symmetrical in outline, it is preternaturally large, with bulging
frontal eminences and immense parietal protuberances. The eyes are
brilliant, deep set, and reflect an expression of wise gravity that is
positively eerie. The brow is wrinkled in strongly marked furrows and
the general aspect of the face is somewhat shrivelled and prematurely
old. Around the angles of the mouth are converging, plainly accentuated
lines that give the face an expression of sternness. There is no
color in the skin save about the eyelids, which are habitually red
and tumefied. The dead, clayey whiteness of the child’s complexion
is occasionally relieved by dark, blotchy eruptions, that make the
unhealthy pallor of the skin still more noticeable.

The most striking peculiarity of the Smith baby is its prematurely aged
look, suggesting the grotesque combination of the face of a sickly old
man with the body of a child. At first sight, the effect is somewhat
startling.

And yet, despite its physical defects, the child grows on. Knowing how
utterly defenseless the poor little thing was against the circumstances
which made it a caricature of healthy babyhood, and realizing its
abject helplessness in the battle of life, I sincerely pity it.

Is it not strange that mothers lavish so much affection upon such
children as the Smith baby? No matter how many beautiful children she
may have, the heart of the mother goes out to the least favored of her
offspring in a wealth of love that is the only excuse the unfortunate
child has for living. Mothers care naught for the law of the survival
of the fittest--not they. Should such a child die, the poor mother
mourns it as the one ewe lamb of her little flock.

With the father it is different, somehow--perhaps not in all cases, but
I know it is different with the father in this instance.

Smith is a queer sort of fellow--rather reticent in manner it seems
to me. However, he is a new patron of mine and perhaps I do not quite
understand him. I was first called in to see the baby, and haven’t had
very much opportunity to converse with the father. At the present rate
of progress, I am not likely to get much better acquainted, for, come
to think of it, he seems somewhat inclined to avoid me.

But Smith’s friends say that he is a thoroughly good fellow; indeed,
that he is “one of the boys.”

Once in a while, Smith seems to be more than ordinarily anxious about
the baby--apparently through pride rather than affection, for the
little one really seems to be the bane of his existence. He did unbend
once, enough to ask me if there wasn’t some way to cure the child’s
snuffles and keep “those d--d blotches” off its face, but I am sure he
was thinking more of the comments of his neighbors than of the child’s
comfort.

I don’t believe that Smith cares a straw about his young one’s
digestion, yet he swore like a pirate when he saw the irregular manner
in which its second teeth were coming in. Not that I blame him much for
swearing, for those teeth do look more like those of a saw than such
as a baby of good breeding is expected to develop. Still, the child is
not to blame for his bad teeth. Smith knows that, if he knows anything.

I suppose I ought not to say it, but I honestly believe that Smith
would far rather his child would die than live. The poor little thing
had a bad attack of cholera infantum a while ago, and narrowly missed
going to the land where babies’ stomachs are at rest and pimples are
unknown. It is a dreadful thing to say, but I really suspect that Smith
was--well, not exactly pleased with the results of my treatment. He
made a remark the other day that was suggestive, to say the least.
He said there were too many new-fangled ideas in the treatment of
children’s diseases to suit him. “Toxins,” said he, “were invented, I
suppose, to cover up medical ignorance.”

I did not reply, for, as I have already remarked, Smith and I have not
become very friendly as yet.

But the Smith baby is a very interesting study, and I can tolerate its
father’s peculiar ways for the child’s sake, and for the interest the
case affords me.

I lolled back in my favorite chair puffing the fragrant smoke in
fantastic rings, carelessly aimed at the chandelier overhead, and
revolving the case of the Smith baby in my mind. I do not know how
long I sat there musing, but I finally fell into that half dreamy
state which, with me, is a positive sign of an impending nap. Even my
cigar was becoming sleepy and had begun to smolder. Being in no mood
to tolerate interruption, I fear it was with some irritation that I
shouted, in response to a timid rap at the door:

“Come in!”

The door opened, and in walked--Smith’s baby!

To say that I was astonished would be quite conventional, but
measurably untrue, for--I was paralyzed. I think my visitor must have
noticed the effect his unexpected entrance had upon me, for, after
a deferential bow and a polite “Good evening,” he calmly awaited my
pleasure. There was a quizzical expression in his eyes, and a pitying
smile animated his curiously wrinkled face as I finally stammered:

“W--why, g--good evening, sir. This is quite--quite, ah--unexpected,
you know.”

“And also unconventional, I presume,” said my caller. “It is not _en
regle_, I believe, for people who are helpless to call upon the doctor.
He is supposed to do all the calling himself. Patients who have sound
legs and strength enough to walk are the only sort who are expected to
visit their medical adviser. We will not consider those ‘has beens,’
who are sometimes so grateful to the doctor for helping them out of the
world that they call upon him afterward o’ nights,” and the baby smiled
sarcastically.

I do not believe in ghosts, yet I must confess that I blushed hotly at
the implied unfair criticism of my noble profession.

My young friend noticed my confusion and said:

“Pardon me, I did not mean to be personal. There are doctors and
doctors you know--and also spooks and things.”

“Great Hippocrates!” I exclaimed, springing to my feet in sudden,
amazed recollection. “I thought you could neither walk nor talk, and
you have not only come to see me but are talking as fluently as any one
could.”

“Oh, well,” replied my visitor, “things are not always what they
seem--even to doctors. I have not walked much as yet, it is true,
but I thought it best not to do so. My limbs have never looked very
promising, and consequently nothing has ever been expected of them. It
is much easier to ride or be carried about than to walk--even with good
legs--so I let the sympathy of the people about me have full sway.

“As for speaking, pray tell me what inducement there is to conversation
in my case. I am not fond of hearing myself talk--not at all, and
there’s no use talking to the people around me. They could not
understand me and there are no subjects of mutual interest. Besides,
if I should display my linguistic skill, my folks would be a little
shy of me. They are very confidential, you know, and on account of my
apparent inability to repeat what I hear, I get in on many a nice bit
of grown-up gossip.”

“Well,” I said, “there does seem to be some advantage in concealing
your power of speech, but I don’t quite comprehend your statement that
the people about you would not understand you. Your language certainly
seems clear enough for ordinary understanding.”

“Oh, well, you see I have thus far been talking in a quite commonplace
fashion. We have exchanged hardly more than mere conversational
greetings. With most persons the conversation would of necessity
begin and end with mere perfunctory remarks, and that wouldn’t be
worth while. You, however, being a doctor, and consequently a man of
learning, are capable of appreciating me at my true value. I have long
experienced a desire to converse with you, and to-night I resolved to
call upon you here at your own home, where we can have a little chat
without danger of interruption.”

“Yes,” I said, smiling at his assurance, “but how on earth have
you acquired the information necessary to carry on an intelligent
conversation with a scientific physician? You are only about three
years of age, and if you are as intellectual as you claim to be, your
precocity is certainly marvelous.”

My little friend smiled blandly, and replied: “That word, precocity,
is a very offensive one, but I excuse you for using it, because it
is evident that you do not know the true explanation of the advanced
intellect of the so-called precocious child. Do you know anything of
Buddhism, doctor?”

“Well, yes, something.”

“Then you will understand me when I say that ‘precocity’ is merely the
development in the child of a portion of the wisdom acquired during
its previous terrestrial existences. As you are aware, the modern
school of theosophists has appropriated this theory of the Buddhists.”

“Very true,” I replied, with some amusement, “but that does not add to
the validity of the theory.”

“It is evident that you are not a theosophist, doctor. I assure you,
however, that the Buddhists are right. I know they are right, for I
have myself been on earth twice before. You have doubtless often noted
that I am not as other children.”

“True, you have always seemed much older than your years,” I replied.

“Then you are prepared to believe me when I assert that what you have
regarded as an appearance of premature age, is merely a reflection of
my past lives showing through the childlike envelopment of the present.”

“Ah!” I exclaimed, “there is certainly food for reflection in what you
say. I confess, however, that the idea had never suggested itself to
me. I shall certainly make a note of it.”

My visitor seemed gratified at having imparted such interesting and
valuable information.

“And now, doctor, I am sure you will not consider me egotistic if I
claim to be, what my appearance would indicate--a ‘wise child’.”

“Oh, ho! Are you the original ‘wise child’ who knew his own father?” I
asked, jocularly.

My young friend seemed to take me seriously, and replied, “Pshaw!
doctor; I am surprised that you even remember that absurd theory.
There’s nothing in it, and besides, it’s a very crude test of
intellectuality. Why shouldn’t any child who is not an idiot, know its
own father? Why, I was introduced to mine immediately on my arrival in
your inhospitable clime. I remember the introduction more particularly,
because, not knowing what sort of people I was to fall in with, I was
quite afraid I might be asked to step over and sit with the girls--a
fate too horrible to think of!

“Now, doctor, I suppose you are wondering what I am going to find
to talk about. I have already informed you that platitudes and
conventional commonplaces are very fatiguing to me. I assure you,
however, that it is not my intention to go to the other extreme and
talk abstract science.”

“Great Scott!” I exclaimed, “Do you mean to say that you have had a
scientific training?”

“Oh, my, yes!” replied young Smith, drawing himself up--rather proudly
it seemed to me. “But,” he continued, “I am not going to enter into
the scientific heavies. I shall deal largely in generalities, and such
science as may appear in my remarks will be of a rather superficial
sort.

“Since knowing you, doctor, I have become quite reconciled to the death
of your predecessor in our family--dear old Dr. Whittemore. He was a
kind, considerate old man, and as tender-hearted as a woman, despite
his rough ways. But I didn’t like him at first. You see I didn’t
understand him very well. He had such a habit of swearing to himself
whenever he looked at these crooked legs of mine. But he was my friend,
nevertheless, and several times when old Smith was--”

“I beg pardon,” I said, “but did you say, old Smith?”

“Why, yes,” replied my visitor, raising his eyebrows as though
surprised at the interruption, “old Smith--the governor, you know.”

“Oh, I see, you mean your father,” I replied.

“Of course I meant my father!” exclaimed the youngster impatiently.

“Well, as I was saying, continued the child, several times when old
Smith was especially cross with me and the doctor happened to be
present, the old fellow took my part and told the governor he ought to
be ashamed of himself.

“Smith once pointed at me and said, ‘Great God! man, look at that head
and those legs! How can you blame me for being disgusted because the
little beast lived?’

“‘Now, see here, Smith,’ exclaimed the doctor, ‘that young-one, so far
as I am aware, is in no wise responsible for the contour of his legs
or the bulginess of his cranium. You and I have a theory regarding the
cause of the baby’s peculiarities, which lays the responsibility at the
door of one--’

“‘Sh!--’ said pa, ‘there is no necessity of your being personal, and
besides, my mother-in-law is in the next room, and it is really foolish
to call her in counsel. She is troublesome enough now. She looks
suspiciously wise at times.’

“‘Well, then,’ said the doctor, ‘don’t talk so like a d--d fool!’

“‘Oh, there’s no use roasting me, doctor, I am patient enough under the
circumstances. I sometimes think that if the medical profession did its
full duty, such children would not--’

“‘Would not live to a ripe old age, eh, Smith?’ interrupted the
doctor, angrily. ‘Well, sir, the profession of medicine is sometimes
compelled to save people from the consequences of their crimes--it does
not, however, feel in duty bound to commit crimes for them. I trust the
ethical distinction between the duty of the profession and the dirty
work some persons would have it do for them, is clear to your somewhat
biased intellect, my good sir!’

“My! but old Smith was mad--madder than a hornet! But the doctor seemed
to have the better of the argument, and the governor soon cleared out,
grumbling to himself and swearing at the cat that got in his way and
had his tail stepped on.”

“The old doctor certainly was your friend, and I am not very favorably
impressed by your description of your father. I might say in passing,
however, that your lack of filial respect is a by no means commendable
trait in your character. No matter what his peculiarities may be, you
must remember that Smith is your father and as such demands respect.
Have you forgotten what the Bible says, ‘Honor thy father and thy
mother?’”

My young friend looked extremely disgusted, and replied:

“Dear me, doctor!--can’t you get along without quoting such old, wormy,
out-of-date authorities as the Bible? That advice was all well enough
in its day, but honoring one’s parents in the collective sense is
played out in these modern times. Mothers are just as much deserving of
honor as ever--and that’s a great deal, but fathers--humph! The fellow
who wrote that particular portion of the scriptures didn’t know Smith,
you can just bet your bottom dollar on that. If I was as big a fool as
he thinks I am, I might honor and respect him, but I know a thing or
two.

“Honor Smith? Ye gods! Look at the protuberances of my cranium! Gaze
upon these misshapen legs of mine! You told my mother I had ‘rickets,’
didn’t you?”

“Ye--yes, I believe I did.”

“Well, I don’t blame you for your ignorance, doctor. You have not been
in practice long enough to lose faith in human nature. Now, old Dr.
Whittemore knew better, and so does Smith.”

“But, my dear boy,” I interposed, “I think I know rachitis when I see
it.”

“So, rachitis is the scientific appellation, eh? Well, in the language
of the street, ‘rachitis nothing!’ Can’t you see through a millstone
with a hole in it? Doctor, my so-called rickets is nothing more nor
less than--”

“Hush! for the Lord’s sake, hush!” I cried, putting my hand over young
Smith’s mouth, as a horrible suspicion suddenly flashed upon me. “Be
careful, my young friend, even the walls of a doctor’s study may have
ears. Can it be possible that I have been mistaken and that--”

“Precisely so, sir,” interrupted my visitor sarcastically. “You are
really growing quite intelligent. If you keep on, doctor, you will be
as good an intuitive diagnostician as we have in Chicago, and that’s
saying much.”

“Yes,” I replied with some confusion, “but you can’t expect a fellow to
carry a divining rod about with him, and besides, your family is one of
the highest respectability.”

My young visitor sneered perceptibly and retorted:

“Of course, you are like the rest of humanity, looking for
respectability in high places and overlooking the pearls that lie
imbedded in the mud of poverty and social mediocrity. I really feel
inclined to lecture you, doctor, you seem so woefully stupid in some
directions. Here you are, with abundant opportunities for study and
observation of human nature, maundering of ‘respectability’ as a
factor in diagnosis! Not but that it is a factor sometimes, but you
don’t weigh the evidence just right. You are inclined to misconstrue
social prominence as a factor in your diagnoses. Your interpretation of
it is only too often precisely opposite to the truth.

“Look at the childlessness of the average high-toned family--look at
the character of the progeny of those who do have children, and then
babble of ‘respectability!’ Faugh! doctor, you make me sick. For a
scientific physician, you are the most innocent man I ever knew.”

“Oh, come now,” I said, “I don’t pretend to know it all, but I am not
quite so big a fool as you might suppose.”

“Well, perhaps not--quite. There may be bigger chumps, but I dare say
they are all practicing medicine.”

“By the way,” he continued, “speaking of honoring one’s father, I can’t
for the life of me see why a fellow should be expected to do that.
Fathers are mere accidents in the scheme of nature. You see, anybody
will answer for a father, but with your mother--well, that’s different.
No other could fill her place. Most people think the male human is
the important element in our social system, but that’s all rot. He
is a secondary consideration, a mere incident, and should be given to
understand it.”

“Um-m ah!” I answered slowly, “I believe the truth is gradually dawning
upon him. The new woman is--”

“Great guns, doctor! Do you mean those things with breeches on, that
ride bicycles, and play foot ball?”

“Well, in a measure, yes,” I replied.

“Come, come, doctor! I was talking about natural phenomena as involved
in the perpetuation of the species; I had no thought of what biologists
term sports in nature.”

“Ah, that’s different, my boy,” I said, “unless you use the term
‘sport’ as a _double entendre_.”

“I don’t think I quite understand you, doctor.”

“Oh well, I suppose my play upon words was a little too commonplace for
you,” I replied, meanwhile thinking that the Smith baby, was something
of a chump himself. Not wishing to hurt his feelings, however, I held
my peace, and he continued:

“Do you know, doctor, I think that if a child is expected to honor its
father, it should have some voice in his selection. Now, for example,”
and the poor little chap felt of his bumps and gazed mournfully at his
crippled limbs, “I should not have been as I am, had I been permitted
to select my father. Of course I might have made a mistake, anyway, but
you can be assured that I should never have selected Smith.”

“Well, Smith might not have been such a bad father if--”

“Oh, I know what you are going to say, doctor, but no amount of
preparatory treatment would ever have made Smith anything but a mean
old cuss, anyhow.”

“Perhaps you are right,” I answered, “and, come to think of it, as
your family is a comparatively new one to me, I believe I’ll insist on
monthly settlements of my bills.”

“Well, you know your own business better than I do, but I know Smith
pretty well, and I don’t think it will do any harm,--unless he gets
mad and changes doctors. I hope he won’t do that, for I am beginning
to like you pretty well, and I dread a change. There’s no telling what
these highly ‘respectable’ people will do, you know, and now that you
are beginning to understand my case a little, a change of doctors
might be disastrous. You see, I can’t talk to everybody as freely as I
feel that I can to you.”

“Then I guess I won’t send in any bill, it would be too bad to neglect
you, just because your father is--”

“A brute, eh, doctor?”

“N-no, I shouldn’t like to say that,” I replied.

“Because of his eminent respectability, I presume,” said my visitor,
grinning sarcastically.

I was discreetly silent.

“Well,” continued the young wiseacre, “I don’t suppose that you and
I alone could settle a certain phase of the social problem, even if
we were foolish enough to try, but there are some very interesting
points that might be discussed upon the question of that veneering of
‘respectability’ for which you seem to have such great reverence. I
should like to discuss them with you, did time permit. I assure you
that I have given the subject much conscientious study and deep thought.

“There is one point, doctor, in which you physicians are very remiss,
and which, for the sake of suffering childhood, I cannot allow to
pass unnoticed. I refer to the indiscriminate fashion in which people
are allowed to marry, and rear children. Why, when I look about me
and see the number of infantile wrecks, who, like myself, are victims
of your pernicious social system, I am disgusted. If the principals
in matrimonial mistakes were the only ones to suffer, it would be
different, but it’s the babies that get the worst of it. And you
medical blockheads look on and say nothing. You are too stupid to see
anything, perhaps, and therefore have nothing to say.”

“Well, my boy, you have the making of a social reformer in you. I don’t
know that I ever gave the subject much thought. I have been too busy
with--”

“Too busy trying to cure results to inquire into causes, eh, doctor?”

“Why, I--that is, not exactly,” I stammered, “you know, my boy, that--”

“Oh, yes, I understand, old fellow, you are not quite blind to
such things, but you don’t propose either to pose as a Hercules
cleaning out the Augean stables, or expose yourself to the same sort
of ridicule as did Don Quixote when he challenged the wind-mills.
Shame on you, doctor! Be a good Philistine and snap your fingers at
conventionalities!”

“See here, my young friend, I am practicing medicine for a livelihood,
and I can’t afford to be radical in my views. It’s all well enough to
scarify society, if you don’t depend upon it for bread and butter--but
in my case it’s different, and I must be careful.”

Young Smith shrugged his shoulders somewhat contemptuously, and replied:

“What a queer world! You fellows work like a dog in a treadmill all
your lives, trying to make enough hay while the sun is shining, to
enable you to take some comfort by and by. When the ‘by and by’ comes,
you have lost the capacity for enjoyment. You slave from morning till
night, to acquire a competency--and the brains--that will enable you to
be independent in thought and action. Then, when the wished-for time
does come, you--well, you roll over like a fish and die. Always going
to have a good time--some day; always going to be a Philistine--some
day; always looking ahead into that undiscovered country where
lies--the grave. Your ambition ends in six feet of earth. Pshaw! how
you people irritate me! Why not learn to labor and to loaf?”

My visitor’s words impressed me more than I would have been willing to
acknowledge.

“Heigho!” I exclaimed, “I don’t know but you are right, my boy, and
yet, I don’t exactly see how I can help matters much.”

“There’s one thing you can do, doctor, you can at least make the effort
to impress upon the public the necessity of treating human beings with
the same degree of intelligence and consideration that you bestow upon
animals. Get rid of that idiotic, sentimental moonshine about ‘joining
two souls in wedlock’ and come down to the common-sense basis of a
union for a specific, organic purpose between two bipeds, that are or
should be, subject to the same laws as other animals. Do this and there
will be fewer hideous heads and miserable legs like mine.”

My little friend wept silently.

“Come, come, my lad, cheer up,” I said, “You must remember that the
ranks of the immortal geniuses of the world have been largely recruited
from such material as yourself.”

“You doubtless mean to be consoling, my dear sir,” replied the child,
“but you forget the chief consolation contained in your argument.”

“Pray, what is that?” I asked.

“Why those degenerate geniuses die young, and leave no posterity to
perpetuate their misery.”

“You are right,” I said, musingly. “I did not think of that.”

“Do you know, doctor, that the most philosophic _bon mot_ ever
perpetrated, and the one which seems most appropriate to my case, is
that facetious description which somebody gave of the mule. He said, if
I remember correctly, that the mule was an animal which had no ‘pride
of paternity and no hope of posterity’.”

“And yet,” I replied, “the mule is not the happiest and most placid
animal in the world. The clam is his superior in many respects.”

“Yes, and there are many human clams. I fancy, however, that you do not
envy them, doctor.”

“Well, I am not so sure about that, my dear young friend. The higher
emotions and more refined sensibilities are the foundation of most of
the sorrows of life.”

“But what of the pleasures, doctor?”

“True, I had forgotten them,” I replied.

       *       *       *       *       *

We sat for some time, young Smith and I, silently gazing into the
fireplace. My cigar having gone out, I relighted it and began puffing
vigorously, with the result of blowing some dense clouds of smoke in
the direction of my visitor. A sharp cough, followed by a decided
sputter, reminded me of my unintentional discourtesy.

“Pardon me, my boy, but I forgot that you are not used to tobacco.”

The wise child smiled, and with a humorous twinkle in his bright eyes
replied:

“Well, doctor, you haven’t given me much opportunity to become inured
to it this evening--save by proxy, and there are some things that
cannot be done by proxy with any degree of satisfaction.”

“Good heavens, boy! You don’t mean to say that you smoke?”

“Don’t I, though? Just try me and see.”

Amazed though I was, I politely extended my cigar case. With the air of
a _connoisseur_, my visitor selected one, bit off the end, and, taking
my proffered match, lighted the weed and began smoking, with all the
_sang froid_ of an old timer.

“By Jove! doctor, you don’t smoke drugstore cigars, I see.”

“N--no,” I said, “I get the best there is in the market,” meanwhile
mentally apologizing to my friend K----, the pharmacist who had given
me the box from which that very cigar was taken.

“Do you know, doctor, I haven’t enjoyed a smoke for ages. I used to
‘hit the pipe,’ as you now express it, when I was on earth before. But
then,” he sighed, “opium was opium in those days.”

“And pray, what is it nowadays?” I asked.

“Soothing syrup, b’gosh! And I don’t like it a little bit, though I’ve
swallowed a barrel of it.

“Which reminds me that you doctors don’t know much about colicky
babies,” said my visitor.

“N--no--I don’t suppose we do know a great deal about infantile
colic--save by its works--drat it!”

“And its music,” said young Smith, chuckling audibly, as a prolonged,
painful, quavering wail was wafted in at the window from a house
across the street.

“Come, come, my boy, you mustn’t be too hard on us doctors. Besides,
that confounded young one over yonder isn’t under my care. If he was it
might be different. One of my brethren from Dearborn Avenue has charge
of him. He doesn’t seem to be succeeding very well, either, for the
little fiend is yelling night and day. He has kept me awake nights for
about three weeks. If I shut down the windows, I smother, and if I open
them that vicious little animal disturbs my rest--and there you are!”

“Well, why don’t you do something for the poor little chap?”

“Oh, as I told you, he’s not my patient. It wouldn’t be ethical for me
to chip in,” I replied. “And besides, I don’t think his mother would
give him the medicine, even if I should send it over.”

“Ah, then you think you could relieve him, eh? I am glad to know there
is one doctor who knows how to treat colic. Really, I’m almost sorry I
haven’t had it since I have been under your care. Tell me, pray, what
would you give the child?”

“Four ounces of chloroform,” I replied, vindictively.

“The trouble with you doctors nowadays,” said the Smith baby, “is
that you talk too much about microbes. Do you remember that attack of
cholera-infantum I had?”

“Yes--I should rather think I did.”

“Well, you talked about toxins, and microbes, until you made me sicker
than ever. There I was, drinking hog-wash baby-food out of a dirty old
bottle through a nasty rubber tube, and poisoning myself every time I
did it, and you talking about germs and such things! Germs be blowed!
I was suffering from an overdose of dirt--just plain ordinary dirt.
Mother was too busy with her receptions and parties, to attend to me,
and that fool nurse neglected me. You told her to scald my bottle, but
she never did it. Why, the day before I fell sick, the cat was playing
with that infernal tube for a straight two hours.”

My visitor was becoming excited. He fairly shrieked--“Microbes, germs,
toxins! Dirt, sir, just plain, common, everyday dirt!”

“Well,” I said, “some of us doctors are beginning to believe that while
there may be a distinction between dirt and microbes, there’s precious
little practical difference after all.”

       *       *       *       *       *

“I wonder if the Lord ever intended man to smoke,” said the wise child.
“He would have made the tobacco plant the tree of knowledge, if he had
known as much about nicotine as we do.”

“Possibly,” I replied, “but there are different opinions on that
subject. A radical old minister once said that if the Lord had intended
man to smoke, he would have put a chimney in the back of his head.”

“Humph! that old fool didn’t know much. If he had ever smoked--a--cigar
like this--he--would--”

My young friend paused, and put his hand to the pit of his stomach.

“Why, my dear boy, you seem distressed. Really, you are quite pale.
Pray, let me get you some--”

“Oh, it’s nothing, doctor, I--well, you see, I am not used to--to late
hours,” said the poor little chap, with a painful effort to smile.

“Perhaps some fresh air might make you feel better,” I suggested, “I
will raise another window.”

“N--no, never mind. I believe I’ll just step to the door for a moment,
if you don’t object. I feel a little--”

I grasped the situation, and hastily escorted my visitor to the veranda.

Appreciating the delicacy of my guest’s position, I then discreetly
returned to my sanctum and resumed my cigar. Certain peculiar sounds
that came through the open door, confirmed my hasty diagnosis.

I waited until the tumultuous heavings of my young friend’s diaphragm
had ceased, and then went out to ask him to return to the library, but
he was nowhere to be seen. The “wise child” had gone!

As I stood there musing, and thinking that nicotine levels all
intellectual distinctions between children, a firm hand was laid on my
shoulder and a voice said in my ear:

“Doctor, you have been sleeping in your chair about long enough. Go to
bed, you silly fellow!”

I was about to follow my wife’s advice, when--

“Ting-aling-a-ling!” came a ring at the telephone.

I fear I was not very suave as I answered--

“Hello, hello! What’s wanted?”

“Why, the baby’s got the colic to beat the very devil, and I wish you’d
come down right away.”

“Get out!” I howled. “You’ll have to get some other doctor. I don’t
call on strangers at night,” adding, _sotto voce_, “nor anybody else,
if I can help it.”

“Why, doctor, don’t you know who this is?”

“No, I’ll be hanged if I do. Who the deuce are you, anyhow?”

“Who? Me? Why, doctor, I’m Smith!”



LEAVES FROM A SUICIDE’S DIARY


I was very young when the idea of suicide first suggested itself to
me;--my life had its troubles as far back as my memory extends. I have
a vivid recollection of taking a certain degree of interest in the
subject when I was a mere lad,--long before I first thought of keeping
a record of my impressions. My father had whipped me for some trivial
matter; so trivial was it, and so severe my punishment, that I was
overwhelmed with a sense of the cruel injustice of it all. Father was
a stern, cold man, and a man of moods. He could be affectionate at
times, and I presume that deep down in his heart he loved me, but, as
I have said, he was a man of moods--and they were not always pleasant
ones for those around him. It is a curious psychic fact that some men
are subject to storms of passion which, concealed through politic
motives from all but those most entitled to consideration, seemingly
must be vented upon those whom affection should protect. My father was
such a man, and I, his eldest child, was the member of the family who
most often suffered from his horrible nerve storms. As I grew older he
became more and more inconsiderate in his treatment of me, and more and
more severe in his punishments.

I believe that all boys of good breeding and average physical stamina,
are conscious at times that paternal punishment is frequently dictated
by love and sincere interest in the welfare of the victim. It is this
sort of punishment that is followed by a healthy moral and physical
reaction. But with punishment undeserved, and out of all proportion to
the offense which it is intended to reprove, it is quite different.
Once let a boy experience such punishment, and there arises in him a
sense of rebellion against parental authority, and his respect and
affection for the parent becomes tinctured with bitterness that even
Time cannot efface.

Once let the iron of vindictive resentment against oppression and
injustice enter his soul, and your loving and lovable boy becomes
transformed--he ages perceptibly, and his fair young life, his innocent
childhood is gone--to return no more. “When I am a man!” he cries,
and that part of the river of life which flows between childhood and
manhood,--his youth,--is spanned by a bridge of sighs over which he
who crosses can not return. “WHEN I AM A MAN!” Alas! the bitter words
are hardly spoken ere the boy is a man--and such a man! A man without
memory of happy and tranquil youth--is he not a flower that has bloomed
to a semblance of maturity, yet has never been pervaded by that subtle
fragrance which only the warm, tender affection of budding youth
imparts?

In my case the effect was very peculiar; I was made to feel not only
the injustice of my punishment, but a profound sense of humiliation.
My pride was wounded more than my physical body--and, God knows, that
was wounded severely enough. Ah, thou hadst a heavy hand, oh father
mine! Would that I had experienced more of resentment and less of
mortification. The former would have been bad enough, but the latter
made life a hell on earth for me. I was fragile, nervous, sensitive,
and of a physique that ill bore abuse. Sensitive though my physical
body was, I had a mental make-up that was even more so. How I brooded
over that terrible whipping--the last my father ever gave me, for he
died soon after. The world seemed so dark and gloomy to me. There was
no rift in those sombre clouds that gave forth the bitter rain which
tinctured my young life with gall and wormwood. There was no happiness
anywhere.

My mother, angel that she was, and is,--if there be aught of justice or
compassion in the hereafter,--tried to stem the torrent of grief that
was overwhelming my young life, tried to dispel the poisonous miasm
that had disseminated itself throughout every element of my moral and
intellectual being, by such love and consolation as only a tender,
sympathetic mother can give, but in vain. A constant, oppressive,
deeply rooted melancholy took possession of me. I lost my animation and
became as near a misanthrope as one of my years and limited experience
could possibly be. And the shadow of that storm cloud of emotion has
never been quite dissipated in the wearing of the passing years of
life’s battle. Woe to him the memory of whose youth is enwrapped in
a funereal pall and in whose mouth there remains the bitter taste of
humiliation, of outraged pride and self-respect.

It was during the period immediately following the castigation I have
mentioned, that the notion of self-destruction first crystallized in
my mind. I do not remember just how I reasoned upon the matter; I
recall clearly enough, however, that I was profoundly impressed with
the idea that my woes were bearing me down to the depths of misery
and despair. There rested upon me a dreadful incubus from which there
seemed to be but one means of escape.

I had seen persons lying dead, and I remember that in my despairing,
hopeless state of mind the thought of the peaceful, quiet expression
upon their faces was positively fascinating to me. I found myself
dwelling upon it with much interest, and a feeling akin to envy.

Well, as I have said, I do not remember precisely how I formulated
my conclusions, but I finally resolved to make away with myself.
Unfortunately, however, one of the traits with which I was endowed by
nature, was a fear of physical suffering, and when the resolution to
take my own life had been formed, I still had to deal with my physical
cowardice.

It has been said that only cowards and lunatics commit suicide. There
was never a greater lie than this. Lunatics may suicide--cowards,
never. It requires true heroism to face an unknown hereafter--to fly
from those ills we have to those we know not of. And the hapless one
to whom life is a burden must have courage _par excellence_, to enable
him to face that dread future which, if he be scripturally credulous,
must needs be more fearful than the terrestrial unhappiness that he
fain would escape. No, suicide requires bravery, and I was not brave--I
had hardly gotten beyond that dread of darkness and solitude which is
the bane of childish existence. What wonder that I dreaded to take so
radical a road out of my slough of despond?

The physical penalty of self-destruction was the most important
obstacle to be overcome if I would escape from my mental slavery. So
great was my dread of it, that--well, I lived, and, more’s the pity,
am still living, a miserable misanthrope, in whom the misery of the
present is exceeded only by his dread of the unknown country, and his
physical fears of the means necessary to take him hence.

       *       *       *       *       *

I wonder if there are many who are entrusted with the care of youth,
who ever think of their influence in moulding its future destinies. I
have long since forgiven my father for his harshness--but the memory of
my youthful sorrows can never be effaced. Does science recognize such
a thing as a mental scar? It should. And mental scars, though unseen,
are not only permanent, but ever painful. Death finally claimed my
father through his one infirmity. He died of apoplexy, superinduced by
one of his attacks of blind, unreasoning passion. I know not where he
is, but I trust he is unconscious of the results of his mismanagement
of his unfortunate son. I say I know not where he is, advisedly. My
views of the hereafter--if I may call the chaotic ideas I have hitherto
entertained, views--have undergone considerable modification of late.
I am losing my egotism, and gradually coming to believe that death is
but another name for oblivion. How prosaic it is, to be sure. By no
means so satisfying to the ignorant, and those of the faith--which is
sometimes another way of putting the same proposition--as that halo of
glory for the good, or that blaze of everlasting fire for the wicked,
which theology from time immemorial has prescribed for the dying. And
if oblivion be the finality, what more could the All Father do for his
tired children?

       *       *       *       *       *

What would my life have been had I possessed a different temperament?
Possibly if I had been born of other blood, and under more propitious
skies, I would have seen the world through different eyes. There might
have been more _coleur de rose_ and less of sombre tints and neutrals.
To be born in the shadows--ah, me! The sun of morning has never gilded
my mountain tops, nor even at mid-day penetrated the fog and gloom of
the valleys of my soul. Golden sunsets and glorious afterglows are not
for me. Twilight alone is, and ever has been mine. Perhaps if I could
have loved--’Tis said that love illumines one’s soul. But I have never
loved. There was once a woman, whom men called beautiful, but I do not
remember much of her. She had a skin of blood and milk, golden hair,
and pale blue eyes that never looked straight at you. Her voice, as I
recall it, was sweet enough, but it did not ring true, and when she
laughed--but why do I speak of her? She did not understand, and she is
but a dream figure now.

Some one has said that ambition is the main-spring of life. I do not
know, yet I have had ambition--of a certain kind. Mine has been to
learn, to know, to acquire wisdom that should raise me out of the dead
level of mediocrity. But Ambition is the twin sister of Discontent,
and Discontent is the mother of Melancholy and Despair. Work as I
might--and I have never been a drone--there has always been some one
just ahead of me whose results were so much more commendable than
my own that,--well, one might as well work on, even though he never
accomplishes anything worth while. Certain it is that the world has
been no better for anything I ever did. And still I work. I often
wonder if the fellow ahead of me in life’s battle does not feel the
same way;--there’s always another just ahead of him. There can be no
satisfaction in work well done when another goal is looming up just
beyond the one we have reached. I saw a herd of cattle the other day,
lying beneath a spreading oak, placidly chewing their cuds, and as I
looked at them I fancied they gazed at me somewhat pityingly. “Ah,” I
thought, “here is contentment indeed.” I really envied them--until I
noticed the flies that tormented their glossy hides. One might as well
be tormented by ambitions as by flies and gnats. Possibly Nature is
jealous of her children, and will permit none of them to experience the
joy of mere living unannoyed.

       *       *       *       *       *

A friend of mine once said to me, “How very odd, that you should have
taken up the science of chemistry and made a recluse of yourself,
delving and diving into secrets of nature which, as you have never made
any practical use of them, might as well have remained mysteries.” Here
was another who did not understand--another who, like all the rest of
those who called themselves and whom I called my friends, could not
sympathize with me in my devotion to study, because there were no flesh
pots in sight to serve as a motive for the work. To such sordid ones
I could not well lay bare the bitter humiliations with which my all
too evident failure to attain practical results have afflicted me. I
could not lay bare the secret aspirations that impelled me to seek for
things which would have given me a place as a benefactor of my kind and
enrolled me among the immortals. And suppose I had ever confessed that
the mystery of ancient alchemy so impressed me that I must needs grasp
at its only modern representative, chemistry--would not my friends have
laughed at me?

       *       *       *       *       *

What an atmosphere the chemical laboratory is for one of my
temperament! What a fascination there is in the thought that the door
of escape for the world weary,--which, as dear old Epictetus said,
is always open,--is so near--so near that one must needs be careful
lest he pass the portals ere he is ready. How many times have I
wondered if what the text books say of arseniureted hydrogen, and of
anhydrous hydrocyanic acid is really true. And how many times have
I been tempted to--well, to put them to a test on a fellow worker.
Not upon myself, for I am not yet ready, and I do not court death by
accident. My own death must be philosophic when it comes, not sudden
and devoid of impressions. Then, too, the slower things are more to
my taste--morphine for example. When I am ready--when life becomes
insupportable boredom, or an intolerable ache, I shall know just where
and how to seek surcease of world tire. And what a record I will write
of my impressions. How deliberate and scientific it will all be. And
how sure I will make it. These amateurs, with their crude methods and
cowardly shrinkings back from the brink--faugh! how I detest them.
The idiots! what a mess some of them make of it, and how some of them
suffer. As for the fools who do such bungling work that any cheap
doctor called in a hurry can undo the thing--no words of mine can
express my contempt for them. That doctor who swallowed six grains of
morphine and then when the mist began to rise, sent for another fool of
his own profession to succor him, was a coward and a bungler. But, I
have said that a suicide is never a coward. Yes, and I meant it, too;
that doctor was a pretender, and not born in the purple.

These love lorn servant girls and heart sick youths who drink to Death
libations of carbolic acid are most amusing folk. They have courage,
it is true, and doubtless mean well, but they lack the brains to be
original and clever. They are faddists gone mad.

I have studied all of the methods of suicide in vogue and the more
I see of them, the wiser I think I was in selecting chemistry as my
life work. I have haunted the morgue; I have followed to that horrid,
dripping, smelly slab, every case of suicide that has happened in this
city. And such sights as I have seen! Bloated, festering masses of
flesh that required great imagination to fashion into human semblance,
fresh dragged from summer waters; distorted, blackened faces on agony
twisted forms freshly cut down from self-made gibbets; heads blown
open, brain-bespattered and powder-marked by the pistol; limbs crushed
and torn into disgusting masses and shreds of ghastly flesh, the bones
staring through in besplintered protest against the savagery of men who
seek rest beneath the crunching wheels of locomotives; sickening, fresh
made gashes in throats that were once fair to look upon--all these have
I seen and marveled at.

Only yesterday I saw lying upon that familiar slab, an old, old
man--found dead in bed with his throat cut from ear to ear, a letter in
his hand saying only this: “I am tired, so tired.” “What a pity it is,”
I thought, as I looked at the fearful gash through which swollen tongue
and severed larynx protruded, at the blood bathed clod which perchance
had once been loved, “that this man should have lived so long without
learning a way.”

Then there was that dead man I saw taken from the river the other day.
His friends knew of his business troubles and feared he had suicided.
They sought for him for days and days, poor fools. They found him at
last, and he went the way of all the others--to that vile slab. I
was there when his sweetheart came to see his remains. They tried to
keep her out, but she entered the room in spite of them. I was not
surprised at what happened. The transition from her ideal, the lover
of her memory, to that slimy, oozy, bloated thing with the maggots
swarming from its nose and eyes and ears, was enough to shock a
stronger heart than hers. She died in a mad house, screaming against
the maggots that she fancied were devouring her.

Ah, there’s much of comfort in the thought that one has learned a way,
and that my work in science has not all come to naught. How I admire
that man of whom my friend Dr. X. told me this morning, who laughed
at the doctors who worked a whole night over him, trying to save him
from self poisoning. He would revive for a moment under their efforts
and mutter, “No you don’t, d--n you,--you can’t do it!” and then lapse
into coma again. He knew a way, did that man. The stupid doctors did
not know. He, like myself, was a chemist. Was he merely defiant, or
was it professional pride that animated him when he challenged those
fool doctors, who came to interfere with his plans, but knew nothing of
the symptoms produced by a clever admixture of laudanum and potassium
cyanide? I glory in that noble man’s artistic achievement--I glory in
his vindication of individual rights.

       *       *       *       *       *

Existence is growing absolutely insupportable to me. My synthetic
experiments with organic elements which seemed so promising have come
to naught. Another of my failures! I haven’t the energy to begin all
over again, neither am I disposed to devise experiments in other
fields. My brain is pumped out, like a dry well. My heart is dead. I
suppose one might live with a dead heart, but what’s the use? I begin
to believe that it is time to--well, to follow the _way_. There, in
that bottle upon the shelf, are four grains of--I wonder if my figuring
was correct? There’s surely enough. But suppose there should be too
much? Pshaw! Why do I doubt? My experimental provings have been too
carefully made to admit of suspicion of inaccuracy. That huge dog
which--

Why not to-night? “If ’twere done, when ’tis done, ’twere well
it were done quickly.” There is no reason why I should not. My
affairs--What affairs? I have no affairs. My family? There is none.
My friends? Possibly there are some who will read the obituary in
to-morrow’s paper, and sorrow over the necessity of going to the “crank
professor’s” funeral. They will have no keener regret, for, thank the
fates, there will be no funeral expenses, and no contributions will be
levied; I have attended to all that. My friend, Dr. X., is a prosector
at the university, and to him my body is willed. He has promised to
wire the skeleton for the museum. Good fellow, X. No sentimental gush
about him. I wonder how the skeleton will look. I hope X. knows the
French method of cleaning bones. It would be some satisfaction to know
that mine will be white and glistening, and nice to handle. I wonder
what those French fellows use that gives that faint sweet smell to
newly bleached human bones. I suppose I might have written and found
out, but I never thought of that.

As usual at this hour I am alone in the laboratory. It is barely
possible that Professor A. may return to-night. I fancy he did not
quite finish that experiment to-day. It would be embarrassing if he
should come in before I had passed clear through the door. With that
narcotic there would be great danger of such a mishap. I want to acquit
myself at least as creditably as did that man of whom my friend Dr.
X.--Great Charon! the very thing. There should be a bottle of cyanide
somewhere upon the shelves--

How very awkward! Who could have misplaced that bottle? I thought I
knew just where to put my hand upon it. Well, there’s no use fretting
about it, to-morrow I will--Ah, now I think of it, there’s a vial of
anhydrous prussic acid in that little drawer in A.’s desk, and I have a
key!

       *       *       *       *       *

I fancy I can do the work much more artistically than did X.’s patient.
I will take the narcotic in its most elegant and concentrated form,
instead of that beastly tincture. I hate nauseous medicines. As for the
prussic acid, I will use a hypodermic. Fortunately there is one yonder,
in the room for animal experimentation. I will take the morphia first,
and when it begins to act, I will get the syringe. There will be plenty
of time.

How simple; just a tongue coating of powder--a mere fleeting dash of
bitter--a draught of water and--so far the narcotic. Now, to await
results.

       *       *       *       *       *

How exhilarating the primary effects of opium. How easy to chronicle
one’s impressions. How I can write! No wonder that De Quincey--;
I seem to be in a brighter sphere. It is as though the air of the
laboratory had turned to pure oxygen. What strength I feel! What mighty
deeds could I not accomplish now? How large and vivid the gas lights
are. There is an aureola of secondary glow about each of them. I would
experiment with them to-morrow if-- What music is that? Is it not
beautiful? Why, I know that air--it is one my mother used to sing when
I was a little lad--I remember how my dear little sister used to--But
how faint the strains are now. And the lights are growing dim. It will
soon be dark. My chair is rocking, too. How soothing and sensuous the
motion seems. How drowsy I am getting--I must take that hypodermic
before I get too sleepy.

There, that shows what will power can do. Some men would have gone to
sleep and forgotten the rest of their plans. How orderly and systematic
A. is, to be sure. No rummaging around in the drawer amid a confusion
of things to find the prussic. How tight the stopper is. There, now
I have it. Pshaw! I’ve spilled half of it on the floor and cut my
fingers. How clumsy and numb my fingers are, and how hot and fiery
this blood is. How delightful the prussic smells.

Just a drop--the morphia will combine with it and neutralize it. The
drugs will neutralize each other just sufficiently to give me plenty
of time, and I shall still be able to write. Here, in my thigh--just
here-- Ah! My God! too m--.



CHIQUITA


I had been rambling about through Calaveras, investigating mining
properties, and incidentally enjoying to the full the glorious weather
of the early California spring. My search for the pot of gold at the
foot of the rainbow had led me far up among the majestic Sierras--those
wondrous mountains at the foot of which was verdure more beautiful
than any artist could portray, while their snow-covered tops reared
themselves proudly through the clouds and, peering beyond, seemed
to challenge the very sky to descend and meet them. The ravines and
gulches were tortured and torn by rushing torrents from the melting
snows above. Every rivulet had become a brook, every brook a river, and
every river a veritable Niagara.

So replete with the swift rushing yellow waters were the courses of
the mountains and valleys, that the venerable wise-acre, yclept “the
oldest inhabitant,” was permitted by his neighbors to croak to his
heart’s content, and actually held his audiences while he regaled
them with the horrors of “the freshet of the spring of ’61 and ’62,”
and chilled the very marrow of their bones with the ominous prophecy
that the present gorging of the streams was but the forerunner of a
rising of the waters which should make the famous old-time flood of the
Sacramento Valley fade into nothingness.

I had been leisurely retracing my steps from the mountains, and
returning by the “Big Tree” road through the historic town of Murphy’s
Camp--made famous by Bret Harte, and interesting to me because I had
there spent several of the years of my childhood--arrived at the little
town of Vallecito, where I intended to inspect some placer property.

The ardent, coppery-red ball of the California sun was just descending
behind the foothills to westward when I arrived at my destination,
hence there was nothing to do save to make myself as comfortable as
possible at the little ramshackle inn, “The Miner’s Rest,” and defer
all thought of business until the morrow.

Life in the foothills of the Sierras may be monotonous, but it has its
pleasant features, not the least of which was the fare of the humble
Miner’s Rest. I found that Mr. Jim Truesdell, the landlord, had not
boasted when he said genially, “We ain’t much on style hereabouts,
Mister, but you kin bet your bottom dollar our feed is just as good,
an’ just as plenty as it is at the Frisco Palace; tho’ we ain’t
braggin’ none about variety on our meenu kyards.”

Having finished my supper, I lighted a cigar and strolled out upon
the rude, tumble-down veranda of the little inn. Seating myself with
my feet planted upon the railing and a book upon my lap, I proceeded
to enjoy my smoke. Then--my book forgotten--I fell into the revery
which the fragrant smoke wreaths of a good cigar and the glorious
flame of a dying sun bring to him who is at peace with himself and his
surroundings.

More beautiful sunsets there may be than those of my native heath, but
I have never seen but one that could in any way compare with them, and
even there, in a harbor of far-off Guatemala, the conditions, save
for the brilliant ocean rim below which the sun sank to sleep, were
much the same. The mountains to the eastward of Vallecito recalled the
Sierra Madre, of that distant alien land. There were the same fleecy
clouds, illumined by the waning fire of the God of Day, reflecting
colors that surely would have been the despair of the most ambitious
brush, and floating with soft caress over the snow-capped peaks which,
like grim and watchful sentinels, walled in the valley where nestled
the little town. There was just breeze enough blowing to give a keen
zest to the balm-laden air of the mountains--a feature which that ever
to be remembered scene in the Bay of Ocos distinctly lacked, for ’twas
a miniature hell down there, night or day.

Save for the weird cry of some mysterious night bird, who ever and anon
called his mate, and the infrequent whir of a diminutive species of
bat, everything was as quiet as a blue Sunday in staid old New England.
The “chug” of the pick, the clamorous ring of the shovel and the
rattling of the miner’s cradle were conspicuously absent in the valley
and the hills and ravines round about. So still was the little mining
town, that a giant elk who was sniffing the air in a spirit of curious
and careful investigation far up the mountain side, came nearer and yet
nearer, tossing his head with its burden of enormous horns in defiance
at first, and then standing stock-still as if amazed. When he had
finished his tour of investigation, he turned and stalked majestically
away down the side of a rocky gorge that would scarcely have afforded
safe footing for a cat. He glanced back several times as though he did
not quite understand his undisputed kingship, and then, with a farewell
belligerent toss of his mighty antlers, plunged into the obscurity of
the beautiful manzanita, and scraggly _mésquite_ and chapparal that
fringed the steep canyon sides of the awesome Sierras.

As the elk disappeared, a long, sobbing, terrifying wail was wafted
from amid the scrub firs and tall bread pines still higher up on a
distant mountain side. It was the cougar’s warning to his tawny mate.
The elk was not king, nor yet was the hungry panther, for somewhere
amid those far-off mountain ravines was the lair of the grizzly,
fiercest of his kind.

The last red glow of the setting sun had faded from the western sky and
the chill of night was fast gathering, yet I still sat there upon the
veranda, half asleep, but breathing in deeply the invigorating fragrant
balm that was borne to me by the cool evening breeze from the spicy
mountain firs and pines and giant redwoods. As I dozed my cigar fell
from my lips and bounded off the veranda to the ground, where it lay
glowering reproachfully at me for a few moments before it finally went
out altogether, smothering in its own ashes and spitefully emitting, as
a farewell indignant protest, the acrid odor of dead tobacco.

“_Buenos tardes, Señor Caballero._”

I came to myself with a start, and turned in the direction of the voice.

At the foot of the two or three steps that led to the veranda where I
was sitting, stood a man and a woman--evidently Mexicans--as queer a
couple as it had ever been my fortune to meet. The man was apparently
about sixty years of age, taller than most of his race, still stalwart
and erect and, despite his years, a handsome fellow of his type. He
carried his head as haughtily as might an hidalgo of Old Spain. His
picturesque costume was bedecked with finery which, faded though it
was, indicated the garb of a Mexican of the higher caste. His swarthy
face was shaded by an ornate sombrero, from beneath which flashed
piercing, fiery eyes that would have compelled attention anywhere.
A broad silk sash encircled his waist, and artistically draped over
his shoulder were the graceful folds of a bright, many-colored
_serape_. Through the sash was thrust the inevitable murderous-looking
_cuchillo_--the symbol of his individuality and a declaration of that
belief in personal responsibility which is as inseparable from the hot
Latin blood as though it were dependent upon a special corpuscle.

Unlike her companion, the woman presented a figure that was pathetic,
rather than picturesque, although she too showed in her apparel
something of the fondness for color and tinsel that characterizes her
race. She appeared to be old--much older than her companion, although
appearances are very deceptive in judging the age of women of the Latin
races. They mature young, and their youth and beauty begin to fade very
early, so early that at a period when the woman of fair Anglo-Saxon
blood is yet in her prime, her darker-skinned sister is already old and
wrinkled.

The old crone--for so she appeared--was bent and withered, with hair
as white as human hair ever becomes. Her face was fearfully disfigured
by smallpox, that loathsome disease which had become a curse to her
people. As she raised her eyes towards me, I noted with something of
a shock that she was totally blind--the dull and expressionless eyes
showed that only too plainly. Used as I was to the sight of human
misery and helplessness, there was something in the poor old woman’s
face that impressed me.

“_Buenos tardes, Señor Caballero_,” again said the man, with a polite
bow. “_Comprende V. Espanol?_”

“_Muy poco_--very little--_Señor_,” I replied.

“Then will I speak the tongue of the _Americanos_, though I speak it
not well,” he continued. “I hope _el Señor_ he is not disturb in his
smoke of the evening by the speaking to him.”

“Not at all, Sir,” I answered politely.

“Then, maybe, it is not too free to ask _el Señor_ if he will have the
fortune told.”

“Oh, you are a fortune teller, eh?”

The Mexican raised his head proudly.

“_Non, Señor_, it is not I that have fortunes to tell. Ramon Pasquale
never has told yet the fortune. He does not know. It is my Chiquita
here, she the great fortunes can tell. She can see, oh, so far! She
sees not as _el Señor_ sees, with the eyes of the head;--it is with the
eyes of the mind, with the eyes of the soul that Chiquita sees. She
knows how the past to tell. Aye, and the future too, she knows. She the
stars can read--she reads them true. The grave to her is not closed.
Fate is to the eyes of her mind as is to _el Señor’s_ eyes the open
book upon his knee. She is wonderful, my Chiquita! Is it not so, _cara
mia_?” There was a tender note in his voice as he addressed his aged
companion.

“It is so, my Ramon,” replied the woman, in a voice that fairly
startled me, so clear and youthful did it seem. “It is so, and if the
great _Señor_ will allow me it to tell, I will to him read the story of
the past of his life, and for him open the book of the future, that he
may know what shall come to him.”

My expression must have betrayed the interest I felt, for the Mexican
said eagerly: “To-night must _el Señor_ listen to Chiquita. To-morrow
she will be gone, and it too late will be. It is not dear, _Señor_,
it is _muy barato_--very cheap; only one _peso_; that is all. And
so wonderful, so wonderful, _Señor_! There is none so wonderful as
Chiquita. _El Señor_ he will never forget the fortune she for him will
tell--and only one _peso_.”

And Chiquita told my fortune, and evidently tried to give me good
measure, for the stars were out and the moon was silvering the eastern
sky ere she had finished.

Granting that Ramon was sincere, and not merely attending to business
in his enthusiastic praises of Chiquita’s professional skill, he and
I differed somewhat in our estimate of it. There was nothing very new
about the fortune the old woman mapped out for me. It had the same rose
color as many others I had heard. There were the usual platitudes about
the honors I was to win, and the riches I was to gain. I would become
famous, also, and was destined to marry a woman for whom my own country
surely could hold no place, for, according to the fortune teller’s
description, she was to be a duchess, no less. Of course, as I did not
tell Chiquita that I was already married, I could find no fault with
the bride to be, especially as she was of the blood royal.

But Chiquita was eloquent, in her broken way, and both she and her
picturesque companion were so interesting that I did not begrudge the
dollar which, after all, she had fairly earned. To hear pleasant things
about one’s self is always worth the price--and there always is a
price, although we are not often wise enough to know it.

There was that in the poise of Chiquita’s white head and the sweetly
modulated tones of her voice which, with her small, slender,
beautifully formed brown hands suggested that her birth and breeding
were more aristocratic than is usual with itinerant vendors of fortunes.

I was curious to know more of the interesting couple, but had been
riding hard that day, and the prospect of a good bed was just then more
attractive than character study with a pair of strolling Mexicans for
subjects. The séance of fortune telling ended, I was glad to pay for my
entertainment and say good-night to them.

“_Gracias, Señor--buenos noches._ We are much thankful, my Chiquita and
I. Is it not so, my Chiquita?”

The old woman bowed gracefully, and echoed her companion’s expression
of appreciation and farewell greeting. As I turned to enter the inn the
landlord met me at the door, saying:

“Your room’s all ready, Mister. It’s been ready for more’n an hour.
I seen you was havin’ your fortune told, an’ as the old gal allus
dishes up as good ones for the money as can be had in these diggin’s, I
thought I wouldn’t disturb ye. I hope ye got all the trimmin’s that was
comin’ to ye,” and he grinned expansively.

“I have no fault to find with the fortune the old woman told me,”
I replied smilingly; “it was doubtless better than I deserve, and
I suspect much better than I will ever experience. I was far more
interested in Chiquita and Ramon, her companion, than in her skill as
a fortune teller. I am curious to learn something of them. Do you know
anything about them?”

“Why, no, leastwise not enough to hurt. The old gal is some sort of
a gypsy, I reckon. She sure is, if there’s any Mexican gypsies. The
feller with her is a Greaser all right, though I’ll allow I don’t know
nothin’ else agin him. They blew in on this town about ten years ago,
an’ have been comin’ here off an’ on, workin’ the fortune tellin’
racket ever since.”

“Well, they are not likely to get rich at it,” I said. “Vallecito does
not seem to be a very profitable field for their particular specialty.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” replied the genial Jim. “Of course, this
town ain’t what she was in the early days,” and the old “forty-niner”
sighed retrospectively. “But it ain’t so bad, after all. It’s a little
out o’ season now, but when strangers come through here on the way to
Mariposa and Calaveras, I reckon it’s pretty good pickin’ for the old
woman and her pal. The Big Trees and the Calaveras caves draw pretty
good crowds, and they’re the kind of people that’s got mighty tender
feet, too--an’ some money. I sort o’ like them kind, myself.”

“Is anything known of the history of those Mexicans before they came to
this part of the country?” I asked.

“No; we folks don’t ask questions much, an’ Ramon, the Greaser, aint
one of the talkative kind. Anyhow, he don’t talk much to us. I reckon
though, that some o’ them tourists knows how to make him loosen up.
There was a feller here once that writ stories for magazines an’ such,
who told me that Ramon had spun him some pretty wild yarns, an’ I
believe he writ some of ’em down in a book.”

“Ah, then a story has been published about them.”

“Well, I don’t reckon it was published none,” replied mine host,
facetiously. “That writer feller tumbled off the foot-bridge into the
Tuolumne Canyon about a week after that, an’ I’m afraid he didn’t go to
press.

“But I’m runnin’ a hotel, such as it is, an’ hain’t got much time for
fairy tales, an’ still less time for Greasers, which the same I don’t
like nohow.”

Needless to say, my conversation with the landlord had only served to
increase my curiosity. As I bade him good-night I resolved to seek for
Chiquita and Ramon in the morning. I had scented a romance; which meant
with me that I must take the trail and run the story to earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

I found the fortune teller and her companion in the cabin of a Mexican
sheep herder, among the hills a little way out of town. This is the
story that Ramon told me:

“Our story, _Señor_? It is not much, our story. What you have seen,
that is all it is to tell. It is the story of Chiquita, my Chiquita,
there, that you should hear. I, Ramon, know the story. Alas! too well
do I know it. Listen, _Señor_:

“Many, many years ago, in the days when _los Americanos_--the
_mineros_--were by hundreds here in Calaveras and in the valley of
Tuolumne, a great _hacienda_ there was, and a great mansion, near
Sonora, just by the road that now runs to Vallecito. When the _Señor_
rides to Sonora, at the right hand of the road will he yet see the
stones of the crumbling walls of the house. He cannot mistake, for all
along the road is there none other like it.

“Don Pedro Salvia, the name was, of the owner of the _hacienda_. Many
broad acres of the hills and valleys were his, and over those acres
by the thousands grazed his cattle. All the land it was black with his
droves of the long-horned breed of _la España_. Horses too, there were
in vast herds. Never were seen mustangs so many and so fine and swift
as those of Don Pedro. Many cattle and many mustangs mean always much
money, and Don Pedro was _muy rico_--of great riches.

“The old Don was proud, oh, so proud, but not his great wealth was
it that made him so. Of a famous and haughty race he was. None older
was there in all Castile. His blood was what the _Americano_ would
call--what is it that they call the blood of the grandee? Ah, I
remember--he was of the blue blood. None was there in all Spain so blue.

“In Sonora for many years had the Salvias been--so long that no
_Americano_ could remember when the family was not there. Before Don
Pedro came, many, many generations of the Salvias had lived and died on
the _rancheria_.

“Fate had laid its hand heavy on the blood of the Salvias, for the Don
was of his race the last man. He had one child only--a daughter. La
Doña Teresa, her poor mother, had died when she came--the little one.

“Chiquita was of Don Pedro’s life the sun. He worshipped her even as
worships the good Catholic the Madonna. Never was maiden so beautiful
or so graceful. Ah! like the deer was she graceful. And she was no
plant of the hot house. There was none among all the herders who could
throw the _riata_ as could Chiquita. Of all the _caballeros_ of Sonora
there was not one who in riding could match her. There was no mustang
so wild that she could not tame him. And shoot! Not in all California
was there a better shot with rifle or pistol than Chiquita.

“And, _Señor_, she was not afraid--as any _caballero_ she was brave. As
free and fearless as the young eagle she came and went among the rough
hill people. Once only, was any man so bold as to give to Chiquita the
insult. Ah! _Señor_, beautiful to see it must have been! Almost dead
they found Léon Bodigo, the half breed. All of his blood it had run
out. The maiden’s little _cuchillo_, it was sharp, _Señor_.

“No companions had Chiquita, save the birds and flowers, and the trees
and brooks of the mountains,--and Juan, her cousin. But she was happy
and had never the--what you call it, eh? Ah, I have it, care. She
had not the care. She had never sorrow, and never had tears wet her
beautiful eyes since she was small--so very small.

“Juan it was, who was of Chiquita the slave. He was not so old as
Chiquita. He was a lad only--fourteen years of the age he was--but
there was no _caballero_ more strong of heart than he. Happy also, was
Juan, for loved he not Chiquita? Yes, with all his soul he loved her. A
thing wonderful to see was the love of Juan for the beautiful Chiquita!

“When the _vaqueros_ made of the cattle the round up, with them rode
Chiquita, and beside her was Juan--always Juan. You should have seen
the riding, and of the herds the gathering, _Señor_. Nothing so grand
is there now anywhere to see.

“Many times when the throw was made for the branding, and the fierce
long-horn to the ground was brought, it was with the _riata_ of
Chiquita. And, Juan, too, made his throw for the iron. The count of
Chiquita and Juan in the throwing of the cattle the best _vaquero_
could not beat.

“But Paradise it is never to last. Dark days there came to the
_rancheria_ of the Salvias. It was over again the story of--Eden, yes?
In the beautiful garden the serpent?

“One day to the _rancheria_ came _un Inglés_, an English Milord. A
letter he bring from a friend of Don Pedro’s, asking that he be made
welcome. That Englishman he was sick, very sick, _Señor_. Like a man
who is starved he looked. _Dios!_ he was white. He was so thin that
when the wind blew he trembled like a leaf that on the tree is dead,
and poof! poof!--how he had the cough! He could not sit the mustang,
and the _vaqueros_ they smile at him when he ride. So weak he was that
on the ground he fall off--bang!

“But _el Medico_ he have said that the Englishman he must ride, ride,
ride--or with the lungs he will surely die. And so he try and try, for
he had the pluck, that Englishman. By and by, he grow strong--strong
like the bull. The air of the hills is like the old wine of Oporto and
makes the great miracles. _Carramba!_--the air it did not know.

“When that Englishman he was strong to ride steady, Juan was happy no
more. Wherever Chiquita was, there was Milord. He learned to throw the
_riata_ and with the _vaqueros_ to ride the herd. They ride not badly,
these cursed _Inglés_. This fellow he ride bob! bob! bob! up and down,
always up and down--but he ride straight like the soldier.

“How Juan hated that English Milord! Little fool, that Juan! He did
not know that it was Juan that was too many in the riding of pleasure.
Ah! he was the great fool--he thought it was the Englishman! For many
days he thought this foolish thought. So it was, until one day Chiquita
sent him away on a mission that was useless. When he came back, he saw
her riding far away from the _hacienda_, far away in the hills. The
Englishman he was beside her; so close to her he was that together
their knees were touching. And then Juan knew! And then, so quick, like
the lightning, grew he from boy to man--and such a man!

“It runs hot, the blood of my people, _Señor_, and in the veins of none
of his race had it ever run hotter than it ran that day in the veins of
Juan. And bitter it ran, and everything it was red to the eyes of Juan.
One thing only was there to do; the Englishman must die, and Juan he
must kill him!

“The next day again into the hills rode Chiquita. Milord, the cursed
Milord, was as always beside her. Juan saw them at the corral in the
starting, and taking his rifle he crawl, like _una serpiente_, on the
belly through a gulch between the hills that open on the road at the
turning. In the chapparal he crouched and waited, like the panther that
is hungry. Nothing could save Milord, for when did Juan ever miss the
mark?

“But Chiquita made with the Englishman a race, and so swift was her
mustang that far behind she left him. To the turn of the road she came
alone. Juan heard the beating of the hoofs and thought it was time. He
stood straight up behind the brush of the greasewood and manzanita,
with his rifle at his shoulder--so! Chiquita saw, and all at once she
knew.

“So sudden it all was, and she ride so quick, that Juan was close--oh,
so close--to killing Chiquita before he saw who was the rider.

“Straight at him the mustang she rode, and then she stopped and looked
into his eyes; oh, so sad she looked. For a long time she looked at
him. He saw that she knew, and it was not the eyes of Chiquita that
fell--it was Juan’s. And then she spoke:

“‘It is not for me, that my cousin he waits. In his eyes is there
murder, but it is not for his Chiquita that he sees red. Is my cousin
Juan a coward, that he lies in ambush? Does he love me no longer? Is
it that he would kill one whom I love? Go, and go quickly, that he may
not see you--that he may not know that my little Juan has put upon
Chiquita and the house of Salvia the great shame.’

“The Englishman he was not come to the bend of the road before Juan
was gone. And Juan came not back to the _hacienda_ for the many, many
days. No one knew where he had gone, but he was not far. He was near
in the mountains; like the cougar and the grizzly he was hiding. Far
from Chiquita he could not go. Many the times she have passed him as
he crouched in the _mésquite_, but she did not know. Always was her
Englishman to ride beside her. Three, four, ten times could Juan have
killed him, but would not! Was it not that Chiquita had said she have
come to love the Milord? And she have said, too, that it is coward to
shoot from the ambush. Juan loved Chiquita; her heart he would not make
to ache, and, _Señor_, he was not coward, that little Juan!

[Illustration: “IS MY COUSIN JUAN A COWARD, THAT HE LIES IN AMBUSH?”]

“Every day, for many, many days, Juan, from his hiding could see of the
rides, the starting--Chiquita and the Englishman--always the cursed
_Inglés_! Not always would they ride near Juan. One way sometimes,
then next day another way, but every day some way they ride--Chiquita
and her Englishman. And they ride so close, so very close--so close
together they ride that Juan sometimes forgets almost, and then he
looks at the rifle. So hungry he looks at it, and how the itching it is
in the fingers! Always is it loaded, the rifle, and it carries far and
true the bullet when Juan fires it. He is fine shot, that little Juan.

“One day Chiquita and the Englishman they not ride together. The Milord
is alone. Next day is he alone once more. He does not ride the way of
Juan. That is good, for Chiquita is not there, and to remember is hard
when she is not there, and the gun it is loaded.

“Two days, then, the Englishman he ride alone. The second day, in the
evening, Juan sees the _vaqueros_ and the women run, and run--they run
about like jack-rabbits. And then they gather together and talk, talk,
always they talk; like _el loro_, the parrot, they talk. There is no
work. For two days, Juan has not seen Don Pedro.

“The third day, in the morning, everything is like dead at the
_hacienda_. No one is stir, only sometimes the dogs they bark. By and
by comes the Englishman out of the house, springs quick on his mustang
and like the wind he is off. He rides close by Juan, so near that the
boy he could have plucked him off his horse. And the Englishman’s face
it was white--white just like a corpse. He ride like he is scared--like
_el diablo_--like the devil he ride!

“Juan, too, was scared. He was sure something go bad, very bad, at the
_hacienda_. And so he is go down to the place and look all around, but
he is see nobody--they are all gone, the _vaqueros_ and the women.

“And then Juan go into the house. There he find Don Pedro dying with
_la viruela_, the smallpox, _Señor_! with nobody to care for him but
Chiquita, and one old woman that was call for the joke, La Bonita, the
beautiful, because she have the pest long before and was, oh, so ugly!
Ah! the face of Don Pedro! It was horrible; it made Juan to grow sick!

“But Juan stay and help the women. At first the boy he was afraid, but
he loved Chiquita, and soon the pest he forgot.

“Well, _Señor_, soon and sure the end was. In five days Don Pedro he
was dead. And Juan and La Bonita they bury him, with nobody to help.
Chiquita her heart is break. She cry and cry and cry, but Juan he knew
it was not all for that her father was dead. She would not tell Juan,
but he knew. The coward _Inglés_ that have run away--for him also were
the tears.

“A few days more and Chiquita too, was take sick with the pest. This
time it was not the black smallpox--but it is bad, very bad. _Jesu!_
How the old woman and the boy they make the fight for Chiquita! And
Chiquita she is not die--she get well. Her face it is scar--so bad is
it scar that La Bonita herself is not less beautiful than the poor
Chiquita. And Juan he is afraid--for some day she will know, so he take
away from the house all the bright things and the mirrors and tell
La Bonita the young _Señorita_ must not know. And the old woman she
understand, ah! too well she understand. She remember the sorrow of the
day she herself first saw the scar of her face, and she is careful of
Chiquita.

“When Chiquita she could once more walk about and breathe the sweet
air of the pines, everywhere with her went Juan. Once again it was
Juan--always Juan.

“When Chiquita she grew strong again, as before the pest came, the poor
boy he might have been happy, but for one thing--tears, tears, always
tears in the eyes of Chiquita! And Juan he knew they were not all for
Don Pedro. Always in her mind that cursed Milord! Her heart it still
ache for the coward Englishman.

“Long walks Chiquita and Juan they take together. She could again ride,
but never did she ask for her mustang. She for riding cared no more.
Always, you see, she is think of the Englishman. And Juan, he know why
she wished not to ride, and his heart it was lead.

“But Juan was kind, so very kind to Chiquita. Always he loved her, and
the scar of the face made to him no difference. But every day does he
fear the time when she must know. That time, so much does he fear it,
that the brooks he would not let her cross; he was afraid that in them
her face she might see; yet still did he know sure that sometime she
must see it.

“By and by the people is come back to the _rancheria_, and Juan he is
do the best he can to take care of the place, and the cattle and the
horses. For a little while things they go along like before the pest it
have kill Don Pedro.

“One day Juan he go into the hills for the round up, and for two days
he come not back. Before he go he tell La Bonita to keep good watch of
the poor Chiquita, but all the same he is afraid. All the time of the
riding after the cattle he is afraid it goes not well with Chiquita.

“When Juan he is get back from the round up, the great trouble it have
come. Chiquita she is mad--she have gone crazy, _Señor_, and she does
not know anything--not anybody does she know!

“From La Bonita Juan hears the story. The Englishman he has come back
to see what is happen at the _hacienda_. Chiquita is so glad she almost
die with the gladness, but _el Inglés_, he is see her poor face with
all the scar, and he is look, ‘Ugh!’ He say nothing, but he look the
‘Ugh!’

“La Bonita she hear the Englishman tell Chiquita he must say
_adios_--for the last time he must say it. She cry, and cry, and cry,
like the heart it is to break, and she hold tight to the coat of
Milord. And then he push her away hard, so! and tell her about the scar
on her face, and she not understand--she not believe. So he take from
his pocket _el espejo_, the looking-glass, and hold it before Chiquita!

“La Bonita she hear the great scream and run quick to Chiquita. She
find her on the floor like one who is dead. The Englishman he is not
there--he is gone, but on the floor is the devil looking-glass. La
Bonita made the curse, and crush the glass into the thousand pieces,
so! If the Englishman he had not gone she sure would have kill him,
that old woman! She with the poniard could aim true, that Bonita, and
for the blood of Milord was she thirsty.

“When he have the work to do, _el Mexicano_ make not the hurry,
but when he must kill his enemy, _Señor_, then does he never say
_mañana_--the to-morrow. To-day is the time he must kill.

“Juan stayed not long at the _hacienda_. He leave Chiquita with the old
woman, and saddle his mustang and ride--swift as the bird flies, rode
Juan. The _vaqueros_ they tell him the Englishman he have ride through
Sonora, and so Juan he go that way.

“Does _el Señor_ know where is the ferry on the Stanislaus?”

“Yes,” I said, “I know the place well.”

“Then, the _Señor_ he will remember that the mountains are at the ferry
high, very high and steep like the wall. The Stanislaus in the spring
is so swift that in it a man could not live one second. The rocks, ah!
_Señor_, the rocks in the canyon of the Stanislaus they are plenty, and
they are sharp and cruel.

“It was not then as now. There was no ferry, and one must cross by a
foot-bridge. The freshet of the spring-time it had washed the bridge
away. Very high was then the Stanislaus! When the foot-bridge it was
go, one must wait, and wait, and wait--he must wait for the going down
of the water and for the _mineros_ a new bridge to build.

“In the cabin of a _minero_ away up on the mountain side the Englishman
was wait for the water to go down and the bridge to be built. Here it
was that Juan find him.

“He could fight, could that cursed _Inglés_, and he was so strong that
in his hands only a child was that little Juan! But the boy he have the
courage, and the right--and, _Señor_, he have the poniard. It is the
poniard that makes the strength as nothing.

“In the cabin of the _minero_ the fight began, and so weak was Juan in
the hands of _el Inglés_ that he was by him push through the door and
to the edge of the canyon. It is very deep, that canyon, and to the
bottom a very long way, and Juan he know what happen if he is not quick
and sure.

“The wrist of Juan it is not strong, and his enemy he hold it tight
in his hand, so! But, when the Englishman he take the boy around the
waist for throw him over the side of the canyon, his foot it make the
slip and he fall back! As he fall he let go the wrist of Juan!

“Ah! now for Milord is there no more chance! He must sure die! Quick,
like the rattlesnake, struck the boy! One! Two! Three!--five times he
bury the knife in the Englishman!

“And when the Englishman fall limp on the ground, Juan is cover thick
with the hot red blood. It have spurt, and spurt--all over him it have
spurt!

“The Englishman he is not yet so dead that he does not understand when
Juan say: ‘My Chiquita, she have send her love to the Milord who was so
kind as to show to her in the looking-glass her face.’

“And then Juan laugh in the man’s face as he die.

“When the Englishman he was no more, Juan roll and roll him to the edge
of the canyon. He was not strong for the lift, but he could make the
push and the roll of the body. When the body was at the edge, Juan make
one grand push and crash! over the Englishman go!

“Perhaps _el Señor_ he not _comprende_--he have not the hot blood of
_un Español_. But, maybe, he too have enemies, and knows the hate, and
the feelings of Juan can understand.

“Never was music so sweet to the ear of that little Juan, as the sound
of the dead Englishman making the fall. Every time the body it strike
the rocks, it bound off like the ball, and spatter much blood! Very
beautiful to the eyes of Juan was the red trail of the body on the
canyon side.

“When the body of Milord reach the bottom, he look no more like a
man--he is like he is blown to the mince-meat by the blast of powder.
He fall into the Stanislaus in many pieces, splash! splash! and when
Juan saw this, he was happy--_Dios!_ for the one minute he forget.

“Of the story of Chiquita there is not much more to tell, _Señor_. When
Juan was get back to the _hacienda_, she was still not know anybody.
_El Medico_ say she have of the brain a bad sickness. She live, but she
no more can see--she is blind!

“And never has Chiquita remembered--_Gracios à Dios!_

“Not long was it before the _rancheria_ of the Salvias is go to
ruin. They all go away, the _vaqueros_ and the women. La Bonita,
she stay like the faithful dog till she die. And then was Chiquita
alone--alone, till she have found Ramon.”

Here the story-teller gazed tenderly toward the door of the herder’s
cabin, where in the quiet shadows just within, sat a pathetic
white-haired figure.

“But what became of Juan?” I asked.

There was a peculiar light in the Mexican’s eyes as he replied:

“Long, long ago he die--that little Juan. It was well that he die, for
when Ramon came, then was there no more need of Juan. Then, too, my
poor Chiquita did not know, and why was it then that Juan should live?”



A DEAD IDEAL

A ROMANCE OF THE DISSECTING ROOM


I had been practising medicine for some years, and had grown tired
of the hard daily grind of the general practitioner. I longed for
a vacation, but medicine is a hard task mistress and with the busy
physician economy of time is so essential that his so-called “rest”
is usually merely a change of work. I felt that it must be so with
me, and resolved to hie me to some of the eastern centers of medical
teaching and take a post graduate course in several special subjects.
Polyclinics and post graduate schools being then unknown, I went to New
York and matriculated at one of that city’s famous schools, one which
had attained a high reputation for practical bedside instruction and
abundant clinical material.

It was with all the enthusiasm of a school boy, that I enrolled my
name upon the college roster and settled down to earnest work in the
hospital wards and dissecting rooms.

As I was desirous of mingling with my classmates as much as possible,
and was not averse to a certain degree of practical economy, I
formed a combination with three undergraduates, who were recommended
to me as desirable associates, and became a guest of a medical
students’ boarding house--an establishment characterized by abundant
opportunities for the study of entomology and the effects of prolonged
fasting upon the human body, rather than by the abundance and variety
of its larder. As was the custom among medical students, we clubbed
together and occupied a large single room--none too elaborately
furnished, but very comfortable withal, and made rather attractive by a
large, old fashioned fireplace.

My room-mates were most agreeable associates, although not
altogether harmonious in tastes and methods of study. Two were young
Southerners--men of superior attainments, but typic ladies’ men,
and fond of social dissipation and excitement. Both were possessed
of some means, and had adopted our mode of living because of social
and bohemian instincts rather than from motives of economy. Time was
an unimportant factor with them, hence they rarely suffered from
over-study, although they were often the worse for the wear and tear
of social dissipation. If ever there was a well matched pair of college
cronies it was my young friends, Will Richardson and Charles Favell.

The fourth member of our circle, Harold Parkyn, was about my own age,
and as different from our jovial room-mates as possible. He had been an
artist, it seems, and an unappreciated one, which was no fault of his,
for he had talent that fell but little short of genius. Despairing of
success in his chosen profession and abhorring commercial pursuits, he
had entered medicine at a rather late period in life.

I have rarely met a man so ill adapted by nature to medicine as was
Parkyn. He was a fine, athletic, handsome fellow, with a clear cut,
refined and classical face, and magnificent dark eyes which evidenced
a temperament far too esthetic, and emotional faculties too exalted
and sensitive to withstand the physical and mental strain incidental
to intimate association with human suffering. His first visit to the
dissecting room was harrowing to witness, and it was weeks before he
made an attempt to qualify in practical anatomy. At his first surgical
clinic he fainted outright. A large part of the disagreeable features
of caring for the sick filled him with disgust. And yet, Parkyn was
plucky; his was not a spirit to be easily discouraged, and he applied
himself persistently to the task of subduing his finer feelings and
acquiring the proverbial callosity of the medical student--an effort in
which he most signally failed.

Parkyn was not only of a delicately sensitive nervous organization, but
he was rather peculiar in his ways. Affable at times--when his chums
were indulging in jollity--he was generally one of the most reserved
and taciturn men I have ever met; especially was he unsocial in the
presence of ladies. So noticeable was this peculiarity that the young
women of the household had dubbed him “Old Crusty”--which disturbed
his serenity not at all, even when Richardson and Favell, in a spirit
of mischief and with great show of formality, adopted the sobriquet
applied to him by the ladies. In grave and solemn caucus these young
gentlemen decided that Parkyn was a confirmed woman hater, and
deservedly doomed to die an old bachelor. Their favorite occupation was
the reading of love letters which they pretended to have received, and
the exhibition of photographs of pretty girls to “Old Crusty.”

Being a practitioner, and therefore concededly the oracle of our little
student family, I was a sort of balance wheel to the party, standing
between the occasional over-exuberance of Richardson and Favell on the
one hand, and the extreme sensitiveness of Parkyn on the other.

One evening as we were all sitting before the fireplace enjoying
our after-dinner pipes, Favell brought out from the recesses of his
wonderfully productive pocket, a photograph of a most beautiful woman,
and with a fine show of counterfeit embarrassment, exhibited it as “The
picture of a very dear friend of mine, down home--just received this
morning. Very charming girl--particular friend of my sister’s,” etc.
etc.

The picture was certainly beautiful, and if Favell was telling
the truth he had reason to be proud of the charming young woman’s
acquaintance, but as I looked at the photograph, I fancied I remembered
having seen it before, in a stationer’s shop. I made no comment,
however, and Favell proceeded to launch the arrows of his wit at Parkyn.

“Say, old man, here is something that ought to stir your blood at last!
How can you remain a woman hater and know that there are such charming
creatures on this old planet of ours as Miss--Ahem!--the original of
this photograph? Ah! your eyes are actually growing green with envy.
You dear old stick, you! Has it been merely a slight touch of sour
grapes after all? Tell me, old fellow, did you ever see anything so
beautiful as this face? Did you ever know a lovelier girl?”

Parkyn rose from his chair, and with a mournful expression replied,
“One only, my dear boy, and she--but pardon me,” he said, coloring
up, “you well know that the subject of ladies is one which--bores me.
I must leave such things to social butterflies like yourself and our
mutual friend Richardson here. And, by the way, gentlemen, I must hie
myself to a subject even more distasteful than that of woman in the
abstract. I promised Professor Van Buren that I would finish that
abominable dissection of the upper extremity to-night. You see that the
trend of Favell’s conversation has driven me to extremities. Yes, thank
God! to my last extremity.” Saying which he withdrew.

“Now, see here, boys,” I said, after Parkyn had gone. “You mustn’t
tease our friend so outrageously. If I am not mistaken you hit him on
a tender point just now, and he is far too sensitive and high-strung
to always take your badinage so good naturedly as he did to-night. I
suspect that Harold Parkyn is quite as human as the rest of us and
that he--well, who knows that he may not be bitterly mourning over the
grave of buried hopes? No, boys, you must let him alone. You may be
inflicting pain upon him.”

“By Jove, doctor!” exclaimed Favell, “I never thought of that. I’ll
just bet the dear old fellow has had a love affair. And it hasn’t
turned out right; that’s what’s the matter. I’ll apologize to him as
soon as he returns.”

“Yes, and a fine mess you’ll make of it!” said Richardson. “You would
better let well enough alone. We’ll both have a little sense and
delicacy hereafter. To tell the truth, I have for some time been a
little ashamed of my part in our chaffing, and I’m only too glad to
reform.”

Parkyn was very thoughtful for several days after the affair of the
photograph, and even more reserved than usual. The boys kept their
promises and did not again attempt to banter him. I fancied that he
understood the studious politeness and affectionate consideration with
which he was subsequently treated, although there was no comment.

Several weeks later, Parkyn and myself chanced to be alone together
and, as is likely to be the case among young professional men, our talk
drifted into a discussion of our aims and ambitions in life. In the
course of the conversation I quite naturally commented upon the wide
variance between Parkyn’s former profession and the one in the study of
which he was then engaged.

“It has always puzzled me to understand, I said, how a man of your
artistic temperament and admitted ability, could ever have deserted the
profession of art for that of medicine.”

“Well,” replied Parkyn, “you have doubtless forgotten the fact which
I long ago frankly stated to our mutual friends and yourself, that
I was not highly appreciated by the public and finally despaired of
success--not in making a living, for I could by dint of strong exertion
do that--but in attaining the position in my profession which I felt
was justly my due. I, myself, often wonder why I finally selected
medicine as my field of labor, but I couldn’t sell groceries; the law
wouldn’t do at all, and the ministry was out of the question, so there
seemed to be nothing but medicine left.” Parkyn sighed, and remained
for some moments dreamily gazing into the fireplace and listlessly
poking at the glowing coals with the tongs.

“But, my dear fellow,” I said, “you have selected a profession that
is nearly as difficult as art, so far as winning fame and financial
success is concerned, and moreover, one which has by comparison no
features of attractiveness. You will pardon me if I also say that
medicine is a profession to which your sensitive organization is but
poorly adapted.”

Parkyn arose and nervously paced the floor. He finally paused and
facing me said, “Doctor, I realize the truth of what you say only too
keenly, and what is more I detest your profession so far as I have
gone. I have, however, determined not only to overcome my repugnance
to it, but to blunt by sheer force of will the peculiarities of
organization to which you have alluded. Distasteful as it is, medicine
is delightful by comparison with the hell into which my chosen
profession, art, finally precipitated me. Ye gods, man! You do not
realize what--but pshaw! this is not interesting to you, and besides, I
never talk of myself.”

“See here, Parkyn,” I said, “it might be far better for you to talk
about yourself a little, especially to one who understands you--as I
think I do. I have often suspected that there was a story connected
with your change of profession and from the best of motives I am
anxious to hear it. Come now, old man, out with it--I am as interested
and sympathetic as you please, and as deep and silent as a well.”

Parkyn reflected for a moment and then replied, “I am quite sure you
understand me much better than most of my friends, but I do not fancy
being thought ridiculous, even by you, and my story might seem absurd
to a man of your philosophic and rather lymphatic temperament.”

“Oh, nonsense!” I exclaimed, “I’m not so lymphatic as you seem
to think. Philosophy puts a check on the impulses of the heart,
while art lets them roam fancy free, yet human nature is the same
in both philosopher and artist, so fire away, old fellow; I’m all
ears--evolutionary relics you know.”

Parkyn leaned languidly against the corner of the mantel, his chin
resting upon his hands and began:

“The details of my career up to the date of the circumstances that
impelled me to leave the profession for which nature adapted me, are
commonplace. My life was that of the average poor boy of artistic
tastes and talents, who fights his way to the attainment of a thorough
professional training. By hard work, I succeeded in getting enough
money together to enable me to study with the most celebrated masters
of Europe. I finally settled down in my native city, Boston, and after
many trials and vicissitudes, was in due time in a fair way to earn a
respectable living, although fame was by no means beating her angelic
wings against the windows of my studio. It was too near the roof, I
fear,” and Parkyn smiled somewhat bitterly.

“It so happened that the society of artists of which I eventually
became a member, instituted a yearly exhibition of paintings patterned
after the Paris Salon. As an act of extreme condescension I was
especially invited by the directors of the exhibition to contribute.
The invitation was gladly accepted and I promptly began casting
about for a suitable theme--a matter that often constitutes the most
difficult part of the artist’s labors. The department of painting in
which I was particularly adept was the study of the nude and I quite
naturally resolved to produce something in the line of my favorite
work. And then came the search for a model.

“Contrary to the popular notion, a satisfactory model is a very scarce
commodity. The human form divine rarely stands the keen professional
criticism of the eye artistic. A picture is oftener the composite
of several models than the actual delineation of one. The arms and
shoulders of one, the feet of another, and the torso of still another
may be required. Several months passed away and although the time for
the exhibition was dangerously near, I had not yet found what I sought.
As you may imagine, I was in despair, for having set my heart upon a
certain subject for my picture, I was loth to abandon it, for another
of less interest. And now comes the strangest part of my story--the
part which I fear is hardly materialistic enough for you, my dear
doctor,” and Parkyn hesitated.

“Go on; go on!” I exclaimed.

“I had always been an ardent student of the classics, and was in the
habit of reading for an hour or two before retiring. In selecting a
book almost at random from the modest little collection of odds and
ends--by courtesy my library--I happened one evening to get hold of
an old treatise on mythology. While reading of the gods and goddesses
therein described, and admiring the artistic opportunities afforded by
the social circle in which the heathen deities moved, I fell asleep in
my chair, and dreaming, found that for which I had vainly sought in my
waking hours--my model.

“You as a practical physician will doubtless attribute my dream to the
direct impression made upon my brain by the character of the book I had
been reading, and I must admit that my experience had certain features
which would justify such an opinion, yet I feel nevertheless that my
dream model had a basis of reality.

“I seemed to be in the midst of a vast garden--the most beautiful I
had ever seen. The flowers and shrubs surpassed all forms with which
I was familiar. Hovering over the rare and many hued exotics were
gorgeous butterflies and humming birds, to which no description could
possibly do justice. The air was redolent with the odor of the blossoms
and vibrant with the songs of rare birds and the melodious strains
of unseen musical instruments. ‘Surely,’ I thought, ‘this must be
Paradise.’

“As I stood gazing enraptured upon the sensuous things surrounding
me I became conscious that I was not alone. The garden was peopled
with forms, among which I recognized some of the more familiar of the
mythologic deities whom I had just left within the covers of my book.
As these luminous beings passed and repassed me, I perceived that there
was some central object of attraction. They appeared to be gathering
about a beautiful fountain that stood, half hidden by flowering plants
and foliage, in the center of the garden. Feeling that my human
curiosity was justified by that which even the celestial beings about
me were exhibiting, I approached the spot and there beheld a scene
which astonished and delighted me beyond measure.

“Just within the spray of the fountain that glittered and sparkled
with surprising brilliancy, showing combinations of colors which I had
never before seen, was a golden, shell-like couch. Upon, or rather
within this couch, lay the sleeping form of a most beautiful woman!
Gazing upon this lovely creature, I was not surprised that the strange
beings about me were attracted by her beauty. My own artistic eye was
fairly entranced. I saw at once that the object of my admiration was
different from the beings who peopled the celestial garden. She was
human--although the loveliest of womankind.

“My first feeling of mingled awe and admiration was soon replaced by
a most gratifying sense of triumph. I had found what was to me a much
desired object--a perfect model for my picture! With feverish haste I
drew sketch book and pencil from my pocket and endeavored to outline
the only perfect female form I had ever seen.

“As is usual in the dream state, I found that I had lost all power of
doing those things which were part of my daily life. I could not draw a
single line; my artistic talent and indeed, even the power of voluntary
motion necessary in drawing, was wholly gone. You may imagine how I
despaired. Everything was real to me, and my inability to sketch the
model for which I had so long sought in vain, was most distressing, so
distressing that I awoke.

“I was greatly impressed by my dream, but inclined to smile at the keen
disappointment that I felt on awaking. The peculiar circumstances
under which I had found my model were naturally aggravating, but
I consoled myself with the reflection that dream pictures are not
very substantial after all, and that even though the sketch which
I attempted had been made, my sketch book would have been rather
evanescent. It certainly would have been lost on the way back to earth.

“Whether because of the vivid impression the vision of the female
loveliness made upon me, I cannot say--you are a practical psychologist
and should know more of such matters than I--but my dream repeated
itself in every detail the following night. Even my unsuccessful
endeavor to sketch the beautiful woman was faithfully reproduced, and I
again awoke to the consciousness of keen disappointment at the loss of
a long sought artistic opportunity.

“A detailed reproduction of a dream, is as you know, not common, but I
felt intuitively that a further repetition would quite likely occur and
when I retired on the second night following the original dream, it was
with a fixed determination to so impress the vision of loveliness I had
seen upon my mind, that I could from memory alone, utilize the model
which had come to me in such a strange fashion.

“The wished for dream occurred precisely as on the two previous
nights, and I remember making a most earnest endeavor to photograph
the wonderful model upon my memory--an effort in which I was only too
successful. When I awoke, my model was so vividly pictured in my mind
that the work of reproducing her upon canvas was no more difficult than
if her living form had been actually before me.

“And then came the disaster of my life. It was the story of Pygmalion
and Galatea over again. I began my work with the enthusiasm of the
artist, and completed it with the ardor of the man. I fell in love with
my own creation! The self-confessed misogynist, who had never been
susceptible to the real in womankind, became enslaved by an ideal from
dreamland which my brush had metamorphosed into something material. I
finally became intoxicated with the idea that my model must herself
have a material being; that the feminine perfection I had seen in the
vision was but the dream picture of a real personage--a fair woman who
actually lived in the flesh!

“My picture was done! It was destined to be my last and, like the
song of the dying swan, it was my masterpiece. But I had no longer
a thought of the exhibition. I became infatuated with the idea that
through some occult and mysterious influence I had had the opportunity
of utilizing as a model the fairest of womankind. It was not by her
own volition that she became my model. To hang her picture at the
exhibition would be a crime. The most beautiful model in the whole
world should not be gazed upon by the vulgar herd. She was mine, and
mine alone. She was real; she lived, and one day we should meet, and
then--

“Ah, me! Was it not thus that Aphrodite breathed the spark of life, the
material essence of reality into the ivory form of Galatea? Such is the
power of that worship of the ideal that the Philistine calls love, over
the human heart!

“There is little more to be told. My picture became a shrine at which I
worshipped by day and dreamed by night. Its possession was happiness.
The failure to find the original was the acme of misery. I lost all
interest in the art that had created the painting, and the very thought
of devoting the talent which had developed my ideal to subjects that
must ever be less worthy became abhorrent to me. My all of art, my all
of life, my loftiest aspirations were there in the beautiful painting,
the model for which had come to me in my dreams.

“Ah, my dear doctor!” exclaimed Parkyn, as he extended his hand
imploringly towards me, “do not laugh at me. Be something more than
a man of science, something more than a materialist, and do not
discourage me when I say that I know that my ideal lives, know that
somehow, somewhere, I am to meet her!

“You have heard my story, my dear friend. You are the first to whom I
have told it, and shall be the last.”

“My dear Parkyn,” I said, when my friend had finished his story, “the
very essence of materialism itself, should respect the artistic and
emotional nature that could develop such an experience as you have had.
I am, myself, by no means so materialistic as you suppose. We have not
yet solved the mysteries of psychology. We know nothing of the workings
of human affinities, and there are those, even among us men of science,
who are not altogether blind to the possibilities of the occult. Men
have been shattered upon the rocks and shoals of ideality before, and
will be again. Not all could have so pure and fair an ideal as you have
described. Your vision was extraordinary, and although as a physician I
might descant to you on the relation of over-work and lack of exercise
to figments of the imagination, still as a man, and one in whom the
finer sensibilities are not yet dead, I must acknowledge that I not
only sympathize with you, but I--well, I myself suspect that there is
somewhere a substantial foundation for your dream. It is by no means
impossible that you may one day find your model, and, my dear fellow, I
sincerely hope you will.”

Parkyn grasped my hand warmly, and stood in silence for a moment, then,
with an expression of gratification and happiness such as I had never
before seen on his face, he said slowly:

“You do, indeed, understand me, doctor. Your medical philosophy is
tinctured with just enough of the fire of romance, your heart has just
enough of the emotional attributes of the true artist, to enable you
to be something more than a mere compounder and prescriber of drugs. I
understand now, why you have a penchant for psychology. Wise is he who
hath read the chapter on hearts in the book of human life!”

       *       *       *       *       *

The end of the college term was drawing near, and even Favell and
Richardson had settled down to something like earnest work preparatory
to examinations. I had just finished my dissections, as had my
room-mates several weeks before, hence had no occasion to visit that
gloomy and dismal room above stairs known as the hall of anatomy. When,
therefore, we heard one day of a marvellously interesting subject that
had just been brought over from Blackwell’s Island, our interest was
not especially excited. The dissecting room is by no means haunted
by students who have finished their prescribed course in anatomy. It
seems, however, that one of Favell’s friends had induced him to go up
to the dissecting-room one morning to inspect the anatomic wonder,
which I had understood somewhat vaguely, was the body of a remarkably
beautiful woman. Parkyn, Richardson and myself were just preparing to
go to dinner, meanwhile wondering what had become of the ever-hungry
Favell, when that worthy broke into the room in a state of great
excitement, crying, “Say, boys, you just ought to see the subject
that’s come in from the Island! Gee, whiz! but it’s a beauty--the
handsomest thing in the shape of a woman that ever was born! Why,
half the artists and all the newspaper men in New York have been up
to see it. They’re all crazy over it. You boys must go up and look
at it to-night, and if you don’t say that body is the most beautiful
thing you ever saw, I’ll buy the dinners for the crowd. I mean you,
especially, Parkyn. I suspect that you are much cleverer than any of
those daubers who have seen it, and I know you’ll revel in the beauties
of what might have been an artist’s model.”

Richardson and myself promptly agreed to visit the nine days wonder,
but it was with extreme difficulty that I induced Parkyn to accompany
us. When he did finally yield to my entreaties he turned a deaf ear to
my urgent request that he take some sketching materials with him.

“You well know, doctor,” he said, “that I have reformed. I never
sketch. Sketching is a lost art so far as I am concerned. You forget,
my dear friend--”

I suddenly remembered, and was silent. I alone understood the
sentiments that inspired his refusal.

Evening came, and our little party proceeded to the chamber of horrors
which, as I supposed, Favell’s boyish nonsense had converted into a
mortuary of dead female beauty. I more than half suspected a practical
joke. My young friend was much given to such diversions.

Arriving at the dissecting room, we found a large congregation of men
standing about one of the tables. Here and there I could see several
who, sketch-book in hand, were busily at work utilizing what they
evidently considered an artistic opportunity. Favell and Richardson,
boylike, pushed their way through the crowd, while Parkyn and I
leisurely brought up the rear. I heard the demonstrator of anatomy say--

“Well, gentlemen, we must begin our dissection. We have already devoted
too much time to sentiment.”

As the professor poised his gleaming scalpel over the body, Favell
exclaimed, “Wait just a moment, sir, please, here comes Parkyn.”

The professor, with whom the cultured and artistic Parkyn was a
favorite, stayed his hand, and with knife upraised, waited. The crowd
made way for my friend, and I stepped aside to allow him to pass ahead
of me.

There are some events which are so replete with action and dramatic
excitement that no one, however observing, can faithfully describe
them. Note upon this point the conflicting testimony of disinterested
eye-witnesses in murder trials. Such was the scene which followed the
introduction of Parkyn to the presence of that body.

There was a yell like that of a maniac, a swift rush, the collision of
two bodies, a heavy fall! As I sprang quickly into the midst of the
swaying, trampling, excited crowd about the table, the demonstrator,
pale and frightened, was just rising from the floor, his scalpel still
in his trembling hand and his face cut and bleeding where his assailant
had struck him in the first mad rush. Parkyn was still lying on the
floor, and on endeavoring with the assistance of several students to
raise him to his feet, I saw that he was insensible. Upon his temple
was a deep, jagged gash where his head had come in contact with the
corner of the table.

Temporary emotional insanity in a man of highly wrought nervous
organization was the universal verdict, and it was with genuine sorrow
and regret that poor Parkyn’s fellow students took him to the hospital,
apparently in a lifeless condition.

But Parkyn did not die--his skull was not fractured. This was very
fortunate, in the light of subsequent events, for he developed symptoms
of meningitis, and hovered between life and death for many weeks. I
remained in the city to care for him and was a proud and happy man when
I was able to pronounce him out of danger.

How poor Parkyn raved as his fever and delirium rose! No one but myself
knew the story of his wild, ecstatic visions and apparently erratic
talk--and I said nothing.

During his illness I had occasion to open Parkyn’s trunk. While
rummaging about in search of his wearing apparel, I found the pictured
dream of his artist days. I knew then how powerful was the shock that
made my poor friend, in intent, at least, a murderer. I care not
what the world may say of the vagaries of foolish old doctors and
the maunderings of aged, would-be philosophers; I care not who may
doubt;--I held in my hands the picture of the beautiful subject of
the dissecting hall. Beautiful beyond the power of pen or tongue to
portray, realistic to a living, breathing, sentient degree, I beheld
the portrait of the original of the lifeless clay which was the central
figure of the romance of the dissecting room.

When Parkyn recovered from his illness his mind was a blank, so far
as his artistic training and the romance of the picture and corpse
were concerned. I concealed the picture, deeming it unwise to revive
dangerous memories in his mind. It remained in my possession for
several years. I kept it hidden because it seemed a sacrilege to permit
it to be gazed upon by the eyes of the commonplace. My office was
finally destroyed by fire, and I confess that I was not sorry when I
discovered that the trunk which contained the painting was not among
the properties saved from the flames.

Parkyn became a plodding practitioner in a little country town in New
York State. I visited him some years later, and found that his ideals
were represented by a short, dumpy, motherly, little red-headed wife
and half a dozen tow-headed, freckle-faced youngsters that looked for
all the world like turkey eggs and jack o’ lanterns.



A MATTER OF PROFESSIONAL SECRECY


The day had been a trying one. Four capital operations, between the
hours of eight and ten in the morning, fifteen minutes for washing up
and changing back from the rubber and white duck of the operating room
to my ordinary habiliments, and with my usual fear that I was still
redolent with the fumes of ether and that sickish odor of the combined
horrors of blood and iodoform, I was off for my clinic at the medical
school as fast as my team of thoroughbreds could take me.

A strenuous hour of teaching and, my nervous force already nearly
exhausted, although my day’s work had just begun, I hurried to my
office, taking barely enough time _en route_ to swallow a hasty lunch.
And then came an afternoon of arduous office work, with, it seemed to
me, more patients and more tough problems and petty annoyances than
usual.

My office hours over, I was privileged to spend a half hour at dinner,
before attending to several consultations. I wound up the day by
calling at the hospital and looking over the cases I had operated in
the morning, and was then driven homeward, fairly worn out, by what
was, after all, merely an average day in the life of the college
professor.

It was long after midnight when I retired, congratulating myself,
meanwhile, that I had completed and forwarded to the publisher the last
batch of MS. for my new book, and was therefore privileged to rest my
weary bones and exhausted brain.

A telephone at one’s bedside is sometimes a great convenience for the
physician, but there are occasions when to me it seems an invention of
the devil--a something devised especially to defeat the ends of tired
nature--a sort of Nemesis, which pursues one into the very midst of
dreamland. When I am as tired as I was on this particular night, the
ringing of my telephone bell awakens me with a sudden physical and
mental shock that sets my every nerve a quiver, and makes my heart beat
like a trip hammer for many minutes.

With the bell still ringing with impudent insistency, I found myself
sitting bolt upright in bed and, I freely confess, swearing to the
limit of my vocabulary of the profane. Having sufficiently identified
myself to the party at the other end of the line he said excitedly,
“Doctor, you are wanted at once at No. -- B-- Street. A man is dying.
For God’s sake, hurry!”

And I stood not on the order of my going.

A handsome young man, apparently about twenty-five years of age, lay
writhing in the most horrible agony, and crying, “Water, for God’s sake
give me some water! I am burning up inside! My stomach and bowels are
on fire!”

From time to time frightful paroxysms of vomiting came on, with the
ejection of a greenish fluid mixed with blood. His sufferings were
frightful to witness. He complained of cold shivers, and his teeth
chattered like those of a man with an ague chill. His skin was yellow
and parchment like, and his face drawn and cadaverous. His eyes were
sunken and surrounded by great dark rings. Their dullness was only
redeemed by the gleam of fear and horror of death that shone in their
depths.

“Has this man ever before been ill, so far as you know?” I asked.

“Yes, doctor,” replied an elderly woman--evidently the landlady, for
the ear marks of the cheap boarding house were plain--“this is the
third attack of the kind, only this is the worst one he’s had. Until a
month ago he was well and hearty. His sickness always comes on in this
way, with that funny lookin’ vomit, and that burning in his stomach.
This is the first time there’s been any blood, though. He was all right
this morning at breakfast. He didn’t come home to dinner, and I think
he must have eaten somethin’ that didn’t agree with him, at one o’ them
restaurants downtown.”

I immediately gave the poor fellow a hypodermic of morphine and
requested everybody to leave the room. He grew easier in a few minutes,
I meanwhile administering antidotes for what seemed clearly a case of
arsenical poisoning.

“My friend,” I said, “you have taken arsenic. Why did you do it?”

“No, no,” he moaned, shaking his head. “Julie, Julie!” Further than
this I could get nothing intelligible out of him.

Another paroxysm of that awful pain came on, and I was obliged to
resort to another hypodermic. This paroxysm left him almost pulseless.
His skin grew cold and damp, and his eyes assumed that glazed and set
appearance which means but one thing to the professional eye. My
patient was sinking fast.

I quickly administered stimulants hypodermically and then called the
sick man’s friends to his bedside.

“This man is dying,” I said quietly to the landlady. “He has but a few
minutes longer to live. See if you can get him to say anything about
himself.”

The woman spoke to the dying man and shook him gently, in a vain effort
to arouse his attention. He revived a little for a fleeting moment and
shook his head feebly, muttering in barely audible tones, “Tired--so
tired--sleepy.”

This was the last flicker of his candle of life. I could no longer
find the pulse at the wrist. The heart sounds grew feebler and feebler
and finally ceased altogether. The face grew gray and ghastly. The
eyes were set and dully staring and the jaw relaxed. There was a last
convulsive expansion and contraction of the chest and a gasping,
strident, laryngeal sound as the breath finally left the poor fellow’s
body forever. My unfortunate patient was dead!

“What was the matter with him, Doctor?” asked in chorus the people
about the bedside.

Long years of experience had brought discretion to this particular
warhorse, and so I replied,

“Acute gastritis.”

I did not propose to tell all I thought I knew, or to issue premature
bulletins. I wanted time to think. I scented mystery here, and perhaps
crime, and let him who will condemn my taste as a depraved one, such
things have always had an overpowering fascination for me.

I knew that some hours would elapse before I would be called upon for a
death certificate, and much could be done in the way of investigation
in that time. I resolved to keep my own counsel and allow future
developments to determine whether or when I should place the case in
the hands of the coroner.

But, was the case one of murder or suicide? This question I proposed
to solve myself, if I could. I could at least try to do so, before
turning the matter over to the authorities. If it were suicide there
might be reasons satisfactory to my conscience why I should keep my
counsel. There are times when the physician is justified in closing
and forever locking the door of the closet that contains the grinning
family skeleton. I may be telling tales out of school, but I am not
ashamed to say that this has been done by men whom I revere. All honor
to the profession that has the courage to protect the fair name of its
_clientele_!

Of course, I had no intention of concealing what I knew, if the case
should prove to be at all doubtful, nor was there in this particular
case much chance of any circumstances existing which would be likely
to impel me to conceal a suicide. Should the case prove to be a
murder, I resolved to at once notify the coroner, no matter what the
circumstances might be.

I suspected from the history of the case that it was murder, not
suicide, with which I had to deal.

       *       *       *       *       *

One by one the friends and curious neighbors of my late patient filed
silently out of the room, till none remained save the landlady and
myself. Mrs. Wharton was evidently a simple, kind-hearted creature, who
had known sorrow of her own and had had experience. She quietly set
about performing the last sad offices for the dead, whilst I proceeded
to critically inspect the dead man’s surroundings.

Mrs. Wharton removed the pillow from beneath the head of the corpse. As
she did so a letter fell from the pillow upon the floor, unnoticed save
by myself.

The interest excited in my mind by that letter may be imagined. Here
was a possible answer to the question I had been asking myself. The
opportunity must not be lost. Under the pretext of helping Mrs.
Wharton, I succeeded in placing my foot squarely over the letter. To
drop and regain my handkerchief, restoring it to my pocket with that
much to be desired missive concealed in its folds, was sufficiently
easy, even for an amateur.

Before departing for home, I made a few ostensibly casual inquiries
regarding the dead man. It appeared that he was a comparatively new
boarder in the house, and had said that he had been in the city but a
short time. He had not obtained any regular employment, but seemed to
have plenty of money, Mrs. Wharton stated, adding, “He was an awfully
nice young man, Mr. Peyton was, and everybody in the house liked him.”

“Do you know whether or not he was married?” I asked.

“Oh, my, no, he wasn’t married!” exclaimed Mrs. Wharton. “I’m quite
sure he wasn’t, because he had a sweetheart--such a pretty girl, too.
That’s her picture on the mantel.”

I picked up the photograph and found that the landlady had spoken “by
the card”--the dead man’s sweetheart was indeed “such a pretty girl,”
of the dark Spanish type--with a face full of life and passion.

“Ah,” I exclaimed to myself, “I’ll wager that we have found ‘the
woman.’ Those great dark eyes, that massive head of ebon hair and
those full, sensuous lips seem to me to fit into this mystery very
accurately.”

“Where does the young woman live?” I asked.

“Laws, sir, I don’t know where she lives, but I understand that she
works somewhere down town. Mr. Peyton used to call for her, so one of
the other boarders who used to be here said, nearly every evening at
closing time, at one of them big department stores. I don’t know which
one, for sure, but I think it was the Emporium--or, maybe, it was
Wurtzinger’s.”

I had no doubt as to my ability to recognize the original of the
photograph. After making a mental note of the somewhat faded
inscription upon the back, I replaced the picture upon the mantel.

“To Hartley, from Julie.” Julie was the name that the dead man had
spoken, almost in his last agony. Most assuredly I must find Julie.

As may be imagined, after my arrival home I wasted none of the
remaining precious moments of the night in sleeping. I fairly dashed
into my study, turned on the lights, closed and locked the door
instinctively, without rhyme or reason, and proceeded to read that
portentous letter:

“Hartley:--

“Why did you follow me to N--? Why can you not understand? Why do you
persist in harrowing my very soul in the attempt to bring back by
force and arms what no longer exists? I have told you, over and over
again, that I no longer love you, and that I love another with all the
strength of my being. Of what good could it be to compel me, as you
are trying to do, to continue a _liaison_ which I have come to detest,
and which, had I been more worldly wise would never have been formed?
And you threaten to expose me--you, who have nothing to lose, while
I--oh, man, man! Why can you not see? And you say you love me, and you
reproach me because I have said in the past--that past over which I
fain would draw a veil of oblivion--that I loved you. Yes, I did love
you--to my shame be it said, the more shame that I now know that the
burning sentiment, the ardent affection you have expressed for me is
not love, but the passion of the brute whose life revolves around his
own selfish gratification. You will say this is not true, that you do
love me, that your love is of the exalted type. For God’s sake then,
do what you can to show me that I am wrong! By that love, I implore
you to do nothing until I see you. Do not bring the girl you have so
often called your Julie, to open shame! Oh, Hartley, be not harsh to
me! I am the most miserable wretch, the unhappiest being on the face
of the earth. Do not drive me to desperation and death. Do not ruin my
future. Be merciful, I implore you. In your last letter you threaten
to denounce me to my father, that you will send him my letters. Oh,
why did I ever write them? Hartley, if my poor old father should ever
read those letters, inspired though they were by the truest love, he
would put me away from him. He would hate me, now that I am engaged to
marry a man of whom he is very fond. I wrote to you in all the ardor
of my first love; it was as pure and as true as it was deep, but the
world could not, would not understand. I believed you when you said you
loved me, and it was for the love that you expressed that I adored
you. I put on paper what I should not. Had my love been one of head and
not of heart--had I not believed you the noblest of men, I should not
now be pleading for mercy. If my father or Mr. X---- should see those
fond letters to you, what could I expect but a revulsion of feeling?
If any other eyes should see them, what would not be said of me? Oh,
on my bended knees I implore you to spare me,--to spare those who
love me and whom I love with my whole soul. As you hope for mercy on
the Judgment Day, do not inform on me--do not make my name a scandal
and a reproach! Oh, will you not keep my secret from the world? For
the sake of my mother, for the love you bear your own, spare me! Oh,
Hartley, in God’s name hear my prayer! I have prayed God to forgive
your cruel threats--to inspire you to spare me from shame. For the love
of Heaven, hear me! I grow mad! I have been ill, very ill, ever since I
received your last awful, threatening letter. I have had to resort to
drugs--something I should not have taken, and my brain is on fire. I
feel as if death itself would be sweet. Hartley, oh, Hartley; abuse me,
villify me, kill me if you will, but do not denounce me! For my life
I am pleading--oh, listen, listen, for--must I say it?--for your own
safety hear me. I cannot stand everything. Do not drive me to madness
and death--or worse! Have pity on her whom you once called--your Julie.”

As I read this heart rending missive my late patient’s case did not
seem so mysterious. I do not hesitate to say, moreover, that the memory
of his last horrible agonies was pleasanter to contemplate than it had
been.

“The man who inspired that letter,” I exclaimed aloud, “never committed
suicide. He was not man enough. That fellow died like a poisoned rat in
a hole,--if the evidence counts for anything.”

Having thus become more reconciled to the death of the late Mr. Peyton,
I was less inclined than ever to be in haste in promoting any legal
intermeddling with what had begun to appear a just dispensation of
Providence. But I was nevertheless determined to see the matter to its
conclusion. I was bound to find the hand that had “poisoned the rat.” I
could decide what course to pursue afterward. I was confident that I
knew for whom I must look, but where? Where was “Julie?”

After a hurried breakfast I began my quest. As luck would have it I
decided to visit the Emporium first. I confess that when I entered the
colossal establishment and saw its large number of female employes
I began to fear that, with only the given name of the person I was
seeking and a mental reproduction of her photograph to guide me, my
task was liable to be something like the proverbial search for the
needle in the haystack.

For more than two hours I strolled about the Emporium, covertly
studying the faces of the women clerks and affecting an indifference
which I did not feel, without seeing any one who could by any
possibility have been taken for the original of the picture. Black hair
and dark eyes--the possessors of which were not seldom beautiful--were
there in plenty, but none that could be compared with those I sought.

I was about to go to the office of the establishment to inquire there,
under the pretext of seeking a witness of an accident case, when I
caught sight of one of the floor walkers, a Mr. Courtney, who chanced
to be an old patient of mine.

“Ah,” I thought, “here is some one who may help me.”

Mr. Courtney greeted me warmly, and replied courteously, when I asked
for a private interview,

“Certainly, doctor, step this way.”

Having seated ourselves on a sofa in an out of the way corner of the
store, I said,

“Mr. Courtney, for important reasons, which I am sure it will not be
necessary to give you, I am seeking a certain young lady, who may or
may not be employed in this establishment. I have been compelled to ask
your assistance because I have only her description to rely upon, and
know merely her given name--‘Julie.’”

I then proceeded to describe the young woman of the photograph.

My friend smiled and said,

“Your task is an easy one, doctor. There’s only one of her kind, in
this establishment, at least. Do you wish to speak to the young woman?”

I was somewhat taken aback by the suddenness with which success
promised to reward my search.

“W--why, yes, if it would not be too much trouble,” I replied.

Mr. Courtney rapped sharply for a messenger, and one promptly appeared.

“Tell Miss Morales, in the lace department, that I wish to see her here
at once.”

The messenger departed on his mission, leaving me wondering how I had
missed seeing the object of my quest. I recalled having lingered for
quite a while at the lace department.

The messenger did his errand quickly and returned.

“Please, sir, Miss Morales is at home sick. The lace department manager
says she hain’t been down to the store for three or four days.”

“Why,” exclaimed Mr. Courtney, “come to think of it, I haven’t seen
her for several days. I had made no especial note of her absence,
however, as there are so many women employes in the store, and the lace
department isn’t on my floor. If you wish, doctor, I will ascertain
where she lives. We keep a record of the residences of all our
employes, you know.”

Mr. Courtney went to the office and returned with a card upon which was
written, “Miss Julie Morales, No. -- M-- Street.”

After thanking my friend and asking him to consider my inquiry as of a
confidential nature, I wended my way to the address given me.

No. -- M-- Street proved to be located some distance from the business
part of the city. The house presented the semi-respectable appearance
of a boarding house of the cheaper grade. A smirking, frowsy,
freckle-faced Irish maid opened the door in answer to my ring, and
informed me that “Miss Morales was to home” and she “guessed,” in her
room.

The maid ushered me into the stuffy, cookery smelling parlor, dusted a
rickety, shabby genteel, hair-cloth covered chair with her apron, and
asked me to be seated.

“Who shall I be after tellin’ Miss Morales as wants to see her?”

“Never mind my name. Just tell her I am from the Emporium.”

The maid soon returned and informed me that Miss Morales would be “down
in a little while.”

I had begun to grow somewhat restless, and was wondering whether the
fair Miss Morales had not become suspicious and eluded me, when there
was a soft rustle of skirts in the hall, the door opened, and there
stood the original of the photograph--hollow eyed, wan and haggard,
with deep care lines about the mouth, but still undoubtedly “Julie,”
and still surpassingly lovely.

“You wished to see me, sir,” she said, in a voice which was somewhat
tremulous, and unquestionably that of one who had suffered much.

“Miss Morales, I believe.”

“That is my name, sir.”

“I owe you an apology for the little deception,” I said, handing
her my professional card. “As you see, I am not from the Emporium,
although I obtained the address from my friend Mr. Courtney, at that
establishment.”

Her hand trembled as she took the card, and she gazed at it fearfully,
as though apprehensive of danger.

“Shall we not be seated?” I asked, motioning to a settee. The young
woman acquiesced, almost mechanically. Seating myself beside her, I
said:

“Miss Morales, while I am a total stranger to you, I wish you would
not construe my visit and what I am about to say to you as either
impertinent or menacing to yourself. I am here with the best of
intentions, but I must discuss with you a matter which, you may be
assured, is of vital importance to you. Anything you may say will be
treated by me as strictly confidential--as, in short, a professional
secret.”

She gazed at me helplessly, with the dumb, haunting dread of impending
disaster in her beautiful eyes.

“You are, or have been, I believe,” I continued, “a very close friend
of Mr. Hartley Peyton’s.”

The poor girl’s face became ghastly pale, and I feared she was going to
faint, as she stammered, weakly,--

“Ye--yes, sir. We are, or at least we were, friends--we were very good
friends.”

“Well,” I continued, “it may interest you to know that I was called to
see him professionally last night, and found him very ill.”

“Then he is much better now; he is quite recovered, is he not, doctor?”
she exclaimed eagerly, springing to her feet.

“I regret to say that he is not better. In fact,” I replied, “Mr.
Peyton is--”

“My God, doctor!” she cried, “he is not dead?”

“Miss Morales, Hartley Peyton died at two o’clock this morning.” The
young woman buried her face in her hands, and fell back upon the
settee in a state of almost total collapse.

“Miss Morales,” I continued, “the point which mutually interests us
is that the circumstances surrounding Mr. Peyton’s death were very
peculiar and unusual, in fact, suspicious in the extreme. I will go
further and state that I have formed a very definite opinion of the
cause of his death.”

Thrown completely off her guard by fright, the poor girl moaned, “Oh,
doctor, you surely do not suspect that I--you surely do not believe
that I could ever have--”

“I am not at present expressing any views as to the peculiar agencies
which acted directly or indirectly in causing the unfortunate man’s
demise. I have merely stated to you the fact of his death, and that I
have arrived at a certain conclusion as to the cause of it.

“Miss Morales, you may place the most implicit confidence in me in
anything you may say to me. Any communications you may make shall be
held sacred. I have not as yet discussed the unfortunate affair with
any one but yourself. It may rest entirely with you as to whether or
not I do so hereafter.”

“What do you wish me to do--what am I to say?” she asked, faintly.

“Nothing here,” I replied. “Your present surroundings are by no means
favorable to discussion of topics of vital importance, least of all
to confidential communications. I shall therefore take the liberty of
asking you to come to my office”--I looked at my watch, and saw that my
office hours were long past due--“at ten o’clock to-morrow morning.”

The girl suddenly dropped her hands from her face, straightened up in
her seat, and, with the gleam of battle in her wonderful eyes, said,
tensely,

“Why should I feel called upon to make an appointment with you, an
entire stranger, for the purpose of discussing a matter which, after
all, does not in the least concern me. Mr. Peyton’s death, and your
opinion of its cause are to me of no consequence whatever. Furthermore,
your presence here is in the highest degree impertinent and uncalled
for.”

“Miss Morales,” I said, quietly. “There are several reasons why you
should make and keep the appointment I have requested. In the first
place, it is optional with me as to whether or not the sudden death
of your friend, Mr. Peyton, shall be turned over to the coroner for
investigation. It may prove to be my duty to do so.”

“What do I care, whether the case is turned over to the coroner or
not?” she replied, her jaws setting combatively.

“Simply because there is no telling in what direction the investigation
may lead, nor to whom suspicion may be directed,” I retorted.

“Let it lead where it may, for aught I care,” she said, defiantly.

“Miss Morales, I will be more to the point. A letter was found
beneath Mr. Peyton’s pillow, which, should it fall into the coronor’s
hands, might suggest all sorts of foolish ideas to the minds of the
ignoramuses who compose the average coronor’s jury--minds to which
sentiment is an unknown quantity. The letter was signed, ‘Julie,’ a
signature that corresponds very accurately with one which is inscribed
on the back of a photograph of a certain young lady that was found on
the mantel in the dead man’s room.”

The poor girl sank limply back upon the settee, the picture of helpless
misery. I laid my hand gently upon her beautiful head, resting it there
for a brief moment, and then passed quietly out.

Being somewhat versed in matters psycho-logic, I had not the slightest
doubt that the fair Julie would keep the rather one sided appointment
made the afternoon before. I confess, however, that her promptness
surprised me a little.

The clock upon my office mantel was just striking the hour of ten, when
Miss Morales was announced. I directed my attendant to usher her in, at
the same time giving instructions that I was not to be disturbed until
further orders.

As my beautiful visitor took the seat I proffered her, I was struck by
her calm, composed demeanor. Her poise was perfect, and she showed not
the slightest trace of excitement, but responded to my polite “Good
morning,” as if her business were of the most matter of fact nature.

I leaned back in my chair, saying, “I am very glad you concluded to
call upon me, Miss Morales, and assure you that your confidence has
not been misplaced. There is hardly any need for preliminaries. Our
business together this morning is unpleasant at best, and the sooner
it is over the more agreeable it will be for us both, I am sure. You
doubtless have something to say to me apropos of our conversation of
yesterday. You will find me a good listener--and a sympathetic one.”

She sat for a moment gazing out of the open window, through which the
glorious sun and balmy air of an ideal Spring morning were pouring,
then, turning and looking me squarely in the eyes, said, as calmly as
though entering upon a discussion of things common place:

“Since you left me, yesterday afternoon, doctor, I have passed through
mental and physical agonies which, were I the worst of criminals,
should have been sufficient expiation for anything I have ever done.
I now feel that nothing which could possibly happen would have any
terrors for me--that the worst must surely be over.”

I listened in the greatest astonishment. This was hardly the piteous
supplicant I had expected.

“Pray do not think that my sufferings have resulted from the operations
of a guilty conscience. I have not reproached myself for having taken
advantage of humanity’s inalienable right of self-defense. But I was
only a poor, weak woman after all, and the dread of punishment at
human hands, even though what I had done was justifiable before God,
terrified me.

“However, I lived through the ordeal of last night, and prospective
punishment has now no longer any terrors for me. Face it I will, if
face it I must.

“I have not come to offer any arguments in defense of any act I may
have committed, nor do I intend to beg for mercy at the hands of the
only person who, thus far, is in a position to accuse me of a crime.
Still less have I come here for the purpose of telling you my story,
for there is really nothing to add to what you already know or have
surmised, and it would not be fair to ask me to review the events the
culmination of which you witnessed night before last. My soul has been
harrowed enough. It has received its baptism of fire. I have come
merely to say to you that I do not wish you to compound any felonies
with your own conscience, or risk your reputation--or perhaps even your
liberty--by protecting one who is an absolute stranger to you, and not
entitled to the slightest consideration on your part.

“If, knowing the circumstances--and you must know them, after attending
Mr. Peyton professionally and having read a certain letter--you
believe it to be your duty to turn my case over to the proper
authorities, I am willing to have you do so, and shall abide by the
consequences. I do not say this as one who has no longer anything to
live for, but as one who has become reconciled to whatever fate has in
store for her.

“It may be incomprehensible to you, doctor, but life and liberty
are especially sweet to me--much sweeter to-day, than they were
prior--well, just prior to the events of the day before yesterday.
I am capable of forgetting the past and enjoying such happiness as
the future may have in store for me. For this much, and for the
circumstances which led to our acquaintance, I am indebted to the hot
Latin blood with which my father endowed me. Last night, the colder
elements of my heredity held full sway and I was afraid. To-day, sir,
I am a Morales. Had you known my father you would understand what that
means.

“Doctor, it is for you to do as your conscience dictates. If you decide
that it is your duty to relegate a certain matter to the authorities
for investigation I shall not blame you. Furthermore, I shall not
attempt to escape, as was my first impulse when you left me yesterday
afternoon. To merely escape punishment would not be enough; I must
remain free from suspicion, or life means nothing to me, absolutely
nothing!”

The young woman rose from her chair and stood in calm expectancy. Her
attitude was so entirely different from what I had anticipated from the
character of the letter which I had in my possession, and from what was
evidently an exceedingly emotional temperament, that I sat silently
gazing at her for some time. I finally rose to my feet and was about
to reply, when there came a sharp rap upon the door of my consultation
room. I opened the door and found my attendant standing there with a
yellow paper in his extended hand.

“Well, what do you want?” I asked, rather impatiently.

“Pardon me for disturbing you, sir, but there’s a man here from the
undertaker’s, with a certificate for you to sign, and he says it is
important, because the funeral is this afternoon, sir?”

I took the ominous yellow form from the man, closed the door and
returned to my desk. With the paper still in my hand I turned to my
fair visitor. She paled perceptibly, and I fancied, trembled a little,
but returned my gaze unflinchingly, although I was sure she knew.

“Game to the core!” I thought.

I turned slowly to my desk, picked up a pen and wrote--“Ptomaine
poisoning--Acute Gastritis,” then, without a twinge of conscience,
deliberately signed my name to the “yellow peril” and rang for my
attendant.



A LEGEND OF THE YOSEMITE

THE LOVE OF TIS-SA-ACK AND TU-TOCH-A-NU-LAH


“Ah-wi-yah--the Beautiful,” she was once justly called. And now that
the weight of many, many years bore heavily upon her, the warriors
of the tribe, recalling the traditions of the past, still called her
“The Beautiful.” But who would ever think that the bent and withered
old squaw was once the pride of her tribe? The scorching suns of many
summers, and the keen, chilling blasts of many cruel winters had indeed
made sad havoc in the beauty of Yosemite’s queen.

No one knew how old Ah-wi-yah was--no one knew when she first came to
the valley of Yosemite. There was none of all her people who could
recall the time when she was not already very, very old and wrinkled.
The most venerable sagamore of the tribe remembered that the old squaw
was regarded as the only living relic of an age of by-gone majesty,
when he was yet scarcely more than a small pappoose, boarded and
strapped with thongs to his mother’s back. He recalled that it was she
who smiled upon him, and patted his head approvingly on the glorious
and never to be forgotten day when his little hands and feeble arms
first drew a slender, feathered arrow to its barbed head, and from
a child’s bow sent it hurtling on its deadly flight at a startled
rabbit that traversed his path. He remembered too, that the venerable
Ah-wi-yah, standing erect before her lodge with fiery, flashing eyes,
led the wild, fierce shout of triumph when he, grown to the stature of
a brave, came home from the warpath with his first scalp. And it was
the old squaw who, with her own wrinkled hands, hung the still bleeding
trophy on his lodge pole, and foretold that the ghastly, gory emblem of
his valor would have many, many children.

Yes, Ah-wi-yah was very, very old--so old that she recalled the time
when the fair Po-ho-ho waterfall was but a silvery, gleaming ribbon no
larger than a stalk of maize--so old that she remembered the days when
the Mission Fathers had not yet come to the Land of the Golden Sunset.

White as the snows of the Sierran winter was the hair of Ah-wi-yah, but
her eye--so wondrous dark--was bright and piercing beneath her shaggy,
wrinkled brow, and her voice was sweet and flute-like; clear as a
wandering echo amid the towering, craggy hills of the smiling beautiful
valley wherein her tribe had lived and died for unnumbered ages.

Ah-wi-yah was often the counsellor of the chieftains of the tribe
for, squaw though she was, she alone knew the records of the more
glorious and war-like past of her fast diminishing kindred. The old
squaw lived not in the dull and spiritless present, though her aged
tongue was wise and crafty. She lived in the glorious olden days, that
wondrous, shadowy past that held for her such memories of long vanished
greatness--and who knows what sweet and tender romance?

When I, a curious tourist, wished to study the wonderful traditions of
the tribe, the warriors said: “Oh pale face, there is none left to tell
thee of our glorious and deathless past but Ah-wi-yah, the Beautiful.
In the vast storehouse of her unfailing memory there are many
marvellous and beautiful legends. Go to her--the wise old squaw--she
will tell them to thee, we doubt not gladly.”

And the white haired squaw with the flute-like voice told me many
thrilling, beautiful legends of the days when her tribe was strong
and mighty--the days when the Manitou never forgot his chosen people,
the children of the lustrous Sun. Of all the legends that Ah-wi-yah
told the wondering pale face, there was none so beautiful as the
love of Tis-sa-ack and Tu-toch-a-nu-lah. This I will relate just as
the wonderful story-teller, who has long since been gathered to her
fathers, and whose fragile bones are now mouldering in a dark and
gloomy canyon of the towering Sierras, told it me.

       *       *       *       *       *

“The memory of man, O Pale Face, goeth not so far back into the distant
past as the happy days when the children of the glorious Sun first
built their blazing council fires in the beautiful, mountain locked
valley of the Yosemite. In that unremembered time the baleful glitter
of the white sails of the accursed, marauding pale face had not yet
defiled the pure blue waters of the broad Pacific. The Sierras were
illumined by the red glare of the watch-fires of a mighty, heroic race
of redmen, and the waters laughed and sang in joyful cadence with the
dancing of their light canoes.

“And in those joyous days the Manitou smiled upon his chosen people,
for they were as yet pure, and uncontaminated by the conflicting
creeds, multitudinous diseases, bad fire-water and worse morals of the
wicked white man. The Indian was a fearless, noble warrior and a man,
roaming the trackless woods and traversing the waters of his ancient
ancestral home as free as the wild birds of his native hills.

“In that far distant time happiness hovered like a golden cloud over
the lodges of the redman, for within all was peace, and comfort, and
plenty. Neither cold nor hunger came like an evil spirit to bring
woe to the redman’s bosom. The forests were alive with mighty game,
and he was a poor and lowly hunter indeed, who could not show that
acknowledged badge of fearless courage, a necklace made of the cruel
claws of the fierce grizzly bear. The lakes and streams were teeming
with glittering fish, in number like the falling leaves of the yellow
autumn, many-hued and brilliant as the rainbow.

“For him who fain would seek for glory, there was many a gory scalp
lock to be fairly and hazardously earned in fierce, relentless battle,
while for the feeble, timid spirit who shrank from the hardships and
dangers of war, the warm and fertile soil promised the husbandman rich
rewards of nutritious maize.

“On the green-verdured slopes and in the broad, smiling valleys gleamed
many a comfortable wigwam of poles and dried skins of wild beasts,
wrought with the weird hieroglyphs of the tribe--strange, ancient
characters and picture-writing, unintelligible even to the Indian of
to-day. The smoke of a thousand lodges rose and mingled with the snowy
vapor--the fleeces of the sky--mingled with the billowy flocks and
herds of the Manitou.

“The valley of the sparkling Yosemite--that wonderful stream of liquid
silver whose mystic source is in the clouds, far, far beyond any trail
of man--was the earthly paradise of the redman of the mountains. To say
that the great ineffable Beyond--the land of Manitou the Mighty--was
fairer than the beauteous valley of the Yosemite, was the utmost limit
of the Indian’s faith in heaven--those Happy Hunting Grounds to which
death alone could transport him. Aye, it was the farthest limit of the
redman’s imagination.

       *       *       *       *       *

“Chief among the sachems of his tribe, was Tu-toch-a-nu-lah. Tall was
he, like the towering redwood; strong were his limbs like those of a
mighty oak; rugged were his broad shoulders as the frowning, beetling
cliffs of the mountain locked home of his people. There was none so
bold and so brave as he--the mightiest hunter and most daring warrior
of all his tribe. Within his lodge there hung the scalps of countless
enemies, and the claws of many a savage bear of the mountains. Brave?
Had he not slain by a single blow with his keen hunting knife the
terrible panther--alone and single-handed had he not slain him? And
where was the lodge that was large enough to hold the wide, branching
horns of the kingly elk he had brought panting to the earth with his
deadly, slender-shafted arrows? Straight was his handsome form as the
ashen spear-shaft, and elastic as the bow of hickory; swifter was his
moccasined foot than the red deer’s; lighter his step than the mountain
lion’s; bright was his piercing eye as the first beams of the rising
sun; keen was his vision as that of the king of birds--the great war
eagle. There was not among all the Sun’s brave children a chief so
nobly grand as he.

“Far up on the side of a steep, wooded mountain was the home lodge of
Tu-toch-a-nu-lah. Here, like an eagle in his cloud-kissed eyrie, he
watched over the welfare of his people as became a wise and mighty
sachem who loved them and was well beloved by them.

“Beloved by them? Aye, and passing well, for he was their loyal,
ever-ready champion, their benefactor and protector, and they--being
red, not white--were grateful.

“Ranging over the fertile upper plains, the mighty sachem herded droves
on droves of the graceful red deer, that his people might choose the
best and fattest for the feast. High up amid the rocks were his flocks
of big-horned mountain sheep--the picturesque and shaggy cimarron. The
savage bear he gave not peace, for he drove him forth from his rocky
lair that the braves of the tribe might win laurels in the hunt.

“Sometimes, when the skies had been unkind and the Sun Father had
scorched the delicate leaves and fragrant blossoms and shrivelled the
tender stalks of the young maize for many days, the wise and thoughtful
sachem brought forth the magic red pipe he had fashioned in the far
off land of the fierce Dacotahs. As he silently sat and smoked the
sweetly pungent killikinnic, the billowy clouds of sweet incense were
gently wafted to the sapphire skies and kissed them, so tenderly and
lovingly that they wept for very joy. And those blissful tears fell
as a soothing, gentle rain upon the drooping maize, and trees and
flowers, until they raised their fainting, almost dying heads in joy
and gladness. Then the vast choirs of brilliant-hued singing birds
awoke once more the musical echoes of the sighing forest, and sweetly
sang the praises, of the mighty Tu-toch-a-nu-lah, bravest and most
tender-hearted of his race--greatest of all the proud and haughty
Yosemite.

“When the drought was over and the parched and thirsty soil was once
more moist, the fragrant smoke billows of the magic pipe floated
blithely, airily up to the fiercely glaring sun and brought down
millions of warm, yet softened rays through the clear blue air that
soon ripened the luxuriant crops into gold--gold that the joyful women
should gather with singing and merry making in the harvest-time to be.

“When the mighty sachem was happy, and laughed, the Yosemite danced and
sparkled in the sunlight as though rejoicing with him, its winding way
rippling into pleasant, cheery smiles. When he sighed, the soughing
wind wailed mournfully through the cone-laden boughs of the tall bread
pines, or howled dismally down the dark and gloomy canyons like the
spirit of some tortured brave. When he spake, his voice was sometimes
like the soft, gentle cooing of the ring-dove, at others like the deep,
sonorous voice of the cataract. But when he raging smote to death the
giant grizzly, or fiercely tore the scalp lock from the skull of an
enemy, his fearful war whoop rang out among the crags and gorges of the
Sierras like the loud mutterings of the thunder, aye, like the awful
rumbling and crashing of the earthquake.

“None there was in his tribe so learned as Tu-toch-a-nu-lah, for the
smoke of his pipe oft brought him wonderful visions that the eye of
none other ever saw. Through the blue, odorous haze of the burning
killikinnic the Manitou had many a time spoken words of wisdom to his
favorite child.

“And the noble sachem had travelled much. The soft tread of his
moccasined feet had been felt by all the land from Oregon to the gulf,
north and south, and from the Father of Waters to the blue Pacific,
east and west. The broad prints of his snow shoes were upon the eternal
snows of every land in the ice bound north. He had been in the far off
Northland where, on a throne of glittering ice, robed in a mantle of
ermine frost, sits the Queen of the Heavens. And he had seen crouching
at her feet the great White Rabbit--with his own eyes had he seen it.
There he had walked through the valley of peace and plenty, in the land
where the year is but a night and a day. He had passed reverently among
the graves of his ancestors, who lay there sleeping beneath the green
mantle that the eternal snows could not chill. He had communed with
that sleeping race of giant redmen and had heard them whisper of the
day when time shall be no more, when the enemies of his race shall have
passed and those mighty warriors shall arise to claim their long lost
birthright.

“And Tu-toch-a-nu-lah knew the message of the north wind as it whistled
among the mountains. To him spake the giant redwoods, as they battled
with the gales of winter. And they spake of battles won in other days,
for within those forest monarchs were imprisoned the souls of his
forefathers, those red kings of aforetime. To him sang the robin in the
springtime, and he heard and understood the twitter of the snowbird,
in the days when Winter had laid his frosty fingers upon the verdant
valley. For him the pines and cedars gave forth their balmy breath and
fragrant balsam. He was Nature’s best beloved child and his mother was
kind to the sachem.

“He it was who taught the boys of his tribe to catch the fish with
hooks of bone in summer, and to kill them with the spear through the
icy coverings of the streams in winter. ’Twas he who taught them how
to make the bow and the barbed and feathered ashen shafts that should
slay the grizzly and their foes among the redmen. And when the bows and
shafts were done ’twas Tu-toch-a-nu-lah who led them into the sombre,
fragrant woods and taught them to stalk and slay the deer. He was the
children’s best friend and wisest counsellor.

“Yes, he was a brave and mighty warrior, and a wise one.

“Tender hearted and loving though he was, the great heart of
Tu-toch-a-nu-lah had never been touched, be it ever so lightly, by love
of woman. Strong and tireless in the chase, brave in battle, wiser than
the wisest at the council fires of his people, kind and loving to all,
the mighty warrior knew not yet the burning, all consuming glow of the
most sacred fire that burns on human altars--he knew not the fire of
passion. Of all the dark-eyed maidens and comely squaws of his tribe,
there was none whose bright and longing eyes had ever aroused in his
bosom the glorious and all-responsive thrill that might have bid her
hope. Gaze upon him as yearningly and tenderly as she might, there was
not one who could say that she was the woman whom fate had set apart
for him.

“No, the handsome sachem had never known the love of woman--and yet the
star of human destiny was ever hovering over his beloved head, and was
soon to illumine with its fiery darts the utmost depth of the still,
dark waters of romance that lay hidden within his soul.

       *       *       *       *       *

“There had been a long and parching drought, and the delicate leaves
and blossoms, and the tender heads of the young growing maize were
drooping in weakness and sorrow, when from his lofty mountain lodge
came forth Tu-toch-a-nu-lah. In his hand he held the magic calumet.
Seating himself on a rocky height whence he could smile down upon
his faithful people, he smoked, and blew the perfumed clouds toward
heaven. It was early in the morning, and the red-glowing Sun Father
was just rising from behind the mountains, his thirsty beams greedily
drinking the lovely diamond-like dew-drops that tremblingly hung upon
the verdure of the valley.

“At the further end of the valley was a mighty gray dome of time-worn
granite, smooth and round as though made and polished by human hands.
As the circling smoke rings rose from the sachem’s calumet, the gentle
breeze bore them slowly to the southward, where they lingered in
fantastic wreaths about the dome. The sun gilded with its brilliant
beams the rocky summit and pierced the hovering clouds of perfumed
pipe smoke as with golden arrows. The dome was surrounded as it were
with a splendid halo, such as the chieftain had never before seen.
As he gazed, the sky above the dome was illumined as by a gigantic,
surpassingly beautiful rainbow.

“The smoke now faded away and there in a blaze of golden glory sat a
maiden! Beautiful was she, beyond all the women Tu-toch-a-nu-lah had
ever seen. She was not like the dusky, dark-eyed, raven-haired maidens
of his tribe, for her skin was like the warm and radiant glow of
the fiery setting sun on the calm still waters of the blue Pacific.
Red were her cheeks like the roses of the valley. Her hair, like the
ripened maize in autumn, fell over her white shoulders and about her
lovely form as falls the sparkling spray of the beautiful cataract--the
Bridal Veil, Po-ho-no--like golden water rippling over rocks of silver.
Shining fair was her brow as though illumined by the pale, soft beauty
of moonlight, and deep and dark was the liquid blue of her eyes, like
the shaded pools of the verdant valley, far, far below. Small and
shining was her foot, like a tuft of feathery snow twinkling through
the boughs of the pines and firs in winter--like the spring of a fairy
bow was its graceful arch. Over her dimpled, ivory shoulders fluttered
two delicate wings of rose-like cloud. As his eyes fell upon her she
called to him. Sweet and sad was her voice as the call of the night
bird of the forest.

“The Sachem sprang to his feet and stood and gazed in speechless
wonder. The precious red calumet fell unheeded to the ground, whence it
bounded off the rocky ledge and went clattering down to a fragmentary
fate on the cruel jagged rocks below.

“The beautiful maiden smiled upon him, and whispered softly as
she held out her arms lovingly, entreatingly toward him. ‘I, thy
Tis-sa-ack, am here. Oh, Tu-toch-a-nu-lah, come’--then gliding swiftly
up the smooth and dangerous rocky dome, she vanished over its rounded
top.

“As springs the startled deer from his leafy covert in the woods,
so, with heart aflame, sprang Tu-toch-a-nu-lah in pursuit of the
lovely maiden. Swift and sure of foot was he like the panther of the
mountains, alert was he of ear like the wolf of the prairie, keen was
his eye as that of the eagle, yet hopeless was his pursuit. The soft
and beautiful down from her snowy wings was wafted back, veiling her
from his enamored eyes and enveloping him in a feathery cloud denser
than the mist of the morning. When the mountain breeze had borne
the obscuring cloud away and he could once more see, the maiden had
disappeared. There was naught upon the dome but a rosy haze that was
fast dissolving before the merciless rays of the Sun Father. Far below
him he saw the smoke of the cheerful camp fires of his people--the
people who loved him and whom he loved. But he turned again and gazed
longingly at the rocky dome.

“So fell the wise and mighty chieftain before the arrows of all
conquering Love. He at last was as other men--touched by the divine
fire.

       *       *       *       *       *

“The ardent passion of new found love leaves room for no other
sentiment, and his people soon found Th-toch-a-nu-lah sadly changed.
He went no more upon the hunt or fierce foray; the savage bear no
longer cowered and trembled at the dread sound of his footstep amid
the mountains; his enemies blanched not, nor quaked with fear at the
thunder of his voice. The sachem was no longer the wise counsellor and
devoted ruler; he was like a new and strange being, and his neglected
people marvelled much, and beheld the change with sorrow.

“Every morning was Tu-toch-a-nu-lah to be found eagerly wending his way
to the rocky dome where he first saw the lovely Tis-sa-ack. He laid
love offerings of wild flowers and the fruit of the bread pine upon the
rocky dome, and awaited her coming with all the ardor of one upon whose
heart love has but newly smiled. But only when he was far distant from
the dome on which she sat enthroned would the beautiful maiden appear
before his dazzled vision.

“Pursue her as quickly as he might, he caught her not. He heard but
the faint and far-away sound of her footsteps, gentle as the falling
of an autumn leaf, and the soft rustle of her wings as the unpitying
wind blew their snowy, bewildering down into his longing eyes. He might
devour with passionate glances her beautiful, shining form; he might in
thought revel in her glory of golden hair; he might even look from afar
into the limpid depths of her gentle blue eyes, yet was he never to
clasp his loved one to his bosom. Struck dumb by her wondrous beauty,
never did he speak before her, and never again did her sweet-toned
voice fall like the tinkle of rippling brooks upon his enamored ear.

“And with the full blossoming of the flower of love in the heart of
the sagamore came neglect of duty. His all absorbing passion swallowed
up all regard for the welfare of his people--all remembrance of the
beautiful valley for which he had ever so tenderly cared. The world
was lost and found in Tis-sa-ack. So all consuming was his passion for
her, so constant his thoughts of her, that the crops of Yosemite were
neglected--aye, forgotten, and they, being without rain and deprived
of his tender care, drooped their delicate heads mournfully and
shrank away and died. The breezes whistled and sighed sadly through
the juiceless blades of the wild corn that rustled in shrivelled dry
response that had naught of life in it. The grass and leaves lost their
freshness and turned autumnal brown--sure harbinger of death. The
flowers lost their freshness and beauty and their petals fell to the
dry earth, one by one, while the bee no longer stored sweet honey in
the hollow trees.

“Dazzled were the eyes of Tu-toch-a-nu-lah by the shining wings, golden
hair and ivory throat of the beautiful maiden, and he saw none of this.
Love had blinded him to all save its object.

“But the fair Tis-sa-ack looked down upon the unhappy neglected valley
with eyes of sorrow, as she stood in the early morning upon the mighty
dome. As she gazed she wept with compassion, and kneeling down on the
smooth, unfeeling rock she besought the Great Spirit to be merciful
unto the beautiful valley of Yosemite and bring forth again the
beautiful flowers and green trees and shrubs, the delicate grasses,
nodding firs and waving maize.

“Then, with an awful crash as of thunder, beneath her feet the great
dome was riven asunder, and the melting snows of the Nevada gushed
through the wonderful gorge as if by magic! A lovely lake formed
between the steep walls of living rock, and a gently murmuring river
started therefrom on its meandering, life-giving course through the
parched and thirsty valley.

“And then came a wonderful transformation. The valley was infused with
new life. The flowers and trees, the withered grass and the yellowing
maize raised their dying heads and smiled with joy as the stream of
life crept silently through the parched soil at their shrunken roots.
The breeze was laden with the perfumed thanks of the blossoms; the
freshened blades of the wild corn rustled and shivered with pleasure
as the moisture laden air softly caressed them. The mighty trees were
thrilled with delight as the sap, with velvet footfall, ran up their
trunks, bringing life and energy and renewed vigor. All was peace and
happiness again, and the valley of the Yosemite was once more verdant
and beautiful.

“But the mysterious maiden, for whom the valley had so sadly
suffered--she who had so successfully appealed to the Manitou--was seen
no more. As she flew swiftly as flies the swallow, away toward the
western skies, there to fade from the sachem’s sight forever, myriads
of delicate downy tufts were wafted from her lovely wings. They fell
upon the margin of the new and beautiful lake, and where they fell may
to-day be seen thousands on thousands of fragrant little white violets.

“And Tu-toch-a-nu-lah is still wandering sadly about the world seeking
her whom he loved and lost. Ere he left his ancestral home, to return
no more, that the noble race of Yosemite might never forget him he
carved the outlines of his god-like head upon the haughty rock that
bears his name. There it will forever stand, steadfastly gazing toward
the dome whereon he found and lost Tis-sa-ack, the beloved--the first
and last love of his noble heart.

“Sometimes, when the fragrant morning breeze sweeps gently round and
round the rocky dome, the maidens of the Yosemite whisper one to
another, saying:

“‘Hark! Tis-sa-ack the loved and lost one, is calling the brave
Tu-toch-a-nu-lah.’”



A GREAT CITY’S SHAME


Over the entrance of what was once the Iroquois Theater, hangs a
head, which the sculptor probably intended for the Goddess of Music.
As I gaze upon the head its outlines become first blurred and then
transformed. A Death’s head stands out in bold relief! The noble image
of the Indian Chieftain that was once there, has been consigned to the
Limbo of the Forgotten--to the Valley of Dead Lumber. The Death’s head
grins and grins--grins sardonically. One can almost hear a chuckle,
as the horrid thing looks down upon the heedless, hurrying crowd in
the busy street. Seeing the thing above the door as I passed by in the
midst of the throng to-day, I wondered why it grinned,--why it did not
weep. Did it grin because it knew how soulless were the human things
that inspired the hand which carved it; because it and the men who
placed it there were of the same brotherhood of ghouls; because it felt
that it was a grim satire upon humanity?

Have men whose hearts are adamant, whose souls are sordid, the right to
stamp their own shamelessness upon a helpless block of stone; the right
to hang it where it must perforce reflect their own cold, calculating,
emotion defying inner consciousness upon the man in the street?

Beneath the grinning head, and flanking it below on either side, are
impudently assertive, glaring legends that proclaim in lurid blatant
type--“The Iroquois is no more.” The new temple of Thespis which,
Phœnix like, has risen from the ashes of the old, is a “Music Hall.”

More harshly grating than all is the legend which announces that the
new place of amusement will open to-night. Thus have insensate paint,
paper and ink become accessories to a crime.

Yes, to-night the theater re-opens. “Refined Vaudeville” with a
“Galaxy of Stars,” the bill boards say. And as the players caper about
and sing, dance and perpetrate their quips and jokes, will they not
see? They will gaze out upon the audience that applauds, and how can
they fail to see the wraiths of that other audience? They will all
be there, those ghostly ones. Sitting bolt upright where they died,
piled row upon row in the aisles, massed in bewildering tangles at
the doors--those delusive doors that would not open--they will all be
there. And will _they_ applaud, think you?

In this commercial age there is little room for sentiment. A people
that will permit the fair face of Nature to be disfigured by the
painter of patent medicine ads; that will gaze calmly upon a pictured
ham or the announcement of the birth of a new “liver-pad” on the
Palisades; that will tolerate on our boulevards flaming advertisements
of the latest thing in corsets or “union suits,” is not likely to
protest against a Death’s head that merely grins over the gate of a
charnel house. And yet the people know. They have read of the awful
things that lie behind that awful grin. Many of them have suffered,
still more have seen. A few, a very few, go by on the other side of the
street with suffused eyes averted, and great sobs of agony welling up
in their throats.

“An’ I should live a thousand years,” I could not forget. Many horrible
sights had I seen; much suffering had I witnessed; the faces of the
dead had long since ceased to be a novelty to me and were no longer
awesome;--I fancied I had grown callous. But that awful fire! Would
that I could blunt the memory of it. Would that I might shelve it as
but another experience in the land of Work-a-day.

As I looked upon the Death’s head, it seemed to single me out from the
crowd, leering at me triumphantly. Did it note my emotion and gloat
over it?

I raged inwardly and was tempted to--But, had I seized a paving stone
and smashed that vile image to bits, I could not have made them
understand. Least of all could I have compelled the understanding of
that huge policeman, who stood idly by, swinging his club in a way that
suggested danger to sentimental cranks. When that team of horses swung
around the corner, narrowly missing a woman who, bundles in arms and
children at her side, was frantically trying to cross the street, the
officer was gazing at a figure of Gambrinus in the saloon window across
the way. He had appetites, but no sentiment, that man in blue.

Standing there in the street, jostled and elbowed by the surging crowd
that had no time for dreaming, there rose before me a picture which the
Death’s head also saw;--its expression showed that.

When on that fateful afternoon the call came for physicians to succor
the hapless victims of that pitiless massacre of the innocents, there
was no hesitancy upon the part of all who were within call. They
hastened to respond, and stood not upon the order of their going.
Humanity cried for aid--that was enough. When I arrived at the scene,
only a few moments after the occurrence of the frightful disaster,
the firemen had just forced their way into the foyer. The air within
had begun to be barely breathable. Noticing several firemen groping
their way up one of the marble stairways, I followed them. The air
was so full of pungent smoke that objects were with great difficulty
to be made out. At the top of the stairs, on the landing just outside
the only door that was open in the front of the theater, the firemen
met with an obstruction--a solid, monstrous cube of human bodies, as
high as one could reach. This ghastly mass of bodies was free upon two
sides--at the upper steps of the main stair and at the top of several
steps leading to a main balcony within the foyer. On the other side the
mass was hemmed in by the wall of the stairway. Behind it were piled
the bodies of other human beings who had tried to climb over those
in front and had failed. These last extended from the choked up door
almost to the lower balcony rail within the theater. There was another
door, but this was closed tight, and staunchly held by a strong lock
and a heavy something behind it.

Seeing this wall of bodies I stopped short;--I confess it. The awful
shock of it all came over me. For a moment I felt my knees give way
beneath me. I grew faint and sick,--and then started back the way I had
come. Half way down the stairs I stopped, and pulling myself together
went back to duty. And then I stayed, like a soldier who runs away at
the first volley of shot, but comes back and fights to the end.

The firemen were pulling at the mass of bodies, vainly trying to
dislodge them. Several of the men climbed on top of the awful pile and
tried to disentangle the bodies, bruising and crushing the while the
upturned faces and helpless limbs with their cruel boots.

Alas! The mass of bodies was not to be untangled until too late, far
too late. And yet, the pile was free upon two sides, and it looked
easy enough to extricate those who were there. And so we tugged, and
strained, and pulled, and pried at them. “My God!” I thought. “If we
can only break the dead-lock and get them started!”

“Break the dead-lock?” Well, perhaps we might have done so if we had
worked longer and more systematically. But the firemen said, “It’s no
use.”

A big policeman who stood idly by, too dignified to help in the work of
rescue, said to me, “Gwan out o’ that!”

“But,” I answered, “I’m a doctor. Some of these people _must_ be alive.
I can’t go away without trying to get a body out. If I get only one out
we may break the lock.”

And again he said, “Gwan out o’ that, or I’ll--” and he brandished his
club menacingly.

And so I went “out o’ that.” I climbed over the bannister and on to
the balcony and attacked the bodies from the other side, unnoticed by
the officer and free from interference by the firemen, who had all
gone, save two or three whose feet were still grinding and crushing the
inanimate forms on the top of the pile.

Again I tugged and pulled at the bodies, this time with better success.
Down in one corner of the mass, protected somewhat by the marble pillar
forming the arch which connected the landing with the balcony, lay a
little boy of perhaps ten years of age. I drew him out quite easily. He
still breathed. Next to him lay the body of a grey haired woman. Her
face was gashed across by a blow from the boot of some one caught in
the death struggles of that pile. As I dragged her body from beneath
the towering mass of death, an opera glass, innocent accessory to
murder, fell from her nerveless hand and clattered upon the marble
floor of the balcony. She, too, was alive.

Curiosity seekers had by this time entered the building. I impressed
several of them into service, and between us we carried the bodies of
the old woman and the boy down the stair by which they had climbed to
their deaths, to the street, and into the restaurant next-door, which
was rapidly becoming transformed into a morgue and hospital emergency
ward. Leaving the poor creatures to the care of some of my brother
physicians, I rushed back to that pile of bodies--to again attempt to
break that awful dead-lock.

As I re-entered the door of the theater I heard a man wildly
expostulating with several policemen. He madly insisted on entering,
and they as strenuously refused to allow him to do so. His voice
seemed familiar, and I turned to look. He sprang past the opposing arms
of the officers, grasped me by the shoulders and cried, “My God! man,
can’t you help me? My daughters are in there somewhere!” He was one of
my oldest and dearest friends. I had watched his children grow up from
babyhood to childhood, from childhood to womanhood and loved them.

“Surely,” I said, “you are mistaken.”

“No, no, I am sure!” he cried, in agony. “Help me to find them, oh,
help me to find them!”

“Come with me,” I replied, as I sprang up the stairs. Pointing to the
pile of bodies on the landing, I said, “If they were in the theater
at all, let us hope that they have either escaped or are here in this
pile. Help me, Harry, let us try to get these bodies free.”

Imprisoned in the mass of bodies, hanging several feet above the floor,
caught only by the lower limbs, with the head, trunk and arms perfectly
free, was the body of a powerful man. Surely this one could be removed.
My friend, one of the strongest men I know, assisted me, and we pulled
at the body until--well, until my poor friend weakened and fled. And
then two other sturdy men came to my aid, and we tugged at the body
until a policeman drove us away. And my dear friend’s children were in
that heap of dead all the while!

Not until the theater proper was entered, and the bodies that were
heaped up behind them removed, did it become possible to remove the
dead upon the landing. Oh, the pity of it! There they lay, apparently
outside the zone of danger and death. And the hands that would fain
have saved them were impotent. Untangle them? Think of a lot of huge
angle-worms massed together; give those angle-worms legs and arms to
twist and intertwine, hands to grip in the death throes, and heads to
interlock, and you may understand. And yet, perhaps not,--I myself
could not understand, nor believe, had I not seen.

Looking back upon that awful scene of desolation I can find but one
crumb of comfort--only one consolation. At the time I felt that many
in that pile of human forms must surely be alive and could be saved,
if only they could be extricated. Oh, the horror of the idea! It
overwhelmed me then. But now as my mind reverts to that scene of death,
I am sure that very few could have been alive, surer still that none
were conscious. I recall that not a sound came from those lost ones.
Not a cry for help, not a moan of distress, not even a sigh to indicate
that life was still there. Oh, the awful stillness of it all! The
stillness of the dead lying on the dripping slabs of a morgue. The
stillness of the subjects lying upon the tables of the dissecting room.
Even the man whose trunk and head were free gave forth no sound. He was
caught only up to his hips. Had he been alive, surely he would have
made some sign. He was not crushed, save perhaps as to his lower limbs,
and that could not have been mortal. The weight of bodies does not
crush limbs as does machinery. No, he certainly must have been dead.

And why did all these people fall upon the landing? Of what did they
die?

Plunging in the dark, pell mell through that one narrow door, the poor
creatures stumbled down several steps that led from the door to the
landing. Cunningly devised trap this--wise architect that designed it.
Those who went down, rose not again. They lay crushed by the weight of
the tangled up scores of other hapless ones who followed after. A small
part of the crowd, those who were not caught in the tangle, flowed, as
it were, over the top. A few, just a very few, thus escaped.

As the helpless creatures lay there in that fearful jam, at the only
available exit in the front of the house, the smoke, and flame, and
noxious gases were drawn irresistibly to that same door. They too,
sought an exit at the front, and found only that death trap. The
draught must have been fierce, the flames like a breath from hell.
While the still breathing, palpitating mass of crushed and bruised
humanity lay there imprisoned, the smoke and gases were sucked through
the door into the foyer, diffusing themselves through the writhing
human hecatomb, and giving those not yet dead a painless _coup de
grace_. How soon it must have been over! How useless the emotions
that shook my very soul as I gazed upon the slaughtered ones. And how
solacing the conclusions with which calm retrospection has replaced the
horrible immediate impressions of the scene itself.

Merciful indeed, the smoke and those noxious gases, especially for
those luckless ones who lay on the top of the pile of victims. These
were scorched and burned--not badly, but enough to show that with the
death-dealing smoke and gases the flames came also. A fearful gust or
two--perhaps only one, and the work was done.

And the scene at the open door of death was but a fragment of the
frightful holocaust. Death’s barbecue lay behind that heap of bodies.
Towering up behind that other front door which would not open, were
scores of blackened bodies, some burned and distorted out of all
semblance to their living form. Still others sat upright where Death
had surprised them. They died in their seats without resistance,
overcome doubtless, by the deadly gases.

There, standing erect, like soldiers, packed like sardines, on a
stair case behind a locked iron gate, was row on row of dead, who
had lost their lives trying to escape from the gallery to join the
panic-stricken ones in the lower balcony. Hopeless effort--what matter
where they died? As well meet death face to face, there upon that
inner stair behind that merciless trap gate, as in that pile upon the
landing--perhaps better, who knows?

Over yonder is an “exit,” one of many similar delusions. This one leads
into a blind hallway. Here again, stand the dead bodies of unfortunate
beings who died fighting for life against invincible odds.

Scattered about in the aisles between the balcony rail and the death
trap “exits”--oh, the mockery of the word!--lay bodies burned to a
cinder. Among them lay the body of a noble youth, the son of one of my
friends, whose life was so full of promise, so replete with possible
future usefulness, so suggestive of future greatness even, that I do
not wonder the father was crushed to the earth. I loved the lad, and
if, deep down, my friend’s grief were tinged with resentment against
the ordering of things, I could understand and sympathize.

What foolishness have I attempted here? Describe that scene within
the Iroquois? Never was quill wrought, that could do the subject
justice! Do you, those curious ones, who idly stood in crowds about
the building, watching the poor victims who sprang from the windows
in the upper galleries or attempted to pass on a frail ladder to the
building across the alley, only to be hurled to the ground and mangled
to death or permanent disability, think you could picture it? If so,
your storm centers of emotion have no more potential energy than a
babbling brook--no more dynamic capacity than the breeze that ripples
a mill pond. Do you, my friend, who stood with gaping mouth, watching
the charred, blackened forms brought forth from the maw of hell by the
firemen, think you could depict the fearful sight? If so, I can only
say: “You did not see.”

Within the restaurant, the doctors worked like beavers. They did not
always work systematically--that was impossible, in that confused mass
of people. Confusion? Ye Gods! Was there ever such another scene?
Distracted friends and relatives in search of their loved ones,
nurses, doctors, firemen, policemen, and others who were trying to
lend a helping hand, all contributed to the seething crowd of excited
humanity that packed the place. Then there were the vulgar, bestial
ones who stood and gaped sensually at the nudity of the fire victims
who were being partially stripped by the doctors in their efforts to
save. Yes, such were there, and they were numerous enough to make one
blush for humanity. These cursed blots upon the face of nature, these
moral monstrosities, and the other morbidly curious beings were alike
obstructive. The first might not be killed without process of law, and
there was so much to do that time could not be spared to throw the
latter out upon the street. Once I very nearly forgot my surroundings.
I asked a man who stood near to help me lift some dead bodies from a
table to the floor, to make room for others in which there might still
be life. He refused and moved away, saying, “You can do your own dirty
work.” It was then I so nearly forgot, and said sundry sulphurous
things. Had there been time, perhaps I should have entirely forgotten.
But I fancy the cur was frightened, for after our brief and forceful
interview he started for the door and I did not see him again.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the closely packed throng the stalwart
firemen and policemen pushed their way as best they could, bearing
the bodies of the dead. The work of rescue was going on very slowly.
Even the doctors were not using their skill to the best advantage. In
some instances a veritable throng of them were working, or attempting
to work, simultaneously upon one body. A clear headed layman grasped
the situation and, with the assistance of some of the physicians,
evolved order out of chaos. Three doctors were assigned to each table;
the police cleared out many of the drones in the crowd, and things
began to move more swiftly. The police in general did excellent work.
A glaring exception was a certain well-known captain. Noticing his
insignia of office, I asked him to clear away the people who were
obstructing the passage of the men who were carrying in the bodies. He
replied, “I’ve got no time for you. Hunt up the man who has charge of
the police detail.” And then the heartless brute went on gaping and
getting in the way along with the rest of the morbidly curious.

I wonder if many realize what it means to see dead bodies so numerous
that they might be estimated by the cord. Those who do, may perhaps
picture to themselves the harrowing scenes about those tables where
the physicians worked. As soon as a body was pronounced dead, it was
hurriedly laid aside to make room for a possibly hopeful case. Cases
in which resuscitation was accomplished were carried to the waiting
ambulances and taken to the hospitals. But, alas! these cases were few.

The bodies were brought to us in a seemingly endless stream. As body
after body was pronounced lifeless and laid aside, the piles of dead
upon the tables grew higher and higher, grew until, as I have said,
they could only be compared to piles of cord wood.

And what a difference in those bodies! Some were so seared, so
blistered and blackened from the fire and smoke, that in the handling
of them the skin, and even the flesh, came off in one’s hands in
great shreds and rolls. A far greater number were so free from mar or
discoloration, and their faces were so calm and peaceful that it was
hard to believe them dead. Indeed, it was difficult to believe even
that animation was suspended. They apparently had just fallen asleep.

And these last were to me the most awful sight of all. The
others--well, they were better dead than living disfigured and maimed,
and besides, there had at no time been hope for them. But these, ah,
these! If only they had not lain so long. A little stimulant for the
heart, a few compressions and relaxations of the chest, and the life
giving oxygen would have entered their lungs and blood. They would have
been saved.

What pathetic incidents there were in that restaurant.

A doctor friend of mine, a big hearted, broad shouldered Nature’s
nobleman, was pushing his way here and there through the crowd. I
noted him towering above those about him as he jostled the people
about, and called to him, “Will you take a table?” But he did not
answer. He did not seem to see or hear. He went on through the crowd
from table to table and finally disappeared. I marvelled then, for I
did not know. Poor fellow, his two daughters, beautiful young women,
had gone to the Iroquois that day. He was looking, and looking,--for
that which was bound to crush him, and hoping,--ah! hoping against
hope, as the sequence proved. His light had gone out--and it has stayed
out.

And I have just an inkling of what it all meant to the bereaved ones. I
had not yet had time to ascertain whether my own wife and children had
chanced to go to the Iroquois that afternoon. I recalled however, that
I had taken them to see the same play a few days before, and concluded
that they were not likely to attend it again soon, but still--

The horrible doubt had just begun to befog my mind, when a new subject
was laid upon the table where I was working. It was the body of a young
girl. As I took the first hasty glance at this latest unfortunate, I
was almost stunned. The resemblance to my younger daughter was so
startling that I was all but sure it was she. It was but a fleeting
moment before I knew, but that ephemeral space of time was enough. And
then I understood, oh, so well.

“A father’s heart should not be deceived, even for a moment,” I fancy I
hear some one say. Perhaps not, yet there was one unhappy man in that
frantic throng of those who were seeking their beloved ones, whom I
beheld, thrice in succession, identifying a strange child as his own.
And that father had a heart of hearts, as I have occasion to know.

Lying beneath one of the tables lay the body of a beautiful little
girl of about twelve years of age. Fair was she, with golden hair and
cheeks still red. A doctor saw her lying there and paused, wondering to
himself whether his brethren had worked quite long enough. She surely
did not look as if she were dead.

As the doctor stood wondering thus, a group of young lads approached
him from the other side of the table. One of them cried appealingly:

“Oh, doctor, won’t you please try once more to save that little girl.
We know her, and know her folks, and it will kill them if she dies.”

Another physician who was passing by, overhearing said, “No use, old
man. We worked over her for forty minutes before we gave her up,” and
he hurried on to another table.

“Oh, but doctor,” said one of the boys appealingly, “I just saw her
eyes quiver.”

“Yes,” said another, “and one of her fingers just moved.”

“Dear, optimistic little liars,” said the doctor afterward, “I just
couldn’t stand it. I pulled the body off the pile on which it lay, put
it on the table, and worked like a horse over it for thirty minutes.
And when the poor little chest made a few pitifully gasping sounds
under my efforts, the expression of joy and hope on the faces of those
lads was wonderful to see.

“And when through sheer fatigue I at last gave up the self imposed task
that I knew was hopeless at the beginning, one of the boys approached
me and tearfully whispered, ‘Please, doctor, won’t you tell me your
name? We want to see that you get paid for trying to save our little
friend. You did just the best you could.’

“And,” said the doctor, “I couldn’t answer him as I would have done
had he been grown up. The poor boy would not have understood. I just
choked up and sputtered, ‘See you again, by and by, my boy, I’m in a
hurry now.’

“Just think,” concluded the doctor, “here was a _rara avis_--a dead
person’s friend who thought a doctor should be rewarded for doing the
best he could.”

And when I heard the story I said, “Old fellow, that boy’s sentiments
were awfully out of place, but who shall say that they were out of
tune?”

There are many book-made heroes, but few of real flesh and blood. There
was one among the injured ones who were brought in unconscious and laid
upon the tables at that restaurant. He was a boy of some twelve or
fourteen years of age. He remained unconscious for fully half an hour.
Just as the doctors were about to give him up as hopeless, he began to
revive, and was soon out of danger. Several policemen approached him.

“What’s your name, sonny?” asked one of the officers.

“I won’t tell you my name,” replied the boy.

“Yes, but you _must_ tell me your name.”

“But I won’t do it, so there now,” and the boy set his teeth defiantly.

Curious to know why the boy objected to telling who he was, I motioned
the officers aside and asked quietly,

“Why don’t you give the policemen your name, my boy?”

“’Cause,” replied the boy, “if I do, my pa and my ma’ll hear about my
bein’ hurt an’ it’ll scare ’em most to death.”

And the boy would not be cajoled until I told him the only way to
prevent shock to his parents was to notify them that he was safe.
He grasped the situation and smiled happily as he gave his name and
started for the ambulance.

Ah, Jimmy Kerwin, you are a thoroughbred, if ever there was one.

But why recall all the details of that frightful disaster--the most
awful experience I have ever met with. Have I not told enough to
justify the indignation that filled me when I saw the Death’s head and
read those heartless legends?

       *       *       *       *       *

The new Music Hall opened last evening as per schedule. I was not
surprised to read in the papers this morning that the opening night
was a brilliant success. Every seat was sold. The audience was as
enthusiastic as it was large. This was well--a smaller audience would
not have been a fitting crown to Chicago’s shame and humanity’s
disgrace. Humanity has glossed itself over with a veneer of what it
pleases to term civilization, but primitive man peeps out from beneath
its edges and obtrudes itself whenever and wherever the veneer is
cracked ever so little. And so, a large audience was to have been
expected. The managers of the place well knew human nature.

The applause of that audience was the apotheosis of poor old Rip Van
Winkle’s lament, “How soon we are forgot.” Things inanimate revolted
at the sight and sound of it. A drop curtain caught, precisely as
that cheap, flimsy asbestos fraud did on that memorable day at the
Iroquois. And then the insensate human things remembered--remembered
that they were not fire proof. They remembered, not the dead, but that
other caught curtain, the flame, the gas, the trampling, crushing,
tearing rush of madmen fighting for life, and the farcical exits. They
remembered themselves only, and were startled, affrighted, ripe for a
panic for a moment, and then--they laughed again!

Human beings seeking gay diversion in a crypt of death, splitting the
air of a charnel house with vociferous applause, startling the ghosts
that people the place by boisterous laughter--faugh!

The performance over, the callous ones filed slowly out of the hall,
chatting like magpies and discussing the merits of the various features
of the performance. They traversed the same road over which the ghastly
forms of that other audience were carried. And as the pleasure seekers
gaily tripped along, they passed between and over scores and scores
of recumbent ghosts. Had the forms of these poor wraiths been more
substantial there would have been brushings against them, stumblings
over them.

Over the door the Death’s head still grinned. Chicago’s shame was
complete. Her burnt offerings on the altar of Mammon were forgotten.



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they
were not changed.

Simple typographical errors and missing or unbalanced quotation marks
were silently corrected by Transcriber.

Page 156: “step was bring him nearer” was printed that way.





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