Produced by David Widger
THE GILDED AGE
A Tale of Today
by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner
Henry Brierly took the stand. Requested by the District Attorney to tell
the jury all he knew about the killing, he narrated the circumstances
substantially as the reader already knows them.
He accompanied Miss Hawkins to New York at her request, supposing she was
coming in relation to a bill then pending in Congress, to secure the
attendance of absent members. Her note to him was here shown. She
appeared to be very much excited at the Washington station. After she
had asked the conductor several questions, he heard her say, "He can't
escape." Witness asked her "Who?" and she replied "Nobody." Did not see
her during the night. They traveled in a sleeping car. In the morning
she appeared not to have slept, said she had a headache. In crossing the
ferry she asked him about the shipping in sight; he pointed out where the
Cunarders lay when in port. They took a cup of coffee that morning at a
restaurant. She said she was anxious to reach the Southern Hotel where
Mr. Simons, one of the absent members, was staying, before he went out.
She was entirely self-possessed, and beyond unusual excitement did not
act unnaturally. After she had fired twice at Col. Selby, she turned the
pistol towards her own breast, and witness snatched it from her. She had
seen a great deal with Selby in Washington, appeared to be infatuated
(Cross-examined by Mr. Braham.) "Mist-er.....er Brierly!" (Mr. Braham had
in perfection this lawyer's trick of annoying a witness, by drawling out
the "Mister," as if unable to recall the name, until the witness is
sufficiently aggravated, and then suddenly, with a rising inflection,
flinging his name at him with startling unexpectedness.) "Mist-er.....er
Brierly! What is your occupation?"
"Civil Engineer, sir."
"Ah, civil engineer, (with a glance at the jury). Following that
occupation with Miss Hawkins?" (Smiles by the jury).
"No, sir," said Harry, reddening.
"How long have you known the prisoner?"
"Two years, sir. I made her acquaintance in Hawkeye, Missouri."
"M.....m...m. Mist-er.....er Brierly! Were you not a lover of Miss
Objected to. "I submit, your Honor, that I have the right to establish
the relation of this unwilling witness to the prisoner." Admitted.
"Well, sir," said Harry hesitatingly, "we were friends."
"You act like a friend!" (sarcastically.) The jury were beginning to hate
this neatly dressed young sprig. "Mister......er....Brierly! Didn't
Miss Hawkins refuse you?"
Harry blushed and stammered and looked at the judge. "You must answer,
sir," said His Honor.
"She--she--didn't accept me."
"No. I should think not. Brierly do you dare tell the jury that you had
not an interest in the removal of your rival, Col. Selby?" roared Mr.
Braham in a voice of thunder.
"Nothing like this, sir, nothing like this," protested the witness.
"That's all, sir," said Mr. Braham severely.
"One word," said the District Attorney. "Had you the least suspicion of
the prisoner's intention, up to the moment of the shooting?"
"Not the least," answered Harry earnestly.
"Of course not, of course-not," nodded Mr. Braham to the jury.
The prosecution then put upon the stand the other witnesses of the
shooting at the hotel, and the clerk and the attending physicians. The
fact of the homicide was clearly established. Nothing new was elicited,
except from the clerk, in reply to a question by Mr. Braham, the fact
that when the prisoner enquired for Col. Selby she appeared excited and
there was a wild look in her eyes.
The dying deposition of Col. Selby was then produced. It set forth
Laura's threats, but there was a significant addition to it, which the
newspaper report did not have. It seemed that after the deposition was
taken as reported, the Colonel was told for the first time by his
physicians that his wounds were mortal. He appeared to be in great
mental agony and fear; and said he had not finished his deposition.
He added, with great difficulty and long pauses these words. "I--have
--not--told--all. I must tell--put--it--down--I--wronged--her. Years
--ago--I--can't see--O--God--I--deserved----" That was all. He fainted
and did not revive again.
The Washington railway conductor testified that the prisoner had asked
him if a gentleman and his family went out on the evening train,
describing the persons he had since learned were Col. Selby and family.
Susan Cullum, colored servant at Senator Dilworthy's, was sworn. Knew
Col. Selby. Had seen him come to the house often, and be alone in the
parlor with Miss Hawkins. He came the day but one before he was shot.
She let him in. He appeared flustered like. She heard talking in the
parlor, I peared like it was quarrelin'. Was afeared sumfin' was wrong:
Just put her ear to--the--keyhole of the back parlor-door. Heard a man's
voice, "I--can't--I can't, Good God," quite beggin' like. Heard--young
Miss' voice, "Take your choice, then. If you 'bandon me, you knows what
to 'spect." Then he rushes outen the house, I goes in--and I says,
"Missis did you ring?" She was a standin' like a tiger, her eyes
flashin'. I come right out.
This was the substance of Susan's testimony, which was not shaken in the
least by severe cross-examination. In reply to Mr. Braham's question, if
the prisoner did not look insane, Susan said, "Lord; no, sir, just mad as
Washington Hawkins was sworn. The pistol, identified by the officer as
the one used in the homicide, was produced Washington admitted that it
was his. She had asked him for it one morning, saying she thought she
had heard burglars the night before. Admitted that he never had heard
burglars in the house. Had anything unusual happened just before that.
Nothing that he remembered. Did he accompany her to a reception at Mrs.
Shoonmaker's a day or two before? Yes. What occurred? Little by little
it was dragged out of the witness that Laura had behaved strangely there,
appeared to be sick, and he had taken her home. Upon being pushed he
admitted that she had afterwards confessed that she saw Selby there.
And Washington volunteered the statement that Selby, was a black-hearted
The District Attorney said, with some annoyance; "There--there! That will
The defence declined to examine Mr. Hawkins at present. The case for the
prosecution was closed. Of the murder there could not be the least
doubt, or that the prisoner followed the deceased to New York with a
murderous intent: On the evidence the jury must convict, and might do so
without leaving their seats. This was the condition of the case
two days after the jury had been selected. A week had passed since the
trial opened; and a Sunday had intervened.
The public who read the reports of the evidence saw no chance for the
prisoner's escape. The crowd of spectators who had watched the trial
were moved with the most profound sympathy for Laura.
Mr. Braham opened the case for the defence. His manner was subdued, and
he spoke in so low a voice that it was only by reason of perfect silence
in the court room that he could be heard. He spoke very distinctly,
however, and if his nationality could be discovered in his speech it was
only in a certain richness and breadth of tone.
He began by saying that he trembled at the responsibility he had
undertaken; and he should, altogether despair, if he did not see before
him a jury of twelve men of rare intelligence, whose acute minds would
unravel all the sophistries of the prosecution, men with a sense, of
honor, which would revolt at the remorseless persecution of this hunted
woman by the state, men with hearts to feel for the wrongs of which she
was the victim. Far be it from him to cast any suspicion upon the
motives of the able, eloquent and ingenious lawyers of the state; they
act officially; their business is to convict. It is our business,
gentlemen, to see that justice is done.
"It is my duty, gentlemen, to untold to you one of the most affecting
dramas in all, the history of misfortune. I shall have to show you a
life, the sport of fate and circumstances, hurried along through shifting
storm and sun, bright with trusting innocence and anon black with
heartless villainy, a career which moves on in love and desertion and
anguish, always hovered over by the dark spectre of INSANITY--an insanity
hereditary and induced by mental torture,--until it ends, if end it must
in your verdict, by one of those fearful accidents, which are inscrutable
to men and of which God alone knows the secret.
"Gentlemen, I, shall ask you to go with me away from this court room and
its minions of the law, away from the scene of this tragedy, to a
distant, I wish I could say a happier day. The story I have to tell is
of a lovely little girl, with sunny hair and laughing eyes, traveling
with her parents, evidently people of wealth and refinement, upon a
Mississippi steamboat. There is an explosion, one of those terrible
catastrophes which leave the imprint of an unsettled mind upon the
survivors. Hundreds of mangled remains are sent into eternity. When the
wreck is cleared away this sweet little girl is found among the panic
stricken survivors in the midst of a scene of horror enough to turn the
steadiest brain. Her parents have disappeared. Search even for their
bodies is in vain. The bewildered, stricken child--who can say what
changes the fearful event wrought in her tender brain--clings to the
first person who shows her sympathy. It is Mrs. Hawkins, this good lady
who is still her loving friend. Laura is adopted into the Hawkins
family. Perhaps she forgets in time that she is not their child. She is
an orphan. No, gentlemen, I will not deceive you, she is not an orphan.
Worse than that. There comes another day of agony. She knows that her
father lives. Who is he, where is he? Alas, I cannot tell you. Through
the scenes of this painful history he flits here and there a lunatic!
If he, seeks his daughter, it is the purposeless search of a lunatic, as
one who wanders bereft of reason, crying where is my child? Laura seeks
her father. In vain just as she is about to find him, again and again-he
disappears, he is gone, he vanishes.
"But this is only the prologue to the tragedy. Bear with me while I
relate it. (Mr. Braham takes out a handkerchief, unfolds it slowly;
crashes it in his nervous hand, and throws it on the table). Laura grew
up in her humble southern home, a beautiful creature, the joy, of the
house, the pride of the neighborhood, the loveliest flower in all the
sunny south. She might yet have been happy; she was happy. But the
destroyer came into this paradise. He plucked the sweetest bud that grew
there, and having enjoyed its odor, trampled it in the mire beneath his
feet. George Selby, the deceased, a handsome, accomplished Confederate
Colonel, was this human fiend. He deceived her with a mock marriage;
after some months he brutally, abandoned her, and spurned her as if she
were a contemptible thing; all the time he had a wife in New Orleans.
Laura was crushed. For weeks, as I shall show you by the testimony of
her adopted mother and brother, she hovered over death in delirium.
Gentlemen, did she ever emerge from this delirium? I shall show you that
when she recovered her health, her mind was changed, she was not what she
had been. You can judge yourselves whether the tottering reason ever
recovered its throne.
"Years pass. She is in Washington, apparently the happy favorite of a
brilliant society. Her family have become enormously rich by one of
those sudden turns, in fortune that the inhabitants of America are
familiar with--the discovery of immense mineral wealth in some wild lands
owned by them. She is engaged in a vast philanthropic scheme for the
benefit of the poor, by, the use of this wealth. But, alas, even here
and now, the same, relentless fate pursued her. The villain Selby
appears again upon the scene, as if on purpose to complete the ruin of
her life. He appeared to taunt her with her dishonor, he threatened
exposure if she did not become again the mistress of his passion.
Gentlemen, do you wonder if this woman, thus pursued, lost her reason,
was beside herself with fear, and that her wrongs preyed upon her mind
until she was no longer responsible for her acts? I turn away my head as
one who would not willingly look even upon the just vengeance of Heaven.
(Mr. Braham paused as if overcome by his emotions. Mrs. Hawkins and
Washington were in tears, as were many of the spectators also. The jury
"Gentlemen, in this condition of affairs it needed but a spark--I do not
say a suggestion, I do not say a hint--from this butterfly Brierly; this
rejected rival, to cause the explosion. I make no charges, but if this
woman was in her right mind when she fled from Washington and reached
this city in company--with Brierly, then I do not know what insanity is."
When Mr. Braham sat down, he felt that he had the jury with him. A burst
of applause followed, which the officer promptly, suppressed. Laura,
with tears in her eyes, turned a grateful look upon her counsel. All the
women among the spectators saw the tears and wept also. They thought as
they also looked at Mr. Braham; how handsome he is!
Mrs. Hawkins took the stand. She was somewhat confused to be the target
of so many, eyes, but her honest and good face at once told in Laura's
"Mrs. Hawkins," said Mr. Braham, "will you' be kind enough to state the
circumstances of your finding Laura?"
"I object," said Mr. McFlinn; rising to his feet. "This has nothing
whatever to do with the case, your honor. I am surprised at it, even
after the extraordinary speech of my learned friend."
"How do you propose to connect it, Mr. Braham?" asked the judge.
"If it please the court," said Mr. Braham, rising impressively, "your
Honor has permitted the prosecution, and I have submitted without a word;
to go into the most extraordinary testimony to establish a motive. Are
we to be shut out from showing that the motive attributed to us could not
by reason of certain mental conditions exist? I purpose, may, it please
your Honor, to show the cause and the origin of an aberration of mind,
to follow it up, with other like evidence, connecting it with the very
moment of the homicide, showing a condition of the intellect, of the
prisoner that precludes responsibility."
"The State must insist upon its objections," said the District Attorney.
"The purpose evidently is to open the door to a mass of irrelevant
testimony, the object of which is to produce an effect upon the jury your
Honor well understands."
"Perhaps," suggested the judge, "the court ought to hear the testimony,
and exclude it afterwards, if it is irrelevant."
"Will your honor hear argument on that!"
And argument his honor did hear, or pretend to, for two whole days,
from all the counsel in turn, in the course of which the lawyers read
contradictory decisions enough to perfectly establish both sides, from
volume after volume, whole libraries in fact, until no mortal man could
say what the rules were. The question of insanity in all its legal
aspects was of course drawn into the discussion, and its application
affirmed and denied. The case was felt to turn upon the admission or
rejection of this evidence. It was a sort of test trial of strength
between the lawyers. At the end the judge decided to admit the
testimony, as the judge usually does in such cases, after a sufficient
waste of time in what are called arguments.
Mrs. Hawkins was allowed to go on.
Mrs. Hawkins slowly and conscientiously, as if every detail of her family
history was important, told the story of the steamboat explosion, of the
finding and adoption of Laura. Silas, that its Mr. Hawkins, and she
always loved Laura, as if she had been their own, child.
She then narrated the circumstances of Laura's supposed marriage, her
abandonment and long illness, in a manner that touched all hearts. Laura
had been a different woman since then.
Cross-examined. At the time of first finding Laura on the steamboat,
did she notice that Laura's mind was at all deranged? She couldn't say
that she did. After the recovery of Laura from her long illness, did
Mrs. Hawkins think there, were any signs of insanity about her? Witness
confessed that she did not think of it then.
Re-Direct examination. "But she was different after that?"
"O, yes, sir."
Washington Hawkins corroborated his mother's testimony as to Laura's
connection with Col. Selby. He was at Harding during the time of her
living there with him. After Col. Selby's desertion she was almost dead,
never appeared to know anything rightly for weeks. He added that he
never saw such a scoundrel as Selby. (Checked by District attorney.)
Had he noticed any change in, Laura after her illness? Oh, yes.
Whenever, any allusion was made that might recall Selby to mind, she
looked awful--as if she could kill him.
"You mean," said Mr. Braham, "that there was an unnatural, insane gleam
in her eyes?"
"Yes, certainly," said Washington in confusion.
All this was objected to by the district attorney, but it was got before
the jury, and Mr. Braham did not care how much it was ruled out after
"Beriah Sellers was the next witness called. The Colonel made his way to
the stand with majestic, yet bland deliberation. Having taken the oath
and kissed the Bible with a smack intended to show his great respect for
that book, he bowed to his Honor with dignity, to the jury with
familiarity, and then turned to the lawyers and stood in an attitude of
"Mr. Sellers, I believe?" began Mr. Braham.
"Beriah Sellers, Missouri," was the courteous acknowledgment that the
lawyer was correct.
"Mr. Sellers; you know the parties here, you are a friend of the family?"
"Know them all, from infancy, sir. It was me, sir, that induced Silas
Hawkins, Judge Hawkins, to come to Missouri, and make his fortune.
It was by my advice and in company with me, sir, that he went into the
"Yes, yes. Mr. Sellers, did you know a Major Lackland?"
"Knew him, well, sir, knew him and honored him, sir. He was one of the
most remarkable men of our country, sir. A member of congress. He was
often at my mansion sir, for weeks. He used to say to me, 'Col. Sellers,
if you would go into politics, if I had you for a colleague, we should
show Calhoun and Webster that the brain of the country didn't lie east of
the Alleganies. But I said--"
"Yes, yes. I believe Major Lackland is not living, Colonel?"
There was an almost imperceptible sense of pleasure betrayed in the
Colonel's face at this prompt acknowledgment of his title.
"Bless you, no. Died years ago, a miserable death, sir, a ruined man,
a poor sot. He was suspected of selling his vote in Congress, and
probably he did; the disgrace killed' him, he was an outcast, sir,
loathed by himself and by his constituents. And I think; sir"----
The Judge. "You will confine yourself, Col. Sellers to the questions of
"Of course, your honor. This," continued the Colonel in confidential
explanation, "was twenty years ago. I shouldn't have thought of referring
to such a trifling circumstance now. If I remember rightly, sir"--
A bundle of letters was here handed to the witness.
"Do you recognize, that hand-writing?"
"As if it was my own, sir. It's Major Lackland's. I was knowing to these
letters when Judge Hawkins received them. [The Colonel's memory was a
little at fault here. Mr. Hawkins had never gone into detail's with him
on this subject.] He used to show them to me, and say, 'Col, Sellers
you've a mind to untangle this sort of thing.' Lord, how everything
comes back to me. Laura was a little thing then. 'The Judge and I were
just laying our plans to buy the Pilot Knob, and--"
"Colonel, one moment. Your Honor, we put these letters in evidence."
The letters were a portion of the correspondence of Major Lackland with
Silas Hawkins; parts of them were missing and important letters were
referred to that were not here. They related, as the reader knows, to
Laura's father. Lackland had come upon the track of a man who was
searching for a lost child in a Mississippi steamboat explosion years
before. The man was lame in one leg, and appeared to be flitting from
place to place. It seemed that Major Lackland got so close track of him
that he was able to describe his personal appearance and learn his name.
But the letter containing these particulars was lost. Once he heard of
him at a hotel in Washington; but the man departed, leaving an empty
trunk, the day before the major went there. There was something very
mysterious in all his movements.
Col. Sellers, continuing his testimony, said that he saw this lost
letter, but could not now recall the name. Search for the supposed
father had been continued by Lackland, Hawkins and himself for several
years, but Laura was not informed of it till after the death of Hawkins,
for fear of raising false hopes in her mind.
Here the Distract Attorney arose and said,
"Your Honor, I must positively object to letting the witness wander off
into all these irrelevant details."
Mr. Braham. "I submit your honor, that we cannot be interrupted in this
manner we have suffered the state to have full swing. Now here is a
witness, who has known the prisoner from infancy, and is competent to
testify upon the one point vital to her safety. Evidently he is a
gentleman of character, and his knowledge of the case cannot be shut out
without increasing the aspect of persecution which the State's attitude
towards the prisoner already has assumed."
The wrangle continued, waxing hotter and hotter. The Colonel seeing the
attention of the counsel and Court entirely withdrawn from him, thought
he perceived here his opportunity, turning and beaming upon the jury, he
began simply to talk, but as the grandeur of his position grew upon him
--talk broadened unconsciously into an oratorical vein.
"You see how she was situated, gentlemen; poor child, it might have
broken her, heart to let her mind get to running on such a thing as that.
You see, from what we could make out her father was lame in the left leg
and had a deep scar on his left forehead. And so ever since the day she
found out she had another father, she never could, run across a lame
stranger without being taken all over with a shiver, and almost fainting
where she, stood. And the next minute she would go right after that man.
Once she stumbled on a stranger with a game leg; and she was the most
grateful thing in this world--but it was the wrong leg, and it was days
and days before she could leave her bed. Once she found a man with a scar
on his forehead and she was just going to throw herself into his arms,`
but he stepped out just then, and there wasn't anything the matter with
his legs. Time and time again, gentlemen of the jury, has this poor
suffering orphan flung herself on her knees with all her heart's
gratitude in her eyes before some scarred and crippled veteran, but
always, always to be disappointed, always to be plunged into new
despair--if his legs were right his scar was wrong, if his scar was right
his legs were wrong. Never could find a man that would fill the bill.
Gentlemen of the jury; you have hearts, you have feelings, you have warm
human sympathies; you can feel for this poor suffering child. Gentlemen
of the jury, if I had time, if I had the opportunity, if I might be
permitted to go on and tell you the thousands and thousands and thousands
of mutilated strangers this poor girl has started out of cover, and
hunted from city to city, from state to state, from continent to
continent, till she has run them down and found they wan't the ones; I
know your hearts--"
By this time the Colonel had become so warmed up, that his voice, had
reached a pitch above that of the contending counsel; the lawyers
suddenly stopped, and they and the Judge turned towards the Colonel and
remained far several seconds too surprised at this novel exhibition to
speak. In this interval of silence, an appreciation of the situation
gradually stole over the, audience, and an explosion of laughter
followed, in which even the Court and the bar could hardly keep from
Sheriff. "Order in the Court."
The Judge. "The witness will confine his remarks to answers to
The Colonel turned courteously to the Judge and said,
"Certainly, your Honor--certainly. I am not well acquainted with the
forms of procedure in the courts of New York, but in the West, sir, in
The Judge. "There, there, that will do, that will do!
"You see, your Honor, there were no questions asked me, and I thought I
would take advantage of the lull in the proceedings to explain to the,
jury a very significant train of--"
The Judge. "That will DO sir! Proceed Mr. Braham."
"Col. Sellers, have you any, reason to suppose that this man is still
"Every reason, sir, every reason.
"I have never heard of his death, sir. It has never come to my
knowledge. In fact, sir, as I once said to Governor--"
"Will you state to the jury what has been the effect of the knowledge of
this wandering and evidently unsettled being, supposed to be her father,
upon the mind of Miss Hawkins for so many years!"
Question objected to. Question ruled out.
Cross-examined. "Major Sellers, what is your occupation?"
The Colonel looked about him loftily, as if casting in his mind what
would be the proper occupation of a person of such multifarious interests
and then said with dignity:
"A gentleman, sir. My father used to always say, sir"--
"Capt. Sellers, did you; ever see this man, this supposed father?"
"No, Sir. But upon one occasion, old Senator Thompson said to me, its my
opinion, Colonel Sellers"--
"Did you ever see any body who had seen him?"
"No, sir: It was reported around at one time, that"--
"That is all."
The defense then sent a day in the examination of medical experts in
insanity who testified, on the evidence heard, that sufficient causes had
occurred to produce an insane mind in the prisoner. Numerous cases were
cited to sustain this opinion. There was such a thing as momentary
insanity, in which the person, otherwise rational to all appearances,
was for the time actually bereft of reason, and not responsible for his
acts. The causes of this momentary possession could often be found in
the person's life. [It afterwards came out that the chief expert for the
defense, was paid a thousand dollars for looking into the case.]
The prosecution consumed another day in the examination of experts
refuting the notion of insanity. These causes might have produced
insanity, but there was no evidence that they have produced it in this
case, or that the prisoner was not at the time of the commission of the
crime in full possession of her ordinary faculties.
The trial had now lasted two weeks. It required four days now for the
lawyers to "sum up." These arguments of the counsel were very important
to their friends, and greatly enhanced their reputation at the bar but
they have small interest to us. Mr. Braham in his closing speech
surpassed himself; his effort is still remembered as the greatest in the
criminal annals of New York.
Mr. Braham re-drew for the jury the picture, of Laura's early life; he
dwelt long upon that painful episode of the pretended marriage and the
desertion. Col. Selby, he said, belonged, gentlemen; to what is called
the "upper classes:" It is the privilege of the "upper classes" to prey
upon the sons and daughters of the people. The Hawkins family, though
allied to the best blood of the South, were at the time in humble
circumstances. He commented upon her parentage. Perhaps her agonized
father, in his intervals of sanity, was still searching for his lost
daughter. Would he one day hear that she had died a felon's death?
Society had pursued her, fate had pursued her, and in a moment of
delirium she had turned and defied fate and society. He dwelt upon the
admission of base wrong in Col. Selby's dying statement. He drew a
vivid, picture of the villain at last overtaken by the vengeance of
Heaven. Would the jury say that this retributive justice, inflicted by
an outraged, and deluded woman, rendered irrational by the most cruel
wrongs, was in the nature of a foul, premeditated murder? "Gentlemen;
it is enough for me to look upon the life of this most beautiful and
accomplished of her sex, blasted by the heartless villainy of man,
without seeing, at the-end of it; the horrible spectacle of a gibbet.
Gentlemen, we are all human, we have all sinned, we all have need of
mercy. But I do not ask mercy of you who are the guardians of society
and of the poor waifs, its sometimes wronged victims; I ask only that
justice which you and I shall need in that last, dreadful hour, when
death will be robbed of half its terrors if we can reflect that we have
never wronged a human being. Gentlemen, the life of this lovely and once
happy girl, this now stricken woman, is in your hands."
The jury were risibly affected. Half the court room was in tears. If a
vote of both spectators and jury could have been taken then, the verdict
would have been, "let her go, she has suffered enough."
But the district attorney had the closing argument. Calmly and without
malice or excitement he reviewed the testimony. As the cold facts were
unrolled, fear settled upon the listeners. There was no escape from the
murder or its premeditation. Laura's character as a lobbyist in
Washington which had been made to appear incidentally in the evidence was
also against her: the whole body of the testimony of the defense was
shown to be irrelevant, introduced only to excite sympathy, and not
giving a color of probability to the absurd supposition of insanity.
The attorney then dwelt upon, the insecurity of life in the city, and the
growing immunity with which women committed murders. Mr. McFlinn made a
very able speech; convincing the reason without touching the feelings.
The Judge in his charge reviewed the, testimony with great show of
impartiality. He ended by saying that the verdict must be acquittal or
murder in the first, degree. If you find that the prisoner committed a
homicide, in possession of her reason and with premeditation, your
verdict will be accordingly. If you find she was not in her right mind,
that she was the victim of insanity, hereditary or momentary, as it has
been explained, your verdict will take that into account.
As the Judge finished his charge, the spectators anxiously watched the
faces of the jury. It was not a remunerative study. In the court room
the general feeling was in favor of Laura, but whether this feeling
extended to the jury, their stolid faces did not reveal. The public
outside hoped for a conviction, as it always does; it wanted an example;
the newspapers trusted the jury would have the courage to do its duty.
When Laura was convicted, then the public would tern around and abuse the
governor if he did; not pardon her.
The jury went out. Mr. Braham preserved his serene confidence, but
Laura's friends were dispirited. Washington and Col. Sellers had been
obliged to go to Washington, and they had departed under the unspoken
fear the verdict would be unfavorable, a disagreement was the best they
could hope for, and money was needed. The necessity of the passage of
the University bill was now imperative.
The Court waited, for, some time, but the jury gave no signs of coming
in. Mr. Braham said it was extraordinary. The Court then took a recess
for a couple of hours. Upon again coming in, word was brought that the
jury had not yet agreed.
But the, jury, had a question. The point upon which, they wanted
instruction was this. They wanted to know if Col. Sellers was related to
the Hawkins family. The court then adjourned till morning.
Mr. Braham, who was in something of a pet, remarked to Mr. O'Toole that
they must have been deceived, that juryman with the broken nose could
The momentous day was at hand--a day that promised to make or mar the
fortunes of Hawkins family for all time. Washington Hawkins and Col.
Sellers were both up early, for neither of them could sleep. Congress
was expiring, and was passing bill after bill as if they were gasps and
each likely to be its last. The University was on file for its third
reading this day, and to-morrow Washington would be a millionaire and
Sellers no longer, impecunious but this day, also, or at farthest the
next, the jury in Laura's Case would come to a decision of some kind or
other--they would find her guilty, Washington secretly feared, and then
the care and the trouble would all come back again, and these would be
wearing months of besieging judges for new trials; on this day, also, the
re-election of Mr. Dilworthy to the Senate would take place. So
Washington's mind was in a state of turmoil; there were more interests at
stake than it could handle with serenity. He exulted when he thought of
his millions; he was filled with dread when he thought of Laura. But
Sellers was excited and happy. He said:
"Everything is going right, everything's going perfectly right. Pretty
soon the telegrams will begin to rattle in, and then you'll see, my boy.
Let the jury do what they please; what difference is it going to make?
To-morrow we can send a million to New York and set the lawyers at work
on the judges; bless your heart they will go before judge after judge and
exhort and beseech and pray and shed tears. They always do; and they
always win, too. And they will win this time. They will get a writ of
habeas corpus, and a stay of proceedings, and a supersedeas, and a new
trial and a nolle prosequi, and there you are! That's the routine, and
it's no trick at all to a New York lawyer. That's the regular routine
--everything's red tape and routine in the law, you see; it's all Greek
to you, of course, but to a man who is acquainted with those things it's
mere--I'll explain it to you sometime. Everything's going to glide right
along easy and comfortable now. You'll see, Washington, you'll see how
it will be. And then, let me think ..... Dilwortby will be elected
to-day, and by day, after to-morrow night be will be in New York ready to
put in his shovel--and you haven't lived in Washington all this time not
to know that the people who walk right by a Senator whose term is up
without hardly seeing him will be down at the deepo to say 'Welcome back
and God bless you; Senator, I'm glad to see you, sir!' when he comes
along back re-elected, you know. Well, you see, his influence was
naturally running low when he left here, but now he has got a new
six-years' start, and his suggestions will simply just weigh a couple of
tons a-piece day after tomorrow. Lord bless you he could rattle through
that habeas corpus and supersedeas and all those things for Laura all by
himself if he wanted to, when he gets back."
"I hadn't thought of that," said Washington, brightening, but it is so.
A newly-elected Senator is a power, I know that."
"Yes indeed he is.--Why it, is just human nature. Look at me. When we
first came here, I was Mr. Sellers, and Major Sellers, Captain Sellers,
but nobody could ever get it right, somehow; but the minute our bill
went, through the House, I was Col. Sellers every time. And nobody could
do enough for me, and whatever I said was wonderful, Sir, it was always
wonderful; I never seemed to say any flat things at all. It was Colonel,
won't you come and dine with us; and Colonel why don't we ever see you at
our house; and the Colonel says this; and the Colonel says that; and we
know such-and-such is so-and-so because my husband heard Col. Sellers say
so. Don't you see? Well, the Senate adjourned and left our bill high,
and dry, and I'll be hanged if I warn't Old Sellers from that day, till
our bill passed the House again last week. Now I'm the Colonel again;
and if I were to eat all the dinners I am invited to, I reckon I'd wear
my teeth down level with my gums in a couple of weeks."
"Well I do wonder what you will be to-morrow; Colonel, after the
President signs the bill!"
"General, sir?--General, without a doubt. Yes, sir, tomorrow it will be
General, let me congratulate you, sir; General, you've done a great work,
sir;--you've done a great work for the niggro; Gentlemen allow me the
honor to introduce my friend General Sellers, the humane friend of the
niggro. Lord bless me; you'll' see the newspapers say, General Sellers
and servants arrived in the city last night and is stopping at the Fifth
Avenue; and General Sellers has accepted a reception and banquet by the
Cosmopolitan Club; you'll see the General's opinions quoted, too
--and what the General has to say about the propriety of a new trial and
a habeas corpus for the unfortunate Miss Hawkins will not be without
weight in influential quarters, I can tell you."
"And I want to be the first to shake your faithful old hand and salute
you with your new honors, and I want to do it now--General!" said
Washington, suiting the action to the word, and accompanying it with all
the meaning that a cordial grasp and eloquent eyes could give it.
The Colonel was touched; he was pleased and proud, too; his face answered
Not very long after breakfast the telegrams began to arrive. The first
was from Braham, and ran thus:
"We feel certain that the verdict will be rendered to-day. Be it
good or bad, let it find us ready to make the next move instantly,
whatever it may be:"
"That's the right talk," said Sellers. "That Braham's a wonderful man.
He was the only man there that really understood me; he told me so
The next telegram was from Mr. Dilworthy:
"I have not only brought over the Great Invincible, but through him
a dozen more of the opposition. Shall be re-elected to-day by an
"Good again!" said the Colonel. "That man's talent for organization is
something marvelous. He wanted me to go out there and engineer that
thing, but I said, No, Dilworthy, I must be on hand here,--both on
Laura's account and the bill's--but you've no trifling genius for
organization yourself, said I--and I was right. You go ahead, said I
--you can fix it--and so he has. But I claim no credit for that--if I
stiffened up his back-bone a little, I simply put him in the way to make
his fight--didn't undertake it myself. He has captured Noble--.
I consider that a splendid piece of diplomacy--Splendid, Sir!"
By and by came another dispatch from New York:
"Jury still out. Laura calm and firm as a statue. The report that the
jury have brought her in guilty is false and premature."
"Premature!" gasped Washington, turning white. "Then they all expect
that sort of a verdict, when it comes in."
And so did he; but he had not had courage enough to put it into words.
He had been preparing himself for the worst, but after all his
preparation the bare suggestion of the possibility of such a verdict
struck him cold as death.
The friends grew impatient, now; the telegrams did not come fast enough:
even the lightning could not keep up with their anxieties. They walked
the floor talking disjointedly and listening for the door-bell. Telegram
after telegram came. Still no result. By and by there was one which
contained a single line:
"Court now coming in after brief recess to hear verdict. Jury ready."
"Oh, I wish they would finish!" said Washington. "This suspense is
killing me by inches!"
Then came another telegram:
"Another hitch somewhere. Jury want a little more time and further
"Well, well, well, this is trying," said the Colonel. And after a pause,
"No dispatch from Dilworthy for two hours, now. Even a dispatch from him
would be better than nothing, just to vary this thing."
They waited twenty minutes. It seemed twenty hours.
"Come!" said Washington. "I can't wait for the telegraph boy to come all
the way up here. Let's go down to Newspaper Row--meet him on the way."
While they were passing along the Avenue, they saw someone putting up a
great display-sheet on the bulletin board of a newspaper office, and an
eager crowd of men was collecting abort the place. Washington and the
Colonel ran to the spot and read this:
"Tremendous Sensation! Startling news from Saint's Rest! On first ballot
for U. S. Senator, when voting was about to begin, Mr. Noble rose in his
place and drew forth a package, walked forward and laid it on the
Speaker's desk, saying, 'This contains $7,000 in bank bills and was given
me by Senator Dilworthy in his bed-chamber at midnight last night to buy
--my vote for him--I wish the Speaker to count the money and retain it to
pay the expense of prosecuting this infamous traitor for bribery. The
whole legislature was stricken speechless with dismay and astonishment.
Noble further said that there were fifty members present with money in
their pockets, placed there by Dilworthy to buy their votes. Amidst
unparalleled excitement the ballot was now taken, and J. W. Smith elected
U. S. Senator; Dilworthy receiving not one vote! Noble promises damaging
exposures concerning Dilworthy and certain measures of his now pending in
"Good heavens and earth!" exclaimed the Colonel.
"To the Capitol!" said Washington. "Fly!"
And they did fly. Long before they got there the newsboys were running
ahead of them with Extras, hot from the press, announcing the astounding
Arrived in the gallery of the Senate, the friends saw a curious spectacle
very Senator held an Extra in his hand and looked as interested as if it
contained news of the destruction of the earth. Not a single member was
paying the least attention to the business of the hour.
The Secretary, in a loud voice, was just beginning to read the title of a
"House-Bill--No. 4,231,--An-Act-to-Found-and-Incorporate-the Knobs-
The President--"Third reading of the bill!"
The two friends shook in their shoes. Senators threw down their extras
and snatched a word or two with each other in whispers. Then the gavel
rapped to command silence while the names were called on the ayes and
nays. Washington grew paler and paler, weaker and weaker while the
lagging list progressed; and when it was finished, his head fell
helplessly forward on his arms. The fight was fought, the long struggle
was over, and he was a pauper. Not a man had voted for the bill!
Col. Sellers was bewildered and well nigh paralyzed, himself. But no man
could long consider his own troubles in the presence of such suffering as
Washington's. He got him up and supported him--almost carried him
indeed--out of the building and into a carriage. All the way home
Washington lay with his face against the Colonel's shoulder and merely
groaned and wept. The Colonel tried as well as he could under the dreary
circumstances to hearten him a little, but it was of no use. Washington
was past all hope of cheer, now. He only said:
"Oh, it is all over--it is all over for good, Colonel. We must beg our
bread, now. We never can get up again. It was our last chance, and it
is gone. They will hang Laura! My God they will hang her! Nothing can
save the poor girl now. Oh, I wish with all my soul they would hang me
Arrived at home, Washington fell into a chair and buried his face in his
hands and gave full way to his misery. The Colonel did not know where to
turn nor what to do. The servant maid knocked at the door and passed in
a telegram, saying it had come while they were gone.
The Colonel tore it open and read with the voice of a man-of-war's
"VERDICT OF JURY, NOT GUILTY AND LAURA IS FREE!"
The court room was packed on the morning on which the verdict of the jury
was expected, as it had been every day of the trial, and by the same
spectators, who had followed its progress with such intense interest.
There is a delicious moment of excitement which the frequenter of trials
well knows, and which he would not miss for the world. It is that
instant when the foreman of the jury stands up to give the verdict,
and before he has opened his fateful lips.
The court assembled and waited. It was an obstinate jury.
It even had another question--this intelligent jury--to ask the judge
The question was this: "Were the doctors clear that the deceased had no
disease which might soon have carried him off, if he had not been shot?"
There was evidently one jury man who didn't want to waste life, and was
willing to stake a general average, as the jury always does in a civil
case, deciding not according to the evidence but reaching the verdict by
some occult mental process.
During the delay the spectators exhibited unexampled patience, finding
amusement and relief in the slightest movements of the court, the
prisoner and the lawyers. Mr. Braham divided with Laura the attention
of the house. Bets were made by the Sheriff's deputies on the verdict,
with large odds in favor of a disagreement.
It was afternoon when it was announced that the jury was coming in.
The reporters took their places and were all attention; the judge and
lawyers were in their seats; the crowd swayed and pushed in eager
expectancy, as the jury walked in and stood up in silence.
Judge. "Gentlemen, have you agreed upon your verdict?"
Foreman. "We have."
Judge. "What is it?"
Foreman. "NOT GUILTY."
A shout went up from the entire room and a tumult of cheering which the
court in vain attempted to quell. For a few moments all order was lost.
The spectators crowded within the bar and surrounded Laura who, calmer
than anyone else, was supporting her aged mother, who had almost fainted
from excess of joy.
And now occurred one of those beautiful incidents which no fiction-writer
would dare to imagine, a scene of touching pathos, creditable to our
fallen humanity. In the eyes of the women of the audience Mr. Braham was
the hero of the occasion; he had saved the life of the prisoner; and
besides he was such a handsome man. The women could not restrain their
long pent-up emotions. They threw themselves upon Mr. Braham in a
transport of gratitude; they kissed him again and again, the young as
well as the advanced in years, the married as well as the ardent single
women; they improved the opportunity with a touching self-sacrifice; in
the words of a newspaper of the day they "lavished him with kisses."
It was something sweet to do; and it would be sweet for a woman to
remember in after years, that she had kissed Braham! Mr. Braham himself
received these fond assaults with the gallantry of his nation, enduring
the ugly, and heartily paying back beauty in its own coin.
This beautiful scene is still known in New York as "the kissing of
When the tumult of congratulation had a little spent itself, and order
was restored, Judge O'Shaunnessy said that it now became his duty to
provide for the proper custody and treatment of the acquitted. The
verdict of the jury having left no doubt that the woman was of an unsound
mind, with a kind of insanity dangerous to the safety of the community,
she could not be permitted to go at large. "In accordance with the
directions of the law in such cases," said the Judge, "and in obedience
to the dictates of a wise humanity, I hereby commit Laura Hawkins to the
care of the Superintendent of the State Hospital for Insane Criminals, to
be held in confinement until the State Commissioners on Insanity shall
order her discharge. Mr. Sheriff, you will attend at once to the
execution of this decree."
Laura was overwhelmed and terror-stricken. She had expected to walk
forth in freedom in a few moments. The revulsion was terrible. Her
mother appeared like one shaken with an ague fit. Laura insane! And
about to be locked up with madmen! She had never contemplated this.
Mr. Graham said he should move at once for a writ of 'habeas corpus'.
But the judge could not do less than his duty, the law must have its way.
As in the stupor of a sudden calamity, and not fully comprehending it,
Mrs. Hawkins saw Laura led away by the officer.
With little space for thought she was, rapidly driven to the railway
station, and conveyed to the Hospital for Lunatic Criminals. It was only
when she was within this vast and grim abode of madness that she realized
the horror of her situation. It was only when she was received by the
kind physician and read pity in his eyes, and saw his look of hopeless
incredulity when she attempted to tell him that she was not insane; it
was only when she passed through the ward to which she was consigned and
saw the horrible creatures, the victims of a double calamity, whose
dreadful faces she was hereafter to see daily, and was locked into the
small, bare room that was to be her home, that all her fortitude forsook
her. She sank upon the bed, as soon as she was left alone--she had been
searched by the matron--and tried to think. But her brain was in a
whirl. She recalled Braham's speech, she recalled the testimony
regarding her lunacy. She wondered if she were not mad; she felt that
she soon should be among these loathsome creatures. Better almost to
have died, than to slowly go mad in this confinement.
--We beg the reader's pardon. This is not history, which has just been
written. It is really what would have occurred if this were a novel.
If this were a work of fiction, we should not dare to dispose of Laura
otherwise. True art and any attention to dramatic proprieties required
it. The novelist who would turn loose upon society an insane murderess
could not escape condemnation. Besides, the safety of society, the
decencies of criminal procedure, what we call our modern civilization,
all would demand that Laura should be disposed of in the manner we have
described. Foreigners, who read this sad story, will be unable to
understand any other termination of it.
But this is history and not fiction. There is no such law or custom as
that to which his Honor is supposed to have referred; Judge O'Shaunnessy
would not probably pay any attention to it if there were. There is no
Hospital for Insane Criminals; there is no State commission of lunacy.
What actually occurred when the tumult in the court room had subsided the
sagacious reader will now learn.
Laura left the court room, accompanied by her mother and other friends,
amid the congratulations of those assembled, and was cheered as she
entered a carriage, and drove away. How sweet was the sunlight, how
exhilarating the sense of freedom! Were not these following cheers the
expression of popular approval and affection? Was she not the heroine of
It was with a feeling of triumph that Laura reached her hotel, a scornful
feeling of victory over society with its own weapons.
Mrs. Hawkins shared not at all in this feeling; she was broken with the
disgrace and the long anxiety.
"Thank God, Laura," she said, "it is over. Now we will go away from this
hateful city. Let us go home at once."
"Mother," replied Laura, speaking with some tenderness, "I cannot go with
you. There, don't cry, I cannot go back to that life."
Mrs. Hawkins was sobbing. This was more cruel than anything else, for
she had a dim notion of what it would be to leave Laura to herself.
"No, mother, you have been everything to me. You know how dearly I love
you. But I cannot go back."
A boy brought in a telegraphic despatch. Laura took it and read:
"The bill is lost. Dilworthy ruined. (Signed) WASHINGTON."
For a moment the words swam before her eyes. The next her eyes flashed
fire as she handed the dispatch to her m other and bitterly said,
"The world is against me. Well, let it be, let it. I am against it."
"This is a cruel disappointment," said Mrs. Hawkins, to whom one grief
more or less did not much matter now, "to you and, Washington; but we
must humbly bear it."
"Bear it;" replied Laura scornfully, "I've all my life borne it, and fate
has thwarted me at every step."
A servant came to the door to say that there was a gentleman below who
wished to speak with Miss Hawkins. "J. Adolphe Griller" was the name
Laura read on the card. "I do not know such a person. He probably comes
from Washington. Send him up."
Mr. Griller entered. He was a small man, slovenly in dress, his tone
confidential, his manner wholly void of animation, all his features below
the forehead protruding--particularly the apple of his throat--hair
without a kink in it, a hand with no grip, a meek, hang-dog countenance.
a falsehood done in flesh and blood; for while every visible sign about
him proclaimed him a poor, witless, useless weakling, the truth was that
he had the brains to plan great enterprises and the pluck to carry them
through. That was his reputation, and it was a deserved one. He softly
"I called to see you on business, Miss Hawkins. You have my card?"
Mr. Griller continued to purr, as softly as before.
"I will proceed to business. I am a business man. I am a lecture-agent,
Miss Hawkins, and as soon as I saw that you were acquitted, it occurred
to me that an early interview would be mutually beneficial."
"I don't understand you, sir," said Laura coldly.
"No? You see, Miss Hawkins, this is your opportunity. If you will enter
the lecture field under good auspices, you will carry everything before
"But, sir, I never lectured, I haven't any lecture, I don't know anything
"Ah, madam, that makes no difference--no real difference. It is not
necessary to be able to lecture in order to go into the lecture tour.
If ones name is celebrated all over the land, especially, and, if she is
also beautiful, she is certain to draw large audiences."
"But what should I lecture about?" asked Laura, beginning in spite of
herself to be a little interested as well as amused.
"Oh, why; woman--something about woman, I should say; the marriage
relation, woman's fate, anything of that sort. Call it The Revelations
of a Woman's Life; now, there's a good title. I wouldn't want any better
title than that. I'm prepared to make you an offer, Miss Hawkins,
a liberal offer,--twelve thousand dollars for thirty nights."
Laura thought. She hesitated. Why not? It would give her employment,
money. She must do something.
"I will think of it, and let you know soon. But still, there is very
little likelihood that I--however, we will not discuss it further now."
"Remember, that the sooner we get to work the better, Miss Hawkins,
public curiosity is so fickle. Good day, madam."
The close of the trial released Mr. Harry Brierly and left him free to
depart upon his long talked of Pacific-coast mission. He was very
mysterious about it, even to Philip.
"It's confidential, old boy," he said, "a little scheme we have hatched
up. I don't mind telling you that it's a good deal bigger thing than
that in Missouri, and a sure thing. I wouldn't take a half a million
just for my share. And it will open something for you, Phil. You will
hear from me."
Philip did hear, from Harry a few months afterward. Everything promised
splendidly, but there was a little delay. Could Phil let him have a
hundred, say, for ninety days?
Philip himself hastened to Philadelphia, and, as soon as the spring
opened, to the mine at Ilium, and began transforming the loan he had
received from Squire Montague into laborers' wages. He was haunted with
many anxieties; in the first place, Ruth was overtaxing her strength in
her hospital labors, and Philip felt as if he must move heaven and earth
to save her from such toil and suffering. His increased pecuniary
obligation oppressed him. It seemed to him also that he had been one
cause of the misfortune to the Bolton family, and that he was dragging
into loss and ruin everybody who associated with him. He worked on day
after day and week after week, with a feverish anxiety.
It would be wicked, thought Philip, and impious, to pray for luck; he
felt that perhaps he ought not to ask a blessing upon the sort of labor
that was only a venture; but yet in that daily petition, which this very
faulty and not very consistent young Christian gentleman put up, he
prayed earnestly enough for Ruth and for the Boltons and for those whom
he loved and who trusted in him, and that his life might not be a
misfortune to them and a failure to himself.
Since this young fellow went out into the world from his New England
home, he had done some things that he would rather his mother should not
know, things maybe that he would shrink from telling Ruth. At a certain
green age young gentlemen are sometimes afraid of being called milksops,
and Philip's associates had not always been the most select, such as
these historians would have chosen for him, or whom at a later, period he
would have chosen for himself. It seemed inexplicable, for instance,
that his life should have been thrown so much with his college
acquaintance, Henry Brierly.
Yet, this was true of Philip, that in whatever company he had been he had
never been ashamed to stand up for the principles he learned from his
mother, and neither raillery nor looks of wonder turned him from that
daily habit had learned at his mother's knees.--Even flippant Harry
respected this, and perhaps it was one of the reasons why Harry and all
who knew Philip trusted him implicitly. And yet it must be confessed
that Philip did not convey the impression to the world of a very serious
young man, or of a man who might not rather easily fall into temptation.
One looking for a real hero would have to go elsewhere.
The parting between Laura and her mother was exceedingly painful to both.
It was as if two friends parted on a wide plain, the one to journey
towards the setting and the other towards the rising sun, each
comprehending that every, step henceforth must separate their lives,
wider and wider.
When Mr. Noble's bombshell fell, in Senator Dilworthy's camp, the
statesman was disconcerted for a moment. For a moment; that was all.
The next moment he was calmly up and doing. From the centre of our
country to its circumference, nothing was talked of but Mr. Noble's
terrible revelation, and the people were furious. Mind, they were not
furious because bribery was uncommon in our public life, but merely
because here was another case. Perhaps it did not occur to the nation of
good and worthy people that while they continued to sit comfortably at
home and leave the true source of our political power (the "primaries,")
in the hands of saloon-keepers, dog-fanciers and hod-carriers, they could
go on expecting "another" case of this kind, and even dozens and hundreds
of them, and never be disappointed. However, they may have thought that
to sit at home and grumble would some day right the evil.
Yes, the nation was excited, but Senator Dilworthy was calm--what was
left of him after the explosion of the shell. Calm, and up and doing.
What did he do first? What would you do first, after you had tomahawked
your mother at the breakfast table for putting too much sugar in your
coffee? You would "ask for a suspension of public opinion." That is
what Senator Dilworthy did. It is the custom. He got the usual amount
of suspension. Far and wide he was called a thief, a briber, a promoter
of steamship subsidies, railway swindles, robberies of the government in
all possible forms and fashions. Newspapers and everybody else called
him a pious hypocrite, a sleek, oily fraud, a reptile who manipulated
temperance movements, prayer meetings, Sunday schools, public charities,
missionary enterprises, all for his private benefit. And as these
charges were backed up by what seemed to be good and sufficient,
evidence, they were believed with national unanimity.
Then Mr. Dilworthy made another move. He moved instantly to Washington
and "demanded an investigation." Even this could not pass without,
comment. Many papers used language to this effect:
"Senator Dilworthy's remains have demanded an investigation. This
sounds fine and bold and innocent; but when we reflect that they
demand it at the hands of the Senate of the United States, it simply
becomes matter for derision. One might as well set the gentlemen
detained in the public prisons to trying each other. This
investigation is likely to be like all other Senatorial
investigations--amusing but not useful. Query. Why does the Senate
still stick to this pompous word, 'Investigation?' One does not
blindfold one's self in order to investigate an object."
Mr. Dilworthy appeared in his place in the Senate and offered a
resolution appointing a committee to investigate his case. It carried,
of course, and the committee was appointed. Straightway the newspapers
"Under the guise of appointing a committee to investigate the late
Mr. Dilworthy, the Senate yesterday appointed a committee to
investigate his accuser, Mr. Noble. This is the exact spirit and
meaning of the resolution, and the committee cannot try anybody but
Mr. Noble without overstepping its authority. That Dilworthy had
the effrontery to offer such a resolution will surprise no one, and
that the Senate could entertain it without blushing and pass it
without shame will surprise no one. We are now reminded of a note
which we have received from the notorious burglar Murphy, in which
he finds fault with a statement of ours to the effect that he had
served one term in the penitentiary and also one in the U. S.
Senate. He says, 'The latter statement is untrue and does me great
injustice.' After an unconscious sarcasm like that, further comment
And yet the Senate was roused by the Dilworthy trouble. Many speeches
were made. One Senator (who was accused in the public prints of selling
his chances of re-election to his opponent for $50,000 and had not yet
denied the charge) said that, "the presence in the Capital of such a
creature as this man Noble, to testify against a brother member of their
body, was an insult to the Senate."
Another Senator said, "Let the investigation go on and let it make an
example of this man Noble; let it teach him and men like him that they
could not attack the reputation of a United States-Senator with
Another said he was glad the investigation was to be had, for it was high
time that the Senate should crush some cur like this man Noble, and thus
show his kind that it was able and resolved to uphold its ancient
A by-stander laughed, at this finely delivered peroration; and said:
"Why, this is the Senator who franked his, baggage home through the mails
last week-registered, at that. However, perhaps he was merely engaged in
'upholding the ancient dignity of the Senate,'--then."
"No, the modern dignity of it," said another by-stander. "It don't
resemble its ancient dignity but it fits its modern style like a glove."
There being no law against making offensive remarks about U. S.
Senators, this conversation, and others like it, continued without let or
hindrance. But our business is with the investigating committee.
Mr. Noble appeared before the Committee of the Senate; and testified to
the following effect:
He said that he was a member of the State legislature of the
Happy-Land-of-Canaan; that on the --- day of ------ he assembled himself
together at the city of Saint's Rest, the capital of the State, along
with his brother legislators; that he was known to be a political enemy
of Mr. Dilworthy and bitterly opposed to his re-election; that Mr.
Dilworthy came to Saint's Rest and reported to be buying pledges of votes
with money; that the said Dilworthy sent for him to come to his room in
the hotel at night, and he went; was introduced to Mr. Dilworthy; called
two or three times afterward at Dilworthy's request--usually after
midnight; Mr. Dilworthy urged him to vote for him Noble declined;
Dilworthy argued; said he was bound to be elected, and could then ruin
him (Noble) if he voted no; said he had every railway and every public
office and stronghold of political power in the State under his thumb,
and could set up or pull down any man he chose; gave instances showing
where and how he had used this power; if Noble would vote for him he
would make him a Representative in Congress; Noble still declined to
vote, and said he did not believe Dilworthy was going to be elected;
Dilworthy showed a list of men who would vote for him--a majority of the
legislature; gave further proofs of his power by telling Noble everything
the opposing party had done or said in secret caucus; claimed that his
spies reported everything to him, and that--
Here a member of the Committee objected that this evidence was irrelevant
and also in opposition to the spirit of the Committee's instructions,
because if these things reflected upon any one it was upon Mr. Dilworthy.
The chairman said, let the person proceed with his statement--the
Committee could exclude evidence that did not bear upon the case.
Mr. Noble continued. He said that his party would cast him out if he
voted for Mr, Dilworthy; Dilwortby said that that would inure to his
benefit because he would then be a recognized friend of his (Dilworthy's)
and he could consistently exalt him politically and make his fortune;
Noble said he was poor, and it was hard to tempt him so; Dilworthy said
he would fix that; he said, "Tell, me what you want, and say you will vote
for me;" Noble could not say; Dilworthy said "I will give you $5,000."
A Committee man said, impatiently, that this stuff was all outside the
case, and valuable time was being wasted; this was all, a plain
reflection upon a brother Senator. The Chairman said it was the quickest
way to proceed, and the evidence need have no weight.
Mr. Noble continued. He said he told Dilworthy that $5,000 was not much
to pay for a man's honor, character and everything that was worth having;
Dilworthy said he was surprised; he considered $5,000 a fortune--for some
men; asked what Noble's figure was; Noble said he could not think $10,000
too little; Dilworthy said it was a great deal too much; he would not do
it for any other man, but he had conceived a liking for Noble, and where
he liked a man his heart yearned to help him; he was aware that Noble was
poor, and had a family to support, and that he bore an unblemished
reputation at home; for such a man and such a man's influence he could do
much, and feel that to help such a man would be an act that would have
its reward; the struggles of the poor always touched him; he believed
that Noble would make a good use of this money and that it would cheer
many a sad heart and needy home; he would give the, $10,000; all he
desired in return was that when the balloting began, Noble should cast
his vote for him and should explain to the legislature that upon looking
into the charges against Mr. Dilworthy of bribery, corruption, and
forwarding stealing measures in Congress he had found them to be base
calumnies upon a man whose motives were pure and whose character was
stainless; he then took from his pocket $2,000 in bank bills and handed
them to Noble, and got another package containing $5,000 out of his trunk
and gave to him also. He----
A Committee man jumped up, and said:
"At last, Mr. Chairman, this shameless person has arrived at the point.
This is sufficient and conclusive. By his own confession he has received
a bribe, and did it deliberately.
"This is a grave offense, and cannot be passed over in silence, sir. By
the terms of our instructions we can now proceed to mete out to him such
punishment as is meet for one who has maliciously brought disrespect upon
a Senator of the United States. We have no need to hear the rest of his
The Chairman said it would be better and more regular to proceed with the
investigation according to the usual forms. A note would be made of
Mr. Noble's admission.
Mr. Noble continued. He said that it was now far past midnight; that he
took his leave and went straight to certain legislators, told them
everything, made them count the money, and also told them of the exposure
he would make in joint convention; he made that exposure, as all the
world knew. The rest of the $10,000 was to be paid the day after
Dilworthy was elected.
Senator Dilworthy was now asked to take the stand and tell what he knew
about the man Noble. The Senator wiped his mouth with his handkerchief,
adjusted his white cravat, and said that but for the fact that public
morality required an example, for the warning of future Nobles, he would
beg that in Christian charity this poor misguided creature might be
forgiven and set free. He said that it was but too evident that this
person had approached him in the hope of obtaining a bribe; he had
intruded himself time and again, and always with moving stories of his
poverty. Mr. Dilworthy said that his heart had bled for him--insomuch
that he had several times been on the point of trying to get some one to
do something for him. Some instinct had told him from the beginning that
this was a bad man, an evil-minded man, but his inexperience of such had
blinded him to his real motives, and hence he had never dreamed that his
object was to undermine the purity of a United States Senator.
He regretted that it was plain, now, that such was the man's object and
that punishment could not with safety to the Senate's honor be withheld.
He grieved to say that one of those mysterious dispensations of an
inscrutable Providence which are decreed from time to time by His wisdom
and for His righteous, purposes, had given this conspirator's tale a
color of plausibility,--but this would soon disappear under the clear
light of truth which would now be thrown upon the case.
It so happened, (said the Senator,) that about the time in question, a
poor young friend of mine, living in a distant town of my State, wished
to establish a bank; he asked me to lend him the necessary money; I said
I had no, money just then, but world try to borrow it. The day before
the election a friend said to me that my election expenses must be very
large specially my hotel bills, and offered to lend me some money.
Remembering my young, friend, I said I would like a few thousands now,
and a few more by and by; whereupon he gave me two packages of bills said
to contain $2,000 and $5,000 respectively; I did not open the packages or
count the money; I did not give any note or receipt for the same; I made
no memorandum of the transaction, and neither did my friend. That night
this evil man Noble came troubling me again: I could not rid myself of
him, though my time was very precious. He mentioned my young friend and
said he was very anxious to have the $7000 now to begin his banking
operations with, and could wait a while for the rest. Noble wished to
get the money and take it to him. I finally gave him the two packages of
bills; I took no note or receipt from him, and made no memorandum of the
matter. I no more look for duplicity and deception in another man than I
would look for it in myself. I never thought of this man again until I
was overwhelmed the next day by learning what a shameful use he had made
of the confidence I had reposed in him and the money I had entrusted to
his care. This is all, gentlemen. To the absolute truth of every detail
of my statement I solemnly swear, and I call Him to witness who is the
Truth and the loving Father of all whose lips abhor false speaking; I
pledge my honor as a Senator, that I have spoken but the truth. May God
forgive this wicked man as I do.
Mr. Noble--"Senator Dilworthy, your bank account shows that up to that
day, and even on that very day, you conducted all your financial business
through the medium of checks instead of bills, and so kept careful record
of every moneyed transaction. Why did you deal in bank bills on this
The Chairman--"The gentleman will please to remember that the Committee
is conducting this investigation."
Mr. Noble--"Then will the Committee ask the question?"
The Chairman--"The Committee will--when it desires to know."
Mr. Noble--"Which will not be daring this century perhaps."
The Chairman--"Another remark like that, sir, will procure you the
attentions of the Sergeant-at-arms."
Mr. Noble--"D--n the Sergeant-at-arms, and the Committee too!"
Several Committeemen--"Mr. Chairman, this is Contempt!"
Mr. Noble--"Contempt of whom?"
"Of the Committee! Of the Senate of the United States!"
Mr. Noble--"Then I am become the acknowledged representative of a nation.
You know as well as I do that the whole nation hold as much as
three-fifths of the United States Senate in entire contempt.--Three-fifths
of you are Dilworthys."
The Sergeant-at-arms very soon put a quietus upon the observations of the
representative of the nation, and convinced him that he was not, in the
over-free atmosphere of his Happy-Land-of-Canaan:
The statement of Senator Dilworthy naturally carried conviction to the
minds of the committee.--It was close, logical, unanswerable; it bore
many internal evidences of its, truth. For instance, it is customary in
all countries for business men to loan large sums of money in bank bills
instead of checks. It is customary for the lender to make no memorandum
of the transaction. It is customary, for the borrower to receive the
money without making a memorandum of it, or giving a note or a receipt
for it's use--the borrower is not likely to die or forget about it.
It is customary to lend nearly anybody money to start a bank with
especially if you have not the money to lend him and have to borrow it
for the purpose. It is customary to carry large sums of money in bank
bills about your person or in your trunk. It is customary to hand a
large sure in bank bills to a man you have just been introduced to (if he
asks you to do it,) to be conveyed to a distant town and delivered to
another party. It is not customary to make a memorandum of this
transaction; it is not customary for the conveyor to give a note or a
receipt for the money; it is not customary to require that he shall get a
note or a receipt from the man he is to convey it to in the distant town.
It would be at least singular in you to say to the proposed conveyor,
"You might be robbed; I will deposit the money in a bank and send a check
for it to my friend through the mail."
Very well. It being plain that Senator Dilworthy's statement was rigidly
true, and this fact being strengthened by his adding to it the support of
"his honor as a Senator," the Committee rendered a verdict of "Not proven
that a bribe had been offered and accepted." This in a manner exonerated
Noble and let him escape.
The Committee made its report to the Senate, and that body proceeded to
consider its acceptance. One Senator indeed, several Senators--objected
that the Committee had failed of its duty; they had proved this man Noble
guilty of nothing, they had meted out no punishment to him; if the report
were accepted, he would go forth free and scathless, glorying in his
crime, and it would be a tacit admission that any blackguard could insult
the Senate of the United States and conspire against the sacred
reputation of its members with impunity; the Senate owed it to the
upholding of its ancient dignity to make an example of this man Noble
--he should be crushed.
An elderly Senator got up and took another view of the case. This was a
Senator of the worn-out and obsolete pattern; a man still lingering among
the cobwebs of the past, and behind the spirit of the age. He said that
there seemed to be a curious misunderstanding of the case. Gentlemen
seemed exceedingly anxious to preserve and maintain the honor and dignity
of the Senate.
Was this to be done by trying an obscure adventurer for attempting to
trap a Senator into bribing him? Or would not the truer way be to find
out whether the Senator was capable of being entrapped into so shameless
an act, and then try him? Why, of course. Now the whole idea of the
Senate seemed to be to shield the Senator and turn inquiry away from him.
The true way to uphold the honor of the Senate was to have none but
honorable men in its body. If this Senator had yielded to temptation and
had offered a bribe, he was a soiled man and ought to be instantly
expelled; therefore he wanted the Senator tried, and not in the usual
namby-pamby way, but in good earnest. He wanted to know the truth of
this matter. For himself, he believed that the guilt of Senator
Dilworthy was established beyond the shadow of a doubt; and he considered
that in trifling with his case and shirking it the Senate was doing a
shameful and cowardly thing--a thing which suggested that in its
willingness to sit longer in the company of such a man, it was
acknowledging that it was itself of a kind with him and was therefore not
dishonored by his presence. He desired that a rigid examination be made
into Senator Dilworthy's case, and that it be continued clear into the
approaching extra session if need be. There was no dodging this thing
with the lame excuse of want of time.
In reply, an honorable Senator said that he thought it would be as well
to drop the matter and accept the Committee's report. He said with some
jocularity that the more one agitated this thing, the worse it was for
the agitator. He was not able to deny that he believed Senator Dilworthy
to be guilty--but what then? Was it such an extraordinary case? For his
part, even allowing the Senator to be guilty, he did not think his
continued presence during the few remaining days of the Session would
contaminate the Senate to a dreadful degree. [This humorous sally was
received with smiling admiration--notwithstanding it was not wholly new,
having originated with the Massachusetts General in the House a day or
two before, upon the occasion of the proposed expulsion of a member for
selling his vote for money.]
The Senate recognized the fact that it could not be contaminated by
sitting a few days longer with Senator Dilworthy, and so it accepted the
committee's report and dropped the unimportant matter.
Mr. Dilworthy occupied his seat to the last hour of the session. He said
that his people had reposed a trust in him, and it was not for him to
desert them. He would remain at his post till he perished, if need be.
His voice was lifted up and his vote cast for the last time, in support
of an ingenious measure contrived by the General from Massachusetts
whereby the President's salary was proposed to be doubled and every
Congressman paid several thousand dollars extra for work previously done,
under an accepted contract, and already paid for once and receipted for.
Senator Dilworthy was offered a grand ovation by his friends at home, who
said that their affection for him and their confidence in him were in no
wise impaired by the persecutions that had pursued him, and that he was
still good enough for them.
--[The $7,000 left by Mr. Noble with his state legislature was placed in
safe keeping to await the claim of the legitimate owner. Senator
Dilworthy made one little effort through his protege the embryo banker
to recover it, but there being no notes of hand or, other memoranda to
support the claim, it failed. The moral of which is, that when one loans
money to start a bank with, one ought to take the party's written
acknowledgment of the fact.]
For some days Laura had been a free woman once more. During this time,
she had experienced--first, two or three days of triumph, excitement,
congratulations, a sort of sunburst of gladness, after a long night of
gloom and anxiety; then two or three days of calming down, by degrees
--a receding of tides, a quieting of the storm-wash to a murmurous
surf-beat, a diminishing of devastating winds to a refrain that bore the
spirit of a truce-days given to solitude, rest, self-communion, and the
reasoning of herself into a realization of the fact that she was actually
done with bolts and bars, prison, horrors and impending, death; then came
a day whose hours filed slowly by her, each laden with some remnant,
some remaining fragment of the dreadful time so lately ended--a day
which, closing at last, left the past a fading shore behind her and
turned her eyes toward the broad sea of the future. So speedily do we
put the dead away and come back to our place in the ranks to march in the
pilgrimage of life again.
And now the sun rose once more and ushered in the first day of what Laura
comprehended and accepted as a new life.
The past had sunk below the horizon, and existed no more for her;
she was done with it for all time. She was gazing out over the trackless
expanses of the future, now, with troubled eyes. Life must be begun
again--at eight and twenty years of age. And where to begin? The page
was blank, and waiting for its first record; so this was indeed a
Her thoughts drifted back, stage by stage, over her career. As far as
the long highway receded over the plain of her life, it was lined with
the gilded and pillared splendors of her ambition all crumbled to ruin
and ivy-grown; every milestone marked a disaster; there was no green spot
remaining anywhere in memory of a hope that had found its fruition; the
unresponsive earth had uttered no voice of flowers in testimony that one
who was blest had gone that road.
Her life had been a failure. That was plain, she said. No more of that.
She would now look the future in the face; she would mark her course upon
the chart of life, and follow it; follow it without swerving, through
rocks and shoals, through storm and calm, to a haven of rest and peace or
shipwreck. Let the end be what it might, she would mark her course now
--to-day--and follow it.
On her table lay six or seven notes. They were from lovers; from some of
the prominent names in the land; men whose devotion had survived even the
grisly revealments of her character which the courts had uncurtained;
men who knew her now, just as she was, and yet pleaded as for their lives
for the dear privilege of calling the murderess wife.
As she read these passionate, these worshiping, these supplicating
missives, the woman in her nature confessed itself; a strong yearning
came upon her to lay her head upon a loyal breast and find rest from the
conflict of life, solace for her griefs, the healing of love for her
With her forehead resting upon her hand, she sat thinking, thinking,
while the unheeded moments winged their flight. It was one of those
mornings in early spring when nature seems just stirring to a half
consciousness out of a long, exhausting lethargy; when the first faint
balmy airs go wandering about, whispering the secret of the coming
change; when the abused brown grass, newly relieved of snow, seems
considering whether it can be worth the trouble and worry of contriving
its green raiment again only to fight the inevitable fight with the
implacable winter and be vanquished and buried once more; when the sun
shines out and a few birds venture forth and lift up a forgotten song;
when a strange stillness and suspense pervades the waiting air. It is a
time when one's spirit is subdued and sad, one knows not why; when the
past seems a storm-swept desolation, life a vanity and a burden, and the
future but a way to death. It is a time when one is filled with vague
longings; when one dreams of flight to peaceful islands in the remote
solitudes of the sea, or folds his hands and says, What is the use of
struggling, and toiling and worrying any more? let us give it all up.
It was into such a mood as this that Laura had drifted from the musings
which the letters of her lovers had called up. Now she lifted her head
and noted with surprise how the day had wasted. She thrust the letters
aside, rose up and went and stood at the window. But she was soon
thinking again, and was only gazing into vacancy.
By and by she turned; her countenance had cleared; the dreamy look was
gone out of her face, all indecision had vanished; the poise of her head
and the firm set of her lips told that her resolution was formed.
She moved toward the table with all the old dignity in her carriage,
and all the old pride in her mien. She took up each letter in its turn,
touched a match to it and watched it slowly consume to ashes. Then she
"I have landed upon a foreign shore, and burned my ships behind me.
These letters were the last thing that held me in sympathy with any
remnant or belonging of the old life. Henceforth that life and all that
appertains to it are as dead to me and as far removed from me as if I
were become a denizen of another world."
She said that love was not for her--the time that it could have satisfied
her heart was gone by and could not return; the opportunity was lost,
nothing could restore it. She said there could be no love without
respect, and she would only despise a man who could content himself with
a thing like her. Love, she said, was a woman's first necessity: love
being forfeited; there was but one thing left that could give a passing
zest to a wasted life, and that was fame, admiration, the applause of the
And so her resolution was taken. She would turn to that final resort of
the disappointed of her sex, the lecture platform. She would array
herself in fine attire, she would adorn herself with jewels, and stand in
her isolated magnificence before massed, audiences and enchant them with
her eloquence and amaze them with her unapproachable beauty. She would
move from city to city like a queen of romance, leaving marveling
multitudes behind her and impatient multitudes awaiting her coming.
Her life, during one hour of each day, upon the platform, would be a
rapturous intoxication--and when the curtain fell; and the lights were
out, and the people gone, to nestle in their homes and forget her, she
would find in sleep oblivion of her homelessness, if she could, if not
she would brave out the night in solitude and wait for the next day's
hour of ecstasy.
So, to take up life and begin again was no great evil. She saw her way.
She would be brave and strong; she would make the best of, what was left
for her among the possibilities.
She sent for the lecture agent, and matters were soon arranged.
Straightway, all the papers were filled with her name, and all the dead
walls flamed with it. The papers called down imprecations upon her head;
they reviled her without stint; they wondered if all sense of decency was
dead in this shameless murderess, this brazen lobbyist, this heartless
seducer of the affections of weak and misguided men; they implored the
people, for the sake of their pure wives, their sinless daughters, for
the sake of decency, for the sake of public morals, to give this wretched
creature such a rebuke as should be an all-sufficient evidence to her and
to such as her, that there was a limit where the flaunting of their foul
acts and opinions before the world must stop; certain of them, with a
higher art, and to her a finer cruelty, a sharper torture, uttered no
abuse, but always spoke of her in terms of mocking eulogy and ironical
admiration. Everybody talked about the new wonder, canvassed the theme
of her proposed discourse, and marveled how she would handle it.
Laura's few friends wrote to her or came and talked with her, and pleaded
with her to retire while it was yet time, and not attempt to face the
gathering storm. But it was fruitless. She was stung to the quick by
the comments of the newspapers; her spirit was roused, her ambition was
towering, now. She was more determined than ever. She would show these
people what a hunted and persecuted woman could do.
The eventful night came. Laura arrived before the great lecture hall in
a close carriage within five minutes of the time set for the lecture to
begin. When she stepped out of the vehicle her heart beat fast and her
eyes flashed with exultation: the whole street was packed with people,
and she could hardly force her way to the hall! She reached the
ante-room, threw off her wraps and placed herself before the
dressing-glass. She turned herself this way and that--everything was
satisfactory, her attire was perfect. She smoothed her hair, rearranged
a jewel here and there, and all the while her heart sang within her, and
her face was radiant. She had not been so happy for ages and ages, it
seemed to her. Oh, no, she had never been so overwhelmingly grateful and
happy in her whole life before. The lecture agent appeared at the door.
She waved him away and said:
"Do not disturb me. I want no introduction. And do not fear for me; the
moment the hands point to eight I will step upon the platform."
He disappeared. She held her watch before her. She was so impatient
that the second-hand seemed whole tedious minutes dragging its way around
the circle. At last the supreme moment came, and with head erect and the
bearing of an empress she swept through the door and stood upon the
stage. Her eyes fell upon only a vast, brilliant emptiness--there were
not forty people in the house! There were only a handful of coarse men
and ten or twelve still coarser women, lolling upon the benches and
scattered about singly and in couples.
Her pulses stood still, her limbs quaked, the gladness went out of her
face. There was a moment of silence, and then a brutal laugh and an
explosion of cat-calls and hisses saluted her from the audience. The
clamor grew stronger and louder, and insulting speeches were shouted at
her. A half-intoxicated man rose up and threw something, which missed
her but bespattered a chair at her side, and this evoked an outburst of
laughter and boisterous admiration. She was bewildered, her strength was
forsaking her. She reeled away from the platform, reached the ante-room,
and dropped helpless upon a sofa. The lecture agent ran in, with a
hurried question upon his lips; but she put forth her hands, and with the
tears raining from her eyes, said:
"Oh, do not speak! Take me away-please take me away, out of this.
dreadful place! Oh, this is like all my life--failure, disappointment,
misery--always misery, always failure. What have I done, to be so
pursued! Take me away, I beg of you, I implore you!"
Upon the pavement she was hustled by the mob, the surging masses roared
her name and accompanied it with every species of insulting epithet;
they thronged after the carriage, hooting, jeering, cursing, and even
assailing the vehicle with missiles. A stone crushed through a blind,
wounding Laura's forehead, and so stunning her that she hardly knew what
further transpired during her flight.
It was long before her faculties were wholly restored, and then she found
herself lying on the floor by a sofa in her own sitting-room, and alone.
So she supposed she must have sat down upon the sofa and afterward
fallen. She raised herself up, with difficulty, for the air was chilly
and her limbs were stiff. She turned up the gas and sought the glass.
She hardly knew herself, so worn and old she looked, and so marred with
blood were her features. The night was far spent, and a dead stillness
reigned. She sat down by her table, leaned her elbows upon it and put
her face in her hands.
Her thoughts wandered back over her old life again and her tears flowed
unrestrained. Her pride was humbled, her spirit was broken. Her memory
found but one resting place; it lingered about her young girlhood with a
caressing regret; it dwelt upon it as the one brief interval of her life
that bore no curse. She saw herself again in the budding grace of her
twelve years, decked in her dainty pride of ribbons, consorting with the
bees and the butterflies, believing in fairies, holding confidential
converse with the flowers, busying herself all day long with airy trifles
that were as weighty to her as the affairs that tax the brains of
diplomats and emperors. She was without sin, then, and unacquainted with
grief; the world was full of sunshine and her heart was full of music.
From that--to this!
"If I could only die!" she said. "If I could only go back, and be as I
was then, for one hour--and hold my father's hand in mine again, and see
all the household about me, as in that old innocent time--and then die!
My God, I am humbled, my pride is all gone, my stubborn heart repents
When the spring morning dawned, the form still sat there, the elbows
resting upon the table and the face upon the hands. All day long the
figure sat there, the sunshine enriching its costly raiment and flashing
from its jewels; twilight came, and presently the stars, but still the
figure remained; the moon found it there still, and framed the picture
with the shadow of the window sash, and flooded, it with mellow light; by
and by the darkness swallowed it up, and later the gray dawn revealed it
again; the new day grew toward its prime, and still the forlorn presence
But now the keepers of the house had become uneasy; their periodical
knockings still finding no response, they burst open the door.
The jury of inquest found that death had resulted from heart disease, and
was instant and painless. That was all. Merely heart disease.
Clay Hawkins, years gone by, had yielded, after many a struggle, to the
migratory and speculative instinct of our age and our people, and had
wandered further and further westward upon trading ventures. Settling
finally in Melbourne, Australia, he ceased to roam, became a steady-going
substantial merchant, and prospered greatly. His life lay beyond the
theatre of this tale.
His remittances had supported the Hawkins family, entirely, from the time
of his father's death until latterly when Laura by her efforts in
Washington had been able to assist in this work. Clay was away on a long
absence in some of the eastward islands when Laura's troubles began,
trying (and almost in vain,) to arrange certain interests which had
become disordered through a dishonest agent, and consequently he knew
nothing of the murder till he returned and read his letters and papers.
His natural impulse was to hurry to the States and save his sister if
possible, for he loved her with a deep and abiding affection. His
business was so crippled now, and so deranged, that to leave it would be
ruin; therefore he sold out at a sacrifice that left him considerably
reduced in worldly possessions, and began his voyage to San Francisco.
Arrived there, he perceived by the newspapers that the trial was near its
close. At Salt Lake later telegrams told him of the acquittal, and his
gratitude was boundless--so boundless, indeed, that sleep was driven from
his eyes by the pleasurable excitement almost as effectually as preceding
weeks of anxiety had done it. He shaped his course straight for Hawkeye,
now, and his meeting with his mother and the rest of the household was
joyful--albeit he had been away so long that he seemed almost a stranger
in his own home.
But the greetings and congratulations were hardly finished when all the
journals in the land clamored the news of Laura's miserable death.
Mrs. Hawkins was prostrated by this last blow, and it was well that Clay
was at her side to stay her with comforting words and take upon himself
the ordering of the household with its burden of labors and cares.
Washington Hawkins had scarcely more than entered upon that decade which
carries one to the full blossom of manhood which we term the beginning:
of middle age, and yet a brief sojourn at the capital of the nation had
made him old. His hair was already turning gray when the late session of
Congress began its sittings; it grew grayer still, and rapidly, after the
memorable day that saw Laura proclaimed a murderess; it waxed grayer and
still grayer during the lagging suspense that succeeded it and after the
crash which ruined his last hope--the failure of his bill in the Senate
and the destruction of its champion, Dilworthy. A few days later, when
he stood uncovered while the last prayer was pronounced over Laura's
grave, his hair was whiter and his face hardly less old than the
venerable minister's whose words were sounding in his ears.
A week after this, he was sitting in a double-bedded room in a cheap
boarding house in Washington, with Col. Sellers. The two had been living
together lately, and this mutual cavern of theirs the Colonel sometimes
referred to as their "premises" and sometimes as their "apartments"--more
particularly when conversing with persons outside. A canvas-covered
modern trunk, marked "G. W. H." stood on end by the door, strapped and
ready for a journey; on it lay a small morocco satchel, also marked "G.
W. H." There was another trunk close by--a worn, and scarred, and
ancient hair relic, with "B. S." wrought in brass nails on its top;
on it lay a pair of saddle-bags that probably knew more about the last
century than they could tell. Washington got up and walked the floor a
while in a restless sort of way, and finally was about to sit down on the
"Stop, don't sit down on that!" exclaimed the Colonel: "There, now that's
all right--the chair's better. I couldn't get another trunk like that
--not another like it in America, I reckon."
"I am afraid not," said Washington, with a faint attempt at a smile.
"No indeed; the man is dead that made that trunk and that saddle-bags."
"Are his great-grand-children still living?" said Washington, with levity
only in the words, not in the tone.
"Well, I don't know--I hadn't thought of that--but anyway they can't make
trunks and saddle-bags like that, if they are--no man can," said the
Colonel with honest simplicity. "Wife didn't like to see me going off
with that trunk--she said it was nearly certain to be stolen."
"Why? Why, aren't trunks always being stolen?"
"Well, yes--some kinds of trunks are."
"Very well, then; this is some kind of a trunk--and an almighty rare
"Yes, I believe it is."
"Well, then, why shouldn't a man want to steal it if he got a chance?"
"Indeed I don't know.--Why should he?"
"Washington, I never heard anybody talk like you. Suppose you were a
thief, and that trunk was lying around and nobody watching--wouldn't you
steal it? Come, now, answer fair--wouldn't you steal it?
"Well, now, since you corner me, I would take it,--but I wouldn't
consider it stealing.
"You wouldn't! Well, that beats me. Now what would you call stealing?"
"Why, taking property is stealing."
"Property! Now what a way to talk that is: What do you suppose that
trunk is worth?"
"Is it in good repair?"
"Perfect. Hair rubbed off a little, but the main structure is perfectly
"Does it leak anywhere?"
"Leak? Do you want to carry water in it? What do you mean by does it
"Why--a--do the clothes fall out of it when it is--when it is
"Confound it, Washington, you are trying to make fun of me. I don't know
what has got into you to-day; you act mighty curious. What is the matter
"Well, I'll tell you, old friend. I am almost happy. I am, indeed.
It wasn't Clay's telegram that hurried me up so and got me ready to start
with you. It was a letter from Louise."
"Good! What is it? What does she say?"
"She says come home--her father has consented, at last."
"My boy, I want to congratulate you; I want to shake you by the hand!
It's a long turn that has no lane at the end of it, as the proverb says,
or somehow that way. You'll be happy yet, and Beriah Sellers will be
there to see, thank God!"
"I believe it. General Boswell is pretty nearly a poor man, now. The
railroad that was going to build up Hawkeye made short work of him, along
with the rest. He isn't so opposed to a son-in-law without a fortune,
"Without a fortune, indeed! Why that Tennessee Land--"
"Never mind the Tennessee Land, Colonel. I am done with that, forever
"Why no! You can't mean to say--"
"My father, away back yonder, years ago, bought it for a blessing for his
"Indeed he did! Si Hawkins said to me--"
"It proved a curse to him as long as he lived, and never a curse like it
was inflicted upon any man's heirs--"
"I'm bound to say there's more or less truth--"
"It began to curse me when I was a baby, and it has cursed every hour of
my life to this day--"
"Lord, lord, but it's so! Time and again my wife--"
"I depended on it all through my boyhood and never tried to do an honest
stroke of work for my living--"
"Right again--but then you--"
"I have chased it years and years as children chase butterflies. We
might all have been prosperous, now; we might all have been happy, all
these heart-breaking years, if we had accepted our poverty at first and
gone contentedly to work and built up our own wealth by our own toil and
"It's so, it's so; bless my soul, how often I've told Si Hawkins--"
"Instead of that, we have suffered more than the damned themselves
suffer! I loved my father, and I honor his memory and recognize his good
intentions; but I grieve for his mistaken ideas of conferring happiness
upon his children. I am going to begin my life over again, and begin it
and end it with good solid work! I'll leave my children no Tennessee
"Spoken like a man, sir, spoken like a man! Your hand, again my boy!
And always remember that when a word of advice from Beriah Sellers can
help, it is at your service. I'm going to begin again, too!"
"Yes, sir. I've seen enough to show me where my mistake was. The law is
what I was born for. I shall begin the study of the law. Heavens and
earth, but that Brabant's a wonderful man--a wonderful man sir! Such a
head! And such a way with him! But I could see that he was jealous of
me. The little licks I got in in the course of my argument before the
"Your argument! Why, you were a witness."
"Oh, yes, to the popular eye, to the popular eye--but I knew when I was
dropping information and when I was letting drive at the court with an
insidious argument. But the court knew it, bless you, and weakened every
time! And Brabant knew it. I just reminded him of it in a quiet way,
and its final result, and he said in a whisper, 'You did it, Colonel, you
did it, sir--but keep it mum for my sake; and I'll tell you what you do,'
says he, 'you go into the law, Col. Sellers--go into the law, sir; that's
your native element!' And into the law the subscriber is going. There's
worlds of money in it!--whole worlds of money! Practice first in
Hawkeye, then in Jefferson, then in St. Louis, then in New York! In the
metropolis of the western world! Climb, and climb, and climb--and wind
up on the Supreme bench. Beriah Sellers, Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court of the United States, sir! A made man for all time and eternity!
That's the way I block it out, sir--and it's as clear as day--clear as
Washington had heard little of this. The first reference to Laura's
trial had brought the old dejection to his face again, and he stood
gazing out of the window at nothing, lost in reverie.
There was a knock-the postman handed in a letter. It was from Obedstown.
East Tennessee, and was for Washington. He opened it. There was a note
saying that enclosed he would please find a bill for the current year's
taxes on the 75,000 acres of Tennessee Land belonging to the estate of
Silas Hawkins, deceased, and added that the money must be paid within
sixty days or the land would be sold at public auction for the taxes, as
provided by law. The bill was for $180--something more than twice the
market value of the land, perhaps.
Washington hesitated. Doubts flitted through his mind. The old instinct
came upon him to cling to the land just a little longer and give it one
more chance. He walked the floor feverishly, his mind tortured by
indecision. Presently he stopped, took out his pocket book and counted
his money. Two hundred and thirty dollars--it was all he had in the
"One hundred and eighty . . . . . . . from two hundred and
thirty," he said to himself. "Fifty left . . . . . . It is enough
to get me home . . . .. . . Shall I do it, or shall I not? . . .
. . . . I wish I had somebody to decide for me."
The pocket book lay open in his hand, with Louise's small letter in view.
His eye fell upon that, and it decided him.
"It shall go for taxes," he said, "and never tempt me or mine any more!"
He opened the window and stood there tearing the tax bill to bits and
watching the breeze waft them away, till all were gone.
"The spell is broken, the life-long curse is ended!" he said. "Let us
The baggage wagon had arrived; five minutes later the two friends were
mounted upon their luggage in it, and rattling off toward the station,
the Colonel endeavoring to sing "Homeward Bound," a song whose words he
knew, but whose tune, as he rendered it, was a trial to auditors.
Philip Sterling's circumstances were becoming straightened. The prospect
was gloomy. His long siege of unproductive labor was beginning to tell
upon his spirits; but what told still more upon them was the undeniable
fact that the promise of ultimate success diminished every day, now.
That is to say, the tunnel had reached a point in the hill which was
considerably beyond where the coal vein should pass (according to all his
calculations) if there were a coal vein there; and so, every foot that
the tunnel now progressed seemed to carry it further away from the object
of the search.
Sometimes he ventured to hope that he had made a mistake in estimating
the direction which the vein should naturally take after crossing the
valley and entering the hill. Upon such occasions he would go into the
nearest mine on the vein he was hunting for, and once more get the
bearings of the deposit and mark out its probable course; but the result
was the same every time; his tunnel had manifestly pierced beyond the
natural point of junction; and then his, spirits fell a little lower.
His men had already lost faith, and he often overheard them saying it was
perfectly plain that there was no coal in the hill.
Foremen and laborers from neighboring mines, and no end of experienced
loafers from the village, visited the tunnel from time to time, and their
verdicts were always the same and always disheartening--"No coal in that
hill." Now and then Philip would sit down and think it all over and
wonder what the mystery meant; then he would go into the tunnel and ask
the men if there were no signs yet? None--always "none."
He would bring out a piece of rock and examine it, and say to himself,
"It is limestone--it has crinoids and corals in it--the rock is right"
Then he would throw it down with a sigh, and say, "But that is nothing;
where coal is, limestone with these fossils in it is pretty certain to
lie against its foot casing; but it does not necessarily follow that
where this peculiar rock is coal must lie above it or beyond it; this
sign is not sufficient."
The thought usually followed:--"There is one infallible sign--if I could
only strike that!"
Three or four tines in as many weeks he said to himself, "Am I a
visionary? I must be a visionary; everybody is in these days; everybody
chases butterflies: everybody seeks sudden fortune and will not lay one
up by slow toil. This is not right, I will discharge the men and go at
some honest work. There is no coal here. What a fool I have been; I
will give it up."
But he never could do it. A half hour of profound thinking always
followed; and at the end of it he was sure to get up and straighten
himself and say: "There is coal there; I will not give it up; and coal
or no coal I will drive the tunnel clear through the hill; I will not
surrender while I am alive."
He never thought of asking Mr. Montague for more money. He said there
was now but one chance of finding coal against nine hundred and ninety
nine that he would not find it, and so it would be wrong in him to make
the request and foolish in Mr. Montague to grant it.
He had been working three shifts of men. Finally, the settling of a
weekly account exhausted his means. He could not afford to run in debt,
and therefore he gave the men their discharge. They came into his cabin
presently, where he sat with his elbows on his knees and his chin in his
hands--the picture of discouragement and their spokesman said:
"Mr. Sterling, when Tim was down a week with his fall you kept him on
half-wages and it was a mighty help to his family; whenever any of us was
in trouble you've done what you could to help us out; you've acted fair
and square with us every time, and I reckon we are men and know a man
when we see him. We haven't got any faith in that hill, but we have a
respect for a man that's got the pluck that you've showed; you've fought
a good fight, with everybody agin you and if we had grub to go on, I'm
d---d if we wouldn't stand by you till the cows come home! That is what
the boys say. Now we want to put in one parting blast for luck. We want
to work three days more; if we don't find anything, we won't bring in no
bill against you. That is what we've come to say."
Philip was touched. If he had had money enough to buy three days' "grub"
he would have accepted the generous offer, but as it was, he could not
consent to be less magnanimous than the men, and so he declined in a
manly speech; shook hands all around and resumed his solitary communings.
The men went back to the tunnel and "put in a parting blast for luck"
anyhow. They did a full day's work and then took their leave. They
called at his cabin and gave him good-bye, but were not able to tell him
their day's effort had given things a mere promising look.
The next day Philip sold all the tools but two or three sets; he also
sold one of the now deserted cabins as old, lumber, together with its
domestic wares; and made up his mind that he would buy, provisions with
the trifle of money thus gained and continue his work alone. About the
middle of the after noon he put on his roughest clothes and went to the
tunnel. He lit a candle and groped his way in. Presently he heard the
sound of a pick or a drill, and wondered, what it meant. A spark of light
now appeared in the far end of the tunnel, and when he arrived there he
found the man Tim at work. Tim said:
"I'm to have a job in the Golden Brier mine by and by--in a week or ten
days--and I'm going to work here till then. A man might as well be at
some thing, and besides I consider that I owe you what you paid me when I
was laid up."
Philip said, Oh, no, he didn't owe anything; but Tim persisted, and then
Philip said he had a little provision now, and would share. So for
several days Philip held the drill and Tim did the striking. At first
Philip was impatient to see the result of every blast, and was always
back and peering among the smoke the moment after the explosion. But
there was never any encouraging result; and therefore he finally lost
almost all interest, and hardly troubled himself to inspect results at
all. He simply labored on, stubbornly and with little hope.
Tim staid with him till the last moment, and then took up his job at the
Golden Brier, apparently as depressed by the continued barrenness of
their mutual labors as Philip was himself. After that, Philip fought his
battle alone, day after day, and slow work it was; he could scarcely see
that he made any progress.
Late one afternoon he finished drilling a hole which he had been at work
at for more than two hours; he swabbed it out, and poured in the powder
and inserted the fuse; then filled up the rest of the hole with dirt and
small fragments of stone; tamped it down firmly, touched his candle to
the fuse, and ran. By and by the I dull report came, and he was about to
walk back mechanically and see what was accomplished; but he halted;
presently turned on his heel and thought, rather than said:
"No, this is useless, this is absurd. If I found anything it would only
be one of those little aggravating seams of coal which doesn't mean
By this time he was walking out of the tunnel. His thought ran on:
"I am conquered . . . . . . I am out of provisions, out of money.
. . . . I have got to give it up . . . . . . All this hard work
lost! But I am not conquered! I will go and work for money, and come
back and have another fight with fate. Ah me, it may be years, it may,
Arrived at the mouth of the tunnel, he threw his coat upon the ground,
sat down on, a stone, and his eye sought the westering sun and dwelt upon
the charming landscape which stretched its woody ridges, wave upon wave,
to the golden horizon.
Something was taking place at his feet which did not attract his
His reverie continued, and its burden grew more and more gloomy.
Presently he rose up and, cast a look far away toward the valley, and his
thoughts took a new direction:
"There it is! How good it looks! But down there is not up here. Well,
I will go home and pack up--there is nothing else to do"
He moved off moodily toward his cabin. He had gone some distance before
he thought of his coat; then he was about to turn back, but he smiled at
the thought, and continued his journey--such a coat as that could be of
little use in a civilized land; a little further on, he remembered that
there were some papers of value in one of the pockets of the relic, and
then with a penitent ejaculation he turned back picked up the coat and
put it on.
He made a dozen steps, and then stopped very suddenly. He stood still a
moment, as one who is trying to believe something and cannot. He put a
hand up over his shoulder and felt his back, and a great thrill shot
through him. He grasped the skirt of the coat impulsively and another
thrill followed. He snatched the coat from his back, glanced at it,
threw it from him and flew back to the tunnel. He sought the spot where
the coat had lain--he had to look close, for the light was waning--then
to make sure, he put his hand to the ground and a little stream of water
swept against his fingers:
"Thank God, I've struck it at last!"
He lit a candle and ran into the tunnel; he picked up a piece of rubbish
cast out by the last blast, and said:
"This clayey stuff is what I've longed for--I know what is behind it."
He swung his pick with hearty good will till long after the darkness had
gathered upon the earth, and when he trudged home at length he knew he
had a coal vein and that it was seven feet thick from wall to wall.
He found a yellow envelope lying on his rickety table, and recognized
that it was of a family sacred to the transmission of telegrams.
He opened it, read it, crushed it in his hand and threw it down. It
"Ruth is very ill."
It was evening when Philip took the cars at the Ilium station. The news
of, his success had preceded him, and while he waited for the train, he
was the center of a group of eager questioners, who asked him a hundred
things about the mine, and magnified his good fortune. There was no
mistake this time.
Philip, in luck, had become suddenly a person of consideration, whose
speech was freighted with meaning, whose looks were all significant.
The words of the proprietor of a rich coal mine have a golden sound,
and his common sayings are repeated as if they were solid wisdom.
Philip wished to be alone; his good fortune at this moment seemed an
empty mockery, one of those sarcasms of fate, such as that which spreads
a dainty banquet for the man who has no appetite. He had longed for
success principally for Ruth's sake; and perhaps now, at this very moment
of his triumph, she was dying.
"Shust what I said, Mister Sederling," the landlord of the Ilium hotel
kept repeating. "I dold Jake Schmidt he find him dere shust so sure as
"You ought to have taken a share, Mr. Dusenheimer," said Philip.
"Yaas, I know. But d'old woman, she say 'You sticks to your pisiness.
So I sticks to 'em. Und I makes noting. Dat Mister Prierly, he don't
never come back here no more, ain't it?"
"Why?" asked Philip.
"Vell, dere is so many peers, and so many oder dhrinks, I got 'em all set
down, ven he coomes back."
It was a long night for Philip, and a restless one. At any other time
the swing of the cars would have lulled him to sleep, and the rattle and
clank of wheels and rails, the roar of the whirling iron would have only
been cheerful reminders of swift and safe travel. Now they were voices
of warning and taunting; and instead of going rapidly the train seemed to
crawl at a snail's pace. And it not only crawled, but it frequently
stopped; and when it stopped it stood dead still and there was an ominous
silence. Was anything the matter, he wondered. Only a station probably.
Perhaps, he thought, a telegraphic station. And then he listened
eagerly. Would the conductor open the door and ask for Philip Sterling,
and hand him a fatal dispatch?
How long they seemed to wait. And then slowly beginning to move, they
were off again, shaking, pounding, screaming through the night. He drew
his curtain from time to time and looked out. There was the lurid sky
line of the wooded range along the base of which they were crawling.
There was the Susquehannah, gleaming in the moon-light. There was a
stretch of level valley with silent farm houses, the occupants all at
rest, without trouble, without anxiety. There was a church, a graveyard,
a mill, a village; and now, without pause or fear, the train had mounted
a trestle-work high in air and was creeping along the top of it while a
swift torrent foamed a hundred feet below.
What would the morning bring? Even while he was flying to her, her gentle
spirit might have gone on another flight, whither he could not follow
her. He was full of foreboding. He fell at length into a restless doze.
There was a noise in his ears as of a rushing torrent when a stream is
swollen by a freshet in the spring. It was like the breaking up of life;
he was struggling in the consciousness of coming death: when Ruth stood
by his side, clothed in white, with a face like that of an angel,
radiant, smiling, pointing to the sky, and saying, "Come." He awoke with
a cry--the train was roaring through a bridge, and it shot out into
When morning came the train was industriously toiling along through the
fat lands of Lancaster, with its broad farms of corn and wheat, its mean
houses of stone, its vast barns and granaries, built as if, for storing
the riches of Heliogabalus. Then came the smiling fields of Chester,
with their English green, and soon the county of Philadelphia itself, and
the increasing signs of the approach to a great city. Long trains of
coal cars, laden and unladen, stood upon sidings; the tracks of other
roads were crossed; the smoke of other locomotives was seen on parallel
lines; factories multiplied; streets appeared; the noise of a busy city
began to fill the air;--and with a slower and slower clank on the
connecting rails and interlacing switches the train rolled into the
station and stood still.
It was a hot August morning. The broad streets glowed in the sun, and
the white-shuttered houses stared at the hot thoroughfares like closed
bakers' ovens set along the highway. Philip was oppressed with the heavy
air; the sweltering city lay as in a swoon. Taking a street car, he rode
away to the northern part of the city, the newer portion, formerly the
district of Spring Garden, for in this the Boltons now lived, in a small
brick house, befitting their altered fortunes.
He could scarcely restrain his impatience when he came in sight of the
house. The window shutters were not "bowed"; thank God, for that. Ruth
was still living, then. He ran up the steps and rang. Mrs. Bolton met
him at the door.
"Thee is very welcome, Philip."
"She is very ill, but quieter than, she has been, and the fever is a
little abating. The most dangerous time will be when the fever leaves
her. The doctor fears she will not have strength enough to rally from
it. Yes, thee can see her."
Mrs. Bolton led the way to the little chamber where Ruth lay. "Oh,"
said her mother, "if she were only in her cool and spacious room in our
old home. She says that seems like heaven."
Mr. Bolton sat by Ruth's bedside, and he rose and silently pressed
Philip's hand. The room had but one window; that was wide open to admit
the air, but the air that came in was hot and lifeless. Upon the table
stood a vase of flowers. Ruth's eyes were closed; her cheeks were
flushed with fever, and she moved her head restlessly as if in pain.
"Ruth," said her mother, bending over her, "Philip is here."
Ruth's eyes unclosed, there was a gleam of recognition in them, there was
an attempt at a smile upon her face, and she tried to raise her thin
hand, as Philip touched her forehead with his lips; and he heard her
There was nothing to be done but to watch and wait for the cruel fever to
burn itself out. Dr. Longstreet told Philip that the fever had
undoubtedly been contracted in the hospital, but it was not malignant,
and would be little dangerous if Ruth were not so worn down with work,
or if she had a less delicate constitution.
"It is only her indomitable will that has kept her up for weeks. And if
that should leave her now, there will be no hope. You can do more for
her now, sir, than I can?"
"How?" asked Philip eagerly.
"Your presence, more than anything else, will inspire her with the desire
When the fever turned, Ruth was in a very critical condition. For two
days her life was like the fluttering of a lighted candle in the wind.
Philip was constantly by her side, and she seemed to be conscious of his
presence, and to cling to him, as one borne away by a swift stream clings
to a stretched-out hand from the shore. If he was absent a moment her
restless eyes sought something they were disappointed not to find.
Philip so yearned to bring her back to life, he willed it so strongly and
passionately, that his will appeared to affect hers and she seemed slowly
to draw life from his.
After two days of this struggle with the grasping enemy, it was evident
to Dr. Longstreet that Ruth's will was beginning to issue its orders to
her body with some force, and that strength was slowly coming back.
In another day there was a decided improvement. As Philip sat holding
her weak hand and watching the least sign of resolution in her face, Ruth
was able to whisper,
"I so want to live, for you, Phil!"
"You will; darling, you must," said Philip in a tone of faith and courage
that carried a thrill of determination--of command--along all her nerves.
Slowly Philip drew her back to life. Slowly she came back, as one
willing but well nigh helpless. It was new for Ruth to feel this
dependence on another's nature, to consciously draw strength of will from
the will of another. It was a new but a dear joy, to be lifted up and
carried back into the happy world, which was now all aglow with the light
of love; to be lifted and carried by the one she loved more than her own
"Sweetheart," she said to Philip, "I would not have cared to come back
but for thy love."
"Not for thy profession?"
"Oh, thee may be glad enough of that some day, when thy coal bed is dug
out and thee and father are in the air again."
When Ruth was able to ride she was taken into the country, for the pure
air was necessary to her speedy recovery. The family went with her.
Philip could not be spared from her side, and Mr. Bolton had gone up to
Ilium to look into that wonderful coal mine and to make arrangements for
developing it, and bringing its wealth to market. Philip had insisted on
re-conveying the Ilium property to Mr. Bolton, retaining only the share
originally contemplated for himself, and Mr. Bolton, therefore, once
more found himself engaged in business and a person of some consequence
in Third street. The mine turned out even better than was at first
hoped, and would, if judiciously managed, be a fortune to them all.
This also seemed to be the opinion of Mr. Bigler, who heard of it as soon
as anybody, and, with the impudence of his class called upon Mr. Bolton
for a little aid in a patent car-wheel he had bought an interest in.
That rascal, Small, he said, had swindled him out of all he had.
Mr. Bolton told him he was very sorry, and recommended him to sue Small.
Mr. Small also came with a similar story about Mr. Bigler; and Mr.
Bolton had the grace to give him like advice. And he added, "If you and
Bigler will procure the indictment of each other, you may have the
satisfaction of putting each other in the penitentiary for the forgery of
Bigler and Small did not quarrel however. They both attacked Mr. Bolton
behind his back as a swindler, and circulated the story that he had made
a fortune by failing.
In the pure air of the highlands, amid the golden glories of ripening
September, Ruth rapidly came back to health. How beautiful the world is
to an invalid, whose senses are all clarified, who has been so near the
world of spirits that she is sensitive to the finest influences, and
whose frame responds with a thrill to the subtlest ministrations of
soothing nature. Mere life is a luxury, and the color of the grass, of
the flowers, of the sky, the wind in the trees, the outlines of the
horizon, the forms of clouds, all give a pleasure as exquisite as the
sweetest music to the ear famishing for it. The world was all new and
fresh to Ruth, as if it had just been created for her, and love filled
it, till her heart was overflowing with happiness.
It was golden September also at Fallkill. And Alice sat by the open
window in her room at home, looking out upon the meadows where the
laborers were cutting the second crop of clover. The fragrance of it
floated to her nostrils. Perhaps she did not mind it. She was thinking.
She had just been writing to Ruth, and on the table before her was a
yellow piece of paper with a faded four-leaved clover pinned on it--only
a memory now. In her letter to Ruth she had poured out her heartiest
blessings upon them both, with her dear love forever and forever.
"Thank God," she said, "they will never know"
They never would know. And the world never knows how many women there
are like Alice, whose sweet but lonely lives of self-sacrifice, gentle,
faithful, loving souls, bless it continually.
"She is a dear girl," said Philip, when Ruth showed him the letter.
"Yes, Phil, and we can spare a great deal of love for her, our own lives
are so full."
Perhaps some apology to the reader is necessary in view of our failure to
find Laura's father. We supposed, from the ease with which lost persons
are found in novels, that it would not be difficult. But it was; indeed,
it was impossible; and therefore the portions of the narrative containing
the record of the search have been stricken out. Not because they were
not interesting--for they were; but inasmuch as the man was not found,
after all, it did not seem wise to harass and excite the reader to no