5 OWfl COUNTRY
IN SUNFLOWER LAND.
N SUNFLOWER LAND
STORIES OF GOD S OWN
COUNTRY BY ROSWELL
F. J. SCHULTE & COMPANY
CHICAGO . . MDCCCXCII
BY FRANCIS J. SCUFLTK.
ALL RHtHTS KESKHVKP.
To MY WIFE.
tUljcit tl)c Book <ontam0.
THE OLD CRANK -
WHAT BROKE UP THE LITERARY -
HE PLAYED WITH THOMAS - - 53
TUBES OF KANSAS 67
How THE LORD REMEMBERED CURLY - 81
THE INVOLUNTARY MARRIAGE - 97
COLONEL BOLLINGER - * 109
THE DEAF EAR 12 5
THE CONFESSION OF A CRIME - - 143
THE OLD MAJOR S STORY - 163
THE POLITICAL WANDERINGS OF JOSEPH MACON 19. ?
THE DISTRIBUTION - 207
THAT AWFUL Miss BOULDER 227
THE LUCK OF SILAS SCOTT - 247
THE OLD CRANK.
WESTWARD from the Mississippi, between the
thirty-sixth and fortieth parallels of latitude, in
the very heart of the greatest nation of the earth,
lie two empires. Not empires, indeed, in the com
mon significance of man s imperial sway, with the
gay gildings and trappings of the court, and the
autocratic rule of royalty, but empires of nature,
glorious in the results of a few brief years of
experiment, more glorious in the incalculable possi
bilities of development awaiting the homeseeker.
Wherever the traveler goes in these great empires,
in wagon, boat or railway car, he sees the monarch
of the realm, turn where he may. Far to the north
and east, on through the south and west, this jolly
monarch keeps at the side of the flying train, to the
end of his dominions, where the roads begin to
lead to the clouds and the cool air rushes down
from the mountains. No traveler asks who this
jolly monarch is. No man forgets his allegiance
to powerful, affluent, smiling old King Corn.
If Corn is king, then Sunflower is the queen, for
hand in hand they go over the wide rolling prairies
in their dress of golden yellow, the one typifying
the spirit of industry, the other content with its
lofty bearing and its regal beauty. A worthy
queen is the stately Sunflower to old King Corn.
And, in the main, very happy and contented are
the favored subjects of this prosperous monarch.
For twenty-five, fifty and seventy years of experi
ence have shown them that he is steady and reli
able, faithful to those who call upon him, and
never failing those who cultivate him. So these
subjects, with such deviation as national and
political exigency has prescribed, have gone their
ways, content with present abundance and careless
of outside comment ; have lived their lives in their
own manner, sung their songs, and cherished their
traditions until modern progress came to the fail-
dominion and knocked at the gate; That was the
beginning of the new Missouri and the new
Kansas. Whether it destroyed the charm of the
older life, or by its benefits atoned for the inva
sion, they may say who will. But is it not true
that the literature, the poetry, the romance of a
country turns to humanity in its simple, original
type, and finds its material where the rushing
spirit of the century has produced the least efface-
A man who has traveled much through this
land of King Corn, and whose business has brought
him into close contact with the inner life of the
people, once waggishly remarked that Missouri
The Old Crank. 11
and Kansas are inhabited by two classes of human
beings, Missourians and Kansans. It might have
been replied, with Horatio, that " there needs no
ghost come from the grave to tell us this," but the
jocose gentleman spoke with a deeper significance
than the mere words might convey. The fact that
underlies the statement, and the fact that im
pressed itself upon him, is that the Missourian
and the Kansan, each in his way, have far more
than the ordinary amount of State pride. The
Missourian is unaggressive, quiet, but not a whit
less proud than the Kansan. He knows perfectly
well the ridicule that has been heaped upon his
State. He has heard all the songs, all the railroad
and circus jokes at the expense of the "Pikers,"
and, for that matter, he repeats them with a good
deal of relish. For he realizes the remarkable re
sources of his State, its rank in the Union, its
illimitable possibilities, its steady and sure growth,
and its exemption from the afflictions that have
disturbed other less favored commonwealths. He
knows that the " Piker " is rapidly passing away,
and that, in a few years, " Joe Bowers " will be a
myth, and his descendants will repudiate him.
Perhaps, even now, the Missourian, as he shrugs
his shoulders at the last joke perpetrated by the
untraveled Eastern man, thinks to himself that
the two jocular bears on the State seal might be
12 TJte Old Crank.
credited with the appropriate remark, "He laughs
best who laughs last. "
The Kansan is a natural fighter. His State
had its baptism in blood, and its children have
grown up in the atmosphere of battle. It is
true of humanity that we always think the most
of those things that have cost us the greatest
trouble. It is possible that a tendency to exag
geration springs from this same cause. The old-
time Kansan is attached to the State he fought
for and bled for. There is sincerity even in his
exaggeration, and drought, hot winds and grass
hoppers, one after the other, cannot silence his
tongue or shake his conviction that he lives in
God s own country and in the particular locality
that the Creator would select for his terrestrial
residence. Ko reasoning, no logic can confound
the Kansan. Figuratively speaking, you may
knock him down, but you cannot knock him out.
As an instance in point, it is related that one day,
after a seemingly endless stretch of the most hor
rible weather, the sun came out. The air was soft
and balmy, the sky took on the deep summer blue,
and all the conditions were as perfect as the most
exacting could demand. The Kansas man was
equal to the occasion, and began to descant on the
beauties of the Kansas climate. "Now, this," he
said, "is a typical Kansas day."
"But how about yesterday, and the day before,
The Old Crank. 1:5
and the day before that, aiid last week, and the
week before ?" asked the stranger within the gates.
"Oh," answered the Kansan, perfectly una
bashed, "that is the kind of - - weather we used
to have back in Indiana."
What can be said to an exuberance, a loyalty
and a confidence like that ? Why can -the world
wonder that a State peopled by such enthusiasts,
and advertised with such devotion and pride, has
grown beyond the limit of precedent.
Every school history of the present day tells
under what stormy and peculiar conditions Kansas
began to shape itself forty years ago. From the
outset it was a Mecca for the eccentric people now
commonly known as cranks, and from that day to
this not an ism has presented itself to the sister
hood of States that Kansas has not felt its full
force. How far these strange people have left
their impress on the State, and to what extent they
have bequeathed to their descendants an inherit
ance of whims and fads and fleeting popular fan
cies, let those answer who can. This tale has only
to do with the result of a certain chain of circum
stances, the product of peculiar conditions. De
pend upon it the hero will stand on his record
and consent to be judged at the final day by his
The people who knew him, and had looked him
over in all his important bearings and ramifica-
14 TJie Old ( rani .
tions, agreed that he was just a plain, old-fash
ioned, evcry-day Kansas crank.
From this it must not be inferred that every
body who happens to live in Kansas is a crank,
and it is not to be contended that everybody who
happens to be a crank lives in Kansas. In fact,
it is not altogether assured that the Kansas crank
is more dangerous or uncomfortable that the Mas
sachusetts crank, or the Mississippi crank, the
crank who infests the prairies of Illinois, or the
crank who lives in the sage-brush and alkali regions
of Nevada. There may be more of him, his ideas
may be a little more generally distributed, and he
may be more interesting as a panorama of eccen
tricities, but doubtless he is a very lovable and
amusing person, is this Kansas crank, when you
do not chance to rub up against his pet theories
and regulations of life.
It does not follow that the old Kansas crank was
born a crank. In all probability he passed a mod
erately happy and uneventful childhood in Ohio
or Indiana, and came to Kansas in the fifties
suppose we say 57. Those were wild times on
the border, and it is worth the trouble and the
money to entice an old crank across the prohibi
tion line, and fill him full of good red liquor to
loosen his tongue, that he may "shoulder his
crutch" and talk about the past ; how he "fit with
old John," and how many Democrats he sent to
The Old Crank. 15
the judgment bar. All these things are peculiar
to the old crank, but they concern us not at this
When the war broke out the crank started to the
front. He was not much of a crank in 1861, but
he was a Union man and a fighter from the top of
his bristling hair to the soles of his heavy boots,
and the crankier he became the harder he fought,
which may be explained on the simple principles
of indigestion. He was not one of your sixty or
ninety-day fighters. He enlisted for the war, took
in every important skirmish that came his way,
and went with Sherman to the sea. There is a story
to the effect that when he reached the sea the old
crank was consumed with regret, and would fain
have marched the entire distance back on the
same gentle and philanthropic mission.
At the close of the war he returned to Kansas,
and, incident to a peaceful agricultural life, was
elected to the legislature on an anti-monopoly
platform. No man that is, no Kansan can
be said to have achieved a modicum of worldly dis
tinction and delight until he has been elected to
the legislature. The crank was true to his prin
ciples : he was chosen as an anti-monopolist, and he
walked to Topeka. That was the discharge of the
first public duty of the crank.
One day the crank was in Emporia. He was
getting along in years, and his lot was lonely.
1G The Old Crank.
Political honor had not crowded upon him, and he
yearned, or thought he yearned, for the rest and
quiet of domestic life. As chance would have it,
or, rather, as fate invariably directs it in this modest
town of Emporia, he was persuaded to attend a
" social " at the State normal school. Now there are
various kinds of amusement in this carnal world,
but the decision is, from the examination of such
data as can be collected, that a " normal social " is,
of all diversions, the most unoffending and innocu
ous. It is related of a certain eminent Methodist
divine, who is now with John Wesley in the man
sions, that, gazing upon the deep solemnity of one
of these "socials," he paraphrased Scripture in
saying : " Behold festivities indeed in which there
is no guile."
As the crank entered upon the scene of splendor
the grand march was in progress, and the happy-
company, two by two, paraded the hall, singing the
Kansas national hymn: "John Brown s body lies
a-mouid rin in the grave." The heart of the
crank was stirred. The old war spirit came back,
and in the "Glory, glory, hallelujah," he let out
his voice with a boom that shook the rafters.
And the crank was further attracted by the fine
figure of a woman who seemed to be one of the
leading spirits of the entertainment. She was, per
haps, thirty years of age, tall, willowy, sharp-feat
ured, with a high forehead, and the unmistakable
The Old Crank. 17
air of a school-ma am. Her attire was severely
chaste. She was dressed in dove-colored alpaca,
high-fitting at the neck, with plain Avalst and full
skirt. Her only ornaments were a pair of mussel-
shell ear-rings, and a striking cameo pin at her
throat. In her hair, which fell over her temples
and curved down and gracefully behind her ears,
she had placed a modest wild verbena with shoe
In the opinion of the crank to see her was to
love her. To her mind, there never was a more
striking illustration of a proper man. Their court
ship was brief and fervent. The lady, with the
austere simplicity of advanced maidenhood, re
hearsed the minute details of her arduous life, and
the crank went over and over again the great and
irrepressible conflict of the rebellion, wherein he
had played a bloody and conspicuous part. And
the bride elect looked on her hero with kindling
eyes, and, perchance, wished, with Desdemona,
that "heaven had made her such a man." And
so, in the fall, when the golden tint was on the
Kansas forests, they were married, and extended
their bridal tour to the State Fair at Topeka,
where, hand in hand, "they looked at the fat stock,
and carefully noted the agricultural products and
the latest dairy improvements.
Well, the old crank and his wife went back to the
farm, and a pretty middling sort of farm it was,
18 The Old Crank.
with its acres of grain, its pleasant orchard and
the little brown frame house near the road. This
house was originally disposed to be whitish, but
the old crank slapped on a coat of brown paint ;
something, he said, to be a perpetual reminder of
old John. It was plainly furnished, it is true,
but peace and contentment abode therein, save
when the old crank went on a rural "high,"
which he occasionally did in those unregenerate
days. And the school-ma am, out of the prompt
ings of an artistic nature, procured a Ilamlin cab
inet organ, from which, after much internal remon
strance and apparently piteous protest, she evolved
"The Storm," and "Lincoln s Funeral March,"
and various gems from a collection of war songs,
which besought the boys to " rally round the flag"
and to "hang Jeff Davis to a sour apple tree,"
with reminiscences of coming home to die, dear
mother, and of sitting in a prison cell, and of
" marchin through Georgy. " And when the neigh
bors came in and began to air their accomplish
ments, the old crank would turn to the good wife
and say : " Marthy, touch us up Gen ral Persifer
F. Smith s march." And at the conclusion of
this spirited number he would look at the humili
ated braggarts with a quiet gleam in his eye, as
one who would say: "What do you think o
that ? "
And they had a little library, too. But the old
The Old Crank. 19
crank "allowed" he didn t go much on cheap,
popular literature,, while he could get the Kansas
agricultural reports, with an occasional invoice of
Congressional Records. Wilder s Annals lay
conspicuously on the table, and a very well-thumbed
and dirty page was that which announced the old
crank s election to the legislature. And there
were also lives of famous Union generals, and the
Kansas herd-book, and later on the great campaign
record of Elaine and Logan. And there were
certain treatises of a spiritual nature from a Wes-
leyan standpoint, for, as was the custom of the
country, the old crank was a stanch Methodist, a
class-leader and an exhorter, and, when engaged in
fervent spiritual work, his voice could be heard
over the bending corn a third of a mile away,
heaving wrath and dispensing salvation.
As time went on, the good wife encouraged the
old crank to dabble a little in pictures and decora
tive art. Their first venture was a popular
chromo of old Osawatomie. To this was added a
stirring picture of General Grant erecting a log-
cabin. Then followed a framed certificate of life
membership in the Bible society; and then, in
quick succession, a series of religious scenes and
devotional allegories : John Wesley s Death-bed, the
three Christian Graces, and Faith clinging to the
cross. And one day the good wife brought home
"Fruits and Flowers," which she had acquired at
20 The Old Crank.
an auction, and the gallery was pronounced com
plete. But in her deft feminine way she went
methodically about further to beautify the home ;
and when the old crank sent out the parlor furni
ture, tastefully upholstered with horse hair, she
worked tidies crocheted in wondrous tints of yel
low and green ; and one merry Christmas morn
the old crank rolled out of bed to stare at " God
Bless Our Home 1 delicately wrought in crewel.
Beautiful wax flowers carefully covered with a
glass globe rested on a marble- top table, and a
dish of luscious wax fruits looked down from the
To those who gained the full confidence of the
old crank he showed his secret treasures, his pre
cious relics of old John. There was the deadly pike
with which John Brown went forth to battle for
the Lord, and there was the scarf or tippet which
he had dropped in a sudden flight. And there
were twenty other mementoes, each with its appro
priate story. But last, and most precious of all,
was a hideous human skull, taken from the loath
some remains of a Plattc County Democrat, whom
old John had cut off in the flower of his iniquity.
And the old crank would roll that skull about in
his great horny hands and cry : " His enemies shall
lick the dust ; his name shall endure forever !"
The old crank was a Granger. It came right
along in line with his principles. And very con-
The Old CranL 21
sistont he was, and little found its way into the
premises that did not come straight from the
Grange store. And he knew a thing about labor-
saving machinery, and experimented with wind
mills and rakes and harrows and pumps and clothes-
wringers, and devices for setting hens, and ingen
ious contrivances for destroying potato-bugs, while
little by little they accumulated until they occu
pied a separate shed. And when the grasshoppers
came and made a clean sweep of vegetation, the
old crank went out to gaze at the ruin, and he
turned and looked at the shed, and said, ruefully :
"Marthy, we ve got them darned things yet.
Even the "hoppers wouldn t touch em."
The Greenback wave swept over the land, and
the old crank was the first to send in his allegiance.
Mighty were the speeches he made at the local
political gatherings, and powerful and irrefutable
were his arguments, in the opinion of his admir
ing neighbors. And in the councils of the Grand
Army of the Republic he was the acknowledged
chief, and no camp-fire blazed without his presence,
and not a pot of beans was cooked that did not feel
his practiced touch.
But if there was one subject to which the old
crank s soul went unrestrainedly out, it was pen
sions. He believed in pensions, for he enjoyed one
himself. He had proved beyond cavil that he had
lost two-seventeenths of one eye. They gave him
22 The Old drank.
8 a month. Then he found that he \vas minus
three-eighths of the lobe of a lung. They made it
$12. Then he discovered that he was subject to
four-elevenths of dysentery. They raised it to $20.
Then he stumbled across rheumatism ; then his
hearing became impaired, the result of the burst
ing of a shell at Corinth,, and at the time of his
death he was engaged in proving that he was
the victim of chronic catarrh contracted in the
Throughout the State of Kansas there was no
more ardent Prohibitionist (in theory) than the
old crank. He believed in prohibition because it-
was "suthin new and progressive/ and because
the Democrats didn t believe in it. The old crank
hated a Democrat with all the fervor of his strong
nature. He hated Missouri because it was gov
erned by the Democratic party. "When he went
"back east," as he occasionally did, he pulled down
the shutters of his window in the car at Kansas
City, and neither stirred out nor looked out until
the Illinois line was reached. And once, when the
train was delayed twelve hours by a wreck, he
refused to leave the car to procure refreshment,
for, as he subsequently explained to his constit
uents, he "didn t believe in encouragin rebel
Capital punishment was another phase of human
industry in which the old crank did not believe.
The Old Crank. 23
That is, he did not believe in official executions.
But when a couple of frisky fellows made too free
with the horses of his immediate neighborhood,
the old crank turned out with the boys and hanged
them to a cottonwood, explaining that he had
every reason to believe "they re Democrats, any
how." And female suffrage was another of his
hobbies. He registered every woman on the place,
and on the morning of election he gathered them
together and said : " To register and vote is the
sacred duty of every man and woman in Kansas,
free, glorious Kansas. So we ll now go up and
vote for old Bill for mayor." And they did. The
old crank saw that they did.
In a national election the old crank s fidelity to
the Republican party never waned. Crank though
he was, there was no mugwumpishness mixed with
his politics. He was red-hot for the nominee every
time. When Blaine was nominated the old crank
went stark, staring mad. He organized a Blaine
club. He went to all the rallies. He made war
speeches. He paraded with the boys and spilled
coal oil down his back with nightly regularity.
In short, he went in to save the country. But
when the news came that Blaine was defeated it
nearly broke the old crank s heart. "Marthy,"
he said, " I ve seen the hoppers come an nigh eat
us out o house an home. I ve fought the drought
an potato-bugs. I ve been down with the malarv,
^4 The Old Crank.
an felt hard times press on us, an I ve uercr com
plained. But now I cry out with Job: The earth
is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth
the faces of the judges thereof. Oh, that I had
given up the ghost and no eye had seen me. "
And on the day of Cleveland s inauguration the
old crank dressed up in his blue uniform, and took
down his army musket, and went into the parlor,
and sat under the picture of old John, and told
Martha to call him " when the boys march by on
their way to the front." And the good wife
hustled the children off to school, and told the
neighbors not to mind him, for the old man was
getting sort of childish.
Not many weeks thereafter the summons came.
The old crank was taken down with bronchitis
true to his principles he called it brown-chitis
serious complications followed, and it was evident
that the end was near. It was a glorious June day
in Kansas, and a June day in Kansas is one of
the glories of this fleeting life. The old crank
lay on the bed where he had rested for twenty
years. His faithful wife sat by and held his hand,
and the pious Methodist parson whispered words
of encouragement. A light sparkled in the old
crank s eye. Did he catch that glimpse of the
celestial beauties which is said to be granted to the
departing faithful ?
The Old Crank. 25
"Is everything bright aiul beautiful, James ?"
said the good wife.
"Tollable," replied the dying Christian, with a
faint suggestion of disappointment in his tone,
"not as bright as sunny Kansas, but tollable."
Then the old crank sat up in bed. " I see him,
Marthy," he cried, "I see him. I d know him
among a million. It s old John, just as we ve
seen him in the pictur in the Historical Society
rooms at Topeky, with a halo of glory around his
head an a lot o little nigger children implorin his
blessin . He s standin at the pearly gates, an
seems to be giviir gen ral directions, sort o passin
on the papers of candidates. An I see lots o Kan-
sans climbin up the golden stairs, an imps o
darkness dartin out to worry an molest em. I
know em. They re Democrats."
"Ad astra per aspera," said the minister,
"Amen," replied the weeping wife.
"And I think old John knows me," cried the old
crank, exultingly, "for he has said somethin to
the sentry, an now he smiles an stretches out his
arms, an the Democrats have fled away. Sing me
one o the old war songs, Marthy, Tramp, tramp,
The good wife, her voice broken by her tears,
hummed the familiar refrain, and the old crank
fell back upon the bed.
26 The Old Crank.
"Tell the boys," he whispered, "that I ve seen
him. I ve seen old John. His body lies a-
mould rin in the grave, but his soul goes marchin
The old crank s lamp went out.
WHAT BROKE UP THE LITERARY.
No doubt existed in the minds of the community
that Pikeville had a good deal to be proud of. For
was it not recognized as one of the oldest and most
eminently respectable town^ in the fine old com
monwealth of Missouri, enjoying," as the mayor
said in his welcoming address to a visiting delega
tion of Boston capitalists, "all the culture and
refinement of a long-established Southern aristoc
racy, quickened and vitalized by Eastern immigra
tion "? Pikeville "pointed with pride " to those
splendid old families, the Camdens, the Crawfords,
the Dallases, the Lawrences and the Mercers, who,
in turn, " viewed with alarm " the inroads of a
vulgar "boom," which, however, had left Pikeville
the center of a prosperous railway system and with
the advantages and improvements of a modern
Yet if the question had been put point blank to
Pikeville : " On what do you base your hope of
greatest renown and well-being ?" Pikeville would
have risen as one man and replied : " Our Lit
Now, this "literary" was not a plant of rapid
30 \\liat Broke Up the Literary.
and immature growth. It was rather the result of
a slowly-developed and well-matured decision. It
came along partly as the sequence of the boom and
the stirring influence of Eastern immigration, and
partly through reason of the increased feminine
literary activity that was epidemic in the country
at large. The immediate cause was the arrival of
Miss Sophronia Merrick, of Massachusetts, who
had come to Missouri for scholastic missionary
work, and had been induced to establish a school
in Pikeville, thereunto moved by the charm of the
town, the excellence of the water and the courtly
hospitality of the people. Miss Merrick was
abundantly qualified to lead in literary endeavor,
as she had taken a thorough collegiate and post
graduate course ; had been an active member of the
learned Browning, Goethe, Dante and Ibsen socie
ties of Boston, and could show papers of honorary
membership in many of the best organizations for
the promotion of human thought. While not a
particularly engaging person from a cursory mas
culine point of view, Miss Sophronia was much
esteemed for her mental qualifications, and as she
minded her own business, and minded it very well,
the generous old families of Pikeville soon came to
overlook her unhappy accident of birth in Massa
Miss Sophronia s intimate friend was Miss Alinira
Putney, formerly of Vermont. Ezra Putney had
What Broke Up the Literary. 31
moved to Missouri a few years before to go into
the fancy stock business, and to exchange a bron
chial affection for regular and well-defined touches
of malaria. Miss Almira did not possess in the
full degree the ripened intellectual charms of Miss
Sophronia, but her atmosphere had always been
good, and in sundry contributions to the local
paper she had manifested an agreeable acquaint
ance with much that is praiseworthy in literature.
Miss Almira had, moreover, not a little of the
sturdy independence of the old stock, and in her
pursuit of knowledge had imbibed much of the
classic and modern thought, which, however con
formable to the requirements of a person of
wide reading, is not recognized and approved by
the Methodist Episcopal Church, to which the
greater part of Pikeville owed its allegiance.
The association, then, of two such spirits as Miss
Sophronia and Miss Almira could not fail to bring
about results most felicitous to the general wel
fare. Miss Sophronia had looked over the literary
condition of the town and had pronounced the
trend favorable. She had even delivered a lecture
to the ladies on the life, character, writings and
influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, prepar
atory to the formation of a Goethe club ; but Miss
Sophronia s enthusiasm for the cwig weiUiclic and
for ponderous and complex Teutonic philosophy
Jed her into such deep channels that the ladies
32 WJttff /Jrukr ( /> I lie Literary.
were soon over their heads. Moreover, Mrs. Dallas
confided to the younger ladies that Goethe was a
u nasty man," and this idea soon prevailed to the
verge of a panic. But the lecture was not alto
gether a failure, for it stimulated the ladies to the
point of doing something. Several meetings were
held, and numerous plans discussed. An organi
zation was speedily effected, officers were elected,
and a constitution and by-laws adopted. Light
refreshments were voted, and, all the preliminaries
having been settled, the club took up the ques
tion of work.
In view of the inroads made upon previous femi
nine literary progress in Pikeville by the seduction
of progressive euchre, dancing, parties and picnics,
to say nothing of the sterner and oft-recurring
duties of revivals and protracted meetings, Miss
Sophronia and Almira suggested the study of
American literature. Posie Mercer, who had just
returned from the East, where she had pursued
special courses of psychology and china painting,
was anxious to take up Tolstoi. Virgie Cooper
declared a preference for Ibsen, if he could be
obtained in an expurgated and fumigated edition.
Sadie Boone, who was thought to be engaged to a
young man who traveled for a St. Louis hat house,
believed she could give her days and nights to the
study of Emerson alone. Winnie Schuyler, fresh
from a iinisliiiia: school, where thev called for butter
What Broke Up the Literary. 33
in three languages, spoke for the literature of
France; and Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Dallas, who
were sisters, and whose maternal grandfather had
lived in Yorkshire, were equally clamorous for an
English course, not to ante-date Chaucer, whose
spelling and grammar were notoriously poor.
The dispute was settled by a very interesting
occurrence. Joanna Brown, whose family had re
cently come to Pikcville from Kansas, was convers
ing with Sadie Booue and Daisy Camden when the
subject of the Declaration of Independence came
up. Miss Daisy chanced to remark casually that
the Declaration was promulgated at Guttenberg.
Miss Sadie thought Miss Daisy must be mistaken.
Miss Daisy was sure she was not mistaken, for she
had heard her brother talking about Guttenberg
the night before. Miss Sadie was willing to admit
that it was something that sounded like Guttenberg,
but she thought it was Gettysburg. Miss Joanna
was quite positive it was not Gettysburg, as her
father had talked about Gettysburg for the past
twenty years, and had never mentioned the Decla
ration of Independence. Just at this point Miss
Sophronia, approaching, was horrified. " If this is
the extent of your knowledge of your country,"
she said, severely, "I think we may as well drop
all other subjects and take up American history."
The girls were too abashed to remonstrate, and
34 WJntt Broke Up the Literary.
the motion was put and carried without an objecting
The decision of the class was most cordially
indorsed by the best thought of the community.
The editor of the Pikevillo Guard complimented
the ladies in an editorial of unusual felicity of
expression, and called them the daughters of Clio,
incidentally remarking that no other town in
Missouri could present such an aggregation of cult
ure, beauty and true womanliness. To this the
Midland Banner retorted with cutting sarcasm,
which involved both newspapers in a long and
acrimonious discussion, from which Pikcvillc and
the Guard emerged with added distinction and
In the meantime the class was progressing fa
mously, and so skillful was the leadership of Miss
Sophronia, and so helpful the suggestions of her
experience, that tho young men of the town were
in a constant condition of mental depression and
becoming sense of inferiority. The essays were
not infrequently published in the Guard, and
although the Banner, by the sneaking and repre
hensible employment of parallel columns, sought
to prove that they wore copied literally from ency
clopaedias and histories, the Guard repelled the
accusation with such denunciatory vehemence that
the society voted the editor thereof a special reso
lution of thanks, and in turn was honored by the
What Broke Up tlic Literary. 35
publication of an original complimentary poem,
containing many flowers of rhetoric and pearls of
And so matters ran along smoothly. The
attendance was large, the ladies were enthusiastic,
the tea was delicious, and the beaten biscuits and
the macaroons transcended criticism. One day
Miss Almira Putney rose to read an essay on the
Pilgrim Fathers. As was perfectly natural and
commendable, Miss Almira eulogized these gentle
men, long deceased, spoke of their troubles and
persecutions, of their strike for freedom of religious
conviction, of their heroism, their steadfastness of
religious integrity, and of the great impress they
left upon the country. When Miss Almira had
finished and the matter was before the society for
discussion,, Miss Daisy Camden observed that
while, of course, she could not speak from actual
knowledge, she had always understood that the
Pilgrims were a common job-lot sort of people.
Miss Almira, with rising color, desired to know
where she had procured such valuable information.
Miss Daisy promptly replied that she had been so
informed by her father, Judge Camden ; where
upon Miss Almira said " Oh ! " with a peculiar and
significant intonation. Miss Daisy requested the
privilege of informing Almira Putney that her
father belonged to the F. F. V. s, the first fam
ilies of Virginia. Miss Putney blandly asked per-
36 \Yha1 ttrokc Up the Li/cntry.
mission to enlighten Daisy Camdcn ; that she also
belonged to the F. F. V. s, the iirst families of
Vermont. Miss Daisy laughed a very unnatural
and unpleasant laugh, and her dearest friend, Miss
Virgie Cooper, tittered. At this point Miss
Sophronia interfered, and warned the young ladies
that personalities would not be permitted. Miss
Daisy explained that personally she had the warm
est regard for Almira, and Miss Almira admitted
that she was devoted to Daisy. The matter then
At the next meeting of the society Miss Evie
Dallas read a thoughtful essay on the depressing
influence of Salem witchcraft. Miss Dallas s
parents, as South Carolinians, had transmitted
to Miss Evie in natural inheritance a somewhat
one-sided view of Puritan character, and the
young lady, in the course of literary preparation,
interpolated many spicy personal opinions touch
ing the ignorant superstition of the Puritans,
particularly exemplified by Cotton Mather.
Miss Tosie Adair was astonished. She could
not conceive how anybody could have obtained such
opinions of Doctor Mather.
Miss Evie replied that she had consulted her
father, the junior member of the firm of Camden
& Dallas, and he had told her that Cotton
Mather was a crack-brained old fanatic, but that
What Broke Up the Literary. 37
she had decided to mitigate this opinion as unlady
Miss Tosie, with blazing eyes, presumed that
Miss Evie did not know that she was descended
from Doctor Mather through her mother,, whose
maternal grandmother belonged to the Mathers of
Miss Evie reddened, and said that unfortunately
she did not, but since the matter had been brought
up she felt compelled to stand by the truths of
To this Miss Tosie replied, with a sneer, that
since " history " was invoked she would admit that
the good people of Salem had been a little hasty ;
but at least they had acted conscientiously, think
ing they were pleasing God, and not from malig-
nance, which had led certain people in other parts
of the country to torture and kill poor, unoffend
ing black men.
At this there was a great sensation, and several
of the ladies said, " Oh I Oh ! " Miss Sophronia
called Miss Tosie to order and gently rebuked her.
Miss Tosie apologized to the ladies of the class
for anything that might appear unparliamentary,
but, as for herself and her family, they did not
wish association with anybody who maligned their
ancestors. The emphasis on "family" made Miss
Evie redden more deeply, and caused the ladies to
turn awav their heads and smile, for the preference
38 What Broke Up the Literary.
for Miss Tosie s brother exhibited bv Miss Evie
had been town gossip for mouths.
When the perplexing and demoralizing sub
ject of the Puritans had been overcome by the
happy arrival of the eighteenth century, amicable
relations were completely restored. Miss Daisy
staid all night with Miss Almira, and Miss Evie, in
that deft, winning, woman s way, smoothed things
over with Miss Tosie s brother, and declared that
a visit to Connecticut was the dream of her lii e.
And so the even current ran along through the
French and Indian war, on and past the stirring-
scenes of the Ee volution and the troublous times
of 1812. It might be supposed that the various
political distinctions of the United States govern
ment would have troubled the ladies. Kot a bit
of it. Each member of the class had her particu
lar essay, and, recognizing the former disasters, the
audience always preserved a respectful demeanor,
and asked no questions. It was feared that Miss
Virgie Cooper s position on the Missouri Compro
mise might excite a little hostility, but as she
refrained from all personal opinions and adhered
closely to the text of the authorities, the danger
In fact the ladies were felicitating themselves
that they had now progressed beyond all possible
collisions and outbreaks, and were sure of their
tempers and good humor. Moreover, such was
What Broke Up flic Literary. 39
Miss Sophronia s tact, and so firm and adroit was
her administration, that every tendency toward
personalities was quickly repressed. But it chanced
that Miss Sophronia was invited to go to Midland
to address the young ladies of the Methodist
college on the centripetal quality of the Ego, and
in her absence the duties of the chair devolved
upon the vice-president, Miss Sadie Boone. Miss
Sadie entered upon the task with no little trepida
tion, for, while she was very pretty and popular
withal, she knew as little of parliamentary usage
as the sacred cow knows about the music of the
Unluckily, that day Miss Winnie Schuyler had
prepared an essay on the missionary work of John
Brown in Kansas. Miss Winnie warmed to her
subject, and described the fearful odds against
which this heroic man contended in his glorious
struggle for freedom. She followed him to Vir
ginia, to Harper s Ferry, and, after he had been
executed with due solemnity, she invested him
with a martyr s crown and a halo of surpassing
In the discussion that followed Mrs. Crawford
remarked that she supposed that everybody nowa
days knew that John Brown was a law-breaker and
a thief, and properly suffered a felon s death.
Miss Winnie replied that under the terms of the
40 What Broke Up the Literary.
Missouri Compromise the extension of slavery had
been strictly prohibited.
Miss Daisy Camden thought that the extension
of slaver.y had nothing to do with the case ; that
John Brown was an old freebooter who pillaged
and murdered just for the love of excitement.
Miss Tosie Adair believed that Miss Daisy was
unduly influenced by the thought that she must
stick up for Virginia.
Miss Daisy emphatically responded that she was
not moved by any such consideration ; that she
merely repeated an opinion which she had heard
her father give. And she presumed that the ladies
would admit that her father was perfectly compe
tent to give an opinion worth respecting.
Miss Joanna Brown spoke with great agitation
and ill-concealed wrath. She gave the ladies to
understand that her father had known and fought
under Captain Brown in Kansas, and that she had
been named in honor of that good man. As a
babe she had been held in his arms, and she would
allow nobody to asperse his memory while she had
a tongue to defend him.
Miss Virgie Cooper jocularly answered that
nobody ever doubted that Joanna had a tongue,
and Miss Evie Dallas slyly remarked that as John
Brown had departed this life thirty years ago,
Joanna s remembrance could not be disputed by
What Broke Up the Literary. 41
the ladies present. This keen feminine thrust
caused Miss Joanna to wince with pain.
Miss Almira Putney took the* floor. She
said that in the absence of Miss Sophronia
she had endeavored to keep quiet, but that
the outcropping of old rebel sentiment was be
coming offensive to an unbearable degree. In
view of the heated condition of the ladies, she
would move an adjournment, but she gave no
tice that at the next meeting she would throw
aside all reserve and produce authorities to place
the onus of the civil war on the rebels, where it
In seconding the motion to adjourn, Mrs. Craw
ford protested against the use of the word
"rebels," and promised, on her side, to be present
with a counterblast of authorities. And so Miss
Sadie Boone, being on the verge of insanity, or
at least of tears, declared the meeting adjourned.
When the news of the rupture in the " literary "
spread about town, as it quickly did, all Pikeville
was in a nutter. Ten years before it would have
been impossible to start a discussion of this nature,
but immigration had wrought many changes, and
Pikeville had even enjoyed the novelty of a Repub
lican mayor. Still the old Southern element
strongly prevailed, and in this circle Miss So-
phronia was heartily condemned. " Of co se," said
Judge Camden, magnanimously, "the repo ts that
42 What liruke Vp tJic Literar//.
my daughter brings me may be exaggerated, but I
reckon the Yankee school-teacher is a mischief-
maker." This candid declaration from the Judge
was regarded as particularly significant, for his
attentions to Miss Sophronia had been noted by all
the ladies as presaging a change in his domestic
Miss Sophronia was much distressed by the
unfortunate turn of events, and repaired to the
Presbyterian minister for advice. The worthy
man counseled her to address the throne of grace,
but., as she had already done that two or three times
without visible results, she despaired of active
Providential interference. At last she decided to
appeal to the ladies in open session, and trust to
their good nature and good sense. In the mean
time the most awful condition of affairs prevailed.
Miss Tosie Adair had so ingeniously poisoned the
mind of her brother that he had broken an engage
ment to take Miss Evie Dallas to the mite sociable,
whereat Miss Evie had spent the nig-ht in tears.
Miss Daisy Camden cut Miss Almira Putney dead
on the street, and Miss Almira, in return, told
Miss Daisy s best young man that she now believed
that Daisy was descended from Poeahontas because
she looked it. Miss Posie Mercer was found to be
authority for the story that Miss Winnie Schuyler s
grandfather was a common shoemaker in New
Hampshire, and Miss Winnie gave it out that a
What Broke Vp the Literary. 43
young man from Boston, who had summered in
Pikeville, had mittened Miss Posie and gone home
in disgust because she spelled " "buggy " with one g.
To add to the general perturbation the Midland
Banner came into possession of .the facts, and
printed the most atrocious doggerel, satirizing the
ladies, and vulgarly calling upon the young men to
resort to arms, a specimen of low wit which the
editor of the Guard promptly and crushingly
When Tuesday afternoon came around, and the
society met at the residence of Mrs. Crawford, the
ladies appeared, their arms loaded with books.
Miss Sophronia saw with uneasiness that the Con
federates were ranged on one side of the room, and
the Union cohorts on the other. She also noticed
a number of little brothers on the sidewalk, and
gathered from their high juvenile voices and
occasional cries of "Eats "and "Come off," that
preliminary skirmishing had begun. The authori
ties were piled on the table and sofa. Here was
Kedpath s Life of John Brown, and here Sheahan s
Life of Douglas. Here Horace Greeley s Con
federate States, and Alex. Stephens^ War Be
tween the Slates, and Jeff Davis s Rise and Fall
of the Southern Confederacy, and Pollard s Lost
Cause, and Hill s War on the Border, and Sneed s
Fight for Missouri, and Johnston s Narrative of
Military Operations, and liord s War Memories,
44 }\ haf Broke Vp the Literary.
and a dozen other volumes of less note. And last
of all came Miss Almira Putney, panting and
blowing, and bearing huge books of the Records
of the Rebellion, looking very wicked and very
Miss Sophronia sighed, and the look of trouble
deepened on her countenance. She gave an
appealing glance to Miss Almira, who had dropped
the Records on the carpet with a defiant bang, and
cleared her voice and said :
" Ladies, it has been assigned to me to prepare an
essay on the causes leading up to the attack on
Fort Sumter in our late deplorable civil war. 1
have not done so, for reasons that will appeal 1 per
fectly proper to you. The war, ladies, closed
twenty-five years ago. I think I may say, without
giving offense, that Miss Brown and myself are the
only ones present who can recall the slightest
phase of that terrible conflict. You, my dear
Daisy, were not born, nor you, Virgie, nor you,
Sadie, nor you, Winnie, Tosie and Almira, How
absurd, then, is it that now in this reunited
country AVC should be governed by the simulation
of passions that we have never felt, to the disrup
tion of our pleasant intercourse and the disband-
ment of our society."
"Almira Putney had no right to call us rebels,"
said Miss Posie Mercer.
"Excuse me, but I had the right; and here"
What Broke Up ilic Literary. 45
(tapping the Records significantly) "it is," replied
"And here," broke in Miss Yirgie Cooper, "is
Mr. Davis s testimony that you are all wrong."
" Bah ! " cried Miss Winnie Schuylcr ; " how
absurd to take the biggest traitor in the pack as an
authority on loyalty."
"Winnie Schuyler," said Miss Daisy Camden,
passionately, "how dare you call Mr. Davis a
traitor ? Did you ever see Mr. Davis ? "
"No, and I never wanted to."
"Well, I have, and he s no traitor, but a real
nice, polite old gentleman. I ve got his picture,
and his autograph, too. "
" Well, you can keep them. "
" Thank you, I mean to, and pretty well hidden
when there is anybody from Connecticut in the
" If the ladies will remember that they are ladies,
and not lose their tempers," said MissEvie Dallas,
with emphasis, "I should like to read a chapter
from Pollard s Lost Cause."
" Let s see ; Pollard was another rebel, wasn t
he ?" queried Miss Brown.
"No, he wasn t a rebel," retorted Miss Evie,
angrily; "he sympathized with the Confederate
" With the what kind of government ? " asked
Miss Brown, tauntingly. " With the Confederate
1f; \\lml llrnkc I p the Literary.
government ? Wasn t that the government that
supported Quantrell and Anderson ?"
"At Jill events/ replied MissEvie, with tears in
her eyes, "it didn t support Red Legs, who came
over from Kansas and murdered my uncle John,
whom I never saw. -
" Well, if you never saw him, what are you crying
for ? " put in Miss Almira. " I don t believe he ever
wasted a thought on his posthumous relations."
" Ladies, ladies ! " said Miss Sophronia,
Miss Yirgie Cooper rose with great and impress
ive dignity. "I am not ashamed to say that I am
descended from rebels, or whatever you choose to
call them, Almira Putney. My grandmother
hung a Confederate flag out of her window in the
full sight of the Yankee troops, and my father
chased a Yankee ten miles into the next county.
I am not chasing Yankees myself, but I am not
bound to associate with them. Come, Daisy."
Miss Tosie Ad air took the iloor. " I am going
myself," she said, "and Winnie is going with me.
I have often heard about plantation manners, and
have been anxious for an exhibition. My curiosity
"In handing in my resignation," spoke up Miss
Evie Dallas, "I wish to say that I am perfectly
shocked by the display of brutality on the part of
Northern women. I am glad that my experience
begins and ends here."
What Broke Up flic Literary. 47
"So am I," snapped Miss Almira Putney. Miss
Almiru had a peppery tongue.
One by one the ladies picked up their books,
put on their gloves, bowed stiffly to the president
and the hostess, and left the room. And then
Miss Sophronia, the erudite, the profound, the
honorary member of the great Browning, Goethe,
Dante and Ibsen societies of the country, the cor
responding secretary of the Emersonian Daughters
of the Southwest, the founder of the Missouri
branch of the Society for the Centripetency of the
Ego, walked over to Mrs. Crawford, put her head
on her shoulder, and wept.
The most disastrous results followed the dis-
bandment of the society. Although the Guard,
ever alert to the interests of Pikeville, carefully
excluded all reports of the calamity from its
columns, the local feeling, was intense, and showed
itself in the high social circles. The young man
who traveled for a St. Louis hat house was invited
by Miss Sadie Boone to thrash Miss Joanna
Brown s brother. Having performed this valorous
feat, he boasted of it in a billiard room, and was in
turn soundly trounced by young Mr. Adair.
Hearing of the disgraceful proceeding, Deacon
Dallas sent word to young Mr. Adair that as he
frequented billiard halls he should come to his
house "no moV This sentence of proscription
sent Miss Evie to her bed for three days. Judge
48 What Broke Up the Literary.
Camclen and ex-Mayor Schuyler came to blows in
front of the Methodist church, and the Coopers
and the Putiicys, who had occupied adjoining
pews for five years, declined to mingle as of yore in
the consolations of religion.
So things ran on from bad to worse for three
months. One evening Judge Oamden, whose fifty
years sat lightly on him, and who was esteemed
the likeliest widower in the country round about,
was walking jauntily to the post-office when he
encountered Miss Sophronia.
"Good evening, Miss Sophronya," said the
Judge, gallantly ; "a charming evening."
Miss Sophronia blushed a little, as an elderly
maiden should, and admitted that the evening was
"Miss Sophronya," went on the jurist, "doyo
know, madam, that I feel that in some way yo and
I are responsible for the present strained relations
in this community ?"
The lady was more agitated than ever. The
Judge was a personable gentleman, and in every
way qualified to impress a maidenly heart not too
young. Moreover, she had been warned to look
out for the Judge.
" Feeling, as I said befo , that we are responsible
for this state of affairs, what do yo ? say, madam,
to a sacrifice on yo part to reconcile the North and
the South ? Will yo accept me, madam, as a
What Broke Up the Literary. 49
hostage ? Shall it be Virginia and Massachusetts,
now and forever, one and inseparable ? "
Miss Sophronia was overcome. She did the
best thing possible under the circumstances, sat
down on a convenient gate step and gasped out:
" Why, Judge ! "
When it became known that Judge Camden and
Miss Sophronia were engaged, all Pikeville weaved
and tottered. Miss Daisy flew out to the Putneys,
fell on Miss Almira s neck and wept tears of sor
row and joy, and forgiveness, and remorse. Dea
con Dallas cordially invited young Mr. Adair to
supper, and Miss Evie was at her best. The Put
neys and the Coopers occupied the same pew at
prayer-meeting, and the representative of the hat
firm presented to Mr. Brown one of his very best
samples as a token of perfect reconciliation.
"This country," said the Judge, "is all right.
What it needs is one or two statesmen to keep
things smooth and level, and by mutual conces
sions to hold the ship of state to its co se."
But when the Judge stood up in the crowded
church, and saw the smiling faces of his old rebel
and Yankee friends, and heard the parson s solemn
question : "Do you take this woman to be your
wedded wife ? " he answered :
" I do," - and with a droll emphasis that set the
^congregation tittering, "but no mo literaries,"
Placed with Thomas.
HE PLAYED WITH THOMAS.
THE boys had gathered in John Kingman s
grocery. It wasn t much of a grocery, but, for
that matter, Elk Grove wasn t much of a town ; so
accounts balanced. Why Elk Grove was called
Elk Grove is a question as hard to answer as the
fair Juliet s impatient query, "Wherefore art thou
Romeo ?" Some people ask foolish questions with
no expectation of a satisfactory answer. The few
houses that composed the town were dumped out
on a wide and cheerless prairie in Western Kansas,
and, while it is possible that in bygone ages an
elk may have passed along on his way to a more
congenial stamping-ground, there never was any
scientific reason for supposing that a grove could
by any chance have been a feature of the place.
One argument was that the town originally was
Elk Grave, so called from the discovery of bones
supposed to belong to the cervine family, and that
when the Santa Ee road put up a little station and
made out a new time-table a typographical error
changed the Grave to Grove, an indignity which
the haughty and autocratic magnates refused to
rectify. This explanation may be taken for what
54 He Played with Thomas.
it is worth,, but it is cited merely to show how the
railroad power in Kansas has ridden arbitrarily
over the intentions and desires of the people.
Evidently the road favored not only offering a
slight, but rubbing it in as well, for it persisted
in treating Elk Grove as a whistling-station, and
trains seldom stopped save to put off a tramp or
repair the engine. Indeed, it began to be whispered
about that the conductors saved up their tramps
for Elk Grove, and it was noticed that when the
engineer pulled out he wore a grin hideous in its
malignant cunning. Several indignation meet
ings were called, and it was resolved to carry the
matter to Topeka, but the subsequent reflection
that the railroad owned the legislature and the
entire machinery from Governor down to janitor
put an end to that scheme. So the boys soothed
their feelings by rallying at John Kingman s gro
cery and drinking success to prohibition and con
fusion to tramps and railroad conductors.
On the night sacred to the incidents of this tale
the rally was a little larger than usual. The
Hanks boys were there, and the Blilers ; Bill
Cook and his cousin Tom ; Sam Chesney, the
toughest man in the district; Joe Ardway, with
a record of three men ; Captain Matthews, the
marshal, and two cowboys, visiting the town and
always agreeable to anything that promised exer
cise and relaxation. John Kingman was in good
He Played with Thomas. 55
spirits, and as he shoved the dried apples behind
the counter and put a few more boards on the
cracker boxes, lie intimated that the liquor was
As might have been expected from so sprightly
and jovial an assemblage, the conversation turned
humorously on the attitude of the railroad toward
Elk Grove^ and the still more perplexing attitude
of the town toward tramps. Joe Ardway contended
that Captain Matthews, as town marshal, was
derelict in his duty in failing to take extreme
measures against the output of through travel.
The marshal replied that his duties were circum
scribed; that he regretted to say that tramps as a
rule had been perfectly peaceable, and that he
would not be justified under the statutes and his
oath of office in shooting a man whose only offense
To this position one of the visiting cow gentle
men, in a perfectly calm and dignified tone, took
exception. He pointed out that a tramp without
home and money was necessarily a wretched being,
whom it would be a kindness to put out of his
misery. He believed it was the duty of mankind
to alleviate pain and suffering, and he knew of no
medicine so quick and sure -in action as a bullet
administered with a steady hand and an unerring
This opinion excited a general discussion. It
56 lie Played with Thomas.
was cordially indorsed by Sam Chesney and the
Blilers, and gently criticised by Bill Cook. Mr.
Cook believed that it was the sense of the com
munity to breathe a spirit of toleration, lie
admitted that tramps were no good, and deserved a
little touching up, but he couldn t countenance
anything worse for a first offense than hanging
not hanging to death, of course, but just long
enough to give a good choking and a scare. And
he quoted from the beatitudes: "Blessed are the
merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." For Mr.
Cook was quite a scholar, in his way, and, rumor
said, had taught in Sunday-school back east.
The calm judicial manner and scriptural quota
tion were not without a quieting effect on the
audience, already slightly inflamed by the potency
of Mr. Kingman s hospitality, and the convention
had settled down to the discussion of the minor
penalties of mob law, when three sharp whistles
signaled the approach of the night express from
the west. Bill Cook shrugged his shoulders, the
Bliler boys laughed, and Joe Ardway looked signifi
cantly at Captain Matthews and grunted :
" Tramps ! "
Mr. Kingman was equal to the emergency. He
lighted the lantern and passed it to the marshal,
who took it and walked out without a word, the
boys falling in in single file. AVhen fifty yards
from the station, they saw the conductor on the
Ho Played with Thomas. 57
platform raise his foot, give it a careless, easy
swing, and a dark object shot from the train and
rolled over into the ditch. Somebody called out,
" Go ahead ; " a sardonic laugh floated back from
the cab ; the bell rang, and the express puffed off to
The night was dark, and the marshal flashed his
lantern vigorously before the dark object was seen
wiggling up the sides of the ditch like a copper
head in a cactus. " I ve got him," said Sam Ches-
ney. " Come up to the hotel, young feller, and
join in the festivities you ve interrupted."
So back to the grocery the party went, the
shivering tramp surrounded by his captors, who
regaled him with fragmentary discourse touching
the last public execution in Elk Grove. And
when Kingman had lighted another lamp in honor
of the occasion, they shoved him into the middle
of the room for general examination.
He was not a young fellow after all, but a middle-
aged man, the picture of woe and degradation.
lie was emaciated, ragged and dirty beyond the
usual limitations of the tramp. His clothes were
marvelous in their infinite variety. Hunger and
disease showed in his sunken eyes and cheeks, and
he tenderly passed a trembling hand over the con
tusions produced by his fall and the conductor s
" Well," said Joe Ardway, " what do you want ? "
58 Ho Played with Thomas.
" It occurs to me, gentlemen," replied the tramp,
"that it is not what I want, but what you want.
However, since you are so kind as to put it that
way, I will say, without delay, that I would like a
The boys were immediately impressed with the
reasonableness and good sense of this request, and
Kingman poured out a grown man s supply, which
the tramp seized eagerly and gulped down to the
"Now," said Mr. Ardway, winking at the boys,
" p Yaps you don t know that there is a law ag in
tramps in this town ? "
The tramp smiled in a sickly manner that might
have been a confession either of ignorance or
"Well, there is, a very good and just law. It
passed this house ten minutes before your train
got in, and it means death."
Still the tramp sat silent and unmoved. After
a moment he spoke, with a sort of weary despond
ency of tone :
" I don t suppose it would make any difference
to me or anybody else how soon death comes to me.
I haven t long to live at the most, and a few days
more or less don t matter."
Mr. Ardway gave the boys another wink. "I m
glad to see you resigned, and we ll make it as easy
for you as we ran. There ain t no particular hurry,
He Played with Thomas. 50
and if there s anythhr you d like to say or do spe
cial before we begin, you can go ahead."
The tramp looked listlessly about him. On the
shelf behind the counter, just over George Biiler s
head, was a violin. It belonged to Kingmairs
oldest boy, who played for his father s customers
whenever they were musically inclined. A flash
of joy came into the tramp s eyes, and he said, in
a tone that was almost tender :
"I see a violin up there. It has been many
months since I have held one in my hands. I
think I should like to play again to-night."
" Oh, come off," said Mr. Chesney ; " this ain t no
" That s all right, Sam," interposed Mr. Ardway ;
" if he wants to give a concert it ain t gentlemanly to
object." Then to the tramp: "We didn t know
when we saw you get tin oft at our humble depot
that you was a concert artist."
"I played the violin for many years," said the
tramp, "when I was with Thomas."
" Oh, see here, what are you givin us ? There
wasn t no violin-playing in the army, and you
don t look as if you d ever had spunk enough to
fight a rabbit."
The boys looked at Tom Hanks approvingly.
Tom had a war record, and knew every division
and brigade commander by name and history.
"I didn t say I ever was in the army," said the
60 He Played with Thomas.
tramp, humbly. "I meant that I played with
Thomas, the orchestra leader, you know."
"Oh, that s different," grunted Mr. Hanks, and
he looked at the boys as if to intimate that he
was on personal terms with the Thomases of all
" I was a happy fellow in those days, gentlemen,"
went 011 the tramp, almost caressing the fiddle that
George handed to him. "It was back in New
York, and I was young and ambitious. Perhaps
you don t care for music. At all events, you ve
probably never played in a great orchestra with
your blood tingling and a crash of harmony all
"I m sorry to say," put in Mr. Ardway, dryly,
"as how most of us gave up our music when we
were young, although we are reckoned right lively
" It was glorious," said the tramp, without seem
ing to notice the apology. " Here stood Thomas,
waving the baton, and here I sat at his left, in the
first row of the violins. Down below me, and
stretching back and to the right and to the left, is
the brilliant audience, with eyes fastened on us,
and not a rustle to disturb the music. We open
with the overture to Rienzi."
The tramp had been tuning the instrument as
lie talked. Then he squared bark and fiddled
Ho Played with Tlwm.as. 61
away with such rapidity and vehemence that the
boys looked on astonished.
"Your tekneek seems to be all right/ said Bill
Cook, who had acquired a musical education at
concerts in Dodge City, " but I ain t much stuck
on that tune."
The criticism appeared to bring the tramp back
to a realization of his position. He laid down the
fiddle and sighed. " I don t know why it is, but
when the fit strikes me I feel like playing a whole
programme. But what s the use ? If you don t
have the brass and the reeds and the great volume
behind you, how can you convey the grand inspira
tion of Wagner ? "
"Sure," said Mr. Cook, who felt that his reputa
tion demanded that he should say something.
"This may be very choice," broke in Mr. Ches-
ney, impatiently, "but if you had such a soft snap
why didn t you freeze to it ? "
"That s just it," bitterly replied the tramp.
" What did it ? Why, whisky, of course. I don t
preach any temperance sermon, but whisky cost
me my place and reputation, set me adrift, brought
me West, subjected me to hunger and cold and
exposure, and brought on the disease that s about
finished me. I was trying to get back home when
the brakeman caught me. It was a chance any
body might take. The longing to go home was
too strong to resist, and I thought if I could reach
62 He Played with Thomas.
Topeka I might find friends to help me. But
perhaps it doesn t make any difference, for I can t
last long, anyway."
If anybody had looked in Mr. Cook s face he
would have seen a sort of twitching around the
corners of Mr. Cook s mouth and a pitying expres
sion in Mr. Cook s eyes. Mr. Ardway, too, had a
much gentler tone when he said :
"It s the opinion of this meeting that your
tunes are out of date. You ain t up to the times,
and you ain t no credit to Kansas. It wouldn t be
right to send you back without some signs of
progress. Can t you play the Washerwoman s
Dance or a heel and toe, or something with music
in it ? "
The tramp struck up a lively air, and the boys
grinned and kept time with their feet on King-
man s barrels. Then the music came slower and
slower, and the boot accompaniments stopped.
The tramp s eyes were closed,, and his mind had
wandered again. It was a simple melody he
played, but it touched the boys, and no city
audience could have listened with more profound
attention to the orchestra of which the tramp had
been a part. Twice lie played it with increasing
fervor, and then he changed the theme and
played, one after another, the airs that are popular
in all sections of the country, and that, somehow,
are alwavs associated with home and childhood
Ho Played with Thomas. 63
and better days. And old John Kingman listened
in amazement. He could not believe that the
beautiful tones he heard came from his boy s old
fiddle. Still the tramp played on, until Captain
Matthews, who sat near him, swore that he saw
two tears come from his closed eyes and roll down
Sam Chesney drew a long breath. " That s the
sort," said Mr. Chesney. Mr. Ardway held a hur
ried consultation with the Blilers and the Hanks
boys and Bill Cook. Then he said, with great
"Stranger, it s the vote of this meeting that
you ve had a run of uncommon hard luck, and
been imposed on by circumstances. If a man
wants to go home and die/there ain t no kick com
ing to Elk Grove. So we ve decided to make a
pool and buy a ticket to Topeka, and start you off
in style. Kingman s got a store-room back here,
where there ain t nothing portable, and you can
get a shakedown to-night and a square meal in the
morning. You ll be expected to turn up after
breakfast and fiddle us a few of them good old
tunes, and we ll have the ladies down to hear you.
Then we ll fix you out and flag the train and start
If there was any doubt about the tears in the
tramp s eyes when Cap. Matthews watched him,
there was none now. " Believe me, gentlemen,"
04 He Flayed with Thomas.
lie said, " I am not entirely unworthy of your kind-
ness, even if I never repay you. I wasn t always
what I am now, and what I am you can see I shall
not be very long."
Mr. Chesney escorted the tramp to his lodging
in the rear of the grocery, and Mr. Kingman and
Mr. Ardway brought in a quilt and a pile of empty
sacks, with an old army coat for a pillow. After
the others had gone out Mr. Chesney lingered.
"I say, stranger," he said ; "what was that tune
you played just after the jig ? "
The tramp pondered a moment. His face
brightened. "That was the Ave Maria."
" What s the Avvy Mareea ? " asked the puzzled
"The Ave Maria," replied the tramp, "is a
prayer to the Mother. I played it a hundred
times when I was with Thomas."
Mr. Chesney helped old John lock up that
night. Then the two men took the lantern and
went around and looked in at the window. The
tramp was lying on the quilts, and a peaceful look
was on his thin face. Once he stirred and smiled
in his sleep. "He thinks he s playing the Avvy
Mareea," said Mr. Chesney.
And they tiptoed away, lest their presence
might alarm the Mother,
TUBES OF KANSAS.
EVERYBODY knew Tubbs. Along the line of
the Santa Fe, from the old historic city of Law
rence, with its prim Puritan air, and its college
atmosphere, far beyond Dodge City, where the
playful cowboy " rounds up the tenderfoot," and
disturbs the night with the joyous crack of the
revolver, his name was a household word, and his
deeds were a family lesson.
Tubbs was not a founder. He came from a long-
line of distinguished Tubbses, every one of them a
Republican and every one a Methodist, "for which
God in Ilis infinite wisdom and mercy be praised,"
said Tubbs, with great unction.
More than thirty years ago Tubbs went to the
first political convention at Topeka, and never
thereafter missed a rally of the cohorts. " Forty
years a voter, and, thank God, never a vote for a
Democrat," said Tubbs. And a heavenly smile
lighted up his face, and a sweet expression of rest
gave evidence of the tranquil spirit within. The
quality of Tubbs s Republicanism was not strained.
At each succeeding political contest the old man
08 Tubh* of Kansas.
enunciated his principles : " I m for the nominee
an ag in the Democratic party."
" What do you think about tariff reform ? "
anxiously asked a doubting neighbor.
"Is it in the platform ?" queried Tubbs.
" Then I m ag in it. When you ve lived in Kan
sas as long as I have, young man, and voted the
straight Republican ticket as many years, you ll
stand by the platform just as we used to stand by
free soil in the dark days."
AVhereat the party leaders would smile and say :
" Yfis, we can bank on Tubbs. "
Tubbs lived in one of the outlying counties, a
man of property and influence. He raised stock
enough for his own uses, and his vast acres of corn
and wheat smiled in every direction. By way of
innocuous diversion he looked after the spiritual
welfare of his neighbors at the periodic Methodist
awakenings. And he read, as he had read for
years, straight Republican literature, and was not
quite positive in his own mind that the war was
over, and that the rebels had been reduced to a
proper state of subjection.
For social gayeties, in the general sense of the
word, Tubbs cared little or nothing. "Dancing
and such like frivolities," he was wont to say, "are
ag in the perfect letter of the law, and contrary to
the teaching of the spirit." But Tubbs had
Tubb* of Kansas. 60
married a woman who knew a thing or two about
domestic discipline and was not disinclined to
resent too close application of the doctrine of per
fect holiness when it interfered with her worldly
ambitions. For, although the country was new
and society was in its formative stage, she already
had aspirations to be recognized as the society
leader of the county. So, when the new house
was built, and the furniture had come from the
city, she determined to give a ball that should
settle the local leadership then and there. That
ball is still the talk of the country roundabout, for
Mrs. Tubbs, with a keen appreciation of the crisis,
"laid herself out," as the local papers had it, and
"accomplished a triumph worthy the best efforts
of Lucullus." But at nine o clock, as the festivi
ties were beginning to alarm the wondering live
stock, the mysterious absence of Tubbs was noted
and whispered about. Search was instituted, and
lantern parties organized, and the old man w T as at
last discovered in the barn, fast asleep in the hay
mow. For, as he subsequently explained, "a
working man has no business turning night into
day, and cavorting about on pleasure after nine
o clock." This mark of disapproval did in no way
interfere with the pleasure of the merrymakers,
but it vastly increased Tubbs s standing and power
in the councils of the church.
One day the arch-tempter, who had been hang-
70 Tubb* of Kansas.
ing around for years trying to get a good whack at
Tubbs, came to him in the form of a neighbor, a
late arrival, of Mugwumpish tendencies, and a
Baptist, two reasons why Tubbs regarded him with
suspicion and distrust. "You re all off on this
tariff question, Tubbs," said the evil one. Tuhbs
smiled a little haughtily, but with certain Christ
ian toleration, as prescribed by Wesleyan discipline.
" Of course," went on this wily tempter, " I don t
mean to argue the matter with you, because I can t
cope with you in argument, but if you don t mind,
I ll just leave these papers and pamphlets with yon
and let you skin em over for yourself."
"If them are Democratic papers," said Tubbs,
suspiciously, "you can take em along. I ain t
goin to have the folks on this farm pizened by
that kind of truck."
But later in the day Tubbs picked them up, " jest
to see," he said, apologetically, to himself, "what
the blamed fools have to say, anyhow." And from
glancing he fell to reading, arid from reading lie
went to thinking, and the result was that he sought
his bed that night in great anguish of spirit.
From that fateful hour Tubbs felt that he was a
changed man. And none was quicker to see it
than the wily neighbor, who never talked politics,
but who pursued his advantage by dexterously
throwing tariff reform documents in Tubbs s way,
and scattering Democratic and Mugwump papers
Tnbbs of Kansas. 71
over the farm where Tubbs could run across them
without compromising his standing as an old
John Brown. Republican. And Tubbs read and
thought, and read again, and his perplexity in
creased, and the dark shadow rested on his soul.
"It ain t right, Tilly," he said to his wife.
"It s speshis, but it troubles me. It ain t good
Methodist doctrine for Kansas, and it s ag in all
the glorious and blessed results of the war, but,
dang me, if it doesn t seem like common sense."
"All this comes of trying to think for yourself,"
answered the wife, severely. "A man who helped
put down the rebellion and gave one hundred
dollars to build the first Methodist church in the
county ain t got no business foolin around with
"You re right, Tilly," said Tubbs, meekly, "but
I can t quite make it out. If Plumb was here he
could straighten me in ten minutes, and Barney
Kelly could put me back in the fold, but my feet
were almost gone and my steps had well nigh
Time passed. Tubbs kept his own counsel and
prayed, with all the fervor of his strong nature, to
be delivered from the snares of the tempter. He
felt that he wasn t true to Kansas ; that he was
" goin ag in the platform ; " that he was violating
one of the cardinal principles of his life and polit
ical training, to vote the ticket and ask no ques^-
72 Tubbs of Kansas.
tions. To add to his perplexity and unrest he was
made chairman of the county delegation to Topeka,
and he watched, with anguish, his wife as she laid
out upon the bed his Prince Albert coat and black
striped trousers, and carefully brushed his high hat
of many years service.
When Tubbs reached Topeka his first act A\^as to
call around at the Santa Fe general offices to pay
his respects, in accordance with the unwritten law
of delegates to the State convention. .And, as he
shook hands with the high officers of state, and
heard their kind and affectionate inquiries as to
himself and family, and received instructions for
the approaching contest, he thought of his doubts
and his hours of unbelief ; of the heretical doctrine
that he had devoured on the farm ; and the still,
small voice of conscience seemed to say: "Tubbs,
you ain t true to your trainin ; you ain t true to
In the cool of the evening Tubbs strolled about
the town, uneasy and full of^ remorse. It seemed
to him that every man on the street pointed a fin
ger at him and cried : "There goes a traitor who
thinks for himself ! " Even the evolutions of the
flambeau club and the stirring and beautiful songs
of the Cyclones and Coyotes brought no diversion
to his troubled spirit. And at nine o clock he with
drew from the noisy throng and sought a little
room on a back street, wherein he went hastily to
Tubbs of Kansas. 73
bed and dreamed that he was the Benedict Arnold
of the century and was delivering the country over
to the English free-traders, to the great indigna
tion of a highly protected ram, which was mak
ing for him with terrifying speed. And when he
awoke in a great state of fear and perspiration it
was four o clock. And he arose and dressed, " for, "
says Tubbs, "I can t lay in the mo-ruin ."
So Tubbs went down to the tavern, where he
found the other members of the delegation sitting
up against the office wall, waiting for the roosters
to herald the advance of the king of day, and
discussing a modification of the prohibition law to
suit emergencies. To them, with evil and malicious
intent, came a godless young man from a lost city
in Missouri, and said : " Boys, I ve got a prime
article down in my grip." And with one accord
those statesmen arose and shouted, u Where ?"
When Tubbs had taken a long and steady pull
he felt better. And after breakfast two or three of
the leading railroad magnates and statesmen of
Kansas dropped around and talked to him pleas
antly and convincingly. Unburdening himself,
he told of his troubles and his doubts. Then con
versation became general, and Tubbs went up
stairs and took another longer and steadier pull,
and declared that he was ready for the conflict.
Looking at Tubbs in the convention hall it
would have been difficult to recognize the sad,
74 Tiibb* of Kansas.
troubled old man who left his farm perplexed
by free-trade pamphlets and tariff reform here
sies. Tubbs was in his element. The old Kansas
spirit was on him.
"Again Afarengo s Held was won,
And Jena s bloody battle."
Again he was ready to fight for John Brown,
or sheep, or tin plates, or cotton ties, or anything
else that might be suggested. Again he was sur
rounded by congenial spirits, and again the
watchword was " Hooray ! "
Tubbs fairly bubbled over with excitement.
And when it seemed that his enthusiasm must
have reached its height, the Coyotes, the sweet
singers of that glorious day and generation, came
forth and delivered themselves of a beautiful
patriotic melody, of which the concluding deli
cately sentimental lines ran as follows:
" When old Cleveland lays him do\vn to die,
And sees this grand army in the sky,
He ll have nothing to do but roast and fry
Keep in the middle of the road."
"Hooray!" shouted Tubbs. "Glory, hallelu
jah ! "
The burst of enthusiasm excited by this fine bit
of typical Kansas poetry having subsided, Tubbs
arose and called upon that grand statesman and
powerful advocate, Mr. llamfat, to "address the
meetinV Mr. Ham fat came forward with alacrity.
lie had made the question of the tariff a life-long
Tubbs of Kansas. 75
study, and was prepared to demolish all unfriendly
"When," said Mr. Hamfat, "the hour of twelve
has come, the American workingman uncovers his
d inner-pail protected dinner-pail and takes
out a slice of fresh, white American bread pro
" Hooray ! " shouted Tubbs.
"Then he brings out a nice roll of fresh country
American butter protected butter."
"Hooray!" yelled Tubbs.
" Then he draws forth a fine large slice of Ameri
can beef protected beef."
" Hooray ! hooray ! " gasped Tubbs.
"Ha! what have we here?" exclaimed Mr.
Hamfat, peering theatrically into space, and
clutching the air as if the dinner pail danced
before him. " Pie ! "
Tubbs tumbled in a fit, and the convention
went wild. Whoever has not seen a Kansas polit
ical gathering in a moment of enthusiasm can have
little idea of the excitement of that climax. Ban
ners and handkerchiefs were waved in every part
of the hall, the band played "Rally Round the
Flag," and the delegates stood on their chairs and
cheered, and sang, and whooped, and shed tears,
and behaved altogether in a highly boisterous and
indecorous manner. Tariff reform, agitation of
?fi Tubbs of Kanxax.
months, was upset by that one word "pie." Mr.
Hamfat s logic had wrought its perfect work.
What mattered the trifling formality of platform
or ticket to those statesmen who were cheering for
"pie"? Mr. llamfat descended with the lofty
assurance of a man who has driven the last nail in
the coffin of argument.
And that was the last of Tubbs as a rational being.
From that moment he sang, and danced, and
whooped, and indorsed everybody and everything.
lie heard the firing on Sumter for the nineteenth
time. He railed at the Democratic party, and he
drew such frightful pictures of Bacchanalian orgies
at the White House under a Democratic admin
istration that even the experienced superintendent
of the State insane asylum came over and watched
him with professional curiosity and solicitude.
And he moved that every candidate be nominated
by acclamation, and that the platform be adopted
without reading, and fell on Brother Kelly s neck
and wept, and said : " I was as a sheep gone astray,
but I have returned to the fold, and have conse
crated my life anew."
But they put Tubbs on a way freight and sent
him home, where he was received by Tilly with
feminine sniffs of suspicion and certain forcible
expressions of disapproval. And some hours later,
when in a measure he had calmed down, Tubbs
remarked, apologetically :
/WV/AS of A ((n*(t*. 77
"Tilly, it does a feller ti powerful heap o good
to go up to Topeky and hear the perlitical issues
the fcord Remembered
HOW THE LORD REMEMBERED CURLY.
IT was three o clock in the afternoon,, and there
was a small commotion in Star Alley. The new
boy had come around to get his papers. True, in
the general cut and fit of the new boy s clothes
there was nothing iconoclastic. His trousers were
decidedly in the nature of the prevailing style of
the young men of his class, being much too short
in the legs and considerably too spacious in the
seat and at the knees. His shoes bore the aspect
of having been married, not mated, and the toe-
ends thereof seemed to threaten a general erup
tion. His shirt was unpretentious enough to
disarm Arabian hostility,, and the coat that loosely
covered it could not in any way be accepted as a
reflection on the taste of his companions. In fact,
on the principle that a well-dressed boy is the boy
whose dress excites no comment, the new-comer
was, in the judgment of the alley, a well-dressed
But when Micky Finn, who was the acknowledged
leader .of "de gang," called attention to the new
boy s hair, there was a general murmur of disap
probation. Indeed., this hair was quite a revela-
82 Ifow the Lord Remembered Curly.
tion in its way. It was fair and soft and hung in
curls down to his shoulders, each curl standing
out as if a mother had lovingly twisted it in her
fingers. And it was this hair that gave great
often se to the motley company waiting for the first
edition, and caused such rude exclamations and
personal interrogations as " Ketch on to de freak ! "
"Look at mamma s pet !" "It s one of de seven
Sutherland sisters ! " " Why don t it go to de
musyum ?" accompanied by certain swaggering
motions of a threatening nature.
The new boy was not in the least abashed or
intimidated by this outcry, but stood blinking
lazily at the crowd with a look on his face that
was construed by Micky Finn as far-away, and,
therefore, insulting to an eminent degree. Micky
" Who curled your hair ? " he asked.
"My mother," answered the new boy, calmly.
It was a respectful answer, but Micky didn t
like it. He came a little nearer and said, threat
"You ll have to cut it."
"I sha n t," said the new boy.
A gasp went through the crowd. It was the
first open rebuke the leader of the gang had
received since he laid Tommy Timmins low.
Micky himself was a little dazed at the bold
impertinence. He stepped up briskly and slapped
How flic Lord Remembered Curly. 83
the new boy in the face. For a minute there was
a confusion of legs and arms and boots and curls,
and from the dust arose wails from Micky, who
was receiving in all parts of his small anatomy
painful punches from the vigorous fists of " mam
ma s pet." And when one of the pressmen ran out
and pulled off the new boy the Finn dynasty had
perished. The king was dead. Long live the
It is only just to the new boy to say that he
bore his honors with becoming humility, and
accepted the crown and the succession with no
trace of undue exhilaration. lie told the com
mittee of notification, Patsy Haley and Reddy
Dobbs, that his mother called him Jamie, and he
admitted, very frankly, that he didn t like the
name. But the boys had already dubbed him
Curly, and Curly he shall be to the end of this
As the days went by Curly grew in the confi
dence and esteem of the gang. Even Micky was
his stanch lieutenant. And one night when the
leader of the opposition crowd offered to wipe
Curly off the face of the earth, Micky then and
there threw himself into the breach as a vicarious
sacrifice. But Curly refused to be deprived of his
prerogatives, and with great ardor and almost
unseemly haste he thrashed his incautious dial-
84 How the Lord Remembered CuTly.
lenger, and transferred the cliampionsliip to "dc
In all projects for mental recreation and improve
ment Curly was the leading spirit. After the
papers were off and sold he would put himself at
the head of the gang and pilot the way to the
Varieties, where Mile. Spaghetti, the charming
queen of song, was a stellar attraction of the first
magnitude. And there lie and his companions
would sit through the performance, munching pea
nuts and other nutritious luxuries, listening crit
ically to the musical numbers and commenting in
the hearty, unbiased way of the juvenile connois
seur. And after the show they would repair to
their favorite chop-house, which they designated
by the somewhat misleading title "declub," and
partake of such viands as only a boy s stomach can
There was great excitement in Star Alley when
the play-bills announced that, in consequence of an
imperative demand for her presence in the East,
prior to her return to Paris, Mile. Spaghetti would
take a positively final farewell benefit. The man
ager begged leave to announce that for this occa
sion, by superhuman efforts and at fabulous
expense, he had engaged the services of Mile.
Natalie, the world s greatest skirt-dancer. JIc
also desired to add, incidentally, that with a reck
less, almost fatal, disregard of the terrible financial
How the Lord Remembered Curly. 85
risk involved, he had stipulated for the appearance
of Zuleika, the peerless Mistress of the Air, who
would leap from a .Hying trapeze and turn three
distinct somersaults before alighting in the net.
Other startling attractions would be offered in
addition to the great charm of the beneficiary her
self, who would not only sing her wonderful
creation, "La Palonia," but would appear inner
most dazzling protean specialties.
In the interval between the sale of the first
edition and the appearance of the second, Curly
called a meeting of the gang and announced that
the fraternity would be expected to honor the great
Spaghetti in a body, lie argued with great earnest
ness that the gang had always encouraged true and
conscientious art, and he submitted that the efforts
of the manager in catering broadly and liberally to
an advanced popular taste merited marked and
substantial recognition. These remarks, which are
generalized with only the faintest suggestion of
Curly s eloquence, were greeted with great enthu
siasm and indorsed by a full bench.
It was, therefore, with the utmost surprise that
on the afternoon preceding the only Spaghetti s
farewell triumph the boys in the alley noted the
absence of Curly. The last edition, and then the
postscript, came out on the street, and still the
leading patron of art was missing. At a quarter
before eight there was a call of the roll at the
86 How the Lord Remembered Curly.
usual rendezvous, and all responded save one.
That one was Curly. With heavy hearts the gang
filed into the theater, and took its elevated position
of honor. But the entertainment had been robbed
of its chief glory. In vain the erstwhile Queen of
Song warbled her most bewitching lyrics. In vain
the peerless Natalie shook her skirts and disported
to the pleasing strains of the augmented orchestra.
Gloom reigned in the critics corner, and, finally,
when the lithe Zuleika swung gracefully from the
trapeze, the disgusted Patsy Haley stood up and
bade her, in tones of wrathful scorn, "come off de
perch." That was exactly what she intended to
do, but so disconcerted was the Mistress of the Air
by the shrill, piping command that she came off
too soon, and instead of turning three distinct
somersaults, as per three-sheets, she landed a con
fused, disheveled and disgraced mass in the out
stretched net, and the boys, with many cutting
expressions of ribaldry and wrath, went over to the
club and banqueted in solemn silence. And the
consensus of opinion gathered then and there was
that the benefit had been a failure, and that the
beautiful Spaghetti was an "old stiff."
Another day passed, and Curly had neither ap
peared nor sent word of comfort. The gang was
becoming demoralized, and there were indications
of an onslaught from the Philistines of the East
side. Micky Finn rose up to meet the emergency.
How the Lord Remembered Curly. 87
He admitted that Curly might be wrestling with
diphtheria or even contending against scarlet
fever, but something had to be done right away.
So, having disposed of his papers at a slaughter
sale, he summoned Patsy Haley and Reddy Dobbs
and organized a committee of investigation.
Curly and his widowed mother occupied unpre
tentious apartments in a well-filled tenement-house
at a convenient distance from the madding crowd.
For purposes of ventilation and other reasons, hy
gienic and economic, these apartments were at a
considerable distance above the telegraph wires, and
commanded a fine view of the packing-house dis
trict and the bend of the Missouri River where it
travels away from Kansas at a regular speed of four
miles an hour. The boys knew little of Curly s
mother beyond the fact that she was a sewing-
woman with strong religious tendencies which,
thus far, had not been transmitted to her son.
However, so great was the awe inspired by the very
thought of a person with authority over Curly that
they had no sooner climbed the three narrow nights
leading to Curly s suite than their courage failed
them. They paused at the end of the long, gloomy
hall and emitted those peculiar sounds by which a
boy signifies to another boy that he is wanted.
Great was the satisfaction of the gang when the
door opened and Curly s head protruded. Then
Curly s body followed, and directly Curly s legs car-
Hoic the Lord Remembered Curly.
rierl him down the hall to his lieutenants, by whom
he was received with fitting demonstration of affec
" Wot s de matter, Curly ? " asked Micky.
"Mother s sick."
"Well, ain t yer had no doc ?"
"Why ain t yer had no doc?" demanded Patsy
"Because," answered Curly, desperately, "I
ain t had no money. First it was de rent, and
den it was t ings to rat, and we got broke before
we knowed it. "
A faint voice called from the chamber, and Curl v
disappeared with more rapidity than he had come.
The boys looked at one another, and Micky blurted
" How much yer got, Patsy ? "
" T irty-t ree cents."
" How much yer got, Reddy ? "
"And I ve got forty-one cents. Dat makes
ninety-eight cents tor pay for a doc fer Curly s
mudder. We owe it to him, anyhow. When my
dog was took up Curly paid ter git him out. \Vhen
you got stuck on der extry papes, Recldy, Curlv
took em off yer hands. When Patsy lost all his
money on craps Curly paid for his supper and took
him to der te-ayter. So we ll hire de doc."
How the Lord Remembered (Jvrly. 89
"But no doc ain t goiii to come for no ninety-
eight cents/ scornfully said Reddy.
" Wot s de reason he ain t ? " replied Micky. " l)e
boom is off, and docs is liable tercomcfer wotcley
can get. An I knows one dat ll come anyhow.
It s Doc Streator. I seed him out at de ball game
Sunday afternoon, an he s de right stuff."
Doctor Streator sat in his office discussing Presi
dential possibilities with a friend. It had been a
prosperous day with .the doctor, and he felt con
vivial and friendly. And when he said " Come in,"
and three small and not over-prepossessing boys
entered, he was more cordial than might have been
" Well, what do you want ? "
" We want yer to come and see a sick woman,"
" How much money have you got ? "
"You don t suppose Fm going down into the
footpad district for ninety-eight cents, do you?"
Micky grinned. "Yer said yer d go any time I
" I did, eh ? When did I say that ? "
"Out at de ball game one Sunday afternoon."
The doctor s friend leaned back and laughed.
"So you patronize Sunday ball games,- do you,
Streator ? Tell us about it, kid."
" It was de great game between Minneapolis and
00 Ilo w the Lord Rein on be red Curly.
Kansas City fer tie championship," said Mickey.
" Me an Curly an licddy here an* Patsy had made
a sneak over de fence when de cops wasn t lookin .
De grand-stand an bleachers was all full, an de
people was pourin down inter de field. We stood
near de doc an two or free udder swells in de
nint iimin when Minneapolis was two runs
"Yes, I remember that inning," said the doctor.
"Gunny came ter de bat," resumed Micky, "an
made a hit. Den Swartzell, what can t hit a bal
loon mostly, knocked one over de second bag.
An Holland hit a slow one inter de infield, an de
muckers was so excited datcley tumbled all over it,
an Gunny come home. Den little Xic sent anud-
der easy one, an he an Holland got put out on de
double play. About did time Round-de-AYorld
Jimmy he gits foxy an waits, an gits a base on
balls. An everybody was so excited dat dey breaks
inter de diamon an hollers an yells, an Elmer
Smith a-standin at de plate, swingin his but an
waitiii fer a good one. An I seed de doc a-wavin
his hat an hollerin with de rest of em. De Min
neapolis pitcher got rattled, an it was ten minutes
before de cops could get de doc an dc rest back
interline, while dey kep on hollerin : Hit er
out, Elmer ! An fin ly Elmer got one just where
he wanted it, an hit er out fer free bags, way ter
de center-field fence, an Swartzell an Jimmy come
How the Lord Remembered Curly. 91
streakiii in, an we knowed de game was won. An
we all broke inter de diamon ag in an turned flip-
flaps an hollered. An de doc was jumpin around
an flingin his arms, an he hit me chug in de eye.
An den he gave me ten cents an told me dat if I
ever wanted him I should call on him an say :
The doctor threw himself back and chuckled at
the reminiscence, and his friend opened his mouth
and showed such a wide expanse of palate, and
laughed so uproariously, that the three boys fell
back in evident alarm. The doctor was the first
"As a man of my word," said he, "I must see
this thing through. Come on, boys ; we ll go and
take a look at the <mudder." :
"And I ll go along, too," said his friend. "Per
haps here is an opportunity for genuine philan
thropy. Don t you worry about the bill, boys,"
he added, kindly ; "I ll look after that myself."
" Dat s de room ; de t ird one to de left," whis
pered Micky, as the party stopped to breathe on
the third landing. And as the two gentlemen
knocked on the door, he drew the other boys aside
and said, decisively :
"Yer heered de doc s friend say dat Curly s
mudder ought to have some delic cies. Wot s de
matter wid our gittin em ? "
The proposition struck the boys favorably, for
92 lion 1 ! the Lnrd Remembered Curly.
the idea that a gentleman could in any way rise to
an appreciation of delicacies,. as the poorer classes
understood them, was altogether too absurd to be
encouraged or entertained.
The doctor was saying, " Merely a case of debility
and low fever, brought on by over-work and insuf
ficient and improper nourishment," when the three
boys entered the room, bearing burdens of tribute.
"What s that?" he asked, sharply.
"Dem s delic cies," answered Micky, with pride
"For the Lord s sake, look here, Streator ! " said
his friend. And he drew forth first a cold pig s-
foot, then a tin saucepan of beans with a huge
chunk of pork in the middle, half a jelly-cake,
three or four greasy crullers, a Vienna sausage,
liberally sprinkled with horse-radish, and a lemon
pie. Curly was visibly affected by these unmis
takable evidences of affection, and his eyes rested
lovingly on the pie.
"For a low fever," said the doctor, thoughtfully,
" I cannot conscientiously recommend this sort of
diet." And as the boys faces fell, he added : "A
little quiet celebration in the hall in the way of a
supper for this young man here doesn t seem to be
out of the way."
80 the boys took Curly into the passageway
and stuffed him full of beans and pigs -l eet and
jelly-cake and lemon pie, and told him of the dis-
J/ow tlic Lord Remembered Curb]. 93
grace that had overtaken the Mistress of the Air,,
and related the thousand and one things that had
upset the alley since his departure, and unfolded
a sinister plot to do up the other gang as soon as
he was able to assume the command.
And the doctor talked cheerily to the mother,,
and promised to have her up and out in three
days. And his friend left a five-dollar bill on the
bible, and intimated that other tokens of a friendly
interest would be speedily forthcoming. And the
poor mother, being a very weak and foolish
woman, could only cry softly and mumble a few
inarticulate words about the blessing of Heaven,
which the two gentlemen did not, or pretended
they did not, hear.
But when the whole party had gone off down
the stairs the mother called Curly to her, and ran
her lingers through his tangled hair, and said :
"I told you, Jamie, that the Lord would remem
ber those who trust in Him. You will not forget
to thank Him and bless His name."
Curly went to the window. Far down in the
street three sturdy little figures were trudging
along, the happiness in their big hearts banishing
the remembrance of their empty pockets. And
he turned to the sick mother and said, simply :
" An 7 de gang, mother, de gang ! "
THE INVOLUNTARY MARRIAGE.
NEAJRLY forty years ago, when Thomas Beuton,
in a spirit of prophecy and a premonition of
brilliant futurity, had pointed to the Pacific Ocean
and exclaimed : " There is the east, there is
India ! " the restless fortune-seekers had begun to
drift into Kansas. Some passed on to the mount
ains, others to the far-away gold-fields of Cali
fornia, while the more prudent and conservative
remained Avheie the well-watered and fertile val
leys promised fields of golden cereals more attrac
tive and less illusive than the precious metal of the
new El Dorado. Many of these people are living
to-day, less adventurous, less hazard-loving than
when they first crossed the Missouri River, but full
of that same spirit and impulse that made a Kansas
possible. If they have lost their youth they have
not lost their pride in the memory of their youth,
and the tales they relate and the incidents they
recall are full of the quaint humor that adds
delight to the recital.
There were cranks in those days, the wildest,
maddest, most hopeless cranks; cranks of every
shade and every tendency ; cranks in religious
98 Tic Involuntary Murriayr.
belief and in social customs ; cranks that criticised
the Lord and detied the devil ; cranks in politics
and in art ; cranks in manner and in dress. And
they all seemed to come together by a common
impulse and to move into Kansas.
That one crank should tolerate another was the
very essence of the true spirit of liberty. It was a
sort of chivalrous idea of freedom entirely con
sistent with the American spirit of progress, and
was founded on the conviction that time would
make the test and prove all things. Tim Murphy
exemplified this spirit. Tim had drifted into
Kansas in search of adventure,, and, in one way and
another, had found it until he settled down in the
reposeful dignity of a saloon-keeper. His tremen
dous strength and his fighting qualities added
greatly to his reputation, and, as he had thrashed
every pretender in the neighborhood, lie was much *
admired and respected. One day, while helplessly
intoxicated, he insulted a little Irishman, who
took advantage of his condition and knocked him
down between two whisky barrels. As often as
Tim would essay to rise, his small opponent would
hit him on the nose and tumble him back. At
last the bystanders interfered and held the little
man, whereupon Tim exclaimed, with maudlin
dignity : " Lave him be ; lave him be, and let him
sweat himself to death knockin me down."
This anecdote illustrates the tolerant spirit of
The Involuntary Marriage. 99
the Kansan toward his associates, granted, perhaps,
in every instance save the one never-forgotten and
never-forgiven sin, slavery and pro-slavery senti
Into this strange jumble of social conditions
came Daniel Eastmann and his wife forty years
ago. A queer old couple, with much of the stern
ness of the Puritan and the vigor and aggressive
ness of the modern Yankee in their composition.
Unhappily, however, a little of the recognized
austere morality of the Puritan character was
lacking, as duly appeared. The Eastmanns were
not at the age when people look about for new
homes to be acquired only by ceaseless toil and
with threatening ills. But the old man was
strong and active, and capable of immense labors,
and his wife stood up under her share of the
responsibilities with no betrayal of weakness or dis
appointment. They had pushed on to the westward
in their search for an abiding-place, and, finding
nothing that promised contentment, had returned
to Kansas and settled down to the ordinary details of
pioneer life in one of the best and most prosperous of
the Kansas settlements. They were good-natured,
easy-going folk, and as they minded their own busi
ness in a strictly legitimate way, they were looked
upon as no undesirable additions to the commu
nity. For it was one of the privileges of the time
that the people in the main were too busv with
100 The Involuntary Marriage.
their own affairs to waste the hours gossiping
about their neighbors.
Little by little, however, the rumor went around
that, notwithstanding the decorous behavior of old
man Eastmann and his partner, and despite the
undisputed nature of their relations, the couple
had never been married. The women were the
first to discover this delicate social question, and
to express their regret that in the hurry to get
along in life the old people had overlooked this
trifling formality. The men shrugged their shoul
ders and remarked that that was " Eastmann s busi
ness," and if Mrs. Eastmann was satisfied it was not
necessary to put too fine a point on the amicable
domestic arrangement. Moreover, they had no
children ; therefore, no damage could be done
except in the way of example, and as long as the
example was merely tolerated, not indorsed, it
would, doubtless, end right there.
For this magnanimous sentiment the old gentle
man did not evince any surprising amount of grat
itude. When he learned that his "arrangement"
had been subjected to discussion and, in instances,
to criticism, he boldly acknowledged the state of
affairs. lie called attention to the agitated con
dition of American society, to the numerous crazes
that were affecting the people, and intimated that
he had as much right to his whim as other people
had to theirs. Furthermore, with him it was
The Involuntary Marriage. 101
strictly a matter of conscience, and he flattered
himself that he had at last come to a part of the
country where individual conscience counted for
a great deal.
This compliment to Kansas pleased the com
munity immensely. Moreover, it was not to be
denied that the delicate reminder as to "other
people s whims" smacked of a truth that was
irrefutable. So the little peculiarity was passed
over as an innocuous fancy, and the Eastmanns
were firmly established as a part of the social
fabric. Occasionally the old man would partake
too freely of the popular liquor of the day, and at
such times would discourse eloquently on the
iniquitous marriage laws of the United States, but
these orations merely amused the neighbors, and
did not in the least detract from his standing or
debar him from the privileges of social gayeties.
One night the Perkinses gave an entertainment
of unusual brilliancy, and as Perkins was some
what of a crank himself he made it a special point
that all the other cranks should be present. Inas
much as the cranks, of one kind or another, com
posed four-fifths of the population, it is easy to
imagine that the hospitable home of the Perkinses
was the theater of a large and brilliant collection
of human freaks. The Eastmanns were conspicuous
among the guests, not only through reason of their
entertaining social qualities, but on account of the
102 The Involuntary Marriar/e.
exhilarating amount of liquor which the old man
carried where he felt it would do him the most good.
He was in an argumentative mood also, and the
marriage laws of the country were shown to be
unjust and inhuman in every corner of Perkins s
The Rev. Mr. Duncan looked upon Eastman n
with sorrow stamped on his benevolent face. Mr.
Duncan was a holy man. He endeavored, by his
godly life as well as by his spiritual exhortation, to
bring his people into the strait and narrow path
and keep them there. The peculiar relation of the
Eastmanns had always been to this worthy man the
source of sincere grief and perplexing thought.
How to influence them to a realization of their
offense against Christian morality and the enlight
ened spirit of the age was the problem that con
sumed many of his moments. Eastmann, fond as
he was of argument and of defending his theories,
could never be brought to face Parson Duncan. If
they met on the street, the old man hurried on
with a half-respectful nod. If the preacher halted
before his gate, Eastmann slipped out of the back
door. To outsiders it appeared that the old man
was afraid of the parson, but Eastmann excused him
self on the ground that preachers had no sense and
weren t worth talking to. So matters had run
along for months, and apparently Parson Duncan
The Involuntary Marriage. 103
was as far away from all hope of practical good as
When the parson looked around the Perkinses
rooms and saw the Eastmanns, something told him
that the hour had come. A social gathering is not
exactly the place for earnest missionary work, but
Parson Duncan went on the theory that he must
do his Master s bidding at any time or place,
according as it is written : " Whatsoever thy hand
fincleth to do, do it with thy might." In this
cheerful and godly resolution he was favored by
circumstances. Eastmann stood in the corner of
the room with a dozen grinning friends around
him. He discoursed on his favorite theme : liberty
of action and liberty of conscience ; and what he
lacked in argument he made up in declamation and
gesture. The parson quietly edged his way into
the circle, adjusted his spectacles, and listened.
And when the parson looked over his spectacles, it
was a trying and a critical moment for the devil
and the instruments of his mischief.
The old man scowled. Plainly, he was annoyed
by the parson s presence. Truly, the goodness that
shone round about that righteous man was a con
stant menace to even the smallest impropriety, and a
perpetual rebuke. But there was no dodging the
issue. He must go ahead or strike his colors, and
to a man of Eastmann s pride and doggedness sur
render was out of the question. Indeed, after the
104 The Involuntary Marriage.
first surprise, he was gratified to note that he was
more fluent than usual, and with his renewal of
courage came a wealth of sarcasm and a fund of
wit that delighted his hearers and provoked many
outbursts of laughter. Mrs. Eastmann, standing
near, took no part in the conversation,, but her
smiles showed her appreciation of the old man s
argument and her sympathy with his opinions.
Parson Duncan was not a joker. Perhaps he
never willingly made a jest in his life, and as for
sarcasm, his gentle nature abhorred it. But he
was simple, and earnest, and straightforward, and
he never shrank from any contest that might seem
to lie within his duty. So when old Eastmann had
finished he took up the subject in his thoughtful,
considerate way, and argued the responsibility of
the individual to society, and the necessity of uni
formity in a perfect moral system. Furthermore,
he quoted freely from the Scriptures, instanced
the divine blessing on the marriage tie, and dwelt
on the solemnity and beauty of the marriage cere
mony with such fervor that Mrs. Eastmann cast
down her eyes, and others standing around were
The news that Parson Duncan and old East
mann had at last locked horns spread with great
rapidity, and in a moment the guests had crowded
into the room where the discussion was at heat.
Kastmann s perversity and obstinacy increased
The Involuntary Marriage. 105
with the size of his audience. He held the
good parson s words up to ridicule in a manner
that reflected great credit on his powers at repar
tee, but to the disadvantage of his standing as a
respecter of the cloth. The parson s troubled face
showed that he was pained by Eastmann s levity,
and when he spoke again his tone was more deci
sive, and boded no good for the enemy of the altar.
"It is really strange, very strange," said Parson
Duncan. "I cannot, even from your argument,
understand your aversion to the marriage cere
mony, as sanctioned by your country. You tell
me that you love this woman with whom you are
"I don t deny that," answered old Eastmann,
with a grin.
"And you tell me further that you expect to
live with her as long as you are on earth, as every
husband is expected to do."
" That has always been my intention, and I guess
I ll stick to it."
The parson stood- a .minute, absorbed in thought.
"Remarkable, very remarkable," he muttered.
Then, turning abruptly to the woman, and speak
ing gently to her for the first time, he asked :
" Can it be true that you love this man who has
done you a wrong, or at least has encouraged you
in a false and unworthy belief ? "
The woman showed her confusion, and lowered
106 The Involuntary Marriage.
her eyes. Recovering herself, she looked at the
parson steadily, and said :
U I have always loved him, sir."
" And do you, in the face of this error,, hope and
expect to live with him all your life ? "
"Oh, yes, sir."
"Then," exclaimed the holy man, with a ring
of triumph in his voice and a heightened color on
his face, " by virtue of my office, and in accord
ance with the laws that govern this Territory, I
pronounce you man and wife. Kiss your bride,
sir ! "
DISPUTE it who may, contradict it who will, the
fact remains that the Ancient and Honorable Order
of Colonels has been for many years the pride and
glory of the people of the land of Corn. How and
where this order originated has never been
explained to the entire satisfaction of the Colonels
themselves. Some historians and archaeologists
have claimed that it was introduced into Missouri
by Colonel Daniel Boone when he left Kentucky
in a huff in 1795, and that Colonel Boone had
formed the parent chapter in Kentucky three
years before. Others assert that the modern Colo
nel did not exist, either by right of heritage or of
knighthood, until after Missouri had been incor
porated as a State. A third faction contends that
the order sprang into existence shortly after the
Mexican War, but achieved no prominence as a
political or social factor until the close of the
operations in 1860-05. Be all this as it may, the
order has attained a remarkable growth, and now
numbers thousands of members in Missouri and
Kansas, to say nothing of the branches in other
States and Territories. Perhaps next to the Louis-
110 Colonel Bollinger.
villo chapter, the Kansas City chapter is the most
famous, both for its aggregation of wealth, culture
and courtliness, and for the display of those shin
ing social qualities which differentiate the true
Colonel from his fellow-man.
To guard against all possible misapprehension it
must be said that Doctor Webster s definition of
"Colonel" is very misleading. The Colonel, as
understood in the Missouri interpretation of the
word, is not the leader of a regiment or of a
column, and, in fact, has no martial pretensions
whatever. ISTor is the word used in the old
English sense and in the vulgar manner described
by Samuel Butler in Hudibras. The Missouri
Colonel is indeed a leader, but a leader of men
and measures in a purely civil or social way. A
clearer idea of this distinction may be gained from
a queer little pamphlet which was discovered in
one of the old slave counties of central Missouri
some years ago. This pamphlet purported to give
the constitution and by-laws of the Order of
Colonels, and, although it has never been officially
acknowledged, it cannot be denied that it is
wonderfully faithful to appearances. Herein it is
alleged that the order is a social, not a business
organization, and that business meetings are
strictly prohibited save in moments of rare emer
gency. The restrictions bearing on membership
are thus set down :
Colonel Bollinycr. Ill
"Article I. Section 1. Once a Colonel, always
" Section 2. Ko person who has participated in
military service shall be eligible to membership.
" Section 8. In time of war the Colonel shall
prepare for peace.
"Section 4. The pen is mightier than the
sword, and the priming-hook has distinct advan
tages over the spear.
" Section 5. Drink no longer water, but use a
little stimulant for thy stomach s sake."
Colonel Bellinger had been a Colonel for so many
years that it was popularly believed that he was
born that way. Indeed, Colonel Bollinger himself
smiled amiably and mysteriously whenever the
question was introduced in his presence. He
lived on a handsome estate near the city, and rode
a fine dapple-gray mule into town whenever affairs
of state were pressing. For the Colonel was quite
an oracle in his way, and his opinions were widely
sought, not only by his fellow-Colonels, but by
people of all conditions in life, more especially
political life. And while, as a lawyer, Colonel
Bollinger might have acquired great wealth by the
sale of his opinions, such was his overflowing good
nature that he would sit all day in front of a popu
lar caravansary, dispensing advice to all comers,
free as salvation, and pausing only for a few
moments on motion to adjourn to an excellent
1 1 2 Colonel Bollinger.
place of refreshment in high favor with the
Colonels. And at night, well pleased with a day
profitably spent, and a trifle top-heavy from
excessive good cheer, he would mount the dapple-
gray mule and jog leisurely homeward, distribut
ing pleasant greetings and delivering appropriate
orations by the way.
Colonel Bellinger found great delight in the
society of Colonel Dunklin, with whom lie had
daily many convivial bouts and justs at knightly
repartee. Colonel Bellinger was much more im
pressive than Colonel Dunklin, being of full habit,
with great abdominal capacity, and with a voice
that on occasion could roar as fiercely as the Gac-
tulian lion or "as gently as the sucking dove."
Colonel Dunklin, on the other hand, had all the
mild outer characteristics of the typical Missouri
Colonel. He was tall and willowy. His hair was
rather long, and his eyes were full of pathos, He
wore the black slouch hat of the brigadier, the
long black coat, the shiny trousers with the broad*
flares that covered the tight-fitting boots, the vest
open down to the last button, the high collar and
the shoe-string necktie. Without he was the pic
ture of melancholy and humility, but inwardly, it
was whispered among the Colonels, he was full of
dead men s bones.
One fine day, as was their wont on all days,
regardless of meteorological conditions. Colonel
Bellinger and Colonel Dunklin were proceeding
arm in arm down the street with a certain little
back room as the definite object in view. Colonel
Bollinger was in an extraordinary flow of spirits,
and his cheery oratory excited the smiles and the
admiration of the people who paused to salute the
Colonels and receive, perchance, a sort of benedic
tion in return. Turning a corner rather sharply,
the Colonels were suddenly precipitated into the
arms of Mr. Tubbs of Kansas, who had come down
to the city in the interest of prohibition, of which
theory he was one of the most earnest apostles. A
moment of profound embarrassment followed, for
in the campaign of the previous fall Colonel
Bollinger had made a few Democratic speeches in
Tubbs s neighborhood, and in the excitement of
debate had likened Tubbs to several pleasing
varieties of the Mephitis Americana, or domestic
skunk. To which Tubbs had replied with spirit,
repelling the implied family connection, and stig
matizing the Colonel as a vampire, a hyena, a
buzzard, and several other birds and animals with
carnivorous proclivities. The incident had been
taken up by the party newspapers, and had led to
a violent denunciation of Colonel Bollinger, who
was berated throughout the State of Kansas as an
ex-rebel brigadier, a guerrilla, and a bushwhacker,
much to the detriment of his standing as a Colonel.
Colonel Bollinger first recovered presence of
114 (.Lionel Bollinger.
mind. With a sweep of his arm which arrested
the attention of the passers-by, and with a tone of
the most engaging sweetness, he said :
" Ah, this must be Colonel Tubbs, of Kansas. I
am glad to see you in old Mizzoora, sir. Allow
me to make you acquainted with Colonel Dunklin,
one of the old guard, sir."
And before the still embarrassed Tubbs could
reply he went on :
"When we last met, Colonel Tubbs, over in your
country, sir, we had a passage at arms. Accord
ing to the brutalities of life we should still be ene
mies, but I cannot forget, sir, that you are now in
my territory, and the laws of hospitality forbid.
I may add that I am glad, sir, that we are so hap
pily met. My friend Colonel Dunklin and I
were stepping down for a little refreshment. Will
you join us ? You must join us."
Tubbs offered a feeble resistance and surren
dered. Moreover, it was now high noon, and
Tubbs was weary and dry. The three gentlemen
passed down the street, turned one corner, then
another, and disappeared behind a door which was
familiar to every Colonel in at least two States.
They passed unflinchingly by the elegantly pol
ished counter and into the room beyond.
The little old gentleman who was expectantly
taking down three tumblers stared at them in
astonishment. " I have been in business a good
Colonel Bollinger. 115
many years," said he confidentially to his assistant,
"and I have had considerable experience with the
Colonels, from whom I derive not a little of my
princely revenue, but this is the first time that I
ever saw any of them pass this counter without
"Colonel Tubbs," said Colonel Bollinger, as the
gentlemen sat down at the table, "if I am not
deceived in the habit of you Kansas gentlemen, it
must be hours since you breakfasted." Then,
addressing the negro waiter : " George, take the
gentleman s order."
Tubbs began to feel a little more at ease. " If
you don t mind," said he, half apologetically, "I
think I will try a whitefish. Not that we don t
have fish in our country," he added, hastily, "for
our channel cat is considered mighty good eatin ,
but a whitefish, with a little whisky on the side"
here Tubbs lowered his voice " is my favor-ite
"Good, very good," replied Colonel Bollinger,
approvingly. "A whitefish is excellent eating,
especially with whisky, which destroys its fat and
deleterious qualities. George, bring a whitefish
and a whisky no, stop, a whitefish and three
whiskies, and two plates of bacon and greens, and
have three more whiskies ready on call."
All this time Colonel Dunklin sat in silence,
with his pathetic eyes fastened upon a placard on
110 Colonel Bollinger.
the wall, the letters standing out with a clear-cut
cameo distinctness,, and forming the expressive and
suggestive sentence : " Lunch without drinks. 20
"I don t suppose that it is right for me," said
Colonel Dunklin, dreamily, "to dictate to a man
how he shall run his business, and I don t think
that twenty cents is too much for a lunch, if the
lunch is clean, well cooked and palatable. But
what bothers me is how anybody in the possession
of reasoning faculties can want a lunch without
"As for that matter," replied Colonel Bellinger,
"it seems absurd, from a mere financial stand
point, that a man should pay twenty cents for a
lunch and a drink when he can get two drinks and
a lunch thrown in for a quarter. The longer you
remain with us, Colonel Tubbs, the better you will
understand these grasping tricks of the trade."
The whitefish and the Missouri sauce had
diffused a gentle glow through Tubbs s system,
and had put him on friendly, almost bold, terms
with his companions. "1 should like to be a
Colonel very much indeed," he said, heartily, "but
the fact is I only got to be a captain in the war "-
At the word "war" the Colonels turned very
pale and laid down their knives, shuddering
violently. But Tnbbs, not perceiving, went on :
" The question is, if I became a Colonel, as I
Colonel Bollinycr. 117
want to, ain t I likely to lose my standin as a
prohibitionist ? "
"Our attitude," answered Colonel Bellinger, "is
easily understood. It is always our intention, so
long as God gives us the strength, to throw our
influence against the ravages of prohibition. You
are undoubtedly conscientious in the stand you
have taken George, fill up the gentleman s glass
but we contend that all sumptuary laws are
calculated to strike a blow at the fundamental
principles of our system. While the personal
liberty of speech should be in no sense abridged,
we cannot, as a body, interfere with the inequal
ities of the law in other communities, except as
.pertains to personal welfare and comfort."
" You should, however, at all times," interrupted
Colonel Dunklin, " be well fortified against these
"Of course," said Colonel Bellinger, earnestly,
" that is understood. And so I would advise you
to be what we might -call a non-resident Colonel,
submit as patiently as possible, and continue to pro
cure inspiration in the facile way now popular in
Kansas. I admire you, sir ; I admire any man for
devotion to principle, however mistaken. George,
bring me three lumps of sugar and a very little
water. I will show you, sir, how to make an excel
lent Kentucky toddy."
As Tubbs sipped the intoxicant the Colonel so
118 Colonel Bellinger.
skillfully prepared, lie grew more and more confi
dential. " I don t mind tellin you," he said, " that
I m a candidate for a Federal office. Now, if I am
a Colonel, wouldn t that hurt me ? "
Colonel Dunklin looked at Colonel Bellinger and
smiled. Colonel Bollinger carelessly threw a piece
of lemon peal into the cuspidor and said, with
" The fact that a man is a Colonel is good and
sufficient reason why he is eligible for any office
whatsoever, per se. And if the office does not seek
him, he is perfectly justified in seeking the office.
And I hold that if the public service appears so to
require, he is free at any time to change his polit
ical views. In accordance with an ancient and
honorable precedent, if he is not a candidate for
office, he may drink socially with one who is, but
he is not to be subsidized, hampered or impeded
by such courtesy. For example George, bring
in three more of the same kind, and just a dash of
Tubbs s hand went down into his pocket, but the
Colonel waved him off with a gesture full of impe
" No, sir, not in Mizzoora. You are my guest,
sir, and shall pay for nothing in my presence.
George, you will see that the gentleman has what
ever he wishes, and that he wants for nothing."
Colonel Bollinger. 119
George grinned, and Tubbs felt another weight
added to the burden of his obligation.
"And now, sir/ says Colonel Bellinger/ rising,
" I must bid you good day. I hope to see you
often in Mizzoora, sir, and to welcome you to the
extent of our poor hospitality."
Colonel Dunklin likewise stood up and looked at
Tubbs with his melancholy eyes. And both the
Colonels bowed with great elegance and dignity,
and shook Tubbs s hand and promised themselves
the honor of his society at an early day. And as
they passed out Tubbs could hear Colonel Bellin
ger s sonorous voice discoursing on the fineness of
the day and the glorious outlook for the mint
"After all," soliloquized Tubbs, as he leaned
back in his chair and gave himself up to pleasant-
reflections, "I sometimes wonder if we ain t too
hard on these Missourians. Of course they re .
dead wrong, perlitically, and they re all of! on the
great principles of prohibition. But they re gen
ial and friendly, and I ain t got a word to say
agin their hospitality. That whitensh was prime
and the liquors fust-class." And Tubbs closed his
^eyes in an ecstasy of recollection.
From this agreeable reverie he was roused by the
arrival of George, who respectfully laid a slip of
paper before him. Tubbs picked it up with a
slight sinking in the pit of his stomach and read :
"Whitefish, 60 cents ; cigars, 50 cents ; drink?,
82.10. Total, $3.20. What s this ? r
"But I don t owe no bill. This is Colonel Bol-
lingers matter. Yon heard what he said."
The negro grinned. " I reckon cle Knnnel done
fergit. De Kimnel mighty cur us dat way. lie
fergit a heap o times, when dc odder gcn men
have to pay."
Tubbs bowed his head for a full minute. When
he raised his face it shone with a new light and
was glorified by wisdom.
" George," said he, "take a good look at me. I
am from Kansas, and my name is Tubbs. If ever
you see me walkin into this robbers roost with a
Colonel anybody from Missouri, I want you to
kick me down to the river and into it. Here s
your three twenty."
An hour later Tubbs stood on the bluff that
looks far over into Kansas. In front of him was
the clear sky, and the fresh air, suggestive of
sobriety and virtue ; behind him the smoke and
dirt of the city, typifying deceit and fraud and
injured innocence. As he climbed into a cable
car to bear him across the river, another car came
up the hill, and a familiar voice cried out :
"Going home, arc you ? A pleasant journey to
you. Come and see me when you revisit the city."
Tubbs looked at Colonel Bellinger, who was
Colonel Bollinrjcr. 1-1
waving a cordial farewell from the retreating car,
and almost fell from the grip in his astonishment
Well, I am "
But whatever he was, was lost in the clang of
the gripman s bell.
THE DEAF EAR.
MR. LITTLEJOIIX JKXKS, in spite of many hours
of research and patient inquiry in the various
departments of his family connection, was never
quite able to discover at what time or in what way
he acquired a deaf ear. The traditions of the
household did not point to scarlet fever or measles ;
as a boy he was not allowed to go to the swim
ming-hole, that enemy of the organ of hearing,
and he was not even able to recall that the family
methods of punishment, while very ingenious and
numerous and altogether painful, and extending
over a large area of epidermis, included that
resounding salute on the side of the head which
is so undeservedly popular with thoughtless par
ents. So Mr. Jenks, admitting the unimpeach
able fact of his hardness of hearing, had all the
evidence in the world to prove that the affliction
was in defiance of human precedent and contrary to
physical laws. From the moment that young Lit-
tlejohn emerged from the nursery he was made to
feel that he had been hatched out of the duck egg.
A blithe, joyous lad. he was fond of his compan
ions and of his sports, but his was unhappily a
l^J 77/6 Deaf Ear.
confidence that was ill-repaid by his playmates,
who took full advantage of his good nature and
his infirmity. He recalled in after life the mem
orable day when old Spanker took charge of the
district school, and by his marvelous instinct
detected the boys in a flagrant outrage on scho
"Who did this ?" queried old Spanker.
" Littlejohn Jenks," replied the boys, softly.
"Did you do this, Jenks?"
Xow Littlejohn had not heard a word of the
conversation, but a scheming little boy close at
hand whispered promptingly:
"Wants to know if yer sorry.
"Oh, yes, sir, if you please, sir," replied Little
Thereupon old Spanker fell upon him with an
awful grip and a terrifying strap, and larruped him
up and down the row of benches, balancing to the
right and swinging to the left until the dignity of
the school-room had been fully maintained and
vindicated. It is due to old Spanker to say that
when the facts in the case were developed he made a
handsome apology, which Littlejohn did not hear,
but which was repeated to him many years after
by one of his schoolmates on the gladsome occasion
of old Spanker s funeral.
Such incidents as this soon gave Littlejohn a
reserve and a caution beyond his years. His buov-
Tlic Deaf Ear. 127
ancv and confidence were replaced by timidity and
suspicion. He avoided his comrades and shrank
from his teachers, and as for the girls, he was on
speaking terms with few and on hearing terms
with none. He went through college very much
as a blind man would go through an art
gallery, and graduated just in time to receive the
blessing of his departing parents (interpreted to
him after the funeral), and to come into possession
of an income large enough to discourage any
improper appetite for labor.
As Mr. Littlejohn Jenks increased in years and
experience he decreased in hearing and confidence.
While his money and his gentle birth gave to him
an unquestioned standing in society, he was slow
to take advantage of its privileges, and slower still
to trust to the integrity of the encouraging smiles
that were not infrequently lavished upon him by
the mothers of marriageable young women. From
time to time he cherished the delusive hope that
his infirmity might be cured, and occasionally he
fell into the hands of specialists, who ran long
rods up his nostrils and into his ears, and gouged
his palate, and applied burning and torturesome
chemicals thereto, until what little nerve he had
was entirely dissipated. But, beyond the recol
lection of many hours of agony and the receipt of a
large and comprehensive bill, there were no
notable results. So Mr. Jenks at last abandoned
128 Tit? Denf Ear.
hope and treatment and gave himself up to his
That a gentleman of Mr. Jenks s means and per
sonality, whose greatest charm was a most alluring
air of settled melancholy, should he allo \vecl to es
cape entirely the demands of society, was not to he
entertained. At times he yielded weakly to the
efforts made for his ensnaring, and those conces
sions were always the bitterest recollections of his
life. It was his misfortune to patronize a dining
over which the Reverend Mr. Pentateuch was re
quested to say grace. Perhaps from his connec
tion with the English church, Mr. Pentateuch was
accustomed to divide his blessings, as it were, into
first and second lessons. Be this as it may, Mr.
Jenks, in his anxiety to appear thoroughly at his
ease, noticed a half-smile on the pretty face of his
vis-a-vis,. and reciprocated with a look of such in
nocent ardor that the young woman was thrown
into blushing confusion. Just at this time Mr.
Pentateuch, having paused in deference to his long
established custom, was proceeding with the for
mula which trusts that "these viands may be
sanctified to our use," when, to the unspeakable
horror of the company, Mr. Jenks addressed the
young woman with the untimely and not altogether
original observation, " A penny for your thoughts."
The indignation of the clergyman and the pain of
the hostess only added to the mirth of the guests,
The Deaf Ear. 129
and the rest of the grace was intelligible to the
It was also Mr. Jenks s misfortune to be seated
invariably next to the visiting young lady, who
was unaware of his infirmity, and this led to many
unhappy results. As long as Mr. Jenks could do
the talking he was reasonably safe, for his conver
sation dealt exclusively with assertion that involved
no argument, and never trenched on the province
of the interrogatory. But Mr. Jenks was not a
gentleman of fluent speech or surging ideas, and
it always happened that, despite his most arduous
endeavors, the monologue soon languished. As
has been related, Mr. Jenks s engaging air of mel
ancholy often \\oii for him the confidence of the
ladies, and perhaps this is why Miss Alsopp, who
was placed contiguous to the deaf ear, felt irresist
ibly impelled to communicate to him the harrow
ing tale of her aunt, who had lost her life in a
burning vessel at sea.
"And it is related by Doctor Penfield, one of the
survivors," went on Miss Alsopp, "that during
that dreadful scene my aunt did not lose her
equanimity. Just before she was enveloped by
the flames she cried out with a loud voice, like the
martyred Stephen, and went to her rest singing
one of the sweet songs of the Christian faith."
Mr. Jenks had heard nothing of this heart-rend
ing story, but he gathered from the smiles of hi -3
130 The Deaf Ear.
neighbor on the right, who was rallying her part
ner, that the tale had been a sprightly one. So he
leaned back and laughed heartily, and said : " Good,
good, very neat ! " The look of horror on Miss
Alsopp s face soon gave way to indignation. She
whispered to her neighbor, and in an unduly
short time it had spread around the table that
Jenks was uproariously drunk. Not until Mr.
Jenks was putting on his overcoat in the dressing-
room did he learn the particulars of his error, and
by that time the offended lady had demanded the
protection of a loathsome rival and disappeared.
This episode so weighed on Mr. Jenks s spirits
that never thereafter was he known to smile in
society. As he confessed in his diary, he took no
chances. In vain the company joined in a general
burst, in vain the brightest sallies were thrown at
him fortissimo. "It won t do," he said, with a
sad shake of the head ; "you see, by the time I
catch the joke and laugh, the company may be
talking about religion or death, and I m sure to
get the worst end of it. It s much better to wait
and do all my laughing at home." Which showed
that Jenks possessed the kindest heart and ten-
Mr. Jenks s besetting weakness was music. It
was considered quite a Ion mot to ask Jenks if he
was going to see the concert. Not content with
patronizing all the celebrities of the day, Mr. Jenks
The Deaf Ear. 131
studied the flute and violin, and sometimes yielded
to a polite request to play in company. These ex
hibitions were purely experimental, for Mr. Jenks
was at constant warfare with his accompanist, both
as to time and pitch, and produced the most extraor
dinary effects in his efforts to harmonize instru
ments a quarter of a tone apart, But as the com
pany never paid the slightest attention to Jenks s
performance, except occasionally to execrate it,
and went on with its conversation, perfectly satis
fied that the breach of etiquette would be lost on
the performer, no serious consequences resulted.
So the years went by, and Mr. Jenks began to
experience that unsettled feeling, that indefinable
longing and loneliness that come with protracted
bachelorhood. His companions had married and
prospered, as far as prosperity can come with mar
riage. He had officiated as attendant at weddings
and as godfather at christenings, until a genuine
rivalry had sprung up between him and his rector.
" We esteem you highly in the parish, my dear
Jenks," said the Reverend Mr. Surplice; "your
conduct is generally exemplary. But by this life of
singleness you deprive a girl of a worthy husband,
you neglect one of God s ordinances, and you
ahem you rob me of what ought to be a sub
This clerical reproof set Mr. Jenks to thinking.
He confessed his loneliness and willingness to
132 The. Deaf Ear.
embrace matrimony on favorable terms. He ad
mitted that, while lie scouted the idea so fre
quently advanced, that two can live as cheaply as
one, two loving hearts can spend money more
profitably than one. But where should he apply ?
He ran over the list of eligible young women of
his acquaintance, and sighed to think that the lot
had been carefully sorted and robbed of its chief
ornaments, ^s o, stop ! Agatha Brown remained.
He had known Agatha since she was a little blue-
eyed, waxen-cheeked maiden in pinafores. He had
followed her with regular remembrances up
through the candy, peanut, doll stages, beyond
the valentine period, even to the Easter ilower
epoch. He had noticed that Agatha was always
considerate, that she never laughed at his blunders,
and, come to think of it, he had observed lately a
disposition on her part to blush and tremble in his
presence. The more vividly he recalled those
blushes the more firmly was he convinced that
Agatha was created for him and he for Agatha.
Upon these hints, like the swarthy gentleman in
the play, he spoke.
"I have brought myself to believe, my dear
Agatha," said Mr. Jenks, as they sat in the little
parlor, from which, with rare instinct and acumen,,
the parents had withdrawn, u that in your heart
lurks some pity for niy lonely life. I feel, as does
every man in this trying moment, that, with my
The Deaf Ear. 133
natural handicap and my lack of graces, I am
unworthy the affection of a good and pure woman.
But at least I am a man of means and am free
from all large and contaminating vices. I love
you, and I have taken this opportunity of asking
you to share my lot and monopolize my time and
Pending this speech the gentle Agatha blushed
and trembled more violently than usual, and at its
close the tears that rose to her blue eyes gave them
the appearance of violets in a shower. But, like a
good and pure woman, she regained her compo
sure with marvelous celerity.
U I will not disguise from you, dear Littlejohn,"
she answered, " that while I have never looked
upon you as a future husband, I have always been
sensible of your goodness, and have envied her who
might gain the wealth of your affections. And for
this reason I give myself Lo you with all hope and
confidence. How I shall endeavor to prove worthy
of vour great love you may trust in time to know."
So saying, she modestly turned away her head and
cast down her eyes.
Now Mr. Jenks, recognizing too late that he
had unfortunately placed Agatha in juxtaposition
to his bad ear, was striving by every means to
shift his location and to comprehend her reply.
But, despite his most tactical efforts, he was able
to catch onlv the last word, "know," which,
134 The Deaf Ear.
through the criminally perverse orthoepy .of the
English language, he construed into a negative,
an impression greatly heightened by the young
woman s perceptible air of pity and regret. Mr.
Jenks was a man of pride, and, stunned as he was,
it was only for a moment. lie hurst into a cheery
laugh, and said, with affected jocularity :
" Don t he downcast, Agatha. I was only joking.
It s a little way I have. It s all right, even if
you don t love me."
Poor Agatha was in despair. " You you don t
understand," she gasped, and then she stood on
her toes and screamed " I love you," until it seemed
as if the entire neighborhood must be cognizant
of the fact.
" That s all right all right," replied Mr.. Jenks ;
"I don t blame you a bit. And the more I think
it over the more ridiculous the matter strikes me."
Mr. Jenks by this time was in the hall, putting
on his overcoat, while Agatha, struggling with
baffled love and tears and rage, was close behind,
reiterating her affection with maidenly saving
"Good night, Agatha," said Mr. Jenks, magnan
imously ; "forget our little joke and be a sister to
Twenty-four hours later the blue-eyed maiden,
in pique and desperation, accepted a proposition
from a commercial traveler for a grocery house,
The Deaf Ear. 135
and after the wedding bells had pealed Mr. Jenks
heard, with throbs of anguish, the true story of
his luckless courtship.
Time soothes all griefs, and Mr. Jenks, albeit he
had withdrawn from society and its empty pleas
ures, became reconciled to the mysterious ways of
Providence. The gentle Agatha, at the sugges
tion of her husband and in deference to his family
name and pride, had presented to the commercial
traveler two little images of herself, and as Mr.
Jenks saw them playing with their dolls and run
ning to meet their worthy but unsentimental sire,
his heart was stirred by strange emotions. " Shall
I," he reasoned to himself, "because of one bitter
and terrible mistake, longer endure this wretched
and monotonous existence ? Shall I not show this
presumptuous drummer that I too have paternal
instincts, which may be gratified by the cultivation
of -a respectful attachment and by the exercise of
a little patience ?"
The object of Mr. Jenks s second endeavor was
a vivacious young lady, in temperament and
charms very unlike the blue-eyed Agatha. Not
disinclined to flirt, and seeing in Mr. Jenks a suit
able mark for her seductive batteries, she led him
on by feminine arts until one evening, strolling
sentimentally along the river bank, he repeated to
her the formula which five years before he had
tried with such embarrassing results. Notwith-
136 The Deaf Ear.
standing her merry words, Miss Daisy she was a
true Missouri girl had a kind heart, and was
visibly affected by Mr. Jcnks s earnestness. Her
agitation increased as she reflected on the conse
quences of her levity, and, although she assured
Mr. Jenks that she "could never, never be his
wife," a sympathetic tear of remorse stole down
her cheek. According to usage, Mr. Jenks did not
succeed in catching a word of the pronunciamento
of rejection, but, remembering his former error
and seeing her tears and confusion, caught her to
his breast and imprinted passionate kisses on her
hair and cheek and mouth, wherever they chanced
to fall. The frightened girl screamed lustily, and
a policeman rushing up, and spying a struggling
maid in the arms of a desperate villain, brought
Mr. Jenks to the ground by a few well-directed
blows from his insigne of office. For ten minutes
there was a commingling of hysterics and expla.na-
tions and official skepticism, but at last, the young
lady interceding, Mr. Jenks was allowed to depart,
and the heroine was escorted to her home under
This second contretemps was too much for Mr.
Jenks s nerves. He withdrew permanently from
society, engaged a housekeeper of austere visage
and impregnable and unquestioned morality, and
gave himself up to the cultivation of flowers and
the gentle arts. Late at night the youths and
The Deaf Ear. 137
maidens, returning from their evening pleasure,
could hear the melancholy notes of his flute or the
sad strains of his violin, and why they crossed the
street at that particular point was always chari
tably suppressed. But Mr. Jenks s life was not
the less worthy and beautiful because he was
deprived, in so sorrowful a measure, of one of the
most agreeable senses. He delighted in good
works, helped the poor and the needy, comforted
the afflicted, and cheerfully accepted all the spon-
sorial responsibilities which were thrust upon him,
and they were many. He was "uncle" to half
the children in the town, and at Christmas time
the most extraordinary boxes and mysterious pack
ages \vere smuggled in and out of the house, while
Mr. Jcnks could be observed running to and fro
in a state of nervous excitement.
As his hair whitened and the furrows showed
more plainly in his face, Mr. Jenks s responsibili
ties, ex officio, increased. Agatha s two little girls
had grown up and had two or more little girls of
their own, and over them the deaf old gentleman,
with capacious pockets in which confections and
oranges always lurked, exercised the privileged
sway of "grandfather." And it was a happy sight
to see the old man followed by a troop of laughing
children, pretending to be angry with them for
"making so much noise," and slily slipping bon
bons into their hands and dropping peanuts ami
138 The- Deaf Ear.
almonds out of his pocket that they might excite
a scramble and more noise.
At last Mr. Jenks succumbed to the ravages of
time, and took to his bed. Disease made rapid in
roads on his enfeebled constitution, and it was
mournfully whispered about town that "old Jenks
had to go." In this emergency the new minister
perceived his duty, and went to the old man s bed
side to administer those consolations that are the
rightful property of the church. As he took his
station at the left of the bed, Mr. Jenks, failing
to catch the features of his visitor, conceived him
to be one of the physicians, for whom, as a class,
he had the most profound contempt. The new
minister was saying :
" In this hour of travail, my departing friend, I
may hope that you have learned to rely on the
glorious promises of the Word, and that from the
precious book you have been drawn to the Great
Physician, who healeth all our infirmities and
maketh us well."
"Makes what well?" snapped Mr. Jenks, who
had caught only the concluding words. " I took
the blamed stuff three times yesterday, and I m
worse to-day." And he turned his face to the
wall, requesting the nurse to show the man out.
But the new minister, however shocked by the appa
rent wickedness of the dying man, lingered on the
threshold and offered up a fervent petition for the
The Deaf Ear. 139
pardon and conversion of the blaspheming infidel.
And now occurred a most singular and impress
ive phenomenon. When the doctor came and
looked at the patient with his experienced eye, he
said: lie will live three hours. 1 At the end of
that time there was apparently no change. An
imprudent friend, putting himself in communica
tion with the good ear, related what the physician
had predicted, and congratulated him on the hope
ful nature of his symptoms in weathering the
crisis. Mr. Jenks made no reply, but turned over
and quietly passed away. In an able essay, read
before the medical society, the physician contended
that the prolongation of Mr. Jenks s life was due
entirely to a misunderstanding ; that he had stood
near the patient s deaf car when he made the diag
nosis and the prediction, and that to this circum
stance only must be attributed the temporary fail
ure of medical science and the reversal of medical
precedent. Therefore he maintained that a deaf
ear, while not an infallible preventive of death, is
often a helpful factor in prolonging human life,
and is a fit subject for the most careful and ex
haustive experiments when the patient is appar
ently in articulo mortis. This essay created a
great sensation in medical circles. Scientific jour
nals took it up, foreign academies discussed it, and
the International Society of Physicians and Sur
geons sent a complimentary letter to the writer
140 The Deaf Ear.
thanking him for his efforts and his discovery in
the field of science.
As Mr. Jenks s friends gathered around his bier
and looked upon his peaceful face, it was suggested,
not irreverently but with real solicitude, that his
right ear should be a little elevated, that when
Gabriel blew the trump the other inhabitants of
the churchyard might not have an unfair advan
tage. And when all the others had gone out,
Agatha, now a widow and a grandmother, with
little white curls that peeped out of her cap, and
with eyes that still retained their violet blue,
lingered a moment, just long enough to give one
fond look and to whisper, " I love you," as she had
said it many years before.
The new minister, still smarting under a recol
lection of the blasphemous scene in the sick-cham
ber, delivered a powerful address on the uncer
tainty of life and the necessity of preparation.
But when the coffin was lowered into the grave the
mothers led the children a little nearer, and with
their infant hands they heaped roses and forget-
me-nots and immortelles upon the casket, the
tributes of three generations to the old friend.
And what they said of the dead he living could
not have heard without a protesting blush. And
how they spoke of him and praised him in their
homes that night must have warmed that deaf ear
as it lav so cold and still beneath the flowers.
THE CONFESSION OF A CRIME.
Dowx in one of the central counties of Missouri.,
in the heart of the great corn-belt, pretty Lucy
Howard was raised." That she certainly was
" raised " is not to be disputed, for she is authority
for the expression, and can, if necessary, bring up
a formidable array of kinfolk and neighbors to
prove the assertion. Lucy s father lived in one of
the older towns of this section of Missouri, which,
for one reason or another, has escaped the immi
gration and other contaminating influences which,
in a measure, have afflicted the border counties.
Therefore society, despite the ravages of war, is in
a settled and placid state, and resembles more
closely the better condition of things in the old
South. Here the Missourian attains his greatest
courtliness, and life is characterized by the warm
est hospitality. And here the girls, rounded and
rosy-cheeked, develop into the most beautiful
womanhood, with all the charms and graces and
soft speech of the Southern clime.
Colonel Howard was a Southerner by birth, in
association and in every instinct. lie had been a
fire-eater, a rebel and a Democrat since early man-
144 The Confewiou. of a Crime.
hood, and lie was proud of it. He was also inclined
to indolence, the result of paternal inheritance, and
he was not ashamed of that, for your true old-
school Missouri gentleman has fixed and stern ideas
concerning the elevating quality of labor. " This
constant digging and delving," said the Colonel, in
one of his many leisure moments ; " this perpetual
striving after money or rushing after a temporary
gain, makes us a nation of dyspeptic Yankees and
destroys all the finer and nobler impulses of an old
and tranquil civilization."
Lucy, naturally, grew up under languorous con
ditions, which, however, took nothing from her
beauty or her amiability and gentleness of charac
ter. Perhaps the stern tenets of the Christian, or
Campbellite, Church, to which her family Avas
attached, had left an impress on her mind in its
formative period, and had given her that stern
conscientiousness which so marked her rule of
life. In early girlhood she had gone to a sec
tarian college, where the girls wore ridiculous uni
forms and praised the Lord two or three times a
day for the pious work of Alexander Campbell,
and never conversed with a man, save on an occa
sional Saturday night, under the most distressing
But nothing could mar Lucy s beauty or destroy
the contentment of her disposition. And when,
every Sunday morning, her sweet face peeped out
The Confession of a Crime. 145
under the college sun-bonnet,, and her beautiful
voice rose above all others in the choir chamber,
the reason of the great outpouring of the young
men was clear. For everybody in the sanctuary
turned to look at Lucy, and all the young fellows
sighed for her day of graduation. Robert Calla-
way said not a word, for he had taken advantage
of the summer vacation to gather Lucy unto him
self, and like two orderly and well-conducted
young people they reveled discreetly in their
promises of love, and bided their time.
So Robert went off to the city to guide and in
struct the masses from the noble standpoint of a
journalist. And Lucy retired to her father s
house and bloomed with the roses in the sum
mer and the hyacinths in the winter, and culti
vated and exercised her glorious voice until all the
mocking-birds were distracted with vexation and
envy. And she waited very patiently for Robert,
and calmly rebuked numerous presumptuous ad
mirers for impertinent offers of marriage. And
Robert wrote regularly and cheerfully from the
city, and one day the bird sang in her heart with
tin unusual caroling, for Robert telegraphed that
he had obtained a "scoop " on his loathsome con
temporary, and was in high favor with the gentle
man whose most painful duty it was, occasionally,
to raise salaries.
But an end comes to all periods of waiting, ami
14G The Confession of a Crime.
one fine night in late October the Colonel s old
house was lighted up from cellar to garret, and
friends and neighbors poured into the great parlor,,
while the darkies were rushing about in excite
ment, savory smells issued from the kitchen, and
the popping of corks was heard in the second
story back. And in front of the piano stood Lucy,
looking like a Vestal virgin in her robe of white,
with a flush on her cheeks, and just the faintest
twitching of her pretty mouth, and tears of moist
ure in her blue eyes. And she was telling Robert,
who clasped her hand, something that has been
told many times before and will continue to be told
long after these generations have passed away.
Back they went to the city, and Robert, who was
now on confidential and easy terms with that great
man, the cashier of the Independent, fitted up a
comfortable home which bespoke much love and
happiness. And in the main they lived like turtle
doves, with those occasional honest differences of
opinion which afflict all good married folk. For
Robert s journalistic training had led him into devi
ous w r ays, and had bestowed upon him a proud and
haughty mind, so that, when Lucy would gently
prod him as to his religious duties on the holy
Sabbath morn, he would occasionally rebel and
flippantly remark that he had "forgotten more
than Aleck Campbell ever knew." Whereat the
great tears would well up into Lucy s eyes, and in
Tlie Confession of a Crime. 147
the end Robert, who had a kind heart, would be a
heavy financial sufferer by reason of his irrever
ence. And at times the domestic would take unto
herself the wings of the morning, and Lucy would
be compelled to go into the kitchen. These were
the sun-spots of their married life, for when Lucy
did not forget to put the baking-powder in the bis
cuits, she committed other and more serious indis
cretions, with the result that her meals, as Robert
genially expressed it, partook of the nature of
burnt offerings, as became a Christian household.
But with all their petty trials, they lived very hap
pily, and the increased breadth and vigor of the
tone of the Independent bore witness to Robert s
Toward the end of the first year of their mar
ried life, Robert, having been gently reminded by
the pious Lucy that it was Wednesday evening,
suddenly remembered that he had a most pressing
engagement at the office, one that under no cir
cumstances would admit even an hour s postpone
ment. The gentle girl sighed as he reached for
his hat and cane, and believed him implicitly
when he kissed her and, in respectful language,
cursed the claims of business that took him away
from the hour of prayer. But after he had gone,
and she had heard him madly whistling and
shouting as he dashed for a doAvn-town car, she
went to the piano and sang a few holy songs to
148 The Confession of a Crime.
put her mind in a calm and religiously receptive
state. Then she called next door for her neigh
bor and old girl friend, Mrs. Boone, whose hus
band had likewise been mysteriously summoned to
the office, and together those two exemplary
women journeyed to the house of worship.
Now it chanced that evening that the Rev. Dr.
Moniteau delivered his first discourse of a series of
lectures on the duties of wives. Having buried
three, this excellent man was abundantly able to
grasp his subject intelligently and to present it
with forcefulness. "I ask you, my dear sisters,"
he said ; he started to say brothers and sisters,
but caught himself, as there were no brothers
present "I ask you if you have been true to
your husbands in thought as well as deed. Have
you given to them the confidence and the love
that should exist at all times between husband and
wife ? I think that perhaps I may see before me
at this moment a wife who has been derelict in this
precious duty. Perhaps she is young and impul
sive and thoughtless, and thinks that her little sins
of omission and commission are too trifling to be
told to the man whom she has vowed to love,
honor and obey. Ah, my dear sisters, do not fall
into this grievous error. Remember that you may
have no secrets from your husband. Remember
that he is entitled to know your innermost heart.
If there rests in your mind to-night, sister, any
The Confession of a Crime. 149
little error, however trifling, you may have with
held from him, go to him, throw yourself upon
his breast and say : My husband, I come to you
in love and confidence like a little child to its father.
I have kept back from you a fault. Let me tell it
and know that it is not treasured up against me.
And trust, dear sister, to his great affection and
Poor Lucy occupied a seat directly in front of
the speaker. It had happened in his godless days,
before the light slimed round about him, journey
ing, as it were, to Damascus, that the Rev. Dr.
Monitean had acquired a glass eye. This eye
rested on Lucy with such fixed and awful inten
sity that she fell ail of a tremble, and her little
heart thumped against her ribs with the anguish
of an unpuncturcd felon. And at that moment
the ghost of an unexpected crime rose up before
her, and the thought was so horrible that she
almost, screamed out in meeting, and so dread
ful was the remembrance that she was entirely un
able to join in the congregational singing which
the Rev. Dr. Monitean led in particularly strident
As they walked home together Lucy said, timidly:
" Gertrude, what do you think of Dr. Moniteau s
advice ? "
"Think ?" snapped Mrs. Boone. "I think it s
all bosh. That s what I think."
150 The Confession of a Crime.
"But, Gertrude," interposed Lucy, "oughtn t
we to tell our husbands everything?"
Mrs. Boone wheeled around. "Now look here,
Lucy Callaway, don t you make any mistakes in
the first year of your married life. Do you sup
pose your husband tells you all his escapades ? Do
you suppose I m going to sit up every night for a
month while John Boone goes over the story of
his ante-nuptial misdeeds granting that he d be
fool enough to tell me ? When he reeled off that
clumsy story about an f engagement to-night,
didn t I know that it was merely an excuse to get
out of going to prayer-meeting ? I shall tell him
so too, to-morrow, but not to-night, for that would
spoil botli our evenings."
" I can t answer for Mr. Boone," said Lucy,
decisively, "but Robbie would never deceive me."
Mrs. Boone looked at the girl compassionately.
"You re a good girl, Lucy," she said; "I don t
know a better. But take my advice and don t
make a fool of yourself."
"Nevertheless," answered Lucy, firmly, as the
ghost rose up again, " I shall examine my heart
to-night, and if I find any secret there I shall tell
Robbie at once."
However, when Robert came home and reported
the cares and vexations of the office with more
than his customary fervor, Lucy s courage failed
her. After all, it would be much better to make
The Confession of a Crime. 151
the confession in the morning, when her nerves
were more composed and when her husband,
refreshed by slumber, would be in better condition
to bear up under the revelation. But in the morn
ing the conditions were even more unfavorable.
Breakfast was late and Robert was querulous.
Plainly it was no time to precipitate a crisis, and
the gentle Lucy confessed a feeling of relief when
her husband left the house and a stay of execution
In the evening a social dissipation at a neigh
bor s interfered. The next day Robert went out
of town on business, and so the matter ran along
for a week. When Wednesday night came around
Robert was caught napping. He had arranged
with a friend at the office to call for him in great
haste a little after seven o clock ; but the friend
had overlooked the appointment, and, as no reason
able excuse presented, Robert put on the best face
possible and went to Doctor Moniteau s second lect
ure. The Doctor emphasized his previous address,
and his glass eye caught Lucy early in the action,
and held her fast. The ordeal was even more try
ing than the first awakening of conscience. And
to add to the discomfort of the poor girl Robert
said, with affected solemnity, before they went to
bed that night : "Lucy, I hope you will profit by
Brother Moniteau s observations. Remember that
152- The Confession of a Crime.
a wife should have no secrets from her husband.
Repent and confess before it is too late."
The days that followed were like torture to the
young wife. A dozen times she was on the point
of throwing herself on Robert s manly breast,
but something invariably came up to thwart her.
In the afternoon, while Robert was down town,
she would have a sort of rehearsal, the pillow on the
sofa representing Robbie. But the pillow was so
obdurate, its wrath so terrible, and its invective so
relentless, that Lucy was completely annihilated,
and when her husband came home she was glad
enough to keep up her life of deception, and to
welcome the living presence in place of its inani
At the third lecture the malevolence, the ter
rors, the offended majesty of the glass eye were
simply beyond endurance. It burned into Lucy s
soul and seemed to leave a deep opening through
which all might see her wicked heart. She bowed
her head in the pew and wept scalding tears of
shame and remorse. And when she left the
sanctuary her mind was fully made up ; she would
confess the next day.
When morning came she was much comforted to
find that her resolution was unshaken. "But,"
the devil whispered to her, " there is no sense in
doing this thing hastily and blunderingly. Tact is
a woman s best weapon. It is all right to confess.
The Confession <>f <i Crime. 153
but proper means of preservation and defense are
always allowable." fcjo Lucy allowed .Robert to
escape, and fixed that evening for the revelation
that might make her a widow or a corpse.
All day long, in conjunction with the devil, she
made her preparations to mitigate the horrors of
the evening. She put deft little artistic touches
all over the house, placed the new center-piece
on the dining-room table, and filled the flower-jar
with roses. Then she tied up a bunch of pansies
with a love-knot and laid them near Robert s
plate, for Robert was very partial to pansies. And
she went into the kitchen and superintended and
accomplished marvels of cookery : spring chicken
fried to a turn, with rich cream gravy; such beaten
biscuits as were never before seen in the city ;
luscious corn-bread that she had heard him say
his mother used to make ; the freshest and best
vegetables in the market ; a strawberry short
cake that was simply incomparable, and coffee
that gave out a delicious perfume a block away.
And she even took ten cents from her private
funds and bought him a nice cigar at the grocery,
the groceryinan assuring her that it was good
enough for the President. And at five o clock she
went to her room and put on her red China silk,
which Robert admired so much, and which, cut
low around the neck, showed off her beautiful
throat and revealed her exquisite arms. And she
154 The Confession of a Crime.
hung around her neck the gold chain and heart
which Robert had given her when they were lovers
in the old Missouri town. And, all preparations
being completed, she plumped down on her knees
and asked God to give her strength for her task.
\Vhen Robert came home he was visibly moved
by the evidences of wifeliness. He complimented
the appearance of the house, admired the roses,
and pinned the pansies on his coat. As for the
dinner, he vowed it was a dream, and when he had
finished his second piece of shortcake he went
over. and took Lucy s face in his hands and kissed
her, and said, feelingly:
"My dear little wife, how pretty you are to
night ! "
And Lucy turned away that he might not notice
the tears that rose to her eyes, while he took
advantage of the moment to slip the President s
cigar into his coat-tail pocket and to substitute
one of his own in its stead.
They went into the library, and Robert, being in
that boastful stage that comes to a man after a
hearty dinner, complacently read to his wife the
proof-sheets of his great article on the influence of
arehaeologic research among the Zunis. And
although Lucy constantly labored under the im
pression that Zunis were in some way connected
with Doctor Kane and Sir John Franklin, she
listened with devouring interest, and kissed him
The Confess ion of a Crime. 155
whenever he looked as if he had made a particu
larly good point. And as he looked that way
particularly often she was more or less constantly
employed. Then she sat down at the piano and
sang all her prettiest songs, as only she could sing
them; songs of love and broken hearts and little
barks on the ocean and little birds in the nests,
and a hundred other things connected with the
idealities of a perfectly lovely existence. And
Robert leaned back in his big arm-chair, and
looked so happy and so contented that Lucy said
to herself, in the extremity of her grief : "I can t
tell him now ! I can t tell him now I "
At last Robert said: "Let s call it a day/
which was his customary way of announcing that
it was bedtime. So he departed to his chamber,
whistling a merry air that showed his heart was
light and his conscience free. But Lucy remained
behind with her secret and her sorrow, and
wrestled with herself, for she knew the hour of
confession was at hand. And presently Robert
returned, for he had forgotten to look after the
back windows, put out the gas in the dining-room,
wind the clock and perform other functions which
the Zunis fortunately escaped. He was in his
Now a man in his robe of night is not a pleas
ing spectacle. The artistic world is a unit on that
point. Lucy, whose temperament was entirely
156 The Confession of a Crime.
artistic, had often deplored the conventionality of
fashion that shortens a gentleman s sleeping-gar
ment to a degree bordering on the scandalous, and
had often threatened to ornament Robert s gowns
with tucks and frills and other purely feminine
accessories. But this night she was occupied with
her grief to the exclusion of all inartistic views.
She only thought: "How noble, how manly he
looks ! How can I bring myself to forfeit my
darling s love!" And Robert was meanwhile
stubbing his toe on the stairs and writhing with
pain and an explosion of unprintable language,
utterly unconscious of these tributes to his manli
ness, his nobility and his qualifications as a darling.
It had been Lucy s intention to follow as literally
as possible the excellent instructions of the Rev.
Dr. Moniteau. But her preparations were so ex
haustive, and her second and final petition for
sustaining strength was so protracted, that Robert
had traveled at least two-thirds of the distance to
the land of unconsciousness before she could bring
herself to the point of claiming his attention.
And even then she was embarrassed by the dis
covery that it would be impossible to throw herself
on his breast as she had contemplated, for he was
reposing with his face on the outer edge of the
bed, rendering such proceeding not only ridic
ulous but impracticable. She found also, to her
horror, that in her agitation she had entirely for-
The Confession of a Crime. 157
gotten the ministerial formula, and was compelled
to fall back on her own resources to bear her over
the crisis. She nerved herself, shut her eyes and
" Robbie ! "
A stifled grunt gave the assurance that Robert
was, in a measure, awake to the importance of the
"Robbie, I ve been wanting to tell you some
thing for a long, long time. It has been on my
mind constantly, but we have been so happy to
gether that I couldn t bring myself to tell you. I
knew I was doing wrong, but I didn t know how
wicked and deceitful it was until I heard Doctor
Moniteau s lecture on the duties of a wife. And,
Robbie, you know you told me yourself that a wife
should have no secrets from her husband, so, if I
am going to give you pain, dear, it is partly because
I am obeying your command. You have always
said that it made you happy to think that you were
my first sweetheart and you were. Robbie, in
deed you were. I never cared for any man but
you, and I know I should never have married any
body if I had never met you. But of course I
couldn t help it if some of the boys liked me, and,
really, Robbie, it wasn t my fault because Tom
Cooper kept tagging after me and pestering me
with his silliness. And one night this was long,
long before I met you, Robbie he was taking me
158 The Confession of a- (, rinie.
home, and he he kissed me. I know it was
perfectly dreadful, Robbie, and I was very angry
and hurt at the time. I wanted to tell you about
it when we first became engaged, but I didn t dare.
And then we were married, and it was harder than
ever. And I suppose I should have taken it on
my conscience down to the grave if it hadn t been
for you and Doctor Moniteau. It isn t too late,
Robbie, is it?"
A dreadful silence followed the disclosure. Lucy
felt her heart beating wildly, and her brain
throbbed with mad and awful fancies. She saw
herself standing in the divorce court, telling the
story of her shame to an unpitying judge and a
crowd of vulgar and jeering spectators. And
Robbie sat near with sternly averted face, and her
old father and mother were bowing their heads in
humiliation and anguish.
" You ain t mad, are you, Robbie ? "
Again that ominous silence. But Lucy thought
she heard a faint movement of the pillow, and the
terrible story of Othello and Desdemona rushed
into her mind. What if this gentle Robbie Avere
indeed a fiend incarnate when his jealous passions
were aroused ? What if in his disappointment
and rage and wounded love he should rise up and
strangle her or smother her dying cries under the
soft repository of goose-feathers ! Lucy was chilled
with fright. Her impulse was to slip out of bed
The Confession of a Crime. 159
and steal to a place of safety. But what would
she gain ? Life ? Was life without Robbie pref
erable to death ? Was death more to be dreaded
than that awful scene in the court-room and
countless years of biting remorse ? No ! If her
crime merited death it would be sweet to die by
Kobbie s hand. And she closed her eyes again
and endeavored to recall a little prayer for the
dyina; which she had seen in a prayer-book, and
which had made a marked impression on her
But still that fearful, agonizing silence. It was
beginning to be too much for Lucy s nervous sys
tem. Such misery the victim experiences when he
is strapped upon the bascule of the guillotine,
waiting for the knife to fall. The moonlight
struggled in through the slanting blinds and dis
closed the injured husband lying on his side, his
left arm under his head, his right carelessly resting
on the spread. Lucy raised herself, and, leaning
on her elbow, peered into his face.
The brute was fast asleep,
0ld TVldjor s
THE OLD MAJOR S STORY.
IT was down in the Current River country, and
at that period of development this was not a coun
try to conjure by. The villages were small, ragged
and depressing, with apparently no excuse for
being, save to break up the monotony of travel* on
the railway lying between Springfield and Mem
phis. We had ridden across a dreary waste of
miles from the fishing-grounds in a conveyance
the atrocious discomfort of which baffled all com
parisons, and had missed the train as a finishing
touch of misery. It needed only this to round oft
an excursion of pleasure that had been prolific of
everything except pleasure. The fish, if fish there
were, had refused to bite, but this deficiency had
been supplied by a large variety of insects, which
had welcomed us in a hospitable manner. We had
feasted on bacon and hominy, hominy and bacon,
until we had entirely forgotten the taste of all
other articles of food, and looked upon them as a
sort of tormenting dream. And the highwayman,
as we called him, who had all the external signs of
a Bald-Knobber, and all the natural outcroppings
of a bandit, and who had consented to convey us
.104 The Old Major *
to the train, bad stipulated for a consideration so
ruinous that the pool was barely able to meet his
demands. At the same time it was deemed politic
to submit without a murmur. It is astonishing
how a few rocks and woods and ravines will make
cowards of brave men.
Four of us were in the party the General Pas
senger and Ticket Agent, who organized it, a
middle-aged lawyer with a good practice, a young
doctor with no practice, and the wretched author
of the tale. It was not at this crisis an agreeable
party, one that would shed luster on the civiliza
tion of the nineteenth century. We were tired
and hungry and cross, and, at the same time, wet
and dry, a paradox that every fisherman readily
understands and appreciates. The engine of our
train had slipped an eccentric forty miles down
the road, and was bulletined for four o clock in
the morning. The small hotel was a ghastly
picture of misery, and seemed so full of terrors
and unknown horrors that nobody dared go to
bed, although it was then nine o clock, promising
a long sleep before train-time. So we sat around
the miserable office and smoked pipes and tried to
drink the appalling stuff that the brazen-faced
hotel-keeper endeavored to palm off upon us, to
deaden our moral senses and to benumb our facul
ties. In this condition the meanness of our nature
The Old Major s Story. 165
turned upon the unhappy Passenger and Ticket
"I think/ mused the lawyer, "that the next
time I go fishing I shall employ a railroad man to
go along, to show me all the holes and rare places."
"I have always noticed," said the doctor, "that
railroad men are thoroughly informed not only as
to the best fishing-grounds, but as to the season
when the fish bite most freely."
"Did you ever observe," asked the lawyer, "that
a railroad man never takes a private fishing-party
on his own road ? "
"And did it ever occur to you," replied the
doctor, "that when the trip is a failure he remem
bers that there is a splendid, place on f our road ? "
In this agreeable strain was the conversation
continued until the Passenger and Ticket Agent,
a man of tact and resources, contrived to divert
our minds and steer the discourse into other
"Let me see," he began, "it was twenty-five
thirty thirty-one years ago that I first came
down into this country, and just thirty years ago
that I left it in a hurry. I was a mere boy then,
and I was trying to find rebels. Quite a party of
us at the time. I remember that General Lyon
was along, and that we found rebels in considera
ble quantities. We went back without Lyon, poor
fellow, but it was mighty lively for awhile."
166 The OU Major * Wort/.
This started the conversation into a discussion of
the battle of Wilson s Creek and the campaign in
Southwest Missouri. Thence it was easy to drift into
opinions concerning war in general and the present
troubles. As was natural enough, those of us who
had never heard a cannon, save in the way of a
celebration, and couldn t tell the ping of a minie
ball from the splutter of a sky-rocket, were dis
posed to look on war as a cheap and easy way of
settling all political differences. The lawyer con
tended that the United States had been too
lenient with Chile, and the doctor was convinced
that nothing less than a thrashing would ever
bring England to a proper appreciation of the
Behring Sea troubles.
"Well, I don t know about that/ said the Pass
enger and Ticket Agent, gravely ; " war may be
important to settle some questions, but it s my
opinion that a man who has been through one war
never cares to see another."
"And you re right, sir, in that opinion. War,
in most cases, is a curse to humanity. In all cases
it brings sorrow and suffering."
Far over in a corner of the room we had seen,
when we entered, a man pushed back in a chair,
with a large, soft black hat pulled over his eves,
apparently asleep. As he spoke he tilted forward,
and took off his hat. He seemed to be sixty years
of age, with iron gray hair and beard, and a face
The Old Major s Story. 1G7
of strength and intelligence. A soft, somewhat
smothered enunciation and the unmistakable cut
of black clothes revealed the Southerner. We
were a little embarrassed, for we remembered that
we had spoken freely of "rebels." But we invited
the stranger to come forward and have a drink,
and he did so, taking one of such ample propor
tions as to convince us that his motives were
"You were speaking of war," he said, "though
I reckon you are most of you too young to know
by experience the meaning of the word. So, if
you ll allow me to order up another round, I ll tell
you a story."
"It s the Ancient Mariner," whispered the
"In which event there s no use in kicking,"
replied the doctor.
The liquor having arrived, the stranger tossed off
another alarming potion with barely a movement
of the throat, a feat that lighted up the doctor s
face with admiration, while a covetous look stole
into his eyes as he thought of the great revelations
of an autopsy. Then the stranger said, with a tone
that was charming in its courtliness :
" Permit me to introduce myself. I am Major
Fannin, of Texas. Perhaps the title isn t impor
tant, but down my way everybody calls me Major,
and this is to be a war story."
168 The Old Major s Story.
We assured the Major, with great gravity, that
in Missouri it was a luxury to address anybody un
der the rank of colonel, and we begged him to
" I said, when I so unceremoniously and rudely
broke in upon you " We protested with much
waving of hands. " I said that war brings sorrow
and suffering. I know, for I have had both."
Strangely enough, we had not noticed until that
moment that the Major s left sleeve was empty.
Some men have the remarkable faculty of blinding
you to their deficiencies, and the Major possessed
that gift to an eminent degree.
" I am not going to offend you, gentlemen, by any
opinions concerning the civil war. I was a rebel,
as you call it, and one of the last to surrender.
But I accepted the verdict, and am as firmly
attached to-day to our common country as any of
you. We ll drink together, and Fll tell you what
war did for me, but we ll let the dead issues go. "
Then, after a pause : "When the war broke out
I was practicing law in a Texas town, married, and
the father of three children, the oldest a boy of
seven, the youngest a baby. The war fever seized
me as it took every man and woman in the South.
I m not going to say that I ever sat down seriously
to discuss principles or issues. It was enough
for me that my State had decided ; that my people
were all of one mind and opinion. It was a fever
The Old Major s Story. 169
of the most malignant type, and consequences were
never thought of. In fact, I looked upon the war
more as a dress parade, and when I hurried off to
join my regiment I left my wife and family as gayly
as if I were starting on a business trip. That was
my first error and the cause of my first grief. How
could I foresee the storm that raged for four years,
swept away my kindred, drenched my country with
blood and brought misery to my home ?
"Our friend, here, spoke of coming down this
way to find rebels. I reckon I was one of the
rebels he found, for I remember Wilson s Creek
very well, and I remember chasing bluecoats for
some time after the encounter."
The laugh was on the Passenger and Ticket
Agent, which he acknowledged by ordering more
drinks. And the Major went on :
" It isn t necessary to the story to go into the
details of my service. After the Missouri cam
paign I went into Kentucky and fought at Mill
Spring. At Shiloh I saw my first great battle, and
there I was taken prisoner. Then I began to ap
preciate, for the first time, the magnitude of the
work we had undertaken and the extent of the
Federal resources. When I was exchanged I
joined Jackson s command, fought with him at
Antietam and was in the great charge at Chancel-
lorsville, where he met his death. A wonderful
man that, gentlemen, a soldier and God s noble-
170 The Old Major s Story.
man, every inch of him. All this time I had re
ceived vague and unsatisfactory news from home.
My wife was as brave a woman as ever sent her
husband to battle, but I could read between the
lines a fainting spirit and a cry of despair. For
the first time in my life I believe I was a coward.
The night before the battle of Gettysburg I
dreamed that my family were starving, and the
shock of the dream unmanned me. Perhaps it
turned my luck, for the next day I received my
first wound ; I lost this arm. Then came weeks
in the hospital, and when I was able to get about
again they told me, what a thousand arms could
not replace, my little Jessie was dead. Jessie was
my second, my favorite child. I left her a healthy
little blue-eyed tot, just four years old. And the
day I went to the army she came up and put her
little arms around my neck, and lisped good-by
in her baby fashion. I kissed her as if I were go
ing down to my office, and turned my back on her,
never to see her again. They told me that she
died of a slow fever, but I knew better than that,
for my dream at Gettysburg came back to me.
Oli, it was hard, gentlemen, it was hard ! "
The old Major s voice broke and his lips were
quivering. The doctor was staring uncomfortably
at the ceiling, and the lawyer played nervously
with the glass before him. But the railroad man,
with that sort of comradeship that old soldiers
The Old Majors Story. 171
have, that makes the man beholding love his
fellow-man the more, put his hand on the Major s
shoulder as if to steady and comfort him. The
Major recovered himself and went on.
"Well, the news from home, instead of breaking
me down, as they feared, put the devil in me. By
this time we had begun to realize that we were
righting against terrible odds, and that the Con
federacy was in a desperate way. Under ordinary
circumstances I would have been dismissed as
incapacitated, but the decimation of the army had
been so terrible that a man with a right arm and
two good legs was still worth preserving. All
through the battles of the Wilderness I hung on,
but Grant was pressing us, our forces were
dwindling and our supplies were giving out. Day
after day the cause grew more hopeless, and we
saw the end coming. It came at Appomattox.
That is a great and glorious word to you, gentle
men, but to me it brings up only a picture of
ragged ness and semi-starvation and misery.
" The conqueror told us to go home, and it
seemed to me that there was a touch of irony in
the word. Through the South I journeyed, the
beautiful South that I had loved and fought for.
How pitiable it looked, blackened by war, devastat
ed by soldiery, the fields neglected, the homes
going to ruin, the people as poor, as ragged and
as miserable as myself. This, then, was the fruition
172 The Old Majors Story.
of our work, the glory of the soldier s trade ! As
I went along my heart grew heavier. Kind words
and sympathy I encountered, indeed, and such
material assistance as the people could afford.
And so I traveled until I readied my town, still
wearing my old gray uniform, dirty and ragged,
with long hair and beard and plenty of gray in
"I stopped before my gate, and strangers met
me. They told me that Mrs. Fannin had moved
to a little house in the outskirts. Just then a boy
came by ; it was my son, for I saw his mother in
his face. lie was going home, and we walked on
together. Without telling him who I was, I drew
from him the story of the family trials, how mis
erably poor they had been, how the little sister
had died begging that she might see her father,
and wondering why he had never come back from
. the office ; how the servants had all run away
except old Enos and Mancly, and how they had
worked to keep the missus as Vpectable like as
Mass Henry would want/ So the boy talked and
I listened with my heart in my throat until we
came to the house, and I sent him in to tell his
mother that a poor soldier would like to get a
lodging and food.
" When my wife came to the door and I saw the
care and sorrow in her face, my knees trembled so
I could scarcely stand. She didn t recognize me,
Tlic Old Major * Mori/. 173
of course ; Avhy should she ? 80 I spoke out and told
her that I was a discharged Confederate soldier
without friends, home or money, and I asked for
" My poor man/ she said, I would give it to
you gladly, but I have hardly enough for my chil
dren. My husband, like you, went to the war.
God knows where he is to-day/
" But, madam, at least you can give me a
" Her eyes were filled with tears. If I could/
she answered, I would do it willingly, but where
can I put you away ? The house is small and
cramped, and I have no extra bed. I am a
soldier s wife, and am almost reduced to a soldier s
" While she was speaking a little dog that had
been my dead child s favorite came around the
corner of the house. He sniffed at me suspiciously
and then began to caper and jump with the live
liest manifestations of joy. My children had for
gotten me, my wife did not know me, but the
little dog could not be deceived. I saw my wife
start and look eagerly into my face, and I cried
" Mary, don t you know me ?
"And just then old Mandy came to the door
and threw up both hands and exclaimed :
" Fo Clod, it s Mass Henry come back !
174 TJie Old Major 9 * Story.
u Well, we all went into the wretched little
house and sat down and cried for joy. The baby,
now the image of the little Jessie I had left, came
bashfully in and caught hold of my empty sleeve, at
which my wife cried the more. We sat up half
the night, and she told me all her griefs and
troubles, though I have always suspected that she
softened them as much as possible. And she
brought out a little package and kissed it and put
it into my hands without a word, I opened it.
It was a lock of little Jessie s hair."
The Major paused and studied the floor for a
moment. Then he said : " It was up-hill work, but
I have been successful. My sorrow ended with
that reunion. There isn t a happier home in
Texas, nor one that looks with greater abhorrence
upon the curse of war."
The lawyer whispered to the landlord. As he
came back with the glasses, the lawyer said :
" Major, you ve converted me. I ll give yon a
toast. Peace, enduring peace ! "
The old Major stood up, and very handsome and
soldierly he looked. He bowed to us as he said :
" And the Union ! "
The railroad man, who had fought at Wilson s
Creek, reached over and clasped his hand.
FARMER ROOKS sat on the fence, smoking his
pipe and looking complacently over his acres,
which stretched away a mile to the south of the
important town of Primrose.
Every student of border history must be famil
iar with the chronicles of Primrose, its early scenes
of frontier deviltry, its famous rebellion against
Kansas State authority and its bloody county-seat
war with Hellbent, which cost thousands of dollars
and scores of lives, and was the moving cause of
one of the most prosperous graveyards between
Topeka and the Rockies. Farmer Rooks was not
a farmer in those stirring times. In fact, it would
be difficult to say precisely what his occupation
was. He had drifted into Kansas apparently for
the humor of the thing, and for a year or two
devoted himself to the liquor interest in the way
of consumption, and to such ephemeral pleasure as
can be gathered from association with cowboys in
their hours of relaxation. When the county was
organized and the question of a county seat came
up, young Rooks took the stump for Primrose, his
natuiul abilities and education giving him the
qualifications for leadership. It was he who first
pointed out the absurdity and disgrace that would
attend the selection of a town with the name of
Hellbent. To counteract the effect of this speech
the people of Hellbent immediately called a public
meeting and changed the name to Bcntliell. But
the reform was not adequate, and a majority of
voters decided in favor of Primrose. Then the
bad men of Hellbent organized a raid, and one
dark and otherwise advantageous night swooped
down on Primrose and captured the records.
Eooks immediately called in his friends, the cow
boys, and returned the raid and the compliment.
And so the feud ran on for a year, until Hellbent
was practically depopulated and Rooks was a curi
osity of perforations. At last an honorable treaty
of peace was agreed upon, and Primrose was per
mitted to retain the spoils of conquest.
Jn return for his efficient services Eooks was
invited to claim any amount of honors and emolu
ments. But a man who has been probed in every
part of his body naturally loses a taste for active
life and harassing duties. So he compromised on
a testimonial banquet at the "Delmonico restau
rant," and went into the business of agriculture
on the outskirts of the town. His first grace^
ful act was to go over to Hellbent and espouse the
belle of the defeated tribe, thereby completely
healing the breach and setting an honorable exam,-.
pie to future Montagues and Capulets. As Prim
rose prospered, so also did Farmer Rooks and his
charming and thrifty bride, barring the one
deplorable grasshopper invasion and an occasional
hot wind that the ingenuity of man is not able
In spite of her arduous duties and the many
pressing demands upon her time and attention,
the erstwhile belle of Hellbent found occasion to
present to her husband the most charming and
delightful miniature edition of herself. This inci
dent, though it was by no means unparalleled in
Primrose, which was beginning to experience a
steady and reliable increase in population, created
much local enthusiasm. The entire town jour
neyed to the Rooks farm, and the men shook
hands with the happy father, while the ladies made
minute observations and the most critical exami
nation, and all agreed that such a baby was a spe
cial dispensation of Providence and an unprece
dented manifestation of favor to Primrose. A
corner lot was immediately voted by the town
authorities, and called, by way of pleasantry and
gentle reminder, Rooks s First Addition.
Now, when it came to the point of naming this
important young personage, Farmer Rooks and his
wife had their first falling-out. The mother was
not too particular, and selected from her family
stock a large variety of names which Farmer Rooks
rejected as being altogether commonplace and un
worthy. Like a loyal son, he would have remem
bered his own mother, but Hannah that was too
much. They lay awake nights quarreling over the
vexatious point. They sent into town for a dic
tionary, and went carefully and laboriously over
the Scripture proper names and the Greek and
Latin proper names and the Christian names of
women and the noted names of fiction, and even
the modern geographical mimes, but with no result.
The schoolmaster and the minister came to their
assistance, and the minister prayed very fervently
that God would aid them in making a decision ;
but, despite the assurance of assistance, the name
was as far away as ever. At one time Farmer
Rooks was favorably inclined to Leda, but the
schoolmaster, who was a very young man, blushed
a great deal and hastily convinced the father that
he was contemplating a great wrong to an innocent
child. Farmer Rooks admitted that he knew noth
ing of mythology, and warmly thanked the young
schoolmaster for extricating him from a grave
All this time the baby was growing and devel
oping at a famous rate, and seemed to look with
reproachful wonder out of its big blue eyes at the
unhappy parents, who bade fair to send her name
less through life. When Farmer Rooks went to
the field, he took the little dictionary with him,
and over and over again the wondering horses
heard his "Abigail,, Adeline,, Adelaide, Agatha
git up, there ! Clara, Clarissa, Constance, Cora
w-h-o-a ! Arethusa, Asteria, Athena, Aurora
g long, now Ceres, Diana back! whoa!"
And at night the mother, washing the dishes,
would take up the sad refrain : " Octavia, Olivia,
Pauline, Penelope Hiram, did you fetch in the
wood? Sophia, Sophronia, Stella, Susanna
there s the baby, Hiram ! "
One day Farmer Rooks sat in the kitchen on the
wood-box. It was raining hard, the baby had no
name, and the world was very black. There came
a sound as of a falling weight, and a loud squall
proclaimed that the baby had tumbled out of
her crib. Then the mother s voice was heard :
" What s the matter, sweetheart ? Who s been
hurting mamma s little sweetheart ?"
Farmer Eooks jumped from the wood-box and
slapped his leg. "By gad, Nell, found at last!
You ve struck it this time. We ll call her Sweet
heart ! "
Great news always travels quickly, and twenty-
four hours had not elapsed before the whole town
knew that the baby had been named. At first some
carping complaints were heard. The minister s
wife argued that such a name would not tend to
the spiritual advancement of the child ; that she
would grow up in vanity and self-consciousness,
and that her mind would be filled with distracting
thoughts before her time. A few other mothers
resented the monopoly implied by the name, and
hinted that there was likely to be a good deal more
than one "sweetheart" in the community. But
Farmer Rooks was obstinate. He maintained
forcefully that it was his child and he could call
her whatever he chose. She was u Sweetheart " to
him and would always be. If other people did not
like the name they could call her Miss Rooks.
This appeared to strike the community as a per
fectly reasonable suggestion, and an exhibition of
Rooks s usual good, hard sense.
As Sweetheart grew up all opposition to the
name, as to its propriety or appropriateness,, melted
away. It was a sure case of love at first sight, and
everybody who saw her surrendered on the spot.
The Rooks farm was on the main road to Benthell
and High Rock, and nobody in the county thought
of driving by without pulling up to catch a glimpse
of Sweetheart. She was the only child, for Mrs.
Rooks, who was a busy woman, had discovered
that the demands and cares of maternity were en
tirely too exacting for a farmer s wife in an undevel
oped country. Consequently, she was all the more
precious to the farmer s heart, and lie never
wearied of repeating her epigrams when he went
to town, and of exhibiting her accomplishments to
the stranger within the gates.
Mrs. Rooks, on the other hand, did not share
in this manner of adoration. She admitted her
daughter s beauty and many good qualities, but
was not blind to the little eccentricities which are
part of a child s nature. Mrs. Rooks had, more
over, forcible theories of government, and had
established a set of by-laws which are found in
every well-regulated household. Consequently,
Sweetheart s life was not wholly devoid of those
exciting and purely one-sided or jug-handled
episodes which befall all children of high animal
spirits. These interviews Mrs. Rooks described as
"molding the character," but it was significant
that Sweetheart s character was never "molded"
when her father was at home, for he countenanced
no liberties with Sweetheart s feelings.
So the years went peacefully by until the early
afternoon when, as hereinbefore related. Farmer
Rooks sat on the fence and smoked his pipe and
looked over his acres. It was the end of an old-
fashioned winter, and spring had come on with
one of those lightning changes that are the per
plexities of agricultural life in Kansas. Farmer
Rooks was too old a settler to be misled by any
climatic blandishments, and the mercury that stood
at 75 on an April afternoon, with a hot wind blow
ing from the southwest, offered no inducements
for rash experiments. Near the farmer little Sweet
heart was disporting with all the enthusiasm of
her five years and exercising the petty tyrannies that
a child has in store for a completely subjugated
father. Farmer Rooks looked at her admiringly,
and chuckled at the reflection that he had the
prettiest child, the thriftiest wife, the tidiest home
and the best farm in the county. "Such a figure
as that child has/ he laughed to himself; "as
plump as a prairie chicken and as graceful as a
colt." In truth, Sweetheart was a pretty picture
as she romped up and down the yard, her cheeks
rosy with the color of health, her blue eyes danc
ing with childish glee, and her flaxen curls blown
all oyer her head by the force of the wind. But
it might have been noticed that in her play
she was particularly careful to see that no acci
dent befell the new shoes on her little feet, for just
before the outing Mrs. Hooks had requested an
interview with Sweetheart, and had told her that
if anything happened to those shoes something
would drop. What that something was the child
had distinct and painful recollection.
"Fm going into town, mother," said the farmer,
calling to the busy woman in the kitchen. "You
keep an eye on Sweetheart, as she s like to blow
away. If the wind doesn t let up before night we
may hear from it."
So Farmer Rooks jumped on his horse and can
tered off to town, with numerous commissions
from the infant tyrant, which he gravely jotted
down on the back of an old envelope. Sweetheart
watched him to the end of the potato-patch and
returned to her sports. She was doubtless playing
one of those mysterious and intricate games that
are evolved from a child s process of thought,
which consist of a great deal of digging in the dirt
and accumulation of small lumber and other acces
sories. All the afternoon she devoted to this
occult scheme of diversion, contemplating a great
surprise for the farmer, and pausing anon to
inspect the condition of the new shoes.
Neither the busy woman in the house nor the
child at play noticed the change in the atmosphere.
The wind had died away and the air was hot and
oppressive. At times the sky seemed to give a
yellow light ; then almost as quickly it would take
a greenish tinge, which would as rapidly fade
away. There was no signal service expert in
Primrose, and there were no weather prophets to
guess at probabilities, but the big rooster that
strutted up and down past the little girl cocked
his eye occasionally at the heavens as much as to
say : " I don t like the looks of things, Sweet
heart ; you and I \1 better get out of this."
Sweetheart had reached that point in her archi
tectural pursuits when it became necessary to get
up and stand off at a little distance and scrutinize
her work. At that moment there came from the
distance a low, dull roar, and the big rooster gave
a quick squawk of alarm and ran to the shed.
The mother in the kitchen heard it, and came to the
door, but there stood Sweetheart with her eyes
upon her castle and her thoughts wrapped up in
the surprise for her father. Straight from the
southwest, skirting the edge of the town, and
coming at an incredible speed, was a huge balloon,
and Sweetheart, looking up, saw it and clapped her
hands with joy. One look, however, made the
mother s heart stand still. She knew too well
now the meaning of the distant roaring and the
fate of whatever stood in the path of the monster
that bounded up and down and swept on in its
course of death. "Sweetheart!" she screamed,
and took one step forward. She was too late.
The cloud was on them with an angry shriek, and
in a second everything was swept away. The
house was in ruins ; the sheds were flattened like
cardboard ; great trees were torn up and twisted,
and the air was filled with flying timbers and
household articles. Pinned to the earth, the mother
lay as one dead. And Sweetheart where was
Farmer Rooks sat in the grocery on a nail-box
with a dozen of his friends about him. -You
see," said he, "mother and I took Sweetheart over
to the Higginses to call on Joe s folks. And while
we were there Joe s wife s baby got hungry and she
had to nurse it, Sweetheart all the time looking on
with her eyes wide open. And when we were
going home Sweetheart says : Mamma, I don t
think that was a nice thing for Mrs. Higgins to do.
I think it was nasty/ And her mother said :
1 Why, Sweetheart, you and I used to do that when
you were a little baby/ And Sweetheart put on a
look of great disgust, and said : Well, mamma, if
I did, for heaven s sake don t say anything about
it ! "
A great shout greeted this story, and just then
Bill Harper, the butcher, rushed in and cried out:
"Boys, there s a cyclone south o town, and it
looks as if it might strike your place, Hi ! "
Pell-mell they crowded into the street. Farmer
Rooks s face was ghastly pale, and he shook like a
leaf. Away to the northeast they saw that angry,
bounding balloon, and marked the ruin in its wake.
Another minute, and Farmer Rooks was in the sad
dle and off in a dead run, and those who looked on
his face saw an agony that was indescribable.
" Boys," said Bill Harper, " it s got Rooks s place,
sure ; it was right in the line of the cyclone. God
help him if we can t ; but we ll try."
Men on horseback and men in wagons followed
Farmer Rooks, who was now far ahead and riding
like a demon. Within a quarter of a mile of his
farm he saw the house was gone. He reeled and
nearly fell from the saddle. But the horse seemed
to realize the pressure of his mission, and ran
madly on through the rain, now falling j n a tor
rent, evading and clearing the limbs and branches
of trees that lay across his path. In front of
where was once the door the animal stopped, and
Farmer Hooks threw himself from his back, and
knelt by the side of his wife.
"Mother! mother!" he cried. "Where is
^ A few minutes later, when the neighbors and
friends drove up, they found him looking union"
the ruins and moaning, "Oh, Sweetheart, Sweet
heart ! "
It was an easy task to release the farmer s wife,
and the work of a minute to restore her to con
sciousness. Her left arm was broken, but she
couldn t think of that. She saw her husband
prying among the timbers, and she heard his
moans of anguish, and knew that Sweetheart was
gone. She could tell nothing. The storm had
come like a flash and swept her away from her
"One thing is sure," said Billy Sedgwick, "the
child isn t here, and has been carried off by the
wind. We ll have to foller the path till we find
They went out very solemnly, for they knew
they were going after the dead. And those who
had little girls at home turned awnv their heads so
that Hi mightn t see the tears in their eves. But
Farmer Jttooks was hurrying along with that deadly
pallor still on his face, and his wife, forgetful of her
broken arm, was at his side. Her lips were mov
ing, and Bill Harper said she was praying.
Then Bill Sedgwick and Jim Grant and the
Kingrnan boys, who were in front, set up a shout.
And here came Sweetheart up the road. Her
little dress was in tatters, her stockings were down,
and one shoe was gone. Her flaxen curls were
torn and dirty, her face was streaked with mud, and,
withal, she was well plastered from head to foot.
The mother, in a manner perfectly characteristic
of her sex, no sooner saw her child alive than she
gave a shriek and fainted away. The father rushed
to the little one and grabbed her up and kissed her
muddy hair and dirty face and little scratched
arms again and again.
"I didn t run away, papa," said Sweetheart,
apologetically. "1 didn t want to go. But when
the big balloon came along somebody reached
down and grabbed me up and held me tight so I
couldn t get away, and he took me off down the
road with a lot of boards and things and our
speckled hen and the red chicken-coop. And
after awhile he got tired and laughed and let
me down in a mud-puddle and splashed me all
over ; and and " (here she looked fearfully at
her mother, who was coming to consciousness) " I -
I losted one of my shoes,"
190 Street heart.
But the father took little Sweetheart in his arms
and pressed her to his breast. And, forgetful of
his ruined home and blighted farm, he buried his
face in her tangled curls and sobbed for joy and
thankfulness. For now he knew that God had
ridden on the storm.
Political panderings of Joseph
THE POLITICAL WANDERINGS OF JOSEPH
THE door of the little back room was carefully
closed, and the Numidian attendant was instructed
to see that the company was not disturbed.
" There is great danger in making a Kentucky
toddy/ said Colonel Bollinger, as the boys drew
around the table and surveyed the preparations
with interest. " You take a lump of sugar, like
this, put it in a long glass, and pour in a very little
water, just enough to dissolve the sugar. Then
you stir with a spoon, and add the whisky. Com
plete by pouring in more water."
" But where s the danger, Colonel ? "
"The danger, sir, is in getting in too much
water. You may not believe it, but to make a
toddy as it should be made is one of the most
puzzling of all the glorious arts of modern times.
I remember when Joe Macon came down to visit
me that we sat up together half the night experi
menting. Joe would never admit that we had
discovered the secret of exact proportion, and the
result was that when we started for home, al
though we had only three blocks to go, we must
194 The Wanderings of Joseph Macon.
have covered half a mile of territory. And when
a policeman I happened to know offered to assist
Joe, lie told him that he didn t require assistance,
as everybody knew that the longest way round was
the shortest way home."
" Who was Joe Macon, Colonel ? "
" JOJB Macon, sir, was one of the greatest politi
cians this country has ever known, as cunning as a
fox, as strong as an ox, and as brave as a lion. If
one of you gentlemen will ring for the cigars I ll
tell you a story about him. Thanks a Henry Clay,
please, rather strong.
"Well, when the war broke out, Joe was living
up in Northwest Missouri, a sort of dealer in general
merchandise, sugar, coffee,, clothing, niggers, and
the like. Andy Callaway and Joe married sisters,
daughters of old Squire Benton, who was with
Price during the troubles in this State. Andy was
a right smart sort of fellow himself, and what he
didn t know about a nigger trade couldn t be
learned. Of course his sympathies were all with
the South, and at first he promised the squire that
he d join the army. But the more he got to think
ing about it the less he liked the idea. You
see, all of Andy s property was up among the
Dutch, and if he joined the rebel army it meant
confiscation and a dead loss. So Andy closed out
his niggers and went home to think it over."
The Colonel bit off the end of his cigar and
The Wandering* of Joseph Macon. 195
chuckled. " Well, the first thing Joe knew, along
came the Home Guards one day, and here marched
Andy with a lot of Dutchmen, dressed up in a
blue uniform and carrying- the Union flag, with
the band playing Yankee Doodle, or some other
odious air. Joe was mad clear way through, and,
when Andy looked over at him and winked, Joe
wanted to go and pull him out of the ranks. But
his wife said : < You let Andy Callaway alone.
Depend upon it, he knows what he s doing/ That
night Andy came over to Joe s house, still wearing
his blue uniform. That made Joe madder than
ever, and the way he lit into Andy was a caution.
But Andy just sat and grinned, and when Joe had
finished he said :
" Now look here, Joe, you re on the wrong track.
It s all well enough for us to be talking about our
sympathies and our rights, but the fact is it s a
question whether we ll go broke or keep our prop
erty and our skins. As a choice between tlie
Dutch and a rope or a bullet, I ll take the Dutch.
And if you re sensible you ll go with me.
" Much to Joe s surprise, his wife spoke up and
warmly seconded Andy. Mrs. Macon was a
thrifty woman, and as she lived in a border State
she didn t have much of that impractical sentiment
that was so popular among the women further
South. And Andy kept pegging away at him.
" The thing for you to do, Joe, is to go up to
196 The Wanderings of Jose-pli Ma con.
the hall with me to-morrow night and make appli
cation for membership in the Home Guards/
u < What good will that do ? said Joe. Every
body in the country knows that Fve owned and
sold niggers, and that I m a rebel. They ll just
laugh at me and perhaps mob me.
" No, they won t/ said Andy ; I ll tell you
exactly what they ll do. When you send in your
name Jim Cole will be there. lie kicks at every
thing and everybody. It s more than likely that
he ll get up and denounce you, and when he gets
to calling you names you want to go for him right
off. Knock him down and lick him. That ll
tickle the Dutch and be a sure proof of your loy
alty, and they ll take you right in.
"Well, they talked and argued and wrangled,
and finally Joe gave in and allowed he d try it,
anyway. And the more he thought of it the bet
ter-humored he became. And he tried on Andy s
coat and strutted up and down the room, and as
he thought of the wrath of his father-in-law he
laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks.
" So the next night Andy came around and got
Joe, and they went up together to the hall. The
boys looked mighty curious when they saw Joe
come in, for you see Joe had talked pretty loud
about nigger-loving Yankees, and it was generally
known that he had fitted one fellow out and sent
him off to Price. But Andy and Joe sat down
The Wanderings of Joseph Macon. 197
and didn t say a word until it came time to nom
inate new members. Then Andy got up and made
a little speech. He said it gave him great pleasure
to propose his brother-in-law, Joseph Macon, as a
member of the company. He supposed that it was
pretty well known to the intelligent and represent
ative Germans present that Mr. Macon s early
sympathies, like his own, had been with the Con
federacy. But since the South had so far forgot
ten itself as to fire on the flag, that glorious
emblem of a great and honored union of States, he
had felt it his duty to rally to its defense. He
therefore begged the privilege of enrollment among
the other honorable defenders of the Union.
"When Andy sat down there was faint applause,
and, sure enough, Jim Cole, who had been sneer
ing all through his speech, took the floor. Jim
was a sarcastic fellow, and he began by saying that
he highly approved such loyal sentiments coming
from so authoritative a source. He was glad to hear
that Mr. Macon had experienced this revulsion of
feeling, for less than twenty-four hours before he
had heard the gentleman cursing the Union from
Abe Lincoln down to the janitor of the Khode
Island State-house. For his own part he knew
Mr. Macon to be the all-firedest rebel in Northwest
Missouri, an unrepentant nigger- trader and a man
who would cut up a blue uniform for dish-rags.
" Well, these spirited remarks set up a great
198 The Wanderings of Joseph Macon.
hubbub among the Dutch, for Jim was an authority
on the question of loyalty. And Andy nudged
Joe as a sort of hint that the crisis had come. So
Joe got up very deliberately and remarked that he
was greatly pained and outraged by these asper
sions on his patriotism. He apologized to the
company for his inability to make a speech, and
said that, as a man of action and not of words, he
would detain them only a moment. Then he
crossed over to Jim Cole and said : Jim, you re
the durnedest liar in the town, and I can prove it.
With that he hit him between the eyes and knocked
him flat, picked him up and threw him over three
rows of chairs, stood him up again and kicked him
six or eight times, and finally left him in a heap in
the corner. Then he turned to the company and
roared : If there s any other gentleman has any
thing to say ag in me or the Union, now s his call.
"Of course nobody had anything to say in the
face of this argument, and Joe was taken right into
membership before Jim had fairly come to con
sciousness. You couldn t have made a Dutchman
in that room believe that Joe wasn t next thing to
"Was Joe a good Union man after that,
Colonel ? "
" Union man ? " echoed the Colonel, with great
scorn. " He was one of the best Union men you
ever saw. He d go clown to the meetings and
The Wanderings of Joseph Macon. 199
listen to the proceedings, and then ride all night
to warn one of his Confederate friends who had
been marked for arrest. He was such a Union
man that he couldn t bear to think that the Union
should be put to the trouble and expense of sup
porting a worthless rebel."
The Colonel puffed a moment in silence. " Poor
Andy," he went on, "he didn t have much show
after all. One day the news came that the rebels
were in the neighborhood, and the Home Guards
were called out. In some way, while they were
dodging back of town, the boys got scattered and
divided. Two squads came up on one another in
the brush and got to firing. Before they found out
their mistake Andy was killed. Joe always claimed
that it wasn t a mistake at all ; that they killed
him out of pure malice. They took him back to
town and gave him a military funeral, and covered
the coffin with the stars and stripes, and put Dnlce
est pro patria mori in his obituary. Joe tells me
that not long ago Andy s wife received a pension
with back money as a slight testimonial from a
What became of Joe ? "
" Well, Joe settled down to farming after the
war. But he didn t make much of a success of it.
He was too great a man. Perhaps you ve noticed
that a great man is only great between spells of
farming. Cincinnatus was that kind. His farm-
200 The Wanderings of Joseph Macon.
ing merely gave him a chance to think tip more
greatness. Joe was a natural politician. He would
hang around and find out how things were going,
and then he d go that way. He used to say that
he wouldn t trust a man who wasn t open to con
viction. But somehow Joe was unlucky. When
he ran as a Republican the county went Demo
cratic, and when he came out as a Democrat the
county flopped over and went Republican. If he
got on the Prohibition ticket the county went wet,
and he no sooner took the side of the antis than
every Dutchman voted dry. It was the most curi
ous thing you ever saw. Yet Joe was a brainy
man, and one of the best wire-pullers in the State.
Bu(; he did have such luck. One day he started
to bring in a lot of section hands, at his own
expense, on a gravel train. The engine jumped
the track, and Joe and his brother didn t reach
town till three hours after the polls closed. Joe
was beaten by one majority. Another time he
imported a lot of Irishmen from Kansas and kept
them for two weeks. On election-day they all got
drunk and went fishing. There never was any
thing like it for luck.
"Naturally, Joe got a little discouraged. His
farm began to play out, as farms will when they
are run as political annexes, and his wife and chil
dren were considerably annoyed by malaria. So
Joe reckoned he d pull up and quit. It looked a
The Wanderings of Joseph Macon. 201
little inviting over on the Kansas side, and he
moved across and purchased a few acres near the
river. There was plenty of good land cheap a few
miles back in the country,, but Joe said he was
tired and didn t like to travel, anyhow, and he
thought he d try it around the edge, just to see
how Kansas was going to suit. If he liked it, he
could dip a little farther in any time.
" Well, with Joe s record as a Union soldier, and
on the strength of his fracas with Jim Cole, he
could have had a good thing in Kansas. But here
is where his confounded luck came in again. Just
about this time Cleveland was elected President,
and Joe took it into his head that he wanted to be
postmaster. Of course, that killed him with the
Republicans, and the fight over the office grew so
hot that the party was disrupted, and two-thirds
of the Democratic leaders had it in for Joe. To
crown his sorrows, another fellow got the office,
and the next year the river rose and washed out
his farm. Then Joe gave up, and took to drink,
which he had sort of been taking to pretty natur
ally for some years. Ilis wife died, and his daugh
ters married off, and it left him free to do about as
he pleased. He was such a good-natured fellow
that everybody liked him, and he was always
sergeant-at-arms at Democratic conventions on
account of his great strength and his love of order.
"Down in Joe s neighborhood the county inva-
202 The Wandering* of Joseph Macon.
riably had its final Democratic rally of the cam
paign. The boys would gather from all quarters,
build a huge camp-fire and circle around it while
the speaking was going on. Every man was sup
posed to bring his own private jug of JefTersonian
doctrine, and as the meeting never adjourned until
the doctrine gave out there was a good deal of
oratory. At such times Joe was in his element,
and always saw that everything was pleasant and
"That reminds me," said the Colonel, "that I
am getting a little parched. Beg pardon. You
were about to order the drinks when I interrupted
you. Xo, my boy, not for the world ; you spoke
first. 1 shall be happy to drink with you."
When he had measurably refreshed himself, the
Colonel proceeded :
" I remember being present at one of these
rallies. I was invited to address the County
Democracy on the character of Jefferson. Al
though I was a stranger to most of the statesmen
assembled, they honored me with profound atten
tion, and, I may say with modesty, unstinted
applause. When we first met together around
the fire, I noticed with displeasure that there was
a nigger present, not as a servant, which would
have been perfectly proper, but as a Democrat and
a brother. I spoke to two or three gentlemen about
it, but as they seemed to treat it with indilTer-
The Wanderings of Joseph Macon. 203
dice, I could not, as a guest, object. For a time the
greatest harmony prevailed, but as the toasts grew
more frequent and the good liquor began to cir
culate, I could observe a marked change in the
demeanor of the crowd. Occasionally a gentle
man would look np and catch sight of the nigger,
and a look of astonishment would come over his
face, as if he observed him for the first time.
And by and by the whole crowd began to scrutinize
the nigger in an aggrieved and injured way, not
exactly in a hostile manner, but with that air
which suggests perplexity, annoyance, inability to
account for the presence of an interloper.
" As I recall it, Judge Gentry, as grand a Demo
crat as "ever drew the breath of life, was speaking
of the comprehensive principles of Democracy.
The fire had burned low, and we were unable to
distinguish faces around the circle. The Judge
had reached an eloquent climax in which he glori
fied the equality of man as sustained by the Dem
ocracy, and thanked God that we had met that
night as brothers in a grand universal brother
hood, when there came the sound of two quick
blows, and a man tumbled back into the fire. As
he fell, the embers, displaced by the body, shot up
a sudden flame, and we recognized the features of
the nigger. And, do you know, as a most remark
able example of spontaneity of thought, every man
in that circle jumped to his feet and shouted :
204 The Wanderings of Joseph Macon.
Hurrah for Joe Macon ! It was one of the
grandest, most inspiring sights I ever witnessed.
Judge Gentry told me that, in all his forty years of
labor for the Democratic party, he had never ob
served a more thrilling tribute to a party worker."
" Did they send him to Congress, Colonel ? "
" No, sir ; poor Joe was too far gone at that
time to receive any reward, however merited. A
few months later he was taken into the Soldiers
Home, that beautiful haven of rest prepared by
our country for those who have fought her battles.
I spent a Sunday with him. As I came up the
walk from the station, here was Joe jabbering with
a couple of old fellows in blue, and drawing in the
gravel with his cane. He was saying : Now, it
was just like this at Bull s Run. Here were the
rebels over here in the woods, and here was our
command down by the stream that ran along this
"When I had him alone I said: Joe, what
were you talking about, you old rascal? You
know that you never were at Bull s Run.
"And Joe looked at me in a doubtful sort of
way, and said : * Colonel, I ve told that lie so
many times since I ve been here that I m gettin to
believe it myself. "
IT is related in the brief chronicles of the
adventures of Moses in Egypt that, after the
law-giver, with Divine assistance, had subjected
Pharaoh to various annoyances such as murrain
of beasts, tremendous crops of frogs and flies, pain
ful boils and blains and a visitation of hail, he
caused a shower of locusts that not only covered
the land and ate up every green thing, but super
induced the bold statement that "before them
there were no such locusts as they, neither after
them shall be such." Doubtless, Moses was per
fectly honest in this opinion, for, prophet as he
was, he could not foresee the possibilities of the
great American continent. Indeed, all Christian
lands have accepted this promise with a security
that argued well for their faith ; but, in an evil
moment for Moses, people began to move into
Kansas. Now Kansas has always prided itself on
its ability as a record-breaker, and, despite the
orthodox religious sentiment there prevalent, it is
doubtful whether it has ever regarded Moses as a
leader in the same class with John Brown. And
as for Pharaoh s little experience with the locusts,
308 The Distribution.
you can get thousands of affidavits in Kansas any
day to the effect that a Mosaic locust is to a Kan
sas grasshopper what a humming-bird is to a spar
row-hawk. These affidavits are not intended to be
irreverent or unorthodox, but are merely the out
growth of patriotism and State pride.
In fact, the Kansas man, having rallied from the
plague, is as proud of his grasshopper as a woman
is of her pet poodle. The Egyptian article sub
sisted on green things, but the Kansas variety is
claimed to have devoured cord-wood, kitchen
utensils and bits of scrap-iron and nails; in truth,
everything except the mortgage, which thus far
seems to have escaped even the ingenuity of Provi
dence. Whoever visits Kansas in these days should
not fail to ask the inhabitant to tell him about
the iron pot half-devoured by the ravenous insects,
or the crowbar into which they burrowed in their
efforts to make a square meal. These things are
now among the sacred traditions of the State, and
will be properly attested before a notary. When
one sits down to write of them, he cannot avoid
the conviction that Pharaoh s trouble has been
very greatly overestimated.
Nobody contends that the Lord sent the grass
hopper into Kansas, as previously He showered the
locusts upon Egypt. If any significance of divine
motive appears in this visitation, it is that He
afflicted Kansas as, many centuries before, He vis-
The Distribution. 209
itecl sorrow upon Job a test of strength and for
bearance. At least this is the popular Kansas idea,
and it is entitled to consideration.
After all, there is much that is compensatory in
the workings of Providence, and while the Lord
sent the grasshoppers as a sort of gentle reminder
that the Kansas man was putting on more airs
than the average farmer is entitled to under a high
protective tariff, he had compromised the blow by
granting a wheat crop of sufficient yield to prevent
a disastrous season of infidelity. And then, as this
concession appeared to be too strong an evidence
of favor and discrimination against Job, he gave
the devil permission to supplement the grasshopper
pest with a drought that ate up the farmers
patience as neatly as the insects devoured his
grain. Such was the condition of affairs at Dob
bins the morning after the grasshopper convention
Dobbins had never figured very extensively in
the political history of Kansas, partly because it
was a new town and partly because its settlers had
not had the advantage of previous training in
Ohio or Indiana. It had never turned out any
thing more formidable in a political way than a
candidate for the Legislature, and he had been
beaten by a combination which Judge Jefferson
always referred to as "circumstances."
Judge Thomas Jefferson, or the " Jedge," as he
210 The Distribution.
was familiarly called, was the one character in
Dobbins who, everybody conceded, had been
strangely and harshly neglected by fate. To the
simple people among whom he lived he was a mine
of information and learning, a vast repository of
facts and figures. To him went all the neighbors
with questions and problems, and it is due to the
Judge to say that he answered them promptly
with great facility. It was largely through the
Judge s aptness in answering questions off-hand
that for a time the idea prevailed in certain circles
of Dobbins that Leviticus was a Roman general.
And when the minister sought to dispel this illu
sion the Judge explained, with great impressive-
ness, that there were two distinct branches of the
family, the Hebrew and the Eoman, and that he
had naturally supposed that the question referred
to the modern representative who had distin
guished himself by his great gallantry in the
second Punic war. f Oh, well," said the Judge, in
the off-hand way that characterizes men of great
erudition, "if you mean the Hebrew fellow, I sup
pose the parson s right." And as the Judge pro
nounced the word with the accent on the first
syllable the impression grew that Leviticus was an
old Mosaic humorist. So the Judge emerged
from the argument with greater prestige than
The Judge had moved into Kansas from Mis-
The Distribution. 211
souri at the close of the civil war, and had settled
down on Dry Creek, which subsequently marked
the southern limits of the town of Dobbins. It
was confidently believed by his fellow-citizens that
in Missouri he had been a distinguished jurist, and
that he had been obliged to fly from home on
account of his loyalty to the Union and for the
reason that old Caspar s father left Blenheim
they burnt his dwelling to the ground. This im
pression the Judge never undertook to correct.
13ut in Kansas he was content to live on his past
reputation, and to make ends meet with such little
manual labor as a small gentleman farmer could
with dignity allow.
The early history of Judge Jefferson was a sealed
book. Indeed, the gentleman himself avoided all
inquiries tending to lead up to personal matters,
and at such times bore so unmistakable a look of
pain that it was admitted by common consent that
he was the hero of a mystery ; but whether a
romance or a lynching, it was impossible to tell.
When he had first appeared on Dry Creek, he had
been distinguished for his long, luxuriant hair and
an expansive shirt front. In later years he had
curtailed his locks, but retained the prestige of
exposing a wider area of shirt bosom than any man
in the district. In politics he was, as his name
would indicate, a Democrat, and while this fact did
not deprive him of any social pleasures, it proved
212 The Distribution.
a barrier to the realization of those hopes that at
one time or another inflame every voter in Kansas.
"In this world/ said the Judge, "I am a martyr
to principle, but in the great and notable day of
the Lord I shall find my recompense."
As Dobbins grew the Judge began to branch out.
He it was who opened the first real estate office,
organized the first town-lot company, and called
the attention of Eastern capitalists to the golden
opportunities that were waiting to be picked up
along Dry Creek. It was the Judge who presided
at all the public meetings, made the most stirring
public-spirited addresses, and cheerfully gave his
time and his eloquence to offset the cash contribu
tions of those less gifted and less influential.
Yet in spite of these exertions and this laudable
display of public spirit Dobbins remained a village,
and the Judge showed no evidence of prosperity.
In fact, the little farm on the creek began to run
down, and the Judge s shirt bosom, never of im
maculate whiteness, bore tobacco stains somewhat
deeper and more numerous than before. Things
looked squally for the descendant of the great
One day a letter came saying that the Judge s
wife had come into possession of a three-hundred-
dollar legacy through the timely demise of a super
fluous relative. In honor of this felicitous event,
the next day being the Sabbath of the Lord, the
The Distribution. 213
Judge gave a dinner-party to his daughters and
sons-in-law, his sons and daughters-in-law, and
their heirs and assigns of all ages. The older
members of the family were still sitting at the
table, and the heirs and assigns were playing in
the yard, when there came a tap, tap, tap at the
window pane. The Judge had reached a point in
his discourse where he was disposing of the last
hundred dollars of the legacy, and he looked an
noyed by the interruption.
"It s only the children," said his wife, sooth
"As I was saying," went on the Judge,
mean to take this last portion of the money and
apply it to " And again came the tap, tap,
tap. The Judge looked over his spectacles to catch
the culprits at the window, but they were not in
sight. " To take this money and apply it to the
improvement of the " And for the third time,
and louder than before, came the tap, tap, tap.
"Bill," said the Judge, "I wish you d go out
and drive those children away. This money came
to us lawfully, and it seems as though we might
have the privilege of disposing of it as we please."
Bill rose carelessly and went to the door, lie
opened it and looked out. Then he closed it
quickly and turned to the old man with his face
" My God, father, it s grasshoppers ! "
214 TJie Distribution.
The company jumped from the table and rushed
to the door and windows. A cloud of insects
almost shut out the sky, and thousands had already
settled down on the trees and ripening grain.
Even as the startled farmers looked the vegetation
seemed to disappear, and, as if in a moment, the
valley was like a prairie swept by tire or a country
sacked and pillaged by the conquerors in war. The
Judge looked first at the destroyers and then at his
sons. " Boys/ said he, " we re busted, by ! "
A less indomitable spirit than Thomas Jefferson,
the namesake and descendant of the man who con
structed the cradle of liberty, would have been
crushed by this misfortune. But the Judge was
unconquerable. In fact, he experienced a glow of
pleasure, as it were, in the reflection that at last
he was a "sufferer." The old-time Kansun exults
in "suffering." He esteems it a natural stage
through which he must pass in order to reach the
true dignity of life. A life in Kansas without
some of the cruel tests and disappointments that
beset a new country is to subject the citizen to
suspicion and distrust, and to cause him to be
looked upon as a Sybarite and an enemy to existing
conditions. So the Judge, with a flutter of pride,
mounted his horse, which the grasshoppers had
spared, and rode to town.
The ruin had been so widespread that the Judge
soon found himself in the company of the most
The Distribution. 215
prosperous farmers of the valley, and it required
very little argument to convince them that the
calamity was one that appealed directly to the
sympathy and charity of the entire nation.
" As one who has been prostrated by this heavy
blow," said the Judge, "I shall take the liberty of
calling a public meeting, to be held in the Method
ist church to-morrow afternoon, to devise means to
lay our misfortunes properly before the country. "
When the Judge called this meeting to order
the church was filled with sufferers and their
friends. The Judge began with great dignity.
He reminded his hearers that their misfortune was
not unparalleled ; that the Romans, returning from
the second Punic war, had found their crops devas
tated by a similar pest. Should the citizens of
Dobbins be less courageous than the people of
Rome ? Should they not bear up under their
affliction, at the same time setting forth the exact
facts in order that the country might not be
debarred from the blessed privilege of giving of its
Jim Hodgman demurred. Jim had always
looked upon the Judge as a Missouri mossback, and
thwarted him in every possible way. He admitted
that he didn t know anything about a Punic war,
or what the Romans did, but when he was in
Kansas he believed in doing as the Kansans did.
He had looked around the room, and while there
216 The Distribution.
were some honest farmers present, the meeting was
composed largely of men who couldn t be hurt by
a dozen grasshopper invasions. For his own part,
he had raised a good crop of wheat, and was in no
danger of starving. lie moved the meeting
The Judge replied with great eloquence and
fervor. lie submitted to the council of "sturdy
farmers and their friends " that a cry of distress
was going up all over Kansas ; that the grout,
newspapers of the country would be tilled with
dispatches from every county and town. Could
Dobbins afford to miss this glorious opportunity to
advertise itself in the Eastern press ?
Mr. Ilodgman asked, with a slight shade of sar
casm, if that was the policy adopted by the suffer
ing Romans after the second Punic war.
Judge Jefferson answered with spirit that the
facilities of the old Romans were somewhat abridged,
but that they were great hands to take advantage
of their opportunities.
Tom Meade thought that Dobbins would acquire
a better measure of advertising by taking care of
itself and declining all offers of assistance. This
opinion created a flutter and great agitation on
the part of the Jefferson contingent.
Mr. Hodgraan renewed his motion to adjourn.
The motion was lost, and a committee was
appointed to draft resolutions setting forth the
The Distribution. 217
calamity that had overtaken the Dry Creek Valley
and the town of Dobbins, and imploring such
assistance as a generous nation could grant. At
his own suggestion Judge Jefferson was selected
to go to Kansas City to stir up the Board of Trade
to a realization of the disaster. Thereupon the
meeting adjourned, subject to the call of the chair
man of the executive committee.
That great director of public sentiment, the
Dobbins Enterprise, forewarned the merchants of
Kansas City that they would be waited upon by
the Hon. Thomas Jefferson, a victim of the
great scourge, and at the same time a man who had
lost sight of his own troubles in the awful calamity
that had overtaken his fellow-citizens. It bespoke
for the advocate a generous welcome and a hearty
measure of aid, and presented him to the great
commercial Samaritans as one of the foremost
men of Kansas, the peer of the brightest and the
pride of the best. The Judge thoughtfully mailed
several copies of this formal introduction to the
newspapers, the banks and the Board of Trade of
the Southwestern metropolis. Then he brushed
up his best clothes and started for the city.
A smaller man than the Judge, a man less self-
contained, less conscious of the high philanthropy
of his mission, less impressed with the urgency of
the cause that drove him from hjs rnial quiet into
the noise and bustle of the citv. would have been
218 The Distribution.
overwhelmed by the reflection that he was seeking
the ear of strangers and the co-operation of men
engrossed with their own affairs. But the Judge
was not easily daunted. In less than six hours
after his arrival in the city lie had conversed with
three reporters, and not only painted a harrowing-
picture of the desolating scenes along Dry Creek,
but had reviewed in full the parallel circumstances
of the second Punic war, and had outlined the
probable policy of the Democratic party in the
coming campaign. Two papers spoke of him as
"one of the most distinguished of Democracy s
chieftains," and a third styled him that "old wheel-
horse of Democracy." The second day he was on
Change laboring with the moneyed men, and set
ting forth, in his most picturesque manner, the
terrors of the plague that had paralyzed the ener
gies of Dobbins and clogged the wheels of com
"Our town, gentlemen," said the Judge, "has
enjoyed the closest commercial relations with your
city. It is for this reason, if for no other, that
we have come at once to you in our distress. I
would ask, if it were feasible, that you should send
a committee of your body to see for yourselves the
extent of our sufferings, but time presses, and
affliction brooks no delay."
Not one man in forty had ever heard of Dobbins,
but the Judge was fertile in resources, and the
Tlic Distribution. 219
next morning the newspapers printed diagrams of
the town and Dry Creek in the very heart of an
appalling waste of grasshoppers. Board of Trade
men are notoriously open-handed, and this evi
dence of suffering touched them. Before the week
was out a purse of nearly $1,500 had been pre
sented to the Judge, and a carload of corn-meal
was ordered shipped to Dobbins without delay.
Publius Scipio, returning from the second
Panic war, could not have experienced a greater
measure of personal satisfaction than was felt by
the Judge as he took the train for Dobbins. And
he argued forcibly with himself as he bowled along :
" It is a principle promulgated by a great statesman
that to the victors belong the spoils ! Such princi
ples, however, should be governed by circum
stances. I will apply only $200 to my own expenses
out of the $1,450 I have raised by my eloquence
An hour later he said : " It would appear that I
am robbing myself. I will take $100 more for my
Still a third time the devil tempted him, and he
communed : " Why conceal from myself the knowl
edge of my necessities ? Four hundred dollars will
be a poor reward for my labors." And then, with
the keen appreciation of a man who enjoys a quiet
joke, he asked the conductor to lose no time, as
every hour deprived a suffering community of
means of relief.
The return of the Judge to Dobbins was wel
comed by a joyous outpouring of sufferers!" The
train that bore the distinguished representative of
smitten agriculture brought also, from Topeka, a
relief committee and a carload of donations, princi
pally in the way of wearing-apparel, warranted
grasshopper-proof. As the Judge stepped on the
platform he was met by Jim Hodgrnan, who pro
pounded a few blithe questions touching the
present relative condition of the Punic war and
the Dry Creek invasion. To these ribald taunts
the Judge replied with dignity, and an adjourn
ment was taken to 2 p. M. to allow the committee
to lay out the clothing.
It must be admitted that gratitude was not one
of the shining virtues of the Dobbins sufferers.
As the relief committee cordially invited the vic
tims to step up and inspect the coats and trousers
generously provided for their necessities, many
were the exclamations of disappointment.
"This here coat is five years old if it s a day,"
said Bill Xixon.
" Ain t there no watch-pocket in them trousers,
Bill?" asked Sim Mayfield.
"What do you want of a watch-pocket?" said
Ilodgmau. "Next thing you ll be wanting a
The Distribution. 221
"Got any white vests?" inquired Joe Morgan.
Joe was the dude sufferer.
"What do we want with these old duds, any
how ? " exclaimed John Tully, with indignation.
" The corn s all gone, and there ain t no need of
"There s a reasonable amount of suffer! 11 round
here," said Bill, "but I m inclined to think, from
the looks of these offerings, that the calamity has
Mr. William Ray, the tenor of the Methodist
choir, stepped up briskly. "There s to be an
entertainment at the church to-night for the bene
fit of the sufferers," said he. "If no gentleman
has any objections, we ll take these things to help
out the costumes."
"Take em along, Bill," replied Joe ; "they may
come in handy after all."
Mr. Morgan s prediction was verified. The
costumes were the glittering feature of the enter
tainment, and the sufferers who came early, paid
their twenty-five cents each, and occupied the
front seats, applauded liberally.
"It s a darned good show," said John Tully,
approvingly, "and we ought to get some money
out of it. But I don t see what we d have clone
without them fixin s."
Judge Jefferson appeared on the stage and was
o-reeted with a great round of applause. He
unbuttoned his vest and waved his hand with
" Fellow-sufferers, I think I may say as much,
for we are all sufferers in this common cause, I
have been requested to thank our fellow-citizens
for getting up this delightful entertainment for
our benefit, and also to include the relief com
mittee from Topeka that has assisted so materially
in our pleasure this evening. Ancl so I pass to
another agreeable surprise. I have the pleasure
of informing you that I have returned from Kan
sas City with a cash contribution of $1,050. I
have ventured to withhold the modest sum of $50
for my expenses, and will now turn over the balance
of $1,000 to your chairman."
Tremendous enthusiasm followed this announce
ment. Three cheers were given for the Judge,
who was surrounded by his fellow-citizens and
complimented for his industry and generosity.
Then Jim Hodgman took the stand.
"If the meeting is agreeable," said Jim, "I
should like to ask permission of the visiting com
mittee to use their cars for the purpose of ship
ping our wheat."
The committee, somewhat dazed by the turn of
events, thought the matter could be arranged, and
the company dispersed with many bright anticipa
tions for the future.
Three or four days after the c]istribution. Judge
The Distribution. 223
Jefferson, Bill Nixon and two or three more of
the boys were sitting in Sam Turner s grocery,
when the Judge said :
" Boys, there s a load of corn-meal down on the
side-track which nohody seems to claim. Til
play you a game of seven-up to see who gets it. "
"I ll go you," said Bill.
So the cards were dealt and the game pro
gressed until everybody had been frozen out save
Bill and the Judge. It was the last hand. Bill
lacked one point, the Judge two.
"I stand right now," said Bill ; "what yer got,
"King high here."
" King is good. I stand on tray for low."
"Deuce here," replied the Judge.
"Darn such luck !" said Bill; "take the corn-
The Judge went out whistling a merry tune.
As he passed down the street he encountered the
Rev. Mr. Henry.
"Good morning, Judge," quoth the dominie.
"Howdy," replied the Judge.
"Ah, Judge," said the reverend gentleman,
earnestly, " I think that Dobbins has much to be
thankful for, that through the blessing of Provi
dence it has been enabled to surmount its afflic
tion and distress. I trust that we all appreciate
the goodness and loving kindness of the Lord,"
94 The Distribution.
The Judge hastily thrust a stray card into his
pocket, patted his old wallet affectionately, rolled
over his quid with an easy movement of his tongue,
and replied, solemnly :
"He doeth all things well."
That H^wful Miss goulder.
THAT AWFUL MISS BOULDER.
FEMALE society was all agog. At the lunch
eons, the teas, the little dinner-parties; at the
meetings of the literary clubs; in short, wher
ever the ladies for pleasure or instruction came
together, the first eager questions were : " Well,
have you seen her ? " " And pray what is she like ? "
The unhappy masculine creature who is plumped
down in a coterie of women at one of those times
when they are supposed to be enjoying themselves
may well believe that the world is given over to
small things. He may deprecate, he may shrug
his shoulders, he may protest in his puny lordly
way, but, Heaven defend him, he is of no more
consequence than my lady s cat, and much less an
object of interest than my lady s poodle. Perhaps
this is why the sensible man avoids afternoon
gatherings when the dog-star rages.
The cause of the present social agitation was in
the nature of a remarkable invasion involving
delicate treatment and the most diplomatic meas
ures. The first explosion had taken place a month
before when the omniscient Mrs. Audrain, swollen
with pride and information, and triumphant in
That Awful Miss Moulder.
the blessedness of a piece of gossip, had announced
that " the Boulders are coming back." And this
intelligence naturally prompted the younger gen
eration to ask : " Who are the Boulders ? "
Major Boulder had lived in Missouri at a time
when " living " for a Union man was measurably
precarious and never of unalloyed pleasure. Where
he came from nobody seemed to know. Connect
icut, said some ; Ohio, others; others, New York.
All agreed that he was a Yankee in the loathsome
significance of the word, and the Major would not
even take the trouble to deny it. If questioned
sharply, he would reply that he was a lawyer, and
would point to his shingle as corroborative evi
dence, thereby intimating that professional confi
dence must be remunerated. For, albeit a Yankee,
it was reluctantly admitted that he was a smart
Yankee. Hence the feeling against him was
intensified to a virulent degree.
When South Carolina committed the indiscre
tion of firing on Fort Sumter, Boulder he wasn t
a major then unreservedly declared that it was a
"damned outrage," and when the State began to
divide in sentiment he was among the first to join
the Federal ranks. His military career was brief,
for in less than nine months he came back with a
desperate wound. Experience, however, didn t
change his sentiments or lessen the vigor of his
expressions, and so violent were his speeches that
That Awful Miss Boulder. 229
the gentlemanly and efficient contemporaneous
regulator, Bill Anderson, marked him for destruc
tion. One day the Major was missing. No great
attention would have been paid to this, but, un
happily, pretty Susie Gentry was missing also.
Inquiry was made at the Gentry residence. " The
repo t," said the Colonel, "is cor-rect. But
have a quick eye to see;
She hath deceived her father and may thee. "
The Colonel was a man of wide reading and
quick and pertinent phrase.
To make an otherwise unnecessary introduction
desirably short, let it be remembered that the
Major fled with his young bride to Colorado,
speculated in mines, made a. handsome fortune,
and, after twenty years of good luck and happi
ness, yielded to the thin air, and died. His wife,
now possessed of three daughters and a comfort
able income, found her heart turning back to Mis
souri and her childhood associations. Behold
them, then, fairly domesticated in the lower
breathing-levels as this tale opens.
The apparently innocent question, "Have you
seen her ? " did not refer directly to the pretty girl
who had run away with the Yankee twenty-five
years before. It was prompted by the revelations
of the grocer s boy, who, being on oath, testified
to old % Mrs. Dallas that , while delivering an order at
the back door, he had seen a mannish-looking girl
230 That Awful Miss Boulder.
at the dining-room window, with a cigarette in her
mouth and her feet on a dead-level with her head.
This startling report Mrs. Dallas promptly com
municated to Mrs. Mercer, who in turn repeated it
to Mrs. Lawrence, from whom Mrs. Crawford re
ceived it, and so on until the entire community of
men, women and children knew that the Boulders
smoked and sat with their feet on the mantel.
"I can readily believe that story," said Mrs.
Au drain, "for when my sister, Mrs. Brown, was in
Paris last summer she met the eldest Miss Boulder
at one of those horrid French shows where there is
very little dressing and a good deal of kicking.
The interest that girl took in the sight actually
made my sister shudder. At last she went up to
her and said : Why, my dear Miss Boulder, pray
what are you doing here? And the girl turned
around as cool as you please and replied : Pray,
my dear Mrs. Brown, what are you doing here ? J
My sister was a good deal surprised, but she said,
very gently: Why, you know I m married/
And this girl just laughed and tossed her head and
answered : < Well, by the grace of God, I hope to
be/ Did you ever in your life ?"
And all the ladies present agreed that they
never did, and that she must be "perfectly horrid,"
and some remembered that she looked "healthy
enough," and might be reasonably pretty were it
not for a "rather cold eye " and a " bad nose." As
That Awful Miss Boulder. 231
for her dressing, it was respectable, considering that
she had " come from the West. "
This phrase, "from the West," is purely relative,
after all. The New England man regards Buffalo
as the confines of the setting sun. The Ohio man
goes " West " to Illinois. In Chicago they think of
the country beyond the Missouri River. Kansas
remembers that it is the geographical center of the
United States. In the Rocky Mountains they
remind you that they are 1,200 miles east of the
Pacific Ocean, and when the traveler reaches San
Francisco and swears that at last he has run down
the West, lo ! he finds a kingdom in itself. So the
pursuit is hopeless. There is no West.
Miss Boulder was not unconscious of the sensa
tion she had created. Indeed, she rather enjoyed
it. "Excuse me," she said, -apologetically, to Mrs.
Audrain, " if I appear to be a tenderfoot to your
conventionalities." "And what," said the bewil
dered lady, in narrating the incident to her friends,
" is a tenderfoot ? "
But if to the ladies she was a revelation, to
the men she was a "stunner," q, "corker," a
"thoroughbred," anything that in the masculine
vernacular signifies a high-stepping girl out of the
ordinary. She knew the latest and the best jokes,
and some of them were club jokes at that. She
told a story capitally, and when she laughed she
gave a hearty, ringing laugh that made society
232 That Awful Mis* Boulder.
shiver. In the ball-room she held court in a cor
ner, and a very full court it was. The women
turned up their noses and sniffed contemptuously at
"that girl" with her "brazen manners" and her
"off-color stories," but every male creature dropped
around at least twice in an evening to get a bit of
Kocky Mountain breeze and, perhaps with a little
malicious incentive, to shock the austere pro
prieties of Madam Grundy.
At the dinner-table she always remembered that
she had heard such a good story that wouldn t
keep. And to do her justice, it was a story that
had the evidences of having been kept a little too
long. The ladies shivered and turned pale and red
by turns, and fled precipitately at the first oppor
tunity. All of which was highly diverting to the
awful Miss Boulder, who followed the gentlemen
into their smoking-retreat and said : " Xow, fel
lows, the girls are away; let s enjoy ourselves."
And the laughter and hilarity that floated back
into the drawing-room made the mothers of mar
riageable daughters tremble with indignation and
send in for their sons on the most trivial pretexts.
The catch of the season beyond perad venture
was Willie Worth. Willie was the remaining prop
of an illustrious house that had exercised good
judgment during a wild period of real estate specu
lation. Timely and advantageous deaths in his
family had left him with a great fortune, no posi-
That Awful Miss Boulder. 233
tive habits of evil, and a weak and tremulous
inclination to do good. Willie was tall and slen
der, a partial victim to inanition, too weak to work
if he had the desire, and too rich if he hadn t. So
he passed his time in a hopeless endeavor to spend
his income and to avoid the snares of match-mak
ing mothers and the pitfalls of shrewd and calcu
The advent of the awful Miss Boulder jarred
Willie from a spell of despondency. Her strong,
robust figure appealed to his enfeebled sensibili
ties ; her high animal spirits fascinated him. Her
laugh went through him like the shock of an elec
tric battery, and her stories, while they made his
teeth chatter and his hair rise gently, filled him
with an indescribable longing for more. At first
he was content to hang on the outskirts of her
admirers, but little by little he drew nearer,
until one evening she asked him, kindly, why he
never invited her to dance. That completed the
spell, for Willie s dancing amounted to a positive
disease, from which the girls shrank as they would
from a plague. So Willie haunted her with his
long, trembling figure and melancholy face. He
even smoked a few cigarettes in order that he
might be near her after dinner and catch some of
the ozone which she distributed so lavishly. Per
ceiving which, the mothers trembled more violently
234: That Awful Mixs Boulder.
and wished the more heartily that the "creature"
had never left her mountain fastnesses.
In turn, Miss Boulder was attracted by the gen
tle Willie. It was the kindly law of opposites.
She was so vigorous, so straight, so full of rich
arterial blood ; he so frail, so willowy, so bloodless.
80 she petted him, and smiled on him, and allowed
him to wait on her. And one night in com
pany she called him "Billy," a favor which he
repaid with a look of the most eloquent gratitude.
But beyond this matters did not progress. She
had no time for sentiment.
It was at the third and final summer reception
of the Prairie Club. Miss Boulder had been in
unusual spirits, and her jests and sallies had paled
the electric lights. Very handsome Miss Boulder
looked, and in marked contrast was her perfect
physical womanhood to the emaciated form of
Willie, who was trembling perceptibly with weak
ness and pleasure. Miss Boulder was taking one
of a series of ices with Willie in a corner of the
summer-garden, and a pleasant hush had fallen
upon the inviting scene.
"Billy," said the awful Miss Boulder, suddenly,
"why don t you come down to see my kid ?"
" Your wh what ? " gasped Willie.
" My kid, my baby. Don t you know that I
have a baby ? "
Willie wiped the cold perspiration from his
That Awful Miss Boulder. 235
brow. " I didn t know that is, I hadn t heard -
you ll pardon me, but I don t believe I exactly
Miss Boulder gave one of her invigorating
laughs. "Don t say anything about it, Billy boy,
for you might get me into trouble and summarily
ruin my reputation. Come down to-morrow after
noon, and I ll let you into a secret."
Willie sat up late that night and smoked a
cigarette, as was his custom when he was very
stern and desperate. Plainly he had allowed
matters to go too far. He had permitted himself
to think even tenderly of a young woman who not
only defied cherished conventions, but openly
flaunted her improprieties in the face of her
warmest and stanchest friend. It was not too
late. lie would show this brazen creature that he
was a man sans sans sans something; he
couldn t remember exactly what it was. Willie was
not strong in the modern languages. And he went
to bed very white from the double effect of emotion
But in the morning the old feeling came back.
After all, it might be a mistake. Was it not an
undisputed fact that this girl was a madcap to
whom nothing was too sacred for a jest ? Of
course it was a jest, Any fool could see that, and
Willie was prepared to admit in defense of his
lady-love that he was very much of a fool.
236 That An fid Mi** Boulder.
So, after luncheon, having braced himself with
such stimulating influence as a soda cocktail affords,
Willie went down to the Boulder residence. For
a moment he stood on the porch and admired the
clematis that climbed up and around the column,
and he recalled, with a sudden gush of feeling, that
Miss Boulder had worn a dress of that color at a lawn
fete. The reminiscence nearly took him oil his
feet, but he steadied himself and rang the bell.
Miss Boulder answered the summons. It was
shockingly unconventional, but Willie rather liked
it. It made him feel that the young woman w r as
anxious to see him, and in this event any lapse
was excusable. There was a serious look in Miss
Boulder s gray eyes, and almost a sadness in her
voice as she said, gently :
" I was afraid that perhaps you would not come.
Step in, Mr. Worth. It is cooler in the house."
Willie was greatly troubled. He had nerved,
himself to be calm, collected ; to exhibit a frigid
ity bordering even upon hauteur. Had she called
him Billy he was prepared to stiffen and greet her
with a chilling and commonplace phrase. But
"Mr. Worth" was entirely too unexpected for his
programme. It brought before him a gaping
abyss. On the other side of a yawning chasm
stood Miss Boulder, lie gazed at her helplessly
and shambled into the house, his old weakness re
turning with alarming rapidity.
That Awful J//sx Bouldrr. 237
Miss Boulder preserved her gravity of tone.
" You seemed so unlike yourself when we parted
last night ; you were so preoccupied and so silent
that I was sure I had offended you. And you
know, Willie" (this with a most engaging air),
"that I could not bear to have you angry with
The young man fidgeted nervously in his chair.
"I presume I was thinking of that baby."
Miss Boulder s face lighted up, and she laughed
quietly. " I promised I would let you into a secret.
Wait a minute, and I will produce the important
. When she had gone to execute the writ of habeas
corpus, Willie played with his watch-chain and
endeavored to bring his shattered intellect to a
proper realization of the situation. He had not
untangled his wits when Miss Boulder returned
with a triumphant flush on her cheeks and a great
mass of seemingly superfluous clothing in her
"There," said Miss Boulder, "what do you think
of my little beauty ? "
Willie rose irresolutely and poked feebly at the
bundle with his stick. Then he drew a little
nearer and clucked once or twice. Feeling the
necessity of saying something, he remarked : " It s
a beautiful child, but it seems to have a lot of
color. Why, it s got its eyes open."
That Awful Miss Boulder.
"Of courses" answered Miss Boulder, with sonic
asperity; "you don t suppose that babies are like
cats, do you ? "
"1 didn t know," said Willie, doubtfully; "I
thought perhaps some of them might be."
"K"ot until they re grown up," said Miss Boul
der, reflectively. And she cast a wicked look across
the street, where old Mrs. Dallas had her habita
A long silence followed. Then Willie plunged
in desperately : - It doesn t look a bit like you."
"Sir I "said Miss Boulder.
"I suppose it takes after its father. I have
heard somewhere that girl babies always do take
after the father, though I don t see why they
should. I presume it has something to do with
"On the contrary," said Miss Boulder, coolly,
"the baby is the perfect picture of the mother."
Willie stared at the young girl and marveled at
her extraordinary self -possession. So innocent and
fair she looked, so seemingly unconscious of the
great shadow she had thrown on her life. He shut
his eyes and groaned inwardly.
"And now," said Miss Boulder, gayly, "now for
the secret. You know, perhaps, that I do a little
slumming in a quiet and private way, just for my
own amusement. Doubtless, you read in the paper
of the man who was killed by the falling of the
That Awful Miss Boulder. 239
elevator, and of the death of his wife from the
shock two days later. It was my luck or chance
to drop in at the house, and there I found this lit
tle baby. It looked so lonesome and so helpless
that well, I brought it home ; and now that I
have it, I suppose the whole town will be pulling
me over the coals." And the awful Miss Boulder
looked positively distressed.
Willie had well-nigh collapsed during the recital.
He shook his feeble legs together and walked to
the window. When he turned around, his face
" Margaret that is to say, Miss Boulder, I think
I should like to hold it."
"Take care," said Miss Boulder, anxiously.
" What are you feeling down there for ? Don t
you know that babies aren t measured by the
length of their clothes ? You re hunching her
dress up around her neck."
" It s a beautiful baby," cried the radiant Willie,
"even if it is a little too red and fat." Then, as if
an inspiration had seized him : " Margaret, you
come over on the sofa and hold it. I feel as if I
might drop it."
So Miss Boulder sat down on the sofa and
chirped to the baby and talked "goo" talk. And
the infant clutched at Willie s mustache, which set
that young gentleman oil in a spasm of admiration.
And Miss Boulder danced the baby in her arms
240 That Awful Mis* Jimdder.
and kissed her, and Willie leaned over and pressed
liis lips as near the same place as possible, and the
merry minutes flew by very rapidly to all concerned.
At last, in a lull of osculation, Willie straightened
his long, thin legs and said, in a strained voice :
"Margaret, I have been wanting to say some
thing to you for a long time."
"Yes, I know," replied Miss Boulder, without a
particle of trepidation; "you want to ask me to
" What a girl you are ! " exclaimed Willie, admir
ingly. "You ought to have been a mind-reader."
"Now listen, Willie," said Miss Boulder, ear
nestly; " I suppose if I were like most girls I should
blush and simper and say, <0h, Mr. Worth, this is
so sudden/ It s a foolish way that most girls
have. They arc trying to deceive you. They can
tell to the minute when a man is in love with
them. I have known for weeks that you cared for
me, and I might have drawn you out two months
ago. But I wanted to give you time to know your
own mind thoroughly."
"Then you do love me," said the fluttering
" Not so fast, please. I will confess that at first I
took a little malicious pleasure in getting you away
from the other girls. It was such fun ; they were
so awfully jealous. All the old match-makers in
town were after you, and how they glared when I
That Awful Miss Boulder. 241
whirled you up past their corner. And I did it
pretty often. But after a while I learned to miss
you when you didn t come around, and to look for
you. You were always so nice and gentle and
thoughtful and kind and and " Here the
awful Miss Boulder fell to kissing the baby raptur
" Then," said Willie, decidedly, " I don t see why
we shouldn t get married right off."
"There s something yet," went on Miss Boulder,
slowly. "I m an unconventional girl, and I know
I make awful breaks. I was brought up in the
West, where I did as I pleased, and cared for no
body s opinion. I can t say that I care very much
now, but I m not going to marry any man who is
ashamed of me."
"I m unconventional myself," said Willie,
eagerly. " I hate these forms and ceremonies, this
solemn sitting in state until a maid comes in and
breaks the deadly stillness by whispering that din
ner is served. I like a house where they ring the
dinner-bell, and people just sort of drop down and
"But you wouldn t like," said Miss Boulder,
smilingly, " a wife who has the reputation of being
loud, of telling men-stories, and" (bitterly) "of
smoking cigarettes and cocking her feet on the
mantel like a man."
" I must admit/ said the truthful Willie, " that
242 That Awful Mis* Boulder.
some of your stories are pretty tough, but after we
are married you might work em off on me in
private and let me pass on em. As for these
people here, what do we care for them ? I ve got
lots of money, and, if things don t go right, the
country is big, and Europe isn t shut up yet."
Miss Boulder did not reply. She toyed with the
baby s chubby hand a moment. Then she looked
up suddenly, and tears were in her eyes.
Willie was deeply affected. " Don t cry, Mar
garet," he said, hastily; "you re too strong and too
sort of manly to cry. I think it would be better
to let me do all the crying."
The girl smiled and said gently : " Come, Willie,
run away now, there s a good boy. W^e both need
a little time to think. " Then she added, naively ;
tf You might come around this evening after the
baby has gone to bed."
Willie, who had acquired marvelous strength
in his legs, and whose face radiated all the happi
ness of his feelings, moved briskly to the door, A
thought struck him, and he returned. The awful
Miss Boulder stood in the middle of the room,
holding the baby in her arms, kissing it and coo
ing to it as it laughed in her face. And Willie
thought he saw in her expression a loveliness, a
gentleness he had never seen before. The girl
looked up and blushed. Willie took a step for
ward and said, awkwardly :
That Awful Miss Boulder. 243
" Margaret, I thought I would like that is, if
you don t object er-r won t you let me kiss
the baby again ? "
of Qilas gcott.
THE LUCK OF SILAS SCOTT.
TKAGEDY should be short. Tales of sorrow and
despair must be quickly told. There is so much
that is bright and beautiful and alluring in life that
he is abnormally constituted who would linger and
grieve over the dark places in human existence. It
is right that the reader should know in advance
ii little of the misery that is awaiting him. If he
cannot be forewarned in the actual events of life
it does not follow that the same rule must apply to
his literature. lie deserves a measure of consid
eration from his story-teller, a sort of sign-board
that may act as a danger-signal. This is a tale with
a deep coating of umber, and he who reads may
run, if the paraphrase is permitted. At all events,
he cannot say that the warning has not been frank
Far out in Western Kansas stretches a vast coun
try, a veritable empire, rising gradually to the
Rocky Mountains, a country to tax human patience,
human industry, human ingenuity. It is a coun
try that might have exhausted the possibilities
of an Arabian night with its capriciousness, its
kaleidoscopic changes, its splendors, when fickle
248 The Luck of Silax Xcott.
Nature is favorable ; its terrors, when she frowns.
It is a country of which the Government says to
the long caravan of immigration : " Why delay in
the poor, sterile land of small things when all this
may be had for the mere asking ? " So the tide
ebbs and flows ; they go and come, and they come
and go, and the great drama of life, with its shifts
and changes, is acted over and over in the count
less stories of the wide-stretching plains.
The voyager adrift in a rowboat on the Atlantic
has no greater, no more crushing sense of his utter
loneliness than the traveler who finds himself alone
on the plains of the AVest. One is land, the other
water ; otherwise the conditions are the same.
The sun rises at the dead level of the horizon and
goes down in the same terrible expanse. In the
summer it brings its seemingly endless hours of
heat and torment ; in the winter it only mocks at
misery and fear. To add to the perplexity of the
traveler on the plains, Nature herself conspires
to taunt him. Now he sees a beautiful grove with
its restful shade and running stream, and quickly
it vanishes in the cruel disappointment of the
mirage. And now almost at his hand he welcomes
a landmark or a haven of refuge, and presses
eagerly forward, mile after mile, only to see it
dancing on before him, deluding him with the
magnifying properties of the atmosphere. If the
summer has been dry, as the summer usually is,
The Lurk of Sila* Scott. 240
the earth is brown and baked, the streams are
gone, and miles of cheerless sand are the only
promise of the day passing and the days to come.
Such pictures as these, and common as they are,
the traveler cannot exaggerate,
Silas Scott was a farmer in one of the Eastern
States, a plain, plodding, hard-working man with
enough education to keep abreast of the times, and
enough ambition to desire to better his lot. Silas
lived in a moving neighborhood. One by one his
friends and acquaintances dropped out, and word
came back to Silas that they had all gone West
and prospered. So Silas in time, for he was a
slow thinker, felt the Western fever in his blood.
He was making a living for himself and family,
but it was a living that came hard and slowly, and
there he was, tilling a few acres of ground to call
his own, when the Government was knocking at
his door, reproaching him for his conservatism,
and asking him why he didn t go out and take 1GO
acres of land in the West, just for the claiming.
Silas thought it out in his ponderous way, and the
temptation was too strong. He was young, his
wife was young, his children were strong and
healthy ; the opportunity was dazzling. So into
far Kansas came Silas with his family and began a
new existence on the plains.
The story of Silas Scott in his pursuit of an easy
living is the story that has been told a thousand
250 Tlic Luck of Silas Scott.
times by those who believe in the hard and doubt
ful qualities of luck. It was bad luck that led
Silas to the selection of his quarter section remote
from those who might have been kind and helpful
neighbors, and in a spot where only the most
favorable conditions of weather could assure a
profitable crop. It was bad luck that the year was
one of the most disastrous ever known to the
farmers of Kansas ; that the burning sun and the
unbroken drought began the work of destruction
which the fierce,, hot w^nds speedily completed.
But Silas was a man of character, with a good deal
of dogged determination. He had gone to work
to put up his little adobe house not as comforta
ble as the one he had left, the little frame dwelling
back East, but good enough for a start, and prom
ising to lead to better things. He worked early and
late, studied the conditions of the soil, and made
all the calculations and allowances that a careful
man should make. There was no time for pleasure
or relaxation, and there was no thought of it.
What mattered one or two years of toil if they led
to a peaceful future and an abundancy of fortune ?
So Silas and his wife worked on uncomplainingly,
and if the wife grew a little thinner, and both were
careworn and more weary as the weeks passed by,
neither had time to notice it.
"It ll be all right, Nancy," said Silas, when the
spring storms came on with irresistible force and
The Luck of Silas Scott. 251
washed away the results of his early labors ; " luck
is against us at the start, but it will turn."
"It s all right, Nancy," he repeated at the end of
the first year, when he sat down to figure up his
season s profits and found himself far behind his
original calculations. " A bad beginning makes a
And when, in the second summer, the long dry
spell set in, and the grain blistered and cracked in
the burning sun, his pluck never forsook him,
and his " It s all right/ was as firm as ever. Then
the winds came hot and furious, and the earth
seemed on fire ; the creeks dried up, and vegeta
tion perished. "It s all right," he muttered,
"Don t cry, Nancy," he said, when the baby,
born in that atmosphere of despair, gave up the
struggle and yielded its little life. "Perhaps it s
for the best. It s all right, or it wouldn t have
come about." And his own voice quivered.
But the mother, sitting by the bed and closing
the baby s eyes, said not a word. She was back
again in the old home, where the trees were green
and the brooks were full. The pain in her heart
was stilled, for memory had carried her away to
happier times and deluded her with a dream of the
All that suffocating day Silas sat under the
shadow of the shed, fashioning the rude coffin for
252 The Luck of titta* Xr-oti.
the dead child. The hot winds were still blowing
with that peculiar, menacing hiss that came as the
breath of the venomous serpent, but Silas worked
on, struggling with his rising doubts, and vainly
endeavoring to solace himself with his favorite
maxim, "It s all right." In the house the mother
was preparing for the burial, which was to take
place when the sun went down. On the baby s
breast and in his tiny hand she had placed little
bunches of dried flowers, the only offering that
Nature could give, and from the trunk she had
taken a battered prayer-book, that Silas might
read the service for the dead and give her baby at
least the semblance of a Christian burial.
In the evening, as they stood around the little
grave, the father, the mother and the older chil
dren, hushed and awed in the first manifestation
of irremediable affliction, Silas, in his dull, heavy
way, stumbled through the service his wife had
"I am the resurrection and the life. ... I
know that my Redeemer liveth. . . . And now,
Lord, what is my hope ? ... He hcapeth up
riches and cannot tell who shall gather them.
. . . We brought nothing into this world, and it
is certain we can carry nothing out."
These and many similar passages Silas read and
did not understand, for he was a dull man, and
grasped only the tangible things of tho present.
Tlie Luck of Silas Scott.
He filled in the grave and followed his wife into
the house, while the children played about in the
joyless way that characterized their lives.
That night, while the children were sleeping and
Silas sat in his chair pondering over the shaping
of events, Nancy stood in the doorway and looked
out across the plains. The moon was full and
bright,, but to the woman it was not the same
kindly moon that her girlhood remembered. Far
away came the wail of the coyote, and Nancy
shuddered. She had heard that half-human, quer
ulous cry a thousand times, but never before had
it come to her with such significance. She shut
the door hastily, drew close to her husband, and
sat down beside him. Then she put her hand on
his arm and said, gently :
" Silas, why not give up ? We ve done all that
human beings can do, and we re as far away as
ever. What good can come from fighting fate ? "
Silas moved a little uneasily. "Why, it s all
right, Nancy," he said, soothingly.
" That s what you ve always said," exclaimed the
woman, with sudden energy. "It has been all
right with you when our hearts and our common
sense told us it was all wrong. Perhaps our baby
thought it was all right when he came to brighten
us up a bit. It is all right with him now, and it
will be all right with us when we go to join him."
The Luck of tiHas Scutt.
"I wouldn t talk that way, Nancy," said the
" How else can I talk ? " replied the wife. " We
have lived this wretched life without a spark of
hope, a particle of encouragement. Bad luck has
followed us from the start and has shown us no
future. We are alone, without friends and with
out comfort. Every morning the sun comes up
like a ball of fire and brings fresh misery to this
desert. You know what that awful sun means,
Silas. Look in the insane asylum of this State
and find its victims. What has become of old
Prouty, a stronger man than you, Silas, who
defied its power ? A month ago he was carried
away a hopeless maniac, and we have remained to
invite his fate. Every night I go to bed thinking
of old Prouty and listening to the mocking of the
wind and the howling of the wolf. I can t stand
it any longer."
"Fve tried to be as easy on you as I can," said
the man, by way of blundering apology.
"I don t find fault with you, Silas, but I m
hungry for the old home. We were happy there
if we were poor. We worked hard, but we always
made a living, and if we got a little tired and
despondent at times we had our friends, and the
little farm with the great green shade-trees, and
the birds singing in them. Here we have nothing
but a huge plain and a blazing sun. Let s go back,
The Luck of Silas Scott. 255
Silas, where at least we can find a little happiness,
and where there is a God."
The woman put her head on her husband s
shoulder. .Then she said, a little more calmly :
" Did you believe the words you repeated at our
baby s grave ? Did you really think there was a
God in this horrible place to hear them ? I am
the resurrection and the life/ Can a God bring
comfort to those who mock him by calling to him
from a desert where their foolish ambitions have
led them ? Why should we try to heap up riches
or carry to the grave more than we brought into
the world ? "
Silas looked bewildered. The woman s swift
application of the texts began to penetrate his dull
reason. He stared helplessly at his wife, and pat
ted her on the shoulder for an answer.
" I don t complain for myself, Silas. I don t care
much what becomes of me, except at times when
the old home feeling comes back. But I see you
growing ten years older in a single summer. I see
the anxious look and the furrows in your face. I
know you re unhappy and losing heart. And I
see our children growing up neglected and ignor
ant. We had opportunities and a fair chance
when we were young. Oh, Silas, let s go back, if
only for their sakes."
The woman broke down. The man, too, felt
himself strangely stirred. He got up and walked
25(5 The Luck of Silas Scoff.
to the door. One glance was enough to show him
the ruin of the summer and the hopelessness oi the .
year. He thought in his turn of the little home
back yonder, and of the pleasant times they had on
the small profits of their industry. There was the
little red school-house the same one he went to
when he was a boy. And the old meeting-house too.
He found himself wondering whether they had put
on that fresh coat of paint they were discussing
when he came away. And the lane that led down
to the squire s. And the old apple-tree that
stood right at the left of the bend. And Bill
Simpson s fishing-hole. And Thompson s grocery,
where the boys elected a President of the United
States every Saturday night. Silas felt his eyes
On the other hand, what would the boys say if
he gave up beaten and went back ? Ought he to
surrender to a little momentary weakness ? Jim
Higgins had gone away and succeeded, and so had
Henry Cole, and so had John Grubb, the most
shiftless man in the county. Could he go back
and acknowledge that he had been taken in ?
Could he stand up and hear old Bill Simpson say :
" Waal, here s Si hum ag in ; jest as I pel-dieted,
Silas took a turn around the house and paused
at the baby s grave. "It wasn t much of a light
lie made," he muttered. "I guess that s the way
TJie Luck of Silas Scott. 257
with all children." And a horrible fear took hold
of him all at once, as he thought of the little ones
huddled asleep in a corner of the miserable room.
So he came back, and, going up to the bed, gazed
long and intently upon them, then turned to his
wife, sitting patient and silent where he had left
her. And he looked into her wan face, and the
flush came into his own. Stooping down, he kissed
the tired eyes and said, as if a great load had been
lifted from his heart :
"It s all right, Nancy. It s all right, mother.
Good luck has come at last. We re going back."
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