Part 3 out of 6
did if Doctor Kirby hadn't gone clean crazy.
His back was to the fence, and he cleaned out
everything in front of him, and then he give a wild
roar jest like a bull and rushed that hull gang--
twenty men, they was--with his head down.
He caught two fellers, one in each hand, and he
cracked their heads together, and he caught two
more, and done the same. But he orter never
took his back away from that fence. The hull
gang closed in on him, and down he went at the
bottom of a pile. I was awful busy myself, but
I seen that pile moving and churning. Then I
made a big mistake myself. I kicked a feller in
the stomach, and another feller caught my leg,
and down I went. Fur a half a minute I never
knowed nothing. And when I come to I was all
mashed about the face, and two fellers was sitting
The crowd was tying Doctor Kirby to that
parachute. They straddled legs over the parachute
bar, and tied his feet below it. He was still fight-
ing, but they was too many fur him. They left
his arms untied, but they held 'em, and then--
Then they cut her loose. She went up like she
was shot from a gun, and as she did Doctor Kirby
took a grip on a feller's arm that hadn't let loose
quick enough and lifted him plumb off'n the ground.
He slewed around on the trapeze bar with the
feller's weight, and slipped head downward. And
as he slipped he give that feller a swing and let
loose of him, and then ketched himself by the
crook of one knee. The feller turned over twicet
in the air and landed in a little crumpled-up pile
on the ground, and never made a sound.
The fellers that had holt of me forgot me and
stood up, and I stood up too, and looked. The
balloon was rising fast. Doctor Kirby was trying
to pull himself up to the trapeze bar, twisting and
squirming and having a hard time of it, and shoot-
ing higher every second. I reckoned he couldn't
fall complete, fur where his feet was tied would
likely hold even if his knee come straight--but
he would die mebby with his head filling up with
blood. But finally he made a squirm and raised
himself a lot and grabbed the rope at one side of
the bar. And then he reached and got the rope
on the other side, and set straddle of her. And
jest as he done that the wind ketched the balloon
good and hard, and she turned out toward Lake
Erie. It was too late fur him to pull the rope
that sets the parachute loose then, and drop onto
I rushed out of that schoolhouse yard and down
the street toward the lake front, and run, stumbling
along and looking up. She was getting smaller
every minute. And with my head in the air look-
ing up I was running plumb to the edge of the
water before I knowed it.
She was away out over the lake now, and awful
high, and going fast before the wind, and the doctor
was only a speck. And as I stared at that speck
away up in the sky I thought this was a mean world
to live in. Fur there was the only real friend I
ever had, and no way fur me to help him. He had
learnt me to read, and bought me good clothes,
and made me know they was things in the world
worth travelling around to see, and made me feel
like I was something more than jest Old Hank
Walters's dog. And I guessed he would be drownded
and I would never see him agin now. And all of
a sudden something busted loose inside of me,
and I sunk down there at the edge of the water,
sick at my stomach, and weak and shivering.
I didn't exactly faint there, but things got
all mixed fur me, and when they was
straightened out agin I was in a hospital.
It seems I had been considerable stepped on in
that fight, and three ribs was broke. I knowed
I was hurting, but I was so interested in what was
happening to the doctor the hull hurt never come
to me till the balloon was way out over the lake.
But now I was in a plaster cast, and before I
got out of that I was in a fever. I was some weeks
getting out of there.
I tried to get some word of Doctor Kirby, but
couldn't. Nothing had been heard of him or the
balloon. The newspapers had had stuff about it
fur a day or two, and they guessed the body might
come to light sometime. But that was all. And
I didn't know where to hunt nor how.
The hosses and wagon and tent and things worried
me some, too. They wasn't mine, and so I couldn't
sell 'em. And they wasn't no good to me without
Doctor Kirby. So I tells the man that owns the
livery stable to use the team fur its board and keep
it till Doctor Kirby calls fur it, and if he never does
mebby I will sometime.
I didn't want to stay in that town or I could of
got a job in the livery stable. They offered me
one, but I hated that town. I wanted to light out.
I didn't much care where to.
Them Blanchet Brothers had left a good share of
the money we took in at the balloon ascension with
the hospital people fur me before they cleared out.
But before I left that there town I seen they was
one thing I had to do to make myself easy in my
mind. So I done her.
That was to hunt up that feller with his eye in
the patch. It took me a week to find him. He
lived down near some railroad yards. I might of
soaked him with a coupling link and felt a hull lot
better. But I didn't guess it would do to pet and
pamper my feelings too much. So I does it with
my fists in a quiet place, and does it very complete,
and leaves that town in a cattle car, feeling a hull
lot more contented in my mind.
Then they was a hull dern year I didn't stay
nowhere very long, nor work at any one job too
long, neither. I jest worked from place to place
seeing things--big towns and rivers and moun-
tains. Working here and there, and loafing and
riding blind baggages and freight trains between
jobs, I covered a lot of ground that year, and made
some purty big jumps, and got acquainted with
some awful queer folks, first and last.
But the worst of that is lots of people gets to
thinking I am a hobo. Even one or two judges
in police courts I got acquainted with had that
there idea of me. I always explains that I am not
one, and am jest travelling around to see things,
and working when I feels like it, and ain't no bum.
But frequent I am not believed. And two, three
different times I gets to the place where I couldn't
hardly of told myself from a hobo, if I hadn't of
knowed I wasn't one.
I got right well acquainted with some of them
hobos, too. As fur as I can see, they is as much
difference in them as in other humans. Some
travels because they likes to see things, and some
because they hates to work, and some because
they is in the habit and can't stop it. Well, I
know myself it's purty hard after while to stop it,
fur where would you stop at? What excuse is
they to stop one place more'n another? I met all
kinds of 'em, and oncet I got in fur a week with a
couple of real Johnny Yeggs that is both in the
pen now. I hearn a feller say one time there is
some good in every man. I went the same way as
them two yeggmen a hull dern week to try and
find out where the good in 'em was. I guess they
must be some mistake somewheres, fur I looked
hard and I watched closet and I never found it.
They is many kinds of hobos and tramps, per-
fessional and amachure, and lots of kinds of bums,
and lots of young fellers working their way around
to see things, like I was, and lots of working men in
hard luck going from place to place, and all them
kinds is humans. But the real yeggman ain't
even a dog.
And oncet I went all the way from Chicago to
Baltimore with a serious, dern fool that said he was
a soshyologest, whatever them is, and was going
to put her all into a book about the criminal classes.
He worked hard trying to get at the reason I was
a hobo. Which they wasn't no reason, fur I wasn't
no hobo. But I didn't want to disappoint that
feller and spoil his book fur him. So I tells him
things. Things not overly truthful, but very
full of crime. About a year afterward I was into
one of these here Andrew Carnegie lib'aries with
the names of the old-time presidents all chiselled
along the top and I seen the hull dern thing in print.
He said of me the same thing I have said about
them yeggmen. If all he met joshed that feller
the same as me, that book must of been what you
might call misleading in spots.
One morning I woke up in a good-sized town in
Illinoise, not a hundred miles from where I was
raised, without no money, and my clothes not much
to look at, and no job. I had been with a railroad
show fur about two weeks, driving stakes and other
rough work, and it had went off and left me sleeping
on the ground. circuses never waits fur nothing
nor cares a dern fur no one. I tried all day
around town fur to get some kind of a job.
But I was looking purty rough and I couldn't
land nothing. Along in the afternoon I was awful
I was feeling purty low down to have to ast fur
a meal, but finally I done it.
I dunno how I ever come to pick out such a swell-
looking house, but I makes a little talk at the back
door and the Irish girl she says, "Come in," and
into the kitchen I goes.
"It's Minnesota you're working toward?" asts
she, pouring me out a cup of coffee.
She is thinking of the wheat harvest where they
is thousands makes fur every fall. But none of
'em fur me. That there country is full of them
Scandiluvian Swedes and Norwegians, and they
gets into the field before daylight and stays there
so long the hired man's got to milk the cows by
"I been acrost the river into I'way," I says,
"a-working at my trade, and now I'm going back
to Chicago to work at it some more."
"What might your trade be?" she asts, sizing
me up careful; and I thinks I'll hand her one to
chew on she ain't never hearn tell of before.
"I'm a agnostic by trade," I says. I spotted
that there word in a religious book one time, and
that's the first chancet I ever has to try it on any one.
You can't never tell what them reg'lar sockdologers
is going to do till you tries them.
"I see," says she. But I seen she didn't see.
And I didn't help her none. She would of ruther
died than to let on she didn't see. The Irish is
like that. Purty soon she says:
"Ain't that the dangerous kind o' work, though!"
"It is," I says. And says nothing further.
She sets down and folds her arms, like she was
thinking of it, watching my hands closet all the
time I was eating, like she's looking fur scars where
something slipped when I done that agnostic work.
Purty soon she says:
"Me brother Michael was kilt at it in the old
country. He was the most vinturesome lad of
"Did it fly up and hit him?" I asts her. I
was wondering w'ether she is making fun of me or
am I making fun of her. Them Irish is like that,
you can never tell which.
"No," says she, "he fell off of it. And I'm think-
ing you don't know what it is yourself." And the
next thing I know I'm eased out o' the back door
and she's grinning at me scornful through the
crack of it.
So I was walking slow around toward the front
of the house thinking how the Irish was a great
nation, and what shall I do now, anyhow? And
I says to myself: "Danny, you was a fool to let
that circus walk off and leave you asleep in this
here town with nothing over you but a barbed wire
fence this morning. Fur what ARE you going to do
next? First thing you know, you WILL be a reg'lar
tramp, which some folks can't be made to see you
ain't now." And jest when I was thinking that, a
feller comes down the front steps of that house on
the jump and nabs me by the coat collar.
"Did you come out of this house?" he
"I did," I says, wondering what next.
"Back in you go, then," he says, marching me
forward toward them front steps, "they've got
smallpox in there."
I like to of jumped loose when he says that.
"Smallpox ain't no inducement to me, mister,"
I tells him. But he twisted my coat collar tight
and dug his thumbs into my neck, all the time
helping me onward with his knee from behind,
and I seen they wasn't no use pulling back. I
could probable of licked that man, but they's
no system in mixing up with them well-dressed men
in towns where they think you are a tramp. The
judge will give you the worst of it.
He rung the door bell and the girl that opened
the door she looked kind o' surprised when she
seen me, and in we went.
"Tell Professor Booth that Doctor Wilkins
wants to see him again," says the man a-holt o'
me, not letting loose none. And we says nothing
further till the perfessor comes, which he does,
slow and absent-minded. When he seen me he
took off his glasses so's he could see me better, and
"What is that you have there, Doctor
"A guest for you," says Doctor Wilkins, grinning
all over hisself. "I found him leaving your house.
And you being under quarantine, and me being
secretary to the board of health, and the city
pest-house being crowded too full already, I'll
have to ask you to keep him here till we get Miss
Margery onto her feet again," he says. Or they
was words to that effect, as the lawyers asts you.
"Dear me," says Perfesser Booth, kind o' help-
less like. And he comes over closet to me and looks
me all over like I was one of them amphimissourian
lizards in a free museum. And then he goes to
the foot of the stairs and sings out in a voice that
was so bleached-out and flat-chested it would of
looked jest like him himself if you could of saw it--
"Estelle," he sings out, "oh, Estelle!"
Estelle, she come down stairs looking like she was
the perfessor's big brother. I found out later she
was his old maid sister. She wasn't no spring
chicken, Estelle wasn't, and they was a continuous
grin on her face. I figgered it must of froze there
years and years ago. They was a kid about ten
or eleven years old come along down with her,
that had hair down to its shoulders and didn't
look like it knowed whether it was a girl or a boy.
Miss Estelle, she looks me over in a way that makes
me shiver, while the doctor and the perfessor jaws
about whose fault it is the smallpox sign ain't been
hung out. And when she was done listening she
says to the perfessor: "You had better go back
to your laboratory." And the perfessor he went
along out, and the doctor with him.
"What are you going to do with him, Aunt
Estelle?" the kid asts her.
"What would YOU suggest, William, Dear?" asts
his aunt. I ain't feeling very comfortable, and I
was getting all ready jest to natcherally bolt out
the front door now the doctor was gone. Then I
thinks it mightn't be no bad place to stay in fur a
couple o' days, even risking the smallpox. Fur
I had riccolected I couldn't ketch it nohow, having
been vaccinated a few months before in Terry
Hutt by compulsive medical advice, me being fur
a while doing some work on the city pavements
through a mistake about me in the police court.
William Dear looks at me like it was the day of
judgment and his job was to keep the fatted calves
separate from the goats and prodigals, and he says:
"If I were you, Aunt Estelle, the first thing would
be to get his hair cut and his face washed and then
get him some clothes."
"William Dear is my friend," thinks I.
She calls James, which was a butler. James,
he buttles me into a bathroom the like o' which
I never seen afore, and then he buttles me into a
suit o' somebody's clothes and into a room at the
top o' the house next to his'n, and then he comes
back and buttles a comb and brush at me. James
was the most mournful-looking fat man I ever
seen, and he says that account of me not being
respectable I will have my meals alone in the kitchen
after the servants has eat.
The first thing I knowed I been in that house
more'n a week. I eat and I slept and I smoked
and I kind of enjoyed not worrying about things
fur a while. The only oncomfortable thing about
being the perfessor's guest was Miss Estelle. Soon's
she found out I was a agnostic she took charge o'
my intellectuals and what went into 'em, and she
makes me read things and asts me about 'em, and
she says she is going fur to reform me. And what-
ever brand o' disgrace them there agnostics really
is I ain't found out to this day, having come acrost
the word accidental.
Biddy Malone, which was the kitchen mechanic,
she says the perfessor's wife's been over to her
mother's while this smallpox has been going on,
and they is a nurse in the house looking after Miss
Margery, the little kid that's sick. And Biddy,
she says if she was Mrs. Booth she'd stay there,
too. They's been some talk, anyhow, about Mrs.
Booth and a musician feller around that there
town. But Biddy, she likes Mrs. Booth, and even
if it was true, which it ain't Biddy says, who could
of blamed her? Fur things ain't joyous around
that house the last year, since Miss Estelle's come
there to live. The perfessor, he's so full of scien-
tifics he don't know nothing with no sense to it,
Biddy says. He's got more money'n you can shake
a stick at, and he don't have to do no work, nor
never has, and his scientifics gets worse and worse
every year. But while scientifics is worrying to
the nerves of a fambly, and while his labertory
often makes the house smell like a sick drug store
has crawled into it and died there, they wouldn't
of been no serious row on between the perfessor
and his wife, not ALL the time, if it hadn't of been
fur Miss Estelle. She has jest natcherally made
herself boss of that there house, Biddy says, and
she's a she-devil. Between all them scientifics
and Miss Estelle things has got where Mrs. Booth
can't stand 'em much longer.
I didn't blame her none fur getting sore on her
job, neither. You can't expect a woman that's
purty, and knows it, and ain't no more'n thirty-two
or three, and don't look it, to be serious intrusted
in mummies and pickled snakes and chemical
perfusions, not ALL the time. Mebby when Mrs.
Booth would ast him if he was going to take her
to the opery that night the perfessor would look
up in an absent-minded sort of way and ast her
did she know them Germans had invented a new
germ? It wouldn't of been so bad if the perfessor
had picked out jest one brand of scientifics and
stuck to that reg'lar. Mrs. Booth could of got
use to any ONE kind. But mebby this week the
perfessor would be took hard with ornithography
and he'd go chasing humming-birds all over the
front yard, and the next he'd be putting gastronomy
into William's breakfast feed.
They was always a row on over them kids, which
they hadn't been till Miss Estelle come. Mrs.
Booth, she said they could kill their own selves,
if they wanted to, him and Miss Estelle, but she
had more right than any one else to say what went
into William's and Margery's digestive ornaments,
and she didn't want 'em brung up scientific nohow,
but jest human. But Miss Estelle's got so she
runs that hull house now, and the perfessor too,
but he don't know it, Biddy says, and her a-saying
every now and then it was too bad Frederick couldn't
of married a noble woman who would of took a
serious intrust in his work. The kids don't hardly
dare to kiss their ma in front of Miss Estelle no
more, on account of germs and things. And with
Miss Estelle taking care of their religious organs and
their intellectuals and the things like that, and the
perfessor filling them up on new invented feeds, I
guess they never was two kids got more education
to the square inch, outside and in. It hadn't
worked none on Miss Margery yet, her being
younger, but William Dear he took it hard and
serious, and it made bumps all over his head, and
he was kind o' pale and spindly. Every time
that kid cut his finger he jest natcherally bled
scientifics. One day I says to Miss Estelle,
"It looks to me like William Dear is kind of
peaked." She looks worried and she looks mad
fur me lipping in, and then she says mebby it is
true, but she don't see why, because he is being
brung up like he orter be in every way and no ex-
pense nor trouble spared.
"Well," says I, "what a kid about that size
wants to do is to get out and roll around in the dirt
some, and yell and holler."
She sniffs like I wasn't worth taking no notice
of. But it kind o' soaked in, too. She and the
perfessor must of talked it over. Fur the next
day I seen her spreading a oilcloth on the hall
floor. And then James comes a buttling in with
a lot of sand what the perfessor has baked and
made all scientific down in his labertory. James,
he pours all that nice, clean dirt onto the oilcloth
and then Miss Estelle sends fur William Dear.
"William Dear," she says, "we have decided,
your papa and I, that what you need is more romp-
ing around and playing along with your studies.
You ought to get closer to the soil and to nature,
as is more healthy for a youth of your age. So for
an hour each day, between your studies, you will
romp and play in this sand. You may begin to
frolic now, William Dear, and then James will
sweep up the dirt again for to-morrow's frolic."
But William didn't frolic none. He jest looked
at that dirt in a sad kind o' way, and he says very
serious but very decided:
"Aunt Estelle, I shall NOT frolic." And they had
to let it go at that, fur he never would frolic none,
neither. And all that nice clean dirt was throwed
out in the back yard along with the unscientific
One night when I've been there more'n a
week, and am getting kind o' tired staying
in one place so long, I don't want to go to
bed after I eats, and I gets a-holt of some of the
perfessor's cigars and goes into the lib'ary to see
if he's got anything fit to read. Setting there
thinking of the awful remarkable people they is
in this world I must of went to sleep. Purty soon,
in my sleep, I hearn two voices. Then I waked
up sudden, and still hearn 'em, low and quick-
like, in the room that opens right off of the lib'ary
with a couple of them sliding doors like is onto a
box car. One voice was a woman's voice, and it
wasn't Miss Estelle's.
"But I MUST see them before we go, Henry,"
And the other was a man's voice and it wasn't
no one around our house.
"But, my God," he says, "suppose you get it
I set up straight then, fur Jane was the perfessor's
wife's first name.
"You mean suppose YOU get it," she says. I
like to of seen the look she must of give him to
fit in with the way she says that YOU. He didn't
say nothing, the man didn't; and then her voice
softens down some, and she says, low and slow:
"Henry, wouldn't you love me if I DID get it?
Suppose it marked and pitted me all up?"
"Oh, of course," he says, "of course I would.
Nothing can change the way I feel. YOU know
that." He said it quick enough, all right, jest the
way they does in a show, but it sounded TOO MUCH
like it does on the stage to of suited me if _I_'D been
her. I seen folks overdo them little talks before
I listens some more, and then I sees how it is.
This is that musician feller Biddy Malone's been
talking about. Jane's going to run off with him
all right, but she's got to kiss the kids first. Women
is like that. They may hate the kids' pa all
right, but they's dad-burned few of 'em don't like
the kids. I thinks to myself: "It must be late.
I bet they was already started, or ready to start,
and she made him bring her here first so's she could
sneak in and see the kids. She jest simply couldn't
get by. But she's taking a fool risk, too. Fur
how's she going to see Margery with that nurse
coming and going and hanging around all night?
And even if she tries jest to see William Dear it's
a ten to one shot he'll wake up and she'll be ketched
And then I thinks, suppose she IS ketched at it?
What of it? Ain't a woman got a right to come into
her own house with her own door key, even if they
is a quarantine onto it, and see her kids? And
if she is ketched seeing them, how would any one
know she was going to run off? And ain't she got
a right to have a friend of hern and her husband's
bring her over from her mother's house, even if it
is a little late?
Then I seen she wasn't taking no great risks
neither, and I thinks mebby I better go and tell
that perfessor what is going on, fur he has treated
me purty white. And then I thinks: "I'll be
gosh-derned if I meddle. So fur as I can see that
there perfessor ain't getting fur from what's coming
to him, nohow. And as fur HER, you got to let
some people find out what they want fur their-
selves. Anyhow, where do _I_ come in at?"
But I want to get a look at her and Henry,
anyhow. So I eases off my shoes, careful-like, and
I eases acrost the floor to them sliding doors, and
I puts my eye down to the little crack. The talk
is going backward and forward between them two,
him wanting her to come away quick, and her
undecided whether to risk seeing the kids. And
all the time she's kind o' hoping mebby she will
be ketched if she tries to see the kids, and she's
begging off fur more time ginerally.
Well, sir, I didn't blame that musician feller none
when I seen her. She was a peach.
And I couldn't blame her so much, neither, when
I thought of Miss Estelle and all them scientifics of
the perfessor's strung out fur years and years world
Yet, when I seen the man, I sort o' wished she
wouldn't. I seen right off that Henry wouldn't
do. It takes a man with a lot of gumption to keep
a woman feeling good and not sorry fur doing it
when he's married to her. But it takes a man
with twicet as much to make her feel right when
they ain't married. This feller wears one of them
little, brown, pointed beards fur to hide where
his chin ain't. And his eyes is too much like a
woman's. Which is the kind that gets the biggest
piece of pie at the lunch counter and fergits to
thank the girl as cuts it big. She was setting in
front of a table, twisting her fingers together, and
he was walking up and down. I seen he was mad
and trying not to show it, and I seen he was scared
of the smallpox and trying not to show that, too.
And jest about that time something happened that
kind o' jolted me.
They was one of them big chairs in the room
where they was that has got a high back and spins
around on itself. It was right acrost from me, on
the other side of the room, and it was facing the
front window, which was a bow window. And
that there chair begins to turn, slow and easy.
First I thought she wasn't turning. Then I seen
she was. But Jane and Henry didn't. They was
all took up with each other in the middle of the
room, with their backs to it.
Henry is a-begging of Jane, and she turns a little
more, that chair does. Will she squeak, I
"Don't you be a fool, Jane," says the Henry
Around she comes three hull inches, that there
chair, and nary a squeak.
"A fool?" asts Jane, and laughs. "And I'm
not a fool to think of going with you at
That chair, she moved six inches more and I
seen the calf of a leg and part of a crumpled-up
"But I AM going with you, Henry," says Jane.
And she gets up jest like she is going to put her
arms around him.
But Jane don't. Fur that chair swings clear
around and there sets the perfessor. He's all
hunched up and caved in and he's rubbing his
eyes like he's jest woke up recent, and he's got a
grin onto his face that makes him look like his
sister Estelle looks all the time.
"Excuse me," says the perfessor.
They both swings around and faces him. I can
hear my heart bumping. Jane never says a word.
The man with the brown beard never says a word.
But if they felt like me they both felt like laying
right down there and having a fit. They looks at
him and he jest sets there and grins at them.
But after a while Jane, she says:
"Well, now you KNOW! What are you going to
do about it?"
Henry, he starts to say something too. But--
"Don't start anything," says the perfessor to
him. "YOU aren't going to do anything." Or
they was words to that effect.
"Professor Booth," he says, seeing he has got
to say something or else Jane will think the worse
of him, "I am--"
"Keep still," says the perfessor, real quiet. "I'll
tend to you in a minute or two. YOU don't count
for much. This thing is mostly between me and
When he talks so decided I thinks mebby that
perfessor has got something into him besides
science after all. Jane, she looks kind o' surprised
herself. But she says nothing, except:
"What are you going to do, Frederick?" And
she laughs one of them mean kind of laughs, and
looks at Henry like she wanted him to spunk up a
little more, and says: "What CAN you do, Fred-
Frederick, he says, not excited a bit:
"There's quite a number of things I COULD do
that would look bad when they got into the news-
papers. But it's none of them, unless one of you
forces me to it." Then he says:
"You DID want to see the children, Jane?"
"Jane," he says, "can't you see I'm the better
The perfessor, he was woke up after all them
years of scientifics, and he didn't want to see her
go. "Look at him," he says, pointing to the feller
with the brown beard, "he's scared stiff right now."
Which I would of been scared myself if I'd a-been
ketched that-a-way like Henry was, and the per-
fessor's voice sounding like you was chopping
ice every time he spoke. I seen the perfessor
didn't want to have no blood on the carpet without
he had to have it, but I seen he was making up his
mind about something, too. Jane, she says:
"YOU a better man? YOU? You think you've
been a model husband just because you've never
beaten me, don't you?"
"No," says the perfessor, "I've been a blamed
fool all right. I've been a worse fool, maybe,
than if I HAD beaten you." Then he turns to
Henry and he says:
"Duels are out of fashion, aren't they? And a
plain killing looks bad in the papers, doesn't it?
Well, you just wait for me." With which he gets
up and trots out, and I hearn him running down
stairs to his labertory.
Henry, he'd ruther go now. He don't want to
wait. But with Jane a-looking at him he's shamed
not to wait. It's his place to make some kind of a
strong action now to show Jane he is a great man.
But he don't do it. And Jane is too much of a
thoroughbred to show him she expects it. And me,
I'm getting the fidgets and wondering to myself,
"What is that there perfessor up to now? What-
ever it is, it ain't like no one else. He is looney,
that perfessor is. And she is kind o' looney, too.
I wonder if they is any one that ain't looney some-
times?" I been around the country a good 'eal,
too, and seen and hearn of some awful remarkable
things, and I never seen no one that wasn't more or
less looney when the SEARCH US THE FEMM comes into
the case. Which is a Dago word I got out'n a
newspaper and it means: "Who was the dead
gent's lady friend?" And we all set and sweat
and got the fidgets waiting fur that perfessor to
Which he done with that Sister Estelle grin onto
his face and a pill box in his hand. They
was two pills in the box. He says, placid and
"Yes, sir, duels are out of fashion. This is the
age of science. All the same, the one that gets
her has got to fight for her. If she isn't worth
fighting for, she isn't worth having. Here are
two pills. I made 'em myself. One has enough
poison in it to kill a regiment when it gets to working
well--which it does fifteen minutes after it is
taken. The other one has got nothing harmful
in it. If you get the poison one, I keep her. If I
get it, you can have her. Only I hope you will
wait long enough after I'm dead so there won't
be any scandal around town."
Henry, he never said a word. He opened his
mouth, but nothing come of it. When he done
that I thought I hearn his tongue scrape agin his
cheek on the inside like a piece of sand-paper.
He was scared, Henry was.
"But YOU know which is which," Jane sings out.
"The thing's not fair!"
"That is the reason my dear Jane is going to
shuffle these pills around each other herself," says
the perfessor, "and then pick out one for him and
one for me. YOU don't know which is which,
Jane. And as he is the favourite, he is going to
get the first chance. If he gets the one I want
him to get, he will have just fifteen minutes to live
after taking it. In that fifteen minutes he will
please to walk so far from my house that he won't
die near it and make a scandal. I won't have a
scandal without I have to. Everything is going
to be nice and quiet and respectable. The effect
of the poison is similar to heart failure. No one
can tell the difference on the corpse. There's
going to be no blood anywhere. I will be found
dead in my house in the morning with heart failure,
or else he will be picked up dead in the street, far
enough away so as to make no talk." Or they was
words to that effect.
He is rubbing it in considerable, I thinks, that
perfessor is. I wonder if I better jump in and stop
the hull thing. Then I thinks: "No, it's between
them three." Besides, I want to see which one is
going to get that there loaded pill. I always been
intrusted in games of chancet of all kinds, and
when I seen the perfessor was such a sport, I'm
sorry I been misjudging him all this time.
Jane, she looks at the box, and she breathes hard
"I won't touch 'em," she says. "I refuse to be
a party to any murder of that kind."
"Huh? You do?" says the perfessor. "But
the time when you might have refused has gone by.
You have made yourself a party to it already.
You're really the MAIN party to it.
"But do as you like," he goes on. "I'm giving
him more chance than I ought to with those pills.
I might shoot him, and I would, and then face the
music, if it wasn't for mixing the children up in
the scandal, Jane. If you want to see him get a
fair chance, Jane, you've got to hand out these
pills, one to him and then one to me. YOU must
kill one or the other of us, or else _I_'LL kill HIM the
other way. And YOU had better pick one out for
him, because _I_ know which is which. Or else let
him pick one out for himself," he says.
Henry, he wasn't saying nothing. I thought
he had fainted. But he hadn't. I seen him licking
his lips. I bet Henry's mouth was all dry inside.
Jane, she took the box and she went round in
front of Henry and she looked at him hard. She
looked at him like she was thinking: "Fur God's
sake, spunk up some, and take one if it DOES kill
you!" Then she says out loud: "Henry, if you
die I will die, too!"
And Henry, he took one. His hand shook, but
he took it out'n the box. If she had of looked like
that at me mebby I would of took one myself.
Fur Jane, she was a peach, she was. But I don't
know whether I would of or not. When she makes
that brag about dying, I looked at the perfessor.
What she said never fazed him. And I thinks agin:
"Mebby I better jump in now and stop this thing."
And then I thinks agin: "No, it is between them
three and Providence." Besides, I'm anxious to
see who is going to get that pill with the science
in it. I gets to feeling jest like Providence hisself
was in that there room picking out them pills with
his own hands. And I was anxious to see what
Providence's ideas of right and wrong was like.
So fur as I could see they was all three in the wrong,
but if I had of been in there running them pills in
Providence's place I would of let them all off kind
Henry, he ain't eat his pill yet. He is jest looking
at it and shaking. The perfessor pulls out his
watch and lays it on the table.
"It is a quarter past eleven," he says. "Mr.
Murray, are you going to make me shoot you,
after all? I didn't want a scandal," he says.
"It's for you to say whether you want to eat that
pill and get your even chance, or whether you want
to get shot. The shooting method is sure, but it
causes talk. These pills won't. WHICH?"
And he pulls a revolver. Which I suppose he
had got that too when he went down after them
Henry, he looks at the gun.
Then he looks at the pill.
Then he swallers the pill.
The perfessor puts his gun back into his pocket,
and then he puts his pill into his mouth. He don't
swaller it. He looks at the watch, and he looks at
"Sixteen minutes past eleven," he says. "AT
EXACTLY TWENTY-NINE MINUTES TO TWELVE MR. MURRAY
WILL BE DEAD. I got the harmless one. I can tell
by the taste."
And he put the pieces out into his hand, to show
that he has chewed his'n up, not being willing to
wait fifteen minutes fur a verdict from his digestive
ornaments. Then he put them pieces back into
his mouth and chewed 'em up and swallered 'em
down like he was eating cough drops.
Henry has got sweat breaking out all over his
face, and he tries to make fur the door, but he falls
down onto a sofa.
"This is murder," he says, weak-like. And he
tries to get up again, but this time he falls to the floor
in a dead faint.
"It's a dern short fifteen minutes," I thinks to
myself. "That perfessor must of put more science
into Henry's pill than he thought he did fur it to
of knocked him out this quick. It ain't skeercly
When Henry falls the woman staggers and tries
to throw herself on top of him. The corners of
her mouth was all drawed down, and her eyes was
turned up. But she don't yell none. She can't.
She tries, but she jest gurgles in her throat. The
perfessor won't let her fall acrost Henry. He
ketches her. "Sit up, Jane," he says, with that
Estelle look onto his face, "and let us have a talk."
She looks at him with no more sense in her face
than a piece of putty has got. But she can't look
away from him.
And I'm kind o' paralyzed, too. If that feller
laying on the floor had only jest kicked oncet, or
grunted, or done something, I could of loosened
up and yelled, and I would of. I jest NEEDED to
fetch a yell. But Henry ain't more'n dropped down
there till I'm feeling jest like he'd ALWAYS been
there, and I'd ALWAYS been staring into that room,
and the last word any one spoke was said hundreds
and hundreds of years ago.
"You're a murderer," says Jane in a whisper,
looking at the perfessor in that stare-eyed way.
"You're a MURDERER," she says, saying it like she
was trying to make herself feel sure he really was
"Murder!" says the perfessor. "Did you think
I was going to run any chances for a pup like him?
He's scared, that's all. He's just fainted through
fright. He's a coward. Those pills were both
just bread and sugar. He'll be all right in a minute
or two. I've just been showing you that the fellow
hasn't got nerve enough nor brains enough for
a fine woman like you, Jane," he says.
Then Jane begins to sob and laugh, both to oncet,
kind o' wild like, her voice clucking like a hen
does, and she says:
"It's worse then, it's worse! It's worse for me
than if it were a murder! Some farces can be more
tragic than any tragedy ever was," she says. Or
they was words to that effect.
And if Henry had of been really dead she couldn't
of took it no harder than she begun to take it now
when she saw he was alive, but jest wasn't no good.
But I seen she was taking on fur herself now more'n
fur Henry. Doctor Kirby always use to say women
is made unlike most other animals in many ways.
When they is foolish about a man they can stand
to have that man killed a good 'eal better than to
have him showed up ridiculous right in front of
them. They will still be crazy about the man that
is dead, even if he was crooked. But they don't
never forgive the fellow that lets himself be made a
fool and lets them look foolish, too. And when
the perfessor kicks Henry in the ribs, and Henry
comes to and sneaks out, Jane, she never even turns
her head and looks at him.
"Jane," says the perfessor, when she quiets
down some, "you have a lot o' things to forgive
me. But do you suppose I have learned enough
so that we can make a go of it if we start all over
But Jane she never said nothing.
"Jane," he says, "Estelle is going back to New
England, as soon as Margery gets well, and she will
stay there for good."
Jane, she begins to take a little intrust then.
"Did Estelle tell you so?" she asts.
"No," says the perfessor. "Estelle doesn't know
it yet. I'm going to break the news to her in the
But Jane still hates him. She's making herself
hate him hard. She wouldn't of been a human
woman if she had let herself be coaxed up all to
oncet. Purty soon she says: "I'm tired." And
she went out looking like the perfessor was a perfect
stranger. She was a peace, Jane was.
After she left, the perfessor set there quite a spell
and smoked. And he was looking tired out, too.
They wasn't no mistake about me. I was jest
dead all through my legs.
I was down in the perfessor's labertory one day,
and that was a queer place. They was every
kind of scientifics that has ever been dis-
covered in it. Some was pickled in bottles and some
was stuffed and some was pinned to the walls with
their wings spread out. If you took hold of anything,
it was likely to be a skull and give you the shivers or
some electric contraption and shock you; and if you
tipped over a jar and it broke, enough germs might
get loose to slaughter a hull town. I was helping the
perfessor to unpack a lot of stuff some friends had sent
him, and I noticed a bottle that had onto it, blowed
in the glass:
DANIEL, DUNNE AND COMPANY
"That's funny," says I, out loud.
"What is?" asts the perfessor.
I showed him the bottle and told him how I was
named after the company that made 'em. He
says to look around me. They is all kinds of glass-
ware in that room--bottles and jars and queer-
shaped things with crooked tails and noses--and
nigh every piece of glass the perfessor owns is made
by that company.
"Why," says the perfessor, "their factory is in
this very town."
And nothing would do fur me but I must go and
see that factory. I couldn't till the quarantine was
pried loose from our house. But when it was, I
went down town and hunted up the place and looked
It was a big factory, and I was kind of proud of
that. I was glad she wasn't no measly, little, old-
fashioned, run-down concern. Of course, I wasn't
really no relation to it and it wasn't none to me.
But I was named fur it, too, and it come about as
near to being a fambly as anything I had ever had
or was likely to find. So I was proud it seemed to
be doing so well.
I thinks as I looks at her of the thousands and
thousands of bottles that has been coming
out of there fur years and years, and will be fur
years and years to come. And one bottle not so
much different from another one. And all that was
really knowed about me was jest the name on one
out of all them millions and millions of bottles. It
made me feel kind of queer, when I thought of that,
as if I didn't have no separate place in the world any
more than one of them millions of bottles. If any
one will shut his eyes and say his own name over
and over agin fur quite a spell, he will get kind of
wonderized and mesmerized a-doing it--he will
begin to wonder who the dickens he is, anyhow, and
what he is, and what the difference between him
and the next feller is. He will wonder why he
happens to be himself and the next feller HIMSELF.
He wonders where himself leaves off and the rest
of the world begins. I been that way myself--all
wonderized, so that I felt jest like I was a melting
piece of the hull creation, and it was all shifting and
drifting and changing and flowing, and not solid
anywhere, and I could hardly keep myself from
flowing into it. It makes a person feel awful queer,
like seeing a ghost would. It makes him feel like
HE wasn't no solider than a ghost himself. Well,
if you ever done that and got that feeling, you KNOW
what I mean. All of a sudden, when I am trying
to take in all them millions and millions of bottles,
it rushed onto me, that feeling, strong. Thinking
of them bottles had somehow brung it on. The
bigness of the hull creation, and the smallness of
me, and the gait at which everything was racing
and rushing ahead, made me want to grab hold of
something solid and hang on.
I reached out my hand, and it hit something
solid all right. It was a feller who was wheeling out
a hand truck loaded with boxes from the shipping
department. I had been standing by the shipping
department door, and I reached right agin him.
He wants to know if I am drunk or a blanked
fool. So after some talk of that kind I borrows a
chew of tobacco of him and we gets right well
I helped him finish loading his wagon and rode
over to the freight depot with him and helped him
unload her. Lifting one of them boxes down from
the wagon I got such a shock I like to of dropped her.
Fur she was marked so many dozen, glass, handle
with care, and she was addressed to Dr. Hartley
L. Kirby, Atlanta, Ga.
I managed to get that box onto the platform with-
out busting her, and then I sets down on top of her
"What's the matter?" asts the feller I was with.
"Nothing," says I.
"You look sick," he says. And I WAS feeling
"Mebby I do," says I, "and it's enough to shake
a feller up to find a dead man come to life sudden
"Great snakes, no!" says he, looking all around,
But I didn't stop to chew the rag none. I left
him right there, with his mouth wide open, staring
after me like I was crazy. Half a block away I
looked back and I seen him double over and slap his
knee and laugh loud, like he had hearn a big joke,
but what he was laughing at I never knew.
I was tickled. Tickled? Jest so tickled I was
plumb foolish with it. The doctor was alive after
all--I kept saying it over and over to myself--he
hadn't drownded nor blowed away. And I was go-
ing to hunt him up.
I had a little money. The perfessor had paid it
to me. He had give me a job helping take care of
his hosses and things like that, and wanted me to
stay, and I had been thinking mebby I would fur
a while. But not now!
I calkelated I could grab a ride that very night
that would put me into Evansville the next morning.
I figgered if I ketched a through freight from there
on the next night I might get where he was almost
as quick as them bottles did.
I didn't think it was no use writing out my
resignation fur the perfessor. But I got quite a bit
of grub from Biddy Malone to make a start on, fur
I didn't figger on spending no more money than I
had to on grub. She asts me a lot of questions, and
I had to lie to her a good deal, but I got the grub.
And at ten that night I was in an empty bumping
along south, along with a cross-eyed feller named
Looney Hogan who happened to be travelling the
Riding on trains without paying fare ain't always
the easy thing it sounds. It is like a trade that has
got to be learned. They is different ways of doing
it. I have done every way frequent, except one.
That I give up after trying her two, three times.
That is riding the rods down underneath the cars,
with a piece of board put acrost 'em to lay yourself on.
I never want to go ANYWHERES agin bad enough to
ride the rods.
Because sometimes you arrive where you are going
to partly smeared over the trucks and in no condi-
tion fur to be made welcome to our city, as Doctor
Kirby would say. Sometimes you don't arrive.
Every oncet in a while you read a little piece in a
newspaper about a man being found alongside the
tracks, considerable cut up, or laying right acrost
them, mebby. He is held in the morgue a while and
no one knows who he is, and none of the train crew
knows they has run over a man, and the engineer
says they wasn't none on the track. More'n likely
that feller has been riding the rods, along about the
middle of the train. Mebby he let himself go to
sleep and jest rolled off. Mebby his piece of board
slipped and he fell when the train jolted. Or mebby
he jest natcherally made up his mind he rather let
loose and get squashed then get any more cinders
into his eyes. Riding the blind baggage or the
bumpers gives me all the excitement I wants, or all
the gambling chancet either; others can have the
rods fur all of me. And they IS some people ack-
shally says they likes 'em best.
A good place, if it is winter time, is the feed rack
over a cattle car, fur the heat and steam from all
them steers in there will keep you warm. But don't
crawl in no lumber car that is only loaded about
half full, and short lengths and bundles of laths and
shingles in her; fur they is likely to get to shifting
and bumping. Baled hay is purty good sometimes.
Myself, not being like these bums that is too proud
to work, I have often helped the fireman shovel
coal and paid fur my ride that-a-way. But an
empty, fur gineral purposes, will do about as well as
This feller Looney Hogan that was with me was a
kind of a harmless critter, and he didn't know jest
where he was going, nor why. He was mostly
scared of things, and if you spoke to him quick he
shivered first and then grinned idiotic so you wouldn't
kick him, and when he talked he had a silly little
giggle. He had been made that-a-way in a reform
school where they took him young and tried to
work the cussedness out'n him by batting him
around. They worked it out, and purty nigh every-
thing else along with it, I guess. Looney had had
a pardner whose name was Slim, he said; but a
couple of years before Slim had fell overboard off'n
a barge up to Duluth and never come up agin.
Looney knowed Slim was drownded all right, but
he was always travelling around looking at tanks
and freight depots and switch shanties, fur Slim's
mark to be fresh cut with a knife somewheres, so he
would know where to foller and ketch up with him
agin. He knowed he would never find Slim's mark,
he said, but he kept a-looking, and he guessed that
was the way he got the name of Looney.
Looney left me at Evansville. He said he was
going east from there, he guessed. And I went
along south. But I was hindered considerable,
being put off of trains three or four times, and hav-
ing to grab these here slow local freights between
towns all the way down through Kentuckey. Any-
wheres south of the Ohio River and east of the
Mississippi River trainmen is grouchier to them they
thinks is bums than north of it, anyhow. And in
some parts of it, if a real bum gets pinched, heaven
help 'im, fur nothing else won't.
One night, between twelve and one o'clock, I was
put off of a freight train fur the second time in a
place in the northern part of Tennessee, right near
the Kentuckey line. I set down in a lumber yard
near the railroad track, and when she started up
agin I grabbed onto the iron ladder and swung my-
self aboard. But the brakeman was watching fur
me, and clumb down the ladder and stamped on my
fingers. So I dropped off, with one finger con-
siderable mashed, and set down in that lumber yard
wondering what next.
It was a dark night, and so fur as I could see they
wasn't much moving in that town. Only a few
places was lit up. One was way acrost the town
square from me, and it was the telephone exchange,
with a man operator reading a book in there. The
other was the telegraph room in the depot about a
hundred yards from me, and they was only two
fellers in it, both smoking. The main business part
of the town was built up around the square, like lots
of old-fashioned towns is, and they was jest enough
brightness from four, five electric lights to show the
shape of the square and be reflected from the
windows of the closed-up stores.
I knowed they was likely a watchman somewheres
about, too. I guessed I wouldn't wander around
none and run no chances of getting took up by him.
So I was getting ready to lay down on top of a level
pile of boards and go to sleep when I hearn a curious
kind of noise a way off, like it must be at the edge
It sounded like quite a bunch of cattle might
shuffling along a dusty road. The night was so
quiet you could hear things plain from a long ways
off. It growed a little louder and a little nearer.
And then it struck a plank bridge somewheres,
and come acrost it with a clatter. Then I knowed
it wasn't cattle. Cows and steers don't make that
cantering kind of noise as a rule; they trot. It was
hosses crossing that bridge. And they was quite a
lot of 'em.
As they struck the dirt road agin, I hearn a shot.
And then another and another. Then a dozen all
to oncet, and away off through the night a woman
I seen the man in the telephone place fling down
his book and grab a pistol from I don't know where.
He stepped out into the street and fired three shots
into the air as fast as he could pull the trigger. And
as he done so they was a light flashed out in a build-
ing way down the railroad track, and shots come
answering from there. Men's voices began to yell
out; they was the noise of people running along
plank sidewalks, and windows opening in the dark.
Then with a rush the galloping noise come nearer,
come closet; raced by the place where I was hiding,
and nigh a hundred men with guns swept right
into the middle of that square and pulled their
I seen the feller from the telephone exchange
run down the street a little ways as the
first rush hit the square, and fire his pistol
twice. Then he turned and made fur an alleyway,
but as he turned they let him have it. He throwed
up his arms and made one long stagger, right
acrost the bar of light that streamed out of the
windows, and he fell into the shadder, out of sight,
jest like a scorched moth drops dead into the dark-
ness from a torch.
Out of the middle of that bunch of riders come a
big voice, yelling numbers, instead of men's names.
Then different crowds lit out in all directions--
some on foot, while others held their hosses--fur
they seemed to have a plan laid ahead.
And then things began to happen. They hap-
pened so quick and with such a whirl it was all
unreal to me--shots and shouts, and windows
breaking as they blazed away at the store fronts all
around the square--and orders and cuss-words
ringing out between the noise of shooting--and
those electric lights shining on them as they tossed
and trampled, and showing up masked faces here
and there--and pounding hoofs, and hosses scream-
like humans with excitement--and spurts
of flame squirted sudden out of the ring of darkness
round about the open place--and a bull-dog shut
up in a store somewheres howling himself hoarse--
and white puffs of powder smoke like ghosts that
went a-drifting by the lights--it was all unreal
to me, as if I had a fever and was dreaming it.
That square was like a great big stage in front of
me, and I laid in the darkness on my lumber pile
and watched things like a show--not much scared
because it WAS so derned unreal.
From way down along the railroad track they
come a sort of blunted roar, like blasting big stumps
out--and then another and another. Purty soon,
down that way, a slim flame licked up the side of
a big building there, and crooked its tongue over
the top. Then a second big building right beside
it ketched afire, and they both showed up in their
own light, big and angry and handsome, and the
light showed up the men in front of 'em, too--
guarding 'em, I guess, fur fear the town would get
its nerve and make a fight to put 'em out. They
begun to light the whole town up as light as day,
and paint a red patch onto the sky, that must of
been noticed fur miles around. It was a mighty
purty sight to see 'em burn. The smoke was
rolling high, too, and the sparks flying and other
things in danger of ketching, and after while a lick
of smoke come drifting up my way. I smelt her.
It was tobacco burning in them warehouses.
But that town had some fight in her, in spite
of being took unexpected that-a-way. It wasn't
no coward town. The light from the burning
buildings made all the shadders around about seem
all the darker. And every once in a while, after
the surprise of the first rush, they would come thin
little streaks of fire out of the darkness somewheres,
and the sound of shots. And then a gang of riders
would gallop in that direction shooting up all crea-
tion. But by the time the warehouses was all lit
up so that you could see they was no hope of putting
them out the shooting from the darkness had jest
It looked like them big tobacco warehouses was
the main object of the raid. Fur when they was
burning past all chancet of saving, with walls and
floors a-tumbling and crashing down and sending
up great gouts of fresh flame as they fell, the leader
sings out an order, and all that is not on their
hosses jumps on, and they rides away from the blaze.
They come across the square--not galloping now,
but taking it easy, laughing and talking and cussing
and joking each other--and passed right by my
lumber pile agin and down the street they had
come. You bet I laid low on them boards while
they was going by, and flattened myself out till
I felt like a shingle.
As I hearn their hoof-sounds getting farther
off, I lifts up my head agin. But they wasn't
all gone, either. Three that must of been up to
some pertic'ler deviltry of their own come galloping
acrost the square to ketch up with the main bunch.
Two was quite a bit ahead of the third one, and he
yelled to them to wait. But they only laughed and
And then fur some fool reason that last feller
pulled up his hoss and stopped. He stopped in the
road right in front of me, and wheeled his hoss
acrost the road and stood up in his stirrups and took
a long look at that blaze. You'd 'a' said he had
done it all himself and was mighty proud of it,
the way he raised his head and looked back at that
town. He was so near that I hearn him draw in a
slow, deep breath. He stood still fur most a minute
like that, black agin the red sky, and then he turned
his hoss's head and jabbed him with his stirrup
Jest as the hoss started they come a shot from
somewheres behind me. I s'pose they was some
one hid in the lumber piles, where the street crossed
the railway, besides myself. The hoss jumped
forward at the shot, and the feller swayed sideways
and dropped his gun and lost his stirrups and come
down heavy on the ground. His hoss galloped off.
I heard the noise of some one running off through
the dark, and stumbling agin the lumber. It was
the feller who had fired the shot running away.
I suppose he thought the rest of them riders would
come back, when they heard that shot, and hunt
I thought they might myself. But I laid there,
and jest waited. If they come, I didn't want to
be found running. But they didn't come. The
two last ones had caught up with the main gang,
I guess, fur purty soon I hearn them all crossing
that plank bridge agin, and knowed they was gone.
At first I guessed the feller on the ground must
be dead. But he wasn't, fur purty soon I hearn him
groan. He had mebby been stunned by his fall,
and was coming to enough to feel his pain.
I didn't feel like he orter be left there. So I
clumb down and went over to him. He was lying
on one side all kind of huddled up. There had been
a mask on his face, like the rest of them, with some
hair onto the bottom of it to look like a beard.
But now it had slipped down till it hung loose around
his neck by the string. They was enough light
to see he wasn't nothing but a young feller. He
raised himself slow as I come near him, leaning on
one arm and trying to set up. The other arm
hung loose and helpless. Half setting up that-a-
way he made a feel at his belt with his good hand,
as I come near. But that good arm was his prop,
and when he took it off the ground he fell back.
His hand come away empty from his belt.
The big six-shooter he had been feeling fur
wasn't in its holster, anyhow. It had fell out when
he tumbled. I picked it up in the road jest a few
feet from his shot-gun, and stood there with it in
my hand, looking down at him.
"Well," he says, in a drawly kind of voice,
slow and feeble, but looking at me steady and
trying to raise himself agin, "yo' can finish yo'
little job now--yo' shot me from the darkness,
and now yo' done got my pistol. I reckon yo'
better shoot AGIN."
"I don't want to rub it in none," I says, "with
you down and out, but from what I seen around
this town to-night I guess you and your own gang
got no GREAT objections to shooting from the dark
"Why don't yo' shoot then?" he says. "It
most suttinly is YO' turn now." And he never
batted an eye.
"Bo," I says, "you got nerve. I LIKE you, Bo.
I didn't shoot you, and I ain't going to. The feller
that did has went. I'm going to get you out of
this. Where you hurt?"
"Hip," he says, "but that ain't much. The thing
that bothers me is this arm. It's done busted. I
fell on it."
I drug him out of the road and back of the lumber
pile I had been laying on, and hurt him considerable
"Now," I says, "what can I do fur you?"
"I reckon yo' better leave me," he says, "without
yo' want to get yo'self mixed up in all this."
"If I do," I says, "you may bleed to death here:
or anyway you would get found in the morning
and be run in."
"Yo' mighty good to me," says he, "considering
yo' are no kin to this here part of the country at
all. I reckon by yo' talk yo' are one of them damn
Yankees, ain't yo'?"
In Illinoise a Yankee is some one from the East,
but down South he is anybody from north of the
Ohio, and though that there war was fought forty
years ago some of them fellers down there don't
know damn and Yankee is two words yet. But
shucks!--they don't mean no harm by it! So
I tells him I am a damn Yankee and asts him agin
if I can do anything fur him.
"Yes," he says, "yo' can tell a friend of mine Bud
Davis has happened to an accident, and get him
over here quick with his wagon to tote me home."
I was to go down the railroad track past them
burning warehouses till I come to the third street,
and then turn to my left. "The third house from
the track has got an iron picket fence in front of
it," says Bud, "and it's the only house in that part
of town which has. Beauregard Peoples lives
there. He is kin to me."
"Yes," I says, "and Beauregard is jest as likely
as not going to take a shot out of the front window
at me, fur luck, afore I can tell him what I want.
It seems to be a kind of habit in these here parts
to-night--I'm getting homesick fur Illinoise. But
I'll take a chancet."
"He won't shoot," says Bud, "if yo' go about it
right. Beauregard ain't going to be asleep with all
this going on in town to-night. Yo' rattle on the
iron gate and he'll holler to know what yo' all
"If he don't shoot first," I says.
"When he hollers, yo' cry back at him yo' have
found his OLD DEAD HOSS in the road. It won't hurt
to holler that loud, and that will make him let you
within talking distance."
"His old DEAD HOSS?"
"Yo' don't need to know what that is. HE
will." And then Bud told me enough of the signs
and words to say, and things to do, to keep Beaure-
gard from shooting--he said he reckoned he had
trusted me so much he might as well go the hull
hog. Beauregard, he says, belongs to them riders
too; they have friends in all the towns that watches
the lay of the land fur them, he says.
I made a long half-circle around them burning
buildings, keeping in the dark, fur people was
coming out in bunches, now that it was all over
with, watching them fires burning, and talking
excited, and saying the riders should be follered--
only not follering.
I found the house Bud meant, and they was a
light in the second-story window. I rattled on the
gate. A dog barked somewheres near, but I hearn
his chain jangle and knowed he was fast, and I
rattled on the gate agin.
The light moved away from the window. Then
another front window opened quiet, and a voice
"Doctor, is that yo' back agin?"
"No," I says, "I ain't a doctor."
"Stay where you are, then. _I_ GOT YOU COVERED."
"I am staying," I says, "don't shoot."
"Who are yo'?"
"A feller," I says, kind of sensing his gun through
the darkness as I spoke, "who has found your
OLD DEAD HOSS in the road."
He didn't answer fur several minutes. Then
he says, using the words DEAD HOSS as Bud had said
"A DEAD HOSS is fitten fo' nothing but to skin."
"Well," I says, using the words fur the third
time, as instructed, "it is a DEAD HOSS all right."
I hearn the window shut and purty soon the
front door opened.
"Come up here," he says. I come.
"Who rode that hoss yo' been talking about?"
"One of the SILENT BRIGADE," I tells him, as Bud
had told me to say. I give him the grip Bud had
showed me with his good hand.
"Come on in," he says.
He shut the door behind us and lighted a lamp
agin. And we looked each other over. He was
a scrawny little feller, with little gray eyes set
near together, and some sandy-complected whiskers
on his chin. I told him about Bud, and what his
"Damn it--oh, damn it all," he says, rubbing the
bridge of his nose, "I don't see how on AIRTH I kin
do it. My wife's jest had a baby. Do yo' hear
And I did hear a sound like kittens mewing,
somewheres up stairs. Beauregard, he grinned and
rubbed his nose some more, and looked at me like
he thought that mewing noise was the smartest
sound that ever was made.
"Boy," he says, grinning, "bo'n five hours ago.
I've done named him Burley--after the tobaccer
association, yo' know. Yes, SIR, Burley Peoples
is his name--and he shore kin squall, the derned
"Yes," I says, "you better stay with Burley.
Lend me a rig of some sort and I'll take Bud home."
So we went out to Beauregard's stable with a
lantern and hitched up one of his hosses to a light
road wagon. He went into the house and come
back agin with a mattress fur Bud to lie on, and a
part of a bottle of whiskey. And I drove back to
that lumber pile. I guess I nearly killed Bud
getting him into there. But he wasn't bleeding
much from his hip--it was his arm was giving
We went slow, and the dawn broke with us four
miles out of town. It was broad daylight, and
early morning noises stirring everywheres, when
we drove up in front of an old farmhouse, with big
brick chimbleys built on the outside of it, a couple
of miles farther on.
As I drove into the yard, a bare-headed old
nigger with a game leg throwed down
an armful of wood he was gathering and
went limping up to the veranda as fast as he could.
He opened the door and bawled out, pointing to
us, before he had it fairly open:
"O Marse WILLyum! O Miss LUCY! Dey've
brung him home! DAR he!"
A little, bright, black-eyed old lady like a wren
comes running out of the house, and chirps:
"O Bud--O my honey boy! Is he dead?"
"I reckon not, Miss Lucy," says Bud raising
himself up on the mattress as she runs up to the
wagon, and trying to act like everything was all
a joke. She was jest high enough to kiss him over
the edge of the wagon box. A worried-looking old
gentleman come out the door, seen Bud and his
mother kissing each other, and then says to the old
"George, yo' old fool, what do yo' mean by
shouting out like that?"
"Marse Willyum--" begins George, explaining.
"Shut up," says the old gentleman, very quiet.
"Take the bay mare and go for Doctor Po'ter."
Then he comes to the wagon and says:
"So they got yo', Bud? Yo' WOULD go night-
riding like a rowdy and a thug! Are yo' much
He said it easy and gentle, more than mad.
But Bud, he flushed up, pale as he was, and didn't
answer his dad direct. He turned to his mother
"Miss Lucy, dear, it would 'a' done yo' heart
good to see the way them trust warehouses blazed
And the old lady, smiling and crying both to
oncet, says, "God bless her brave boy." But the old
gentleman looked mighty serious, and his worry
settled into a frown between his eyes, and he turns
to me and says:
"Yo' must pardon us, sir, fo' neglecting to thank
yo' sooner." I told him that would be all right,
fur him not to worry none. And him and me and
Mandy, which was the nigger cook, got Bud into
the house and into his bed. And his mother gets
that busy ordering Mandy and the old gentleman
around, to get things and fix things, and make Bud
as easy as she could, that you could see she was one
of them kind of woman that gets a lot of satisfaction
out of having some one sick to fuss over. And after
quite a while George gets back with Doctor Porter.
He sets Bud's arm, and he locates the bullet in
him, and he says he guesses he'll do in a few weeks
if nothing like blood poisoning nor gangrene nor
inflammation sets in.
Only the doctor says he "reckons" instead of
he "guesses," which they all do down there. And
they all had them easy-going, wait-a-bit kind of
voices, and didn't see no pertic'ler importance
in their "r's." It wasn't that you could spell it
no different when they talked, but it sounded
I eat my breakfast with the old gentleman, and
then I took a sleep until time fur dinner. They
wouldn't hear of me leaving that night. I fully
intended to go on the next day, but before I knowed
it I been there a couple of days, and have got very
well acquainted with that fambly.
Well, that was a house divided agin itself. Miss
Lucy, she is awful favourable to all this night-
rider business. She spunks up and her eyes sparkles
whenever she thinks about that there tobaccer
She would of like to been a night-rider herself.
But the old man, he says law and order is the main
pint. What the country needs, he says, ain't
burning down tobaccer warehouses, and shooting
your neighbours, and licking them with switches,
fur no wrong done never righted another wrong.
"But you were in the Ku Klux Klan yo'self,"
says Miss Lucy.
The old man says the Ku Kluxes was working
fur a principle--the principle of keeping the white
supremacy on top of the nigger race. Fur if you
let 'em quit work and go around balloting and voting
it won't do. It makes 'em biggity. And a biggity
nigger is laying up trouble fur himself. Because
sooner or later he will get to thinking he is as good
as one of these here Angle-Saxtons you are always
hearing so much talk about down South. And if
the Angle-Saxtons was to stand fur that, purty
soon they would be sociable equality. And next
the hull dern country would be niggerized. Them
there Angle-Saxtons, that come over from Ireland
and Scotland and France and the Great British
Islands and settled up the South jest simply couldn't
afford to let that happen, he says, and so they Ku
Kluxed the niggers to make 'em quit voting. It was
THEIR job to MAKE law and order, he says, which
they couldn't be with niggers getting the idea they
had a right to govern. So they Ku Kluxed 'em
like gentlemen. But these here night-riders, he
says, is AGIN law and order--they can shoot up
more law and order in one night than can be manu-
factured agin in ten years. He was a very quiet,
peaceable old man, Mr. Davis was, and Bud says
he was so dern foolish about law and order he had
to up and shoot a man, about fifteen years ago, who
hearn him talking that-a-way and said he reminded
him of a Boston school teacher.
But Miss Lucy and Bud, they tells me what all
them night-ridings is fur. It seems this here to-
baccer trust is jest as mean and low-down and un-
principled as all the rest of them trusts. The farm-
ers around there raised considerable tobaccer--
more'n they did of anything else. The trust had
shoved the price so low they couldn't hardly make
a living. So they organized and said they would
all hold their tobaccer fur a fair price. But some of
the farmers wouldn't organize--said they had
a right to do what they pleased with their own to-
baccer. So the night-riders was formed to burn their
barns and ruin their crops and whip 'em and shoot
'em and make 'em jine. And also to burn a few
trust warehouses now and then, and show 'em this
free American people, composed mainly out of the
Angle-Saxton races, wasn't going to take no sass
An old feller by the name of Rufe Daniels who
wouldn't jine the night-riders had been shot to
death on his own door step, jest about a mile away,
only a week or so before. The night-riders mostly
used these here automatic shot-guns, but they
didn't bother with birdshot. They mostly loaded
their shells with buckshot. A few bicycle ball
bearings dropped out of old Rufe when they gathered
him up and got him into shape to plant. They
is always some low-down cuss in every crowd that
carries things to the point where they get brutal,
Bud says; and he feels like them bicycle bearings
was going a little too fur, though he wouldn't let
on to his dad that he felt that-a-way.
So fur as I could see they hadn't hurt the trust
none to speak of, them night-riders. But they had
done considerable damage to their own county,
fur folks was moving away, and the price of land
had fell. Still, I guess they must of got considerable
satisfaction out of raising the deuce nights that-a-
way; and sometimes that is worth a hull lot to a
feller. As fur as I could make out both the trust
and the night-riders was in the wrong. But, you
take 'em one at a time, personal-like, and not into
a gang, and most of them night-riders is good-dis-
positioned folks. I never knowed any trusts per-
sonal, but mebby if you could ketch 'em the same
way they would be similar.
I asts George one day what he thought about it.
George, he got mighty serious right off, like he felt
his answer was going to be used to decide the hull
thing by. He was carrying a lot of scraps on a
plate to a hound dog that had a kennel out near
George's cabin, and he walled his eyes right thought-
ful, and scratched his head with the fork he had been
scraping the plate with, but fur a while nothing
come of it. Finally George says:
"I'se 'spec' mah jedgment des about de same
as Marse WILLyum's an' Miss LUCY's. I'se notice
hit mos' ingin'lly am de same."
"That can't be, George," says I, "fur they think
"Den if DAT am de case," says George, "dey ain't
NO ONE kin settle hit twell hit settles hitse'f.
"I'se mos' ingin'lly notice a thing DO settle
hitse'f arter a while. Yass, SAH, I'se notice dat!
Long time ago dey was consid'ble gwines-on in
dis hyah county, Marse Daniel. I dunno ef yo'
evah heah 'bout dat o' not, Marse Daniel, but dey
was a wah fit right hyah in dis hyah county. Such
gwines-on as nevah was--dem dar Yankees a-ridin'
aroun' an' eatin' up de face o' de yearth, like de
plagues o' Pha'aoah, Marse Daniel, and rippin'
and rarin' an' racin' an' stealin' evehything dey
could lay dey han's on, Marse Daniel. An' ouah
folks a-ridin' and a racin' and projickin' aroun' in
de same onsettled way.
"Marse Willyum, he 'low HE gwine settle dat dar
wah he-se'f--yass, SAH! An' he got on he hoss,
and he ride away an' jine Marse Jeb Stuart. But
dey don' settle hit. Marse Ab'ham Linkum, he
'low HE gwine settle hit, an' sen' millyums an'
millyums mo' o' dem Yankees down hyah, Marse
Daniel. But dey des ONsettle hit wuss'n evah!
But arter a while it des settle HITse'f.
"An' den freedom broke out among de niggers,
and dey was mo' gwines-ON, an' talkin', an' some
on 'em 'lowed dey was gwine ter be no mo' wohk,
Marse Daniel. But arter a while dat settle HITse'f,
and dey all went back to wohk agin. Den some on
de niggers gits de notion, Marse Daniel, dey gwine
foh to VOTE. An' dey was mo' gwines-on, an' de Ku
Kluxes come a projickin' aroun' nights, like
de grave-yahds done been resu'rected, Marse
Daniel, an' den arter a while dat trouble settle
"Den arter de Ku Kluxes dey was de time
Miss Lucy Buckner gwine ter mahy Marse Prent
McMakin. An' she don' want to ma'hy him, if dey
give her her druthers about hit. But Ol' Marse
Kunnel Hampton, her gram-pa, and her aunt, MY
Miss Lucy hyah, dey ain't gwine give her no
druthers. And dey was mo' gwines-ON. But dat
settle HITse'f, too."
George, he begins to chuckle, and I ast him
"Yass, SAH, dat settle HITse'f. But I 'spec'
Miss Lucy Buckner done he'p some in de settleMENT.
Foh de day befoh de weddin' was gwine ter be,
she ups an' she runs off wid a Yankee frien' of her
brother, Kunnel Tom Buckner. An' I'se 'spec'
Kunnel Tom an' Marse Prent McMakin would
o' settle' HIM ef dey evah had o' cotched him--
dat dar David Ahmstrong!"
"Who?" says I.
"David Ahmstrong was his entitlement," says
George, "an' he been gwine to de same college as
Marse Tom Buckner, up no'th somewhah. Dat's
how-come he been visitin' Marse Tom des befoh
de weddin' trouble done settle HIT se'f dat-a-
Well, it give me quite a turn to run onto the
mention of that there David Armstrong agin in this
part of the country. Here he had been jilting
Miss Hampton way up in Indiany, and running
away with another girl down here in Tennessee.