Part 8 out of 11
not recorded anywhere except in Mr. Stener's memory, and his memory
of them cannot be admitted in this case. The witness has testified
to the general facts."
Judge Payderson smiled grimly. "Objection overruled," he returned.
"Exception!" shouted Steger.
"He said, as near as I can remember," replied Stener, drumming on
the arms of the witness-chair in a nervous way, "that if I didn't
give him three hundred thousand dollars he was going to fail, and
I would be poor and go to the penitentiary."
"Object!" shouted Stager, leaping to his feet. "Your honor, I
object to the whole manner in which this examination is being
conducted by the prosecution. The evidence which the district
attorney is here trying to extract from the uncertain memory of
the witness is in defiance of all law and precedent, and has no
definite bearing on the facts of the case, and could not disprove
or substantiate whether Mr. Cowperwood thought or did not think
that he was going to fail. Mr. Stener might give one version of
this conversation or any conversation that took place at this time,
and Mr. Cowperwood another. As a matter of fact, their versions
are different. I see no point in Mr. Shannon's line of inquiry,
unless it is to prejudice the jury's minds towards accepting certain
allegations which the prosecution is pleased to make and which it
cannot possibly substantiate. I think you ought to caution the
witness to testify only in regard to things that he recalls exactly,
not to what he thinks he remembers; and for my part I think that
all that has been testified to in the last five minutes might be
well stricken out."
"Objection overruled," replied Judge Payderson, rather indifferently;
and Steger who had been talking merely to overcome the weight of
Stener's testimony in the minds of the jury, sat down.
Shannon once more approached Stener.
"Now, as near as you can remember, Mr. Stener, I wish you would
tell the jury what else it was that Mr. Cowperwood said on that
occasion. He certainly didn't stop with the remark that you would
be ruined and go to the penitentiary. Wasn't there other language
that was employed on that occasion?"
"He said, as far as I can remember," replied Stener, "that there
were a lot of political schemers who were trying to frighten me,
that if I didn't give him three hundred thousand dollars we would
both be ruined, and that I might as well be tried for stealing a
sheep as a lamb."
"Ha!" yelled Shannon. "He said that, did he?"
"Yes, sir; he did," said Stener.
"How did he say it, exactly? What were his exact words?" Shannon
demanded, emphatically, pointing a forceful forefinger at Stener
in order to key him up to a clear memory of what had transpired.
"Well, as near as I can remember, he said just that," replied
Stener, vaguely. "You might as well be tried for stealing a sheep
as a lamb."
"Exactly!" exclaimed Shannon, whirling around past the jury to
look at Cowperwood. "I thought so."
"Pure pyrotechnics, your honor," said Steger, rising to his feet
on the instant. "All intended to prejudice the minds of the jury.
Acting. I wish you would caution the counsel for the prosecution
to confine himself to the evidence in hand, and not act for the
benefit of his case."
The spectators smiled; and Judge Payderson, noting it, frowned
severely. "Do you make that as an objection, Mr. Steger?" he asked.
"I certainly do, your honor," insisted Steger, resourcefully.
"Objection overruled. Neither counsel for the prosecution nor for
the defense is limited to a peculiar routine of expression."
Steger himself was ready to smile, but he did not dare to.
Cowperwood fearing the force of such testimony and regretting it,
still looked at Stener, pityingly. The feebleness of the man;
the weakness of the man; the pass to which his cowardice had
brought them both!
When Shannon was through bringing out this unsatisfactory data,
Steger took Stener in hand; but he could not make as much out of
him as he hoped. In so far as this particular situation was
concerned, Stener was telling the exact truth; and it is hard to
weaken the effect of the exact truth by any subtlety of interpretation,
though it can, sometimes, be done. With painstaking care Steger
went over all the ground of Stener's long relationship with
Cowperwood, and tried to make it appear that Cowperwood was
invariably the disinterested agent--not the ringleader in a subtle,
really criminal adventure. It was hard to do, but he made a fine
impression. Still the jury listened with skeptical minds. It
might not be fair to punish Cowperwood for seizing with avidity
upon a splendid chance to get rich quick, they thought; but it
certainly was not worth while to throw a veil of innocence over
such palpable human cupidity. Finally, both lawyers were through
with Stener for the time being, anyhow, and then Albert Stires was
called to the stand.
He was the same thin, pleasant, alert, rather agreeable soul that
he had been in the heyday of his clerkly prosperity--a little paler
now, but not otherwise changed. His small property had been saved
for him by Cowperwood, who had advised Steger to inform the Municipal
Reform Association that Stires' bondsmen were attempting to
sequestrate it for their own benefit, when actually it should go
to the city if there were any real claim against him--which there
was not. That watchful organization had issued one of its numerous
reports covering this point, and Albert had had the pleasure of
seeing Strobik and the others withdraw in haste. Naturally he was
grateful to Cowperwood, even though once he had been compelled to
cry in vain in his presence. He was anxious now to do anything
he could to help the banker, but his naturally truthful disposition
prevented him from telling anything except the plain facts, which
were partly beneficial and partly not.
Stires testified that he recalled Cowperwood's saying that he had
purchased the certificates, that he was entitled to the money,
that Stener was unduly frightened, and that no harm would come to
him, Albert. He identified certain memoranda in the city treasurer's
books, which were produced, as being accurate, and others in
Cowperwood's books, which were also produced, as being corroborative.
His testimony as to Stener's astonishment on discovering that his
chief clerk had given Cowperwood a check was against the latter; but
Cowperwood hoped to overcome the effect of this by his own testimony
Up to now both Steger and Cowperwood felt that they were doing
fairly well, and that they need not be surprised if they won their
The trial moved on. One witness for the prosecution after another
followed until the State had built up an arraignment that satisfied
Shannon that he had established Cowperwood's guilt, whereupon he
announced that he rested. Steger at once arose and began a long
argument for the dismissal of the case on the ground that there
was no evidence to show this, that and the other, but Judge Payderson
would have none of it. He knew how important the matter was in
the local political world.
"I don't think you had better go into all that now, Mr. Steger,"
he said, wearily, after allowing him to proceed a reasonable
distance. "I am familiar with the custom of the city, and the
indictment as here made does not concern the custom of the city.
Your argument is with the jury, not with me. I couldn't enter
into that now. You may renew your motion at the close of the
defendants' case. Motion denied."
District-Attorney Shannon, who had been listening attentively,
sat down. Steger, seeing there was no chance to soften the judge's
mind by any subtlety of argument, returned to Cowperwood, who
smiled at the result.
"We'll just have to take our chances with the jury," he announced.
"I was sure of it," replied Cowperwood.
Steger then approached the jury, and, having outlined the case
briefly from his angle of observation, continued by telling them
what he was sure the evidence would show from his point of view.
"As a matter of fact, gentlemen, there is no essential difference
in the evidence which the prosecution can present and that which
we, the defense, can present. We are not going to dispute that
Mr. Cowperwood received a check from Mr. Stener for sixty thousand
dollars, or that he failed to put the certificate of city loan
which that sum of money represented, and to which he was entitled
in payment as agent, in the sinking-fund, as the prosecution now
claims he should have done; but we are going to claim and prove
also beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt that he had a right,
as the agent of the city, doing business with the city through its
treasury department for four years, to withhold, under an agreement
which he had with the city treasurer, all payments of money and
all deposits of certificates in the sinking-fund until the first
day of each succeeding month--the first month following any given
transaction. As a matter of fact we can and will bring many traders
and bankers who have had dealings with the city treasury in the
past in just this way to prove this. The prosecution is going
to ask you to believe that Mr. Cowperwood knew at the time he
received this check that he was going to fail; that he did not buy
the certificates, as he claimed, with the view of placing them in
the sinking-fund; and that, knowing he was going to fail, and that
he could not subsequently deposit them, he deliberately went to
Mr. Albert Stires, Mr. Stener's secretary, told him that he had
purchased such certificates, and on the strength of a falsehood,
implied if not actually spoken, secured the check, and walked away.
"Now, gentlemen, I am not going to enter into a long-winded discussion
of these points at this time, since the testimony is going to show
very rapidly what the facts are. We have a number of witnesses
here, and we are all anxious to have them heard. What I am going
to ask you to remember is that there is not one scintilla of
testimony outside of that which may possibly be given by Mr. George
W. Stener, which will show either that Mr. Cowperwood knew, at
the time he called on the city treasurer, that he was going to fail,
or that he had not purchased the certificates in question, or that
he had not the right to withhold them from the sinking-fund as long
as he pleased up to the first of the month, the time he invariably
struck a balance with the city. Mr. Stener, the ex-city treasurer,
may possibly testify one way. Mr. Cowperwood, on his own behalf,
will testify another. It will then be for you gentlemen to decide
between them, to decide which one you prefer to believe--Mr. George
W. Stener, the ex-city treasurer, the former commercial associate
of Mr. Cowperwood, who, after years and years of profit, solely
because of conditions of financial stress, fire, and panic, preferred
to turn on his one-time associate from whose labors he had reaped
so much profit, or Mr. Frank A. Cowperwood, the well-known banker
and financier, who did his best to weather the storm alone, who
fulfilled to the letter every agreement he ever had with the city,
who has even until this hour been busy trying to remedy the unfair
financial difficulties forced upon him by fire and panic, and who
only yesterday made an offer to the city that, if he were allowed
to continue in uninterrupted control of his affairs he would gladly
repay as quickly as possible every dollar of his indebtedness
(which is really not all his), including the five hundred thousand
dollars under discussion between him and Mr. Stener and the city,
and so prove by his works, not talk, that there was no basis for
this unfair suspicion of his motives. As you perhaps surmise, the
city has not chosen to accept his offer, and I shall try and tell
you why later, gentlemen. For the present we will proceed with
the testimony, and for the defense all I ask is that you give very
close attention to all that is testified to here to-day. Listen
very carefully to Mr. W. C. Davison when he is put on the stand.
Listen equally carefully to Mr. Cowperwood when we call him to
testify. Follow the other testimony closely, and then you will
be able to judge for yourselves. See if you can distinguish a
just motive for this prosecution. I can't. I am very much obliged
to you for listening to me, gentlemen, so attentively."
He then put on Arthur Rivers, who had acted for Cowperwood on
'change as special agent during the panic, to testify to the large
quantities of city loan he had purchased to stay the market; and
then after him, Cowperwood's brothers, Edward and Joseph, who
testified to instructions received from Rivers as to buying and
selling city loan on that occasion--principally buying.
The next witness was President W. C. Davison of the Girard National
Bank. He was a large man physically, not so round of body as
full and broad. His shoulders and chest were ample. He had a
big blond head, with an ample breadth of forehead, which was high
and sane-looking. He had a thick, squat nose, which, however,
was forceful, and thin, firm, even lips. There was the faintest
touch of cynical humor in his hard blue eyes at times; but mostly
he was friendly, alert, placid-looking, without seeming in the
least sentimental or even kindly. His business, as one could see
plainly, was to insist on hard financial facts, and one could see
also how he would naturally be drawn to Frank Algernon Cowperwood
without being mentally dominated or upset by him. As he took the
chair very quietly, and yet one might say significantly, it was
obvious that he felt that this sort of legal-financial palaver was
above the average man and beneath the dignity of a true financier--
in other words, a bother. The drowsy Sparkheaver holding up a
Bible beside him for him to swear by might as well have been a
block of wood. His oath was a personal matter with him. It was
good business to tell the truth at times. His testimony was very
direct and very simple.
He had known Mr. Frank Algernon Cowperwood for nearly ten years.
He had done business with or through him nearly all of that time.
He knew nothing of his personal relations with Mr. Stener, and did
not know Mr. Stener personally. As for the particular check of
sixty thousand dollars--yes, he had seen it before. It had come
into the bank on October 10th along with other collateral to offset
an overdraft on the part of Cowperwood & Co. It was placed to
the credit of Cowperwood & Co. on the books of the bank, and the
bank secured the cash through the clearing-house. No money was
drawn out of the bank by Cowperwood & Co. after that to create an
overdraft. The bank's account with Cowperwood was squared.
Nevertheless, Mr. Cowperwood might have drawn heavily, and nothing
would have been thought of it. Mr. Davison did not know that Mr.
Cowperwood was going to fail--did not suppose that he could, so
quickly. He had frequently overdrawn his account with the bank;
as a matter of fact, it was the regular course of his business to
overdraw it. It kept his assets actively in use, which was the
height of good business. His overdrafts were protected by collateral,
however, and it was his custom to send bundles of collateral or
checks, or both, which were variously distributed to keep things
straight. Mr. Cowperwood's account was the largest and most active
in the bank, Mr. Davison kindly volunteered. When Mr. Cowperwood
had failed there had been over ninety thousand dollars' worth of
certificates of city loan in the bank's possession which Mr
Cowperwood had sent there as collateral. Shannon, on cross-examination,
tried to find out for the sake of the effect on the jury, whether
Mr. Davison was not for some ulterior motive especially favorable
to Cowperwood. It was not possible for him to do that. Steger
followed, and did his best to render the favorable points made by
Mr. Davison in Cowperwood's behalf perfectly clear to the jury by
having him repeat them. Shannon objected, of course, but it was
of no use. Steger managed to make his point.
He now decided to have Cowperwood take the stand, and at the
mention of his name in this connection the whole courtroom bristled.
Cowperwood came forward briskly and quickly. He was so calm, so
jaunty, so defiant of life, and yet so courteous to it. These
lawyers, this jury, this straw-and-water judge, these machinations
of fate, did not basically disturb or humble or weaken him. He
saw through the mental equipment of the jury at once. He wanted
to assist his counsel in disturbing and confusing Shannon, but
his reason told him that only an indestructible fabric of fact or
seeming would do it. He believed in the financial rightness of
the thing he had done. He was entitled to do it. Life was war--
particularly financial life; and strategy was its keynote, its
duty, its necessity. Why should he bother about petty, picayune
minds which could not understand this? He went over his history
for Steger and the jury, and put the sanest, most comfortable
light on it that he could. He had not gone to Mr. Stener in the
first place, he said--he had been called. He had not urged Mr.
Stener to anything. He had merely shown him and his friends
financial possibilities which they were only too eager to seize
upon. And they had seized upon them. (It was not possible for
Shannon to discover at this period how subtly he had organized
his street-car companies so that he could have "shaken out" Stener
and his friends without their being able to voice a single protest,
so he talked of these things as opportunities which he had made
for Stener and others. Shannon was not a financier, neither was
Steger. They had to believe in a way, though they doubted it,
partly--particularly Shannon.) He was not responsible for the
custom prevailing in the office of the city treasurer, he said.
He was a banker and broker.
The jury looked at him, and believed all except this matter of
the sixty-thousand-dollar check. When it came to that he explained
it all plausibly enough. When he had gone to see Stener those
several last days, he had not fancied that he was really going to
fail. He had asked Stener for some money, it is true--not so very
much, all things considered--one hundred and fifty thousand dollars;
but, as Stener should have testified, he (Cowperwood) was not
disturbed in his manner. Stener had merely been one resource of
his. He was satisfied at that time that he had many others. He
had not used the forceful language or made the urgent appeal which
Stener said he had, although he had pointed out to Stener that it
was a mistake to become panic-stricken, also to withhold further
credit. It was true that Stener was his easiest, his quickest
resource, but not his only one. He thought, as a matter of fact,
that his credit would be greatly extended by his principal money
friends if necessary, and that he would have ample time to patch
up his affairs and keep things going until the storm should blow
over. He had told Stener of his extended purchase of city loan
to stay the market on the first day of the panic, and of the fact
that sixty thousand dollars was due him. Stener had made no
objection. It was just possible that he was too mentally disturbed
at the time to pay close attention. After that, to his, Cowperwood's,
surprise, unexpected pressure on great financial houses from
unexpected directions had caused them to be not willingly but
unfortunately severe with him. This pressure, coming collectively
the next day, had compelled him to close his doors, though he had
not really expected to up to the last moment. His call for the
sixty-thousand-dollar check at the time had been purely fortuitous.
He needed the money, of course, but it was due him, and his clerks
were all very busy. He merely asked for and took it personally
to save time. Stener knew if it had been refused him he would have
brought suit. The matter of depositing city loan certificates in
the sinking-fund, when purchased for the city, was something to
which he never gave any personal attention whatsoever. His
bookkeeper, Mr. Stapley, attended to all that. He did not know,
as a matter of fact, that they had not been deposited. (This was
a barefaced lie. He did know.) As for the check being turned over
to the Girard National Bank, that was fortuitous. It might just
as well have been turned over to some other bank if the conditions
had been different.
Thus on and on he went, answering all of Steger's and Shannon's
searching questions with the most engaging frankness, and you
could have sworn from the solemnity with which he took it all--
the serious business attention--that he was the soul of so-called
commercial honor. And to say truly, he did believe in the justice
as well as the necessity and the importance of all that he had
done and now described. He wanted the jury to see it as he saw
it--put itself in his place and sympathize with him.
He was through finally, and the effect on the jury of his testimony
and his personality was peculiar. Philip Moultrie, juror No. 1,
decided that Cowperwood was lying. He could not see how it was
possible that he could not know the day before that he was going
to fail. He must have known, he thought. Anyhow, the whole series
of transactions between him and Stener seemed deserving of some
punishment, and all during this testimony he was thinking how,
when he got in the jury-room, he would vote guilty. He even
thought of some of the arguments he would use to convince the
others that Cowperwood was guilty. Juror No. 2, on the contrary,
Simon Glassberg, a clothier, thought he understood how it all came
about, and decided to vote for acquittal. He did not think Cowperwood
was innocent, but he did not think he deserved to be punished.
Juror No. 3, Fletcher Norton, an architect, thought Cowperwood was
guilty, but at the same time that he was too talented to be sent
to prison. Juror No. 4, Charles Hillegan, an Irishman, a contractor,
and a somewhat religious-minded person, thought Cowperwood was
guilty and ought to be punished. Juror No. 5, Philip Lukash, a
coal merchant, thought he was guilty. Juror No. 6, Benjamin Fraser,
a mining expert, thought he was probably guilty, but he could not
be sure. Uncertain what he would do, juror No. 7, J. J. Bridges,
a broker in Third Street, small, practical, narrow, thought
Cowperwood was shrewd and guilty and deserved to be punished. He
would vote for his punishment. Juror No. 8, Guy E. Tripp, general
manager of a small steamboat company, was uncertain. Juror No.
9, Joseph Tisdale, a retired glue manufacturer, thought Cowperwood
was probably guilty as charged, but to Tisdale it was no crime.
Cowperwood was entitled to do as he had done under the circumstances.
Tisdale would vote for his acquittal. Juror No. 10, Richard Marsh,
a young florist, was for Cowperwood in a sentimental way. He had,
as a matter of fact, no real convictions. Juror No. 11, Richard
Webber, a grocer, small financially, but heavy physically, was for
Cowperwood's conviction. He thought him guilty. Juror No. 12,
Washington B. Thomas, a wholesale flour merchant, thought Cowperwood
was guilty, but believed in a recommendation to mercy after
pronouncing him so. Men ought to be reformed, was his slogan.
So they stood, and so Cowperwood left them, wondering whether any
of his testimony had had a favorable effect.
Since it is the privilege of the lawyer for the defense to address
the jury first, Steger bowed politely to his colleague and came
forward. Putting his hands on the jury-box rail, he began in a
very quiet, modest, but impressive way:
"Gentlemen of the jury, my client, Mr. Frank Algernon Cowperwood,
a well-known banker and financier of this city, doing business in
Third Street, is charged by the State of Pennsylvania, represented
by the district attorney of this district, with fraudulently
transferring from the treasury of the city of Philadelphia to his
own purse the sum of sixty thousand dollars, in the form of a check
made out to his order, dated October 9, 1871, and by him received
from one Albert Stires, the private secretary and head bookkeeper
of the treasurer of this city, at the time in question. Now,
gentlemen, what are the facts in this connection? You have heard
the various witnesses and know the general outlines of the story.
Take the testimony of George W. Stener, to begin with. He tells
you that sometime back in the year 1866 he was greatly in need of
some one, some banker or broker, who would tell him how to bring
city loan, which was selling very low at the time, to par--who
would not only tell him this, but proceed to demonstrate that his
knowledge was accurate by doing it. Mr. Stener was an
inexperienced man at the time in the matter of finance. Mr.
Cowperwood was an active young man with an enviable record as a
broker and a trader on 'change. He proceeded to demonstrate to
Mr. Stener not only in theory, but in fact, how this thing of
bringing city loan to par could be done. He made an arrangement
at that time with Mr. Stener, the details of which you have
heard from Mr. Stener himself, the result of which was that a
large amount of city loan was turned over to Mr. Cowperwood by
Mr. Stener for sale, and by adroit manipulation--methods of
buying and selling which need not be gone into here, but which
are perfectly sane and legitimate in the world in which Mr.
Cowperwood operated, did bring that loan to par, and kept it
there year after year as you have all heard here testified to.
"Now what is the bone of contention here, gentlemen, the
significant fact which brings Mr. Stener into this court at
this time charging his old-time agent and broker with larceny
and embezzlement, and alleging that he has transferred to his
own use without a shadow of return sixty thousand dollars of
the money which belongs to the city treasury? What is it? Is
it that Mr. Cowperwood secretly, with great stealth, as it were,
at some time or other, unknown to Mr. Stener or to his assistants,
entered the office of the treasurer and forcibly, and with
criminal intent, carried away sixty thousand dollars' worth of
the city's money? Not at all. The charge is, as you have heard
the district attorney explain, that Mr. Cowperwood came in
broad daylight at between four and five o'clock of the afternoon
preceeding the day of his assignment; was closeted with Mr.
Stener for a half or three-quarters of an hour; came out;
explained to Mr. Albert Stires that he had recently bought sixty
thousand dollars' worth of city loan for the city sinking-fund,
for which he had not been paid; asked that the amount be
credited on the city's books to him, and that he be given a
check, which was his due, and walked out. Anything very
remarkable about that, gentlemen? Anything very strange? Has
it been testified here to-day that Mr. Cowperwood was not the
agent of the city for the transaction of just such business as
he said on that occasion that he had transacted? Did any one say
here on the witness-stand that he had not bought city loan as
he said he had?
"Why is it then that Mr. Stener charges Mr. Cowperwood with
larcenously securing and feloniously disposing of a check for
sixty thousand dollars for certificates which he had a right to
buy, and which it has not been contested here that he did buy?
The reason lies just here--listen--just here. At the time my
client asked for the check and took it away with him and
deposited it in his own bank to his own account, he failed,
so the prosecution insists, to put the sixty thousand dollars'
worth of certificates for which he had received the check, in
the sinking-fund; and having failed to do that, and being
compelled by the pressure of financial events the same day to
suspend payment generally, he thereby, according to the
prosecution and the anxious leaders of the Republican party in
the city, became an embezzler, a thief, a this or that--anything
you please so long as you find a substitute for George W. Stener
and the indifferent leaders of the Republican party in the eyes
of the people."
And here Mr. Steger proceeded boldly and defiantly to outline the
entire political situation as it had manifested itself in connection
with the Chicago fire, the subsequent panic and its political
consequences, and to picture Cowperwood as the unjustly maligned
agent, who before the fire was valuable and honorable enough to
suit any of the political leaders of Philadelphia, but afterward,
and when political defeat threatened, was picked upon as the most
available scapegoat anywhere within reach.
And it took him a half hour to do that. And afterward but only
after he had pointed to Stener as the true henchman and stalking
horse, who had, in turn, been used by political forces above him
to accomplish certain financial results, which they were not
willing to have ascribed to themselves, he continued with:
"But now, in the light of all this, only see how ridiculous all
this is! How silly! Frank A. Cowperwood had always been the
agent of the city in these matters for years and years. He
worked under certain rules which he and Mr. Stener had agreed
upon in the first place, and which obviously came from others,
who were above Mr. Stener, since they were hold-over customs
and rules from administrations, which had been long before Mr.
Stener ever appeared on the scene as city treasurer. One of
them was that he could carry all transactions over until the
first of the month following before he struck a balance. That
is, he need not pay any money over for anything to the city
treasurer, need not send him any checks or deposit any money or
certificates in the sinking-fund until the first of the month
because--now listen to this carefully, gentlemen; it is
important--because his transactions in connection with city
loan and everything else that he dealt in for the city treasurer
were so numerous, so swift, so uncalculated beforehand, that
he had to have a loose, easy system of this kind in order to do
his work properly--to do business at all. Otherwise he could
not very well have worked to the best advantage for Mr. Stener,
or for any one else. It would have meant too much bookkeeping
for him--too much for the city treasurer. Mr. Stener has
testified to that in the early part of his story. Albert Stires
has indicated that that was his understanding of it. Well, then
what? Why, just this. Would any jury suppose, would any sane
business man believe that if such were the case Mr. Cowperwood
would be running personally with all these items of deposit,
to the different banks or the sinking-fund or the city treasurer's
office, or would be saying to his head bookkeeper, 'Here, Stapley,
here is a check for sixty thousand dollars. See that the
certificates of loan which this represents are put in the
sinking-fund to-day'? And why not? What a ridiculous supposition
any other supposition is! As a matter of course and as had
always been the case, Mr. Cowperwood had a system. When the
time came, this check and these certificates would be
automatically taken care of. He handed his bookkeeper the
check and forgot all about it. Would you imagine a banker with
a vast business of this kind doing anything else?"
Mr. Steger paused for breath and inquiry, and then, having satisfied
himself that his point had been sufficiently made, he continued:
"Of course the answer is that he knew he was going to fail.
Well, Mr. Cowperwood's reply is that he didn't know anything of
the sort. He has personally testified here that it was only at
the last moment before it actually happened that he either
thought or knew of such an occurrence. Why, then, this alleged
refusal to let him have the check to which he was legally entitled?
I think I know. I think I can give a reason if you will hear me
Steger shifted his position and came at the jury from another
"It was simply because Mr. George W. Stener at that time, owing
to a recent notable fire and a panic, imagined for some reason--
perhaps because Mr. Cowperwood cautioned him not to become
frightened over local developments generally--that Mr. Cowperwood
was going to close his doors; and having considerable money on
deposit with him at a low rate of interest, Mr. Stener decided
that Mr. Cowperwood must not have any more money--not even the
money that was actually due him for services rendered, and that
had nothing whatsoever to do with the money loaned him by Mr.
Stener at two and one-half per cent. Now isn't that a ridiculous
situation? But it was because Mr. George W. Stener was filled
with his own fears, based on a fire and a panic which had
absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Cowperwood's solvency in the
beginning that he decided not to let Frank A. Cowperwood have
the money that was actually due him, because he, Stener, was
criminally using the city's money to further his own private
interests (through Mr. Cowperwood as a broker), and in danger
of being exposed and possibly punished. Now where, I ask you,
does the good sense of that decision come in? Is it apparent to
you, gentlemen? Was Mr. Cowperwood still an agent for the city
at the time he bought the loan certificates as here testified?
He certainly was. If so, was he entitled to that money? Who is
going to stand up here and deny it? Where is the question then,
as to his right or his honesty in this matter? How does it come
in here at all? I can tell you. It sprang solely from one source
and from nowhere else, and that is the desire of the politicians
of this city to find a scapegoat for the Republican party.
"Now you may think I am going rather far afield for an explanation
of this very peculiar decision to prosecute Mr. Cowperwood, an
agent of the city, for demanding and receiving what actually
belonged to him. But I'm not. Consider the position of the
Republican party at that time. Consider the fact that an exposure
of the truth in regard to the details of a large defalcation in
the city treasury would have a very unsatisfactory effect on the
election about to be held. The Republican party had a new city
treasurer to elect, a new district attorney. It had been in the
habit of allowing its city treasurers the privilege of investing
the funds in their possession at a low rate of interest for the
benefit of themselves and their friends. Their salaries were
small. They had to have some way of eking out a reasonable
existence. Was Mr. George Stener responsible for this custom of
loaning out the city money? Not at all. Was Mr. Cowperwood? Not
at all. The custom had been in vogue long before either Mr.
Cowperwood or Mr. Stener came on the scene. Why, then, this
great hue and cry about it now? The entire uproar sprang solely
from the fear of Mr. Stener at this juncture, the fear of the
politicians at this juncture, of public exposure. No city
treasurer had ever been exposed before. It was a new thing to
face exposure, to face the risk of having the public's attention
called to a rather nefarious practice of which Mr. Stener was
taking advantage, that was all. A great fire and a panic were
endangering the security and well-being of many a financial
organization in the city--Mr. Cowperwood's among others. It
meant many possible failures, and many possible failures meant
one possible failure. If Frank A. Cowperwood failed, he would
fail owing the city of Philadelphia five hundred thousand dollars,
borrowed from the city treasurer at the very low rate of interest
of two and one-half per cent. Anything very detrimental to Mr.
Cowperwood in that? Had he gone to the city treasurer and asked
to be loaned money at two and one-half per cent.? If he had, was
there anything criminal in it from a business point of view?
Isn't a man entitled to borrow money from any source he can at
the lowest possible rate of interest? Did Mr. Stener have to
loan it to Mr. Cowperwood if he did not want to? As a matter of
fact didn't he testify here to-day that he personally had sent
for Mr. Cowperwood in the first place? Why, then, in Heaven's
name, this excited charge of larceny, larceny as bailee,
embezzlement, embezzlement on a check, etc., etc.?
"Once more, gentlemen, listen. I'll tell you why. The men
who stood behind Stener, and whose bidding he was doing, wanted
to make a political scapegoat of some one--of Frank Algernon
Cowperwood, if they couldn't get any one else. That's why.
No other reason under God's blue sky, not one. Why, if Mr.
Cowperwood needed more money just at that time to tide him
over, it would have been good policy for them to have given it
to him and hushed this matter up. It would have been illegal--
though not any more illegal than anything else that has ever
been done in this connection--but it would have been safer.
Fear, gentlemen, fear, lack of courage, inability to meet a
great crisis when a great crisis appears, was all that really
prevented them from doing this. They were afraid to place
confidence in a man who had never heretofore betrayed their
trust and from whose loyalty and great financial ability they
and the city had been reaping large profits. The reigning city
treasurer of the time didn't have the courage to go on in the
face of fire and panic and the rumors of possible failure, and
stick by his illegal guns; and so he decided to draw in his
horns as testified here to-day--to ask Mr. Cowperwood to return
all or at least a big part of the five hundred thousand dollars
he had loaned him, and which Cowperwood had been actually using
for his, Stener's benefit, and to refuse him in addition the
money that was actually due him for an authorized purchase of
city loan. Was Cowperwood guilty as an agent in any of these
transactions? Not in the least. Was there any suit pending to
make him return the five hundred thousand dollars of city money
involved in his present failure? Not at all. It was simply a
case of wild, silly panic on the part of George W. Stener, and
a strong desire on the part of the Republican party leaders,
once they discovered what the situation was, to find some one
outside of Stener, the party treasurer, upon whom they could
blame the shortage in the treasury. You heard what Mr.
Cowperwood testified to here in this case to-day--that he went
to Mr. Stener to forfend against any possible action of this
kind in the first place. And it was because of this very
warning that Mr. Stener became wildly excited, lost his head,
and wanted Mr. Cowperwood to return him all his money, all the
five hundred thousand dollars he had loaned him at two and
one-half per cent. Isn't that silly financial business at the
best? Wasn't that a fine time to try to call a perfectly legal
"But now to return to this particular check of sixty thousand
dollars. When Mr. Cowperwood called that last afternoon before
he failed, Mr. Stener testified that he told him that he couldn't
have any more money, that it was impossible, and that then Mr.
Cowperwood went out into his general office and without his
knowledge or consent persuaded his chief clerk and secretary,
Mr. Albert Stires, to give him a check for sixty thousand dollars,
to which he was not entitled and on which he, Stener, would
have stopped payment if he had known.
"What nonsense! Why didn't he know? The books were there, open
to him. Mr. Stires told him the first thing the next morning.
Mr. Cowperwood thought nothing of it, for he was entitled to it,
and could collect it in any court of law having jurisdiction in
such cases, failure or no failure. It is silly for Mr. Stener
to say he would have stopped payment. Such a claim was probably
an after-thought of the next morning after he had talked with his
friends, the politicians, and was all a part, a trick, a trap,
to provide the Republican party with a scapegoat at this time.
Nothing more and nothing less; and you may be sure no one knew
it better than the people who were most anxious to see Mr.
Steger paused and looked significantly at Shannon.
"Gentlemen of the jury [he finally concluded, quietly and
earnestly], you are going to find, when you think it over in
the jury-room this evening, that this charge of larceny and
larceny as bailee, and embezzlement of a check for sixty
thousand dollars, which are contained in this indictment, and
which represent nothing more than the eager effort of the
district attorney to word this one act in such a way that it
will look like a crime, represents nothing more than the excited
imagination of a lot of political refugees who are anxious to
protect their own skirts at the expense of Mr. Cowperwood, and
who care for nothing--honor, fair play, or anything else, so
long as they are let off scot-free. They don't want the
Republicans of Pennsylvania to think too ill of the Republican
party management and control in this city. They want to protect
George W. Stener as much as possible and to make a political
scapegoat of my client. It can't be done, and it won't be done.
As honorable, intelligent men you won't permit it to be done.
And I think with that thought I can safely leave you."
Steger suddenly turned from the jury-box and walked to his seat
beside Cowperwood, while Shannon arose, calm, forceful, vigorous,
As between man and man, Shannon was not particularly opposed to
the case Steger had made out for Cowperwood, nor was he opposed
to Cowperwood's having made money as he did. As a matter of fact,
Shannon actually thought that if he had been in Cowperwood's position
he would have done exactly the same thing. However, he was the
newly elected district attorney. He had a record to make; and,
besides, the political powers who were above him were satisfied that
Cowperwood ought to be convicted for the looks of the thing.
Therefore he laid his hands firmly on the rail at first, looked
the jurors steadily in the eyes for a time, and, having framed a
few thoughts in his mind began:
"Now, gentlemen of the jury, it seems to me that if we all pay
strict attention to what has transpired here to-day, we will
have no difficulty in reaching a conclusion; and it will be a
very satisfactory one, if we all try to interpret the facts
correctly. This defendant, Mr. Cowperwood, comes into this
court to-day charged, as I have stated to you before, with
larceny, with larceny as bailee, with embezzlement, and with
embezzlement of a specific check--namely, one dated October 9,
1871, drawn to the order of Frank A. Cowperwood & Company for
the sum of sixty thousand dollars by the secretary of the city
treasurer for the city treasurer, and by him signed, as he had
a perfect right to sign it, and delivered to the said Frank A.
Cowperwood, who claims that he was not only properly solvent
at the time, but had previously purchased certificates of city
loan to the value of sixty thousand dollars, and had at that
time or would shortly thereafter, as was his custom, deposit
them to the credit of the city in the city sinking-fund, and
thus close what would ordinarily be an ordinary transaction--
namely, that of Frank A. Cowperwood & Company as bankers and
brokers for the city buying city loan for the city, depositing
it in the sinking-fund, and being promptly and properly reimbursed.
Now, gentlemen, what are the actual facts in this case? Was the
said Frank A. Cowperwood & Company--there is no company, as
you well know, as you have heard testified here to-day, only
Frank A. Cowperwood--was the said Frank A. Cowperwood a fit
person to receive the check at this time in the manner he
received it--that is, was he authorized agent of the city at
the time, or was he not? Was he solvent? Did he actually himself
think he was going to fail, and was this sixty-thousand-dollar
check a last thin straw which he was grabbing at to save his
financial life regardless of what it involved legally, morally,
or otherwise; or had he actually purchased certificates of city
loan to the amount he said he had in the way he said he had, at
the time he said he had, and was he merely collecting his honest
due? Did he intend to deposit these certificates of loans in the
city sinking-fund, as he said he would--as it was understood
naturally and normally that he would--or did he not? Were his
relations with the city treasurer as broker and agent the same
as they had always been on the day that he secured this particular
check for sixty thousand dollars, or were they not? Had they been
terminated by a conversation fifteen minutes before or two days
before or two weeks before--it makes no difference when, so long
as they had been properly terminated--or had they not? A business
man has a right to abrogate an agreement at any time where there
is no specific form of contract and no fixed period of operation
entered into--as you all must know. You must not forget that in
considering the evidence in this case. Did George W. Stener,
knowing or suspecting that Frank A. Cowperwood was in a tight
place financially, unable to fulfill any longer properly and
honestly the duties supposedly devolving on him by this agreement,
terminate it then and there on October 9, 1871, before this
check for sixty thousand dollars was given, or did he not? Did
Mr. Frank A. Cowperwood then and there, knowing that he was no
longer an agent of the city treasurer and the city, and knowing
also that he was insolvent (having, as Mr. Stener contends,
admitted to him that he was so), and having no intention of
placing the certificates which he subsequently declared he had
purchased in the sinking-fund, go out into Mr. Stener's general
office, meet his secretary, tell him he had purchased sixty
thousand dollars' worth of city loan, ask for the check, get
it, put it in his pocket, walk off, and never make any return
of any kind in any manner, shape, or form to the city, and then,
subsequently, twenty-four hours later, fail, owing this and
five hundred thousand dollars more to the city treasury, or did
he not? What are the facts in this case? What have the witnesses
testified to? What has George W. Stener testified to, Albert
Stires, President Davison, Mr. Cowperwood himself? What are the
interesting, subtle facts in this case, anyhow? Gentlemen, you
have a very curious problem to decide."
He paused and gazed at the jury, adjusting his sleeves as he did
so, and looking as though he knew for certain that he was on the
trail of a slippery, elusive criminal who was in a fair way to
foist himself upon an honorable and decent community and an honorable
and innocent jury as an honest man.
Then he continued:
"Now, gentlemen, what are the facts? You can see for yourselves
exactly how this whole situation has come about. You are sensible
men. I don't need to tell you. Here are two men, one elected
treasurer of the city of Philadelphia, sworn to guard the
interests of the city and to manipulate its finances to the best
advantage, and the other called in at a time of uncertain financial
cogitation to assist in unraveling a possibly difficult financial
problem; and then you have a case of a quiet, private financial
understanding being reached, and of subsequent illegal dealings
in which one man who is shrewder, wiser, more versed in the subtle
ways of Third Street leads the other along over seemingly charming
paths of fortunate investment into an accidental but none the
less criminal mire of failure and exposure and public calumny and
what not. And then they get to the place where the more vulnerable
individual of the two--the man in the most dangerous position,
the city treasurer of Philadelphia, no less--can no longer
reasonably or, let us say, courageously, follow the other fellow;
and then you have such a spectacle as was described here this
afternoon in the witness-chair by Mr. Stener--that is, you have
a vicious, greedy, unmerciful financial wolf standing over a
cowering, unsophisticated commercial lamb, and saying to him,
his white, shiny teeth glittering all the while, 'If you don't
advance me the money I ask for--the three hundred thousand
dollars I now demand--you will be a convict, your children will
be thrown in the street, you and your wife and your family will
be in poverty again, and there will be no one to turn a hand
for you.' That is what Mr. Stener says Mr. Cowperwood said to
him. I, for my part, haven't a doubt in the world that he did.
Mr. Steger, in his very guarded references to his client,
describes him as a nice, kind, gentlemanly agent, a broker
merely on whom was practically forced the use of five hundred
thousand dollars at two and a half per cent. when money was
bringing from ten to fifteen per cent. in Third Street on call
loans, and even more. But I for one don't choose to believe it.
The thing that strikes me as strange in all of this is that if
he was so nice and kind and gentle and remote--a mere hired and
therefore subservient agent--how is it that he could have gone
to Mr. Stener's office two or three days before the matter of
this sixty-thousand-dollar check came up and say to him, as Mr.
Stener testifies under oath that he did say to him, 'If you
don't give me three hundred thousand dollars' worth more of the
city's money at once, to-day, I will fail, and you will be a
convict. You will go to the penitentiary.'? That's what he said
to him. 'I will fail and you will be a convict. They can't
touch me, but they will arrest you. I am an agent merely.'
Does that sound like a nice, mild, innocent, well-mannered agent,
a hired broker, or doesn't it sound like a hard, defiant,
contemptuous master--a man in control and ready to rule and win
by fair means or foul?
"Gentlemen, I hold no brief for George W. Stener. In my judgment
he is as guilty as his smug co-partner in crime--if not more so--
this oily financier who came smiling and in sheep's clothing,
pointing out subtle ways by which the city's money could be made
profitable for both; but when I hear Mr. Cowperwood described as
I have just heard him described, as a nice, mild, innocent agent,
my gorge rises. Why, gentlemen, if you want to get a right point
of view on this whole proposition you will have to go back about
ten or twelve years and see Mr. George W. Stener as he was then,
a rather poverty-stricken beginner in politics, and before this
very subtle and capable broker and agent came along and pointed
out ways and means by which the city's money could be made
profitable; George W. Stener wasn't very much of a personage then,
and neither was Frank A. Cowperwood when he found Stener newly
elected to the office of city treasurer. Can't you see him arriving
at that time nice and fresh and young and well dressed, as shrewd
as a fox, and saying: 'Come to me. Let me handle city loan.
Loan me the city's money at two per cent. or less.' Can't you
hear him suggesting this? Can't you see him?
"George W. Stener was a poor man, comparatively a very poor man,
when he first became city treasurer. All he had was a small
real-estate and insurance business which brought him in, say,
twenty-five hundred dollars a year. He had a wife and four
children to support, and he had never had the slightest taste
of what for him might be called luxury or comfort. Then comes
Mr. Cowperwood--at his request, to be sure, but on an errand
which held no theory of evil gains in Mr. Stener's mind at the
time--and proposes his grand scheme of manipulating all the city
loan to their mutual advantage. Do you yourselves think,
gentlemen, from what you have seen of George W. Stener here on
the witness-stand, that it was he who proposed this plan of
ill-gotten wealth to that gentleman over there?"
He pointed to Cowperwood.
"Does he look to you like a man who would be able to tell that
gentleman anything about finance or this wonderful manipulation
that followed? I ask you, does he look clever enough to suggest
all the subtleties by which these two subsequently made so much
money? Why, the statement of this man Cowperwood made to his
creditors at the time of his failure here a few weeks ago showed
that he considered himself to be worth over one million two
hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and he is only a little over
thirty-four years old to-day. How much was he worth at the time
he first entered business relations with the ex-city treasurer?
Have you any idea? I can tell. I had the matter looked up almost
a month ago on my accession to office. Just a little over two
hundred thousand dollars, gentlemen--just a little over two
hundred thousand dollars. Here is an abstract from the files of
Dun & Company for that year. Now you can see how rapidly our
Caesar has grown in wealth since then. You can see how profitable
these few short years have been to him. Was George W. Stener
worth any such sum up to the time he was removed from his office
and indicted for embezzlement? Was he? I have here a schedule of
his liabilities and assets made out at the time. You can see it
for yourselves, gentlemen. Just two hundred and twenty thousand
dollars measured the sum of all his property three weeks ago;
and it is an accurate estimate, as I have reason to know. Why
was it, do you suppose, that Mr. Cowperwood grew so fast in
wealth and Mr. Stener so slowly? They were partners in crime.
Mr. Stener was loaning Mr. Cowperwood vast sums of the city's
money at two per cent. when call-rates for money in Third Street
were sometimes as high as sixteen and seventeen per cent. Don't
you suppose that Mr. Cowperwood sitting there knew how to use
this very cheaply come-by money to the very best advantage? Does
he look to you as though he didn't? You have seen him on the
witness-stand. You have heard him testify. Very suave, very
straightforward-seeming, very innocent, doing everything as a
favor to Mr. Stener and his friends, of course, and yet making
a million in a little over six years and allowing Mr. Stener to
make one hundred and sixty thousand dollars or less, for Mr.
Stener had some little money at the time this partnership was
entered into--a few thousand dollars."
Shannon now came to the vital transaction of October 9th, when
Cowperwood called on Stener and secured the check for sixty thousand
dollars from Albert Stires. His scorn for this (as he appeared to
think) subtle and criminal transaction was unbounded. It was plain
larceny, stealing, and Cowperwood knew it when he asked Stires for
"Think of it! [Shannon exclaimed, turning and looking squarely
at Cowperwood, who faced him quite calmly, undisturbed and
unashamed.] Think of it! Think of the colossal nerve of the
man--the Machiavellian subtlety of his brain. He knew he was
going to fail. He knew after two days of financial work--after
two days of struggle to offset the providential disaster which
upset his nefarious schemes--that he had exhausted every possible
resource save one, the city treasury, and that unless he could
compel aid there he was going to fail. He already owed the city
treasury five hundred thousand dollars. He had already used the
city treasurer as a cat's-paw so much, had involved him so deeply,
that the latter, because of the staggering size of the debt, was
becoming frightened. Did that deter Mr. Cowperwood? Not at all."
He shook his finger ominously in Cowperwood's face, and the latter
turned irritably away. "He is showing off for the benefit of his
future," he whispered to Steger. "I wish you could tell the jury
"I wish I could," replied Steger, smiling scornfully, "but my hour
"Why [continued Mr. Shannon, turning once more to the jury],
think of the colossal, wolfish nerve that would permit a man to
say to Albert Stires that he had just purchased sixty thousand
dollars' worth additional of city loan, and that he would then
and there take the check for it! Had he actually purchased this
city loan as he said he had? Who can tell? Could any human being
wind through all the mazes of the complicated bookkeeping system
which he ran, and actually tell? The best answer to that is that
if he did purchase the certificates he intended that it should
make no difference to the city, for he made no effort to put the
certificates in the sinking-fund, where they belonged. His
counsel says, and he says, that he didn't have to until the first
of the month, although the law says that he must do it at once,
and he knew well enough that legally he was bound to do it. His
counsel says, and he says, that he didn't know he was going to
fail. Hence there was no need of worrying about it. I wonder
if any of you gentlemen really believed that? Had he ever asked
for a check like that so quick before in his life? In all the
history of these nefarious transactions was there another incident
like that? You know there wasn't. He had never before, on any
occasion, asked personally for a check for anything in this
office, and yet on this occasion he did it. Why? Why should he
ask for it this time? A few hours more, according to his own
statement, wouldn't have made any difference one way or the other,
would it? He could have sent a boy for it, as usual. That was
the way it had always been done before. Why anything different
now? I'll tell you why! [Shannon suddenly shouted, varying his
voice tremendously.] I'll tell you why! He knew that he was a
ruined man! He knew that his last semi-legitimate avenue of
escape--the favor of George W. Stener--had been closed to him!
He knew that honestly, by open agreement, he could not extract
another single dollar from the treasury of the city of
Philadelphia. He knew that if he left the office without this
check and sent a boy for it, the aroused city treasurer would
have time to inform his clerks, and that then no further money
could be obtained. That's why! That's why, gentlemen, if you
really want to know.
"Now, gentlemen of the jury, I am about done with my arraignment
of this fine, honorable, virtuous citizen whom the counsel for
the defense, Mr. Steger, tells you you cannot possibly convict
without doing a great injustice. All I have to say is that you
look to me like sane, intelligent men--just the sort of men that
I meet everywhere in the ordinary walks of life, doing an
honorable American business in an honorable American way. Now,
gentlemen of the jury [he was very soft-spoken now], all I have
to say is that if, after all you have heard and seen here to-day,
you still think that Mr. Frank A. Cowperwood is an honest,
honorable man--that he didn't steal, willfully and knowingly,
sixty thousand dollars from the Philadelphia city treasury; that
he had actually bought the certificates he said he had, and had
intended to put them in the sinking-fund, as he said he did,
then don't you dare to do anything except turn him loose, and
that speedily, so that he can go on back to-day into Third
Street, and start to straighten out his much-entangled financial
affairs. It is the only thing for honest, conscientious men to
do--to turn him instantly loose into the heart of this community,
so that some of the rank injustice that my opponent, Mr. Steger,
alleges has been done him will be a little made up to him. You
owe him, if that is the way you feel, a prompt acknowledgment of
his innocence. Don't worry about George W. Stener. His guilt
is established by his own confession. He admits he is guilty.
He will be sentenced without trial later on. But this man--he
says he is an honest, honorable man. He says he didn't think he
was going to fail. He says he used all that threatening,
compelling, terrifying language, not because he was in danger
of failing, but because he didn't want the bother of looking
further for aid. What do you think? Do you really think that he
had purchased sixty thousand dollars more of certificates for
the sinking-fund, and that he was entitled to the money? If so,
why didn't he put them in the sinking-fund? They're not there
now, and the sixty thousand dollars is gone. Who got it? The
Girard National Bank, where he was overdrawn to the extent of
one hundred thousand dollars! Did it get it and forty thousand
dollars more in other checks and certificates? Certainly. Why?
Do you suppose the Girard National Bank might be in any way
grateful for this last little favor before he closed his doors?
Do you think that President Davison, whom you saw here testifying
so kindly in this case feels at all friendly, and that that may
possibly--I don't say that it does--explain his very kindly
interpretation of Mr. Cowperwood's condition? It might be. You
can think as well along that line as I can. Anyhow, gentlemen,
President Davison says Mr. Cowperwood is an honorable, honest
man, and so does his counsel, Mr. Steger. You have heard the
testimony. Now you think it over. If you want to turn him
loose--turn him loose. [He waved his hand wearily.] You're
the judges. I wouldn't; but then I am merely a hard-working
lawyer--one person, one opinion. You may think differently--
that's your business. [He waved his hand suggestively, almost
contemptuously.] However, I'm through, and I thank you for
your courtesy. Gentlemen, the decision rests with you."
He turned away grandly, and the jury stirred--so did the idle
spectators in the court. Judge Payderson sighed a sigh of relief.
It was now quite dark, and the flaring gas forms in the court were
all brightly lighted. Outside one could see that it was snowing.
The judge stirred among his papers wearily, and turning to the
jurors solemnly, began his customary explanation of the law, after
which they filed out to the jury-room.
Cowperwood turned to his father who now came over across the
fast-emptying court, and said:
"Well, we'll know now in a little while."
"Yes," replied Cowperwood, Sr., a little wearily. "I hope it comes
out right. I saw Butler back there a little while ago."
"Did you?" queried Cowperwood, to whom this had a peculiar interest.
"Yes," replied his father. "He's just gone."
So, Cowperwood thought, Butler was curious enough as to his fate
to want to come here and watch him tried. Shannon was his tool.
Judge Payderson was his emissary, in a way. He, Cowperwood, might
defeat him in the matter of his daughter, but it was not so easy
to defeat him here unless the jury should happen to take a
sympathetic attitude. They might convict him, and then Butler's
Judge Payderson would have the privilege of sentencing him--giving
him the maximum sentence. That would not be so nice--five years!
He cooled a little as he thought of it, but there was no use worrying
about what had not yet happened. Steger came forward and told him
that his bail was now ended--had been the moment the jury left the
room--and that he was at this moment actually in the care of the
sheriff, of whom he knew--Sheriff Adlai Jaspers. Unless he were
acquitted by the jury, Steger added, he would have to remain in
the sheriff's care until an application for a certificate of
reasonable doubt could be made and acted upon.
"It would take all of five days, Frank," Steger said, "but Jaspers
isn't a bad sort. He'd be reasonable. Of course if we're lucky
you won't have to visit him. You will have to go with this bailiff
now, though. Then if things come out right we'll go home. Say,
I'd like to win this case," he said. "I'd like to give them the
laugh and see you do it. I consider you've been pretty badly treated,
and I think I made that perfectly clear. I can reverse this verdict
on a dozen grounds if they happen to decide against you."
He and Cowperwood and the latter's father now stalked off with
the sheriff's subordinate--a small man by the name of "Eddie"
Zanders, who had approached to take charge. They entered a small
room called the pen at the back of the court, where all those on
trial whose liberty had been forfeited by the jury's leaving the
room had to wait pending its return. It was a dreary, high-ceiled,
four-square place, with a window looking out into Chestnut Street,
and a second door leading off into somewhere--one had no idea where.
It was dingy, with a worn wooden floor, some heavy, plain, wooden
benches lining the four sides, no pictures or ornaments of any
kind. A single two-arm gas-pipe descended from the center of the
ceiling. It was permeated by a peculiarly stale and pungent odor,
obviously redolent of all the flotsam and jetsam of life--criminal
and innocent--that had stood or sat in here from time to time,
waiting patiently to learn what a deliberating fate held in store.
Cowperwood was, of course, disgusted; but he was too self-reliant
and capable to show it. All his life he had been immaculate,
almost fastidious in his care of himself. Here he was coming,
perforce, in contact with a form of life which jarred upon him
greatly. Steger, who was beside him, made some comforting,
explanatory, apologetic remarks.
"Not as nice as it might be," he said, "but you won't mind waiting
a little while. The jury won't be long, I fancy."
"That may not help me," he replied, walking to the window.
Afterward he added: "What must be, must be."
His father winced. Suppose Frank was on the verge of a long
prison term, which meant an atmosphere like this? Heavens! For a
moment, he trembled, then for the first time in years he made a
Meanwhile the great argument had been begun in the jury-room, and
all the points that had been meditatively speculated upon in the
jury-box were now being openly discussed.
It is amazingly interesting to see how a jury will waver and
speculate in a case like this--how curious and uncertain is the
process by which it makes up its so-called mind. So-called truth
is a nebulous thing at best; facts are capable of such curious
inversion and interpretation, honest and otherwise. The jury had
a strongly complicated problem before it, and it went over it and
Juries reach not so much definite conclusions as verdicts, in a
curious fashion and for curious reasons. Very often a jury will
have concluded little so far as its individual members are concerned
and yet it will have reached a verdict. The matter of time, as all
lawyers know, plays a part in this. Juries, speaking of the members
collectively and frequently individually, object to the amount of
time it takes to decide a case. They do not enjoy sitting and
deliberating over a problem unless it is tremendously fascinating.
The ramifications or the mystery of a syllogism can become a
weariness and a bore. The jury-room itself may and frequently does
become a dull agony.
On the other hand, no jury contemplates a disagreement with any
degree of satisfaction. There is something so inherently constructive
in the human mind that to leave a problem unsolved is plain misery.
It haunts the average individual like any other important task
left unfinished. Men in a jury-room, like those scientifically
demonstrated atoms of a crystal which scientists and philosophers
love to speculate upon, like finally to arrange themselves into an
orderly and artistic whole, to present a compact, intellectual
front, to be whatever they have set out to be, properly and rightly--
a compact, sensible jury. One sees this same instinct magnificently
displayed in every other phase of nature--in the drifting of sea-wood
to the Sargasso Sea, in the geometric interrelation of air-bubbles
on the surface of still water, in the marvelous unreasoned architecture
of so many insects and atomic forms which make up the substance
and the texture of this world. It would seem as though the physical
substance of life--this apparition of form which the eye detects
and calls real were shot through with some vast subtlety that loves
order, that is order. The atoms of our so-called being, in spite
of our so-called reason--the dreams of a mood--know where to go
and what to do. They represent an order, a wisdom, a willing that
is not of us. They build orderly in spite of us. So the subconscious
spirit of a jury. At the same time, one does not forget the strange
hypnotic effect of one personality on another, the varying effects
of varying types on each other, until a solution--to use the word
in its purely chemical sense--is reached. In a jury-room the
thought or determination of one or two or three men, if it be
definite enough, is likely to pervade the whole room and conquer
the reason or the opposition of the majority. One man "standing
out" for the definite thought that is in him is apt to become either
the triumphant leader of a pliant mass or the brutally battered
target of a flaming, concentrated intellectual fire. Men despise
dull opposition that is without reason. In a jury-room, of all
places, a man is expected to give a reason for the faith that is
in him--if one is demanded. It will not do to say, "I cannot agree."
Jurors have been known to fight. Bitter antagonisms lasting for
years have been generated in these close quarters. Recalcitrant
jurors have been hounded commercially in their local spheres for
their unreasoned oppositions or conclusions.
After reaching the conclusion that Cowperwood unquestionably
deserved some punishment, there was wrangling as to whether the
verdict should be guilty on all four counts, as charged in the
indictment. Since they did not understand how to differentiate
between the various charges very well, they decided it should be
on all four, and a recommendation to mercy added. Afterward this
last was eliminated, however; either he was guilty or he was not.
The judge could see as well as they could all the extenuating
circumstances--perhaps better. Why tie his hands? As a rule no
attention was paid to such recommendations, anyhow, and it only
made the jury look wabbly.
So, finally, at ten minutes after twelve that night, they were
ready to return a verdict; and Judge Payderson, who, because of
his interest in the case and the fact that he lived not so far
away, had decided to wait up this long, was recalled. Steger and
Cowperwood were sent for. The court-room was fully lighted. The
bailiff, the clerk, and the stenographer were there. The jury
filed in, and Cowperwood, with Steger at his right, took his
position at the gate which gave into the railed space where prisoners
always stand to hear the verdict and listen to any commentary of
the judge. He was accompanied by his father, who was very nervous.
For the first time in his life he felt as though he were walking
in his sleep. Was this the real Frank Cowperwood of two months
before--so wealthy, so progressive, so sure? Was this only December
5th or 6th now (it was after midnight)? Why was it the jury had
deliberated so long? What did it mean? Here they were now, standing
and gazing solemnly before them; and here now was Judge Payderson,
mounting the steps of his rostrum, his frizzled hair standing out
in a strange, attractive way, his familiar bailiff rapping for
order. He did not look at Cowperwood--it would not be courteous--
but at the jury, who gazed at him in return. At the words of the
clerk, "Gentlemen of the jury, have you agreed upon a verdict?"
the foreman spoke up, "We have."
"Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty?"
"We find the defendant guilty as charged in the indictment."
How had they come to do this? Because he had taken a check for
sixty thousand dollars which did not belong to him? But in reality
it did. Good Lord, what was sixty thousand dollars in the sum
total of all the money that had passed back and forth between him
and George W. Stener? Nothing, nothing! A mere bagatelle in its
way; and yet here it had risen up, this miserable, insignificant
check, and become a mountain of opposition, a stone wall, a
prison-wall barring his further progress. It was astonishing.
He looked around him at the court-room. How large and bare and
cold it was! Still he was Frank A. Cowperwood. Why should he let
such queer thoughts disturb him? His fight for freedom and privilege
and restitution was not over yet. Good heavens! It had only begun.
In five days he would be out again on bail. Steger would take an
appeal. He would be out, and he would have two long months in
which to make an additional fight. He was not down yet. He would
win his liberty. This jury was all wrong. A higher court would
say so. It would reverse their verdict, and he knew it. He turned
to Steger, where the latter was having the clerk poll the jury, in
the hope that some one juror had been over-persuaded, made to vote
against his will.
"Is that your verdict?" he heard the clerk ask of Philip Moultrie,
juror No. 1.
"It is," replied that worthy, solemnly.
"Is that your verdict?" The clerk was pointing to Simon Glassberg.
"Is that your verdict?" He pointed to Fletcher Norton.
So it went through the whole jury. All the men answered firmly
and clearly, though Steger thought it might barely be possible
that one would have changed his mind. The judge thanked them and
told them that in view of their long services this night, they
were dismissed for the term. The only thing remaining to be done
now was for Steger to persuade Judge Payderson to grant a stay of
sentence pending the hearing of a motion by the State Supreme Court
for a new trial.
The Judge looked at Cowperwood very curiously as Steger made this
request in proper form, and owing to the importance of the case
and the feeling he had that the Supreme Court might very readily
grant a certificate of reasonable doubt in this case, he agreed.
There was nothing left, therefore, but for Cowperwood to return
at this late hour with the deputy sheriff to the county jail, where
he must now remain for five days at least--possibly longer.
The jail in question, which was known locally as Moyamensing Prison,
was located at Tenth and Reed Streets, and from an architectural
and artistic point of view was not actually displeasing to the eye.
It consisted of a central portion--prison, residence for the sheriff
or what you will--three stories high, with a battlemented cornice
and a round battlemented tower about one-third as high as the
central portion itself, and two wings, each two stories high,
with battlemented turrets at either end, giving it a highly
castellated and consequently, from the American point of view, a
very prison-like appearance. The facade of the prison, which was
not more than thirty-five feet high for the central portion, nor
more than twenty-five feet for the wings, was set back at least a
hundred feet from the street, and was continued at either end,
from the wings to the end of the street block, by a stone wall
all of twenty feet high. The structure was not severely prison-like,
for the central portion was pierced by rather large, unbarred
apertures hung on the two upper stories with curtains, and giving
the whole front a rather pleasant and residential air. The wing
to the right, as one stood looking in from the street, was the
section known as the county jail proper, and was devoted to the
care of prisoners serving short-term sentences on some judicial
order. The wing to the left was devoted exclusively to the care
and control of untried prisoners. The whole building was built
of a smooth, light-colored stone, which on a snowy night like this,
with the few lamps that were used in it glowing feebly in the dark,
presented an eery, fantastic, almost supernatural appearance.
It was a rough and blowy night when Cowperwood started for this
institution under duress. The wind was driving the snow before
it in curious, interesting whirls. Eddie Zanders, the sheriff's
deputy on guard at the court of Quarter Sessions, accompanied him
and his father and Steger. Zanders was a little man, dark, with
a short, stubby mustache, and a shrewd though not highly intelligent
eye. He was anxious first to uphold his dignity as a deputy
sheriff, which was a very important position in his estimation,
and next to turn an honest penny if he could. He knew little save
the details of his small world, which consisted of accompanying
prisoners to and from the courts and the jails, and seeing that
they did not get away. He was not unfriendly to a particular type
of prisoner--the well-to-do or moderately prosperous--for he had
long since learned that it paid to be so. To-night he offered a
few sociable suggestions--viz., that it was rather rough, that the
jail was not so far but that they could walk, and that Sheriff
Jaspers would, in all likelihood, be around or could be aroused.
Cowperwood scarcely heard. He was thinking of his mother and his
wife and of Aileen.
When the jail was reached he was led to the central portion, as
it was here that the sheriff, Adlai Jaspers, had his private office.
Jaspers had recently been elected to office, and was inclined to
conform to all outward appearances, in so far as the proper conduct
of his office was concerned, without in reality inwardly conforming.
Thus it was generally known among the politicians that one way he
had of fattening his rather lean salary was to rent private rooms
and grant special privileges to prisoners who had the money to pay
for the same. Other sheriffs had done it before him. In fact,
when Jaspers was inducted into office, several prisoners were already
enjoying these privileges, and it was not a part of his scheme of
things to disturb them. The rooms that he let to the "right
parties," as he invariably put it, were in the central portion of
the jail, where were his own private living quarters. They were
unbarred, and not at all cell-like. There was no particular danger
of escape, for a guard stood always at his private door instructed
"to keep an eye" on the general movements of all the inmates. A
prisoner so accommodated was in many respects quite a free person.
His meals were served to him in his room, if he wished. He could
read or play cards, or receive guests; and if he had any favorite
musical instrument, that was not denied him. There was just one
rule that had to be complied with. If he were a public character,
and any newspaper men called, he had to be brought down-stairs
into the private interviewing room in order that they might not
know that he was not confined in a cell like any other prisoner.
Nearly all of these facts had been brought to Cowperwood's
attention beforehand by Steger; but for all that, when he crossed
the threshold of the jail a peculiar sensation of strangeness and
defeat came over him. He and his party were conducted to a little
office to the left of the entrance, where were only a desk and a
chair, dimly lighted by a low-burning gas-jet. Sheriff Jaspers,
rotund and ruddy, met them, greeting them in quite a friendly way.
Zanders was dismissed, and went briskly about his affairs.
"A bad night, isn't it?" observed Jaspers, turning up the gas and
preparing to go through the routine of registering his prisoner.
Steger came over and held a short, private conversation with him
in his corner, over his desk which resulted presently in the
sheriff's face lighting up.
"Oh, certainly, certainly! That's all right, Mr. Steger, to be
sure! Why, certainly!"
Cowperwood, eyeing the fat sheriff from his position, understood
what it was all about. He had regained completely his critical
attitude, his cool, intellectual poise. So this was the jail,
and this was the fat mediocrity of a sheriff who was to take care
of him. Very good. He would make the best of it. He wondered
whether he was to be searched--prisoners usually were--but he
soon discovered that he was not to be.
"That's all right, Mr. Cowperwood," said Jaspers, getting up.
"I guess I can make you comfortable, after a fashion. We're not
running a hotel here, as you know"--he chuckled to himself--"but
I guess I can make you comfortable. John," he called to a sleepy
factotum, who appeared from another room, rubbing his eyes, "is
the key to Number Six down here?"
"Let me have it."
John disappeared and returned, while Steger explained to Cowperwood
that anything he wanted in the way of clothing, etc., could be
brought in. Steger himself would stop round next morning and
confer with him, as would any of the members of Cowperwood's family
whom he wished to see. Cowperwood immediately explained to his
father his desire for as little of this as possible. Joseph or
Edward might come in the morning and bring a grip full of underwear,
etc.; but as for the others, let them wait until he got out or had
to remain permanently. He did think of writing Aileen, cautioning
her to do nothing; but the sheriff now beckoned, and he quietly
followed. Accompanied by his father and Steger, he ascended to
his new room.
It was a simple, white-walled chamber fifteen by twenty feet in
size, rather high-ceiled, supplied with a high-backed, yellow wooden
bed, a yellow bureau, a small imitation-cherry table, three very
ordinary cane-seated chairs with carved hickory-rod backs,
cherry-stained also, and a wash-stand of yellow-stained wood to
match the bed, containing a washbasin, a pitcher, a soap-dish,
uncovered, and a small, cheap, pink-flowered tooth and shaving
brush mug, which did not match the other ware and which probably
cost ten cents. The value of this room to Sheriff Jaspers was
what he could get for it in cases like this--twenty-five to
thirty-five dollars a week. Cowperwood would pay thirty-five.
Cowperwood walked briskly to the window, which gave out on the
lawn in front, now embedded in snow, and said he thought this was
all right. Both his father and Steger were willing and anxious
to confer with him for hours, if he wished; but there was nothing
to say. He did not wish to talk.
"Let Ed bring in some fresh linen in the morning and a couple of
suits of clothes, and I will be all right. George can get my
things together." He was referring to a family servant who acted
as valet and in other capacities. "Tell Lillian not to worry.
I'm all right. I'd rather she would not come here so long as I'm
going to be out in five days. If I'm not, it will be time enough
then. Kiss the kids for me." And he smiled good-naturedly.
After his unfulfilled predictions in regard to the result of this
preliminary trial Steger was almost afraid to suggest confidently
what the State Supreme Court would or would not do; but he had
to say something.
"I don't think you need worry about what the outcome of my appeal
will be, Frank. I'll get a certificate of reasonable doubt, and
that's as good as a stay of two months, perhaps longer. I don't
suppose the bail will be more than thirty thousand dollars at the
outside. You'll be out again in five or six days, whatever happens."
Cowperwood said that he hoped so, and suggested that they drop
matters for the night. After a few fruitless parleys his father
and Steger finally said good night, leaving him to his own private
reflections. He was tired, however, and throwing off his clothes,
tucked himself in his mediocre bed, and was soon fast asleep.
Say what one will about prison life in general, modify it ever so
much by special chambers, obsequious turnkeys, a general tendency
to make one as comfortable as possible, a jail is a jail, and there
is no getting away from that. Cowperwood, in a room which was not
in any way inferior to that of the ordinary boarding-house, was
nevertheless conscious of the character of that section of this
real prison which was not yet his portion. He knew that there were
cells there, probably greasy and smelly and vermin-infested, and
that they were enclosed by heavy iron bars, which would have as
readily clanked on him as on those who were now therein incarcerated
if he had not had the price to pay for something better. So much
for the alleged equality of man, he thought, which gave to one man,
even within the grim confines of the machinery of justice, such
personal liberty as he himself was now enjoying, and to another,
because he chanced to lack wit or presence or friends or wealth,
denied the more comfortable things which money would buy.
The morning after the trial, on waking, he stirred curiously, and
then it suddenly came to him that he was no longer in the free and
comfortable atmosphere of his own bedroom, but in a jail-cell, or
rather its very comfortable substitute, a sheriff's rented bedroom.
He got up and looked out the window. The ground outside and
Passayunk Avenue were white with snow. Some wagons were silently
lumbering by. A few Philadelphians were visible here and there,
going to and fro on morning errands. He began to think at once
what he must do, how he must act to carry on his buiness, to
rehabilitate himself; and as he did so he dressed and pulled the
bell-cord, which had been indicated to him, and which would bring
him an attendant who would build him a fire and later bring him
something to eat. A shabby prison attendant in a blue uniform,
conscious of Cowperwood's superiority because of the room he
occupied, laid wood and coal in the grate and started a fire, and
later brought him his breakfast, which was anything but prison
fare, though poor enough at that.
After that he was compelled to wait in patience several hours, in
spite of the sheriff's assumption of solicitous interest, before
his brother Edward was admitted with his clothes. An attendant,
for a consideration, brought him the morning papers, and these,
except for the financial news, he read indifferently. Late in
the afternoon Steger arrived, saying he had been busy having certain
proceedings postponed, but that he had arranged with the sheriff
for Cowperwood to be permitted to see such of those as had important
business with him.
By this time, Cowperwood had written Aileen under no circumstances
to try to see him, as he would be out by the tenth, and that either
that day, or shortly after, they would meet. As he knew, she
wanted greatly to see him, but he had reason to believe she was
under surveillance by detectives employed by her father. This was
not true, but it was preying on her fancy, and combined with some
derogatory remarks dropped by Owen and Callum at the dinner table
recently, had proved almost too much for her fiery disposition.
But, because of Cowperwood's letter reaching her at the Calligans',
she made no move until she read on the morning of the tenth that
Cowperwood's plea for a certificate of reasonable doubt had been
granted, and that he would once more, for the time being at least,
be a free man. This gave her courage to do what she had long
wanted to do, and that was to teach her father that she could get
along without him and that he could not make her do anything she
did not want to do. She still had the two hundred dollars Cowperwood
had given her and some additional cash of her own--perhaps three
hundred and fifty dollars in all. This she thought would be
sufficient to see her to the end of her adventure, or at least
until she could make some other arrangement for her personal
well-being. From what she knew of the feeling of her family for
her, she felt that the agony would all be on their side, not hers.
Perhaps when her father saw how determined she was he would decide
to let her alone and make peace with her. She was determined to
try it, anyhow, and immediately sent word to Cowperwood that she
was going to the Calligans and would welcome him to freedom.
In a way, Cowperwood was rather gratified by Aileen's message,
for he felt that his present plight, bitter as it was, was largely
due to Butler's opposition and he felt no compunction in striking
him through his daughter. His former feeling as to the wisdom of
not enraging Butler had proved rather futile, he thought, and since
the old man could not be placated it might be just as well to have
Aileen demonstrate to him that she was not without resources of
her own and could live without him. She might force him to change
his attitude toward her and possibly even to modify some of his
political machinations against him, Cowperwood. Any port in a
storm--and besides, he had now really nothing to lose, and instinct
told him that her move was likely to prove more favorable than
otherwise--so he did nothing to prevent it.
She took her jewels, some underwear, a couple of dresses which
she thought would be serviceable, and a few other things, and
packed them in the most capacious portmanteau she had. Shoes and
stockings came into consideration, and, despite her efforts, she
found that she could not get in all that she wished. Her nicest
hat, which she was determined to take, had to be carried outside.
She made a separate bundle of it, which was not pleasant to
contemplate. Still she decided to take it. She rummaged in a
little drawer where she kept her money and jewels, and found the
three hundred and fifty dollars and put it in her purse. It wasn't
much, as Aileen could herself see, but Cowperwood would help her.
If he did not arrange to take care of her, and her father would
not relent, she would have to get something to do. Little she
knew of the steely face the world presents to those who have not
been practically trained and are not economically efficient. She
did not understand the bitter reaches of life at all. She waited,
humming for effect, until she heard her father go downstairs to
dinner on this tenth day of December, then leaned over the upper
balustrade to make sure that Owen, Callum, Norah, and her mother
were at the table, and that Katy, the housemaid, was not anywhere
in sight. Then she slipped into her father's den, and, taking a
note from inside her dress, laid it on his desk, and went out.
It was addressed to "Father," and read:
Dear Father,--I just cannot do what you want me to. I have made
up my mind that I love Mr. Cowperwood too much, so I am going
away. Don't look for me with him. You won't find me where you
think. I am not going to him; I will not be there. I am going
to try to get along by myself for a while, until he wants me and
can marry me. I'm terribly sorry; but I just can't do what you
want. I can't ever forgive you for the way you acted to me.
Tell mama and Norah and the boys good-by for me.
To insure its discovery, she picked up Butler's heavy-rimmed
spectacles which he employed always when reading, and laid them
on it. For a moment she felt very strange, somewhat like a thief--
a new sensation for her. She even felt a momentary sense of
ingratitude coupled with pain. Perhaps she was doing wrong. Her
father had been very good to her. Her mother would feel so very
bad. Norah would be sorry, and Callum and Owen. Still, they did
not understand her any more. She was resentful of her father's
attitude. He might have seen what the point was; but no, he was
too old, too hidebound in religion and conventional ideas--he never
would. He might never let her come back. Very well, she would
get along somehow. She would show him. She might get a place as
a school-teacher, and live with the Calligans a long while, if
necessary, or teach music.
She stole downstairs and out into the vestibule, opening the outer
door and looking out into the street. The lamps were already
flaring in the dark, and a cool wind was blowing. Her portmanteau
was heavy, but she was quite strong. She walked briskly to the
corner, which was some fifty feet away, and turned south, walking
rather nervously and irritably, for this was a new experience for
her, and it all seemed so undignified, so unlike anything she was
accustomed to doing. She put her bag down on a street corner,
finally, to rest. A boy whistling in the distance attracted her
attention, and as he drew near she called to him: "Boy! Oh, boy!"
He came over, looking at her curiously.
"Do you want to earn some money?"
"Yes, ma'am," he replied politely, adjusting a frowsy cap over one
"Carry this bag for me," said Aileen, and he picked it up and
In due time she arrived at the Calligans', and amid much excitement
was installed in the bosom of her new home. She took her situation
with much nonchalance, once she was properly placed, distributing
her toilet articles and those of personal wear with quiet care.
The fact that she was no longer to have the services of Kathleen,
the maid who had served her and her mother and Norah jointly, was
odd, though not trying. She scarcely felt that she had parted
from these luxuries permanently, and so made herself comfortable.
Mamie Calligan and her mother were adoring slaveys, so she was not
entirely out of the atmosphere which she craved and to which she
Meanwhile, in the Butler home the family was assembling for dinner.
Mrs. Butler was sitting in rotund complacency at the foot of the
table, her gray hair combed straight back from her round, shiny
forehead. She had on a dark-gray silk dress, trimmed with
gray-and-white striped ribbon. It suited her florid temperament
admirably. Aileen had dictated her mother's choice, and had seen
that it had been properly made. Norah was refreshingly youthful
in a pale-green dress, with red-velvet cuffs and collar. She
looked young, slender, gay. Her eyes, complexion and hair were fresh
and healthy. She was trifling with a string of coral beads which
her mother had just given her.
"Oh, look, Callum," she said to her brother opposite her, who was
drumming idly on the table with his knife and fork. "Aren't they
lovely? Mama gave them to me."
"Mama does more for you than I would. You know what you'd get
from me, don't you?"
He looked at her teasingly. For answer Norah made a face at him.
Just then Owen came in and took his place at the table. Mrs.
Butler saw Norah's grimace.
"Well, that'll win no love from your brother, ye can depend on
that," she commented.
"Lord, what a day!" observed Owen, wearily, unfolding his napkin.
"I've had my fill of work for once."
"What's the trouble?" queried his mother, feelingly.
"No real trouble, mother," he replied. "Just everything--ducks
and drakes, that's all."
"Well, ye must ate a good, hearty meal now, and that'll refresh
ye," observed his mother, genially and feelingly. "Thompson"--she
was referring to the family grocer--"brought us the last of his
beans. You must have some of those."
"Sure, beans'll fix it, whatever it is, Owen," joked Callum.
"Mother's got the answer."
"They're fine, I'd have ye know," replied Mrs. Butler, quite
unconscious of the joke.
"No doubt of it, mother," replied Callum. "Real brain-food. Let's
feed some to Norah."
"You'd better eat some yourself, smarty. My, but you're gay! I
suppose you're going out to see somebody. That's why."
"Right you are, Norah. Smart girl, you. Five or six. Ten to
fifteen minutes each. I'd call on you if you were nicer."
"You would if you got the chance," mocked Norah. "I'd have you
know I wouldn't let you. I'd feel very bad if I couldn't get
somebody better than you."
"As good as, you mean," corrected Callum.
"Children, children!" interpolated Mrs. Butler, calmly, looking
about for old John, the servant. "You'll be losin' your tempers
in a minute. Hush now. Here comes your father. Where's Aileen?"
Butler walked heavily in and took his seat.
John, the servant, appeared bearing a platter of beans among other
things, and Mrs. Butler asked him to send some one to call Aileen.
"It's gettin' colder, I'm thinkin'," said Butler, by way of
conversation, and eyeing Aileen's empty chair. She would come soon
now--his heavy problem. He had been very tactful these last two
months--avoiding any reference to Cowperwood in so far as he could
help in her presence.
"It's colder," remarked Owen, "much colder. We'll soon see real
Old John began to offer the various dishes in order; but when all
had been served Aileen had not yet come.
"See where Aileen is, John," observed Mrs. Butler, interestedly.
"The meal will be gettin' cold."
Old John returned with the news that Aileen was not in her room.
"Sure she must be somewhere," commented Mrs. Butler, only slightly
perplexed. "She'll be comin', though, never mind, if she wants to.
She knows it's meal-time."
The conversation drifted from a new water-works that was being
planned to the new city hall, then nearing completion; Cowperwood's
financial and social troubles, and the state of the stock market
generally; a new gold-mine in Arizona; the departure of Mrs.
Mollenhauer the following Tuesday for Europe, with appropriate
comments by Norah and Callum; and a Christmas ball that was going
to be given for charity.
"Aileen'll be wantin' to go to that," commented Mrs. Butler.
"I'm going, you bet," put in Norah.
"Who's going to take you?" asked Callum.
"That's my affair, mister," she replied, smartly.
The meal was over, and Mrs. Butler strolled up to Aileen's room
to see why she had not come down to dinner. Butler entered his
den, wishing so much that he could take his wife into his confidence
concerning all that was worrying him. On his desk, as he sat down
and turned up the light, he saw the note. He recognized Aileen's
handwriting at once. What could she mean by writing him? A sense
of the untoward came to him, and he tore it open slowly, and,
putting on his glasses, contemplated it solemnly.
So Aileen was gone. The old man stared at each word as if it had
been written in fire. She said she had not gone with Cowperwood.
It was possible, just the same, that he had run away from Philadelphia
and taken her with him. This was the last straw. This ended it.
Aileen lured away from home--to where--to what? Butler could scarcely
believe, though, that Cowperwood had tempted her to do this. He
had too much at stake; it would involve his own and Butler's families.
The papers would be certain to get it quickly. He got up, crumpling
the paper in his hand, and turned about at a noise. His wife was
coming in. He pulled himself together and shoved the letter in
"Aileen's not in her room," she said, curiously. "She didn't say
anything to you about going out, did she?"
"No," he replied, truthfully, wondering how soon he should have
to tell his wife.
"That's odd," observed Mrs. Butler, doubtfully. "She must have
gone out after somethin'. It's a wonder she wouldn't tell somebody."
Butler gave no sign. He dared not. "She'll be back," he said,
more in order to gain time than anything else. He was sorry to
have to pretend. Mrs. Butler went out, and he closed the door.
Then he took out the letter and read it again. The girl was crazy.
She was doing an absolutely wild, inhuman, senseless thing. Where
could she go, except to Cowperwood? She was on the verge of a
public scandal, and this would produce it. There was just one
thing to do as far as he could see. Cowperwood, if he were still
in Philadelphia, would know. He would go to him--threaten, cajole,
actually destroy him, if necessary. Aileen must come back. She
need not go to Europe, perhaps, but she must come back and behave
herself at least until Cowperwood could legitimately marry her.
That was all he could expect now. She would have to wait, and some
day perhaps he could bring himself to accept her wretched proposition.
Horrible thought! It would kill her mother, disgrace her sister.
He got up, took down his hat, put on his overcoat, and started out.
Arriving at the Cowperwood home he was shown into the reception-room.
Cowperwood at the time was in his den looking over some private
papers. When the name of Butler was announced he immediately went
down-stairs. It was characteristic of the man that the announcement
of Butler's presence created no stir in him whatsoever. So Butler
had come. That meant, of course, that Aileen had gone. Now for
a battle, not of words, but of weights of personalities. He felt
himself to be intellectually, socially, and in every other way the
more powerful man of the two. That spiritual content of him which
we call life hardened to the texture of steel. He recalled that
although he had told his wife and his father that the politicians,
of whom Butler was one, were trying to make a scapegoat of him,
Butler, nevertheless, was not considered to be wholly alienated
as a friend, and civility must prevail. He would like very much
to placate him if he could, to talk out the hard facts of life in
a quiet and friendly way. But this matter of Aileen had to be
adjusted now once and for all. And with that thought in his mind
he walked quickly into Butler's presence.
The old man, when he learned that Cowperwood was in and would see
him, determined to make his contact with the financier as short
and effective as possible. He moved the least bit when he heard
Cowperwood's step, as light and springy as ever.
"Good evening, Mr. Butler," said Cowperwood, cheerfully, when he
saw him, extending his hand. "What can I do for you?"
"Ye can take that away from in front of me, for one thing," said
Butler, grimly referring to his hand. "I have no need of it.
It's my daughter I've come to talk to ye about, and I want plain
answers. Where is she?"
"You mean Aileen?" said Cowperwood, looking at him with steady,
curious, unrevealing eyes, and merely interpolating this to obtain
a moment for reflection. "What can I tell you about her?"
"Ye can tell me where she is, that I know. And ye can make her
come back to her home, where she belongs. It was bad fortune that
ever brought ye across my doorstep; but I'll not bandy words with
ye here. Ye'll tell me where my daughter is, and ye'll leave her
alone from now, or I'll--" The old man's fists closed like a vise,
and his chest heaved with suppressed rage. "Ye'll not be drivin'
me too far, man, if ye're wise," he added, after a time, recovering
his equanimity in part. "I want no truck with ye. I want my
"Listen, Mr. Butler," said Cowperwood, quite calmly, relishing the
situation for the sheer sense of superiority it gave him. "I want
to be perfectly frank with you, if you will let me. I may know
where your daughter is, and I may not. I may wish to tell you,
and I may not. She may not wish me to. But unless you wish to
talk with me in a civil way there is no need of our going on any
further. You are privileged to do what you like. Won't you come
up-stairs to my room? We can talk more comfortably there."
Butler looked at his former protege in utter astonishment. He
had never before in all his experience come up against a more
ruthless type--suave, bland, forceful, unterrified. This man
had certainly come to him as a sheep, and had turned out to be a
ravening wolf. His incarceration had not put him in the least awe.
"I'll not come up to your room," Butler said, "and ye'll not get
out of Philadelphy with her if that's what ye're plannin'. I can
see to that. Ye think ye have the upper hand of me, I see, and
ye're anxious to make something of it. Well, ye're not. It
wasn't enough that ye come to me as a beggar, cravin' the help of
me, and that I took ye in and helped ye all I could--ye had to
steal my daughter from me in the bargain. If it wasn't for the
girl's mother and her sister and her brothers--dacenter men than
ever ye'll know how to be--I'd brain ye where ye stand. Takin'
a young, innocent girl and makin' an evil woman out of her, and
ye a married man! It's a God's blessin' for ye that it's me, and
not one of me sons, that's here talkin' to ye, or ye wouldn't be
alive to say what ye'd do."
The old man was grim but impotent in his rage.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Butler," replied Cowperwood, quietly. "I'm willing
to explain, but you won't let me. I'm not planning to run away
with your daughter, nor to leave Philadelphia. You ought to know
me well enough to know that I'm not contemplating anything of that
kind; my interests are too large. You and I are practical men.
We ought to be able to talk this matter over together and reach
an understanding. I thought once of coming to you and explaining
this; but I was quite sure you wouldn't listen to me. Now that
you are here I would like to talk to you. If you will come up to
my room I will be glad to--otherwise not. Won't you come up?"
Butler saw that Cowperwood had the advantage. He might as well
go up. Otherwise it was plain he would get no information.
"Very well," he said.
Cowperwood led the way quite amicably, and, having entered his
private office, closed the door behind him.
"We ought to be able to talk this matter over and reach an
understanding," he said again, when they were in the room and he
had closed the door. "I am not as bad as you think, though I know
I appear very bad." Butler stared at him in contempt. "I love
your daughter, and she loves me. I know you are asking yourself
how I can do this while I am still married; but I assure you I can,
and that I do. I am not happily married. I had expected, if this
panic hadn't come along, to arrange with my wife for a divorce and
marry Aileen. My intentions are perfectly good. The situation
which you can complain of, of course, is the one you encountered
a few weeks ago. It was indiscreet, but it was entirely human.
Your daughter does not complain--she understands." At the mention
of his daughter in this connection Butler flushed with rage and
shame, but he controlled himself.
"And ye think because she doesn't complain that it's all right,
do ye?" he asked, sarcastically.
"From my point of view, yes; from yours no. You have one view of
life, Mr. Butler, and I have another."
"Ye're right there," put in Butler, "for once, anyhow."
"That doesn't prove that either of us is right or wrong. In my
judgment the present end justifies the means. The end I have in
view is to marry Aileen. If I can possibly pull myself out of
this financial scrape that I am in I will do so. Of course, I
would like to have your consent for that--so would Aileen; but if
we can't, we can't." (Cowperwood was thinking that while this
might not have a very soothing effect on the old contractor's
point of view, nevertheless it must make some appeal to his sense
of the possible or necessary. Aileen's present situation was quite
unsatisfactory without marriage in view. And even if he,
Cowperwood, was a convicted embezzler in the eyes of the public,
that did not make him so. He might get free and restore himself--
would certainly--and Aileen ought to be glad to marry him if she
could under the circumstances. He did not quite grasp the depth
of Butler's religious and moral prejudices.) "Lately," he went
on, "you have been doing all you can, as I understand it, to pull
me down, on account of Aileen, I suppose; but that is simply
delaying what I want to do."
"Ye'd like me to help ye do that, I suppose?" suggested Butler,
with infinite disgust and patience.
"I want to marry Aileen," Cowperwood repeated, for emphasis' sake.
"She wants to marry me. Under the circumstances, however you may
feel, you can have no real objection to my doing that, I am sure;
yet you go on fighting me--making it hard for me to do what you
really know ought to be done."
"Ye're a scoundrel," said Butler, seeing through his motives quite
clearly. "Ye're a sharper, to my way of thinkin', and it's no
child of mine I want connected with ye. I'm not sayin', seein'
that things are as they are, that if ye were a free man it wouldn't
be better that she should marry ye. It's the one dacent thing ye
could do--if ye would, which I doubt. But that's nayther here nor
there now. What can ye want with her hid away somewhere? Ye can't
marry her. Ye can't get a divorce. Ye've got your hands full
fightin' your lawsuits and kapin' yourself out of jail. She'll
only be an added expense to ye, and ye'll be wantin' all the money
ye have for other things, I'm thinkin'. Why should ye want to be
takin' her away from a dacent home and makin' something out of her
that ye'd be ashamed to marry if you could? The laist ye could do,
if ye were any kind of a man at all, and had any of that thing that
ye're plased to call love, would be to lave her at home and keep
her as respectable as possible. Mind ye, I'm not thinkin' she
isn't ten thousand times too good for ye, whatever ye've made of
her. But if ye had any sinse of dacency left, ye wouldn't let her
shame her family and break her old mother's heart, and that for
no purpose except to make her worse than she is already. What