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The Jacket (Star-Rover) by Jack London

Part 6 out of 6

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It was really an offence to me when the jacketing ceased. I sadly
missed that dream world of mine. But not for long. I found that I
could suspend animation by the exercise of my will, aided
mechanically by constricting my chest and abdomen with the blanket.
Thus I induced physiological and psychological states similar to
those caused by the jacket. So, at will, and without the old
torment, I was free to roam through time.

Ed Morrell believed all my adventures, but Jake Oppenheimer remained
sceptical to the last. It was during my third year in solitary that
I paid Oppenheimer a visit. I was never able to do it but that
once, and that one time was wholly unplanned and unexpected.

It was merely after unconsciousness had come to me that I found
myself in his cell. My body, I knew, lay in the jacket back in my
own cell. Although never before had I seen him, I knew that this
man was Jake Oppenheimer. It was summer weather, and he lay without
clothes on top his blanket. I was shocked by his cadaverous face
and skeleton-like body. He was not even the shell of a man. He was
merely the structure of a man, the bones of a man, still cohering,
stripped practically of all flesh and covered with a parchment-like

Not until back in my own cell and consciousness was I able to mull
the thing over and realize that just as was Jake Oppenheimer, so was
Ed Morrell, so was I. And I could not but thrill as I glimpsed the
vastitude of spirit that inhabited these frail, perishing carcasses
of us--the three incorrigibles of solitary. Flesh is a cheap, vain
thing. Grass is flesh, and flesh becomes grass; but the spirit is
the thing that abides and survives. I have no patience with these
flesh-worshippers. A taste of solitary in San Quentin would swiftly
convert them to a due appreciation and worship of the spirit.

But to return to my experience m Oppenheimer's cell. His body was
that of a man long dead and shrivelled by desert heat. The skin
that covered it was of the colour of dry mud. His sharp, yellow-
gray eyes seemed the only part of him that was alive. They were
never at rest. He lay on his back, and the eyes darted hither and
thither, following the flight of the several flies that disported in
the gloomy air above him. I noted, too, a scar, just above his
right elbow, and another scar on his right ankle.

After a time he yawned, rolled over on his side, and inspected an
angry-looking sore just above his hip. This he proceeded to cleanse
and dress by the crude methods men in solitary must employ. I
recognized the sore as one of the sort caused by the strait-jacket.
On my body, at this moment of writing, are hundreds of scars of the

Next, Oppenheimer rolled on his back, gingerly took one of his front
upper tooth--an eye teeth--between thumb and forefinger, and
consideratively moved it back and forth. Again he yawned, stretched
his arms, rolled over, and knocked the call to Ed Morrell.

I read the code as a matter of course.

"Thought you might be awake," Oppenheimer tapped. "How goes it with
the Professor?"

Then, dim and far, I could hear Morrell's taps enunciating that they
had put me in the jacket an hour before, and that, as usual, I was
already deaf to all knuckle talk.

"He is a good guy," Oppenheimer rapped on. "I always was suspicious
of educated mugs, but he ain't been hurt none by his education. He
is sure square. Got all the spunk in the world, and you could not
get him to squeal or double cross in a million years."

To all of which, and with amplification, Ed Morrell agreed. And I
must, right here, ere I go a word further, say that I have lived
many years and many lives, and that in those many lives I have known
proud moments; but that the proudest moment I have ever known was
the moment when my two comrades in solitary passed this appraisal of
me. Ed Morrell and Jake Oppenheimer were great spirits, and in all
time no greater honour was ever accorded me than this admission of
me to their comradeship. Kings have knighted me, emperors have
ennobled me, and, as king myself, I have known stately moments. Yet
of it all nothing do I adjudge so splendid as this accolade
delivered by two lifers in solitary deemed by the world as the very
bottom-most of the human cesspool.

Afterwards, recuperating from this particular bout with the jacket,
I brought up my visit to Jake's cell as a proof that my spirit did
leave my body. But Jake was unshakable.

"It is guessing that is more than guessing," was his reply, when I
had described to him his successive particular actions at the time
my spirit had been in his cell. "It is figuring. You have been
close to three years in solitary yourself, Professor, and you can
come pretty near to figuring what any guy will do to be killing
time. There ain't a thing you told me that you and Ed ain't done
thousands of times, from lying with your clothes off in hot weather
to watching flies, tending sores, and rapping."

Morrell sided with me, but it was no use.

"Now don't take it hard, Professor," Jake tapped. "I ain't saying
you lied. I just say you get to dreaming and figuring in the jacket
without knowing you're doing it. I know you believe what you say,
and that you think it happened; but it don't buy nothing with me.
You figure it, but you don't know you figure it--that is something
you know all the time, though you don't know you know it until you
get into them dreamy, woozy states."

"Hold on, Jake," I tapped. "You know I have never seen you with my
own eyes. Is that right?"

"I got to take your word for it, Professor. You might have seen me
and not known it was me."

"The point is," I continued, "not having seen you with your clothes
off, nevertheless I am able to tell you about that scar above your
right elbow, and that scar on your right ankle."

"Oh, shucks," was his reply. "You'll find all that in my prison
description and along with my mug in the rogues' gallery. They is
thousands of chiefs of police and detectives know all that stuff."

"I never heard of it," I assured him.

"You don't remember that you ever heard of it," he corrected. "But
you must have just the same. Though you have forgotten about it,
the information is in your brain all right, stored away for
reference, only you've forgot where it is stored. You've got to get
woozy in order to remember."

"Did you ever forget a man's name you used to know as well as your
own brother's? I have. There was a little juror that convicted me
in Oakland the time I got handed my fifty-years. And one day I
found I'd forgotten his name. Why, bo, I lay here for weeks
puzzling for it. Now, just because I could not dig it out of my
memory box was no sign it was not there. It was mislaid, that was
all. And to prove it, one day, when I was not even thinking about
it, it popped right out of my brain to the tip of my tongue.
'Stacy,' I said right out loud. 'Joseph Stacy.' That was it. Get
my drive?

"You only tell me about them scars what thousands of men know. I
don't know how you got the information, I guess you don't know
yourself. That ain't my lookout. But there she is. Telling me
what many knows buys nothing with me. You got to deliver a whole
lot more than that to make me swallow the rest of your whoppers."

Hamilton's Law of Parsimony in the weighing of evidence! So
intrinsically was this slum-bred convict a scientist, that he had
worked out Hamilton's law and rigidly applied it.

And yet--and the incident is delicious--Jake Oppenheimer was
intellectually honest. That night, as I was dozing off, he called
me with the customary signal.

"Say, Professor, you said you saw me wiggling my loose tooth. That
has got my goat. That is the one thing I can't figure out any way
you could know. It only went loose three days ago, and I ain't
whispered it to a soul."


Pascal somewhere says: "In viewing the march of human evolution,
the philosophic mind should look upon humanity as one man, and not
as a conglomeration of individuals."

I sit here in Murderers' Row in Folsom, the drowsy hum of flies in
my ears as I ponder that thought of Pascal. It is true. Just as
the human embryo, in its brief ten lunar months, with bewildering
swiftness, in myriad forms and semblances a myriad times multiplied,
rehearses the entire history of organic life from vegetable to man;
just as the human boy, in his brief years of boyhood, rehearses the
history of primitive man in acts of cruelty and savagery, from
wantonness of inflicting pain on lesser creatures to tribal
consciousness expressed by the desire to run in gangs; just so, I,
Darrell Standing, have rehearsed and relived all that primitive man
was, and did, and became until he became even you and me and the
rest of our kind in a twentieth century civilization.

Truly do we carry in us, each human of us alive on the planet to-
day, the incorruptible history of life from life's beginning. This
history is written in our tissues and our bones, in our functions
and our organs, in our brain cells and in our spirits, and in all
sorts of physical and psychic atavistic urgencies and compulsions.
Once we were fish-like, you and I, my reader, and crawled up out of
the sea to pioneer in the great, dry-land adventure in the thick of
which we are now. The marks of the sea are still on us, as the
marks of the serpent are still on us, ere the serpent became serpent
and we became we, when pre-serpent and pre-we were one. Once we
flew in the air, and once we dwelt arboreally and were afraid of the
dark. The vestiges remain, graven on you and me, and graven on our
seed to come after us to the end of our time on earth.

What Pascal glimpsed with the vision of a seer, I have lived. I
have seen myself that one man contemplated by Pascal's philosophic
eye. Oh, I have a tale, most true, most wonderful, most real to me,
although I doubt that I have wit to tell it, and that you, my
reader, have wit to perceive it when told. I say that I have seen
myself that one man hinted at by Pascal. I have lain in the long
trances of the jacket and glimpsed myself a thousand living men
living the thousand lives that are themselves the history of the
human man climbing upward through the ages.

Ah, what royal memories are mine, as I flutter through the aeons of
the long ago. In single jacket trances I have lived the many lives
involved in the thousand-years-long Odysseys of the early drifts of
men. Heavens, before I was of the flaxen-haired Aesir, who dwelt in
Asgard, and before I was of the red-haired Vanir, who dwelt in
Vanaheim, long before those times I have memories (living memories)
of earlier drifts, when, like thistledown before the breeze, we
drifted south before the face of the descending polar ice-cap.

I have died of frost and famine, fight and flood. I have picked
berries on the bleak backbone of the world, and I have dug roots to
eat from the fat-soiled fens and meadows. I have scratched the
reindeer's semblance and the semblance of the hairy mammoth on ivory
tusks gotten of the chase and on the rock walls of cave shelters
when the winter storms moaned outside. I have cracked marrow-bones
on the sites of kingly cities that had perished centuries before my
time or that were destined to be builded centuries after my passing.
And I have left the bones of my transient carcasses in pond bottoms,
and glacial gravels, and asphaltum lakes.

I have lived through the ages known to-day among the scientists as
the Paleolithic, the Neolithic, and the Bronze. I remember when
with our domesticated wolves we herded our reindeer to pasture on
the north shore of the Mediterranean where now are France and Italy
and Spain. This was before the ice-sheet melted backward toward the
pole. Many processions of the equinoxes have I lived through and
died in, my reader . . . only that I remember and that you do not.

I have been a Son of the Plough, a Son of the Fish, a Son of the
Tree. All religions from the beginnings of man's religious time
abide in me. And when the Dominie, in the chapel, here in Folsom of
a Sunday, worships God in his own good modern way, I know that in
him, the Dominie, still abide the worships of the Plough, the Fish,
the Tree--ay, and also all worships of Astarte and the Night.

I have been an Aryan master in old Egypt, when my soldiers scrawled
obscenities on the carven tombs of kings dead and gone and forgotten
aforetime. And I, the Aryan master in old Egypt, have myself
builded my two burial places--the one a false and mighty pyramid to
which a generation of slaves could attest; the other humble, meagre,
secret, rock-hewn in a desert valley by slaves who died immediately
their work was done. . . . And I wonder me here in Folsom, while
democracy dreams its enchantments o'er the twentieth century world,
whether there, in the rock-hewn crypt of that secret, desert valley,
the bones still abide that once were mine and that stiffened my
animated body when I was an Aryan master high-stomached to command.

And on the great drift, southward and eastward under the burning sun
that perished all descendants of the houses of Asgard and Vanaheim,
I have been a king in Ceylon, a builder of Aryan monuments under
Aryan kings in old Java and old Sumatra. And I have died a hundred
deaths on the great South Sea drift ere ever the rebirth of me came
to plant monuments, that only Aryans plant, on volcanic tropic
islands that I, Darrell Standing, cannot name, being too little
versed to-day in that far sea geography.

If only I were articulate to paint in the frail medium of words what
I see and know and possess incorporated in my consciousness of the
mighty driftage of the races in the times before our present written
history began! Yes, we had our history even then. Our old men, our
priests, our wise ones, told our history into tales and wrote those
tales in the stars so that our seed after us should not forget.
From the sky came the life-giving rain and the sunlight. And we
studied the sky, learned from the stars to calculate time and
apportion the seasons; and we named the stars after our heroes and
our foods and our devices for getting food; and after our
wanderings, and drifts, and adventures; and after our functions and
our furies of impulse and desire.

And, alas! we thought the heavens unchanging on which we wrote all
our humble yearnings and all the humble things we did or dreamed of
doing. When I was a Son of the Bull, I remember me a lifetime I
spent at star-gazing. And, later and earlier, there were other
lives in which I sang with the priests and bards the taboo-songs of
the stars wherein we believed was written our imperishable record.
And here, at the end of it all, I pore over books of astronomy from
the prison library, such as they allow condemned men to read, and
learn that even the heavens are passing fluxes, vexed with star-
driftage as the earth is by the drifts of men.

Equipped with this modern knowledge, I have, returning through the
little death from my earlier lives, been able to compare the heavens
then and now. And the stars do change. I have seen pole stars and
pole stars and dynasties of pole stars. The pole star to-day is in
Ursa Minor. Yet, in those far days I have seen the pole star in
Draco, in Hercules, in Vega, in Cygnus, and in Cepheus. No; not
even the stars abide, and yet the memory and the knowledge of them
abides in me, in the spirit of me that is memory and that is
eternal. Only spirit abides. All else, being mere matter, passes,
and must pass.

Oh, I do see myself to-day that one man who appeared in the elder
world, blonde, ferocious, a killer and a lover, a meat-eater and a
root-digger, a gypsy and a robber, who, club in hand, through
millenniums of years wandered the world around seeking meat to
devour and sheltered nests for his younglings and sucklings.

I am that man, the sum of him, the all of him, the hairless biped
who struggled upward from the slime and created love and law out of
the anarchy of fecund life that screamed and squalled in the jungle.
I am all that that man was and did become. I see myself, through
the painful generations, snaring and killing the game and the fish,
clearing the first fields from the forest, making rude tools of
stone and bone, building houses of wood, thatching the roofs with
leaves and straw, domesticating the wild grasses and meadow-roots,
fathering them to become the progenitors of rice and millet and
wheat and barley and all manner of succulent edibles, learning to
scratch the soil, to sow, to reap, to store, beating out the fibres
of plants to spin into thread and to weave into cloth, devising
systems of irrigation, working in metals, making markets and trade-
routes, building boats, and founding navigation--ay, and organizing
village life, welding villages to villages till they became tribes,
welding tribes together till they became nations, ever seeking the
laws of things, ever making the laws of humans so that humans might
live together in amity and by united effort beat down and destroy
all manner of creeping, crawling, squalling things that might else
destroy them.

I was that man in all his births and endeavours. I am that man to-
day, waiting my due death by the law that I helped to devise many a
thousand years ago, and by which I have died many times before this,
many times. And as I contemplate this vast past history of me, I
find several great and splendid influences, and, chiefest of these,
the love of woman, man's love for the woman of his kind. I see
myself, the one man, the lover, always the lover. Yes, also was I
the great fighter, but somehow it seems to me as I sit here and
evenly balance it all, that I was, more than aught else, the great
lover. It was because I loved greatly that I was the great fighter.

Sometimes I think that the story of man is the story of the love of
woman. This memory of all my past that I write now is the memory of
my love of woman. Ever, in the ten thousand lives and guises, I
loved her. I love her now. My sleep is fraught with her; my waking
fancies, no matter whence they start, lead me always to her. There
is no escaping her, that eternal, splendid, ever-resplendent figure
of woman.

Oh, make no mistake. I am no callow, ardent youth. I am an elderly
man, broken in health and body, and soon to die. I am a scientist
and a philosopher. I, as all the generations of philosophers before
me, know woman for what she is--her weaknesses, and meannesses, and
immodesties, and ignobilities, her earth-bound feet, and her eyes
that have never seen the stars. But--and the everlasting,
irrefragable fact remains: HER FEET ARE BEAUTIFUL, HER EYES ARE

Woman has made me laugh at death and distance, scorn fatigue and
sleep. I have slain men, many men, for love of woman, or in warm
blood have baptized our nuptials or washed away the stain of her
favour to another. I have gone down to death and dishonour, my
betrayal of my comrades and of the stars black upon me, for woman's
sake--for my sake, rather, I desired her so. And I have lain in the
barley, sick with yearning for her, just to see her pass and glut my
eyes with the swaying wonder of her and of her hair, black with the
night, or brown or flaxen, or all golden-dusty with the sun.

For woman IS beautiful . . . to man. She is sweet to his tongue,
and fragrance in his nostrils. She is fire in his blood, and a
thunder of trumpets; her voice is beyond all music in his ears; and
she can shake his soul that else stands steadfast in the draughty
presence of the Titans of the Light and of the Dark. And beyond his
star-gazing, in his far-imagined heavens, Valkyrie or houri, man has
fain made place for her, for he could see no heaven without her.
And the sword, in battle, singing, sings not so sweet a song as the
woman sings to man merely by her laugh in the moonlight, or her
love-sob in the dark, or by her swaying on her way under the sun
while he lies dizzy with longing in the grass.

I have died of love. I have died for love, as you shall see. In a
little while they will take me out, me, Darrell Standing, and make
me die. And that death shall be for love. Oh, not lightly was I
stirred when I slew Professor Haskell in the laboratory at the
University of California. He was a man. I was a man. And there
was a woman beautiful. Do you understand? She was a woman and I
was a man and a lover, and all the heredity of love was mine up from
the black and squalling jungle ere love was love and man was man.

Oh, ay, it is nothing new. Often, often, in that long past have I
given life and honour, place and power for love. Man is different
from woman. She is close to the immediate and knows only the need
of instant things. We know honour above her honour, and pride
beyond her wildest guess of pride. Our eyes are far-visioned for
star-gazing, while her eyes see no farther than the solid earth
beneath her feet, the lover's breast upon her breast, the infant
lusty in the hollow of her arm. And yet, such is our alchemy
compounded of the ages, woman works magic in our dreams and in our
veins, so that more than dreams and far visions and the blood of
life itself is woman to us, who, as lovers truly say, is more than
all the world. Yet is this just, else would man not be man, the
fighter and the conqueror, treading his red way on the face of all
other and lesser life--for, had man not been the lover, the royal
lover, he could never have become the kingly fighter. We fight
best, and die best, and live best, for what we love.

I am that one man. I see myself the many selves that have gone into
the constituting of me. And ever I see the woman, the many women,
who have made me and undone me, who have loved me and whom I have

I remember, oh, long ago when human kind was very young, that I made
me a snare and a pit with a pointed stake upthrust in the middle
thereof, for the taking of Sabre-Tooth. Sabre-Tooth, long-fanged
and long-haired, was the chiefest peril to us of the squatting
place, who crouched through the nights over our fires and by day
increased the growing shell-bank beneath us by the clams we dug and
devoured from the salt mud-flats beside us.

And when the roar and the squall of Sabre-Tooth roused us where we
squatted by our dying embers, and I was wild with far vision of the
proof of the pit and the stake, it was the woman, arms about me,
leg-twining, who fought with me and restrained me not to go out
through the dark to my desire. She was part-clad, for warmth only,
in skins of animals, mangy and fireburnt, that I had slain; she was
swart and dirty with camp smoke, unwashed since the spring rains,
with nails gnarled and broken, and hands that were calloused like
footpads and were more like claws than like hands; but her eyes were
blue as the summer sky is, as the deep sea is, and there was that in
her eyes, and in her clasped arms about me, and in her heart beating
against mine, that withheld me . . . though through the dark until
dawn, while Sabre-Tooth squalled his wrath and his agony, I could
hear my comrades snickering and sniggling to their women in that I
had not the faith in my emprise and invention to venture through the
night to the pit and the stake I had devised for the undoing of
Sabre-Tooth. But my woman, my savage mate held me, savage that I
was, and her eyes drew me, and her arms chained me, and her twining
legs and heart beating to mine seduced me from my far dream of
things, my man's achievement, the goal beyond goals, the taking and
the slaying of Sabre-Tooth on the stake in the pit.

Once I wan Ushu, the archer. I remember it well. For I was lost
from my own people, through the great forest, till I emerged on the
flat lands and grass lands, and was taken in by a strange people,
kin in that their skin was white, their hair yellow, their speech
not too remote from mine. And she was Igar, and I drew her as I
sang in the twilight, for she was destined a race-mother, and she
was broad-built and full-dugged, and she could not but draw to the
man heavy-muscled, deep-chested, who sang of his prowess in man-
slaying and in meat-getting, and so, promised food and protection to
her in her weakness whilst she mothered the seed that was to hunt
the meat and live after her.

And these people knew not the wisdom of my people, in that they
snared and pitted their meat and in battle used clubs and stone
throwing-sticks and were unaware of the virtues of arrows swift-
flying, notched on the end to fit the thong of deer-sinew, well-
twisted, that sprang into straightness when released to the spring
of the ask-stick bent in the middle.

And while I sang, the stranger men laughed in the twilight. And
only she, Igar, believed and had faith in me. I took her alone to
the hunting, where the deer sought the water-hole. And my bow
twanged and sang in the covert, and the deer fell fast-stricken, and
the warm meat was sweet to us, and she was mine there by the water-

And because of Igar I remained with the strange men. And I taught
them the making of bows from the red and sweet-smelling wood like
unto cedar. And I taught them to keep both eyes open, and to aim
with the left eye, and to make blunt shafts for small game, and
pronged shafts of bone for the fish in the clear water, and to flake
arrow-heads from obsidian for the deer and the wild horse, the elk
and old Sabre-Tooth. But the flaking of stone they laughed at, till
I shot an elk through and through, the flaked stone standing out and
beyond, the feathered shaft sunk in its vitals, the whole tribe

I was Ushu, the archer, and Igar was my woman and mate. We laughed
under the sun in the morning, when our man-child and woman-child,
yellowed like honey-bees, sprawled and rolled in the mustard, and at
night she lay close in my arms, and loved me, and urged me, because
of my skill at the seasoning of woods and the flaking of arrow-
heads, that I should stay close by the camp and let the other men
bring to me the meat from the perils of hunting. And I listened,
and grew fat and short-breathed, and in the long nights, unsleeping,
worried that the men of the stranger tribe brought me meat for my
wisdom and honour, but laughed at my fatness and undesire for the
hunting and fighting.

And in my old age, when our sons were man-grown and our daughters
were mothers, when up from the southland the dark men, flat-browed,
kinky-headed, surged like waves of the sea upon us and we fled back
before them to the hill-slopes, Igar, like my mates far before and
long after, leg-twining, arm-clasping, unseeing far visions, strove
to hold me aloof from the battle.

And I tore myself from her, fat and short-breathed, while she wept
that no longer I loved her, and I went out to the night-fighting and
dawn-fighting, where, to the singing of bowstrings and the shrilling
of arrows, feathered, sharp-pointed, we showed them, the kinky-
heads, the skill of the killing and taught them the wit and the
willing of slaughter.

And as I died them at the end of the fighting, there were death
songs and singing about me, and the songs seemed to sing as these
the words I have written when I was Ushu, the archer, and Igar, my
mate-woman, leg-twining, arm-clasping, would have held me back from
the battle.

Once, and heaven alone knows when, save that it was in the long ago
when man was young, we lived beside great swamps, where the hills
drew down close to the wide, sluggish river, and where our women
gathered berries and roots, and there were herds of deer, of wild
horses, of antelope, and of elk, that we men slew with arrows or
trapped in the pits or hill-pockets. From the river we caught fish
in nets twisted by the women of the bark of young trees.

I was a man, eager and curious as the antelope when we lured it by
waving grass clumps where we lay hidden in the thick of the grass.
The wild rice grew in the swamp, rising sheer from the water on the
edges of the channels. Each morning the blackbirds awoke us with
their chatter as they left their roosts to fly to the swamp. And
through the long twilight the air was filled with their noise as
they went back to their roosts. It was the time that the rice
ripened. And there were ducks also, and ducks and blackbirds
feasted to fatness on the ripe rice half unhusked by the sun.

Being a man, ever restless, ever questing, wondering always what lay
beyond the hills and beyond the swamps and in the mud at the river's
bottom, I watched the wild ducks and blackbirds and pondered till my
pondering gave me vision and I saw. And this is what I saw, the
reasoning of it:

Meat was good to eat. In the end, tracing it back, or at the first,
rather, all meat came from grass. The meat of the duck and of the
blackbird came from the seed of the swamp rice. To kill a duck with
an arrow scarce paid for the labour of stalking and the long hours
in hiding. The blackbirds were too small for arrow-killing save by
the boys who were learning and preparing for the taking of larger
game. And yet, in rice season, blackbirds and ducks were
succulently fat. Their fatness came from the rice. Why should I
and mine not be fat from the rice in the same way?

And I thought it out in camp, silent, morose, while the children
squabbled about me unnoticed, and while Arunga, my mate-woman,
vainly scolded me and urged me to go hunting for more meat for the
many of us.

Arunga was the woman I had stolen from the hill-tribes. She and I
had been a dozen moons in learning common speech after I captured
her. Ah, that day when I leaped upon her, down from the over-
hanging tree-branch as she padded the runway! Fairly upon her
shoulders with the weight of my body I smote her, my fingers wide-
spreading to clutch her. She squalled like a cat there in the
runway. She fought me and bit me. The nails of her hands were like
the claws of a tree-cat as they tore at me. But I held her and
mastered her, and for two days beat her and forced her to travel
with me down out of the canyons of the Hill-Men to the grass lands
where the river flowed through the rice-swamps and the ducks and the
blackbirds fed fat.

I saw my vision when the rice was ripe. I put Arunga in the bow of
the fire-hollowed log that was most rudely a canoe. I bade her
paddle. In the stern I spread a deerskin she had tanned. With two
stout sticks I bent the stalks over the deerskin and threshed out
the grain that else the blackbirds would have eaten. And when I had
worked out the way of it, I gave the two stout sticks to Arunga, and
sat in the bow paddling and directing.

In the past we had eaten the raw rice in passing and not been
pleased with it. But now we parched it over our fire so that the
grains puffed and exploded in whiteness and all the tribe came
running to taste.

After that we became known among men as the Rice-Eaters and as the
Sons of the Rice. And long, long after, when we were driven by the
Sons of the River from the swamps into the uplands, we took the seed
of the rice with us and planted it. We learned to select the
largest grains for the seed, so that all the rice we thereafter ate
was larger-grained and puffier in the parching and the boiling.

But Arunga. I have said she squalled and scratched like a cat when
I stole her. Yet I remember the time when her own kin of the Hill-
Men caught me and carried me away into the hills. They were her
father, his brother, and her two own blood-brothers. But she was
mine, who had lived with me. And at night, where I lay bound like a
wild pig for the slaying, and they slept weary by the fire, she
crept upon them and brained them with the war-club that with my
hands I had fashioned. And she wept over me, and loosed me, and
fled with me, back to the wide sluggish river where the blackbirds
and wild ducks fed in the rice swamps--for this was before the time
of the coming of the Sons of the River.

For she was Arunga, the one woman, the eternal woman. She has lived
in all times and places. She will always live. She is immortal.
Once, in a far land, her name was Ruth. Also has her name been
Iseult, and Helen, Pocahontas, and Unga. And no stranger man, from
stranger tribes, but has found her and will find her in the tribes
of all the earth.

I remember so many women who have gone into the becoming of the one
woman. There was the time that Har, my brother, and I, sleeping and
pursuing in turn, ever hounding the wild stallion through the
daytime and night, and in a wide circle that met where the sleeping
one lay, drove the stallion unresting through hunger and thirst to
the meekness of weakness, so that in the end he could but stand and
tremble while we bound him with ropes twisted of deer-hide. On our
legs alone, without hardship, aided merely by wit--the plan was
mine--my brother and I walked that fleet-footed creature into

And when all was ready for me to get on his back--for that had been
my vision from the first--Selpa, my woman, put her arms about me,
and raised her voice and persisted that Har, and not I, should ride,
for Har had neither wife nor young ones and could die without hurt.
Also, in the end she wept, so that I was raped of my vision, and it
was Har, naked and clinging, that bestrode the stallion when he
vaulted away.

It was sunset, and a time of great wailing, when they carried Har in
from the far rocks where they found him. His head was quite broken,
and like honey from a fallen bee-tree his brains dripped on the
ground. His mother strewed wood-ashes on her head and blackened her
face. His father cut off half the fingers of one hand in token of
sorrow. And all the women, especially the young and unwedded,
screamed evil names at me; and the elders shook their wise heads and
muttered and mumbled that not their fathers nor their fathers'
fathers had betrayed such a madness. Horse meat was good to eat;
young colts were tender to old teeth; and only a fool would come to
close grapples with any wild horse save when an arrow had pierced
it, or when it struggled on the stake in the midst of the pit.

And Selpa scolded me to sleep, and in the morning woke me with her
chatter, ever declaiming against my madness, ever pronouncing her
claim upon me and the claims of our children, till in the end I grew
weary, and forsook my far vision, and said never again would I dream
of bestriding the wild horse to fly swift as its feet and the wind
across the sands and the grass lands.

And through the years the tale of my madness never ceased from being
told over the camp-fire. Yet was the very telling the source of my
vengeance; for the dream did not die, and the young ones, listening
to the laugh and the sneer, redreamed it, so that in the end it was
Othar, my eldest-born, himself a sheer stripling, that walked down a
wild stallion, leapt on its back, and flew before all of us with the
speed of the wind. Thereafter, that they might keep up with him,
all men were trapping and breaking wild horses. Many horses were
broken, and some men, but I lived at the last to the day when, at
the changing of camp-sites in the pursuit of the meat in its
seasons, our very babes, in baskets of willow-withes, were slung
side and side on the backs of our horses that carried our camp-
trappage and dunnage.

I, a young man, had seen my vision, dreamed my dream; Selpa, the
woman, had held me from that far desire; but Othar, the seed of us
to live after, glimpsed my vision and won to it, so that our tribe
became wealthy in the gains of the chase.

There was a woman--on the great drift down out of Europe, a weary
drift of many generations, when we brought into India the shorthorn
cattle and the planting of barley. But this woman was long before
we reached India. We were still in the mid-most of that centuries-
long drift, and no shrewdness of geography can now place for me that
ancient valley.

The woman was Nuhila. The valley was narrow, not long, and the
swift slope of its floor and the steep walls of its rim were
terraced for the growing of rice and of millet--the first rice and
millet we Sons of the Mountain had known. They were a meek people
in that valley. They had become soft with the farming of fat land
made fatter by water. Theirs was the first irrigation we had seen,
although we had little time to mark their ditches and channels by
which all the hill waters flowed to the fields they had builded. We
had little time to mark, for we Sons of the Mountain, who were few,
were in flight before the Sons of the Snub-Nose, who were many. We
called them the Noseless, and they called themselves the Sons of the
Eagle. But they were many, and we fled before them with our
shorthorn cattle, our goats, and our barleyseed, our women and

While the Snub-Noses slew our youths at the rear, we slew at our
fore the folk of the valley who opposed us and were weak. The
village was mud-built and grass-thatched; the encircling wall was of
mud, but quite tall. And when we had slain the people who had built
the wall, and sheltered within it our herds and our women and
children, we stood on the wall and shouted insult to the Snub-Noses.
For we had found the mud granaries filled with rice and millet. Our
cattle could eat the thatches. And the time of the rains was at
hand, so that we should not want for water.

It was a long siege. Near to the beginning, we gathered together
the women, and elders, and children we had not slain, and forced
them out through the wall they had builded. But the Snub-Noses slew
them to the last one, so that there was more food in the village for
us, more food in the valley for the Snub-Noses.

It was a weary long siege. Sickness smote us, and we died of the
plague that arose from our buried ones. We emptied the mud-
granaries of their rice and millet. Our goats and shorthorns ate
the thatch of the houses, and we, ere the end, ate the goats and the

Where there had been five men of us on the wall, there came a time
when there was one; where there had been half a thousand babes and
younglings of ours, there were none. It was Nuhila, my woman, who
cut off her hair and twisted it that I might have a strong string
for my bow. The other women did likewise, and when the wall was
attacked, stood shoulder to shoulder with us, in the midst of our
spears and arrows raining down potsherds and cobblestones on the
heads of the Snub-Noses.

Even the patient Snub-Noses we well-nigh out-patienced. Came a time
when of ten men of us, but one was alive on the wall, and of our
women remained very few, and the Snub-Noses held parley. They told
us we were a strong breed, and that our women were men-mothers, and
that if we would let them have our women they would leave us alone
in the valley to possess for ourselves and that we could get women
from the valleys to the south.

And Nuhila said no. And the other women said no. And we sneered at
the Snub-Noses and asked if they were weary of fighting. And we
were as dead men then, as we sneered at our enemies, and there was
little fight left in us we were so weak. One more attack on the
wall would end us. We knew it. Our women knew it. And Nuhila said
that we could end it first and outwit the Snub-Noses. And all our
women agreed. And while the Snub-Noses prepared for the attack that
would be final, there, on the wall, we slew our women. Nuhila loved
me, and leaned to meet the thrust of my sword, there on the wall.
And we men, in the love of tribehood and tribesmen, slew one another
till remained only Horda and I alive in the red of the slaughter.
And Horda was my elder, and I leaned to his thrust. But not at once
did I die. I was the last of the Sons of the Mountain, for I saw
Horda, himself fall on his blade and pass quickly. And dying with
the shouts of the oncoming Snub-Noses growing dim in my ears, I was
glad that the Snub-Noses would have no sons of us to bring up by our

I do not know when this time was when I was a Son of the Mountain
and when we died in the narrow valley where we had slain the Sons of
the Rice and the Millet. I do not know, save that it was centuries
before the wide-spreading drift of all us Sons of the Mountain
fetched into India, and that it was long before ever I was an Aryan
master in Old Egypt building my two burial places and defacing the
tombs of kings before me.

I should like to tell more of those far days, but time in the
present is short. Soon I shall pass. Yet am I sorry that I cannot
tell more of those early drifts, when there was crushage of peoples,
or descending ice-sheets, or migrations of meat.

Also, I should like to tell of Mystery. For always were we curious
to solve the secrets of life, death, and decay. Unlike the other
animals, man was for ever gazing at the stars. Many gods he created
in his own image and in the images of his fancy. In those old times
I have worshipped the sun and the dark. I have worshipped the
husked grain as the parent of life. I have worshipped Sar, the Corn
Goddess. And I have worshipped sea gods, and river gods, and fish

Yes, and I remember Ishtar ere she was stolen from us by the
Babylonians, and Ea, too, was ours, supreme in the Under World, who
enabled Ishtar to conquer death. Mitra, likewise, was a good old
Aryan god, ere he was filched from us or we discarded him. And I
remember, on a time, long after the drift when we brought the barley
into India, that I came down into India, a horse-trader, with many
servants and a long caravan at my back, and that at that time they
were worshipping Bodhisatwa.

Truly, the worships of the Mystery wandered as did men, and between
filchings and borrowings the gods had as vagabond a time of it as
did we. As the Sumerians took the loan of Shamashnapishtin from us,
so did the Sons of Shem take him from the Sumerians and call him

Why, I smile me to-day, Darrell Standing, in Murderers' Row, in that
I was found guilty and awarded death by twelve jurymen staunch and
true. Twelve has ever been a magic number of the Mystery. Nor did
it originate with the twelve tribes of Israel. Star-gazers before
them had placed the twelve signs of the Zodiac in the sky. And I
remember me, when I was of the Assir, and of the Vanir, that Odin
sat in judgment over men in the court of the twelve gods, and that
their names were Thor, Baldur, Niord, Frey, Tyr, Bregi, Heimdal,
Hoder, Vidar, Ull, Forseti, and Loki.

Even our Valkyries were stolen from us and made into angels, and the
wings of the Valkyries' horses became attached to the shoulders of
the angels. And our Helheim of that day of ice and frost has become
the hell of to-day, which is so hot an abode that the blood boils in
one's veins, while with us, in our Helheim, the place was so cold as
to freeze the marrow inside the bones. And the very sky, that we
dreamed enduring, eternal, has drifted and veered, so that we find
to-day the scorpion in the place where of old we knew the goat, and
the archer in the place of the crab.

Worships and worships! Ever the pursuit of the Mystery! I remember
the lame god of the Greeks, the master-smith. But their vulcan was
the Germanic Wieland, the master-smith captured and hamstrung lame
of a leg by Nidung, the kind of the Nids. But before that he was
our master-smith, our forger and hammerer, whom we named Il-marinen.
And him we begat of our fancy, giving him the bearded sun-god for
father, and nursing him by the stars of the bear. For, he, Vulcan,
or Wieland, or Il-marinen, was born under the pine tree, from the
hair of the wolf, and was called also the bear-father ere ever the
Germans and Greeks purloined and worshipped him. In that day we
called ourselves the Sons of the Bear and the Sons of the Wolf, and
the bear and the wolf were our totems. That was before our drift
south on which we joined with the Sons of the Tree-Grove and taught
them our totems and tales.

Yes, and who was Kashyapa, who was Pururavas, but our lame master-
smith, our iron-worker, carried by us in our drifts and re-named and
worshipped by the south-dwellers and the east-dwellers, the Sons of
the Pole and of the Fire Drill and Fire Socket.

But the tale is too long, though I should like to tell of the three-
leaved Herb of Life by which Sigmund made Sinfioti alive again. For
this is the very soma-plant of India, the holy grail of King Arthur,
the--but enough! enough!

And yet, as I calmly consider it all, I conclude that the greatest
thing in life, in all lives, to me and to all men, has been woman,
is woman, and will be woman so long as the stars drift in the sky
and the heavens flux eternal change. Greater than our toil and
endeavour, the play of invention and fancy, battle and star-gazing
and mystery--greatest of all has been woman.

Even though she has sung false music to me, and kept my feet solid
on the ground, and drawn my star-roving eyes ever back to gaze upon
her, she, the conserver of life, the earth-mother, has given me my
great days and nights and fulness of years. Even mystery have I
imaged in the form of her, and in my star-charting have I placed her
figure in the sky.

All my toils and devices led to her; all my far visions saw her at
the end. When I made the fire-drill and fire-socket, it was for
her. It was for her, although I did not know it, that I put the
stake in the pit for old Sabre-Tooth, tamed the horse, slew the
mammoth, and herded my reindeer south in advance of the ice-sheet.
For her I harvested the wild rice, tamed the barley, the wheat, and
the corn.

For her, and the seed to come after whose image she bore, I have
died in tree-tops and stood long sieges in cave-mouths and on mud-
walls. For her I put the twelve signs in the sky. It was she I
worshipped when I bowed before the ten stones of jade and adored
them as the moons of gestation.

Always has woman crouched close to earth like a partridge hen
mothering her young; always has my wantonness of roving led me out
on the shining ways; and always have my star-paths returned me to
her, the figure everlasting, the woman, the one woman, for whose
arms I had such need that clasped in them I have forgotten the

For her I accomplished Odysseys, scaled mountains, crossed deserts;
for her I led the hunt and was forward in battle; and for her and to
her I sang my songs of the things I had done. All ecstasies of life
and rhapsodies of delight have been mine because of her. And here,
at the end, I can say that I have known no sweeter, deeper madness
of being than to drown in the fragrant glory and forgetfulness of
her hair.

One word more. I remember me Dorothy, just the other day, when I
still lectured on agronomy to farmer-boy students. She was eleven
years old. Her father was dean of the college. She was a woman-
child, and a woman, and she conceived that she loved me. And I
smiled to myself, for my heart was untouched and lay elsewhere.

Yet was the smile tender, for in the child's eyes I saw the woman
eternal, the woman of all times and appearances. In her eyes I saw
the eyes of my mate of the jungle and tree-top, of the cave and the
squatting-place. In her eyes I saw the eyes of Igar when I was Ushu
the archer, the eyes of Arunga when I was the rice-harvester, the
eyes of Selpa when I dreamed of bestriding the stallion, the eyes of
Nuhila who leaned to the thrust of my sword. Yes, there was that in
her eyes that made them the eyes of Lei-Lei whom I left with a laugh
on my lips, the eyes of the Lady Om for forty years my beggar-mate
on highway and byway, the eyes of Philippa for whom I was slain on
the grass in old France, the eyes of my mother when I was the lad
Jesse at the Mountain Meadows in the circle of our forty great

She was a woman-child, but she was daughter of all women, as her
mother before her, and she was the mother of all women to come after
her. She was Sar, the corn-goddess. She was Isthar who conquered
death. She was Sheba and Cleopatra; she was Esther and Herodias.
She was Mary the Madonna, and Mary the Magdalene, and Mary the
sister of Martha, also she was Martha. And she was Brunnhilde and
Guinevere, Iseult and Juliet, Heloise and Nicolette. Yes, and she
was Eve, she was Lilith, she was Astarte. She was eleven years old,
and she was all women that had been, all women to be.

I sit in my cell now, while the flies hum in the drowsy summer
afternoon, and I know that my time is short. Soon they will apparel
me in the shirt without a collar. . . . But hush, my heart. The
spirit is immortal. After the dark I shall live again, and there
will be women. The future holds the little women for me in the
lives I am yet to live. And though the stars drift, and the heavens
lie, ever remains woman, resplendent, eternal, the one woman, as I,
under all my masquerades and misadventures, am the one man, her


My time grows very short. All the manuscript I have written is
safely smuggled out of the prison. There is a man I can trust who
will see that it is published. No longer am I in Murderers Row. I
am writing these lines in the death cell, and the death-watch is set
on me. Night and day is this death-watch on me, and its paradoxical
function is to see that I do not die. I must be kept alive for the
hanging, or else will the public be cheated, the law blackened, and
a mark of demerit placed against the time-serving warden who runs
this prison and one of whose duties is to see that his condemned
ones are duly and properly hanged. Often I marvel at the strange
way some men make their livings.

This shall be my last writing. To-morrow morning the hour is set.
The governor has declined to pardon or reprieve, despite the fact
that the Anti-Capital-Punishment League has raised quite a stir in
California. The reporters are gathered like so many buzzards. I
have seen them all. They are queer young fellows, most of them, and
most queer is it that they will thus earn bread and butter,
cocktails and tobacco, room-rent, and, if they are married, shoes
and schoolbooks for their children, by witnessing the execution of
Professor Darrell Standing, and by describing for the public how
Professor Darrell Standing died at the end of a rope. Ah, well,
they will be sicker than I at the end of the affair.

As I sit here and muse on it all, the footfalls of the death-watch
going up and down outside my cage, the man's suspicious eyes ever
peering in on me, almost I weary of eternal recurrence. I have
lived so many lives. I weary of the endless struggle and pain and
catastrophe that come to those who sit in the high places, tread the
shining ways, and wander among the stars.

Almost I hope, when next I reinhabit form, that it shall be that of
a peaceful farmer. There is my dream-farm. I should like to engage
just for one whole life in that. Oh, my dream-farm! My alfalfa
meadows, my efficient Jersey cattle, my upland pastures, my brush-
covered slopes melting into tilled fields, while ever higher up the
slopes my angora goats eat away brush to tillage!

There is a basin there, a natural basin high up the slopes, with a
generous watershed on three sides. I should like to throw a dam
across the fourth side, which is surprisingly narrow. At a paltry
price of labour I could impound twenty million gallons of water.
For, see: one great drawback to farming in California is our long
dry summer. This prevents the growing of cover crops, and the
sensitive soil, naked, a mere surface dust-mulch, has its humus
burned out of it by the sun. Now with that dam I could grow three
crops a year, observing due rotation, and be able to turn under a
wealth of green manure. . . .

I have just endured a visit from the Warden. I say "endured"
advisedly. He is quite different from the Warden of San Quentin.
He was very nervous, and perforce I had to entertain him. This is
his first hanging. He told me so. And I, with a clumsy attempt at
wit, did not reassure him when I explained that it was also my first
hanging. He was unable to laugh. He has a girl in high school, and
his boy is a freshman at Stanford. He has no income outside his
salary, his wife is an invalid, and he is worried in that he has
been rejected by the life insurance doctors as an undesirable risk.
Really, the man told me almost all his troubles. Had I not
diplomatically terminated the interview he would still be here
telling me the remainder of them.

My last two years in San Quentin were very gloomy and depressing.
Ed Morrell, by one of the wildest freaks of chance, was taken out of
solitary and made head trusty of the whole prison. This was Al
Hutchins' old job, and it carried a graft of three thousand dollars
a year. To my misfortune, Jake Oppenheimer, who had rotted in
solitary for so many years, turned sour on the world, on everything.
For eight months he refused to talk even to me.

In prison, news will travel. Give it time and it will reach dungeon
and solitary cell. It reached me, at last, that Cecil Winwood, the
poet-forger, the snitcher, the coward, and the stool, was returned
for a fresh forgery. It will be remembered that it was this Cecil
Winwood who concocted the fairy story that I had changed the plant
of the non-existent dynamite and who was responsible for the five
years I had then spent in solitary.

I decided to kill Cecil Winwood. You see, Morrell was gone, and
Oppenheimer, until the outbreak that finished him, had remained in
the silence. Solitary had grown monotonous for me. I had to do
something. So I remembered back to the time when I was Adam Strang
and patiently nursed revenge for forty years. What he had done I
could do if once I locked my hands on Cecil Winwood's throat.

It cannot be expected of me to divulge how I came into possession of
the four needles. They were small cambric needles. Emaciated as my
body was, I had to saw four bars, each in two places, in order to
make an aperture through which I could squirm. I did it. I used up
one needle to each bar. This meant two cuts to a bar, and it took a
month to a cut. Thus I should have been eight months in cutting my
way out. Unfortunately, I broke my last needle on the last bar, and
I had to wait three months before I could get another needle. But I
got it, and I got out.

I regret greatly that I did not get Cecil Winwood. I had calculated
well on everything save one thing. The certain chance to find
Winwood would be in the dining-room at dinner hour. So I waited
until Pie-Face Jones, the sleepy guard, should be on shift at the
noon hour. At that time I was the only inmate of solitary, so that
Pie-Face Jones was quickly snoring. I removed my bars, squeezed
out, stole past him along the ward, opened the door and was free . .
. to a portion of the inside of the prison.

And here was the one thing I had not calculated on--myself. I had
been five years in solitary. I was hideously weak. I weighed
eighty-seven pounds. I was half blind. And I was immediately
stricken with agoraphobia. I was affrighted by spaciousness. Five
years in narrow walls had unfitted me for the enormous declivity of
the stairway, for the vastitude of the prison yard.

The descent of that stairway I consider the most heroic exploit I
ever accomplished. The yard was deserted. The blinding sun blazed
down on it. Thrice I essayed to cross it. But my senses reeled and
I shrank back to the wall for protection. Again, summoning all my
courage, I attempted it. But my poor blear eyes, like a bat's,
startled me at my shadow on the flagstones. I attempted to avoid my
own shadow, tripped, fell over it, and like a drowning man
struggling for shore crawled back on hands and knees to the wall.

I leaned against the wall and cried. It was the first time in many
years that I had cried. I remember noting, even in my extremity,
the warmth of the tears on my cheeks and the salt taste when they
reached my lips. Then I had a chill, and for a time shook as with
an ague. Abandoning the openness of the yard as too impossible a
feat for one in my condition, still shaking with the chill,
crouching close to the protecting wall, my hands touching it, I
started to skirt the yard.

Then it was, somewhere along, that the guard Thurston espied me. I
saw him, distorted by my bleared eyes, a huge, well-fed monster,
rushing upon me with incredible speed out of the remote distance.
Possibly, at that moment, he was twenty feet away. He weighed one
hundred and seventy pounds. The struggle between us can be easily
imagined, but somewhere in that brief struggle it was claimed that I
struck him on the nose with my fist to such purpose as to make that
organ bleed.

At any rate, being a lifer, and the penalty in California for
battery by a lifer being death, I was so found guilty by a jury
which could not ignore the asseverations of the guard Thurston and
the rest of the prison hangdogs that testified, and I was so
sentenced by a judge who could not ignore the law as spread plainly
on the statute book.

I was well pummelled by Thurston, and all the way back up that
prodigious stairway I was roundly kicked, punched, and cuffed by the
horde of trusties and guards who got in one another's way in their
zeal to assist him. Heavens, if his nose did bleed, the probability
is that some of his own kind were guilty of causing it in the
confusion of the scuffle. I shouldn't care if I were responsible
for it myself, save that it is so pitiful a thing for which to hang
a man. . . .

I have just had a talk with the man on shift of my death-watch. A
little less than a year ago, Jake Oppenheimer occupied this same
death-cell on the road to the gallows which I will tread to-morrow.
This man was one of the death-watch on Jake. He is an old soldier.
He chews tobacco constantly, and untidily, for his gray beard and
moustache are stained yellow. He is a widower, with fourteen living
children, all married, and is the grandfather of thirty-one living
grandchildren, and the great-grandfather of four younglings, all
girls. It was like pulling teeth to extract such information. He
is a queer old codger, of a low order of intelligence. That is why,
I fancy, he has lived so long and fathered so numerous a progeny.
His mind must have crystallized thirty years ago. His ideas are
none of them later than that vintage. He rarely says more than yes
and no to me. It is not because he is surly. He has no ideas to
utter. I don't know, when I live again, but what one incarnation
such as his would be a nice vegetative existence in which to rest up
ere I go star-roving again. . . .

But to go back. I must take a line in which to tell, after I was
hustled and bustled, kicked and punched, up that terrible stairway
by Thurston and the rest of the prison-dogs, of the infinite relief
of my narrow cell when I found myself back in solitary. It was all
so safe, so secure. I felt like a lost child returned home again.
I loved those very walls that I had so hated for five years. All
that kept the vastness of space, like a monster, from pouncing upon
me were those good stout walls of mine, close to hand on every side.
Agoraphobia is a terrible affliction. I have had little opportunity
to experience it, but from that little I can only conclude that
hanging is a far easier matter. . . .

I have just had a hearty laugh. The prison doctor, a likable chap,
has just been in to have a yarn with me, incidentally to proffer me
his good offices in the matter of dope. Of course I declined his
proposition to "shoot me" so full of morphine through the night that
to-morrow I would not know, when I marched to the gallows, whether I
was "coming or going."

But the laugh. It was just like Jake Oppenheimer. I can see the
lean keenness of the man as he strung the reporters with his
deliberate bull which they thought involuntary. It seems, his last
morning, breakfast finished, incased in the shirt without a collar,
that the reporters, assembled for his last word in his cell, asked
him for his views on capital punishment.

- Who says we have more than the slightest veneer of civilization
coated over our raw savagery when a group of living men can ask such
a question of a man about to die and whom they are to see die?

But Jake was ever game. "Gentlemen," he said, "I hope to live to
see the day when capital punishment is abolished."

I have lived many lives through the long ages. Man, the individual,
has made no moral progress in the past ten thousand years. I affirm
this absolutely. The difference between an unbroken colt and the
patient draught-horse is purely a difference of training. Training
is the only moral difference between the man of to-day and the man
of ten thousand years ago. Under his thin skin of morality which he
has had polished onto him, he is the same savage that he was ten
thousand years ago. Morality is a social fund, an accretion through
the painful ages. The new-born child will become a savage unless it
is trained, polished, by the abstract morality that has been so long

"Thou shalt not kill"--piffle! They are going to kill me to-morrow
morning. "Thou shalt not kill"--piffle! In the shipyards of all
civilized countries they are laying to-day the keels of Dreadnoughts
and of Superdreadnoughts. Dear friends, I who am about to die,
salute you with--"Piffle!"

I ask you, what finer morality is preached to-day than was preached
by Christ, by Buddha, by Socrates and Plato, by Confucius and
whoever was the author of the "Mahabharata"? Good Lord, fifty
thousand years ago, in our totem-families, our women were cleaner,
our family and group relations more rigidly right.

I must say that the morality we practised in those old days was a
finer morality than is practised to-day. Don't dismiss this thought
hastily. Think of our child labour, of our police graft and our
political corruption, of our food adulteration and of our slavery of
the daughters of the poor. When I was a Son of the Mountain and a
Son of the Bull, prostitution had no meaning. We were clean, I tell
you. We did not dream such depths of depravity. Yea, so are all
the lesser animals of to-day clean. It required man, with his
imagination, aided by his mastery of matter, to invent the deadly
sins. The lesser animals, the other animals, are incapable of sin.

I read hastily back through the many lives of many times and many
places. I have never known cruelty more terrible, nor so terrible,
as the cruelty of our prison system of to-day. I have told you what
I have endured in the jacket and in solitary in the first decade of
this twentieth century after Christ. In the old days we punished
drastically and killed quickly. We did it because we so desired,
because of whim, if you so please. But we were not hypocrites. We
did not call upon press, and pulpit, and university to sanction us
in our wilfulness of savagery. What we wanted to do we went and
did, on our legs upstanding, and we faced all reproof and censure on
our legs upstanding, and did not hide behind the skirts of classical
economists and bourgeois philosophers, nor behind the skirts of
subsidized preachers, professors, and editors.

Why, goodness me, a hundred years ago, fifty years ago, five years
ago, in these United States, assault and battery was not a civil
capital crime. But this year, the year of Our Lord 1913, in the
State of California, they hanged Jake Oppenheimer for such an
offence, and to-morrow, for the civil capital crime of punching a
man on the nose, they are going to take me out and hang me. Query:
Doesn't it require a long time for the ape and the tiger to die when
such statutes are spread on the statute book of California in the
nineteen-hundred-and-thirteenth year after Christ? Lord, Lord, they
only crucified Christ. They have done far worse to Jake Oppenheimer
and me. . . .

As Ed Morrell once rapped to me with his knuckles: "The worst
possible use you can put a man to is to hang him." No, I have
little respect for capital punishment. Not only is it a dirty game,
degrading to the hangdogs who personally perpetrate it for a wage,
but it is degrading to the commonwealth that tolerates it, votes for
it, and pays the taxes for its maintenance. Capital punishment is
so SILLY, so stupid, so horribly unscientific. "To be hanged by the
neck until dead" is society's quaint phraseology . . .

Morning is come--my last morning. I slept like a babe throughout
the night. I slept so peacefully that once the death-watch got a
fright. He thought I had suffocated myself in my blankets. The
poor man's alarm was pitiful. His bread and butter was at stake.
Had it truly been so, it would have meant a black mark against him,
perhaps discharge and the outlook for an unemployed man is bitter
just at present. They tell me that Europe began liquidating two
years ago, and that now the United States has begun. That means
either a business crisis or a quiet panic and that the armies of the
unemployed will be large next winter, the bread-lines long. . . .

I have had my breakfast. It seemed a silly thing to do, but I ate
it heartily. The Warden came with a quart of whiskey. I presented
it to Murderers Row with my compliments. The Warden, poor man, is
afraid, if I be not drunk, that I shall make a mess of the function
and cast reflection on his management . . .

They have put on me the shirt without a collar. . .

It seems I am a very important man this day. Quite a lot of people
are suddenly interested in me. . . .

The doctor has just gone. He has taken my pulse. I asked him to.
It is normal. . . .

I write these random thoughts, and, a sheet at a time, they start on
their secret way out beyond the walls. . . .

I am the calmest man in the prison. I am like a child about to
start on a journey. I am eager to be gone, curious for the new
places I shall see. This fear of the lesser death is ridiculous to
one who has gone into the dark so often and lived again. . . .

The Warden with a quart of champagne. I have dispatched it down
Murderers Row. Queer, isn't it, that I am so considered this last
day. It must be that these men who are to kill me are themselves
afraid of death. To quote Jake Oppenheimer: I, who am about to
die, must seem to them something God-awful. . . .

Ed Morrell has just sent word in to me. They tell me he has paced
up and down all night outside the prison wall. Being an ex-convict,
they have red-taped him out of seeing me to say good-bye. Savages?
I don't know. Possibly just children. I'll wager most of them will
be afraid to be alone in the dark to-night after stretching my neck.

But Ed Morrell's message: "My hand is in yours, old pal. I know
you'll swing off game." . . .

The reporters have just left. I'll see them next, and last time,
from the scaffold, ere the hangman hides my face in the black cap.
They will be looking curiously sick. Queer young fellows. Some
show that they have been drinking. Two or three look sick with
foreknowledge of what they have to witness. It seems easier to be
hanged than to look on. . . .

My last lines. It seems I am delaying the procession. My cell is
quite crowded with officials and dignitaries. They are all nervous.
They want it over. Without a doubt, some of them have dinner
engagements. I am really offending them by writing these few words.
The priest has again preferred his request to be with me to the end.
The poor man--why should I deny him that solace? I have consented,
and he now appears quite cheerful. Such small things make some men
happy! I could stop and laugh for a hearty five minutes, if they
were not in such a hurry.

Here I close. I can only repeat myself. There is no death. Life
is spirit, and spirit cannot die. Only the flesh dies and passes,
ever a-crawl with the chemic ferment that informs it, ever plastic,
ever crystallizing, only to melt into the flux and to crystallize
into fresh and diverse forms that are ephemeral and that melt back
into the flux. Spirit alone endures and continues to build upon
itself through successive and endless incarnations as it works
upward toward the light. What shall I be when I live again? I
wonder. I wonder. . . .


{1} Since the execution of Professor Darrell Standing, at which
time the manuscript of his memoirs came into our hands, we have
written to Mr. Hosea Salsburty, Curator of the Philadelphia Museum,
and, in reply, have received confirmation of the existence of the
oar and the pamphlet.--THE EDITOR.

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