Part 2 out of 5
the children must go, and who so fit to take them as the preacher?
After all, is not the sawdust ring with its strange people, its
giants, fairies, hobgoblins, and clowns, a fairy land, not really
real, and therefore no more wicked than fairy land? Do they not
fly by night? are they not children of space? the enormous tents
spring up like mushrooms, to last a day; for a few short hours
there is a medley of strange sounds,--a blare of trumpets, the
roar of strange beasts, the ring of strange voices, the crackling
of whips; there are prancing steeds and figures in costumes
curious,--then, flapping of canvas, creaking of poles, and all is
silent. Of course it is not real, and every one may go. The circus
has no annals, knows no gossip, presents no problems; it is
without morals and therefore not immoral. It is the one joyous
amusement that is not above, but quite outside the pale of
criticism and discussion. Therefore, why should not the preacher
go and take the children?
But the Midway. Ah! the Midway, that is quite a different matter;
but still the preacher goes,--leaving the children at home.
Learning is ever curious. The Professor, after walking patiently
through several of the buildings and admiring impartially sections
of trees from Cuba and plates of apples from Wyoming, modestly
expressed a desire for some relaxation.
"The Midway is something more than a feature, it is an element. It
is the laugh that follows the tears; the joke that relieves the
tension; the Greeks invariably produced a comedy with their
tragedies; human nature demands relaxation; to appreciate the
serious, the humorous is absolutely essential. If the Midway were
not on the grounds the people would find it outside. Capacity for
serious contemplation differs with different peoples and in
different ages,--under Cromwell it was at a maximum, under Charles
II. it was at a minimum; the Puritans suppressed the laughter of a
nation; it broke out in ridicule that discriminated not between
sacred and profane. The tension of our age is such that diversions
must recur quickly. The next great Exposition may require two
Midways, or three or four for the convenience of the people. You
can't get a Midway any too near the anthropological and
ethnological sections; a cinematograph might be operated as an
adjunct to the Fine Arts building; a hula-hula dancer would
relieve the monotony of a succession of big pumpkins and prize
At that moment the Professor became interested in the strange
procession entering the streets of Cairo, and we followed. Before
he got out it cost him fifty cents to learn his name, a quarter
for his fortune, ten cents for his horoscope, and sundry amounts
for gems, jewels, and souvenirs of the Orient.
Through his best hexameter spectacles he surveyed the dark-eyed
daughter of the Nile who was telling his fortune with a strong
Irish accent; all went smoothly until the prophetess happened to
see the Professor's sunburnt nose, fiery red from the four days'
run in wind and rain, and said warningly,--
"You are too fond of good eating and drinking; you drink too much,
and unless you are more temperate you will die in twenty years."
That was too much for the Professor, whose occasional glass of
beer--a habit left over from his student days--would not discolor
the nose of a humming-bird.
There were no end of illusions, mysteries, and deceptions. The
greatest mystery of all was the eager desire of the people to be
deceived, and their bitter and outspoken disappointment when they
were not. As the Professor remarked,--
"There never has been but one real American, and that was Phineas
T. Barnum. He was the genuine product of his country and his
times,--native ore without foreign dross. He knew the American
people as no man before or since has known them; he knew what the
American people wanted, and gave it to them in large unadulterated
Tuesday morning was spent in giving the machine a thorough
inspection, some lost motion in the eccentric was taken up, every
nut and screw tightened, and the cylinder and intake mechanism
washed out with gasoline.
It is a good plan to clean out the cylinder with gasoline once
each week or ten days; it is not necessary, but the piston moves
with much greater freedom and the compression is better.
However good the cylinder oil used, after six or eight days' hard
and continuous running there is more or less residuum; in the very
nature of things there must be from the consumption of about a
pint of oil to every hundred miles.
Many use kerosene to clean cylinders, but gasoline has its
advantages; kerosene is excellent for all other bearings,
especially where there may be rust, as on the chain; but kerosene
is in itself a low grade oil, and the object in cleaning the
cylinder is to cut out all the oil and leave it bright and dry
ready for a supply of fresh oil.
After putting in the gasoline, the cylinder and every bearing
which the gasoline has touched should be thoroughly lubricated
Lubrication is of vital importance, and the oil used makes all the
difference in the world.
Many makers of machines have adopted the bad practice of putting
up oil in cans under their own brands, and charging, of course,
two prices per gallon. The price is of comparatively little
consequence, though an item; for it does not matter so much
whether one pays fifty cents or a dollar a gallon, so long as the
best oil is obtained; the pernicious feature of the practice lies
in wrapping the oil in mystery, like a patent medicine,--"Smith's
Cylinder Oil" and "Jones's Patent Pain-Killer" being in one and
the same category. Then they warn--patent medicine methods again
--purchasers of machines that their particular brand of oil must
be used to insure best results.
The one sure result is that the average user who knows nothing
about lubricating oils is kept in a state of frantic anxiety lest
his can of oil runs low at a time and place where he cannot get
more of the patent brand.
Every manufacturer should embody in the directions for caring for
the machine information concerning all the standard oils that can
be found in most cities, and recommend the use of as many
different brands as possible.
Machine oil can be found in almost any country village, or at any
mill, factory, or power-house along the road; it is the cylinder
oil that requires fore-thought and attention.
Beware of steam-cylinder oil and all heavy and gummy oils. Rub a
little of any oil that is offered between the fingers until it
disappears,--the better the oil the longer you can rub it. If it
leaves a gummy or sticky feeling, do not use; but if it rubs away
thin and oily, it is probably good. Of course the oiliest of oils
are animal fats, good lard, and genuine sperm; but they work down
very thin and run away, and genuine sperm oil is almost an unknown
quantity. Lard can be obtained at every farmhouse, and may be
used, if necessary, on bearings.
In an emergency, olive oil and probably cotton-seed oil may be
used in the cylinder. Olive oil is a fine lubricant, and is used
largely in the Italian and Spanish navies.
Many special brands are probably good oils and safe to use, but
there is no need of staking one's trip upon any particular brand.
All good steam-cylinder oils contain animal oil to make them
adhere to the side of the cylinder; a pure mineral oil would be
washed away by the steam and water.
To illustrate the action of oils and water, take a clean bottle,
put in a little pure mineral oil, add some water, and shake hard;
the oil will rise to the top of the water in little globules
without adhering at all to the sides of the bottle; in short, the
bottle is not lubricated. Instead of a pure mineral oil put in any
steam-cylinder oil which is a compound of mineral and animal; and
as the bottle is shaken the oil adheres to the glass, covering the
entire inner surface with a film that the water will not rinse
As there is supposed--erroneously--to be no moisture in the
cylinder of a gas-engine, the use of any animal oil is said to be
unnecessary; as there is moisture in the cylinder of a
steam-engine, some animal oil is absolutely essential in the
For the lubrication of chains and all parts exposed to the
weather, compounds of oil or grease which contain a liberal amount
of animal fat are better. Rain and the splash of mud and water
will wash off mineral oil as fast as it can be applied; in fact,
under adverse weather conditions it does not lubricate at all; the
addition of animal fat makes the compound stick.
Graphite and mica are both good chain lubricants, but if mixed
with a pure mineral base, such as vaseline, they will wash off in
mud and water. Before putting on a chain, it is a good thing to dip
it in melted tallow and then grease it thoroughly from time to
time with a graphite compound of vaseline and animal fat.
One does not expect perfection in a machine, but there is not an
automobile made, according to the reports of users, which does not
develop many crudities and imperfections in construction which
could be avoided by care and conscientious work in the factory,
--crudities and imperfections which customers and users have
complained of time and time again, but without avail.
At best the automobile is a complicated and difficult machine in
the hands of the amateur, and so far it has been made almost
impossible by its poor construction. With good construction there
will be troubles enough in operation, but at the present time
ninety per cent. of the stops and difficulties are due to
As the machine comes it looks so well, it inspires unbounded
confidence, but the first time it is seen in undress, with the
carriage part off, the machinery laid bare, the heart sinks, and
one's confidence oozes out.
Parts are twisted, bent, and hammered to get them into place,
bearings are filed to make them fit, bolts and screws are weak and
loose, nuts gone for the want of cotter-pins; it is as if
apprentice blacksmiths had spent their idle moments in
constructing a machine.
The carriage work is hopelessly bad. The building of carriages is
a long-established industry, employing hundreds of thousands of
hands and millions of capital, and yet in the entire United States
there are scarcely a dozen builders of really fine, substantial,
and durable vehicles. Yet every cross-road maker of automobiles
thinks that if he can only get his motor to go, the carpenter next
door can do his woodwork. The result is cheap stock springs,
clips, irons, bodies, cushions, tops, etc., are bought and put
over the motor. The use of aluminum bodies and more metal work
generally is helping things somewhat; not that aluminum and metal
work are necessarily better than wood, but it prevents the
unnatural union of the light wood bodies, designed for cheap
horse-vehicles, with a motor. The best French makers do not build
their bodies, but leave that part to skilled carriage builders.
CHAPTER SEVEN BUFFALO TO CANANDAIGUA
BEWARE OF THE COUNTRY MECHANIC
The five hundred and sixty-odd miles to Buffalo had been covered
with no trouble that delayed us for more than an hour, but our
troubles were about to begin.
The Professor had still a few days to waste frivolously, so he
said he would ride a little farther, possibly as far as Albany.
However, it was not our intention to hurry, but rather take it
easily, stopping by the way, as the mood--or our friends--seized
It rained all the afternoon of Tuesday, about all night, and was
raining steadily when we turned off Main Street into Genesee with
Batavia thirty-eight miles straight away. We fully expected to
reach there in time for luncheon; in fact, word had been sent
ahead that we would "come in," like a circus, about twelve, and
friends were on the lookout,--it was four o'clock when we reached
The road is good, gravel nearly every rod, but the steady rain had
softened the surface to the depth of about two inches, and the
water, sand, and gravel were splashed in showers and sheets by the
wheels into and through every exposed part of the mechanism. Soon
the explosions became irregular, and we found the cams operating
the sparker literally plastered over with mud, so that the parts
that should slide and work with great smoothness and rapidity
would not operate at all. This happened about every four or five
miles. This mechanism on this particular machine was so
constructed and situated as to catch and hold mud, and the fine
grit worked in, causing irregularities in the action. This trouble
we could count upon as long as the road was wet; after noon, when
the sun came out and the road began to dry, we had less trouble.
When about half-way to Batavia the spark began to show blue; the
reserve set of dry batteries was put in use, but it gave no better
results. Apparently there was either a short circuit, or the
batteries were used up; the bad showing of the reserve set puzzled
us; every connection was examined and tightened. The wiring of the
carriage was so exposed to the weather that it was found
completely saturated in places with oil and covered with mud. The
rubber insulation had been badly disintegrated wherever oil had
dropped on it. The wires were cleaned as thoroughly as possible
and separated wherever the insulation seemed poor. The loss of
current was probably at the sparking coil; the mud had so covered
the end where the binding parts project as to practically join
them by a wet connection. Cleaning this off and protecting the
binding parts with insulating tape we managed to get on, the spark
being by no means strong, and the reserve battery for some reason
If we had had a small buzzer, such as is sold for a song at every
electrical store, to say nothing of a pocket voltmeter, we would
have discovered in a moment that the reserve battery contained one
dead cell, the resistance of which made the other cells useless.
At Batavia we tested them out with an ordinary electric bell,
discovering at once the dead cell.
After both batteries are so exhausted that the spark is weak, the
current from both sets can be turned on at the same time in two
ways; by linking the cells in multiples,--that is, side by side,
or in series,--tandem.
The current from cells in multiples is increased in volume but not
in force, and gives a fat spark; the current from cells in series
is doubled in force and gives a long blue hot spark. Both sparks,
if the cells are fresh, will burn the points, though giving much
As the batteries weaken, first connect them in multiples, then, as
they weaken still more, in series.
Always carry a roll of insulating tape, or on a pinch bicycle
tire-tape will do very well. Wrap carefully every joint, and the
binding-posts of the cells for the tape will hold as against
vibration when the little binding-screws will not. In short, use
the tape freely to insulate, protect, and support the wires and
If the machine is wired with light and poorly insulated wire, it
is but a question of time when the wiring must be done over again.
When we pulled up in Batavia at an electrician's for repairs, the
Professor was a sight--and also tired. The good man had floundered
about in the mud until he was picturesquely covered. At the outset
he was disposed to take all difficulties philosophically.
"I should regret exceedingly," he remarked at our first
involuntary stop, "to return from this altogether extraordinary
trip without seeing the automobile under adverse conditions. Our
experiences in the sand were no fault of the machine; the
responsibility rested with us for placing it in a predicament from
which it could not extricate itself, and if, in the heat of the
moment and the sand, I said anything derogatory to the faithful
machine, I express my regrets. Now, it seems, I shall have the
pleasure of observing some of the eccentricities of the horseless
carriage. What seems to be the matter?" and the Professor peered
"Something wrong with the spark."
"Bless me! Can you fix it?"
"I think so. Now, if you will be good enough to turn that crank."
"With pleasure. What an extraordinary piece of mechanism.--"
"A little faster."
"A little faster."
"Very heavy fly-wheel--"
"Just a little faster."
"Now as hard as you can, Professor."
"Exercise, muscle, but hard work. The spark,--is it there? Whew!"
and the Professor stopped, exhausted.
It was the repetition of those experiences that sobered the
Professor and led him to speak of his work at home, which he
feared he was neglecting. At the last stop he stood in a pool of
water and turned the crank without saying anything that would bear
While touring, look out for glass, nails, and the country
mechanic,--of the three, the mechanic can do the largest amount of
damage in a given time. His well-meant efforts may wreck you; his
mistakes are sure to. The average mechanic along the route is a
veritable bull in a china shop,--once inside your machine, and you
are done for. He knows it all, and more too. He once lived next to
a man who owned a naphtha launch; hence his expert knowledge; or
he knew some one who was blown up by gasoline, therefore he is
qualified. Look out for him; his look of intelligence is deception
itself. His readiness with hammer and file means destruction; if
he once gets at the machine, give it to him as a reward and a
revenge for his misdirected energy, and save time by walking.
Even the men from the factory make sad mistakes; they may locate
troubles, but in repairing they will forget, and leave off more
things than the floor will hold.
At Batavia we put in new batteries, repacked the pump, covered the
coil with patent leather, so that neither oil nor water could
affect it, and put on a new chain. Without saying a word, the
bright and too willing mechanic who was assisting, mainly by
looking on, took the new chain into his shop and cut off a link. A
wanton act done because he "thought the chain a little too long,"
and not discovered until the machine had been cramped together,
every strut and reach shortened to get the chain in place;
meanwhile the factory was being vigorously blamed for sending out
chains too short. During it all the mechanic was discreetly
silent, but the new link on the vise in the shop betrayed him
after the harm was done.
The run from Batavia to Canandaigua was made over roads that are
well-nigh perfect most of the way, but the machine was not working
well, the chain being too short. Going up stiff grades it was very
apparent something was wrong, for while the motor worked freely
the carriage dragged.
On the level and down grade everything went smoothly, but at every
up grade the friction and waste of power were apparent. Inspection
time and again showed everything clear, and it was not until late
in the afternoon the cause of the trouble was discovered. A
tell-tale mark on the surface of the fly-wheel showed friction
against something, and we found that while the wheel ran freely if
we were out of the machine, with the load in, and especially on up
grades with the chain drawing the framework closer to the running
gear, the rim of the wheel just grazed a bolt-head in a small brace
underneath, thereby producing the peculiar grating noise we had
heard and materially checking the motor. The shortening of the
struts and reaches to admit the short chain had done all this. As
the chain had stretched a little, we were able to lengthen slightly
the struts so as to give a little more clearance; it was also
possible to shift the brace about a quarter of an inch, and the
machine once more ran freely under all conditions.
Within twenty miles of Canandaigua the country is quite rolling
and many of the hills steep. Twice we were obliged to get out and
let the machine mount the grades, which it did; but it was
apparent that for the hills and mountains of New York the gearing
was too high.
On hard roads in a level country high gearing is all well enough,
and a high average speed can be maintained, but where the roads
are soft or the country rolling, a high gear may mean a very
material disadvantage in the long run.
It is of little use to be able to run thirty or forty miles on the
level if at every grade or soft spot it is necessary to throw in
the hill-climbing gear, thereby reducing the speed to from four to
six miles per hour; the resulting average is low. A carriage that
will take the hills and levels of New York at the uniform speed of
fifteen miles an hour will finish far ahead of one that is
compelled to use low gears at every grade, even though the latter
easily makes thirty or forty miles on the level.
The machine we were using had but two sets of gears,--a slow and a
fast. All intermediate speeds were obtained by throttling the
engine. The engine was easily governed, and on the level any speed
from the lowest to the maximum could be obtained without juggling
with the clutches; but on bad roads and in hilly localities
intermediate gears are required if one is to get the best results
out of a motor. As the gasoline motor develops its highest
efficiency when it is running at full speed, there should be
enough intermediate gears so the maximum speed may be maintained
under varying conditions. As the road gets heavy or the grades
steep, the drop is made from one gear down to another; but at all
times and under all conditions--if there are enough intermediate
gears--the machine is being driven with the motor running fast.
With only two gears where roads or grades are such that the high
gear cannot be used, there is nothing to do but drop to the low,
--from thirty miles an hour to five or six,--and the engine runs as
if it had no load at all. American roads especially demand
intermediate gears if best results are to be attained, the
conditions change so from mile to mile.
Foreign machines are equipped with from three to five
speed-changing gears in addition to the spark control, and many
also have throttles for governing the speed of the engine.
Going at full speed down a long hill about two miles out of
Canandaigua, we discovered that neither power nor brakes had any
control over the machine. The large set-screws holding the two
halves of the rear-axle in the differential gears had worked loose
and the right half was steadily working out. As both brakes
operated through the differential, both were useless, and the
machine was beyond control. An obstacle or a bad turn at the
bottom meant disaster; happily the hill terminated in a level
stretch of softer road, which checked the speed and the machine
came slowly to a stop.
The sensation of rushing down hill with power and brakes
absolutely detached is peculiar and exhilarating. It is quite like
coasting or tobogganing; the excitement is in proportion to the
risk; the chance of safety lies in a clear road; for the time
being the machine is a huge projectile, a flying mass, a ton of
metal rushing through space; there is no sensation of fear, not a
tremor of the nerves, but one becomes for the moment exceedingly
alert, with instantaneous comprehension of the character of the
road; every rut, stone, and curve are seen and appreciated; the
possibility of collision is understood, and every danger is
present in the mind, and with it all the thrill of excitement
which ever accompanies risk.
During the entire descent the Professor was in blissful ignorance
of the loss of control. To him the hill was like many another that
we had taken at top speed; but when he saw the rear wheel far out
from the carriage with only about twelve inches of axle holding in
the sleeve, and understood the loss of control through both chain
and brakes, his imagination began to work, and he thought of
everything that could have happened and many things that could
not, but he remarked philosophically,--
"Fear is entirely a creature of the imagination. We are not afraid
of what will happen, but of what may. We are all cowards until
confronted with danger; most men are heroes in emergencies."
Detaching a lamp from the front of the carriage, repairs were
made. A block of wood and a fence rail made a good jack; the gear
case was opened up, the axle driven home, and the set-screws
turned down tight; but it was only too apparent that the screws
would work loose again.
The next morning we pulled out both halves of the axle and found
the key-ways worn so there was a very perceptible play. As the
keys were supposed to hold the gears tight and the set-screws were
only for the purpose of keeping the axle from working out, it was
idle to expect the screws to hold fast so long as the keys were
loose in the ways; the slight play of the gears upon the axles
would soon loosen screws, in fact, both were found loose, although
tightened up only the evening before.
As it had become apparent that the machine was geared too high for
the hills of New York, it seemed better to send it into the shop
for such changes as were necessary, rather than spend the time
necessary to make them in the one small machine shop at
Furthermore the Professor's vacation was drawing to a close; he
had given himself not to exceed ten days, eight had elapsed.
"I feel that I have exhausted the possibilities and eccentricities
of automobiling; there is nothing more to learn; if there is
anything more, I do not care to know it. I am inclined to accept
the experience of last night as a warning; as the fellow who was
blown up with dynamite said when he came down, 'to repeat the
experiment would be no novelty.'"
And so the machine was loaded on the cars, side-tracked on the
way, and it was many a day before another start could be made from
It cannot be too often repeated that it is a mistake to ever lose
sight of one's machine during a tour; it is a mistake to leave it
in a machine shop for repairs; it is a mistake to even return it
to the place of its creation; for you may be quite sure that
things will be left undone that should be done, and things done
that should not be done.
It requires days and weeks to become acquainted with all the
peculiarities and weaknesses of an automobile, to know its strong
points and rely upon them, to appreciate its failings and be
tender towards them. After you have become acquainted, do not risk
the friendship by letting the capricious thing out of your sight.
It is so fickle that it forms wanton attachments for every one it
meets,--for urchins, idlers, loafers, mechanics, permits them all
sorts of familiarities, so that when, like a truant, it comes
wandering back, it is no longer the same, but a new creature,
which you must learn again to know.
It is monotonously lonesome running an automobile across country
alone; the record-breaker may enjoy it, but the civilized man does
not; man is a gregarious animal, especially in his sports; one
must have an audience, if an audience of only one.
The return of the Professor made it necessary to find some one
else. There was but one who could go, but she had most
emphatically refused; did not care for the dust and dirt, did not
care for the curious crowds, did not care to go fast, did not care
to go at all. To overcome these apparently insurmountable
objections, a semi-binding pledge was made to not run more than
ten or twelve miles per hour, and not more than thirty or forty
miles per day,--promises so obviously impossible of fulfillment on
the part of any chauffeur that they were not binding in law. We
started out well within bounds, making but little over forty miles
the first day; we wound up with a glorious run of one hundred and
forty miles the last day, covering the Old Sarnia gravel out of
London, Ontario, at top speed for nearly seventy miles.
For five weeks to a day we wandered over the eastern country at
our own sweet will, not a care, not a responsibility,--days
without seeing newspapers, finding mail and telegrams at
infrequent intervals, but much of the time lost to the world of
friends and acquaintances.
Touring on an automobile differs from coaching, posting,
railroading, from every known means of locomotion, in that you are
really lost to the world. In coaching or posting, one knows with
reasonable certainty the places that can be made; the itinerary is
laid out in advance, and if departed from, friends can be notified
by wire, so that letters and telegrams may be forwarded.
With an automobile all is different. The vagaries of the machine
upset every itinerary. You do not know where you will stop,
because you cannot tell when you may stop. If one has in mind a
certain place, the machine may never reach it, or, arriving, the
road and the day may be so fine you are irresistibly impelled to
keep on. The very thought that letters are to be at a certain
place at a certain date is a bore, it limits your progress,
fetters your will, and curbs your inclinations. One hears of
places of interest off the chosen route; the temptation to see
them is strong exactly in proportion to the assurances given that
you will go elsewhere.
The automobile is lawless; it chafes under restraint; will follow
neither advice nor directions. Tell it to go this way, it is sure
to go that; to turn the second corner to the right, it will take
the first to the left; to go to one city, it prefers another; to
avoid a certain road, it selects that above all others.
It is a grievous error to tell friends you are coming; it puts
them to no end of inconvenience; for days they expect you and you
do not come; their feeling of relief that you did not come is
destroyed by your appearance.
The day we were expected at a friend's summer home at the sea-side
we spent with the Shakers in the valley of Lebanon, waiting for a
new steering-head. Telegrams of inquiry, concern, and consolation
reached us in our retreat, but those who expected us were none the
Then, too, what business have the dusty, grimy, veiled, goggled,
and leathered party from the machine among the muslin gowns, smart
wraps, and immaculate coverings of the conventional house party;
if we but approach, they scatter in self-protection.
From these reflections it is only too plain that the automobile
--like that other inartistic instrument of torture, the grand piano
--is not adapted to the drawing-room. It is not quite at home in
the stable; it demands a house of its own. If the friend who
invites you to visit him has a machine, then accept, for he is a
brother crank; but if he has none, do not fill his generous soul
with dismay by running up his drive-way, sprinkling its spotless
white with oil, leaving an ineradicable stain under the
porte-cochere, and frightening his favorite horses into fits as
you run into the stable.
But it is delightful to go through cities and out-of-the-way
places, just leaving cards in a most casual manner upon people one
knows. We passed through many places twice, some places three
times, in careering about. Each time we called on friends;
sometimes they were in, sometimes out; it was all so casual,--a
cup of tea, a little chat, sometimes without shutting down the
motor,--the briefest of calls, all the more charming because
brief,--really, it was strange.
We see a town ahead; calling to a man by the roadside,--
"What place is that?"
"L--" is the long drawn shout as we go flying by.
"Why, the S___s live there. I have not seen her since we were at
school. I would like to stop."
"Well, just for a moment."
In a trice the machine is at the door; Mrs. S___ is out--will
return in a moment; so sorry, cannot wait, leave cards; call again
some other day; and we turn ten or fifteen or twenty miles to one
side to see another old school-friend for five or ten minutes
--just long enough for the chauffeur to oil-up while the
The automobile annihilates time; it dispenses with watch and
clock; it vaguely notes the coming up and the going down of the
sun; but it goes right on by sunlight, by moonlight, by lamplight,
by no light at all, until it is brought to a stand-still or
capriciously stops of its own accord.
CHAPTER EIGHT THE MORGAN MYSTERY
THE OLD STONE BLACKSMITH SHOP AT STAFFORD
It was Wednesday, August 22, that we left Buffalo. In some stray
notes made by my companion, I find this enthusiastic description
of the start.
"Toof! toof! on it comes like a gigantic bird, its red breast
throbbing, its black wings quivering; it swerves to the right, to
the left, and with a quick sweep circles about and stands panting
at the curb impatient to be off.
"I hastily mount and make ready for the long flight. The chauffeur
grasps the iron reins, something is pulled, and something is
pressed,--'Chic--chic--whirr--whirr--r--r,' we are off. Through
the rich foliage of noble trees we catch last glimpses of
beautiful homes gay with flags, with masses of flowers and broad,
"In a moment we are in the crowded streets where cars, omnibuses,
cabs, carriages, trucks, and wagons of every description are
hurrying pell-mell in every direction. The automobile glides like
a thing of life in and out, snorting with vexation if blocked for
"Soon we are out of the hurly-burly; the homes melt away into the
country; the road lengthens; we pass the old toll-gate and are
fairly on our way; farewell city of jewelled towers and gay
"The day is bright, the air is sweet, and myriads of yellow
butterflies flutter about us, so thickly covering the ground in
places as to look like beds of yellow flowers.
"Corn-fields and pastures stretch along the roadsides; big red
barns and cosey white houses seem to go skurrying by, calling, 'I
spy,' then vanishing in a sort of cinematographic fashion as the
automobile rushes on."
As we sped onward I pointed out the places--only too well
remembered--where the Professor had worked so hard exactly two
weeks before to the day.
After luncheon, while riding about some of the less frequented
streets of Batavia, we came quite unexpectedly to an old cemetery.
In the corner close to the tracks of the New York Central, so
placed as to be in plain view of all persons passing on trains, is
a tall, gray, weather-beaten monument, with the life-size figure
of a man on the top of the square shaft. It is the monument to the
memory of William Morgan who was kidnapped near that spot in the
month of September, 1826, and whose fate is one of the mysteries
of the last century.
To read the inscriptions I climbed the rickety fence; the grass
was high, the weeds thick; the entire place showed signs of
neglect and decay.
The south side of the shaft, facing the railroad, was inscribed as
Sacred To The Memory Of
A NATIVE OF VIRGINIA,
A CAPT. IN THE WAR OF 1812,
A RESPECTABLE CITIZEN OF
BATAVIA, AND A MARTYR
TO THE FREEDOM OF WRITING,
PRINTING, AND SPEAKING THE
TRUTH. HE WAS ABDUCTED
FROM NEAR THIS SPOT IN THE
YEAR 1826 BY FREEMASONS,
AND MURDERED FOR REVEALING
THE SECRETS OF THE ORDER.
The disappearance of Morgan is still a mystery,--a myth to most
people nowadays; a very stirring reality in central and western
New York seventy-five years ago; even now in the localities
concerned the old embers of bitter feeling show signs of life if
fanned by so much as a breath.
Six miles beyond Batavia, on the road to Le Roy, is the little
village of Stafford; some twenty or thirty houses bordering the
highway; a church, a schoolhouse, the old stage tavern, and
several buildings that are to-day very much as they were nearly
one hundred years ago. This is the one place which remains very
much as it was seventy-five years ago when Morgan was kidnapped
and taken through to Canandaigua. As one approaches the little
village, on the left hand side of the highway set far back in an
open field is an old stone church long since abandoned and
disused, but so substantially built that it has defied time and
weather. It is a monument to the liberality of the people of that
locality in those early days, for it was erected for the
accommodation of worshippers regardless of sect; it was at the
disposal of any denomination that might wish to hold services
therein. Apparently the foundation of the weather-beaten structure
was too liberal, for it has been many years since it has been used
for any purpose whatsoever.
As one approaches the bridge crossing the little stream which cuts
the village in two, there is at the left on the bank of the stream
a large three-story stone dwelling. Eighty years ago the first
story of this dwelling was occupied as a store; the third story
was the Masonic lodge-room, and no doubt the events leading up to
the disappearance of Morgan were warmly discussed within the four
walls of this old building. Across from the three-story stone
building is a brick house set well back from the highway,
surrounded by shrubbery, and approached by a gravel walk bordered
by old-fashioned boxwood hedges. This house was built in 1812, and
is still well preserved. For many years it was a quite famous
private school for young ladies, kept by a Mr. Radcliffe.
Across the little bridge on the right is a low stone building now
used as a blacksmith shop, but which eighty years ago was a
dwelling. A little farther on the opposite side of the street is
the old stage tavern, still kept as a tavern, and to-day in
substantially the same condition inside and out as it was
seventy-five years ago. It is now only a roadside inn, but before
railroads were, through stages from Buffalo, Albany, and New York
stopped here. A charming old lady living just opposite, said,--
"I have sat on this porch many a day and watched the stages and
private coaches come rattling up with horn and whip and carrying
the most famous people in the country,--all stopped there just
across the road at that old red tavern; those were gay days; I
shall never see the like again; but perhaps you may, for now
coaches like yours stop at the old tavern almost every day."
The ballroom of the tavern remains exactly as it was,--a fireplace
at one end filled with ashes of burnt-out revelries, a little
railing at one side where the fiddlers sat, the old benches along
the side,--all remind one of the gayeties of long ago.
In connection with the Morgan mystery the village of Stafford is
interesting, because the old tavern and the three-story stone
building are probably the only buildings still standing which were
identified with the events leading up to the disappearance of
Morgan. The other towns, like Batavia and Canandaigua, have grown
and changed, so that the old buildings have long since made way
for modern. One of the last to go was the old jail at Canandaigua
where Morgan was confined and from which he was taken. When that
old jail was torn down some years ago, people carried away pieces
of his cell as souvenirs of a mystery still fascinating because
still a mystery.
As we came out of the old tavern there were a number of men
gathered about the machine, looking at it. I asked them some
questions about the village, and happened to say,--
"I once knew a man who, seventy-five years ago, lived in that
little stone building by the bridge."
"That was in Morgan's time," said an old man, and every one in the
crowd turned instantly from the automobile to look at me.
"Yes, he lived here as a young man."
"They stopped at this very tavern with Morgan on their way
through," said some one in the crowd.
"And that stone building just the other side of the bridge is
where the Masons met in those days," said another.
"That's where they took Miller," interrupted the old man.
"Who was Miller?" I asked.
"He was the printer in Batavia who was getting out Morgan's book;
they brought him here to Stafford, and took him up into the
lodge-room in that building and tried to frighten him, but he wasn't
to be frightened, so they took him on to Le Roy and let him go."
"Did they ever find out what became of Morgan?" I asked.
There was silence for a moment, and then the old man, looking
first at the others, said,--
"No-o-o, not for sartain, but the people in this locality hed
their opinion, and hev it yet."
"You bet they have," came from some one in the crowd.
Thursday we started for Rochester by way of Stafford and Le Roy
instead of Newkirk, Byron, and Bergen, which is the more direct
route and also a good road.
The morning was bright and very warm, scarcely a cloud in the sky,
but there was a feeling of storm in the air,--the earth was
As we neared Stafford dark clouds were gathering in the far
distant skies, but not yet near enough to cause apprehension.
Driving slowly into the village, we again visited the three-story
stone house. Here, no doubt, as elsewhere, Morgan's forthcoming
exposures were discussed and denounced, here the plot to seize
him--if plot there was--may have been formed; but then there was
probably no plot, conspiracy, or action on the part of any lodge
or body of Masons. Morgan was in their eyes a most despicable
traitor,--a man who proposed to sell--not simply disclose, but
sell--the secrets of the order he joined. There is no reason to
believe that he had the good of any one at heart; that he had
anything in view but his own material prosperity. He made a
bargain with a printer in Batavia to expose Masonry, and lost his
life in attempting to carry out that bargain. Lost his life!--who
knows? The story is a strange one, as strange as anything in the
Arabian Nights; there are men still living who faintly recollect
the excitement, the fends and controversies which lasted for
years. From Batavia to Canandaigua the name of Morgan calls forth
a flood of reminiscences. A man whose father or grandfather had
anything to do with the affair is a character in the community;
now and then a man is found who knew a man who caught a glimpse of
Morgan during that mysterious midnight ride from the Canandaigua
jail over the Rochester road, and on to the end in the magazine of
the old fort at Lewiston. One cannot spend twenty-four hours in
this country without being drawn into the vortex of this absorbing
mystery; it hangs over the entire section, lingers along the
road-sides, finds outward sign and habitation in old buildings,
monuments, and ruins; it echoes from the past in musty books,
papers, and pamphlets; it once was politics, now is history; the
years have not solved it; time is helpless.
At Le Roy we sought shelter under the friendly roof of an old, old
house. How it did storm; the Rochester papers next day said that
no such storm had ever been known in that part of the State. The
rain fell in torrents; the main street was a stream of water
emptying into the river; the flashes of lightning were followed so
quickly by crashes of thunder that we knew trees and buildings
were struck near by, as in fact they were. It seemed as if the
heavens were laying siege to the little village and bringing to
bear all nature's great guns.
The house was filled with old books and mementoes of the past;
every nook and corner was interesting. In an old secretary in an
upper room was found a complete history of Morgan's disappearance,
together with the affidavits taken at the time and records of such
court proceedings as were had.
These papers had been gathered together in 1829. One by one I
turned the yellow leaves and read the story from beginning to end;
it is in brief as follows:
In the summer of 1826 it was rumored throughout Western New York
that one William Morgan, then living in the village of Batavia,
was writing an exposure of the secrets of Free Masonry, under
contract with David Miller, a printer of the same place, who was
to publish the pamphlet.
Morgan was a man entirely without means; he was said to have
served in the War of 1812, and was known to have been a brewer,
but had not made a success in business; he was rooming with a
family in Batavia with his wife and two small children, one a
child of two years, the other a babe of two months. He was quite
irresponsible, and apparently not overscrupulous in either
contracting debts or the use of the property of others.
There is not the slightest reason to believe that his so-called
exposure of Masonry was prompted by any motives other than the
profits he might realize from the sale of the pamphlet. Nor is
there any evidence that he enjoyed the confidence of the community
where he lived. His monument--as in many another case--awards him
virtues he did not possess. The figure of noble bearing on the top
of the shaft is the idealization of subsequent events, and
probably but illy corresponds with the actual appearance of the
impecunious reality. The man's fate made him a hero.
On August 9 the following notice appeared in a newspaper published
"Notice and Caution.--If a man calling himself William Morgan
should intrude himself on the community, they should be on their
guard, particularly the Masonic Fraternity. Morgan was in the
village in May last, and his conduct while here and elsewhere
calls forth this notice. Any information in relation to Morgan can
be obtained by calling at the Masonic Hall in this village.
Brethren and Companions are particularly requested to observe,
mark, and govern themselves accordingly.
"Morgan is considered a swindler and a dangerous man.
"There are people in the village who would be happy to see this
"Canandaigua, August 9, 1826."
This notice was copied in two newspapers published in Batavia.
About the middle of August a stranger by the name of Daniel Johns
appeared in Batavia and took up his lodgings in one of the public
houses of the village. He made the acquaintance of Miller, offered
to go in business with him, and to furnish whatever money might be
necessary for the publication of the Morgan book. Miller accepted
his proposition and took the man into his confidence. As it
afterwards turned out, Johns's object in seeking the partnership
was to secure possession of the Morgan manuscript, so that Miller
could not publish the work; the man's subsequent connection with
this strange narrative appears from the affidavit of Mrs. Morgan,
referred to farther on.
During the month of August, Morgan with his family boarded at a
house in the heart of the village; but to avoid interruption in
his work he had an upper room in the house of John David, on the
other side of the creek from the town.
August 19 three well-known residents of the village accompanied by
a constable from Pembroke went to David's house, inquired for
David and Towsley, who both lived there with their families, and
on being told they were not at home, rushed up-stairs to the room
where Morgan was writing, seized him and the papers which he was
even then arranging for the printer. He was taken to the county
jail and kept from Saturday afternoon until Monday morning, when
he was bailed out.
On the same Saturday evening the same men went to the house where
Morgan boarded, and saying they had an execution, inquired of Mrs.
Morgan whether her husband had any property. They were told he had
none, but nevertheless two of the men went into Morgan's room and
made a search for papers. On leaving the house one of them said to
Mrs. Morgan, "We have just conducted your husband to jail, and
shall keep him there until we find his papers."
September 8, James Ganson, who kept the tavern at Stafford, was
notified from Batavia that between forty and fifty men would be
there for supper. The men came and late at night departed for
Batavia, where they found a number of men gathered from other
points. From an affidavit taken afterwards it seems the object of
the party was to destroy Miller's office, but they found Miller
and Morgan had been warned. At any rate, the party dispersed
without doing anything. Part of them reassembled at Ganson's, and
charges of cowardice were freely exchanged; certain of the leaders
were afterwards indicted for their part in this affair, but no
trial was had.
To this day the business portion of Batavia stretches along both
sides of a broad main street; instead of cross-streets at regular
intervals there are numerous alleys leading off the main street,
with here and there a wider side street. In those days nearly all
the buildings were of wood and but one or two stories in height.
Miller's printing-offices occupied the second stories of two
wooden buildings; a side alley separating the two buildings,
dividing also, of course, the two parts of the printing
On Sunday night, September 10, fire was discovered under the
stairways leading to the printing-offices; on extinguishing the
blaze, straw and cotton balls saturated with turpentine were found
under the stairways, and some distance from the buildings a dark
lantern was found.
On this same Sunday morning, September 10, a man--the coroner of
the county--in the village of Canandaigua, fifty miles east of
Batavia, obtained from a justice of the peace a warrant for the
arrest of Morgan on the charge of stealing a shirt and a cravat in
the month of May from an innkeeper named Kingsley.
Having obtained the warrant, which was directed to him as coroner,
the complainant called a constable, and together with four
well-known residents of Canandaigua they hired a special stage and
started for Batavia.
At Avon, Caledonia, and Le Roy they were joined by others who
seemed to understand that Morgan was to be arrested.
At Stafford they stopped for supper at Ganson's tavern. After
supper they proceeded towards Batavia, but stopped about a mile
and a half east of the village, certain of the party returning
with the stage.
Early the next morning Morgan was arrested, and an extra stage
engaged to take the party back. The driver, becoming uneasy as to
the regularity of the proceedings, at first refused to start, but
was persuaded to go as far as Stafford, where Ganson--whom the
driver knew--said everything was all right and that he would
assume all responsibility.
About sunset of the same day--Monday, September 11--they arrived
at Canandaigua, and Morgan was at once examined by the justice;
the evidence was held insufficient and the prisoner discharged.
The same complainant immediately produced a claim for two dollars
which had been assigned to him. Morgan admitted the debt,
confessed judgment, and pulled off his coat, offering it as
The constable refused to take the coat and took Morgan to jail.
Tuesday noon, September 12, a crowd of strangers appeared in
Batavia, assembling at Donald's tavern. A constable went to
Miller's office, arrested him, and took him to the tavern, where
he was detained in a room for about two hours. He was then put in
an open wagon with some men, all strangers to him. The constable
mounted his horse and the party proceeded to Stafford. Arriving
there Miller was conducted to the third story of the stone
building beside the creek, and was there confined, guarded by five
About dusk the constable and the crowd took Miller to Le Roy,
where he was taken before the justice who had issued the warrant,
when all his prosecutors, together with constable and warrant,
disappeared. As no one appeared against the prisoner, the justice
told him he was at liberty to go.
From the docket of the justice it appeared that the warrant had
been issued at the request of Daniel Johns, Miller's partner.
The leaders were indicted for riot, assault, and false
imprisonment, tried, three found guilty and imprisoned. At the
trial there was evidence to show that on the morning of the 12th a
meeting was held in the third story of the stone building at
Stafford, a leader selected, and plans arranged.
On the evening of Tuesday 12th a neighbor of Morgan's called at
the Canandaigua jail and asked to see Morgan. The jailer was
absent. His wife permitted the man to speak to Morgan, and the man
said that he had come to pay the debt for which Morgan was
committed and to take him home. Morgan was asked if he were
willing to go; he answered that he was willing, but that it did
not matter particularly that night, for he could just as well wait
until morning; but the man said "No," that he would rather take
him out that night, for he had run around all day for him and was
very tired and wished to get home. The man offered to deposit with
the jailer's wife five dollars as security for the payment of the
debt and all costs, but she would not let Morgan out, saying that
she did not know the man and that he was not the owner of the
The man went out and was gone a few minutes, and brought back a
well-known resident of the village of Canandaigua and the owner of
the judgment; these two men said that it was all right for the
jailer's wife to accept two dollars, the amount of the judgment,
and release Morgan. Taking the money, the woman opened the inside
door of the prison, and Morgan was requested to get ready quickly
and come out. He was soon ready, and walked out of the front door
between the man who had called for him and another. The jailer's
wife while fastening the inside prison-door heard a cry of murder
near the outer door of the jail, and running to the door she saw
Morgan struggling with the two men who had come for him. He
continued to scream and cry in the most distressing manner, at the
same time struggling with all his strength; his voice was
suppressed by something that was put over his mouth, and a man
following behind rapped loudly upon the well-curb with a stick; a
carriage came up, Morgan was put in it by the two men with him,
and the carriage drove off. It was a moonlight night, and the
jailer's wife clearly saw all that transpired, and even remembered
that the horses were gray. Neither the man who made the complaint
nor the resident of Canandaigua who came to the jail and advised
the jailer's wife that she could safely let Morgan go went with
the carriage. They picked up Morgan's hat, which was lost in the
struggle, and watched the carriage drive away.
The account given by the wife of the jailer was corroborated by a
number of entirely reliable and reputable witnesses.
A man living near the jail went to the door of his house and saw
the men struggling in the street, one of them apparently down and
making noises of distress; the man went towards the struggling
man, and asked a man who was a little behind the others what was
the matter, to which he answered, "Nothing; only a man has been
let out of jail, and been taken on a warrant, and is going to be
tried, or have his trial."
In January following, when the feeling was growing against the
abductors of Morgan, the three men in Canandaigua most prominently
connected with all that transpired at the jail on the night in
question made statements in court under oath, which admitted the
facts to be substantially as above outlined, except they insisted
that they did not know why Morgan struggled before getting into
the carriage. These men expressed regret that they did not go to
the assistance of Morgan, and insisted that was the only fault
they committed on the night in question. They admitted that they
understood that Morgan was compiling a book on the subject of
Masonry at the instigation of Miller the publisher at Batavia, and
alleged that he was getting up the book solely for pecuniary
profit, and they believed it was desirable to remove Morgan to
some place beyond the influence of Miller, where his friends and
acquaintances might convince him of the impropriety of his conduct
and persuade him to abandon the publication of the book.
In passing sentence, the court said:
"The legislature have not seen fit, perhaps, from the supposed
improbability that the crime would be attempted, to make your
offence a felony. Its grade and punishment have been left to the
provisions of the common law, which treats it as a misdemeanor,
and punishes it with fine and imprisonment in the common jail. The
court are of opinion that your liberty ought to be made to answer
for the liberty of Morgan: his person was restrained by force; and
the court, in the exercise of its lawful powers, ought not to be
more tender of your liberty than you, in the plenitude of lawless
force, were of his."
It is quite clear that up to this time none of the to do parties
connected directly or indirectly with the abduction of Morgan had
any intention whatsoever of doing him bodily harm. If such had
been their purpose, the course they followed was foolish in the
extreme. The simple fact was the Masons were greatly excited over
the threatened exposure of the secrets of their order by one of
their own members, and they desired to get hold of the manuscript
and proofs and prevent the publication, and the misguided
hot-heads who were active in the matter thought that by getting
Morgan away from Miller they could persuade him to abandon his
project. This theory is borne out by the fact that on the day Morgan
was taken to Canandaigua several prominent men of Batavia called
upon Mrs. Morgan and told her that if she would give up to the
Masons the papers she had in her possession Morgan would be brought
back. She gave up all the papers she could find; they were submitted
to Johns, the former partner of Miller, who said that part of the
manuscript was not there. However, the men took Mrs. Morgan to
Canandaigua, stopping at Avon over night. These men expected to find
Morgan still in Canandaigua, but were surprised to learn that he had
been taken away the night before, whereupon Mrs. Morgan, having left
her two small children at home, returned as quickly as possible.
So far as Morgan's manuscript is concerned, it seems that a
portion of it was already in the hands of Miller, and another
portion secreted inside of a bed at the time he was arrested, so
that not long after his disappearance what purports to be his book
Nearly two years later, in August, 1828, three men were tried for
conspiracy to kidnap and carry away Morgan. At that time it was
believed by many that Morgan was either simply detained abroad or
in hiding, although it was strenuously insisted by others that he
had been killed. All that was ever known of his movements after he
left the jail at Canandaigua on the night of September 11 was
developed in the testimony taken at this trial.
One witness who saw the carriage drive past the jail testified
that a man was put in by four others, who got in after him and the
carriage drove away; the witness was near the men when they got
into the carriage, and as it turned west he heard one of them cry
to the driver, "Why don't you drive faster? why don't you drive
The driver testified that some time prior to the date in question
a man came to him and arranged for him to take a party to
Rochester on or about the 12th. On the night in question he took
his yellow carriage and gray horses about nine o'clock and drove
just beyond the Canandaigua jail on the Palmyra road. A party of
five got into the carriage, but he heard no noise and saw no
resistance, nor did he know any of the men. He was told to go on
beyond Rochester, and he took the Lewiston road. On arriving at
Hanford's one of the party got out; he then drove about one
hundred yards beyond the house, stopping near a piece of woods,
where the others who were in the carriage got out, and he turned
around and drove back.
Another man who lived at Lewiston and worked as a stage-driver
said that he was called between ten and twelve o'clock at night
and told to drive a certain carriage into a back street alongside
of another carriage which he found standing there without any
horse attached to it; some men were standing near it. He drove
alongside the carriage, and one or two men got out of it and got
into his hack. He saw no violence, but on stopping at a point
about six miles farther on some of the men got out, and while they
were conversing, some one in the carriage asked for water in a
whining voice, to which one of the men replied, "You shall have
some in a moment." No water was handed to the person in the
carriage, but the men got in, and he drove them on to a point
about half a mile from Fort Niagara, where they told him to stop;
there were no houses there; the party, four in number, got out and
proceeded side by side towards the fort; he drove back with his
A man living in Lewiston swore that he went to his door and saw a
carriage coming, which went a little distance farther on, stopping
beside another carriage which was in the street without horses; he
recognized the driver of the carriage and one other man; he
thought something strange was going on and went into his garden,
where he had a good view of what took place in the road; he saw a
man go from the box of the carriage which had driven by to the one
standing in the street and open the door; some one got out
backward with the assistance of two men in the carriage. The
person who was taken out had no hat, but a handkerchief on his
head, and appeared to be intoxicated and helpless. They took him
to the other carriage and all got in. One of the men went back and
took something from the carriage they had left, which seemed to be
a jug, and then they drove off.
At the trial in question the testimony of a man by the name of
Giddins, who had the custody of old Fort Niagara, was not received
because it appeared he had no religious beliefs whatsoever, but
his brother-in-law testified that on a certain night in September,
shortly after the events narrated, he was staying at Giddins's
house, which was twenty or thirty rods from the magazine of the
old fort; that before going to the installation of the lodge at
Lewiston he went with Giddins to the magazine. Previously to
starting out Giddins had a pistol, which he requested the witness
to carry, but witness declined. Giddins had something else with
him, which the witness did not recognize. When they came within
about two rods of the magazine, Giddins went up to the door and
something was said inside the door. A man's voice came from inside
the magazine; witness was alarmed, and thought he had better get
out of the way, and he at once retreated, followed soon after by
From the old records it seemed that the evidence tracing Morgan to
the magazine of old Fort Niagara was satisfactory to court and
jury; but what became of him no man knows. In January, 1827, the
fort and magazine were visited by certain committees appointed to
make investigations, who reported in detail the condition of the
magazine, which seemed to indicate that some one had been confined
therein not long before, and that the prisoner had made violent
and reiterated efforts to force his way out. A good many hearsay
statements were taken to the effect that Morgan was as a matter of
fact put in the magazine and kept there some days.
Governor De Witt Clinton issued three proclamations, two soon
after September, 1826, and the last dated March 19, 1827, offering
rewards for "Authentic information of the place where the said
William Morgan has been conveyed," and "for the discovery of the
said William Morgan, if alive; and, if murdered, a reward of two
thousand dollars for the discovery of the offender or offenders,
In the autumn of 1827 a body was cast up on the shore of Lake
Ontario near the mouth of Oak Orchard Creek. Mrs. Morgan and a Dr.
Strong identified the body as that of William Morgan by a scar on
the foot and by the teeth.
The identification was disputed; the disappearance of Morgan was
then a matter of politics, and the anti-masons, headed by Thurlow
Weed, originated the saying, "It's a good enough Morgan for us
until you produce the live one," which afterwards become current
political slang in the form, "It's a good enough Morgan until
CHAPTER NINE THROUGH WESTERN NEW YORK
IN THE MUD
The afternoon was drawing to a close, the rain had partially
subsided, but the trees were heavy with water, and the streets ran
Prudence would seem to dictate remaining in Le Roy over-night,
but, so far as roads are concerned, it is always better to start
out in, or immediately after, a rain than to wait until the water
has soaked in and made the mud deep. A heavy rain washes the
surface off the roads; it is better not to give it time to
penetrate; we therefore determined to start at once.
There was not a soul on the streets as we pulled out a few moments
after five o'clock, and in the entire ride of some thirty miles we
met scarcely more than three or four teams.
We took the road by Bergen rather than through Caledonia; both
roads are good, but in very wet weather the road from Bergen to
Rochester is apt to be better than that from Caledonia, as it is
To Bergen, eight miles, we found hard gravel, with one steep hill
to descend; from Bergen in, it was sandy, and after the rain, was
six inches deep in places with soft mud.
It was slow progress and eight o'clock when we pulled into
We were given rooms where all the noises of street and trolley
could be heard to best advantage; sleep was a struggle, rest an
Hotel construction has quite kept pace with the times, but hotel
location is a tradition of the dark ages, when to catch patrons it
was necessary to get in their way.
At Syracuse the New York Central passes through the principal
hotels,--the main tracks bisecting the dining-rooms, with side
tracks down each corridor and a switch in each bed-room; but this
is an extreme instance.
It was well enough in olden times to open taverns on the highways;
an occasional coach would furnish the novelty and break the
monotony, but people could sleep.
The erection of hotels in close proximity to railroad tracks, or
upon the main thoroughfares of cities where stone or asphalt
pavements resound to every hoof-fall, and where street cars go
whirring and clanging by all night long, is something more than an
anachronism; it is a fiendish disregard of human comfort.
Paradoxical as it may seem,--a pious but garrulous old gentleman
was one time invited to lead in prayer; consenting, he approached
the throne of grace with becoming humility, saying, "Paradoxical
as it may seem, O Lord, it is nevertheless true," etc., the phrase
is a good one, it lingers in the ear,--therefore, once more,
--paradoxical as it may seem, it is nevertheless true that those
who go about all day in machines do not like to be disturbed by
machines at night.
We soon learned to keep away from the cities at night. It is so
much more delightful to stop in smaller towns and villages; your
host is glad to see you; you are quite the guest of honor, perhaps
the only guest; there is a place in the adjoining stable for the
machine; the men are interested, and only too glad to care for it
and help in the morning; the best the house affords is offered; as
a rule the rooms are quite good, the beds clean, and nowadays many
of these small hotels have rooms with baths; the table is plain;
but while automobiling one soon comes to prefer plain country
In the larger cities it costs a fortune in tips before the machine
and oneself are well housed; to enter Albany, Boston, or New York
at night, find your hotel, find the automobile station, find your
luggage, and find yourself, is a bore.
No one who has ever ridden day after day in the country cares
anything about riding in cities; it is as artificial and
monotonous as riding a hunter over pavements. If one could just
approach a city at night, steal into it, enjoy its lights and
shadows, its confusion and strange sounds, all in passing, and
slip through without stopping long enough to feel the thrust of
the reality, it would be delightful. But the charm disappears, the
dream is brought to earth, the vision becomes tinsel when you draw
up in front of a big caravansary and a platoon of uniformed
porters, bell-boys, and pages swoop down upon everything you have,
including your pocket-book; then the Olympian clerk looks at you
doubtfully, puzzled for the first time in his life, does not know
whether you are a mill-hand from Pittsburgh who should be assigned
a hall bed-room in the annex, or a millionaire from Newport who
should be tendered the entire establishment on a silver platter.
The direct road from Rochester to Syracuse is by way of Pittsford,
Palmyra, Newark, Lyons, Clyde, Port Byron, and Camillus, but it is
neither so good nor so interesting as the old roads through Geneva
In going from Buffalo to Albany _via_ Syracuse, Rochester is to
the north and some miles out of the way; unless one especially
desires to visit the city, it is better to leave it to one side.
Genesee Street out of Buffalo is Genesee Street into Syracuse and
Utica; it is the old highway between Buffalo and Albany, and may
be followed to-day from end to end.
Instead of turning to the northeast at Batavia and going through
Newkirk, Byron, Bergen, North Chili, and Gates to Rochester, keep
more directly east through Le Roy, Caledonia, Avon, and
Canandaigua to Geneva; the towns are old, the hotels, most of
them, good, the roads are generally gravel and the country
interesting; it is old New York. No one driving through the State
for pleasure would think of taking the direct road from Rochester
to Syracuse; the beautiful portions of this western end of the
State are to the south, in the Genesee and Wyoming Valleys, and
through the lake region.
We left Rochester at ten o'clock, Saturday, the 24th, intending to
go east by Egypt, Macedon, Palmyra,--the Oriental route, as my
companion called it; but after leaving Pittsford we missed the
road and lost ourselves among the hills, finding several grades so
steep and soft that we both were obliged to dismount.
An old resident was decidedly of the opinion that the roads to the
southeast were better than those to the northeast, and we turned
from the Nile route towards Canandaigua.
Though the roads were decidedly better, in many places being well
gravelled, the heavy rains of the previous two days made the going
slow, and it was one-thirty before we pulled up at the old hotel
in Canandaigua for dinner.
As the machine had been there before, we were greeted as friends.
The old negro porter is a character,--quite the irresponsible head
of the entire establishment.
"Law's sakes! you heah agen? glad to see you; whar you come from
dis time? Rochester! No, foh sure?--dis mawning?--you doan say so;
that jes' beats me; to think I live to see a thing like that; it's
a reg'lar steam-engine, aint it?"
"Sambo," called out a bystander, making fun of the old darkey, "do
you know what you are looking at?"
"Well, if I doan, den I can't find out frum dis yere crowd."
"What do they call it, Sambo?" some one else asked.
"Sh-sh'h--that's a secret; an' if I shud tell you, you cudn't keep
"Is it yours?"
"I dun sole mine to Mistah Vand'bilt las' week; he name it de
White Ghos'--after me."
"You mean the Black Devil."
"No, I doan; he didn't want to hu't youah feelings; Mistah
Vand'bilt a very consid'rate man."
Sambo carried our things in, talking all the time.
"Now you jes' go right into dinnah; I'll take keer of the
auto'bile; I'll see that nun of those ign'rant folk stannin' roun'
lay their han's on it; they think Sambo doan know an auto'bile;
didn't I see you heah befoh? an' didn't I hole de hose when you
put de watah in? Me an' you are de only two pussons in dis whole
town who knows about de auto'bile,--jes' me an' you."
After dinner we rode down the broad main street and around the
lake to the left in going to Geneva. Barring the fact that the
roads were soft in places, the afternoon's ride was delightful,
the roads being generally very good.
It was about five o'clock when we came to the top of the hills
overlooking Geneva and the silvery lake beyond. It was a sight not
to be forgotten by the American traveller, for this country has
few towns so happily situated as the village of Geneva,--a cluster
of houses against a wooded slope with the lake like a mirror
The little hotel was almost new and very good; the rooms were
large and comfortable. There was but one objection, and that the
location at the very corner of the busiest and noisiest streets.
But Geneva goes to bed early,--even on Saturday nights,--and by
ten or eleven o'clock the streets were quiet, while on Sunday
mornings there is nothing to disturb one before the bells ring for
We were quite content to rest this first Sunday out.
It was so delightfully quiet all the morning that we lounged about
and read until dinner-time. In the afternoon a walk, and in the
evening friends came to supper with us. In a moment of ambitious
emulation of metropolitan customs the small hotel had established
a roof garden, with music two or three evenings a week, but the
innovation had not proven profitable; the roof remained with some
iron framework that once supported awnings, several disconsolate
tables, and some lonesome iron chairs; we visited this scene of
departed glory and obtained a view of the lake at evening.
The irregular outlines of the long shadows of the hills stretched
far out over the still water; beyond these broken lines the
slanting rays of the setting sun fell upon the surface of the
lake, making it to shine like a mass of burnished silver.
Some white sails glimmered in the light far across; near by we
caught the sound of church-bells; the twilight deepened, the
shadows lengthened, the luminous stretch of water grew narrower
and narrower until it disappeared entirely and all was dark upon
the lake, save here and there the twinkle of lights from moving
boats,--shifting stars in the void of night.
The morning was bright as we left Geneva, but the roads, until we
struck the State road, were rough and still muddy from the recent
It was but a short run to Auburn, and from there into Syracuse the
road is a fine gravel.
The machine had developed a slight pounding and the rear-axle
showed signs of again parting at the differential.
After luncheon the machine was run into a machine shop, and three
hours were spent in taking up the lost motion in the eccentric
strap, at the crank-pin, and in a loose bushing.
On opening up the differential gear case both set-screws holding
the axles were found loose. The factory had been most emphatically
requested to put in larger keys so as to fit the key-ways snugly
and to lock these set-screws in some way--neither of these things
had been done; and both halves of the rear-axle were on the verge
of working out.
Small holes were bored through the set-screws, wires passed
through and around the shoulders of the gears, and we had no
further trouble from this source.
It was half-past five before we left Syracuse for Oneida. The road
is good, and the run of twenty-seven miles was made in little over
two hours, arriving at the small, old-fashioned tavern in Oneida
at exactly seven forty-five.
A number of old-timers dropped into the hotel office that evening
to see what was going on and hear about the strange machine. Great
stories were exchanged on all sides; the glories of Oneida quite
eclipsed the lesser claims of the automobile to fame and
notoriety, for it seemed that some of the best known men of New
York and Chicago were born in the village or the immediate
vicinity; the land-marks remain, traditions are intact, the men
departed to seek their fortunes elsewhere, but their successes are
the town's fame.
The genial proprietor of the hotel carried his seventy-odd years
and two hundred and sixty pounds quite handily in his
shirt-sleeves, moving with commendable celerity from office to
bar-room, supplying us in the front room with information and
those in the back with refreshment.
"So you never heard that those big men were born in this locality.
That's strange; tho't ev'rybody knew that. Why 'Neida has produced
more famous men than any town same size in 'Merika,--Russell Sage,
General New,--comin'" (to those in the bar-room); "say, you
fellers, can't you wait?" As he disappeared in the rear we heard
his rotund voice, "What'll you take? Was jest tellin' that chap
with the threshin'-machine a thing or two about this country. Rye?
no, thet's Bourbon--the reel corn juice--ten years in wood--"
"Mixed across the street at the drug store--ha! ha! ha!"
interrupted some one.
"Don't be faceshus, Sam; this ain't no sody-fountin."
"Where'd that feller cum frum with his steam pianer,--Syr'cuse?"
"Great cranberries! you don't say so,--all the way from Chicago!
When did he start?"
"Day 'fore yesterday," replied the old man, and we could hear him
putting back the bottles; a chorus of voices,--
"Day afore yester--say, look here, you're jokin'."
"Mebbe I am, but if you don't believe it, ask him."
"Why Chicago is further'n Buf'lo--an' that's faster'n a train."
"Yes," drawled the old man; "he passed the Empire Express th'
other side Syr'cuse."
"What do you take us fer?"
"Wall, when you cum in, I took you fer fellers who knowed the
diff'rence betwixt whiskey and benzine, but I see my mistake. You
fellers shud buy your alc'hol across the way at the drug store; it
don't cost s' much, and burns better."
"Thet's one on us. Your whiskey is all right, grandpa, the reel
corn juice--ten year in wood--too long in bottl'spile if left over
night, so pull the stopper once more."
CHAPTER TEN THE MOHAWK VALLEY
IN THE VALLEY
On looking over the machine the next morning, Tuesday, the 27th,
the large cap-screws holding the bearings of the main-shaft were
found slightly loose. The wrench with the machine was altogether
too light to turn these screws up as tight as they should be; it
was therefore necessary to have a wrench made from tool steel;
that required about half an hour, but it was time well spent.
The road from Oneida to Utica is very good; rolling but no steep
grades; some sand, but not deep; some clay, but not rough; for the
most part gravel.
The run of twenty miles was quickly made. We stopped only for a
moment to inquire for letters and then on to Herkimer by the road
on the north side of the valley. Returning some weeks later we
came by the south road, through Frankford, between the canal and
the railroad tracks, through Mohawk and Ilion. This is the better
known and the main travelled road; but it is far inferior to the
road on the north; there are more hills on the latter, some of the
grades being fairly steep, but in dry weather the north road is
more picturesque and more delightful in every way, while in wet
weather there is less deep mud.
At Herkimer, eighteen and one-half miles from Utica and
thirty-eight from Oneida, we had luncheon, then inquired for
gasoline. Most astonishing! in the entire village no gasoline to be
had. A town of most respectable size, hotel quite up to date, large
brick blocks of stores, enterprise apparent--but no gasoline. Only
one man handled it regularly, an old man who drove about the country
with his tank-wagon distributing kerosene and gasoline; he had no
place of business but his house, and he happened to be entirely out
of gasoline. In two weeks the endurance run of the Automobile Club
of America would be through there; at Herkimer those in the contest
were to stop for the night,--and no gasoline.
In the entire pilgrimage of over two thousand miles through nine
States and the province of Ontario, we did not find a town or
village of any size where gasoline could not be obtained, and
frequently we found it at cross-road stores,--but not at Herkimer.
Happily there was sufficient gasoline in the tank to carry us on;
besides, we always had a gallon in reserve. At the next village we
found all we needed.
When we returned through Herkimer some weeks later nearly every
store had gasoline.
If hotels, stables, and drug stores, wherever automobiles are apt
to come, would keep a five-gallon can of gasoline on hand, time
and trouble would be saved, and drivers of automobiles would be
only too glad to pay an extra price for the convenience.
The grades of gasoline sold in this country vary from the common
so-called "stove gasoline," or sixty-eight, to seventy-four.
The country dealers are becoming wise in their generation, and all
now insist they keep only seventy-four. As a matter of fact nearly
all that is sold in both cities and country is the "stove
gasoline," because it is kept on hand principally for stoves and
torches, and they do not require higher than sixty-eight. In fact,
one is fortunate if the gasoline tests so high as that.
American machines, as a rule, get along very well with the low
grades, but many of the foreign machines require the better
grades. If a machine will not use commercial stove gasoline, the
only safe thing is to carry a supply of higher grade along, and
that is a nuisance.
It is difficult to find a genuine seventy-four even in the cities,
since it is commonly sold only in barrels. If the exhaust of a
gasoline stationary engine is heard anywhere along the road-side,
stop, for there will generally be found a barrel or two of the
high-grade, and a supply may be laid in.
The best plan, however, is to have a carburetor and motor that
will use the ordinary "stove-grade;" as a matter of fact, it
contains more carbon and more explosive energy if thoroughly
ignited, but it does not make gas so readily in cold weather and
requires a good hot spark.
All day we rode on through the valley, now far up on the
hill-sides, now down by the meadows; past Palatine Church,
Palatine Bridge; through Fonda and Amsterdam to Schenectady.
It was a glorious ride. The road winds along the side of the
valley, following the graceful curves and swellings of the hills.
The little towns are so lost in the recesses that one comes upon
them quite unexpectedly, and, whirling through their one long main
street, catches glimpses of quaint churches and buildings which
fairly overhang the highway, and narrow vistas of lawns, trees,
shrubbery, and flowers; then all is hidden by the next bend in the
During the long summer afternoon we sped onward through this
beautiful valley. Far down on the tracks below trains would go
scurrying by; now and then a slow freight would challenge our
competition; trainmen would look up curiously; occasionally an
engineer would sound a note of defiance or a blast of victory with
The distant river followed lazily along, winding hither and
thither through the lowland, now skirting the base of the hills,
now bending far to the other side as if resentful of such rude
obstructions to its once impetuous will.
Far across on the distant slopes we could see the cattle grazing,
and farther still tiny specks that were human beings like
ourselves moving upon the landscape. Nature's slightest effort
dwarfs man's mightiest achievements. That great railroad with its
many tracks and rushing trains seemed a child's plaything,--a
noisy, whirring, mechanical toy beside the lazy river; for did not
that placid, murmuring, meandering stream in days gone by hollow
out this valley? did not nature in moments of play rear those
hills and carve out those distant mountains? Compared with these
traces of giant handiwork, what are the works of man? just little
putterings for our own convenience, just little utilizations of
waste energies for our own purposes.
One should view nature with the setting sun. It may gratify a
bustling curiosity to see nature at her toilet, but that is the
part of a "Peeping Tom."
The hour of sunrise is the hour for work, it is the hour when
every living thing feels the impulse to do something. The birds do
not fly to the tree-tops to view the morning sun, the animals do
not rush forth from their lairs to watch the landscape lighten
with the morning's glow; no, all nature is refreshed and eager to
be doing, not seeing; acting, not thinking. Man is no exception to
this all-embracing rule; his innate being protests against
idleness; the most secret cells of his organization are charged to
overflowing with energy and demand relief in work.
Morning is not the hour for contemplation; but when evening comes,
as the sun sinks towards the west, and lengthening shadows make it
seem as if all nature were stretching herself in repose, then do
we love to rest and contemplate the rich loveliness of the earth
and the infinite tenderness of the heavens. Every harsh line,
every glare of light, every crude tone has disappeared. We stroke
nature and she purrs. We sink at our ease in a bed of moss and
nature nestles at our side; we linger beside the silvery brook and
it sings to us; we listen attentively to the murmuring trees and
they whisper to us; we gaze upon the frowning hills and they smile
upon us. And by and by as the shadows deepen all outlines are
lost, and we see vaguely the great masses of tone and color;
nature becomes heroic; the petty is dissolved; the insignificant
is lost; hills and trees and streams are blended in one mighty
composition, in the presence of which all but the impalpable soul
of man is as nothing.
We left Schenectady at nine o'clock, taking the Troy road as far
as Latham's Corners, then to the right into Albany.
We reached the city at half-past ten. Albany is not a convenient
place for automobiles. There are no special stations for the
storing of machines, and the stables are most inaccessible on
account of the hills and steep approaches.
CHAPTER ELEVEN THE VALLEY OF LEBANON
THE SICK TURKEY
It was four o'clock, next day, when we left Albany, going down
Green Street and crossing the long bridge, taking the straight
road over the ridges for Pittsfield.
Immediately on leaving the eastern end of the bridge the ascent of
a long steep grade is begun. This is the first ridge, and from
this on for fifteen miles is a succession of ridges, steep rocky
hills, and precipitous declines. These continue until Brainerd is
reached, where the valley of Lebanon begins.
These ridges can be partially avoided by turning down the Hudson
to the right after crossing the bridge and making a detour to
Brainerd; the road is about five miles longer, but is very
commonly taken by farmers going to the city with heavy loads, and
may well be taken by all who wish to avoid a series of stiff
Many farmers were amazed to hear we had come over the hills
instead of going around, and wondered how the machine managed to
Popular notions concerning the capabilities of a machine are
interesting; people estimate its strength and resources by those
of a horse. In speaking of roads, farmers seem to assume the
machine--like the horse--will not mind one or two hills, no matter
how steep, but that it will mind a series of grades, even though
none are very stiff.
Steam and electric automobiles do tire,--that is, long pulls
through heavy roads or up grades tell on them,--the former has
trouble in keeping up steam, the latter rapidly consumes its store
of electricity. The gasoline machine does not tire. Within its
limitations it can keep going indefinitely, and it is immaterial
whether it is up or down grade--save in the time made; it will go
all day through deep mud, or up steep hills, quite as smoothly,
though by no means so fast, as on the level; but let it come to
one hole, spot, or hill that is just beyond the limit of its
power, and it is stuck; it has no reserve force to draw upon. The
steam machine can stop a moment, accumulate two or three hundred
pounds of steam, open the throttle and, for a few moments, exert
twice its normal energy to get out of the difficulty.
It is not a series of hills that deters the gasoline operator, but
the one hill, the one grade, the one bad place, which is just
beyond the power he has available. The road the farmer calls good
may have that one bad place or hill in it, and must therefore be
avoided. The road that is pronounced bad may be, every foot of it,
well within the power of the machine, and is therefore the road to
In actual road work the term "horse-power" is very misleading.
When steam-engines in early days began to take the place of
horses, they were rated as so many horse-power according to the
number of horses they displaced. It then became important to find
out what was the power of the horse. Observing the strong dray
horses used by the London breweries, Watt found that a horse could
go two and one-half miles per hour and at the same time raise a
weight of one hundred and fifty pounds suspended by a rope over a
pulley; this is equivalent to thirty-three thousand pounds raised
one foot in one minute, which is said to be one horse-power.
No horse, of course, could raise thirty-three thousand pounds a
foot or any portion of a foot in a minute or an hour, but the
horse can travel at the rate of two and one-half miles an hour
raising a weight of one hundred and fifty pounds, and the horse
can do more; while it cannot move so heavy a weight as
thirty-three thousand pounds, it can in an emergency and by sudden
strain move much more than one hundred and fifty pounds; with good
foothold it can pull more than its own weight along a road, out of a
hole, or up a hill. It could not lift or pull so great a weight very
far; in fact, no farther than the equivalent of approximately
thirty-three thousand pounds raised one foot in one minute; but for
the few seconds necessary a very great amount of energy is at the
command of the driver of the horse. Hence eight horses, or even
four, or two can do things on the road that an eight horse-power
gasoline machine cannot do; for the gasoline machine cannot
concentrate all its power into the exertion of a few moments. If it
is capable of lifting a given load up a given grade at a certain
speed on its lowest gear, it cannot lift twice the load up the same
grade, or the same load up a steeper grade in double the time, for
its resources are exhausted when the limit of the power developed
through the lowest gear is reached. The grade may be only a mud
hole, out of which the rear wheels have to rise only two feet to be
free, but it is as fatal to progress as a hill a mile long.
Of course it is always possible to race the engine, throw in the
clutch, and gain some power from the momentum of the fly-wheel,
and many a bad place may be surmounted step by step in this way;
but this process has its limitations also, and the fact remains
that with a gasoline machine it is possible to carry a given load
only so fast, but if the machine moves it all, it will continue to
move on until the load is increased, or the road changes for the
When the farmer hears of an eight horse-power machine he thinks of
the wonderful things eight good horses can do on the road, and is
surprised when the machine fails to go up hills that teams travel
every day; he does not understand it, and wonders where the power
comes in. He is not enough of a mechanic to reflect that the eight
horse-power is demonstrated in the carrying of a ton over average
roads one hundred and fifty miles in ten hours, something eight
horses could not possibly do.
Just as we were entering the valley of Lebanon, beyond the village
of Brainerd, while going down a slight descent, my Companion
"The wheel is coming off." I threw out the clutch, applied the
brake, looked, and saw the left front wheel roll gracefully and
quite deliberately out from under the big metal mud guard; the
carriage settled down at that corner, and the end of the axle
ploughed a furrow in the road for a few feet, when we came to a
The steering-head had broken short off at the inside of the hub.
We were not going very fast at the time, and the heavy metal mud
guard which caught the wheel, acting as a huge brake, saved us
from a bad smash.
On examination, the shank of the steering-head was found to
contain two large flaws, which reduced its strength more than
one-half, and the surprising thing was that it had not parted long
before, when subjected to much severer strains.
This was a break that no man could repair on the road. Under
pressure of circumstances the steering-head could have been taken
to the nearest blacksmith shop and a weld made, but that would
require time, and the results would be more than doubtful. By far
the easier thing to do was to wire the factory for a new head and
patiently wait its coming.
Happily, we landed in the hands of a retired farmer, whose
generous hospitality embraced our tired selves as well as the
Before supper a telegram was sent from Brainerd to the factory for
a new steering-head.
While waiting inside for the operator to finish selling tickets
for the one evening train about to arrive, a curious crowd
gathered outside about my host, and the questions asked were
plainly audible; the names are fictitious.
"What'r ye down t' the stashun fur this hur o' day, Joe?"
"Broke my new aut'mobile," carelessly replied my host, flicking a
fly off the nigh side of his horse.
"What'r given us?"
"You ain't got no aut'mobile," chorused the crowd.
"Mebbe I haven't; but if you fellows know an aut'mobile from a hay
rake, you might take a look in my big barn an' let me know what
"Say, Joe, you're jokin',--hev you really got one?"
"You can look for yourselves."
"I saw one go through here 'bout six o'clock," interrupted a
new-comer. "Great Jehosephat, but 't went like a streak of greased
"War that your'n, Joe?"
"Naw," said the new-comer, scornfully. "Joe ain't got no
aut'mobile; there's the feller in there now who runs it," and the
crowd turned my way with such interest that I turned to the little
table and wrote the despatch, quite losing the connection of the
subdued murmurs outside; but it was quite evident from the broken
exclamations that my host was filling the populace up with
information interesting inversely to its accuracy.
"Mile a minute--faster'n a train--Holy Moses! what's that, Joe?
broke axle--telegraphed--how many--four more--you don't say so?--
what's his name? I'll bet it's Vanderbilt. Don't you believe it--
it costs money to run one of those machines. I'll bet he's a dandy
from 'way back--stopping at your house--bridal chamber--that's
right--you want to kill the fatted calf for them fellers--say--"
But further comments were cut short as I came out, jumped in, and
we drove back to a good supper by candle-light.
The stars were shining over head, the air was clear and crisp,
down in the valley of Lebanon the mist was falling, and it was
cool that night. Lulled by the monotonous song of the tree-toad
and the deep bass croaking of frogs by the distant stream, we fell
There was nothing to do next day. The new steering-head could not
possibly arrive until the morning following. As the farm was
worked by a tenant, our host had little to do, and proposed that
we drive to the Shaker village a few miles beyond.
The visit is well worth making, and we should have missed it
entirely if the automobile had not broken down, for the new State
road over the mountain does not go through the village, but back
of it. From the new road one can look down upon the cluster of
large buildings on the side of the mountain, but the old roads are
so very steep, with such interesting names as "Devil's Elbow," and
the like, that they would not tempt an automobile. Many with
horses get out and walk at the worst places.
One wide street leads through the settlement; on each side are the
huge community buildings, seven in all, each occupied by a
"family," so called, or community, and each quite independent in
its management and enterprises from the others; the common ties
being the meeting-house near the centre and the school-house a
little farther on.
We stopped at the North Family simply because it was the first at
hand, and we were hungry. Ushered into a little reception-room in
one of the outer buildings, we were obliged to wait for dinner
until the party preceding us had finished, for the little
dining-room devoted to strangers had only one table, seating but six
or eight, and it seemed to be the commendable policy of the
institution to serve each party separately.
A printed notice warned us that dinner served after one o'clock
cost ten cents per cover extra, making the extravagant charge of
sixty cents. We arrived just in time to be entitled to the regular
rate, but the dilatory tactics of the party in possession kept us
beyond the hour and involved us in the extra expense, with no
compensation in the shape of extra dishes. Morally and--having
tendered ourselves within the limit--legally we were entitled to
dine at the regular rate, or the party ahead should have paid the
additional tariff, but the good sister could not see the matter in
that light, plead ignorance of law, and relied entirely upon
The man who picks up a Shaker maiden for a fool will let her drop.