“For always in thine eyes, O Liberty!
Shines that high light whereby the world is saved;
And though thou slay us, we will trust in thee.”
On Picket Duty.
The Chicago “Herald” says that the government must protect the patrons of the Louisiana Lottery because they are fools. But who will protect the fools who think that government can protect fools from themselves?
A New York policeman was convicted of having knocked down a woman sixty years of age and having beaten her in the face after she was down. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, — an absurdly light sentence considering the status of the offender and the brutal character of the assault. The Police Commissioners, however, appear to think that the punishment is too severe. Decidedly, a policeman’s lot is not an unhappy one.
In four days, at the very beginning of the session, sixty bills were introduced in the Senate appropriating $21,847,000 for new government buildings in different parts of the country. There is no money in the treasury; but the Senators know they can multiply taxes indefinitely. Things which can be multiplied thus indefinitely, political economists leach, have their price at the level determined by the cost of production. It costs little labor to frame and introduce a bill appropriating the people’s money; hence these bills ought to be cheap and cost the people next to nothing. How is it, then, that the reverse of this is true, — that the people have to pay heavily for these bills, — that the expense to them increases with every increase in the volume of bills? Either one of the fundamental propositions of economics must be declared a paradox, or else the logic of political economy is Anarchistic and tacitly assumes a state of perfect competition and no compulsory taxation.
The Pittsburgh “Commoner and Glass-Blower” observes, à propos of the attempt to prevent a minority from drinking intoxicants, that it is surprising to what trouble the average person will go to attend to his neighbor’s affairs, especially when the neighbor would prefer hands off. The New York “Voice” rejoins that the slave driver used to say the same thing, and the Louisiana Lottery people are saying it now. Between the prohibitionists’ case and that of the abolitionists there is no analogy. The slave-drivers did not mind their own business, but forcibly deprived certain human beings of liberty and property. The abolitionists simply made common cause with the victims of invasion and helped them to resist their enslavers. They were impelled to do this by considerations of self-interest as well as by spontaneous sympathy for the oppressed. The man who drinks minds his own business and interferes with nobody; for restraining him there is no rational excuse. As for the Louisiana lottery people, they have an impregnable position; for meddling with them there is absolutely no excuse.
Senator Plumb is dead, and — if we believe a Boston “Herald” editorial — “the country is deprived of a man whose services were of great value.” Beyond the fact that he was a great friend of the “old soldier” and his sister and cousin and aunt, and that no pension appropriation was ever too liberal for him, we know nothing of the late Senator’s “services.” But we do know that Senator Plumb, who was a man of moderate means when, some fifteen years ago, he was elected to the Senate, was worth at the time of his death “many hundreds of thousands of dollars,” as the same paper tells us. We know further that “most of his business schemes were more or less connected with politics. All of them were advanced and maintained by his political power,” he never “having given much time to what ordinarily goes by the name of business.” These facts are admitted even by organs of his own party. Of course we do not insinuate that Senator Plumb was not an “honorable man,” — as honorable a man as most public servants of his class, — but we submit that, so far as his “great services to the country” are concerned, the less said the better.
In the act defining the duty of the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives passed October 1, 1890, there is a section providing that the Sergeant-at-Arms shall submit to the House, at the commencement bf each regular session of Congress, a statement exhibiting the several sums drawn by him, the application and disbursement of them, and the balance, if any, remaining in his hands. The New York “Times” calls attention to the fact that this provision has not been complied with, and that the plain and imperative language of the provision has not been obeyed. The act was passed in October, 1890, yet the Sergeant-at-Arms and his well-paid corps of assistants have not found time to bring together the memoranda of the payments of per diem and mileage to the members of the House. What would the lawmakers say if private citizens usually followed the example of officials in the matter of obedience to laws? When a law is passed regulating the conduct of private citizens, somebody is generally interested in securing the enforcement of the law. Not so with laws affecting officials, which are either ignored or evaded. Theoretically the public is concerned in the enforcement of them, but the officials know well enough that they have nothing to fear from that direction.
The editor of the “North American Review” has invited several distinguished writers to name “the best book of the year.” Each mentions a different work, and two answers are decidedly surprising and unexpected. Sir Edwin Arnold confesses that the book which has impressed him the most painfully and most permanently of all those he has chanced to read during the past twelve months is Emile Zola’s “La Bête Humaine.” To be sure, Sir Edwin is no propagandist of Zola’s ideas, and we learn that he threw “La Bête Humaine” overboard into the Atlantic, as he had flung “Therese Raquin” into the Channel, so that the respectability of the editor of the “Daily Telegraph” is still beyond suspicion; but he recognizes with admiration Zola’s stupendous genius as a realist and expresses his conviction that posterity will keep Zola’s books as painful but precious memorials of our time. In other words, Sir Edwin is sure that the public will not follow his example in the disposition of his copy of the book, and he is certainly not mistaken. The other surprising answer is that of the New York society leader and fashionable novelist who writes under the nom de plume of Julien Gordon. Her best book of the year is — Spencer’s “Justice”! The summary of the work is not altogether free from mistakes, as when the charming disciple makes Spencer responsible for the statement that “the idea of justice is developed from the recognition of inequality”; but I have not the heart to indulge the tendency to find fault in this instance. Whatever the differences of opinion as to the best book of the year may be, there will be unanimity of opinion as to the greatest surprises of the year.
The New York “Times” calls attention, editorially, to the intelligent handling of the eight hour question by the speakers who dealt with it at a recent meeting of the Chicago Sunset Club. The following references will interest Liberty’s readers: “The presiding officer was Mr. Franklin MacVeagh, well known all over the country as the head of a large mercantile house in that city. His contribution to the discussion was a statement of the action of his house, employing several hundred hands, and its results. By voluntary action, in advance of any demand by the employees, his house had reduced the required time of daily work from ten hours to nine hours. This shortening of time would seem to have involved necessarily considerable pecuniary loss, since the reduction of time was without reduction of pay; but he says that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, the new system has not cost the house a penny. Another participant in the discussion was Mr. George Schilling, a well-known representative of organized labor. His remarks were somewhat out of the line of those we are accustomed to hear from persons in his position, and we should think they would be considered rank treason to labor by those; especial champions, the walking delegates. He maintained that the movement toward shorter hours should be a voluntary one and not forced. Its friends should argue with employers, not with politicians, and examples of action like this of Mr. MacVeagh should be brought to the attention of other merchants in a way likely to secure their favorable consideration. He said it would be an injustice to the State of Illinois to require any one concern or branch of trade to shorten its work day, and if every branch of business in the State were compelled to adopt the eight-hour rule while other States held to the old system it might result in the paralysis of skilled industry in Illinois. But if business men singly or collectively should voluntarily shorten the day of work he thought that mutual benefits would arise from the change which would fully offset any losses. Such a temper of reasonableness in the discussion of the labor question is a good sign and worthy of general imitation.” Would the gratification and surprise of the “Times” be greater or less if I should inform it that George Schilling spoke as he did because he is an Anarchist?
Altogether Too Democratic.
Confronted by a person with a sackful of dynamite — the which, biggad! he would displode if his immediate necessities were not relieved by a ton-and-a-half of gold — Russell Sage, millionaire, earnestly circumspected the situation seeking a substance suitable for interposition. Enter then a jocund bank clerk with thoughts light and free, to whom Mr. Sage extended a hand of welcome, somewhat to the surprise and wholly to the delight of the humble underling, who had the indiscretion to take it. Thereupon by physical suasion was he induced to the place of honor and glory, and in the cataclysm ensuing greatly impaired; the cordial Mr. Sage remaining comparatively intact. Wherefore what is left of the bankish young man is henceforth a steadfast supporter of class distinctions, haughtily desirous that millionaires keep their distance. The injunction is of easy observance; it is their habit to keep things.
“In abolishing rent and interest, the last vestiges of old-time slavery, the Revolution abolishes at one stroke the sword of the executioner, the seal of the magistrate, the club of the policeman, the gunge of the exciseman, the erasing-knife of the department clerk, all those insignia of Politics, which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.” — Proudhon.
The appearance in the editorial column of articles over other signatures than the editor’s initial indicates that the editor approves their central purpose and general tenor, though he does not hold himself responsible for every phrase or word. But the appearance in other parts of the paper of articles by the same or other writers by no means indicates that he disapproves them in any respect, such disposition of them being governed largely by motives of convenience.
A New Book Given Away With Each Renewal. — Payment of subscriptions and of renewals is required in advance. The names of subscribers not heard from within two weeks after expiration of subscription are removed from the list. But to every subscriber who sends his renewal for one year, accompanied by the cash, so that it reaches the publisher not later than two weeks after it is due, will be sent, postpaid, any book published in the United States that the subscriber may select, provided that its retail price does not exceed 50 cents if published by Benj. R. Tucker, or 25 cents if published by any other publisher. This is a permanent offer, and enables every promptly-paying subscriber to get a new book each year free of cost. But only one book will be given at a time, no matter how low the price of the book selected.
Two Kinds of Authority.
The Boston “Herald” is guilty of loose thinking and misuse of terms in the following deliverance:
With all the wild talk that is indulged in today about freedom and individualism, there is, after all, no yearning so deep-rooted in the human mind as that for coming under the sway of immutable authority. Who but a madman, for example, would ask for a fallible multiplication table, that, to suit his changing humor, would now make five times five amount to twenty-five, and now to forty? What ship-master would care for a compass that, according to arbitrary whim, should one hour point north and another east or west? Is it, can it be, anything different, then, in matters of religion, morals, literature, art, social relations, government? No, all seriously minded men, divines, artists, scientific investigators, practical mechanicians, are absolutely one in this, — that no desire lies so near their hearts as that of securing the nearest approximation they can find to a standard of immutable authority, and then obediently submitting reason and affection to it.
The talk about freedom and individualism that intelligent men indulge in is not incongruous with the deep-rooted yearning for “immutable authority,” but in consonance with it. Not in spite of, but because of, that yearning do they talk about freedom and individualism. They demand that legislation be referred to and tested by the ascertained laws of ethical and sociological science, — that the authority of the laws passed and enforced be really “immutable.” Laws that are manufactured by ignorant politicians have no immutable authority, as laws discovered by trained investigators have. Those who intelligently talk about freedom and individualism desire to be governed by discovered laws, not by manufactured laws, — by laws discovered by philosophers, not by laws discovered by Pickwicks. Let the laws be as sound, as clear, as demonstrably right as the principles of science are to the educated, and there will be no talk about freedom and individualism, for such laws would be the very citadel, the palladium, of freedom and individualism. Suppose a burglar should demand the money or the life of the “Herald” writer; would he submit his reason and affection to the authority of the burglar? No, that kind of authority he would rebel against. Suppose a dictator should arise and demand the implicit obedience of the “free citizens” of this country: would the “Herald” preach submission to his authority? No, again. It would exhort them to defend their liberties and individual rights against wicked and irresponsible tyrants. But when a lawfully enacted Congress or Legislature passes laws which find no sanction and no justification in science and philosophy, it wants us to submit our reason and affection without a murmur to an authority which is not immutable, on the ground that we spontaneously and cheerfully acquiesce in the conclusions of science! It may be wise or unwise to obey absurd and inequitable laws, — laws that have no philosophical authority, — but we certainly feel no yearning for coming under the sway of such laws. Before the “Herald” writes, it should think of the meaning of the terms in its mind. V. Y.
A Typical Crime of Government.
Government is responsible for every life taken by Robert Sims and his friends, and for the violent deaths of himself, relatives, and comrades. So far as the record shows, the record written by his enemies, Sims was a Christian fanatic, much less harmful than the average of his faith, for it appears that he held that man’s laws were not binding upon him, and the inference is that he wished to live up to his creed, letting others alone and asking neither more nor less for himself. In a word, he wanted to mind his own business and have others do the same, all being left in undisturbed possession of the fruits of their toil.
When, in 1890, his brother, Neal Sims, arrested for running an illicit still, refused to swear, saying that the Bible commanded him to swear “not at all,” public attention was first called to the existence of this small primitive Christian sect whose leader was Robert Sims. Of course the Alabama orthodox Christians were terribly shocked when they discovered men in their midst who were really trying to obey the injunctions of the book which all professed to believe of divine origin and authority. What? Sims actually had the audacity to quote their “Saviour’s” command to “swear not at all,” while they, good Christians every one, were willing not only to swear themselves but to force everybody else to do the same before their testimony would be accepted. Ever after that the Simses were objects of suspicion and dislike to their fellow-Christians. “Inquiry developed the fact that Sims’s strange views were held by some twenty heads of families in Choctaw county,” say the dispatches. When Neal Sims was “questioned as to their authority for violating the federal revenue law, he asked the judge for Bible authority forbidding him or any one from distilling.” This was a poser for the judge, and his answer fails to appear in the press reports. Well, matters rapidly went from bad to worse. Robert Sims was arrested for illicit distilling. It is needless to say that his distilling was his own business, not the government’s. To the thieving meddling of the government’s agents is fairly attributable all the subsequent troubles. Sims was released by two of his brothers and his son. The latter was killed and one of the former mortally wounded; next day the dying man was lynched by the chivalrous citizens of Bladon Springs. Then the Simsites were driven out of the country, going to Mississippi, abandoning their homes, growing crops, everything, in fact, that they had in the way of property. Chief among those who had incurred the just enmity of Sims was an officious neighbor named McMillan, who had guided the federal looters to Sims’s house. Sims’s revenge was savage, inhuman, cruel, though not more so than that of the federal government on several occasions when its soldiers have slaughtered Indian women and children by scores and hundreds. McMillan’s house was surrounded and fired, and the inmates shot down as they sought to escape from the burning building. McMillan and two others were killed, one child consumed in the house, and several other people wounded. Sims was pursued, surrounded in his house, and finally surrendered to the sheriff under promise of a guard of fifty men. He yielded, he said, to save his family from massacre, which was certain if he resisted to the death. He was put under the “protection” of fifty of the mob acting as a sheriff’s posse. The remaining one hundred and fifty of the mob followed, overtook the posse two miles from Sims’s house, and hanged him and four others to one tree. So ends Part First of the tragedy.
Of course it would be unreasonable to hope that the end is yet, and for all the enmity that is engendered, all the tears that are caused to flow, all the homes that are wrecked, all the lives that are lost, the government of the United States is logically and morally responsible. It begins by robbing and imprisoning uninvading and industrious citizens, makes them desperate, thus driving them into attempting reprisals, and finally to crime, and then murders them by the hand of the legal hangman or the Briareus-arms of the mob. E. C. Walker.
Senator Sherman thinks that the national flag is not displayed enough, so he has introduced a bill in Congress to induce a more extended flaunting of what the Boston “Herald” describes as “a number of pieces of textile fabric of three different colors sewn together for the purpose of making a predetermined combination.” It must be a poor sort of flag that needs a law to prevent it from becoming unfamiliar to the sight of the people who are supposed to reverence it as the symbol of their liberties. But perhaps Senator Sherman, — who has done as much as any man in public life to alienate the liberties of the American people, — has an interest in a bunting factory. He is a thrifty statesman.
At the celebration of Forefathers’ day by the Congregational Club of Boston many funny things were said. Now and then a profound truth was uttered, as when Rev. Robert R. Meredith of Brooklyn, in speaking of the Pilgrims, declared that “Their strength was spiritual, not intellectual.” This is easily credible, bearing in mind together their utter inability to grasp the concept of human freedom, and the potency of New England Rum.
The true Democratic party of Louisiana today invokes the blessings of the Christian world, the prayers of every wife and mother in the land, the assistance of every lover of liberty, in its great fight against the lottery. — New Orleans Delta.
Pshaw, what you need is votes, not prayers. If God did not want the lottery to run he would not have waited for prayers, especially of non-residents of Louisiana. Of course he knows that the prayers, both male and female, cannot pray effectively at such long range, at least, not while they run the grab-bag in a church fair or buy wheat in the Chicago pit. Import ten or twenty thousand voters, good, pious Paul Prys, from the northern States. They will be much more effective than all the “blessings of the Christian world” and all the prayers of non-voting wives and mothers. Nothing wrong about importing voters, — at all events, nothing that would make any blacker your crusade of mingled cant and fanaticism. Yes, you may secure the assistance of many a “lover of liberty,” but never the aid of a man or woman who understands liberty.
“The will of the King is the highest law,” wrote William of Germany in the Golden Book of Munich. Not always. Charles and George of England did not find it so, and a Louis of France likewise discovered the unreliability of the aphorism.
The Century Dictionary sheds new light on an important subject by defining “publican” as a “public robber; tax collector.” A re-publican must therefore be one who robs more than once. In the light of past events we cannot take issue with the dictionary. — Butte Miner.
It is a pity that the comparatively honest occupation of liquor-seller should have become synonymous in most minds with the doubly-named business of tax-collecting and public-robbing. No wonder that prohibitionists attribute nine-tenths of all the crimes committed to the teachings and example of the saloon. But now that the big new dictionary tells us that a publican is a “public robber; tax collector,” instead of a saloon-keeper, the prejudice against the latter will probably soon begin to diminish. E. C. Walker.
A Daughter of the Gods.
By Miriam Daniell.
The Fairfields are English. They love their land, but the soil successfully tilled on the old farm by past generations of Fairfields has become stubborn and does not yield them a livelihood. John and Sarah Fairfield labor from dawn to twilight, when they retire to rest to save the expense of candles which could only prolong their dreary consciousness of the hard times come upon merry old England.
Cora is their only child, — a daughter of the Gods, — tall and straight and supple, white skin pure as one of the sweet lilies in the quaint flower-garden she carefully tends, soft blue-black hair in waving clouds drawn back from her chiselled forehead and massed in coils upon her well-poised head. Underneath the arched brows are liquid eyes mirroring the heaven of Love, unruffled as yet by any sudden wind of passion.
She is the rare picture that adorns the Grange Farm. Her voice is the music that makes a fine harmony in the home. Her soft hands touching her father’s horny fists heal the callosities also of his heart. He will fight, work, elbow his way for her sake with some manly regard for his fellows who stand in his way, jostling with right goodwill also for a living in this first-class struggle for existence.
She shall not do anything or suffer from contact with the hard world, but shall be enshrined by him upon a safe pedestal high above the petty jarrings and the daily drudgery that have unduly suppressed certain powers and sympathies in him, while they have at the same time developed other capacities and attributes not compatible with the aspirations of his youth. She must not come to want. She must marry some day and still live with them; it must be one of the conditions of the match.
But who is worthy of her, the lovely girl! O dangerous dower of beauty, in such a world of secret vice! Thrice terrible inheritance when given with ignorance, which is confused with purity, when accompanied by poverty and inability to earn, and when the ideal fostered through kindness is not that of becoming the equal of man and a fully developed being, but of winning love for self by reckless sacrifice.
She walks erect and blithe or drooping and dreaming in her simple white woolen gown which drapes the statuesque limbs with a grace that would inspire a sculptor, and by her side ambles an old yellow mastiff jealously guarding her from imaginary foes.
Cora, looking in his faithful brown eyes, sees often, or fancies she sees, the human evolving in the animal through his loving service.
“You are half a hero, dear old Cid, and half a greedy beast,” she says to him, holding him by his ears and looking at him one June day in the fields, but though she wonders at him no suspicion of the converse shadows her, — that there may be men also who are half brutes, in whom by disuse the soul has become atrophied or has always been rudimentary. Cid does not understand what she says, but tenders his massive paw to her with rough courtesy and assures her that she may rely upon him.
To avoid this aggressive token of regard Cora proceeds to gather her loose bunch of pale wild roses from the hedge and sniffs at the piercing fragrance of their creamy, furled petals thrust open by her aquiline nose.
A gate swings apart beyond. “Father,” she calls in her rich contralto, and a man of forty years comes toward her shading his eyes from the sun.
He is bearded and tanned, a giant in stature, a worthy sire of the maiden in front of him. At a glance you can see that he has not wasted the substance of his body with riotous living, but has let forth his energy in holier and more remunerative channels of toll.
His honest face is preoccupied.
He has indeed taken that day a great resolution. No more of his capital shall be sunk uselessly in that estate, the high rent of which swallows two-thirds of his total profits. He is self-reliant and strong, in the prime of life. He will emigrate to the New Country; in America he will make his way among men. Young Tom Hales of Easternford went hither four years ago and has returned like “my lord” with a pile of money already. The Hales are as brainless as brawnless. What young Tom could do so soon and easily John Fairfield could do quicker and better any day. It is true the uprooting is sore. Some time he will return and settle to spend an Indian Summer in the old place, which is full of treasured associations and hallowed memories.
“How should you like to cross the sea with your Dad and live in Boston, my Co?” he asks her. “I have made up my mind that we start next month.”
She is astonished at the tidings, but is quite used to his way of arbitrarily deciding things without consulting with her mother or herself. It is easier to accept the inevitable.
The announcement is too sudden to be grasped in its full significance at first. Her ideas are trivial. What to gain and what to lose, what can she take with her of the pleasures she realizes unto the land she cannot yet visualize.
“Cid will go too?” she asks. She has no friends in the lonely country uplands.
“Of course,” her father answers cheerfully. “Why, Co, there isn’t a dog in Yankee land to touch him, nor poodle or pointer, eh? Bun along and tell your mother. I am going round by the stables and shall be there almost immediately.”
Mrs. Fairfield is a capable housewife, who, having spent a placid girlhood on one farm making cheese for her mother, is passing a quiet womanhood manufacturing butter in her husband’s dairy. Her busy feet have helped in the formation of the rut which is upon the stone floor of the kitchen between the sink and the churn, worn through centuries by the farm mistresses. Her thoughts and her phraseology run in similar grooves and meander for the most part in uneventful domesticity.
It seems as if she would not bear transplantation, but Sarah Fairfield is taken off these well-beaten tracks, and in the month of August they are settled in a modest tenement in the fair city of Boston. At first they are friendless; John is out much, speculating always; a feverish desire for gain consumes him, and be changes for the worse. He becomes morose, taciturn, brooding for hours at a time and nervously chewing the end of his beard. Mrs. Fairfield, devoid of occupation, Bits in her chair, exhausted by the unwonted extremes of beat and cold, to which her body cannot easily adapt itself. Cora and Cid adventure out alone.
Altogether their fortunes are at the lowest ebb. They cannot afford even an ice-chest.
But John returns one day with bloodshot eyes staring from beneath the dishevelled hair that has not been under the barber’s hands for weeks.
“You are ill, dear Dad,” Cora cries sadly, “this nasty place is killing you. Lie down and let me get you some tea.”
“Tea be hanged, Co. I’m all-right. The place is tip-top. Hold on a minute. I’m all right, and so are you. You are a rich lass, I tell you. I’m a made man. Where’s Ma? Good Lord! how lucky! I left home a poor man, and I’m worth at this minute 8500,000. We must get out of this hole and get a house more worthy of you. We must begin to live,” he continues feverishly. “What a glorious land! every chance for a pushing person to succeed. Bah! I must wash myself and get my hair cut,” as he catches sight of his face in the small, cracked, cheap mirror hung over the mantel shelf, which distorts his appearance still further.
Co is breathless. She does not care for fortune. Her dominant fear is that his brain has given way.
Sarah Fairfield has no such misgivings, and becomes garrulous in her joy, ending her general irrelevant remarks with “Now, thanks be to God, we need not ever set our hands to any sort of work again.” This with zeal, as if idleness was a foretaste of heaven on earth!
Cid notices the excitement and bestows his paw upon his master’s nervous arm. John kicks him for the first time in his life with sudden temper.
“This dog is getting too much of a nuisance, Co,” be grumbles. “You must have a smaller pet and have him shot.”
Cora’s eyes overbrim with swift pain.
“Never!” she cries, throwing her arms round the mastiff’s throat; “old Cid, no one shall touch you, while I’m alive.”
John is a little ashamed. He rises and murmurs that he is going for a shave, and the two women are left alone to spend their last evening in the little tenement.
The following day they take a mansion in Copley Square and order furniture from the leading firms in the city. In two months they are surrounded by butterfly friends who have been drawn by the far-reaching pleasant odor of their wealth to suck what nectar they can extract for themselves. Many of these might appear to a biologist as mere stomachs devoid of other interests than the absorbing one of feeding richly.
But John, good-natured and uncritical, Sarah, hospitable and shallow, Cora, innocent and happy, find no fault with these fluttering acquaintances.
Youths wooing Cora for her dazzling beauty. Young men courting Cora for her poignant wit that flashes like a sword from the scabbard of her reserve. Old men mumbling adoration for her evident wealth. John puts them mentally into the scales against his daughter. The heaviest moneybag shall weigh down and win her. Co is a good child and will take the advice of her old Dad.
Meantime wealth is not all joy. Servants are great trouble to Mrs. Fairfield. Some run away, some expect to be always in the parlor, some are dirty, others incompetent or impudent.
One night, after Cora is in bed, she bears a great sound of weeping, and her mother’s voice raised in angry and hard tones. A door slams loudly, and there is silence. She enquires next morning at breakfast what the nature of the trouble was.
“My dear,” says Sarah, with a stern face, “I had noticed for some days that Jane was unwell, and I taxed her with being enceinte and got the truth out of her. The shameless, impertinent hussy, bow dare she forget herself so far as to remain a day in my house! She was begging to stay on longer, said she had no home to go to. I told her there were kind ladies who had charities for such as she, but of course it was out of the question for me to permit her to remain one hour more here. I told her to send for her box, and she stuck on. I bad to regularly push her out myself, for I did not want to let the police know of it. What is the world coming to? Girls have no decency nor goodness. I wish the law would put down immorality firmly. I’d have girls sentenced for four months who behaved like that, leading young fellows astray. There is one comfort, that society puts’em down if law don’t, and no woman can find a friend after going to the bad. I tell you, John Fairfield, that the woman is the worst, though you always will have it that the man is as bad. I have no mercy for such as Jane, a wicked girl.”
Cora sits white and trembling. How sympathetic with sin and sorrow she is! John notices her distress kindly, and says: “Co aint used to the world yet, Ma; she perhaps thinks the lass might have bided in the house the night because of the unborn child. I don’t hold altogether with you, though you’re right in the main. Cases must be looked into on their merits. Sometimes its honest love without the bonds of marriage, perhaps, but society naturally doesn’t want to support the bastard children, and peeple who wish to procreate ought to take the vows. But Co aint heard of these things much before, so let’s drop it now. The girl was no good and is best gone.”
Breakfast is ended. John pushes back his chair, and goes to the little conservatory where he has a few plants, a little bit of nature, sickly it is true, but more satisfying to him than the heavy rich rooms. Sarah retires to give her orders and look into the involved housekeeping.
Finally Cora rises and goes to her room.
She sits on her couch and weeps long and helplessly. The day is depressingly cold, a biting east wind without and a sombre sky like that of the old country. She is thinking, maybe, of the poor servant sick and in trouble, wondering how a man can leave a woman to bear the brunt of shame alone; why Society always crushes the woman, driving her to despair; how it is that sister women can combine to be like iron arrowheads to pierce the one who differs from them, instead of extending the hand of helpfulness and protection to her in her sorrow; why Charity is delegated to paid officials and has become a grudging bestowal of externals instead of a free gift of the heart in love.
Who knows what other disjointed thoughts, what rebellious questions flit through her brain, so rapidly developed in this hotbed of city life?
And the clock strikes and strikes, and it is lunch-time. She washes her face carefully. It looks pinched and hunted in her glass, regret enthroned upon it, and she schools it to a feigned mirthfulness and descends.
“You are suffering from this cold, Cora,” says her mother, “dreary, dreary. It ain’t like our old England. Many’s the violet I’ve pulled in the month of March at home in the Grange grounds, and now look out at them icicles on the windows.”
“You may be going to have a cold; take care of yourself, my Co,” says John tenderly.
“I’m all right,” answers Co, frowning slightly, skilfully throwing bait for converse in other waters; “how is your polyanthus growing, Dad?”
“Fine,” he answers with interest, “fine, Co. Soon have another head of blossoms out. I miss the fine country though, and you seem out of sorts. We’ll take a run over to England early in spring, eh, Ma?”
“Dear Dad,” says Co, with rather too emphatic devotion for the trivial occasion, “dear old Dad,” and sighs and takes him by the beard and kisses him.
“I’m going out tonight to supper with the Hattons,” he says. “Co, you mustn’t go after all; you are not well enough. If I were you, I’d go right to bed and get well by tomorrow.”
“Yes, I will. I want to be quiet for once,” answers Cora, looking at the window.
The meal is over. Again the clock strikes and strikes. Cora is in her room, writing. She reads what she has written and burns it. She does not satisfy herself, apparently, for at last the materials are left, and the letters are all burnt.
It is night. Supper is brought to her by a colored girl. She removes a portion from the plate when she is alone, and burns it, also.
Her mother, coming to bid her good-night, finds her snugly in bed and the room dark. “Good-night, Cora. You’ll be all right tomorrow.”
“Yes,” answers Cora, “all right tomorrow, dear mother. Good bye.”
The door clicks. She rises softly and fastens it. She crouches by the stove and listens to the wind howling outside and the large clock striking below, with a new sensitiveness to sounds.
The house is quiet. At last they are all at rest. It is one o’clock in the chilly morning.
Cora takes a long black cloak and muffles herself; then creeps from her room, and, treading quietly on the thickly-carpeted stairs, arrives in the great hall. Cid, disturbed, stretches himself and puts his muzzle into her band. “Down,” she whispers to him, bending over him stiffly and patting his huge head, “Down, dear Cid, you cannot go too.” His yellow fur is wet with her falling tears. She goes into the back of the house and out of a door leading into a narrow alley, the servants’ exit. She forgets to fasten the door, in the haste of her departure.
It is ebb-tide. The Charles is running to the sea. White crests of wind-driven waves gleam through the darkness. It is a turbulent tide. The icy blast drives asunder the cloak a girl strives to hold about her on the quay wall of the Back Bay. A watchman notices that she is in evident distress, wandering up and down. He speaks to her, but she does not answer. It crosses his mind that she is an unfortunate. He regards her actions from a little distance.
There is a swift leap through the air, a flying cloak, a sudden splash, a despairing cry for help. He runs to the edge of the wall and sees a young woman borne struggling on the surface of the strong river for a moment. That is all. He does not jump in after her. He is the modern sentry. It is his duty to report, to sound the alarm, not to perish in a hopeless quest. He is no Quixote.
It may be open to criticism whether a kind insistence might not have prevented the rash act, however. It was no season, no place, no hour for a distressed female. While he pauses, gazing at the silent water, a large mastiff appears, sniffing the air, and unhesitatingly leaps into the Charles.
Some dogs are more chivalrous than men. He breasts the frigid flood for a short time, but is drawn down after a brief swim.
A week after this event two boys playing on the hither shore find to their fear and surprise a swollen sodden body on the flat land amidst the flotsam and jetsam, the torn weeds and broken bottles left by the high tide. It is removed to a neighboring morgue. A ghoul-like crowd of people gather as usual and desire on various pretexts to view the remains. The medical officer will not report the condition of the woman.
Poor John Fairfield, haggard and aged, comes in a close carriage and gives a hasty, terror-stricken look at the bier.
O God! is that Cora?
What would he not have done for his darling!
Will he not now hunt through the world that villain who has desecrated the sacred temple of her body and smite him dead with an avenging hand!
Alas — will that restore her to them, his lily, his saint, his Cora? Till oblivion mercifully wipes it away, the remembrance of that bloated face, the vision of decay and terror, ever haunts his brain, blinding his eyes so that he cannot see the sun.
Wealth! Wealth! What boon is wealth without her? He curses the gold that lured him to the States.
Meantime Sarah weeps and wails at home, struck almost to imbecility by this unexpected stroke of fate.
The mansion is closed. The Fairfields vanish into a sea of individuals in another country.
And they demand martyrs, — the blood of men, of women, who not only believe with their brains, but will apply their principles to life, regardless of the cost to themselves.
Old are the Problems and riddles of Life — old as the eternal Hills, and waiting, waiting more modern solutions, more loving and large-hearted interpretations, more daring and earnest readers of the mystic writing of Truth, whose answers wait also with her problems, steadfast and uneffacable on the garments of Life.
Don’t keep Liberty to yourself, share it with others!
Leonard E. Read: Accent On The Right: To Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850), who sought for truth rather than outcome and never witnessed the fruits his labor bore. Obedience to conscience was his first rule; we witness the results.
Leonard E. Read: Anything That’s Peaceful: Many favor peace but not many favor the things that make for peace. — Thomas à Kempis
Leonard E. Read: Awake for Freedom’s Sake: Finally, share with others. Forget about “reforming” them! The more we share, the more we learn. This is in the interest of self and freedom!
Leonard E. Read: Castles in the Air: If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them. — Henry David Thoreau
Libertarian Anarchy: Against the State: Political philosophy is dominated by a myth, the myth of the necessity of the state. The state is considered necessary for the provision of many things, but primarily for peace and security. In this provocative book, Gerard Casey argues that social order can be spontaneously generated, that such spontaneous order is the norm in human society and that deviations from the ordered norms can be dealt with without recourse to the coercive power of the state.
Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers: Murray Rothbard: Murray Rothbard (1926–1995) was an economist, historian, philosopher, and legal theoretician. His work was unified by a passionate and resolute commitment to a libertarianism that may be characterized as ‘anarcho-capitalism’ and which implied a belief that even the legal system may be provided privately without the need for a coercive collective authority. Hence, anarcho-capitalists envisage a society where the traditional role of government is wholly subsumed by private, profit-making enterprises and all social relationships are ultimately founded upon consent.