The Baldwn Library
FRANK R. STOCKTON
Dodd, Mead and Company
BPY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY.
I AM a householder in a pleasant coun-
try neighbourhood, about twenty miles
from New York. My family consists of
myself and wife, our boy, George William,
aged two, two maid-servants, and a man;
but in the summer we have frequent visit-
ors, and at the time of which I am about
to write my Aunt Martha was staying
My house is large and pleasant, and we
have neighbours near enough for social
purposes and yet not too near or too many
to detract from the rural aspect of our sur-
roundings. But we do not live in a para-
dise; we are occasionally troubled by
mosquitoes and burglars.
Against the first of these annoyances
we have always been able to guard our-
4 THE STORIES OF THE
selves, at least in a measure, and our man
and the cook declare that they have be-
come so used to them that they do not
mind them; but to guard against burglars
is much more difficult, and to become used
to them would, I think, require a great
deal of practice.
For several months before the period of
this narrative our neighbourhood had been
subject to visits from burglars. From
time to time houses had been entered and
robbed, and the offenders had never been
We had no police force, not even a vil-
lage organization. There was a small rail-
way station near our house, and six miles
away was the county town. For fre and
police protection each household was
obliged to depend upon itself.
Before the beginning of the burglarious
enterprises in our midst, we had not felt
the need of much protection in this direc-
tion; sometimes poultry was stolen, but
this was a rare occurrence, and, although
windows and doors were generally fast-
ened for the night, this labour was often
considered much more troublesome than
necessary. But now a great change had
taken place in the feelings of our com-
THREE BURGLARS. 5
munity. When the first robbery occurred
the neighbours were inclined to laugh about
it, and to say that Captain Hubbard's habit
of sitting up after the rest of his family
had gone to bed and then retiring and for-
getting to close the front door had invited
the entrance of a passing tramp. But
when a second and a third house, where
windows and doors had not been I sft open,
had been entered, and, in a measure, de-
spoiled, people ceased to laugh; and if
there had been any merriment at all on
the subject, it would have been caused by
the extraordinary and remarkable precau-
tions taken against the entrance of thieves
by night. The loaded pistol became the
favourite companion of the head of the
house; those who had no watch-dogs
bought them; there were new locks, new
bolts, new fastenings. At one time there
was a mounted patrol of young men,
which, however, was soon broken up by
their mothers. But this trouble was un-
availing, for at intervals the burglaries
As a matter of course a great many
theories were broached as to the reasons
for this disturbance in our hitherto peace-
ful neighbourhood. We were at such a
6 THE STORIES OF THE
distance from the ordinary centres of
crime that it was generally considered
that professional burglars would hardly
take the trouble to get to us or to get
away from us, and that, therefore, the of-
fences were probably committed by unsus-
pected persons living in this part of the
country who had easy means of determin-
ing which houses were worth breaking
into and what method of entrance would
be most feasible. In this way some fami-
lies, hitherto regarded as respectable fami-
lies, had fallen under suspicion.
So far, mine was the only house of any
importance within the distance of a mile
from the station which had not in some
way suffered from burglars. In one or
two of these cases the offenders had been
frightened away before they had done any
other injury than the breaking of a win-
dow-shutter; but we had been spared any
visitation whatever. After a time we be-
gan to consider that this was an invidious
distinction. Of course we did not desire
that robbers should break into our house
and steal, but it was a sort of implied in-
sult that robbers should think that our
house was not worth breaking into. We
contrived, however, to bear up under this
THREE BURGLARS. 7
implied contempt and even under the
facetious imputations of some of our lively
neighbours, who declared that it looked
very suspicious that we should lose noth-
ing, and even continue to add to our
worldly goods, while everybody else was
suffering from abstractions.
I did not, however, allow any relaxation
in my vigilance in the protection of my
house and family. My time to suffer had
not yet arrived, and it might not arrive at
all; but if it did come it should not be my
fault. I therefore carefully examined all
the new precautions my neighbours had
taken against the entrance of thieves, and
where I approved of them I adopted them.
Of some of these my wife and I did not
approve. For instance, a tin pan contain-
ing iron spoons, the dinner bell, and a
miscellaneous collection of hardware bal-
anced on the top stair of the staircase, and
so connected with fine cords that a thief
coming up the stairs would send it rattling
and bounding to the bottom, was looked
upon by us with great disfavour. The
descent of the pan, whether by innocent
accident or the approach of a burglar,
might throw our little boy into a fit, to
say nothing of the terrible fright it would
8 THE STORIES OF THE
give my Aunt Martha, who was a maiden
lady of middle age, and not accustomed
to a clatter in the night. A bull-dog in
the house my wife would not have, nor,
indeed, a dog of any kind. George Wil-
liam was not yet old enough to play with
dogs, especially a sharp one; and if the
dog was not sharp it was of no use to have
him in the house. To the ordinary burglar-
alarm she strongly objected. She had been
in houses where these things went off of
their own accord, occasioning great con-
sternation; and, besides, she said that if
thieves got into the house she did not
want to know it and she did not want me
to know it; the quicker they found what
they came for and went away with it the
better. Of course, she wished them kept
out, if such a thing were possible; but if
they did get in, our duty as parents of the
dearest little boy was non-interference.
She insisted, however, that the room in
which the loveliest of children slept, and
which was also occupied by ourselves,
should be made absolutely burglar proof;
and this object, by means of extraordinary
bolts and chains, I flattered myself I accom-
plished. My Aunt Martha had a patent
contrivance for fastening a door that she
THREE BURGLARS. 9
always used, whether at home or travelling,
and in whose merit she placed implicit
confidence. Therefore we did not feel it
necessary to be anxious about her; and
the servants slept at the top of the house,
where thieves would not be likely to go.
"They may continue to slight us by
their absence," said my wife, "but I do
not believe that they will be able to
frighten us by their presence."
I was not, however, so easily contented
as my wife. Of course I wished to do
everything possible to protect George
William and the rest of the family, but I
was also very anxious to protect our prop-
erty in all parts of the house. Therefore,
in addition to everything else I had done,
I devised a scheme for interfering with the
plans of men who should feloniously break
into our home.
After a consultation with a friend, who
was. a physician greatly interested in the
study of narcotic drugs, I procured a mixt-
ure which was almost tasteless and with-
out peculiar odour, and of which a small
quantity would in less than a minute throw
an ordinary man into a state of uncon-
sciousness. The potion was, however, no
more dangerous in its effects than that
10 THE STORIES OF THE
quantity of ardent spirits which would
cause entire insensibility. After the lapse
of several hours, the person under the in-
fluence of the drug would recover con-
sciousness without assistance. But in
order to provide against all contingencies
my friend prepared a powerful antidote,
which would almost immediately revive
one who had been made unconscious by
The scheme that I had devised may
possibly have been put into use by others.
But of this I know not. I thought it a
good scheme and determined to experiment
with it, and, if possible, to make a trap
which should catch a burglar. I would
reveal this plan to no one but my friend
the physician and my wife. Secrecy
would be an important element in its
Our library was a large and pleasant
room on the ground floor of the house, and
here I set my trap. It was my habit to
remain in this room an hour or so after the
rest of the family had gone to bed, and, as
I was an early riser, I was always in it
again before it was necessary for a servant
to enter it in the morning.
Before leaving the library for the night
THREE BURGLARS. 11
I placed in a conspicuous position in the
room a small table, on which was a tray
holding two decanters partially filled with
wine, in the one red and in the other white.
There was also upon the tray an open box
of biscuit and three wine-glasses, two of
them with a little wine at the bottom. I
took pains to make it appear that these
refreshments had been recently partaken
of. There were biscuit crumbs upon the
tray, and a drop or two of wine was freshly
spilled upon it every time the trap was set.
The table, thus arranged, was left in the
room during the night, and early in the
morning I put the tray and its contents
into a closet and locked it up.
A portion of my narcotic preparation
was thoroughly mixed with the contents
of each of the decanters in such propor-
tions that a glass of the wine would be
sufficient to produce the desired effect.
It was my opinion that there were few
men who, after a night walk and perhaps
some labour in forcibly opening a door or
a window-shutter, would not cease for a
moment in pursuance of their self-imposed
task to partake of the refreshments so con-
veniently left behind them by the occu-
pants of the house when they retired to
12 THE STORIES OF THE
rest. Should my surmises be correct, I
might reasonably expect, should my house
be broken into, to find an unconscious
burglar in the library when I went down
in the morning. And I was sure, and my
wife agreed with me, that if I should find
a burglar in that room or any other part
of the house, it was highly desirable that
he should be an unconscious one.
Night after night I set my burglar trap,
and morning after morning I locked it up
in the closet. I cannot say that I was
exactly disappointed that no opportunity
offered to test the value of my plan, but it
did seem a pity that I should take so much
trouble for nothing. It had been some
weeks since any burglaries had been com-
mitted in the neighbourhood, and it was the
general opinion that the miscreants had
considered this field worked out and had
transferred their labours to a better-paying
place. The insult of having been consid-
ered unworthy the attention of the knights
of the midnight jimmy remained with us,
but as all our goods and chattels also re-
mained with us we could afford to brook
As the trap cost nothing my wife did
not object to my setting it every night for
THREE B URGLARS. 13
the present. Something might happen,
she remarked, and it was just as well to be
prepared in more ways than one ; but there
was a point upon which she was very
"When George William is old enough
to go about the house by himself," she
said, "those decanters must not be left
exposed upon the table. Of course I do
not expect him to go about the house
drinking wine and everything that he finds,
but there is no knowing what a child in the
first moments of his investigative existence
For myself, I became somewhat tired of
acting my part in this little farce every
night and morning, but when I have un-
dertaken anything of this sort I arn slow
to drop it.
It was about three weeks since I had
begun to set my trap when I was awakened
in the night by a sudden noise. I sat up
in bed, and as I did so my wife said to me
"What is that ? Was it thunder ? There
it is again!" she exclaimed, starting up.
" What a crash! It must have struck
somewhere." I did not answer. It was
not thunder. It was something in the
14 THE STORIES OF THE
house, and it flashed into my mind that
perhaps my trap had been sprung. I got
out of bed and began rapidly to dress.
"What are you going to do?" anx-
iously asked my wife.
"I'm going to see what has happened,"
said I. At that moment there was an-
other noise. This was like two or three
heavy footsteps, followed by a sudden
thump; but it was not so loud as the
John," cried my wife, "don't stir an
inch, it's burglars !" and she sprang out
of bed and seized me by the arm.
"I must go down," I said; "but there
is really no reason for your being fright-
ened. I shall call David, and shall carry
my pistol, so there is really no danger.
If there are thieves in the house they
have probably decamped by this time -
that is, if they are able to do so, for of
course they must know that noise would
awaken the soundest sleepers."
My wife looked at me and then slowly
withdrew her hands from my arm.
"You promise me," she said, "if you
find a burglar downstairs in the possession
of his senses you will immediately come
back to me and George William? "
THREE BURGLARS. 15
I promised her, and, slipping on some
clothes, I went out into the second-story
hall. I carried no light. Before I had
reached the bottom of the back stairs I
heard David, my man, coming down. To
be sure it was he and not a burglar I
spoke to him in a low voice, my pistol
raised in case of an unsatisfactory reply.
I heard that noise, sir," he whispered,
"and was going down to see about it."
Are you ready if it's thieves ?" I
"I have got the biscuit-beater," he re-
Come on, then," said I, and we went
I had left no light in the library, but
there was one there now, and it shone
through the open door into the hallway.
We stopped and listened. There was no
sound, and then slowly and cautiously we
approached the door of the library. The
scene I beheld astounded me, and invol-
untarily I sprang back a step or two. So
did David; but in an instant we saw that
there was no need of retreat or defence.
Stretched upon the floor, not far from the
doorway, lay a tall man, his face upturned
to the light of a bull's-eye lantern which
16 THE STORIES OF THE
stood by the mantel-piece. His eyes were
shut, and it was evident that he was per-
fectly insensible. Near by, in the wreck
of the small table, glasses, and decanters,
lay another man, apparently of heavier
build. He also was as still as a corpse.
A little further back, half sitting on the
floor, with the upper part of his body
resting against the lounge, was another
man with a black mask over his face.
"Are they dead ?" exclaimed David, in
an undertone of horror.
"No," said I, they are not dead; they
have been caught in my trap."
And I must admit that the conscious-
ness of this created a proud exultation of
spirit within me. I had overmatched
these rascals; they were prostrated be-
fore me. If one of them moved, David
and I could kill him. But I did not
believe there would be any killing, nor
any moving for the present.
In a high whisper, which could have
been heard distinctly all over the house,
my wife now called to me from the top
of the stairs. "What is it?" she said.
"What has happened ?"
I stepped quickly to the stairway.
"Everything is all right," I said in a
THREE BURGLARS. 17
loud, distinct voice, intended to assure my
wife that there was no necessity for cau-
tion or alarm. "I will be with you pres-
"I am glad to hear that nothing is the
matter," said Aunt Martha, now for the
first time opening her door. "I was
afraid something had happened."
But I had business to attend to before I
could go upstairs. In thinking over and
arranging this plan for the capture of
burglars, I had carefully considered its
various processes, and had provided
against all the contingencies I could think
of; therefore I was not now obliged to
deliberate what I should do. "Keep your
eye on them," said I to David, "and if
one of them moves be ready for him.
The first thing to do is to tie them hand
I quickly lighted a lamp, and then took
from another shelf of the closet a large
coil of strong cotton rope, which I had
provided for such an occasion as the
"Now," said I to David, "I will tie
them while you stand by to knock over
any one of them who attempts to get up."
The instrument with which David was
18 THE STORIES OF THE
prepared to carry out my orders was a
formidable one. In the days of my youth
my family was very fond of "Maryland
biscuit," which owes much of its delicacy
to the fact that before baking it is pounded
and beaten by a piece of heavy iron. Some
people used one kind of a beater and
some another, but we had had made for
the purpose a heavy iron club a little over
a foot long, large and heavy at one end
and a handle at the other. In my present
household Maryland biscuits were never
made, but I had preserved this iron beater
as a memento of my boyhood, and when
the burglaries began in our vicinity I gave
it to David to keep in his room, to be
used as a weapon if necessary. I did not
allow him to have a pistol, having a regard
for my own safety in a sudden night alarm,
and nothing could be more formidable in
a hand-to-hand encounter than this skull-
I began with the tall man, and rapidly
tied his feet together with many twists of
the rope and as many knots. I then
turned him over and tied his elbows be-
hind him in the same secure way. I had
given so much thought to the best method
of securing a man by cords, that I do not
THREE BURGLARS. 19
think this fellow could possibly have re-
leased himself when I had finished with
David was obeying my orders and keep-
ing a strict watch on the prostrate men;
but his emotions of amazement were so
great that he could not keep them down.
What is the matter with them, sir? "
he said. "How did they come so ? "
There is no time for talking now," I
answered. "I will tell you all about it
when the men have been secured." I now
turned my attention to the man who was
partly resting against the lounge. I first
tied his feet, and before letting him down
to the floor, so as to get to his arms, I re-
moved his hat and his mask, which was
made of black muslin. I was surprised to
see the beardless face of a young and very
good-looking man. He was well dressed,
and had the general appearance of a per-
son belonging to theatrical circles. When
his arms had been tied, I told David he
might lay down his biscuit-beater, and
help me with the third man, who was
badly mixed up with the debris of the re-
freshments. We hauled him out and tied
him up. He was rather a short man, but
very heavy, and I could see no signs of his
20 THE STORIES OF THE
having been hurt by the smash-up he
made in falling.
We now proceeded to search the insensi-
ble burglars for arms. Upon the tall man
we found a large revolver, a heavy billy,
which seemed as if it had seen service, and
a long-bladed knife. The stout man car-
ried two double-barrelled pistols, and upon
one of the fingers of his right hand wore a
brass ring with a murderous-looking iron
protuberance upon it, which, when driven
forward by his powerful arm, was probably
more dangerous than a billy. Upon the
younger man we found no arms at all, and
his hip pocket contained nothing but a
small handbook on civil engineering.
I now briefly explained to David the
nature of the trap which had caught the
burglars. He gazed upon me with a face
glowing with amazed admiration.
What a head you have got, sir!" he
exclaimed. "I don't believe there is
another man in this State who would have
thought of that. And what are you going
to do with them now, sir; hang 'em?
That's what ought to be done with them,
the hounds !"
"All I shall do," I answered, will be
to keep them till daylight, and then I shall
THREE B URGLARS. 21
send word to the sheriff at Kennertown,
and have him send officers for them."
Upon my word," exclaimed David,
"they are in the worst kind of a box."
Now my wife called me again. What
in the world are you doing down there ? "
she called; "why don't you come up-
stairs ? "
This annoyed me, for I was not yet
ready to go upstairs. I wished to resus-
citate these fellows, for their stupor was
so profound that I began to fear that per-
haps they had taken too much of the drug
and ought to be brought to their senses
as speedily as possible. This feeling was
due more to my desire that serious injuries
should not occur to the rascals while in
my house than to any concern for them.
My dear," said I, stepping to the bot-
tom of the stairs, "I have some things to
attend to down here which will occupy
me a few minutes longer; then I will come
up to you."
I can't imagine what the things are,"
she said, "but I suppose I can wait," and
she went into her room and closed her
door after her.
I now began to consider what was to be
done with the burglars after they had
22 THE STORIES OF THE
been resuscitated. My first impulse was
to rid the house of them by carrying them
out of doors and bringing them to their
senses there. But there was an objection to
this plan. They would be pretty heavy fel-
lows to carry, and as it would be absolutely
necessary to watch them until they could be
given into the charge of the officers of the
law, I did not want to stay out of doors to
do this, for the night air was raw and
chilly, and I therefore determined to keep
them in the house. And as they could be
resuscitated better in a sitting position,
they must be set up in some way or other.
I consulted David on the subject.
You might put 'em up with their backs
agin the wall, sir," said he, "but the dirty
beasts would spoil the paper. I wouldn't
keep them in a decent room like this. I'd
haul 'em out into the kitchen, anyway."
But as they were already in the library
I decided to let them stay there, and to
get them as speedily as possible into some
position in which they might remain. I
bethought me of a heavy wooden settle
or bench with back and arms which stood
on the side piazza. With David's help I
brought this into the room and placed it
with its back to the window.
THREE BURGLARS. 23
"Now, then," said I to David, we
will put them on this bench, and I will tie
them fast to it. We cannot be too careful
in securing them, for if one of them were
to get loose, even without arms, there is
no knowing what trouble he might make."
"Well, sir," said David, "if I'm to han-
dle them at all, I'd rather have them dead,
as I hope they are, than have them alive;
but you needn't be afraid, sir, that any
one of them will get loose. If I see any
signs of that I'll crack the rascal's skull in
It required a great deal of tugging and
lifting to get those three men on the
bench, but we got them there side by side,
their heads hanging listlessly, some one
way, some another. I then tied each one
of them firmly to the bench.
I had scarcely finished this when I
again heard my wife's voice from the top
of the stairs.
If any pipes have burst," she called
down, tell David not to catch the water
in the new milk-pans."
"Very well," I replied, "I'll see to it,"
and was rejoiced to hear again the shutting
of the bedroom door.
I now saturated a sponge with the pow-
24 THE STORIES OF THE
erful preparation which Dr. Marks had
prepared as an antidote, and held it under
the nose of the tall burglar. In less than
twenty seconds he made a slight quiver-
ing in his face as if he were about to
sneeze, and very soon he did sneeze slight-
ly. Then he sneezed violently, raised his
head, and opened his eyes. For a moment
he gazed blankly before him, and then
looked stupidly at David and at me. But
in an instant there flashed into his face
the look of a wild beast. His quick, glit-
tering eye took in the whole situation at
a glance. With a furious oath he threw
himself forward with such a powerful
movement that he nearly lifted the bench.
Stop that," said David, who stood
near him with his iron club uplifted.
"If you do that again I'll let you feel
The man looked at him with a fiery
flash in his eyes, and then he looked at
me, as I stood holding the muzzle of my
pistol within two feet of his face. The
black and red faded out of his counte-
nance. He became pale. He glanced at
his companions bound and helpless. His
expression now changed entirely. The
fury of the wild beast was succeeded by
THREE BURGLARS. 25
a look of frightened subjection. Gazing
very anxiously at my pistol, he said, in a.
voice which, though agitated, was low and
What does this mean? What are you
going to do ? Will you please turn away
the muzzle of that pistol ? "
I took no notice of this indication of my
steadiness of hand, and answered: -
"I am going to bring these other scoun-
drels to their senses, and early in the
morning the three of you will be on your
way to jail, where I hope you may remain
for the rest of your lives."
If you don't get killed on your way
there," said David, in whose nervous hand
the heavy biscuit-beater was almost as
dangerous as my pistol.
The stout man who sat in the middle of
the bench was twice as long in reviving as
had been his companion, who watched the
operation with intense interest. When
the burly scoundrel finally became con-
scious, he sat for a few minutes gazing at
the floor with a silly grin ; then he raised
his head and looked first at one of his
companions and then at the other, gazed
for an instant at me and David, tried to
move his feet, gave a pull at one arm and
26 THE STORIES OF THE
then at the other, and when he found
he was bound hard and fast, his face
turned as red as fire and he opened
his mouth, whether to swear or yell I
know not. I had already closed the door,
and before the man had uttered more than
a premonitory sound, David had clapped
the end of his bludgeon against his mouth.
Taste that," he said, and you know
what you will get if you disturb this
family with any of your vile cursin' and
"Look here," said the tall man, sud-
denly turning to the other with an air of
authority, "keep your mouth shut and
don't speak till you're spoken to. Mind
that, now, or these gentlemen will make
it the worse for you."
David grinned as he took away his
"I'd gentlemen you," he said, "if I
could get half a chance to do it."
The face of the heavy burglar main-
tained its redness, but he kept his mouth
When the younger man was restored to
his senses, his full consciousness and power
of perception seemed to come to him in an
instant. His eyes flashed from right to
THREE BURGLARS. 27
left, he turned deadly white, and then
merely moving his arms and legs enough
to make himself aware that he was bound,
he sat perfectly still and said not a word.
I now felt that I must go and acquaint
my wife with what had happened, or
otherwise she would be coming downstairs
to see what was keeping me so long.
David declared that he was perfectly able
to keep guard over them, and I ran up-
stairs. David afterward told me that as
soon as I left the room the tall burglar en-
deavoured to bribe him to cut their ropes,
and told him if he was afraid to stay
behind after doing this he would get him
a much better situation than this could
possibly be. But as David threatened
personal injury to the speaker if he uttered
another word of the kind, the tall man
said no more; but the stout man became
very violent and angry, threatening all
sorts of vengeance on my unfortunate
man. David said he was beginning to
get angry, when the tall man, who seemed
to have much influence over the other
fellow, ordered him to keep quiet, as the
gentleman with the iron club no doubt
thought he was doing right. The young
fellow never said a word.
28 THE STORIES OF THE
When I told my wife that I had caught
three burglars, and they were fast bound
in the library, she nearly fainted; and
when I had revived her she begged me to
promise that I would not go downstairs
again until the police had carried away
the horrible wretches. But I assured her
that it was absolutely necessary for me to
return to the library. She then declared
that she would go with me, and if any-
thing happened she would share my fate.
"Besides," she said, "if they are tied fast
so they can't move, I should like to see
what they look like. I never saw a burg-
I did not wish my wife to go down-
stairs, but as I knew there would be no
use in objecting, I consented. She hastily
dressed herself, making me wait for her;
and when she left the room she locked the
door on the sleeping George William, in
order that no one should get at him dur-
ing her absence. As we passed the head
of the stairs, the door of my Aunt Mar-
tha's room opened, and there she stood,
completely dressed, with her bonnet on,
and a little leather bag in her hand.
"I heard so much talking and so much
going up and down stairs that I thought I
THREE BURGLARS. 29
had better be ready to do whatever had to
be done. Is it fire ?"
No," said my wife; it's three burglars
tied in a bunch in the library. I am going
down to see them."
My Aunt Martha gasped, and looked as
if she were going to sit down on the floor.
Goodness gracious! she said, if
you're going I'll go too. I can't let you
go alone, and I never did see a burglar."
I hurried down and left the two ladies
on the stairs until I was sure everything
was still safe; and when I saw that there
had been no change in the state of affairs,
I told them to come down.
When my wife and Aunt Martha tim-
idly looked in at the library door, the
effect upon them and the burglars was
equally interesting. The ladies each gave
a start and a little scream, and huddled
themselves close to me, and the three
burglars gazed at them with faces that ex-
pressed more astonishment than any I had
.ver seen before. The stout fellow gave
vent to a smothered exclamation, and the
face of the young man flushed, but not
one of them spoke.
Are you sure they are tied fast? "
whispered my Aunt Martha to me.
30 THE STORIES OF THE
"Perfectly," I answered; "if I had not
been sure I should not have allowed you
to come down."
Thereupon the ladies picked up courage
and stepped further into the room.
"Did you and David catch them?"
asked my aunt; "and how in the world
did you do it?"
"I'll tell you all about that another
time," I said, and you had better go up-
stairs as soon as you two have seen what
sort of people are these cowardly burglars
who sneak or break into the houses of
respectable people at night, and rob and
steal and ruin other people's property with
no more conscience or human feeling than
is possessed by the rats which steal your
corn, or the polecats which kill your
"I can scarcely believe," said Aunt
Martha, "that that young man is a real
At these words the eyes of the fellow
spoken of glowed as he fixed them on
Aunt Martha, but he did not say a word,
and the paleness which had returned to
his face did not change.
"Have they told you who they are?"
asked my wife.
THREE BURGLARS. 31
"I haven't asked them," I said. "And
now don't you think you had better go up-
"It seems to me," said Aunt Martha,
"that those ropes must hurt them."
The tall man now spoke. "Indeed
they do, madam," he said in a low voice
and very respectful manner, "they are
I told David to look at all the cords
and see if any of them were too tightly
It's all nonsense, sir," said he, when he
had finished the examination; not one
of the ropes is a bit too tight. All they
want is a chance to pull out their ugly
Of course," said Aunt Martha, "if it
would be unsafe to loosen the knots I
wouldn't do it. Are they to be sent to
Yes," said I; "as soon as the day
breaks I shall send down for the police."
I now heard a slight sound at the door,
and turning, saw Alice, our maid of the
house, who was peeping in at the door.
Alice was a modest girl, and quite pretty.
I heard the noise and the talking, sir,"
she said, "and when I found the ladies
82 THE STORIES OF THE
had gone down to see what it was, 1
thought I would come too."
"And where is the cook," asked my
wife; don't she want to see burglars ? "
Not a bit of it," answered Alice, very
emphatically. "As soon as I told her
what it was she covered up her head with
the bedclothes and declared, ma'am, that
she would never get up until they were
entirely gone out of the house."
At this the stout man grinned.
I wish you'd all cover up your heads,"
he said. The tall man looked at him se-
verely, and he said no more.
David did not mo~e from his post near
the three burglars, but he turned toward
Alice and looked at her. We knew that
he had tender feelings toward the girl, and
I think that he did not approve of her
"Have they stolen anything ? asked
They have not had any chance to take
anything away," I said; and my wife re-
marked that whether they had stolen any-
thing or not, they had made a dreadful
mess on the floor, and had broken the
table.' They should certainly be pun-
THREE BURGLARS. 33
At this she made a motion as if she
would leave the room, and an anxious ex-
pression immediately came on the face of
the tall man, who had evidently been re-
volving something in his mind.
Madam," he said, "we are very sorry
that we have broken your table, and that
we have damaged some of your glass and
your carpet. I assure you, however, that
nothing of the kind would have happened
but for that drugged wine, which was
doubtless intended for a medicine, and not
a beverage; but weary and chilled as we
were when we arrived, madam, we were
glad to partake of it, supposing it ordinary
I could not help showing a little pride
at the success of my scheme.
The refreshment was intended for fel-
lows of your class, and I am very glad you
The tall man did not answer me, but he
again addressed my wife.
Madam," he said, if you ladies would
remain and listen to me a few moments, I
am sure I would make you aware that
there is much to extenuate the apparent
offence which I have committed to-night."
My wife did not answer him, but turn-
34 THE STORIES OF THE
ing to me said, smiling, "If he alludes to
their drinking your wine he need not
The man looked at her with an expres-
sion as if her words had pained him.
"Madam," he said, "if you consent to
listen to my explanations and the story of
this affair, I am sure your feelings toward
me would not be so harsh."
Now, then," said my Aunt Martha, if
he has a story to tell he ought to be al-
lowed to tell it, even in a case like this.
Nobody should be judged until he has said
what he thinks he ought to say. Let us
hear his story."
I laughed. "Any statement he may
make," I said, "will probably deserve a
much stronger name than stories."
"I think that what you say is true,"
remarked my wife; "but still if he has a
story to tell I should like to hear it."
I think I heard David give a little
grunt; but he was too well bred to say
Vry well," said I, if you choose to
sit up and hear him talk, it is your affair.
I shall be obliged to remain here anyway,
and will not object to anything that will
help to pass away the time. But these
THREE BURGLARS. 35
men must not be the only ones who are
seated. David, you and Alice can clear
away that broken table and the rest of the
stuff, and then we might as well sit down
and make ourselves comfortable."
Alice, with cloth and brush, approached
very timidly the scene of the disaster; but
the younger burglar, who was nearest to
her, gazed upon her with such a gentle and
quiet air that she did not seem to be
frightened. When she and David had put
the room in fair order, I placed two easy-
chairs for my wife and Aunt Martha at a
moderate distance from the burglars, and
took another myself a little nearer to
them, and then told David to seat himself
near the other end of the bench, and Alice
took a chair at a little distance from the
"Now, then," said Aunt Martha to the
burglars, I would like very much to hear
what any one of you can say in extenua-
tion of having broken into a gentleman's
house by night."
Without hesitation the tall man began
his speech. He had a long and rather
lean, close-shaven face, which at present
bore the expression of an undertaker con-
ducting a funeral. Although it was my
86 THE STORIES OF THE
aunt who had shown the greatest desire to
hear his story, he addressed himself to my
wife. I think he imagined that she was
the more influential person of the two.
Madam," said he, "I am glad of the
opportunity of giving you and your family
an idea of the difficulties and miseries
which beset a large class of your fellow-
beings of whom you seldom have any
chance of knowing anything at all, but of
whom you hear all sorts of the most mis-
leading accounts. Now, I am a poor man.
I have suffered the greatest miseries that
poverty can inflict. I am here, suspected
of having committed a crime. It is possi-
ble that I may be put to considerable diffi-
culty and expense in proving my inno-
"I shouldn't wonder," I interrupted.
To this remark he paid no attention.
"Considering all this," he continued,
" you may not suppose, madam, that as a
boy I was brought up most respectably and
properly. My mother was a religious
woman, and my father was a boat-builder.
I was sent to school, and my mother has
.often told me that I was a good scholar.
But she died when I was about sixteen,
and I am sure had this not happened I
THREE BURGLARS. '37
should never have been even suspected of
breaking the laws of my country. Not long
after her death my father appeared to lose
interest in his business, and took to rowing
about the river instead of building boats
for other people to row. Very often he
went out at night, and I used to wonder
why he should care to be on the water in
the darkness, and sometimes in the rain.
One evening at supper he said to me:
'Thomas, you ought to know how to row
in the dark as well as in the daytime. I
am going up the river to-night, and you
can come with me.'
"It was about my ordinary bedtime
when we took a boat with two pair of oars,
and we pulled up the river about three
miles above the city."
"What city ?" I asked.
"The city where I was born, sir," he
said, and the name of which I must be
excused from mentioning for reasons con-
nected with my only surviving parent.
There were houses on the river bank, but
they were not very near each other.
Some of them had lights in them, but most
of them were dark, as it must have been
after eleven o'clock. Before one of them
my father stopped rowing for a moment
38 THE STORIES OF THE
and looked at it pretty hard. It seemed
to be all dark, but as we pulled on a little
I saw a light in the back of the house.
My father said nothing, but we kept
on, though pulling very easy for a mile or
two, and then we turned and floated down
with the tide. You might as well rest,
Thomas,' said he, 'for you have worked
We floated slowly, for the tide was
just beginning to turn, and when we got
near the house which I mentioned, I
noticed that there was no light in it. When
we were about opposite to it father sud-
denly looked up and said, not speaking
very loud, By George if that isn't Wil-
liamson Green's house. I wasn't thinking
of it when we rowed up, and passed it
without taking notice of it. I am sorry
for that, for I wanted to see Williamson,
and now I expect he has gone to bed.'
"' Who is Mr. Green ?' I asked.
"' He is an old friend of mine,' said my
father,' and I haven't seen him for some
little while now. About four months ago
he borrowed of me a sextant, quadrant,
and chronometer. They were instruments
I took from old Captain Barney in pay-
ment of some work I did for him. I
THREE BURGLARS. 39
wasn't usin' them, and Williamson had
bought a catboat and was studying navi-
gation; but he has given up that fad now
and has promised me over and over to send
me back my instruments, but he has never
done it. If I'd thought of it I would have
stopped and got 'em of him; but I didn't
think, and now I expect he has gone to
bed. However, I'll row in shore and see;
perhaps he's up yet.'
"You see, ma'am," said the speaker to
my wife, I'm tellin' you all these particu-
lars because I am very anxious you should
understand exactly how everything hap-
pened on this night, which was the turn-
ing-point of my life."
"Very good," said Aunt Martha; "we
want to hear all the particulars."
"Well, then," continued the burglar,
" we pulled up to a stone wall which was
at the bottom of Green's place and made
fast, and father he got out and went up to
the house. After a good while he came
back and said that he was pretty sure
Williamson Green had gone to bed, and
as it wouldn't do to waken people up from
their sleep to ask them for nautical instru-
ments they had borrowed, he sat down for
a minute on the top of the wall, and then
40 THE STORIES OF THE
he slapped his knee, not making much
"' By George !' he said,' an idea has just
struck me. I can play the prettiest trick
on Williamson that ever was played on
mortal man. Those instruments are all
in a box locked up, and I know just
where he keeps it. I saw it not long
ago, when I went to his house to talk
about a yacht he wants built. They are
on a table in the corner of his bedroom.
He was taking me through the house to
show me the improvements he had made,
and he said to me: -
"' "Martin, there's your instruments.
I won't trouble you to take them with
you, because they're heavy and you're
not going straight home, but I'll bring
them to you day after to-morrow, when I
shall be going' your way."
"'Now, then,' said my father, 'the trick
I'm thinking' of playing on Williamson is
this: I'd like to take that box of instru-
ments out of his room without his know-
ing it and carry them home, having the
boat here convenient; and then in a day
or two to write to him and tell him I
must have 'em, because I have a special
use for 'em. Of course he'll be awfully
THREE BURGLARS. 41
cut up, not having them to send back;
and when he comes down to my place to
talk about it, and after hearing all he has
to say, I'll show him the box. He'll be
the most dumbfoundedest man in this
State; and if I don't choose to tell him
he'll never know to his dying day how I
got that box. And if he lies awake at
night, trying to think how I got it, it
will serve him right for keeping my prop-
erty from me so long.'
'' But, father,' said I, 'if the people
have gone to bed you can't get into the
house to play him your trick.'
"'That can be managed,' says he; 'I'm
rather old for climbing myself, but I
know a way by which you, Thomas, can
get in easy enough. At the back of the
house is a trellis with a grape-vine run-
ning over it, and the top of it is just
under one of the second-story windows.
You can climb up that trellis, Thomas,
and lift up that window-sash very care-
fully, so's not to make no noise, and get
in. Then you'll be in a back room, with
a door right in front of you which opens
into Mr. and Mrs. Green's bedroom.
There's always a little night lamp burn-
ing in it, by which you can see to get
42 THE STORIES OF THE
about. In the corner, on your right as
you go into the room, is a table with my
instrument-box standing on it. The box
is pretty heavy, and there is a handle on
top to carry it by. You needn't be afraid
to go in, for by this time they are both
sound asleep, and you can pick up the
box and walk out as gingerly as a cat,
having of course taken your shoes off
before you went in. Then you can hand
the box out the back window to me, I
can climb up high enough to reach it, -
and you can scuttle down, and we'll be
off, having the best rig on Williamson
Green that I ever heard of in my born
"I was a very active boy, used to climb-
ing and all that sort of thing, and I had
no doubt that I could easily get into the
house; but I did not fancy my father's
"' Suppose,' I said, that Mr. William-
son Green should wake up and see me;
what could I say? How could I explain
You needn't say anything,' said my
father. 'If he wakes up blow out the
light and scoot. If you happen to have
the box in your hand drop it out the
TIIRFE B URGLARS. 43
back window and then slip down after it.
He won't see us; but if he does he cannot
catch us before we get to the boat; but if
he should, however, I'll have to explain
the matter to him, and the joke will be
against me; bu)t I shall get my instru-
ments, which is the main point, after all.'
"I did not argue with my father, for
he was a man who hated to be differed
with, and I agreed to help him carry out
his little joke. We took off our shoes
and walked quietly to the back of the
house. My father stood below, and I
chmbed up the trellis under the back
window, which he pointed out. The
window-sash was down all but a little
crack to let in air, and I raised it so
slowly and gently that I made no noise.
Then without any trouble at all I got into
"I found myself in a moderate-sized
chamber, into which a faint light came
from a door opposite the window. Hav-
ing been several hours out in the night
my eyes had become so accustomed to
darkness that this light was comparatively
strong and I could see everything.
"Looking about me my eyes fell on a
little bedstead,, on which lay one of the
44 THE STORIES OF THE
most beautiful infants I ever beheld in
my life. Its golden hair lay in ringlets
upon the pillow. Its eyes were closed,
but its soft cheeks had in them a rosy
tinge which almost equalled the colour of
its dainty little lips, slightly opened as it
softly breathed and dreamed." At this
point I saw my wife look quickly at the
bedroom key she had in her hand. I
knew she was thinking of George Wil-
"I stood entranced," continued the
burglar, "gazing upon this babe, for I was
very fond of children; but I remembered
that I must not waste time, and stepped
softly into the next room. There I beheld
Mr. and Mrs. Williamson Green in bed,
both fast asleep, the gentleman breathing
a little hard. In a corner, just where my
father told me I should find it, stood the
box upon the table.
But I could not immediately'pick it up
and depart. The beautiful room in which
I found myself was a revelation to me.
Until that moment I had not known that
I had tastes and sympathies of a higher,
order than might have been expected of
the youthful son of a boat-builder. Those
artistic furnishings aroused within a love
THREE BURGLARS. .45
of the beautiful which I did not know I
possessed. The carpets, the walls, the
pictures, the hangings in the windows,
the furniture, the ornaments, every-
thing, in fact, impressed me with such a
delight that I did not wish to move or
Into my young soul there came a long-
ing. Oh !' I said to myself, 'that my
parents had belonged to the same social
grade as that worthy couple reposing in
that bed; and oh! that I, in my infancy,
had been as beautiful and as likely to be
so carefully nurtured and cultured as that
sweet babe in the next room.' I almost
heaved a sigh as I thought of the differ-
ence between the., surroundings and my
own, but I checkP- myself; it would not
do to made a noise and spoil my father's
"There were a great many things in
that luxurious apartment which it would
have delighted me to look upon and ex-
amine, but I forbore.
I wish I'd been there," said the stout
man ; "there wouldn't have been any for-
The speaker turned sharply upon him.
"Don't you interrupt me again," he
46 THE STORIES OF THE
said angrily. Then, instantly resuming
his deferential tone, he continued the
But I had come there by the command
of my parent, and this command must be
obeyed without trifling or loss of time.
My father did not approve of trifling or
loss of time. I moved quietly toward the
table in the corner, on which stood my
father's box. I was just about to put my
hand upon it when I heard a slight move-
ment behind me. I gave a start and
glanced backward. It was Mr. Williamson
Green turning over in his bed; what if he
should awake? His back was now toward
me, and my impulse was to fly and leave
everything behind me; but my father had
ordered me to bring the box, and he ex-
pected his orders to be obeyed. I had
often been convinced of that.
"I stood perfectly motionless for a
minute or so, and when the gentleman
recommended his regular and very audible
breathing I felt it safe to proceed with my
task. Taking hold of the box I found it
was much heavier than I expected it to
be; but I moved gently away with it and
passed into the back room.
There I could not refrain from stop-
THREE BURGLARS. 47
ping a moment by the side of the sleeping
babe, upon whose cherub-like face the light
of the night lamp dimly shone. The little
child was still sleeping sweetly, and my
impulse was to stop and kiss it; but I knew
that this would be wrong. The infant
might awake and utter a cry and my
father's joke be spoiled. I moved to the
open window, and with some trouble, and,
I think, without any noise, I succeeded in
getting out upon the trellis with the box
under my arm. The descent was awkward,
but my father was a tall man, and, reach-
ing upward, relieved me of my burden
before I got to the ground.
"'I didn't remember it was so heavy,'
he whispered, or I should have given you
a rope to lower it down by. If you had
dropped it and spoiled my instruments,
and made a lot of noise besides, I should
have been angry enough.'
"I was very glad my father was not
angry, and following him over the green-
sward we quickly reached the boat, where
the box was stowed away under the bow
to keep it from injury.
"We pushed off as quietly as possible
and rowed swiftly down the river. When
we had gone about a mile I suddenly
48 THE STORIES OF THE
dropped my oar with an exclamation of
"'What's the matter?' cried my
"' Oh, I have done a dreadful thing!' I
said. Oh, father, I must go back !'
"I am sorry to say that at this my
"'What do you want to go back for ?
".' Just to think of it! I have left open
the window in which that beautiful child
was sleeping. If it should take cold and
die from the damp air of the river blowing
upon it I should never forgive myself.
Oh, if I had only thought of climbing up
the trellis again and pulling down that
sash! I am sure I could ,go back and do
it without making the least noise.' My
father gave a grunt; but what the grunt
meant I do not know, and for a few mo-
ments he was silent, and then he said : -
"' Thomas, you cannot go back; the dis-
tance is too great, the tide is against us,
and it is time that you and I were both in
our beds. Nothing may happen to that
baby; but, attend to my words now, if any
harm should come to that child it will go
hard with you. If it should die it would
THREE BURGLARS. 49
be of no use for you to talk about practi-
cal jokes. You would be held responsible
for its death. I was going to say to you
that it might be as well for you not to say
anything about this little venture until I
had seen how Williamson Green took the
joke. Some people get angry with very
little reason, although I hardly believe he's
that sort of a man; but now things are dif-
ferent. He thinks all the world of that
child, which is the only one they've got;
and if you want to stay outside of jail or
the house of refuge I warn you never to
say a word of where you have been this
"With this he began to row again, and
I followed his example, but with a very
heavy heart. All that night I dreamt of
the little child with the damp night winds
blowing in upon it."
"Did you ever hear if it caught cold?"
asked Aunt Martha.
No," replied the burglar, I never did.
I mentioned the matter to my father, and
he said that he had great fears upon the
subject, for although he had written to
Williamson Green, asking him to return
the instruments, he had not seen him or
heard from him, and he was afraid that the
50 THE STORIES OF THE
child had died or was dangerously sick.
Shortly after that my father sent me on a
little trip to the Long Island coast to col-
lect some bills from people for whom he
had done work. He gave me money to
stay a week or two at the seashore, saying
that the change would do me good; and it
was while I was away on this delightful
holiday that an event occurred which had
a most disastrous effect upon my future
life. My father was arrested for burglary !
"It appeared and I cannot tell you
how shocked I was when I discovered the
truth that the box which I had carried
away did not contain nautical instruments,
but was filled with valuable plate and
jewels. My unfortunate father heard from
a man who had been discharged from the
service of the family whose house he had
visited whose name, by the way, was
not Green where the box containing the
valuables mentioned was always placed at
night, and he had also received accurate
information in regard to the situation of the
rooms and the best method of gaining ac-
cess to them.
I believe that some arrangement had
been made between my father and this
discharged servant in regard to a division
THREE BURGLARS. 51
of the contents of the box, and it was on
account of a disagreement on this subject
that the man became very angry, and after
pocketing what my father thought was his
fair share he departed to unknown regions,
leaving behind a note to the police which
led to my father's arrest."
That was a mean trick," said Aunt
The burglar looked at her gratefully.
"In the lower spheres of life, madam,
such things often happen. Some of the
plate and jewels were found in my father's
possession, and he was speedily tried and
sentenced to a long term of imprisonment.
And now, can you imagine, ladies," said
the tall burglar, apparently having become
satisfied to address himself to Aunt Martha
as well as my wife, the wretched position
in which I found myself? I was up-
braided as the son of a thief. I soon found
myself without home, without occupation,
and, alas without good reputation. I was
careful not to mention my voluntary con-
nection with my father's crime for fear
that should I do so I might be compelled
to make a statement which might increase
the severity of his punishment. For this
reason I did not dare to make inquiries
52 THE STORIES OF THE
concerning the child in whom I had taken
such an interest, and whose little life I
had, perhaps, imperilled. I never knew,
ladies, whether that infant grew up or not.
But I, alas grew up to a life of hard-
ship and degradation. It would be impos-
sible for persons in your sphere of life to
understand what I now was obliged to
suffer. Suitable employment I could not
obtain, because I was the son of a burglar.
With a father in the State prison it was of
no use for me to apply for employment at
any respectable place of business. I la-
boured at one thing and another, sometimes
engaging in the most menial employment.
I also had been educated and brought up
by my dear mother for a very different
career. Sometimes I managed to live
fairly well, sometimes I suffered. Always
I suffered from the stigma of my father's
crime; always in the eyes of the commu-
nity in which I lived a community, I am
sorry to say, incapable, as a rule, of making
correct judgments in delicate cases like
these -- 1 was looked upon as belonging to
the ranks of the dishonest. It was a hard
lot, and sometimes almost impossible to
bear up under.
"I have spoken at length, ladies, in
THREE BURGLARS. 53
order that you may understand my true
position; and I wish to say that I have
never felt the crushing weight of my
father's disgrace more deeply than I felt it
last evening. This man," nodding toward
the stout burglar, came to me shortly
after I had eaten my supper, which hap-
pened to be a frugal one, and said to me : -
"'Thomas, I have some business to at-
tend to to-night, in which you can help
me if you choose. I know you are a good
"' If it is work that will pay me,' I
answered, I should be very glad to do it,
for I am greatly in need of money.'
It will pay,' said he; and I agreed to
"As we were walking to the station, as
the business to be attended to was out of
town, this man, whose name is James Bar-
low, talked to me in such a way that I
began to suspect that he intended to com-
mit a burglary, and openly charged him
with this evil purpose. You may call it
burglary or anything else you please,'
said he; 'property is very unequally di-
vided in this world, and it is my business
in life to make wrong things right as far
as I can. I am going to the house of a
54 THE STORIES OF THE
man who has a great deal more than he
needs, and I haven't anything like as much
as I need; and so I intend to take some
of his overplus, not very much, for when
I leave his house he will still be a rich
man, and I'll be a poor one. But for a
time my family will not starve.'
'Argue as you please, James Barlow,'
I said, what you are going to do is noth-
ing less than burglary.'
"' Of course it is,' said he ; 'but it's all
right, all the same. There are a lot of
people, Thomas, who are not as particular
about these things as they used to be, and
there is no use for you to seem better than
your friends and acquaintances. Now, to
show there are not so many bigots as there
used to be, there's a young man going
to meet us at the station who is greatly
interested in the study of social problems.
He is going along with us just to look into
this sort of thing and study it. It is im-
possible for him to understand people. of
our class, or do anything to make their
condition better, if he does not thoroughly
investigate their methods of life and
action. He's going along just as a stu-
-dent, nothing more; and he may be down
on the whole thing for all I know. He
THREE BURGLARS. 55
pays me five dollars for the privilege of
accompanying me, and whether he likes it
or not is his business. I want you to go
along as a mechanic, and if your con-
science won't let you take any share in
the profit, I'll just pay you for your time.'
"' James Barlow,' said I, I am going
with you, but for a purpose far different
from that you desire. I shall keep by
your side, and if I can dissuade you from
committing the crime you intend I shall
do so; but if I fail in this, and you deliber-
ately break into a house for purposes of
robbery, I shall arouse the inmates and
frustrate your crime.' Now, James Bar-
low," said he, turning to the stout man
with a severe expression on his strongly
marked face, "is not what I have said per-
fectly true? Did you not say to me every
word which I have just repeated?"
The stout man looked at the other in a
very odd way. His face seemed to broad-
en and redden, and he merely closed his
eyes as he promptly answered: -
That's just what I said, every blasted
word of it. You've told it fair and square,
leaving' off nothing' and putting' in nothing .
You've told the true facts out and out, up
and down, without a break."
56 THE STORIES OF THE
"Now, ladies," continued the tall man,
" you see my story is corroborated, and I
will conclude it by saying that when this
house, in spite of my protest, had been
opened, I entered with the others with the
firm intention of stepping into a hallway
or some other suitable place and announc-
ing in a loud voice that the house was
about to be robbed. As soon as I found
the family aroused and my purpose ac-
complished, I intended to depart as quickly
as possible, for, on account of the shadow
east upon me by my father's crime, I must
never be found even in the vicinity of
.criminal action. But as I was passing
through this room I could not resist the
invitation of Barlow to partake of the re-
freshments which we saw upon the table.
I was faint from fatigue and insufficient
nourishment. It seemed a very little thing
to taste a drop of wine in a house where
I was about to confer a great benefit. I
yielded to the temptation, and now I am
punished. Partaking even that little
which did not belong to me, I find myself
placed in my present embarrassing posi-
You are right there," said I, it must
be embarrassing; but before we have any
TREE BURGLARS. 57
more reflections, there are some practical
points about which I wish you would in-
form me. How did that wicked man, Mr..
Barlow I think you called him, get into
The tall man looked at me for a moment,.
as if in doubt what he should say; and then
his expression of mingled hopelessness and
contrition changed into one of earnest
I will tell you, sir, exactly," he said;
"I have no wish to conceal anything. I
have long wanted to have an opportunity
to inform occupants of houses, especially
those in the suburbs, of the insufficiency
of their window fastenings. Familiar with
mechanic devices as I am, and accustomed:
to think of such things, the precautions of
householders sometimes move me to laugh-
ter. Your outer doors, front and back, are
of heavy wood, chained, locked, and bolted,
often double locked and bolted; but your
lower windows are closed in the first place
by the lightest kind of shutters, which are,
very seldom fastened at all, and in the
second place by a little contrivance con-
necting the two sashes, which is held in
place by a couple of baby screws. If these
contrivances are of the best kind and can-
58 THE STORIES OF THE
not be opened from the outside with a knife-
blade or piece of tin, the burglar puts a
chisel or jimmy under the lower sash and
gently presses it upward, when the baby
screws come out as easily as if they were
babies' milk-teeth. Not for a moment
does the burglar trouble himself about the
front door, with its locks and chains and
bolts. He goes to the window, with its
baby screws, which might as well be left
open as shut, for all the hindrance it is to
his entrance; and if he meddled with the
door at all, it is simply to open it from the
inside, so that when he is ready to depart
he may do so easily."
But all that does not apply to my win-
dows," I said. "They are not fastened
"No, sir," said the man, "your lower
shutters are solid and strong as your doors.
This is right, for if shutters are intended
to obstruct entrance to a house they should
be as strong as the doors. When James
Barlow first reached this house he tried his
jimmy on one of the shutters in this main
building, but he could not open it. The
heavy bolt inside was too strong for him.
Then he tried another near by with the
same result. You will find the shutters
THREE BURGLARS. 59
splintered at the bottom. Then he walked
to the small addition at the back of the
house, where the kitchen is located. Here
the shutters were smaller, and of course
the inside bolts were smaller. Everything
in harmony. Builders are so careful now-
a-days to have everything in harmony.
When Barlow tried his jimmy on one of
these shutters the bolt resisted for a time,
but its harmonious proportions caused it
to bend, and it was soon drawn from its
staples and the shutter opened, and of
course the sash was opened as I told you
sashes are opened."
Well," said I, "shutters and sashes of
mine shall never be opened in that way
It was with that object that I spoke to
you," said the tall man. I wish you to
understand the faults of your fastenings,
and any information I can give you which
will better enable you to protect your
house, I shall be glad to give, as a slight
repayment for the injury I may have
helped to do to you in the way of broken
glass and spoiled carpet. I have made
window fastenings an especial study, and,
if you employ me for the purpose, I'll
guarantee that I will put your house into a
60 THE STORIES OF THE
condition which will be absolutely burglar
proof. If I do not do this to your satis-
faction, I will not ask to be paid a cent."
"We will not consider that proposition
now," I said, for you may have other en-
gagements which would interfere with the
proposed job." I was about to say that I
thought we had enough of this sort of
story, when Aunt Martha interrupted me.
"It seems to me," she said, speaking to
the tall burglar, that you have instincts,
and perhaps convictions, of what is right
and proper; but it is plain that you allow
yourself to be led and influenced by un-
principled companions. You should avoid
even the outskirts of evil. You may not
know that the proposed enterprise is a
bad one, but you should not take part in
it unless you know that it is a good one.
In such cases you should be rigid."
The man turned toward my aunt, and
looked steadfastly at her, and as he gazed
his face grew sadder and sadder.
"Rigid," he repeated; that is hard."
"Yes," I remarked, "that is one of the
meanings of the word."
Paying no attention to me, he contin-
ued : -
"Madam," said he, with a deep pathos
THREE BURGLARS. 61
in his voice, no one can be better aware
than I am that I have made many mis-
takes in the course of my life; but that
quality on which I think I have reason to
be satisfied with myself is my rigidity
when I know a thing is wrong. There
occurs to me now an instance in my
career which will prove to you what I say.
"I knew a man by the name of Spot-
kirk, who had invented a liniment for the
cure of boils. He made a great success
with his liniment, which he called Boil-
ene, and at the time I speak of he was a
very rich man.
"One day Spotkirk came to me and
told me he wanted me to do a piece of
business for him, for which he would pay
me twenty-five dollars. I was glad to
hear this, for I was greatly in need of
money, and I asked him what it was he
wanted me to do.
You know Timothy Barker,' said he.
SWell, Timothy and I have had a misun-
derstanding, and I want you to be a
referee or umpire between us, to set things
'Very good,' said I, and what is the
point of difference ? '
I'll put the whole thing before you,'
62 THE STORIES OF THE
said he,' for of course you must under-
stand it or you can't talk properly to
Timothy. Now, you see, in the manufact-
ure of my Boilene I need a great quantity
of good yellow gravel, and Timothy Bar-
ker has got a gravel pit of that kind.
Two years ago I agreed with Timothy
that he should furnish me with all the
gravel I should want for one-eighth of one
per cent. of the profits on the Boilene. We
didn't sign no papers, for which I am sorry,
but that was the agreement; and now
Timothy says that one-eighth of one per
cent. isn't enough. He has gone wild
about it, and actually wants ten per cent.,
and threatens to sue me if I don't give it
"'Are you obliged to have gravel?
Wouldn't something else do for your pur-
"' There's nothing as cheap,' said Spot-
kirk. 'You see I have to have lots and
lots of it. Every day I fill a great tank
with the gravel and let water onto it.
This soaks through the gravel, and
comes out a little pipe in the bottom of
the tank of a beautiful yellow color;
sometimes it is too dark. and then I have
to thin it with more wae er.'
THREE BURGLARS. 63
"' Then you bottle it,' I said.
"'Yes,' said Spotkirk; 'then there is
all the expense and labour of bottling it.'
Then you put nothing more into it,'
"'What more goes into it before it's
corked,' said Spotkirk, is my business.
That's my secret, and nobody's been able
to find it out. People have had Boilene
analyzed by chemists, but they can't find
out the hidden secret of its virtue. There's
one thing that everybody who has used it
does know, and that is that it is a sure
cure for boils. If applied for two or three
days according to directions, and at the
proper stage, the boil is sure to disappear.
As a proof of its merit I have sold seven
hundred and forty-eight thousand bottles
"' At a dollar a bottle ?' said I.
'That is the retail price,' said he.
"' Now, then, Mr. Spotkirk,' said I,' it
will not be easy to convince Timothy
Barker that one-eighth of one per cent. is
enough for him. I suppose he hauls his
gravel to your factory ?'
"' Hauling's got nothing to do with it,'
said he ; gravel is only ten cents a load
anywhere, and if I choose I could put my
64 TIE STORIES OF THE
factory right in the middle of a gravel pit.
Timothy Barker has nothing to complain
But he knows you are making a lot
of money,' said I, and it will be a hard
job to talk him over. Mr. Spotkirk, it's
worth every cent of fifty dollars.'
"'Now look here,' said he; 'if you get
Barker to sign a paper that will suit me,
I'll give you fifty dollars. I'd rather do
that than have him bring a suit. If the
matter comes up in the courts those ras-
cally lawyers will be trying to find out
what I put into my Boilene, and that sort
of thing would be sure to hurt my busi-
ness. It won't be so hard to get a hold
on Barker if you go to work the right
way. You can just let him understand
that you know all about that robbery at
Bonsall's clothing-store, where he kept
the stolen goods in his barn, covered up
with hay, for nearly a week. It would be
a good thing for Timothy Barker to un-
derstand that somebody else beside me
knows about that business, and if you
bring it in right, it will fetch him around,
"I kept quiet for a minute or two, and
then I said: -
THREE BURGLARS. 65
'Mr. Spotkirk, this is an important busi-
ness. I can't touch it under a hundred
dollars.' He looked hard at me, and then
he said: -
"' Do it right, and a hundred dollars is
"After that I went to see Timothy
Barker, and had a talk with him. Tim-
othy was boiling over, and considered him-
self the worst-cheated man in the world.
He had only lately found out how Spot-
kirk made his Boilene, and what a big sale
he had for it, and he was determined to
have more of the profits.
"' Just look at it he shouted; 'when
Spotkirk has washed out my gravel it's
worth more than it was before, and he
sells it for twenty-five cents a load to put
on gentlemen's places. Even out of that he
makes a hundred and fifty per cent. profit.'
"I talked a good deal more with Tim-
othy Barker, and found out a good many
things about Spotkirk's dealings with him,
and then in an off-hand manner I men-
tioned the matter of the stolen goods in
his barn, just as if I had known all about
it from the very first. At this Timothy
stopped shouting, and became as meek as
a mouse. He said nobody was as sorry as
66 THE STORIES OF THE
he was when he found the goods concealed
in his barn had been stolen, and that if
he had known it before the thieves took
them away he should have informed the
authorities; and then he went on to tell
me how he got so poor and so hard up by
giving his whole time to digging and haul-
ing gravel for Spotkirk, and neglecting his
little farm, that he did not know what
was going to become of him and his fam-
ily if he couldn't make better terms with
Spotkirk for the future, and he asked me
very earnestly to help him in this business
if I could.
"Now, then, I set myself to work to con-
sider this business. Here was a rich man
oppressing a poor one, and here was this
rich man offering me one hundred dollars
-which in my eyes was a regular for-
tune to help him get things so fixed that
he could keep on oppressing the poor one.
Now, then, here was a chance for me to show
my principles. Here was a chance for me
to show myself what you, madam, call
rigid; and rigid I was. I just set that
dazzling one hundred dollars aside, much
as I wanted it. Much as I actually needed
it, I wouldn't look at it, or think of it. I
just said to myself, If you can do any
THREE BURGLARS. 67
good in this matter, do it for the poor man;'
and I did do it for Timothy Barker with his
poor wife and seven children, only two of
them old enough to help him in the gravel
pit. I went to Spotkirk and I talked to
him, and I let him see that if Timothy
Barker showed up the Boilene business, as
he threatened to do, it would be a bad day
for the Spotkirk family. He tried hard to
talk me over to his side, but I was rigid,
madam, I was rigid, and the business
ended in my getting seven per cent. of the
profits of Boilene for that poor man, Tim-
othy Barker, and his large family; and
their domestic prosperity is entirely due
- I say it without hesitation -to my
efforts on their behalf, and to my rigidity
in standing up for the poor against the
Of course," I here remarked, "you
don't care to mention anything about the
money you squeezed out of Timothy Bar-
ker by means of your knowledge that he
had been a receiver of stolen goods, and I
suppose the Boilene man gave you some-
thing to get the percentage brought down
from ten per cent. to seven."
The tall burglar turned and looked at
me with an air of saddened resignation.
68 THE STORIES OF THE
'. Of course," said he, it is of no use
for a man in my position to endeavour to
set himself right in the eyes of one who is
prejudiced against him. My hope is that
those present who are not prejudiced will
give my statements the consideration they
Which they certainly will do," I con-
tinued. Turning to my wife and Aunt
Martha, "As you have heard this fine
story, I think it is time for you to retire."
"I do not wish to retire," promptly re-
turned Aunt Martha. I was never more
awake in my life, and couldn't go asleep
if I tried. What we have heard may or
may not be true, but it furnishes subjects
for reflection serious reflection. I wish
very much to hear what that man in the
middle of the bench has to say for him-
self; I am sure he has a story."
Yes, ma'am," said the stout man, with
animation, "I've got one, and I'd like
nothing' better than to tell it to you if
you'll give me a little something' to wet
my lips with--a little beer, or whiskey
and water, or anything you have conven-
"Whiskey and water said Aunt Mar-
tha with severity. "I should think not.
THREE BURGLARS. 69
It seems to me you have had all the intoxi-
cating liquors in this house that you would
But I don't think you're the kind of
person who'd doctor the liquor. This is
the first gentleman's house where I ever
found anything of that kind."
"The worse for the gentleman," I re-
marked. The man grunted.
Well, ma'am," he said, call it any-
thing you please milk, cider, or, if you
have nothing' else, I'll take water. I can't
talk without something' soaky."
My wife rose. If we are to listen to
another story," she said, I want some-
thing to keep up my strength. I shall go
into the dining-room and make some tea,
and Aunt Martha can give these men some
of that if she likes."
The ladies now left the room, followed
by Alice. Presently they called me, and,
leaving the burglars in charge of the vigi-
lant David, I went to them. I found them
"I have been upstairs to see if George
William is all right, and now I want you
to tell me what you think of that man's
story," said my wife.
"I don't think it a story at all," said I.
70 THE STORIES OF THE
" I call it a lie. A story is a relation which
purports to be fiction, no matter how much
like truth it may be, and is intended to be
received as fiction. A lie is a false state-
ment made with the intention to deceive,
and that is what I believe we have heard
"I agree with you exactly," said my
It may be," said Aunt Martha, "that
the man's story is true. There are some
things about it which make me think so;
but if he is really a criminal he must have
had trials and temptations which led him
into his present mode of life. We should
"I have been studying him," I said,
"and I think he is a born rascal, who
ought to have been hung long ago."
My aunt looked at me. "John," she
said, if you believe people are born crimi-
nals, they ought to be executed in their
infancy. It could be done painlessly by
electricity, and society would be the
gainer, although you lawyers would be the
losers. But I do not believe in your doc-
trine. If the children of the poor were
properly brought up and educated, fewer
of them would grow to be criminals."
THRCE D URGLABS. 71
"I don't think this man suffered for
want of education," said my wife; "he
used very good language; that was one
of the first things that led me to suspect
him. It is not likely that sons of boat-
builders speak so correctly and express
themselves so well."
"Of course, I cannot alter your opin-
ions," said Aunt Martha, but the story
interested me, and I very much wish to
hear what that other man has to say for
"Very well," said I, "you shall hear it;
but I must drink my tea and go back to
"And I," said Aunt Martha, "will take
some tea to them. They may be bad men,
but they must not suffer."
I had been in the library but a few
moments when Aunt Martha entered, fol-
lowed by Alice, who bore a tray contain-
ing three very large cups of tea and some
Now, then," said Aunt Martha to me,
if you will untie their hands, I will give
them some tea."
At these words each burglar turned
his eyes on me with a quick glance. I
72 TIE STORIES OF THE
"Hardly," said I. "I would not be
willing to undertake the task of tying
them up again, unless, indeed, they will
consent to drink some more of my wine."
Which we won't do," said the middle
burglar, and that's flat."
"Then they must drink this tea with
their hands tied," said Aunt Martha, in a
tone of reproachful resignation, and, tak-
ing a cup from the tray, she approached
the stout man and held it up to his lips.
At this act of extreme kindness we were
all amused, even the burglar's companions
smiled, and David so far forgot himself as
to burst into a laugh, which, however, he
quickly checked. The stout burglar,
however, saw nothing to laugh at. He
drank the tea, and never drew breath un-
til the cup was emptied.
"I forgot," said my aunt, as she removed
the cup from his lips, to ask you whether
you took much or little sugar."
"Don't make no difference to me,"
answered the man; tea isn't malt liquor;
it's poor stuff any way, and it doesn't
matter to me whether it's got sugar in it
or not, but it's moistenin', and that's what
I want. Now, madam, I'll just say to you,
if ever I break into a room where you're
THREE BURGLARS. 73
sleeping I'll see that you don't come to
no harm, even if you sit up in bed and
Thank you," said Aunt Martha; "but
I hope you will never again be concerned
in that sort of business."
He grinned. "That depends on cir-
cumstances," said he.
Aunt Martha now offered the tall man
some tea, but he thanked her very re-
spectfully, and declined. The young man
also said that he did not care for tea, but
that if the maid -looking at Alice -
would give him a glass of water he would
be obliged. This was the first time he
had spoken. His voice was low and of a
pleasing tone. David's face grew dark,
and we could see that he objected to this
service from Alice.
"I will give him the water myself,"
said Aunt Martha. This she did, and I
noticed that the man's thirst was very
soon satisfied. When David had been
refreshed, and biscuits refused by the
burglars, who could not very well eat
them with their hands tied, we all sat
down, and the stout man began his story.
I give it as he told it, omitting some
coarse and rough expressions, and a good
74 THE STORIES OF THE
deal of slang which would be unintelli-
gible to the general reader.
"There's no use," said the burglar, "for
me to try and make any of you believe
that I'm a pious gentleman under a cloud,
for I know I don't look like it, and
wouldn't be likely to make out a case."
At this the tall man looked at him very
I don't mean to say," he continued,
"that my friend here tried anything like
that. Every word he said was perfectly
true, as I could personally testify if I was
called upon the stand, and what I'm going'
to tell you is likewise solid fact.
My father was a cracksman, and a
first-rate one, too; he brought me up to
the business, beginning when I was very
small. I don't remember havin' any
mother, so I'll leave her out. My old
man was very particular; he liked to see
things done right. One day I was with
him, and we saw a tinner ailing a new
leader or tin water-spout to the side of
"'Look here, young man,' says Dad,
'you're making' a pretty poor .job of that.
You don't put in enough nails, and they
ain't half drove in. Supposin' there was
THREE BURGLARS. 75
a fire in that house some night, and the
family had to come down by the spout,
and your nails would give way, and they'd
break their necks. What would you
think then ? And I can tell you what it
is, young man, I can appear ag'in you for
doing poor work.'
The tinner grumbled, but he used
more nails and drove 'em tight, Dad and
me standing' by, an' looking at him. One
rainy night not long after this Dad took
me out with him and we stopped in front
of this house. 'Now, Bobbie,' said he, 'I
want you to climb into that open second-
story window, and then slip down stairs
and open the front door for me ; the
family's at dinner.'
How am I to get up, Dad?' said I.
"'Oh, you can go up the spout,' says
he ; 'I'll warrant that it will hold you.
I've seen to it that it was put on good
I tried it, and as far as I can remem-
ber I never went up a safer spout."
"And you opened the front door ?"
asked Aunt Martha.
"Indeed I did, ma'am," said the burg-
lar, "you wouldn't catch me making' no
mistakes in that line.
76 THE STORIES OF THE
"After a while I got too heavy to climb
spouts, and I took to the regular business,
and did well at it, too."
"Do you mean to say," asked Aunt
Martha, that you willingly and premedi-
tatedly became a thief and midnight rob-
ber ? "
"That's what I am, ma'am," said he;
"I don't make no bones about it. I'm a
number one, double-extra, back-springed,
copper-fastened burglar, with all the at-
tachments and noiseless treadle. That's
what I am, and no mistake. There's all
kinds of businesses in this world, and
there's got to be people to work at every
one of 'em; and when a fellow takes any
particular line, his business is to do it
well; that's my motto. When I break
into a house I make it a point to clean it
out first-class, and not to carry away no
trash, nuther. Of course, I've had my
ups and my downs, like other people, -
preachers and doctors and storekeepers,
- they all have them, and I guess the
downs are more amusin' than the ups, at
least to outsiders. I've just happened to
think of one of them, and I'll let you have
"There was a man I knew named Jerry
THREE BURGLARS. 77
Hammond, that was a contractor, and
sometimes he had pretty big jobs on hand,
building' or road-makin' or something' or
other. He'd contract to do anything,
would Jerry, no matter whether he'd ever
done it before or not. I got to know his
times and seasons for collecting money,
and I laid for him."
"Abominable meanness !" exclaimed
It's all business," said the stout man,
quite unabashed. "You don't catch a
doctor refusing' to practise on a. friend, or
a lawyer, nuther, and in our line of busi-
ness it's the same thing. It was about
the end of October, nigh four years ago,
that I found out that Jerry had a lot of
money on hand. He'd been collection' it
from different parties, and had got home
too late in the day to put it in the bank,
so says I to myself, this is your time, old
fellow, and you'd better make hay while
the sun shines. I was a little afraid to
crack Jerry's house by myself, for he's a
strong old fellow, so I got a man named
Putty Henderson to go along with me.
Putty was a big fellow and very handy
with a jimmy; but he was awful contrary-
minded, and he wouldn't agree to clean
78 THE STORIES OF THE
out Jerry until I promised to go halves
with him. This wasn't fair, for it wasn't
his job, and a quarter would have been
lots for him.
"But there wasn't no use arguin', and
along we went, and about one o'clock we
was standing' alongside Jerry's bed, where
he was fast asleep. He was. a bachelor,
and lived pretty much by himself. I give
him a punch to waken him up, for we'd
made up our minds that that was the way
to work this job. It wouldn't pay us to
go around huntin' for Jerry's money. .He
was such a sharp old fellow, it was six to
four we'd never find it. He sat up in bed
with a jump like a hop-toad, and looked
;rst at one and then at the other of us.
Xe both had masks on, and it wasn't puz-
zlin' to guess what we was there fur.
"' Jerry Hammond,' says I, speaking'
rather rough and husky, 'we knows that
you've got a lot o' money in this house,
and we've come fur it. We mean busi-
ness, and there's no use foolin'. You can
give it to us quiet and easy, and keep a
whole head on your shoulders, or we'll lay
you out ready fur a wake and help our-
selves to the funds; and now you pays
your money and you can take your choice
THREE BURGLARS. 79
how you do it. There's nothing' shabby
about us, but we mean business. Don't
we, pard?'- That's so,' says Putty.
"'Look here,' says Jerry, jest as cool as
if he had been sitting' outside on his own
curbstone, 'I know you two men and no
mistake. You're Tommy Randall, and
you're Putty Henderson, so you might as
well take off them masks.' -' Which I am
glad to do,' says I, for I hate 'em,' and I
put mine in my pocket, and Putty he took
"Excuse me," said Aunt Martha, inter-
rupting at this point, "but when Mr. Ham-
mond mentioned the name of Tommy
Randall, to whom did he refer?"
"I can explain that, madam," said the
tall burglar, quickly. "This man by his
criminal course of life has got himself into
a good many scrapes, and is frequently
obliged to change his name. Since I acci-
dentally became acquainted with him he
has had several aliases, and I think that
he very often forgets that his real name is
"That's so," said the stout man, "there
never was a more correct person than this
industrious and unfortunate man sitting'
by me. I am dreadful forgetful, and
80 THE STORIES OF THE
sometimes I disremember what belongs to
me and what don't. Names the same as
"'Well, now, Jerry,' says I, 'you
needn't think you're going' to make any-
thin' by known' us. You've got to fork
over your cash all the same, and if you
think to make anything by peachin' on us
after we've cleared out and left you peace-
ful in your bed, you're mistook so far as
I'm concerned; for I've made the track
clear to get out of this town before day-
break, and I don't know when I'll come
back. This place is getting' a little too hot
for me, and you're my concludin' exercise.'
Jerry he sat still for a minute, considering .
He wasn't no fool, and he knowed that
there wasn't no use getting' scared, nor
cussin', nor hollerin'. What's more, he
knowed that we was there to get his
money, and if he didn't fork it over he'd
get himself laid out, and that was worse
than losin' money any day. Now, boys,
says he, 'I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll
make you an offer; a fair and square offer.
What money I've got I'll divide even with
you, each of us takin' a third, and I'll try
to make up what I lose out of my next
contract. Now nothing' could be no squarer
THREE BURGLARS. 81
than that.'-' How much money have you
got, Jerry?' says I, that's the first thing
to know.'--' I've got thirty-one hundred
dollars even,' says he, 'and that will be
one thousand and thirty-three dollars and
thirty-three cents apiece. I've got bills to
pay to-morrow for lumber and bricks, and
my third will pay 'em. If I don't I'll go
to pieces. You don't want to see me
break up business, do you?'-'Now,
Jerry,' says I, 'that won't do. You
haven't got enough to divide into three
parts. Putty and me agree to go halves
with what we get out of you, and when I
lay out a piece of business I don't make no
changes. Half of that money is for me, and
half is for Putty. So just hand it out, and
don't let's have no more jabberin'.'
Jerry he looked at me pretty hard, and
then says he: You're about the close-
fisted and meanest man I ever met with.
Here I offer you a third part of my money,
and all you've got to do is to take it and
go away peaceable. I'd be willing' to bet
two to one that it's more than you ex-
pected to get, and yet you are not satis-
fied; now, I'll be hanged if I'm going to
do business with you.' -' You can be
hanged if you like,' says I, but you'll do
82 THE STORIES OF THE
the business all the same.' No, I won't,'
says he, and he turns to Putty Henderson.
'Now, Putty,' says he, 'you've got a pile
more sense that this pal of yourn, and
I'm goin' to see if I can't do business with
you. Now, you and me together can lick
this Tommy Randall just as easy as not,
and if you'll help me do it I'll not only di-
vide the money with you, but I'll give you
fifty dollars extra, so that instead of fif-
teen hundred and fifty dollars that's all
he'd given you, if he didn't cheat you -
you'll have sixteen hundred, and I'll have
fifteen hundred instead of the thousand
and thirty-three dollars which I would
have had left if my first offer had been
took. So, Putty, what do you say to
that?' Now, Putty, he must have been a
little sore with me on account of the argu-
ments we'd had about dividing and he was
mighty glad besides to get the chance of
making' fifty dollars extry, and so he said
it was all right, and he'd agree. Then I
thought it was about time for me to take
in some of my sail, and says I: 'Jerry,
that's a pretty good joke, and you can take
my hat as soon as I get a new one, but of
course I don't mean to be hard on you,
and if you really have bills to pay to-mor-
THREE BURGLARS. 83
row I'll take a third, and Putty'll take
another, and we'll go away peaceful.' -
' No, you won't,' sings out Jerry, and with
that he jumps out of bed right at me, and
Putty Henderson he comes at me from the
other side, and, between the two, they
gave me the worst lickin' I ever got in my
born days, and then they dragged me down
stairs and kicked me out the front door,
and I had hardly time to pick myself up
before I saw a policeman about a block off,
and if he hadn't been a, fat one he'd had
me sure. It wouldn't have been pleasant,
for I was a good deal wanted about that
So you see, ladies and gents, that it's
true what I said, -things don't always go
right in our line of business no more than
any other one."
I think you were served exactly right,"
said Aunt Martha; and I wonder such an
experience did not induce you to reform."
"It did, ma'am, it did," said the burglar.
"I made a vow that night that if ever
again I had to call in any one to help me
in business of that kind I wouldn't go
pards with him. I'd pay him so much for
the job, and I'd take the risks, and I've
stuck to it.
84 THE STORIES OF THE
But even that don't always work.
Luck sometimes goes ag'in' a man, even
when he's working by himself. I remem-
ber a thing of that kind that was beastly
hard on me. A gentleman employed me
to steal his daughter."
"What! exclaimed my wife and Aunt
Martha. Steal his own daughter What
,do you mean by that? "
That's what it was," said the stout
burglar; "no more nor less. I was recom-
mended to the gent as a reliable party for
that sort of thing, and I met him to talk it
,over, and then he told me just how the
case stood. He and his wife were sepa-
rated, and the daughter, about eleven years
,old, had been given to her by the court,
and she put it into a boardin' school, and
the gent he was goin' to Europe, and he
wanted to get the little gal and take her
with him. He tried to get her once, but it
:slipped up, and so there wasn't no good in
his showing' hisself at the school any more,
which was in the country, and he knowed
that if he expected to get the gal he'd have
to hire a professional to attend to it.
"Now, when I heard what he had to
say, I put on the strictly pious, and, says
I, that's a pretty bad thing you're askin'
THREE BURGLARS. 85
me to do, sir, to carry away a little gal
from its lovin' mother, and more 'an that,
to take it from a school where it's getting'
all the benefits of eddication.'--' Eddica-
tion,' says he; that's all stuff. What
eddication the gal gets at a school like
that isn't worth a row of pins, and when
they go away they don't know nothing'
useful, nor even anything tip-top orna-
mental. All they've learned is the pianer
and higher mathematics. As for anything'
useful, they're nowhere. There isn't one
of them could bound New Jersey or tell
you when Washington crossed the Dela-
ware.'-' That may be, sir,' says I, 'but
them higher branches comes useful. If
Washington really did cross the Delaware,
your little gal could ask somebody when
it was, but she couldn't ask 'em how the
pianer was played, nor what the whole
multiplication table came to added up.
Them things she'd have to learn how to
do for herself. I give you my word, sir,
I couldn't take a little gal from a school,
where she was getting' a number one eddi-
cation, silver forks and towels extry.'
The gent looked pretty glum, for he was
to sail the next day, and if I didn't do
the job for him he didn't know who
86 THE STORIES OF THE
would, and he said that he was sorry to
see that I was goin' back on him after the
recommend I'd had, and I said that I
wouldn't go back on him if it wasn't for
my conscience. I was ready to do any
common piece of business, but this stealin'
away little gals from lovin' mothers was
a leetle too much for me. Well,' says
he, there ain't no time to be lost, and
how much more will satisfy your con-
science ?' When I said a hundred dollars,
we struck the bargain.
Well, we cut and dried that business
pretty straight. I took a cab and went
out to the school, and the gent he got the
key of a house that was to let about three
miles from the school, and he was to stay
there and look at that empty house until
I brought him the gal, when he was to
pay me and take her away. I'd like to
have had more time, so that I could go
out and see how the land laid, but there
wasn't no more time, and I had to do the
best I could. The gent told me they all
went a walking' every afternoon, and that
if I laid low that would be the best time
to get her, and I must just fetch her
along, no matter who hollered.
"I didn't know exactly how I was go-
THREE BURGLARS. 87
ing to manage it, but I took along with
me a big bag that was made for the con-
veyance of an extinct millionaire, but
which had never been used, owin' to be-
forehand arrangements which had been
made with the party's family.
I left the cab behind a bit of woods,
not far from the school, and then I laid
low, and pretty soon I seed 'em all coming
out, in a double line, with the teacher
behind 'em, for a walk. I had a descrip-
tion of the little gal as was wanted, and
as they come nearer I made her out easy.
She was the only real light-haired one in
the lot. I hid behind some bushes in the
side of the road, and when they come up,
and the light-haired little gal was just
opposite to me, I jumped out of the bushes
and made a dash at her. .Whoop! what
a row there was in one second! Such a
screaming' and screechin' of gals, such a
pilin' on top each other, and the teacher
on top the whole of 'em, bangin' with her
umbrella; they pulled at the gal and they
pulled at me, an' they yelled and they
howled, and I never was in such a row
and hope I never shall be again, and I
grabbed that girl by her frock, and I
tumbled some over one way and some
88 THE STORIES OF THE
another, and I got the umbrella over my
head, but I didn't mind it, and I clapped
that bag over the little gal, and I jerked
up her feet and let her slip into it, and
then I took her up like a bag of meal, and
put across the field, with the whole kit
and boodle after me. But I guess most
of 'em must have tumbled down in hyster-
ics, judgin' from the screechin', and I got
up to the cab and away we went. Well,
when we got to the house where I was to
meet the gent, he began straight off to
blow at me. 'What do you mean,' he
yelled, bringing my daughter in a bag?'
- 'It's the only way to do it, sir,' says I;
'they can't holler and they can't kick, and
people passing' by don't know what you've
got,' and so sayin' I untied the strings,
put the little gal on her feet, and pulled
off the bag, and then I'd be hanged if I
ever saw a man so ragin' mad as he was.
'What do I want with that gal?' he cried;
' that's not my daughter. That girl's hair
is as black as a coal, and she's a Jew be-
sides.' As soon as I sot my eyes on the
little varmint it come over me that I got
the thing crooked, and in the scrimmage I
let go of the right gal and grabbed an-
THREE BURGLARS. 89
"I don't see how a man could help
main' mistakes with that school-teacher's.
umbrella whanging away at his knowledge,
box, but I wasn't goin' to let on. She.
.ain't no Jew, nuther,' says I, and she's.
your- daughter, too; you needn't try to
play no tricks on me. Pay me my money
and take her away as quick as you can,.
that's my advice, or before you know it.
you'll be nabbed.' -' Pay ye!' he yelled;.
' do you think I'd pay you anything for
that little Jew?' -' She's just as much a.
Christian as you are,' says I. Ain't you
a Christian, little gal? and is'nt this gen-
tleman your father? and ain't you sur-
prised that he wants to give you back to
be put in the bag?' I said this hoping'
she'd have sense enough to say he was her
father so's to get rid of me.
The wretched gal had been clean dumb-
founded when she was took out of the bag,
and hadn't done nothing' so far but blubber
and cry, and try to get away, which she
couldn't, because I held her frock; but
now she ups and screams he wasn't her
father, and she'd never seen him before,
and then he storms and swears, and tells
me to take her back where I got her, and
I tell him I'll see him hanged first, and
I90 THE STORIES OF THE
what I want is my money; she screams,
and he swears he'll not pay me a cent, and
I squares off and says that I'll thrash him
out of his skin, and then he calls in his
coachman, and they both make at me, and
I backs out the door to get my cabby to
stand by me, and I found that he'd cut
out, havin' most likely got frightened,
afraid of bein' mixed up in trouble.
Then I seed on the high road, some half
a mile away, some men coming' gallopin',
and the gent he looked out and seed 'em,
too, and then says he to me, 'You'll jist
take that little Jew gal back where you
got her from; she's no use to me; I'm
going; and at that I hollered for my
money, and made a grab at him, but the
coachman he tripped me over backward,
and before I could git up again they was
both off with the horses on a run.
"I was so mad I couldn't speak, but
there wasn't no time for foolin', and I
hadn't made up my mind which door I
should cut out of, when the fellows on
horseback went ridin' past as hard as they
could go. They must have seed the car-
riage driving' away, and thought for sure it
had the gal in it, and they was after it,
THREE BURGLARS. 91
"When they was clean gone I looked
round for the little gal, but couldn't see
her, but all a-sudden she came out of the
fireplace, where she'd been hidin'. She'd
got over her cryin', and over her scare,
too, judgin' from her looks. 'I'm glad
he's gone,' says she, 'and I'm mighty
glad, too, that Mr. Haskins and them
other men didn't see me.' -' Who's they?'
says I. -'They's neighbors,' says she ; 'if
they knew I was here they'd took me
back.' -'Well, you little minx,' say I,
'isn't that what you want?' -'No,' says
she. I didn't want to go with that man,
for I don't know him, and I hate him, but
I don't want to go back to that school. I
hate it worse than anything in the whole
world. You haven't no idea what a horrid
place it is. They just work you to death,
and don't give you half enough to eat.
My constitution won't stand it. I've told
Pop that, and he thinks so too, but Marm,
she don't believe in it, and my stayin'
there is all her doin'. I've been wantin'
to get away for ever so long, but I didn't
want to be took off in a bag; but now that
I'm out of that horrid hole I don't want
to go back, and if you'll take me home to
Pop, I know he won't let me go back, and
92 THE STORIES OF THE
he'll pay you real handsome besides.' -
'Who's your Pop?" says I. --'He's Mr.
Groppeltacker, of Groppeltacker & Mintz,
corset findings, seven hundred and some-
thing or other, I forget the number now,
Broadway. Oh, Pop does a lot of business,
I tell you, and he's got lots of money.
He sends corset findings to South America,
and Paris, and Chicago, and Madagascar,
and the uttermost parts of the earth. I've
heard him say that often, and you needn't
be afraid of his not bein' able to pay you.
A lot more than that man would have
paid you for his little gal, if you'd watched
the right one. So if you take me to Pop,
and get me there safe and sound, it will
be an awful good speck for you.'
"Now, I begins to think to myself that
perhaps there was something' in what that
little Jew gal was sayin', and that I might
make something out of the gal after all.
I didn't count on getting' a big pile out of
old Groppeltacker, it wasn't likely he
was that kind of a man, but whatever
I did get would be clean profit, and I
might as well try it on. He couldn't
make no charge ag'in me fur bringing' him
his daughter, if she asked me to do it; so
says I to her, Now, if I take you home
THREE BURGLARS. 93
to your Pop, will you promise on your
word an' honour, that you won't say nothing'
about my carrying' you off in a bag, and
say that you seed me walking' along the
road and liked my looks, and told me you
were suffering and asked me to take
you home to your kind parents, where you
might be took proper care of; and that I
said I wasn't goin' that way, but I'd do it
out of pure Christian charity, and nothing'
more nor less, and here you was? And
then, of course, you can tell him he ought
to do the handsome thing by me.' 'I'll
do that,' says she,' and I tell how you
talked to me awful kind for more than
an hour, trying' to keep me to stay at the
school, and it wasn't till I got down on my
knees and weeped that you agreed to take
me to my kind father.' All right,' says
I, I might as well take you along, but
we'll have to go back by the railroad and
foot it, at least two miles, to the station,
and I don't know about walking' across the
country with a little girl dressed as fine as
you are. I might get myself suspicioned.'
-' That's so,' says she ; we might meet
somebody that's know me,' and then she
wriggled up her little forehead and began
to think. I never did see such a little gal
94 THE STORIES OF THE
as sharp as that one was; needles was
nothing' to her. In about a minute she says,
'Where's that bag of yourn?' Here
it is,' says I; and then she took it and
looked at it up and. down, with her head
cocked on one side. If I'd something' to
cut that bag with,' says she, I could fix
myself up so that nobody'd know me,
don't care who it was.' I don't want
that bag cut,' says I; 'it's an extry good
bag; it was made for a particular purpose,
and cost money.'-' Pop will pay expenses,'
says she; 'how much did it cost ?' 'It
was four dollars cash,' said I.- 'They
cheated you like everything,' says she;
' you could get a bag like that any day for
a dollar and seventy-five cents. Will you
let it go at that ?' -' All right,' says I, for
I was tickled to see how sharp that little
Jew gal was, and ten to one I'd throwed
iway the bag before we got to town; so
jhe pulled a little book out of her pocket
with a pencil stuck in it, and turning' over
to a blank page she put down, Bag, one
dollar and seventy-five ;' then she borrows
my big knife, and holding' the top of the
bag up ag'in her belt, she made me stick a
pin in it about a hand's-breadth from the
floor; then she took the knife and cut the
THREE BURGLARS. 95
bag clean across, me a-holdin' one side of
it; then she took the top end of that bag
and slipped it on her, over her head and
shoulders, and tied the drain' strings in
it round her waist, and it hung around
her just like a skirt, nearly touchin' the
ground; then she split open the rest of
the bag, and made a kind of shawl out of
it, puttin''it into shape with a lot o' pins,
and pinnin' it on herself real clever. She
had lots of pins in her belt, and she told me
that she never passed a pin in that school
without pickin' it up, and that she had
four hundred and fifty-nine of them now
in her room, which she was mighty sorry
to leave behind, and that these she had
now was this day's pickin' up.
When she got done working' at herself
yoa couldn't see not a ribbon nor a hem of
*er fine clothes; it was all black skirt and
shawl, and she'd put up her sleeve, so that
when her arm stuck out it was bare. Then
she took all the ribbons and flowers off her
hat, and crumpled it up, and when she
tied it on what a guy she was. 'Now,'
says she, 'I can go barefoot.' 'Which
you won't,' says I, for you'll get your feet
all cut, but you can muddy your shoes,'
which she did, I pumpin' on 'em, so that
96 THE STORIES OF THE
the dust in the back yard would stick.
Then we starts off across the country, and,
upon my word, I was pretty nigh ashamed
to be seen walking' with such a little scare-
crow. When I bought the tickets at the
station she asked me how much they was,
and put it down in her book. When we
got into the cars the people all lookedhard
at her, and I reckon they thought some
kind of a home had been burnt down, and
this was one of the orphans that had been
saved. But they didn't say nothing and she
fixed herself as comfortable as you please;
and before long a boy came through
the car with fruit in a basket, and then
says she to me, I want two apples.' The
boy had gone past us, but I got up and
followed him and bought her two apples.
' How much did you give for them?' says
she, when I come back. -' They was two
for five cents,' says I. Well,' says she,
'they do stick you dreadful. Two for
three cents is all papa or I pays for apples
like them,' and she took out her little book
and put down, 'Apples, three cents.'-
' Very well, miss,' says I, but if you want
any more refreshments you buy 'em your-
self.' -' I think I'd better,' says she, and
she went to work eatin' them two apples.
THREE BURGLARS. 97
She hadn't more than got through with
'em when the boy came around ag'in.
'I want a banana,' says she; 'lend me five
cents,' which I did, and she put down, 'Cash,
five cents.' Then the boy come up, and
says she, How much are your bananas?'
-' Five cents,' said he. -' For two ?' says
she.-' No,' says he, for one.'-' What do
you take me for?' says she. I've bought
bananas before. I'll give you three cents
for that one,' pointing' to the biggest in the
lot. I can't do that,' said the boy the
price is five cents.' -' I'd like a banana,'
says she, 'but I don't pay more'n three
cents; take it or leave it,' and with that
the boy went on. Now,' says I, you've
gouged yourself out of a banana.' -' Not a
bit of it,' says she; he'll be back;' and in
two minutes he was back, and said she
might have it for three cents. Have you
got two coppers ?' said she. 'Let me see
'em.' He said he had, and showed 'em to
her, and she took 'em and the banana, and
then give him five cents, and then she
didn't give the change to me, but put it in
her pocket. Now,' says she, if you'd
buy things that way, you'd be rich in
When we got to. the city we took the