Citation
The stories of the three burglars

Material Information

Title:
The stories of the three burglars
Creator:
Stockton, Frank Richard, 1834-1902
Dodd, Mead & Company ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Dodd, Mead and Company
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
159 p. : ill., ports ; 17 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Burglars -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Aunts -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Storytelling -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Detectives -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Authors -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1889
Genre:
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Title page and frontispiece printed in red and black ink.
Funding:
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Frank R. Stockton.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026968880 ( ALEPH )
ALH8371 ( NOTIS )
01043080 ( OCLC )
08015535 ( LCCN )

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Full Text
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The Stories
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FRANK R. STOCKTON

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Copyright, 1889,

By Dopp, MEAD AND CoMPANY,



THE STORIES

OF THE

THREE BURGLARS.



J 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
with us. .

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 sure
roundings. But we do not live in a parae
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
detected.

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 fire 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 Jaft 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
continued.

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



TUREE 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. J 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 t 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
our potion.

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
success.

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, 1 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 Iset my burglar trap,
and morning after morning I locked it up
in the closet. J 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 somuch
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
the indignity.

As the trap cost nothing my wife did
not object to my setting it every night for



THREE BURGLARS. 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
positive.

“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 whata child in the
first moments of his investigative existence
may do.”

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 am 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
sleepily, —

“ Whatis that? Wasit 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.

“T’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
others.

“ John,” cried my wife, “don’t stir an
inch, it’s burglars!” and she sprang out
of bed and seized me by the arm.

“JT 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 BURGLABRS. 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.

“T heard that noise, sir,” he whispered,
“and was going down to see about it.”

“Are you ready if it’s thieves?” I
whispered.

“J have got the biscuit-beater,” he re-
plied.

“Come on, then,” said I, and we went
downstairs.

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
‘o 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 mayk 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 exuitation 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-
ently.” ;

“T 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
and foot.”

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
present.

“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 asa 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-
crushing club.

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
him.

David was obeying my orders and keep-
ing a strict watch on the prostrate mens;
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 débris 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-
tied 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 BURGLARS. 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 afew minutes longer; thenI will come
up to you.”

“T 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. Id
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 Pll crack the rascal’s skull in
a jiffy.”

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.

“Tf any pipes have burst,” she called
down, “ tell David not to catch the water
in the new milk-pans.”

“Very well,” I replied, “Ill 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 hiseyes. 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
aglance. 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 V'll let you feel
this.”

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
respectful : —

“What does this mean? What are you
going todo? Will you please turn away
the muzzle of that pistol?”

I took no notice of this indication of my
steadiness of hand, and answered : —

“JT 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.”

“Tf 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
swearin’.”

“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
club.

“T’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
shut.

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. QT

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 wit 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 Last
so they can’t move, I should like to see
what they look like. I never saw a burg-
lar.”

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.

“T heard so much talking and so much
going up and down stairs that I thought I



TUREE 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. Iam 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 T’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
ever 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?”

“Tl 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
chickens.”

“T can scarcely believe,” said Aunt
Martha, “that that young man is a real
burglar.”

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,
aud the paleness which had returned to
his face did not change.

“Have they told you who they are?”
asked my wife.



THREE BURGLARS. 31

“T haven’t asked them,” I said. “And
now don’t you think you had better go up-
stairs?”

“Jt 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
very tight.”

I told David to look at all the cords
and see if any of them were too tightly
drawn.

“‘ Tt’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
hands.”

“ 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
prison?”

“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.

“TJ heard the noise and the talking, sir,”
she said, “and when I found the ladies



32 THE STORIES OF THE

had gone down to see what it was, I
thought I would come too.”

“And where is the cook,” asked my
wife; “don’t she want tosee 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.

“T 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 move 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
being there.

“ Have they stolen anything?” asked
Aunt Martha.

“ 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-
ished.



THREE BURGLARS. 383

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
wine.”

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
accepted it.”

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-



84 THE STORIES OF THE

ing to me said, smiling, “If he alludes to
their drinking your wine he need not
apologize.”

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, ] 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.”

“T 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
anything.

“ Very well,” said I, “if you choose tu
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
ladies.

“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



36 TUE 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. Iam 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-
cence.”

“T 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.’

“Tt 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
pretty hard.’

“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.

««s 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 nas 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, “ [’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
noise, though.

“« 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 Ill bring
themi to you day after to-morrow, when I
shall be goin’ your way.”

“*« Now, then,’ said my father, ‘the trick
Pm thinkin’ 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. AI

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, Tl show him the box. He’ll be
the most dumbfoundedest man in this
State; and if I don’t choose to tell him
hell 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 yow'll be ina 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, isa table with my
instrument-box standing on it. The box
is pretty heavy, and there isa 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 Iever heard of in my born
days.’

“T 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
scheme.

“¢Suppose,’ I said, ‘that Mr. William-
son Green should wake up and see me;
what could I say? How could I explain
my situation?’

“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



THREE BURGLARS. 43

back window and then slip down after it.
He won't see us3 but if he does he cannot
catch us before we get to the boat; but if
he should, however, Pll have to explain
the matter to bim, and the joke will be
against me; bué I shall get my instru-
ments, which ig the main point, after all.’

“J 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
climbed 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
the room.

“JT 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-
liam.

“T 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. _ 4D

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
go away.

“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 ag I thought of the differ-
ence between these surroundings and my
own, but I checked myself; it would not
do to made a noise and spoil my father’s
joke.

“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.

“J wish I’d been there,” said the stout
man; “there wouldn’t have been any for-
bearin’.”

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
story.

“ 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.

“T stood perfectly motionless for a
minute or so, and when the gentleman
recommenced 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

ying 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 [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.

“¢T 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 shouid
have been angry enough.’

“TI 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
dismay.

“«What’s the matter?’ cried my
father.

“<«Qh, I have done a dreadful thing!’ I
said. ‘Oh, father, I must go back !’

“JT am sorry to say that at this my
father swore.

“*What do you want to go back for?’
he said.

“.¢ 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 came 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 aman; 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
night.’

“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, “ Inever 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 !

“Tt 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.

“T believe that some arrangement had
‘been made between my father and this
discharged servant in regard to a division



TUREE 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
Martha.

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 ong thing aad another, sometimes
engaging in the most menial employments.
IT 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 —acommunity, 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.

“T 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. J know you are a good
mechanic.’

“ answered, ‘I should be very glad to do it,
for I am greatly in need of money.’

“¢Tt will pay,’ said he; and I agreed to
assist him.

“ 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 ofa



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, P11 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,
leavin’ off nothin’ and puttin’ in nothin’.
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
cast 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-
tion.”

“ You are right there,” said I, “it must
be embarrassing; but before we have any



THREE BURGLARS. 5%

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
this house?”

The tall man looked at me for a moment,
asif in doubt what he should say; and then
his expression of mingled hopelessness and
contrition changed into one of earnest:
frankness.

“J will tell you, sir, exactly,” he said ;
“J 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
that way.”

“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
again.”

“Tt 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,
guarantee that I will put your house intoa



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.” Iwas about to say that I
thought we had enough of this sort of
story, when Aunt Martha interrupted me.

“Jt 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. Youshould 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 ig 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.

“T 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.
‘Well, Timothy and I have had a misun-
derstanding, and I want you to be a
referee or umpire between us, to set things
straight.’

“¢WVery good,’ said I, ‘and what is the
point of difference ?’

“¢T’ll put the whole thing batons 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
to him.’

“*Are you obliged to have gravel?
Wouldn’t something else do for your pur-
pose ?’

“*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 wacer.’



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,’
said I.

“¢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
this year.’

“* Ata 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 THE STORIES OF THE

factory right in the middle of a gravel pit.
Timothy Barker has nothing to complain
of.

“¢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,
Ill give you fifty dollars. Id 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 geta 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,
sure.’

“JT 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
yours.’

“ 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.’

_“T 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
amouse. 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. Muchas 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 diddo 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
rich.’

“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
deserve.”

“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.”

“JT do not wish to retire,” promptly re-
turned Aunt Martha. “Iwas 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 Id like

nothin’ better than to tell it to you if
yowll give me a little somethin’ to wet
my lips with —a little beer, or whiskey
and water, or anything you have conven-
ient.”

“ 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
want.”

“ 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 nothin’ else, Pll take water. I can’t
talk without somethin’ soaky.”

My wife rose. “If we are to listen to
another story,” she said, “I want some-
thing to keep up my strength. Ishall 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. Ifound them
making tea.

“T 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.

“J don’t think it a story at all,” said I.



70 TUE STORIES OF THE

“T 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 isa false state-
ment made with the intention to deceive,
and that is what I believe we have. heard
to-night.”

“T agree with you exactly,
wile.

“Tt 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
consider that.”

“J 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,”

”

said my



TURLE DBURGLARS. TL

“JT 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
himself.”

“Very well,” said I, “you shall hear it;
but I must drink my tea and go back to
the prisoners.”

“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, foil-
lowed by Alice, who bore a tray contain-
ing three very large cups of tea and some
biscuit.

“ 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

laughed.



72 TUE 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.

“T 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, Pl just say to you,
if ever I break into a room where you’re



THREE BURGLARS. 73

sleepin’, Pll see that you don’t come to
no harm, even if you sit up in bed and
holler.”

“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.

“JT 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 TUE 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 ’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
severely..

“J 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 goin’
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 Tl 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 nailing anew
leader or tin water-spout to the side of
a house.

“«Look here, young man,’ says Dad,
‘youre makin’ 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 standin’ 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.

“¢Qh, you can go up the spout,’ says
he; ‘Vll warrant that it will hold you.
I’ve seen to it that it was put on good
and strong.’

“J 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 makin’ 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;
“T don’t make no bones about it. [ma
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, ’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. T’ve just happened to
think of one of them, and I'll let you have
it.

“ There was a man I knew named Jerry



THREE BURGLARS. TT

Hammond, that was a contractor, and
sometimes he had pretty big jobs on hand,
buildin’ or road-makin’ or somethin’ or
other. He'd contract to do anything,
would Jorry, 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
my wife.

“Tt’s all business,” said the stout man,
quite unabashed. “You don’t catch a
doctor refusin’ 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 collectin’ 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
erack 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 standin’ 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.
We both had masks on, and it wasn’t puz-,
zlin’ to guess what we was there fur.

“¢Jerry Hammond,’ says I, speakin’
rather rough and husky, ‘we knows that
youve 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 nothin’ 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 sittin’ outside on his own
curbstone, ‘I know you two men and no
mistake. Youre 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
off his.”

“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?”

“T 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
James Barlow.”

“ That’s so,” said the stout man, “there
never was a more correct person than this
industrious and unfortunate man sittin’
by me. JI am dreadful forgetful, and



80 THE STORIES OF THE

sometimes I disremember what belongs to
me and what don’t. Names the same as
other things.

“¢Well, now, Jerry,’ says I, ‘you
needn’t think yowre goin’ to make any-
thin’ by knowin’ 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 gettin’ a little too hot
for me, and yowre my concludin’ exercise.’
Jerry he sat still for a minute, considerin’.
He wasn’t no fool, and he knowed that
there wasn’t no use gettin’ scared, nor
cussin’, nor hollerin’s 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, ‘Tl tell you what Pll do. Tl:
make you an offer; a fair and square offer.
What money I’ve got Ill divide even with
you, each of us takin’ a third, and Pll try
to make up what I lose out of my next
contract. Now nothin’ 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.’ —‘Tve 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 Pll 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 willin’ 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 Pl 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 dividin’, and he was
mighty glad besides to get the chance of
makin’ 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
time.

“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.”

“JT think you were served exactly right,”
said Aunt Martha; “and I wonder such an
experience did not induce you to reform.”

“Tt did, ma’am, it did,” said the burglar.
“T 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. Td pay him so much for
the job, and I’d take the risks, and Pve
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 onme. to steal his daughter.”

“ What!” exclaimed my wife and Aunt
Martha. “Stealhis own daughter! What
‘do you mean by that?”

«That’s what it was,” said the stout
burglar; “no more nor less. Iwas 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 showin’ 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 gettin’
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 nothin’
useful, nor even anything tip-top orna-
mental. All they’ve learned is the pianer
and higher mathematics. As for anythin’
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 gettin’ 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 THH 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. JI 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 saida 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. Id 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 walkin’ 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.

“T 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.

“Tleft 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 hada 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! Sucha
screamin’ 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 TUE

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, ‘bringin’ 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 passin’ 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 aman 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 asI 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-
other.



TUREE BURGLARS. 89

“T don’t see how a man could help
makin’ mistakes with that school-teachev’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 hopin”
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 nothin’ 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 ll see him hanged first, and



90 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 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 comin’ 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; ’m
goin’;’ 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.
“JT 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 drivin’ away, and thought for sure it
had the gal in it, and they was after it,
lickety-split.



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 itis. 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. [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 catched
the right one. Soif 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 somethin’ 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 gettin’ 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 bringin’ 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 nothin’
about my carryin’ you off in a bag, and
say that you seed me walkin’ along the
road and liked my looks, and told me you
were sufferin’, 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 nothin’
more nor less, and here you was? And
then, of course, you can tell him he ought
to do the handsome thing by me.’ — ‘Tl
do that,’ says she, ‘and I tell how you
talked to me awful kind for more than
an hour, tryin’ 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 walkin’ 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’d 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
nothin’ 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 somethin’ 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 J.— ‘ They
cheated you like everything,’ says she ;
‘you could geta 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
vay the bag before we got to town; so
she pulled a little book out of her pocket
with a pencil stuck in it, and turnin’ over
to a blank page she put down, ‘ Bag, one
dollar and seventy-five ;’ then she borrows
my big knife, and holdin’ 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 drawin’ 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 workin’ at herself
you 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 walkin’ 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 looked hard
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 nothin’, 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.” — ‘J think Id 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,’ whichI 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,’ pointin’ to the biggest in the
lot. — ‘I can’t do that,’ said the boy ; ‘ the
price is five cents.’ —‘Id 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.’ —‘ Nota
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
time.’

“ When we got to the city we took the



Full Text


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| THREE BURGDARS |

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The Stories
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FRANK R. STOCKTON

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Copyright, 1889,

By Dopp, MEAD AND CoMPANY,
THE STORIES

OF THE

THREE BURGLARS.



J 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
with us. .

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 sure
roundings. But we do not live in a parae
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
detected.

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 fire 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 Jaft 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
continued.

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
TUREE 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. J 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 t 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
our potion.

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
success.

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, 1 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 Iset my burglar trap,
and morning after morning I locked it up
in the closet. J 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 somuch
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
the indignity.

As the trap cost nothing my wife did
not object to my setting it every night for
THREE BURGLARS. 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
positive.

“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 whata child in the
first moments of his investigative existence
may do.”

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 am 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
sleepily, —

“ Whatis that? Wasit 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.

“T’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
others.

“ John,” cried my wife, “don’t stir an
inch, it’s burglars!” and she sprang out
of bed and seized me by the arm.

“JT 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 BURGLABRS. 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.

“T heard that noise, sir,” he whispered,
“and was going down to see about it.”

“Are you ready if it’s thieves?” I
whispered.

“J have got the biscuit-beater,” he re-
plied.

“Come on, then,” said I, and we went
downstairs.

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
‘o 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 mayk 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 exuitation 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-
ently.” ;

“T 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
and foot.”

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
present.

“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 asa 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-
crushing club.

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
him.

David was obeying my orders and keep-
ing a strict watch on the prostrate mens;
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 débris 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-
tied 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 BURGLARS. 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 afew minutes longer; thenI will come
up to you.”

“T 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. Id
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 Pll crack the rascal’s skull in
a jiffy.”

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.

“Tf any pipes have burst,” she called
down, “ tell David not to catch the water
in the new milk-pans.”

“Very well,” I replied, “Ill 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 hiseyes. 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
aglance. 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 V'll let you feel
this.”

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
respectful : —

“What does this mean? What are you
going todo? Will you please turn away
the muzzle of that pistol?”

I took no notice of this indication of my
steadiness of hand, and answered : —

“JT 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.”

“Tf 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
swearin’.”

“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
club.

“T’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
shut.

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. QT

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 wit 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 Last
so they can’t move, I should like to see
what they look like. I never saw a burg-
lar.”

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.

“T heard so much talking and so much
going up and down stairs that I thought I
TUREE 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. Iam 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 T’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
ever 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?”

“Tl 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
chickens.”

“T can scarcely believe,” said Aunt
Martha, “that that young man is a real
burglar.”

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,
aud the paleness which had returned to
his face did not change.

“Have they told you who they are?”
asked my wife.
THREE BURGLARS. 31

“T haven’t asked them,” I said. “And
now don’t you think you had better go up-
stairs?”

“Jt 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
very tight.”

I told David to look at all the cords
and see if any of them were too tightly
drawn.

“‘ Tt’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
hands.”

“ 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
prison?”

“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.

“TJ heard the noise and the talking, sir,”
she said, “and when I found the ladies
32 THE STORIES OF THE

had gone down to see what it was, I
thought I would come too.”

“And where is the cook,” asked my
wife; “don’t she want tosee 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.

“T 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 move 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
being there.

“ Have they stolen anything?” asked
Aunt Martha.

“ 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-
ished.
THREE BURGLARS. 383

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
wine.”

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
accepted it.”

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-
84 THE STORIES OF THE

ing to me said, smiling, “If he alludes to
their drinking your wine he need not
apologize.”

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, ] 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.”

“T 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
anything.

“ Very well,” said I, “if you choose tu
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
ladies.

“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
36 TUE 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. Iam 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-
cence.”

“T 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.’

“Tt 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
pretty hard.’

“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.

««s 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 nas 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, “ [’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
noise, though.

“« 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 Ill bring
themi to you day after to-morrow, when I
shall be goin’ your way.”

“*« Now, then,’ said my father, ‘the trick
Pm thinkin’ 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. AI

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, Tl show him the box. He’ll be
the most dumbfoundedest man in this
State; and if I don’t choose to tell him
hell 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 yow'll be ina 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, isa table with my
instrument-box standing on it. The box
is pretty heavy, and there isa 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 Iever heard of in my born
days.’

“T 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
scheme.

“¢Suppose,’ I said, ‘that Mr. William-
son Green should wake up and see me;
what could I say? How could I explain
my situation?’

“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
THREE BURGLARS. 43

back window and then slip down after it.
He won't see us3 but if he does he cannot
catch us before we get to the boat; but if
he should, however, Pll have to explain
the matter to bim, and the joke will be
against me; bué I shall get my instru-
ments, which ig the main point, after all.’

“J 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
climbed 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
the room.

“JT 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-
liam.

“T 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. _ 4D

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
go away.

“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 ag I thought of the differ-
ence between these surroundings and my
own, but I checked myself; it would not
do to made a noise and spoil my father’s
joke.

“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.

“J wish I’d been there,” said the stout
man; “there wouldn’t have been any for-
bearin’.”

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
story.

“ 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.

“T stood perfectly motionless for a
minute or so, and when the gentleman
recommenced 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

ying 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 [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.

“¢T 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 shouid
have been angry enough.’

“TI 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
dismay.

“«What’s the matter?’ cried my
father.

“<«Qh, I have done a dreadful thing!’ I
said. ‘Oh, father, I must go back !’

“JT am sorry to say that at this my
father swore.

“*What do you want to go back for?’
he said.

“.¢ 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 came 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 aman; 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
night.’

“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, “ Inever 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 !

“Tt 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.

“T believe that some arrangement had
‘been made between my father and this
discharged servant in regard to a division
TUREE 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
Martha.

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 ong thing aad another, sometimes
engaging in the most menial employments.
IT 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 —acommunity, 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.

“T 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. J know you are a good
mechanic.’

“ answered, ‘I should be very glad to do it,
for I am greatly in need of money.’

“¢Tt will pay,’ said he; and I agreed to
assist him.

“ 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 ofa
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, P11 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,
leavin’ off nothin’ and puttin’ in nothin’.
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
cast 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-
tion.”

“ You are right there,” said I, “it must
be embarrassing; but before we have any
THREE BURGLARS. 5%

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
this house?”

The tall man looked at me for a moment,
asif in doubt what he should say; and then
his expression of mingled hopelessness and
contrition changed into one of earnest:
frankness.

“J will tell you, sir, exactly,” he said ;
“J 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
that way.”

“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
again.”

“Tt 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,
guarantee that I will put your house intoa
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.” Iwas about to say that I
thought we had enough of this sort of
story, when Aunt Martha interrupted me.

“Jt 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. Youshould 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 ig 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.

“T 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.
‘Well, Timothy and I have had a misun-
derstanding, and I want you to be a
referee or umpire between us, to set things
straight.’

“¢WVery good,’ said I, ‘and what is the
point of difference ?’

“¢T’ll put the whole thing batons 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
to him.’

“*Are you obliged to have gravel?
Wouldn’t something else do for your pur-
pose ?’

“*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 wacer.’
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,’
said I.

“¢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
this year.’

“* Ata 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 THE STORIES OF THE

factory right in the middle of a gravel pit.
Timothy Barker has nothing to complain
of.

“¢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,
Ill give you fifty dollars. Id 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 geta 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,
sure.’

“JT 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
yours.’

“ 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.’

_“T 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
amouse. 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. Muchas 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 diddo 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
rich.’

“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
deserve.”

“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.”

“JT do not wish to retire,” promptly re-
turned Aunt Martha. “Iwas 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 Id like

nothin’ better than to tell it to you if
yowll give me a little somethin’ to wet
my lips with —a little beer, or whiskey
and water, or anything you have conven-
ient.”

“ 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
want.”

“ 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 nothin’ else, Pll take water. I can’t
talk without somethin’ soaky.”

My wife rose. “If we are to listen to
another story,” she said, “I want some-
thing to keep up my strength. Ishall 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. Ifound them
making tea.

“T 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.

“J don’t think it a story at all,” said I.
70 TUE STORIES OF THE

“T 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 isa false state-
ment made with the intention to deceive,
and that is what I believe we have. heard
to-night.”

“T agree with you exactly,
wile.

“Tt 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
consider that.”

“J 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,”

”

said my
TURLE DBURGLARS. TL

“JT 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
himself.”

“Very well,” said I, “you shall hear it;
but I must drink my tea and go back to
the prisoners.”

“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, foil-
lowed by Alice, who bore a tray contain-
ing three very large cups of tea and some
biscuit.

“ 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

laughed.
72 TUE 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.

“T 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, Pl just say to you,
if ever I break into a room where you’re
THREE BURGLARS. 73

sleepin’, Pll see that you don’t come to
no harm, even if you sit up in bed and
holler.”

“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.

“JT 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 TUE 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 ’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
severely..

“J 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 goin’
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 Tl 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 nailing anew
leader or tin water-spout to the side of
a house.

“«Look here, young man,’ says Dad,
‘youre makin’ 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 standin’ 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.

“¢Qh, you can go up the spout,’ says
he; ‘Vll warrant that it will hold you.
I’ve seen to it that it was put on good
and strong.’

“J 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 makin’ 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;
“T don’t make no bones about it. [ma
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, ’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. T’ve just happened to
think of one of them, and I'll let you have
it.

“ There was a man I knew named Jerry
THREE BURGLARS. TT

Hammond, that was a contractor, and
sometimes he had pretty big jobs on hand,
buildin’ or road-makin’ or somethin’ or
other. He'd contract to do anything,
would Jorry, 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
my wife.

“Tt’s all business,” said the stout man,
quite unabashed. “You don’t catch a
doctor refusin’ 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 collectin’ 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
erack 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 standin’ 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.
We both had masks on, and it wasn’t puz-,
zlin’ to guess what we was there fur.

“¢Jerry Hammond,’ says I, speakin’
rather rough and husky, ‘we knows that
youve 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 nothin’ 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 sittin’ outside on his own
curbstone, ‘I know you two men and no
mistake. Youre 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
off his.”

“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?”

“T 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
James Barlow.”

“ That’s so,” said the stout man, “there
never was a more correct person than this
industrious and unfortunate man sittin’
by me. JI am dreadful forgetful, and
80 THE STORIES OF THE

sometimes I disremember what belongs to
me and what don’t. Names the same as
other things.

“¢Well, now, Jerry,’ says I, ‘you
needn’t think yowre goin’ to make any-
thin’ by knowin’ 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 gettin’ a little too hot
for me, and yowre my concludin’ exercise.’
Jerry he sat still for a minute, considerin’.
He wasn’t no fool, and he knowed that
there wasn’t no use gettin’ scared, nor
cussin’, nor hollerin’s 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, ‘Tl tell you what Pll do. Tl:
make you an offer; a fair and square offer.
What money I’ve got Ill divide even with
you, each of us takin’ a third, and Pll try
to make up what I lose out of my next
contract. Now nothin’ 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.’ —‘Tve 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 Pll 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 willin’ 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 Pl 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 dividin’, and he was
mighty glad besides to get the chance of
makin’ 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
time.

“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.”

“JT think you were served exactly right,”
said Aunt Martha; “and I wonder such an
experience did not induce you to reform.”

“Tt did, ma’am, it did,” said the burglar.
“T 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. Td pay him so much for
the job, and I’d take the risks, and Pve
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 onme. to steal his daughter.”

“ What!” exclaimed my wife and Aunt
Martha. “Stealhis own daughter! What
‘do you mean by that?”

«That’s what it was,” said the stout
burglar; “no more nor less. Iwas 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 showin’ 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 gettin’
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 nothin’
useful, nor even anything tip-top orna-
mental. All they’ve learned is the pianer
and higher mathematics. As for anythin’
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 gettin’ 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 THH 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. JI 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 saida 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. Id 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 walkin’ 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.

“T 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.

“Tleft 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 hada 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! Sucha
screamin’ 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 TUE

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, ‘bringin’ 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 passin’ 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 aman 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 asI 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-
other.
TUREE BURGLARS. 89

“T don’t see how a man could help
makin’ mistakes with that school-teachev’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 hopin”
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 nothin’ 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 ll see him hanged first, and
90 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 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 comin’ 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; ’m
goin’;’ 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.
“JT 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 drivin’ away, and thought for sure it
had the gal in it, and they was after it,
lickety-split.
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 itis. 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. [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 catched
the right one. Soif 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 somethin’ 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 gettin’ 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 bringin’ 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 nothin’
about my carryin’ you off in a bag, and
say that you seed me walkin’ along the
road and liked my looks, and told me you
were sufferin’, 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 nothin’
more nor less, and here you was? And
then, of course, you can tell him he ought
to do the handsome thing by me.’ — ‘Tl
do that,’ says she, ‘and I tell how you
talked to me awful kind for more than
an hour, tryin’ 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 walkin’ 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’d 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
nothin’ 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 somethin’ 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 J.— ‘ They
cheated you like everything,’ says she ;
‘you could geta 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
vay the bag before we got to town; so
she pulled a little book out of her pocket
with a pencil stuck in it, and turnin’ over
to a blank page she put down, ‘ Bag, one
dollar and seventy-five ;’ then she borrows
my big knife, and holdin’ 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 drawin’ 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 workin’ at herself
you 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 walkin’ 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 looked hard
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 nothin’, 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.” — ‘J think Id 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,’ whichI 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,’ pointin’ to the biggest in the
lot. — ‘I can’t do that,’ said the boy ; ‘ the
price is five cents.’ —‘Id 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.’ —‘ Nota
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
time.’

“ When we got to the city we took the
98 THE STORIES OF THE

elevated and went up town to Forty-eighth
street, and then walked over to her father’s
house. It was a big one, on one of the
cross streets. When we got there, she
told me to wait a minute, and, lookin’
around to see that nobody was comin’, she
slipped off the skirt and the cape she had
made and rolled ’em up in a bundle. ‘It
don’t matter about my hat and shoes,’ says
she, ‘ but they wouldn’t know me in such
duds.’ Then, handin’ me the bundle, she
said, ‘For twenty-five cents you can get
that bag mended just as good as new, so
you can take it, and it will save us a dollar
and a half.’ —‘No, you don’t,’ says I, for
I'd had enough of her stinginess. ‘I don’t
touch that bag ag’in, and I made up my
mind that minute to charge the old man
ave dollars’ worth. When the front door
was opened, the servant gal looked as if she
couldn’t believe her eyes, but my young
woman was as cool as you please, and she
had me showed into a room off the hall,
and then she went up-stairs.

“T sat a-waitin’ a long time, which gave
me a good chance to look around at things.
The room was real handsome, and I took a
peep at the window fastenin’s and the lay
of the doors, thinkin’ the knowledge might
THREE BURGLARS. 99

come in handy some time. Right in front
of me on a table was a little yellow mouse,
and it struck me as I looked at.it that that
must be gold. I listened.if anybody was
comin’, and then I picked it up to see if it
really was. I thought I heard the door-
bell ring just then, and shut it up in my
hand quick, but nobody went to the door ;
and then I looked at the little mouse, and
if it wasn’t pure gold it was the best imi-
tation ever I see, so I slipped it quietly in
my pocket to look at it ay’in when I had
time.

“Pretty soon old Groppeltacker come
in, shut the door, and sot down. ‘So you
brought my daughter back,’ says he.—‘ Yes,”
says I.—‘ And you expect to be paid for
it,’ says he. —‘ Yes,’ says I, ‘I do.’ —‘ How
much do you ask for your services?’ says
he. Now, this was a sort of a staggerer,
for I hadn’t made up my mind how much
I was goin’ to ask; but there wasn’t time
for no more thinkin’ about it, and so says
I, plum, ‘A hundred dollars, and there was
some expenses besides.’ —‘ Well, well,’ says
he, ‘that seems like a good deal, just for
bringin’ a little gal from school. It couldn’t
have took you more’n a couple of hours.’
—‘I don’t charge for time,’ says I, ‘it’s for
100 THE STORIES OF THE

the risks and the science of the thing.
‘There’s mighty few men in this town could
have brought your daughter home as neat
as I did’ —‘ Well, well,’ says he, rubbin’
his hands, ‘I expect Tl have to pay for
the whole term of the school, whether she’s
there or not, and the business will come
heavy on me. Don’t you think sixty dol-
lars would pay you?’ Now, I know when
you deal with this sort of a man there’s
always a good deal of difference splittin’ ;
and so, says I,‘ No, it won’t. I might take
ninety dollars, but that’s the very lowest
peg.’ —‘ The very lowest?’ says he, gettin’
up and walkin’ about a little; and then I
thought I heard the door-bell ring again,
and I was dreadful afraid somebody would
come and call off the old man before he
finished the bargain. ‘ Well,’ says I, ‘we'll
call it eighty-five and expenses, and there
Pll stop.’

“‘ Groppeltacker, now he sot down ag’in
and looked hard at me. ‘I didn’t ask you
to bring my daughter back,’ says he, speak-
in’ gruff, and very different from the way
the spoke before, ‘ and what’s more, I didn’t
want her back, and what’s more yet, ’m
not goin’ to pay you a red cent.’ — ‘Now,
look a-here,’ says I, mighty sharp, ‘none
THREE BURGLARS. 101

o’ that, old man; fork over the money or
Till lay you out stiff as a poker, and help
myself. I’m not a fellow to be fooled with,
and there’s nobody in this house can stop
me. Old Groppeltacker, he didn’t turn
a hair, but just sot there, and says he,
“Before you blow any more, suppose you
take my little -gold mouse out of your
pocket and hand it to me.’ I must say I
was took back at this, but I spoke back, as
bold as brass, and said I never seed his
gold mouse. ‘QO, ho!’ says he, ‘what you
didn’t see was the electric button under
the table cover which rung a bell when the
mouse was picked up. That’s what I call
my mouse-trap.’.

“ At this I jist b’iled over. ‘Now,’ says.
I, ‘just you hand out every cent you’ve
got, and your watch, too; not another
word. And I jumped up and clapped my
hand on my pistol in my hip-pocket, and
just at that minute there was a click and
the nippers were on me, and there was a
big policeman with his hand on my shoul-
der. I couldn’t speak, I was so b’ilin’ and so
dumbfounded both at once. Old Groppel-
tacker he just leaned back and he laughed.
‘You came in,’ he said to the cop, ‘jest the
second I rang, and as soft as a cat, and the
102 THE STORIES OF THE

first thing that I want you to do is to take
that gold mouse out of his pocket, and Pll
be on hand whenever you let me know ’m
wanted.’ The cop he took the gold mouse
out of my pocket, and says he, ‘I know
this fellow, and if I’m not mistook, they'll
be more charges than yourn made ag’in
him” There wasn’t no chance to show
fight, so I didn’t do it, but I says to old
Groppeltacker, ‘There’s my expenses,
you've got to pay them, anyway.’ —‘ All
right,’ says he, ‘jist you send in your bill
marked correct, by my daughter, and Pll
settle it, and he laughed again, and the
cop he took me off. Well, ladies and gents,
that little piece of business, together with
some other old scores, took me to Sing Sing
for three years, and it tain’t six months
since I got out, so you can see for your-
selves what hard times a fellow in my line
of business sometimes has.”

“ Well,” said Aunt Martha, “I don’t ap-
prove of the Groppeltacker sort.of people,
but if there were more of that kind I be-
lieve there would be fewer of your kind.
That story shows you in such a bad light
that I believe it’s true.”

“Every word of it,” said the man. “TI
wish it wasn’t.”
THREE BURGLARS. 103

And now I spoke. “Since you claim to
be a truth-telling being,” I said to the stout
burglar, “suppose you tell me why you
never attempted before to break into my
house. Every considerable dwelling in
this neighbourhood has been entered, and
I have no doubt you are the men who
committed all the burglaries.”

“No, sir,” said he; “not men, I am the
man who did ’em all; but these two friends
of mine was never with me before in a bit
of business like this. °Tain’t in their line.
I have had pals with me, but they was
professionals. These ain’t cracksmen,
they don’t know nothin’ about it; but this
one is handy at tools, and that’s the reason
I brung him along, but you see he kicked,
and was goin’ to give me away, and this
young gentleman ”—

“ Never mind about that young gentle-
man,” I said; “I have a certain curiosity
to know why my house was not entered
when the others were.”

“Well,” said he, “I don’t mind tellin’
yer how that was. It was on account of
your baby. We don’t like to crack a house
where there’s a pretty small baby that’s
liable to wake up and howl any minute,
and rouse up the rest of the family.
104 THE STORIES OF THE

There’s no workin’ in a house with com-
fort when there’s such a young one about.
Pll tell you what it is, all your burglar-
alarms and your dogs ain’t worth nuthin’
alongside of a baby for guardin’ a house.
If a cracksman ain’t careful the alarms
will go off, and if he don’t know how to
manage dogs, the dogs will bark. But by
George, sir, there ain’t no providin’ ag’in a
baby. He’ll howl any time, and nobody
can tell when, so I waited till your baby
was a little more settled in its ways and
slept soundly, and then we come along,
and here we are.”

This statement very much surprised me,
and did not elate me. Without saying so
to any one, I had flattered myself that the
burglars had heard of my precautions, and
of my excellent stock of firearms, and per-
haps had got a notion that I would be an
intrepid man to deal with, and it was some-
what humiliating to find that it was our
baby the burglars were afraid of, and not
myself. My wife was amazed.

“Can it be possible,” she said, “ that
these people know so much about our
baby, and that George William has been
protecting this house ?”

“It makes my flesh creep,” said Aunt
THREE BURGLARS. 105

Martha. “Do you know everything about
all of us?”

“ Wish JI did, ma’am,” said the stout
burglar; “wish T’d known about. that.
beastly liquor.”

“ Well, we’ve had enough of this,” said
I, rising; “and, my dear, you and Aunt.
Martha must be ready to go to bed, and
David and I will keep guard over these
fellows until morning.”

At this instant the youngest burglar
spoke. His face wore a very anxious ex-
pression.

“May I ask, sir,” he said, “ what you in-
tend to do with me in the morning?”

“JT have already said,” I answered, “ that.
I shall then hand over all of you to the
officers of justice of this country.”

“ But, sir,” said the young man, “you
will surely except me. I am not at all
concerned in this matter, and it would be
of the greatest possible injury to me to be
mixed up init, or to be mentioned in public
reports as an associate of a criminal. I’m
not acquainted with the gentleman at the
other end of the bench, but I have every
reason to believe from what he said to me
that he intended to notify you if this
James Barlow proceeded to any open act.
106 THE STORIES OF THE

For myself, I beg you will allow me to
state who and what I am, and to tell you
by what a strange concatenation of cireum-
stances I happen to find myself in my
present position — one which, I assure you,
causes me the greatest embarrassment and
anxiety.”

“We've had enough story-telling for
one night,” said I, “and you had better
reserve your statement for the magistrate.”

Here Aunt Martha put in her voice.

“That is not fair,” she said, “two of
them ‘have been allowed to speak, and this
one has just as much right to be heard as
the others. What do you say, Cornelia?”

I hoped that my wife would put herself
on my side, and would say that we had
enough of this sort of thing; but female
curiosity is an unknown quantity, and she
unhesitatingly replied that she would like
to hear the young man’s story. I sat
down in despair. Jt was useless to en-
deayvour to withstand this yearning for per-
sonal information, — one of the curses, I
may say, of our present civilization. The
young man gave no time for change of
opinion, but immediately began. His voice
was rich and rather low, and his manner
exceedingly pleasing and gentle. |
THREE BURGLARS. 107

“T wish to state in the first place,” said
he, “that I am a reporter for the press.
In the exercise of my vocation I have fre-
quently found myself in peculiar and un-
pleasant positions, but never before have I
been in a situation so embarrassing, so hu-
miliating, as this. In the course of my
studies and experiences I have found that
in literature and journalism, as well as in
art, one can make a true picture only of
what one has seen. Imagination is all
very well, often grand and beautiful ; but
imaginative authors show us their inner
selves and not our outer world ; there is
to-day a demand for the real, and itisa
demand which will be satisfied with noth-
ing but the truth. I have determined, as
far as in me lies, to endeavour to supply
this demand, and I have devoted myself
to the study of Realism.

“ With this end in view, I have made it
a rule never to describe anything I have
not personally seen and examined. If we
would thoroughly understand and appreci-
ate our fellow-beings we must know what
they do and how they do it ; otherwise we
cannot give them credit for their virtues,
or judge them properly for their faults.
If I could prevent crime I would annihi-
108 THE STORIES OF THE

late it, and when it ceased to exist the ne-
cessity for describing it would also cease.
But it does exist. It is a powerful ele-
ment in the life of the human race. Be-
ing known and acknowledged everywhere,
it should be understood; therefore it
should be described. The grand reality
of which we are a part can never be truly
comprehended until we comprehend all its
parts. But I will not philosophize. I
have devoted myself to Realism, and in or-
der to be a conscientious student I study
it in all its branches. I am frequently
called upon to write accounts of burglars
and burglaries, and in order thoroughly to
understand these people and their method
of action I determined, as soon as the op-
portunity should offer itself, to accompany
a burglarious expedition. My sole object
was the acquisition of knowledge of the
subject, — knowledge which to me would
be valuable, and, I may say, essential. I
engaged this man, James Barlow, to take
me with him the first time he should have
on hand an affair of this kind, and thus it
is that you find me here to-night in this
company. As I came here for the pur-
pose of earnest and thorough investiga-
tion, I will frankly admit that I would
THREE BURGLARS. 109

not have interfered with his processes,
but at the same time I would have seen
that no material injuries should result to
any members of this family.”

“ That was very kind.of you,” I said, at
which my wife looked at me somewhat re-
proachingly.

“ Tf he really intended it,” she remarked,
“and I do not see why that was not the
case, it was kind in him.”

“ As for me,” said Aunt Martha, very
sympathetically, “I think that the study
of Realism may be carried a great deal
too far. Ido not think that there is the
slightest necessity for people to know any-
thing about burglars. If people keep talk-
ing and reading about diseases they will
get them, and if they keep talking and
reading about crimes they will find that
iniquity is catching, the same as some
other things. Besides, this realistic de-
scription gets to be very tiresome. If you
really want to be a writer, young man, why
don’t you try your hand on some original
composition? Then you might write
something which would be interesting.”

“ Ah, madam,” said the young man, cast-
ing his eyes on the floor, “it would be far
beyond my power to write anything more
110 THE STORIES OF THE

wonderful than what I have known and
seen! If I may tell you some of the
things which have happened to me, you
will understand why I have become con-
vinced that in this world of realities im-
agination must always take a second
place.”

“Of course we want to hear your
story,” said Aunt Martha; “that is what
we are here for.”

“Tf I was unbound,” said the young
man, looking at me, “I could speak more
freely.”

“No doubt of it,” said I; “but perhaps
you might run away before you finished
your story. I wouldn’t have that happen
for the world.”

“Don’t make fun of him,” said Aunt —
Martha. “I was going to ask you to cut
him loose, but after what you say I think
it would perhaps be just as well to keep
them all tied until the narratives are com-
pleted.”

With a sigh of resignation the young
man began his story.

“I am American born, but my father,
who was a civil engineer and of high rank
in his profession, was obliged, when I was
quite a small boy, to go to Austria, where
TUREE BURGLARS. 111

he had made extensive contracts for the
building of railroads. In that country I
spent the greater part of my boyhood and
youth. There I was educated in the best
schools, my father sparing no money to
have me taught everything that a gentle-
man should know. My mother died when
Iwas a mere infant, and as my father’s
vocation made it necessary for him to
travel a great deal, my life was often a
lonely one. For society I depended en-
tirely upon my fellow-scholars, my tutors,
and masters. It was my father’s inten-
tion, however, that when I had finished
my studies I should go to one of the great
capitals, there to mix with the world.

“But when this period arrived I was
in no haste to avail myself of the advan-
tages he offered me. My tastes were
studious, my disposition contemplative,
and I was a lover of rural life.

“My father had leased an old castle in
Carinthia, not far from the mountains,
and here he kept his books and charts,
and here he came for recreation and study
whenever his arduous duties gave him a
little breathing-spell. For several months
I had lived at this castle, happy when my
father was with me and happy when I
112 THE STORIES OF THE

was alone. I expected soon to go to
Vienna, where my father would introduce
me to some of his influential friends. But
day by day I postponed the journey.
“Walking one morning a few milés
from the castle, I saw at the edge of a
piece of woodland a female figure seated
beneath a tree. Approaching nearer, I
perceived that she was young, and that
she was sketching. I was surprised, for I
knew that in this part of the world young
women, at least those of the upper classes,
to which the costume and tastes of this
one showed her to belong, were not
allowed to wander about the country by
themselves; but although I stood still and
watched the young lady for some time, no
companion appeared upon the scene.
“The path I had intended to take led
past the piece of woodland, and I saw no
reason why I should diverge from my pro-
posed course. I accordingly proceeded,
and when I reached the young lady I
bowed and raised my hat. I think that
for some time she had perceived my ap-
proach, and she looked up at me with a
face that was half merry, half inquisitive,
and perfectly charming. I cannot describe
the effect which her expression had upon
THREE BURGLARS. 118

me. I had never seen her before, but her
look was not such a one as she would
bestow upon a stranger. I had the most
powerful desire to stop and speak to her,
but having no right to do so, I should
have passed on, had she not said to me,
in the best of English, ‘ Good-morning,
sir” Then I stopped, you may be sure.
I was so accustomed to speak to those I
meet in either French or German that I
involuntarily said to her, ‘ Bon jour, Mad-
emoiselle” —* You need not speak French,’
she said; ‘I am neither English nor Ameri-
can, but I speak English. Are you the
gentleman who lives in Wulrick Castle?
If so, we are neighbours, and I wish you
would tell me why you live there all the
time alone.’ .

“ At this I sat down by her. ‘I am
that person,’ I said, and handed her my
card. ‘But before I say any more, please
tell me who you are.’ — ‘Iam Marie, Dor-
fler. My father’s house is on the other
side of this piece of woodland; you cannot
see it from here; this is part of his estate.
And now tell me why you live all by
yourself in that old ruin.’ —‘It is not
altogether a ruin,’ I answered; ‘ part of it
is in very good condition.’ And then I
114 THE STORIES OF THE

proceeded to give her an account of my
method of life and my reasons for it. ‘It
is interesting,’ she said, ‘but it is very
odd.’ —‘I do not think it half so odd, I
answered, ‘ as that you should be here by
yourself. —‘That is truly an out-of-the-
way sort of thing,’ she said ; ‘ but just now
Iam doing out-of-the-way things. If I do
not do them now, I shall never have the
opportunity again. In two weeks I shall
be married, and then I shall go to Prague,
and everything will be by line and rule.
No more delightful rambles by myself.
No more sitting quietly in the woods
watching the little birds and hares. No
more making a sketch just where I please,
‘no matter whether the ground be damp
or not.’ —‘I wonder that you are allowed
to do these things now,’ I said. —‘I am
not allowed,’ she answered. ‘I do them
in hours when I am supposed to be paint-
ing flower pieces in an upper room.’ —‘ But
when youre married,’ I said, ‘your hus-
band will be your companion in such
rambles.’ — ‘Hardly,’ she said, shrugging
her shoulders ; ‘he will be forty-seven on
the thirteenth of next month, which I
believe is July, and he is a great deal more
grizzled than my father, who is past fifty.
THREE BURGLARS. 115

He is very particular about all sorts of
things, as I suppose he has to be, as he is
a Colonel of infantry. Nobody could pos-
sibly disapprove of my present perform-
ances more than he would.’ I could not
help ejaculating, ‘Why, then, do you
marry him?’ She smiled at my earnest-
ness. ‘Oh, that is all arranged,’ she said,
‘and I have nothing to do with it. I have
known for more than a year that I’m to
marry Colonel Kaldhein, but I cannot say
that I have given myself much concern
about it until recently. It now occurs to
me that if I expect to amuse myself in the
way I best like I must lose no time doing so.’
I looked at the girl with earnest interest.
‘It appears to me,’ said I, ‘that your ways
of amusing yourself are very much like
mine.’ —‘ That is true,’ she said, looking
up with animation, ‘they are. Is it not
delightful to be free, to go where you like,
and do what you please, without any one
to advise or interfere with you?’ —‘It is
delightful,’ said I; and for half an hour we
sat and talked about these delights and
kindred subjects. She was much inter-
ested in our castle, and urged me to make
a sketch of it, so that she may know what
it now looked like. She had seen it when
116 THE STORIES OF THE

a little girl, but never since, and had been
afraid to wander very far in this direction
by herself. I told her that it would be
far better for her to see the castle with
her own eyes, and that I could conduct
her to an eminence, not half a mile away,
where she could have an excellent view of
it. This plan greatly pleased her; but
looking at her watch she said that it would
be too late for her to go that morning,
but if I happened to come that way the
next day, and she should be there to finish
her sketch, she would be delighted to have
me show her the eminence.”

“JT think,” interrupted Aunt Martha,
“that she was a very imprudent young
woman.”

“That may be,” he replied, “but you
must remember, madam, that up to this
time the young lady had been subjected to
the most conventional trammels, and that
her young nature had just burst out into
temporary freedom and true life. It was
the caged bird’s flight into the bright
summer air.”

“Just the kind of birds,” said Aunt
Martha, “ that shouldn’t be allowed to fly,
at least until they are used to it. But
you can go on with your story.”
THREE BURGLARS. 117

“Well,” said the young man, “ the next
day we met I took her to the piece of high
ground I had mentioned, and she sketched
the castle. After that we met again and
again, nearly every day. This sort of
story tells itself. I became madly in love
with her, and I am sure she liked me very
well; at all events I was a companion of
her own age and tastes, and such a one,
she assured me, she had never known

before, and probably would never know
again.” av

“There was some excuse for her,” said
Aunt Martha; “but still she had no right
to act in that way, especially as she was so
soon to be married.”

“JT do not think that she reasoned much
upon the subject,” said the young man,
“and Iam sure I did not. We made no
plans. Every day we thought only of
what we were doing or saying, and not at
all what we had done or would do. We
were very happy.

“One morning I was sitting by
Marie in the very place where I had first
met her, when we heard some one rapidly
approaching. Looking up J saw-a tall
man in military uniform. <‘ Heavens!’
cried Marie, ‘it is Colonel Kaldhein.’
118 THE STORIES OF THE

“The situation was one of which an
expectant bridegroom would not be likely
to ask many questions. Marie was seated
on a low stone with her drawing-block in
her lap. She was finishing the sketch on
which she was engaged when I first saw
her, and I was kneeling close to her, look-
ing over her work and making various
suggestions, and I think my countenance
must have indicated that I found it very
pleasant to make suggestions in that way
to such a pretty girl. Our heads were
very close together. Sometimes we looked
at the paper, sometimes we looked at each
other. But in the instant I caught sight
of the Colonel the situation had changed.
I rose to my feet, and Marie began to pick
up the drawing materials, which were
lying about her.

“Colonel Kaldhein came forward almost
atarun. His eyes blazed through his
gold spectacles, and his close-cut reddish
beard seemed to be singeing with the fires
of rage. I had but an instant for observa-
tion, for he came directly up to me, and
with a tremendous objurgation he struck
me full in the face with such force that
the blow stretched me upon the ground.

“JT was almost stunned; but I heard
THREE BURGLARS. 119

a scream from Marie, a storm of angry
words from Kaldhein, and I felt sure he
was about to inflict further injury. He
was a much stronger man than I was, and
probably was armed. With a sudden in-
stinct of self-preservation I rolled down a
little declivity on the edge of which I had
fallen, and staggering to my feet, plunged
into a thicket and fled. Even had I been
in the full possession of my senses, I knew
that under the circumstances I would
have been of no benefit to Marie had I re-
mained upon the scene. The last thing I
heard was a shout from Kaldhein, in
which he declared that he would kill me
yet. Forsome days I did not go out of
my castle. My face was bruised, my soul
was dejected. I knew there was no possi-
ble chance that I should meet Marie, and
that there was a chance that I might meet
the angry Colonel. An altercation at this
time would be very annoying and painful
to the lady, no matter what the result, and
I considered it my duty to do everything
that was possible to avoid a meeting with
Kaldhein. Therefore, as I have said, I
shut myself up within the walls of old
Wulrick, and gave strict orders to my ser-
vants to admit no one.
120 THE STORIES OF THE

“Tt was at this time that the strangest
events of my life occurred. Sitting in an
upper room, gazing out of the window,
over the fields, through which I had
walked so happily but two days before to
meet the lady whom I had begun to think
of as my Marie, I felt the head of a dog
laid gently in my lap. Without turning
my head I caressed the animal, and stroked
the long hair on his neck.

“My hound Ajax was a dear companion
to me in this old castle, although I never
took him in my walks, as he was apt to
get into mischief, and when I turned my
head to look at him he was gone; but
strange to say, the hand which had been
stroking the dog felt as if it were still
resting on his neck.

“ Quickly drawing my hand toward me
it struck the head of the dog, and, moving
it backward and forward, I felt the ears
and nose of the animal, and then became
conscious that its head was still resting
upon my knee.

“J started back. Had I been stricken
with blindness? But no; turning my
head, I could plainly see everything in
the room. The scene from the window
was as distinct as it ever had been. I
THREE BURGLARS. ‘121

sprang to my feet, and, as I stood wonder-
ing what this strange thing could mean,
the dog brushed up against me and licked
my hand. Then the idea suddenly flashed
into my mind that by some occult in-
fluence Ajax had been rendered invisible.

“T dashed down-stairs, and although I
could neither see nor hear it, I felt that.
the dog was following me. Rushing into
the open air, I saw one of my men.
‘Where is Ajax?’ I cried. ‘A very
strange thing has happened, sir,’ he said,
‘and I should have come to tell you of it,
had I not been unwilling to disturb your
studies. About two hours ago Ajax was.
lying here in the courtyard; suddenly he
sprang to his feet with a savage growl.
His hair stood straight upon his back, his
tail was stiff, and his lips were drawn
back, showing his great teeth. I turned
to see what had enraged him, but there
was absolutely nothing, sir, —nothing in
the world. And never did I see Ajax so
angry. But this lasted only for an in-
stant. Ajax suddenly backed, his tail
dropped between his legs, his head hung
down, and with a dreadful howl he turned,
and, leaping the wall of the courtyard,
he disappeared. I have since been watch-
122 THE STORIES OF THE

ing for his return. The gate is open, and
as soon as he enters I shall chain him, for
I fear the dog is mad.’

“J did not dare to utter the thoughts
that were in my mind, but, bidding the
man inform me the moment Ajax re-
turned, I reéntered the castle and sat
down in the great hall.

“The dog was beside me; his head
again lay upon my knees. With a feeling
of awe, yet strangely enough without fear,
I carefully passed my hand over the ani-
mal’s head. I felt his ears, his nose, his
jaws, and his neck. They were not the
head, the ears, the nose, the jaws, or the
neck of Ajax!

“Thad heard of animals, and even human
beings, who were totally invisible, but who
still retained their form, their palpability,
and all the powers and functions of life. I
had heard of houses haunted by invisible
animals; I had read De Kay’s story of
the maiden Manmat’ha, whose coming her
lover perceived by the parting of the tall
grain in the field of ripe wheat through
which she passed, but whose form, although
it might be folded in his arms, was yet as
invisible to his sight as the summer air.
I did not doubt for a moment that the ani-
THREE BURGLARS. 123

mal that had come to me was one of those
strange beings. I lifted his head; it was
heavy. I took hold of a paw which he
readily gave me; he had every attribute of
a real dog, except that he could not be
seen.”

“TJ call that perfectly horrible,” said
Aunt Martha with a sort of a gasp.

“ Perhaps,” said the young man, “ you
would prefer that I should not continue.”

At this both my wife and Aunt Martha
declared that he must go on, and even I
did not object to hearing the rest of the
story.

“ Well,” said the young man, “ Ajax
never came back. It is generally believed
that dogs can see things which are invisi-
ble to us, and I am afraid that my faithful
hound was frightened, perhaps to death,
when he found that the animal whose en-
trance into the courtyard he had perceived
was a supernatural thing.

“But if I needed a canine companion I
had one, for by day or night this invisible -
dog never left me. When I slept he lay
on the floor by the side of my bed; if I
put down my hand I could always feel his
head, and often he would stand up and
press his nose against me, as if to assure
124 THE STORIES OF THE

me that he was there. This strange com-
panionship continued for several days, and I
became really attached to the invisible ani-
mal. His constant companionship seemed
to indicate that he had come to guard
me, and that he was determined to do it
thoroughly. I felt so much confidence in
his protection, although I knew not how it
could be exerted, that one morning I de-
cided to take a walk, and with my hand
on the head of the dog, to make sure that
he was with me, I strolled into the open
country.

“T had walked about a mile, and was
approaching a group of large trees, when
suddenly from behind one of them the tall
figure of a man appeared. In an instant I
knew it to be Colonel Kaldhein; his was a:
face which could not easily be forgotten.
Without a word he raised a pistol which
he held in his hand and fired at me. The
ball whistled over my head.

“T stopped short, startled, and fright-
ened almost out of my senses. I was un-
armed, and had no place of refuge. It
was plain that the man was determined
to kill me.

“ Quickly recocking his pistol, Kaldhein
raised it again. I involuntarily shrank
THREE BURGLARS. 125

back, expecting death ; but before he could
fire his arm suddenly dropped, and the
pistol was discharged into the ground.
Then began a strange scene. The man
shouted, kicked, and beat up and down
with his arms; his pistol fell from his
hand, he sprang from side to side, he
turned around, he struggled and yelled.

“TI stood astounded. For an instant I
supposed the man had been overtaken by
some sort of fit; but in a flash the truth
came to me, — Kaldhein was being attacked
by my protector, the invisible dog.

“ Horrified by this conviction, my first
impulse was to save the man; and, with-
out knowing what I was going to do, I
stepped quickly toward him, but stum-
bling over something I did not see I fell
sprawling. Before I could regain my feet I
saw Kaldhein fall backward to the ground,
where a scene took place, so terrible that
I shall not attempt to describe it. When,
with trembling steps, I approached, the
man was dead. The invisible dog had
almost torn him to pieces.

“T could do nothing. I did not remain
upon the spot another minute, but hurried
home to the castle. As I rapidly walked
on I felt the dog beside me, and, putting
126 THE STORIES OF THE

my hand upon him, I felt that he was
panting terribly. For three days I did
not leave the house.

“ About the end of this time I was sit-
ting in an upper room of the castle, re-
flecting upon the recent dreadful event,
when the thought struck me that the
invisible dog, who was by my side, appar-
ently asleep, must be of an unusually
powerful build to overcome so easily such
a strong man as Kaldhein. I felt a desire
to know how large the creature really
was, and, as I had never touched any
portion of his body back of his shoulders,
I now passed my hand along his back. I
was amazed at his length, and when I had
moved my hand at least seven feet from
his head it still rested upon his body.
And then the form of that body began to
change in a manner which terrified me ;
but impelled by a horrible but irresistible
curiosity, my hand moved on.

“ But Ino longer touched the body of
a dog; the form beneath my hand was
cylindrical, apparently about a foot in
diameter. As my hand moved on. the
diameter diminished, and the skin of the
creature became cold and clammy. I was
feeling the body of a snake!
THREE BURGLARS. 127

“T now had reached the open door of
the room. The body of the snake ex-
tended through it. It went on to the top
of the stairs; these I began to descend,
my heart beating fast with terror, my face
blanched, I am sure, but my hand still
moving along the body of the awful
creature. I had studied zodlogy, giving a
good deal of attention to reptiles, and I
knew that, judged by the ordinary ratio
of diminution of the bodies of serpents,
this one must extend a long distance
down the stairs.

“ But I had not descended more than a
dozen steps before I felt a shiver beneath
my hand, and then a jerk, and the next
moment the snake’s body was violently
drawn upward. I withdrew my hand
and started to one side, and then, how, I
know not, I became aware that the dog
part of the creature was coming down-
stairs.

“T now became possessed by a wild
terror. The creature must be furious that
I had discovered his real form. He had
always been careful to keep his head
toward me. I should be torn to pieces
as Kaldhein had been! Down the stairs I
dashed, across the courtyard, and toward
128 THE STORIES OF THE

a lofty old tower, which stood in one
corner of the castle. I ran up the wind-
ing stairs of this with a speed which
belongs only to a frantically terrified
creature, until I reached the fourth story,
where I dashed through an open doorway,
slammed behind me an iron door, which
shut with a spring, and fell gasping upon
the floor.

“In less than a minute I was aware,
by a slight rattling of the grate-hinges,
that something was pushing against the
door; but I did not move. I knew that I
was safe. The room in which I lay was a
prison dungeon, and in it, in the olden.
times, it is said, men had been left to
perish. Escape or communication with
the outer world was impossible. A little
light and air came through a narrow slit in
the wall, and the door could not be forced.

“JT knew that the invisible dog, or
whatever it was, could not get in unless
the door was open. I had frequently
noticed that when he entered a room it
was through an open door, and I some-
times knew of his approach by seeing
an unlatched door open without visible
cause; so, feeling secure for the present,
I lay and gasped and panted.
THREE BURGLARS. 129

“ After the lapse of a few hours, how-
ever, I was seized by a new terror. How
was I ever to get out of this horrible
dungeon? Even if I made up my mind to
face the dog, trusting that he had recov-
ered from his momentary anger, I had no
means of opening the door, and as to
making any one hear me I knew that was
impossible.

“T had no hope that my servants would
seek me here. I had not seen any one
when I ran into the tower, and if they
should discover that I was in this dun-
geon, how could they open the door?
The key was in my father’s possession.
He had taken it to Vienna to exhibit it as a
curiosity to some of his mechanical friends.
He believed that there was not such
another key in the world. I was in the
habit of making long absences from the
castle, and if I should be looked for I
believed that the tower would be the last
place visited.

“ Night came on; the little light in the
room vanished, and, hungry, thirsty, and
almost hopeless, I fell asleep.

“During the night there was a most
dreadful storm. ‘The thunder roared, the
lightning flashed through the slit in the
1380 THE STORIES OF THE

wall, and the wind blew with such terrific
violence that the tower shook and trem-
bled. After a time I heard a tremendous
crash as of falling walls, and then another,
and now I felt the wind blowing into my
prison. ,

“There was no further sleep for me.
Trembling with a fearful apprehension
of what might happen next, I cowered
against the wall until the day broke, and
then J perceived that in front of me was a
great hole in the wall of the dungeon,
which extended for more than a yard
above the floor. I sat and gazed at this
until the light became stronger, and then
I cautiously approached the aperture and
looked out. Nearly the whole of the castle
lay in ruins before me !

“Tt was easy to see what had happened.
The storm had demolished the crumbling
walls of the old building, and the tower,
itself frail and tottering, stood alone, high
above the prostrate ruins. If the winds
should again arise it must fall, and at any
moment its shaken foundations might give
way beneath it.

“Through the hole in the wall, which
had been caused by the tearing away of
some of the connection between the tower
THREE BURGLARS. 181

and main building, I could look down on
the ground below, covered with masses of
jagged stone; but there was no way in
which I could get down. I could not
descend that perpendicular wall. If I
leaped out, death would be certain.

“ As J crouched at the opening I felt the
head of a dog pushed against me. A
spasm of terror ran through me, but the
moment the creature began to lick my
hands I knew that I had nothing to fear
from him. Instantly my courage returned.
I felt that he was my protector. I patted
his head and he renewed his caresses.

“ Passing my hand over him, I found he
was holding himself in his present position
by means of his forelegs, which were
stretched out upon the floor. What adog
this must be, who could climb a wall! But
I gave no time to conjectures of this sort.
How could I avail myself of his assistance ?
In what manner could he enable me to es-
cape from that dangerous tower ?

“Suddenly a thought came to me. I
remembered the snake part of him. Judg-
ing from the ratio of diminution, which I
have mentioned before, that part, if hang-
ing down, must reach nearly, if not quite,
to the ground. By taking advantage of
182 THE STORIES OF THE

this means of descent I might be saved,
but the feat would require dexterity and
an immense amount of faith. This ser-
pent-like portion of the animal was invisi-
ble. How could I know how long it was!

“But there was no time for consideration;
the wind had again arisen, and was blowing
with fury. The tower shook beneath me;
at any moment it might fall. If I should
again escape from death, through the as-
sistance of my invisible friend, I must
avail myself of that assistance instantly.

“T stopped and felt the animal. He
still hung by part of his body and by his
forelegs to the floor of the dungeon, and by
reaching out I could feel that the rest
of him extended downward. I therefore
seized his body in my arms, threw myself
out of the aperture, and began to slide
down.

“In avery short time I found that I had
reached the snake portion of the creature,
and, throwing my arms and legs around it,
I endeavoured with all my strength to pre-
vent a too rapid descent; but in spite of all
my efforts, my downward progress was
faster than I would have wished it to be.
But there was no stopping; I must slip
down.
THREE BURGLARS. 133

“In these moments of rapid descent my
mind was filled with wild anxiety concern-
ing the serpent-like form to which I was
clinging. I remembered in a flash that
there were snakes whose caudal extremity
dwindled away suddenly into a point.
This one might do so, and at any instant I
might come to the end of the tail and drop
upon the jagged stones below.

“Calculation after calculation of the
ratio of diminution flashed through my
mind during that awful descent. My
whole soul was centred upon one point.
When would this support end? When
would I drop?

“ Fortunately I was on the leeward side
of the tower, and I was not swung about
by the wind. Steadily I descended, and
steadily the diameter of the form I grasped
diminished; soon I could grasp it in my
hand; then with a terrified glance I looked
below. I was still at a sickening distance
from the ground. I shut my eyes. I
slipped down, down, down. The tail
became like a thick rope which I encircled
with each hand. It became thinner and
thinner. It grew so small that I could not
hold it; but as I felt it slip from my fingers
my feet rested on a pile of stones.
184 THE STORIES OF THE

~ * Bewildered and almost exhausted, I
stumbled over the ruins, gained the unen-
cumbered ground, and ran as far from the
tower as I could, sinking down at last
against the trunk of a tree in a neighbour-
ing field. _Scarcely had I reached this
spot when the fury of the wind-storm ap-
peared to redouble, and before the wild and
shrieking blast the tower bent and then
fell with a crash upon the other ruins.

“The first thought that came into my
mind when I beheld the dreadful specta-
cle concerned the creature who had twice
saved my life. Had he escaped, or was he
crushed beneath that mass of stone? I
felt on either side to discover if he were
near me, but he was not. Had he given
his life for mine ?

“ Had I been stronger I would have
searched for him; I would have clambered
among the ruins to see if I could discover
his mangled form. If I could but reach
his faithful head I would stroke and
caress it, living or dead. But excitement,
fatigue, and want of food had made me so
weak that I could do nothing but sit upon
the ground with my back against the
tree.

“While thus resting I perceived that
THREE BURGLARS. 185

the whole of the tower had not been
demolished by the storm. Some of the
rooms in which we had lived, having been
built at a later date than the rest of the
great edifice, had resisted the power of
the wind and were still standing.

“From the direction of the uninjured
portion of the castle I now saw approach-
ing a light-coloured object, which seemed
to be floating in the air about a foot from
the ground. As it came nearer I saw that
it was a basket, and I immediately under-
stood the situation. My faithful friend
was alive, and was bringing me some
refreshments.

“On came the basket, rising and falling
with the bounds of the dog. It was truly
an odd spectacle, but a very welcome one.
In a few moments the basket was deposited
at my side, and I was caressing the head
of the faithful dog. In the basket I found
a bottle of wine and some bread and meat,
which the good creature had doubtless
discovered in the kitchen of the castle,
and it was not long before I was myself
again. The storm had now almost passed
away, and I arose and went to my own
rooms, my friend and protector still keep-
ing close to my side.
186 THE STORIES OF THE

“On the morning of the next day, as I
sat wondering what had happened to my
servants, and whether my father had been
apprised of the disaster to the castle, I
felt something pulling at the skirt of my
coat. I put out my hand and found that
it was the invisible dog. Imagining that
he wished me to follow him, I arose, and,
obeying the impulse given me by his gentle
strain upon my coat, I followed him out
of the door, across the courtyard, and into
the open country. We went on for a con-
siderable distance. A gentle touch of my
coat admonished me when I turned from
the direction in which it was desired that
I should go.

“ After a walk of about half an hour I
approached a great oak-tree, with low,
wide-spreading branches. Some one was
sitting beneath it. Imagining the truth,
I rushed forward. It was Marie! .
_ “Tt was needless for us to say anything,

to explain the state of our feelings toward
each other. That tale was told by the de-
light with which we met. When I asked
her how she came to be there, she told me
that about an hour before, while sitting in
front.of her father’s mansion, she had felt
something gently pulling at her skirts;
THREE BURGLARS. 137

and, although at first frightened, she was
at length impelled to obey the impulse,
and, without knowing whether it was the
wind or some supernatural force which
had led her here, she had come.

“We had a great deal to say to each
other. She told me that she had beer
longing to send mea message to warn me
that Colonel Kaldhein would certainly kili
me the next time he saw me; but she had
no means of sending me such a message,
for the Colonel had had her actions closely
watched.

“When the news came of Kaldhein’s
death she at first feared that I had killed
him, and would therefore be obliged to
fly the country ; but when it was known
that he had been almost torn to pieces by
wild beasts, she, like every one else, was
utterly amazed, and could not understand
the matter at all, None but the most
ferocious creatures could have inflicted
the injuries of which the man had. died,
and where those creatures came from no
one knew. Some people thought that a
pack of blood-hounds might have broken
loose from some of the estates of the sur-
rounding country, and, in the course of
their wild journeyings, might have met
138 THE STORIES OF THE

with the Colonel, and fallen upon him.
Others surmised that a bear had come
down from the mountains; but the fact
was that nobody knew anything about °
it.

“J did not attempt to acquaint Marie
with the truth. At that moment the in-
visible dog was lying at my side, and I
feared if I mentioned his existence to
Marie she might fly in terror, To me
there was only one important phase of the
affair, and that was that Marie was now
free, that she might be mine.

“ Before we parted we were affianced
lovers, pledged to marry as soon as possi-
ble. I-wrote to my father, asking for his
permission to wed the lady. But in his
reply he utterly forbade any such’ mar-
riage. Marie also discovered that her
parents would not permit a union with a
foreigner, and would indeed oppose her
marriage with any one at this time.

“However, as usual, love triumphed,
and after surmounting many difficulties we
were married and fled to America. Since
that time I have been obliged to support
myself and my wife, for my father will
give me no assistance. He had proposed
a yery different career for me, and was
THREE BURGLARS. 189

extremely angry when he found his plans
had been completely destroyed. But we
are hopeful, we work hard, and hope that
we may yet be able to support ourselves
comfortably without aid from any one.
We are young, we are strong, we trust
each other, and have a firm faith in our
SUCCESS.

“JT had only one regret in leaving
Europe, and that was that my faithful
friend, the noble and devoted invisible
dog, was obliged to remain on the other
side of the Atlantic. Why this was so I
do not know, but perhaps it was for the
best. I never told my wife of his exist-
ence, and if she had accidentally discov-
ered it, I know not what might have been
the effects upon her nervous system.

“The dog accompanied me through
Austria, Switzerland, and France to
Havre, from which port we sailed. I
took leave of him on the gang-plank. He
licked my hands, and I caressed and
stroked him. People might have thought
that my actions denoted insanity, but
every one was so greatly occupied in
these last moments before departure, that
perhaps I was not noticed. Just as I
left him and hastened on board, a sailor
140 THE STORIES OF THE

fell overboard from the gang-plank. He
was quickly rescued, but could not imagine
why he had fallen. I believe, however,
that he was tripped up by the snake part
of my friend as he convulsively rushed
away.” :

The young man ceased, and gazed pen-
sively upon the floor.

“Well, well, well!” exclaimed Aunt
Martha, “if those are the sort of expe-
riences you had, I don’t wonder that
Realism was wonderful enough for you.
The invisible creature was very good to
you, Iam sure, but Iam gid it did not
come with you to America.”

David, who had been waiting for an
opportunity to speak, now interrupted
further comments by stating that it was
daylight, and if I thought well of it, he
would open the window-shutters, so that
we might see any one going toward the |
town. A milkman, he said, passed the
house very early every morning. When
the shutters were opened we were all
amazed that the night should have passed -
so quickly. .

The tall burglar and the young man
now began to exhibit a good deal of
anxiety.
THREE BURGLARS, 141.

“JT should like very much to know,”
said the former, “what you intend to do:
in regard to us. It cannot be that you
think of placing that young gentleman.
and myself in the hands.of the law. Of
course, this man,” pointing to the stout
burglar, “cannot expect anything but a
just punishment of his crimes; but after
what we have told you, you must certainly
be convinced that our connection with the
affair is entirely blameless, and should be
considered as a piece of very bad luck.”

“That,” said I, “is a matter which will
receive all the consideration it needs.”

At this moment David announced the
milkman. Counselling my man to keep
strict guard over the prisoners, I went
out to the road, stopped the milkman, and
gave him a message which I was certain
would insure the prompt arrival at my
house of sufficient force to take safe charge
of the burglars. Excited with the impor-
tance of the commission, he whipped up.
his horse and dashed away. ,

Wher I returned to the house I besought
my wife and Aunt Martha to go to bed,
that. they might yet get some hours of
sleep; but both refused. They did not feel
in the least like sleep, and there was a
142 THE STORIES OF THE

subject on which they wished to consult
with me in the dining-room.

“Now,” said Aunt Martha, when the
door had been closed, “these men have
freely told us their stories; whether they
are entirely true or not, must, of course, be
a matter of opinion; but they have laid
their cases before us, and we should not
place them all in the hands of the officers
of the law without giving them due con-
sideration, and arriving at a decision which
shall be satisfactory to ourselves.”

“Tet us take them in order,” said I.
“What do you think of the tall man’s
case 2?”

“T think he is a thief and manufacturer
of falsehoods,” said my wife promptly.

“T am afraid,” said Aunt Martha, “ that
he is not altogether innocent; but there is
one thing greatly in his favour, — when he
told of the feelings which overcame him
when he saw that little child sleeping
peacefully in its bed in the house which
he had unintentionally robbed, I felt
there must be good points in that man’s
nature. What do you think of him?”

“JT think he is worst of the lot,” I an-
swered, “and as there are now two votes
against him, he must go to the lock-up.
THREE BURGLARS. 143

And now what of the stout fellow?” I
asked.

“Oh, he is a burglar by his own confes-
sion,” said my wife; “there can be no
doubt of that.”

“Tam afraid you are right,” said Aunt.
Martha.

“T know she is,” said I, “and James.
Barlow, or whatever his name may be,
shall be delivered to the constable.”

“Of course, there can be no difference:
of opinion in regard to the young man,”
said Aunt Martha quickly. “Both the
others admitted that he had nothing to do
with this affair except as a journalist, and
although I do not think he ought to get his.
realistic ideas in that way, I would con-
sider it positively wicked to send him into
court in company with those other men.
Consider the position in which he would
be placed before the world. Consider his
young wife.”

“JT cannot say,” said my wife, “ that I am
inclined to believe all parts of his story.”

“T suppose,” said I, laughing, “ that you
particularly refer to the invisible dog-
snake.”

“T’m not so sure about all that,” she
answered. “ Since the labours of the psychic
144 THE STORIES OF THI

researchers began, we have heard of a great
many strange things ; but it is evident that
he is ayoung man of education and culture,
and in all probability a journalist or liter-
ary man. I do not think he should be sent
to the lock-up with common criminals.”

“There!” cried Aunt Martha, “two in
his favour. He must be released. It’s a
poor rule that does not work both ways.”

I stood for a few moments undecided.
If left to myself, I would have sent the
trio to the county town, where, if any.one
of them could prove his innocence, he
‘could do so before the constitutional au-
thorities; but having submitted the mat-
ter to my wife and aunt, I could not well
override their decision. As for what the
young man said, I gave it no weight what-
ever, for of course he would say the best
he could for himself. But the testimony
of the others had weight. When they
both declared that he was not a burglar,
but merely a journalist, engaged in what
he supposed to be his duty, it would seem
to be a cruel thing to stamp him as a crim-
inal by putting him in charge of the con-
stables.

But my indecision soon came to an end,
for Aunt Martha declared that no time
THREE BURGLARS. 145

should be lost in setting the young man
free, for should the people in town arrive
and see him sitting bound with the others
it would ruin his character forever. My
wife agreed.

“ Whatever there may be of truth in
his story,” she said, ‘one of two things is
certain, — either he has had most wonderful
experiences out of which he may construct
realistic novels which will give him fortune
and reputation, or he has a startling imag-
ination, which, if used in the production
of works in the romantic school, will be of
the same advantage to his future. Looking
upon it, even in this light and without any
reference to his family and the possible
effects on his own moral nature, we shall
assume a great responsibility in deliberately
subjecting such a person to criminal pros-
_ ecution and perhaps conviction.”

This was enough. “ Well,” said I, “we
will release the young fellow and send the
two other rascals to jail.”

“ That was not well expressed,” said my
wife, “but we will not criticise words at
present.”

We returned to the library and I an-
nounced my decision. When he heard it
the stout burglar exhibited no emotion.
146 THE STORIES OF THE

His expression indicated that, having been
caught, he expected to be sent to jail, and
that was the end of it. Perhaps he had
been through this experience so often that
he had become used to it. The tall man,
however, took the announcement in a very
different way. His face grew dark and his
eyes glittered. “You are making a great
mistake,” he said to me, “a very great mis-
take, and you will have to bear the conse-
quences.”

“ Very good,” said I, “I will remember
that remark when your trial comes on.”

The behaviour of the young man was
unexceptional. He looked upon us with
a face full of happy gratitude, and, as he
thanked us for the kind favour and the jus-
tice which we had shown him, his eyes
seemed dim with tears. Aunt Martha was
much affected.

“JT wonder if his mother is living,” she
whispered to me. “ A wife is a great deal,
but a mother is more. If I had thought
of her sooner I would have spoken more
strongly in his favour. And now youshould
untie him at once and let him go home.
His wife must be getting terribly anxious.”

The young man overheard this last
remark.
THREE BURGLARS. 147

“ You will confer a great favour on me,
sir,” he said, “if you will let me depart as
soon as possible. I feel a great repugnance
to be seen in company with these men, as
you may imagine, from wearing a mask on
coming here. If I leave immediately I
think I can catch the first train from your
station.”

I considered the situation. If I did what
I was asked, there would be two bound
burglars to guard, three women and a
child to protect, an uncertain stranger at
liberty, and only David and myself to at-
tend to the whole business. . “No, sir,”
said I, “I shall not untie you until the
officers I sent for are near at hand; then
I will release you, and you can leave the
house by the back way without being seen
by them. There are other morning trains
which will take you into the city early
enough.”

“T think you are a little hard on him,”
remarked Aunt Martha, but the young man
made no complaint.

“Twill trust myself to you, sir,” he said.

The officers arrived much sooner than I
expected. There were five of them, in-
cluding the Chief of Police, and they were
accompanied by several volunteer assist-
148 THE STORIES OF THE

ants, among whom was the milkman who
had been my messenger. This morning
his customers might wait for their milk,
for all business must give way before such
an important piece of sightseeing as this.
Thad barely time to untie the young
man and take him to the back of the house

- before the officers and their followers had

entered the front door. There was now a
great deal of questioning, a great deal of
explanation, a great deal of discussion as to
whether my way of catching burglars was
advisable or not, and a good deal of talk
about the best method of taking the men
to town. Some of the officers were in fa-
vour of releasing the two men, and then
deciding in what manner they should be
taken to town ; and if this plan had been
adopted, I believe that these two alert
and practical rascals would have taken
themselves out of my house without the
assistance of the officers, or at least would
have caused a great deal of trouble and
perhaps injury in endeavouring to do so.

But the Chief of Police was of my mind,
and before the men were entirely released
from the ropes by which I had tied them,
they were securely manacled.

A requisition made on David and myself
THREE BURGLARS. 149

to appear as witnesses, the two men were
taken from the house to the wagons in
which the officers and their followers had
come. My wife and Aunt Martha had
gone upstairs before the arrival of the
police, and were watching the outside pro-
ceeding from a window.

Standing in the hallway, I glanced into
the dining-room, and was surprised to see
the young man still standing by a side
door. JI had thought him gone, but per-
haps it was wise in him to remain, and not
show himself upon the road until the coast
was entirely clear. He did not see me,
and was looking backward into the kitchen,
a cheerful and animated expression upon
his face. This expression did not strike
me pleasantly. He had escaped a great
danger, it was true, but it was no reason
for this rather obtrusive air of exultation.
Just then Alice came into the dining-room
from the kitchen, and the young man
stepped back, so that she did not notice
him. As she passed he gently threw his
arm quietly around her neck and kissed
her.

At that very instant,.even before the
girl had time to exclaim, in rushed David
from the outer side door.
150 THE STORIES OF THE

“T’ve been watching you, you rascal,”
he shouted; “you’re done for now!” and
he threw his strong arms around the man,
pinioning his arms to his side.

The young fellow gave a great jerk, and
began to struggle powerfully. His face
turned black with rage; he swore, he
kicked. He made the most frenzied efforts
to free himself, but David’s arms were
strong, his soul was full of jealous fury,
and ina moment I had come to his assist-
ance. Each of us taking the young fel-
low by an arm, we ran him into the hallway
and out of the front door, Alice aiding
us greatly by putting her hands against
the man’s back and pushing most forcibly.

“ Tere’s another one,” cried David.
“J'll appear against him. He’s the worst
of the lot.”

Without knowing what it all meant, the
Chief clapped the nippers on our prisoner,
justly believing that if burglars were about
to show themselves so unexpectedly, the
best thing to do was to handcuff them as
fast as they appeared, and then to ask
questions. The reasons for not having
produced this man before, and for pro-
ducing him now, were not very satisfac-
tory to the officer.
_ THREE BURGLARS. 151

“Have you any more in the cellar?” he
asked. “If so, I should like to take a
look at them before I start away.”

At this moment Aunt Martha made her
appearance at the front door.

“What are you going to do with that
young man?” she asked sharply. “ What
right have you to put irons upon him ?”

“ Aunt Martha,” said I, stepping back
to her, “ what do you think he has done?”

“TJ don’t know,” said she; “how should
Iknow? AllI know is that we agreed
to set him free.”

J addressed her solemnly : “ David and
I believe him tc be utterly depraved. He
availed himself of the first moments of
his liberation to kiss Alice.” Aunt Mar-
tha looked at me with wide-open eyes,
and then her brows contracted.

“He did, did he?” saidshe. ‘ And that
is the kind of a man he is. Very good.
Let him go to jail with the others. I don’t
believe one word about his young wife.
If kissing respectable young women is the
way he studies Realism the quicker he goes
to jail the better,” and with that she
walked into the house.

When the men had been placed in the
two vehicles in which the police had come,
152 THE STORIES OF THE

the Chief and I made an examination of
the premises, and we found that the house
had been entered by a kitchen window, in
exactly the manner which the tall burglar
had described. Outside of this window,
close to the wall, we found a leathern bag,
containing what the Chief declared to be .
an excellent assortment of burglars’ tools.
The officers and their prisoners now drove
away, and we were left to a long morning
nap, if we were so nae: as to get it,
and a late breakfast.

In the course of the trial of the three
men who had entered my house some in-
teresting points in regard to them were
brought out. Several detectives and po-
licemen from New York were present, and
their testimony proved that my three burg-
lars were men of eminence in their pro-
_ fession, and that which most puzzled the
metropolitan detectives. was to discover
why these men should have been willing
to devote their high talents to the com-
paratively insignificant business of break-
ing into a suburban dwelling.

The tall man occupied a position of
peculiar eminence in criminal circles. He
was what might be called a criminal man-
ager. He would take contracts for the
THREE BURGLARS. 153

successful execution of certain crimes, —
bank robberies, for instance, —and while
seldom taking part in the actual work of a
burglary or similar operation, he would
plan all the details of the affair, and select
and direct his agents with great skill -
and judgment. He had never been ar-
rested before, and the detectives were de-
lighted, believing they would now have an
opportunity of tracing to him a series of
very important criminal operations that
had taken place in New York and some
other large cities. He was known as
Lewis Mandit, and this was believed to
be his real name.

The stout man was a first-class profes-
sional burglar and nothing more, and was
in the employ of Mandit. The young man
was a decidedly uncommon personage. :
He was of a good family, had been edu-
cated at one of our principal colleges, had
travelled, and was in every way qualified
to make a figure in society. He had been
a newspaper man, and a writer for leading
periodicals, and had shown considerable
literary ability; but a life of honest indus-
try did not suit his tastes, and he had now
adopted knavery as a regular profession.

This man, who was known among his
154 THE STORIES OF THE

present associates as Sparky, still showed
himself occasionally in newspaper offices,
and was generally supposed to be a cor-
respondent for a Western journal; but his
real business position was that of Mandit’s
head man.

Sparky was an expert in many branches
of crime. He was an excellent forger, a
skilful lock-picker, an ingenious planner
of shady projects, and had given a great
deal of earnest study to the subject of the
loopholes of the law. He hada high repu-
tation in criminal circles for his ability
in getting his fellow-rascals out of jail.
There was reason to believe that in the
past year no less than nine men, some con-
demned to terms of imprisonment, and
some held for trial, had escaped by means
of assistance given them by Sparky.

His methods of giving help to jail-birds
were various. Sometimes liberty was
conferred through the agency of saws and
ropes, at other times through that of a
habeas corpus and an incontestible alibi.
His means were adapted to the circum-
stances of the case, and it was believed
that if Sparky could be induced to take up
the case of a captured rogue, the man had
better chance of finding himself free than
THREE BURGLARS. 155

the law had of keeping him behind bars,
especially if his case were treated before it
had passed into its more chronic stages.

Sparky’s success was greatly due to his
extremely specious manner, and his power
of playing the part that the occasion de-
manded. In this particular he was even
the superior of Mandit, who was an adept
in this ine. These two men found no diffi-
culty in securing the services of proficient
burglars, safe-robbers, and the like ; for, in
addition to the high rewards paid these
men, they were in a manner insured
against permanent imprisonment in case
of misfortune. It was always arranged
that, if any of their enterprises came to
grief, and if either Mandit or Sparky
should happen to be arrested, the working
miscreants should substantiate any story
their superiors might choose to tell of
themselves, and, if necessary, to take upon
themselves the whole responsibility of the
crime. In this case their speedy release
was to be looked upon as assured.

A great deal of evidence in regard to
the character and practices of these two
men came from the stout burglar, .com-
monly known as Barney Fitch. When he
found that nothing was to be expected
156 THE STORIES OF THE

from his two astute employers, and that
they were in as bad a place as himself, he
promptly turned State’s evidence, and told
all that he knew about them.

It was through the testimony of this
man that the motive for the attempted
robbery of my house was found out. It
had no connection whatever with the other
burglaries of our neighbourhood, those,
probably, having been committed by low-
class thieves, who had not broken into my
house simply because my doors and win-
dows had been so well secured; nor had
our boy, George William, any share what-
ever in the protection of the household.

The burglary was undertaken solely for
the purpose of getting possession of some
important law papets, which were to be
used in a case in which I was concerned,
which soon would be tried. If these
papers could be secured by the opposite
party, the side on which I was engaged
would have no case at all, and a suit in-
volving a great deal of property must drop.
With this end in view the unscrupulous
defendants in the case had employed Man-
dit to procure the papers; and that astute
criminal manager had not only arranged
all the details of the affair, but had gone
THREE BURGLARS. 15T

himself to the scene of action in order to
see that there should be no mistake in car-
tying out the details of this most impor-
tant piece of business.

The premises had been thoroughly rec-
onnoitred by Sparky, who, a few days be-
fore the time fixed for the burglary, had
visited my house in the capacity of an
agent of a telescopic bookcase, which
could be extended as new volumes were
required, therefore need never exhibit
empty shelves. The young man had been
included in the party on account of his
familiarity with legal documents, it being,
of course, of paramount importance that
the right papers should be secured. His
ingenuity was also to be used to cover up,
if possible, all evidence that the house
had been entered at all, it being desirable
to make it appear to the court that I had
never had these documents in my posses-
sion, and that they never existed.

Had it not been for a very natural de-
sire for refreshment that interfered with
their admirably laid plans, it is probable
that the mechanical skill of Mandit would
have been equal to the noiseless straight-
ening of the bent bolt, and the oblitera-
tion of the scratches and dents made by
158 THE STORIES CF THE

the attempts upon other shutters, and that
Sparky, after relocking all open desks or
cabinets, and after the exit of the others,
would have closed and fastened the
kitchen shutters, and would then have left
the house by means of an open window in
the upper hall and the roof of a piazza.
Thus it was that these three men, so
eminent in their different spheres of ear-
nest endeavour, came to visit my compara-
tively humble abode ; and thus it was that
they not only came to that abode, but to
the deepest grief. They were “ wanted ”
in so many quarters, and on so many
charges, that before they had finished sery-
ing out their various sentences their abil-
ity to wickedly avail themselves of the
property of others would have suffered
greatly from disuse, and the period of life
left them for the further exercise of those
abilities would be inconveniently limited.
I was assured by a prominent detective
that it had been a long time since two
such dangerous criminals as Mandit and
Sparky had fallen into the hands of the
law. These men, by means of very com-
petent outside assistance, made a stout
fight for acquittal on some of the charges
brought against them; but when they
THREE BURGLARS. 159

found that further effort of this kind
would be unavailing, and that they would
be sentenced to long terms of imprison-
ment, they threw off their masks of out-
raged probity and stood out in their true
characters of violent and brutal ruffians.
Barney Fitch, the cracksman, was a senior
warden compared to them.

It was a long time before my Aunt
Martha recovered from her disappointment
in regard to the youngest burglar.

“Of course I was mistaken,” she said.
“That sort of thing will happen; but I
really had good grounds for believing him
to be a truthful person, so I am not
ashamed for having taken him for what
he said he was. I have now no doubt
before he fell in his wicked ways that he
was a very good writer, and might have
become a novelist or a magazine author ;
but his case is a very sad proof that the
study of Realism may be carried too far,”
and she heaved a sigh.

THE END.




pe
_ STORIES
i OF zi:
THREE
BURGLARS