In the Clouds


THE morning dawned with a radiant disdain of mists. The wind was buoyant, elated. The yellow sunshine, in its vivid perfection, might realize to the imagination the light that first shone upon the world when God saw that it was good. The air was no insipid fluid, breathed unconsciously. It asserted its fragrance and freshness in every respiration. It stirred the pulses like some rare wine; it seemed, indeed, the subtle distillation of all the fruitage of the year, enriched with the bouquet of the summer, and reminiscent of the delicate languors of the spring. The sky had lifted itself to empyreal heights, luminously blue, with occasional faint fleckings of fleecy vapors. The white summits of the mountains were imposed against it with a distinctness that nullified distance; even down their slopes, beyond the limits of the snowfall, the polychromatic vestiges of autumn were visible, with no crudity of color in these sharp contrasts, but with a soft blending of effect. Within the court-house great blocks of sunshine fell upon the floor through the dirty panes. Several of the sashes were thrown up to admit the air. The rusty stove stood cold and empty. Many a day had passed since the spiderwebs that hung from the corners of the ceiling and draped the bare windows of the great room had been disturbed. They might suggest to the contemplative mind analogies to the labyrinthine snares of the law, where the intrusive flies perish miserably, and the spiders batten. On one of the window-panes a blue-bottle climbed the glass, intent on some unimagined achievement; always slipping when near the top, and falling buzzing drearily to the bottom, to recommence his laborious ascent in the sunshine.

Sometimes he would fly away, droning in melancholy disgust, presently returning and renewing his futile efforts. He was a fine moral example of perverted powers, and might well be commended to the notice of human malcontents, — by nature fitted to soar, but sighing for feats of pedestrianism. In contrast with the day in its alertness, its intense brilliancy, yesterday was blurred, dim, like some distorted dream hardly worth crediting as a portent. It might need as attestation of its reality the jury which it had brought forth. They were all early in their places, having been sequestered in charge of the sheriff, and having slept as it were under the wing of the law. The privilege accorded by law, in phrase of munificent bestowal,— to be tried by a jury of one’s peers, — seems at times a gigantic practical joke, perpetrated by justice on simple humanity. They were indeed Mink’s peers so far as ignorance, station, — for most of them were mountaineers, — poverty, and prejudice might serve. Few were so intelligent, and none were so lawless. Most of them were serving under protest, indifferent to the dignity of the great engine of justice which they represented. The two or three who showed willingness were suspected, either by the defense or the prosecution, of occult motives. All looked unkempt, stolid, dogged, even surlily stupid, as they sat in two rows, chewing as with one gesture. Gradually, however, they visibly brightened under the bland courtesy of Mr. Kenbigh, the attorney of the State, who took early occasion to say — and he paraphrased the remark more than once in the course of the day — that he had never had the pleasure of trying a case before so intelligent a jury, or one to whom the sacred interests of justice could be so safely entrusted. Harshaw, too. deported himself toward them with a mollifying suavity which, to judge from his ordinary manner, would have seemed impossible. He had a very pretty wit, of a rough and extravagant style, that greatly commended him to them and relieved the irksomeness of their duress. Mink had evidently been tutored in regard to his demeanor toward them. He forbore to scowl at Pete Rood with the fierce dismay his face had worn when he saw his enemy sworn on the preceding night. But his dissembling was limited. He simply would not look at Rood at all. There was an unaffected confidence, almost indifference, upon his handsome face that occasioned much comment. It had already been rumored among the bar, thence percolating through the town at large, that the defense had discovered important testimony at the last moment, but that for some reason Harshaw had desired to apply for a continuance. The prisoner, it was said, had protested, and refused downright, declaring that by nightfall, by to-morrow at farthest, he would be on his way to his home in Hazel Valley. This rumor gave an added interest to the moment when the witnesses were brought in to be sworn and put under the rule. The crowd scanned each with a fruitless conjecture as to which possessed the potent and significant knowledge on which the defense relied. Several of them were women, demure as nuns in their straight skirts and short waists and long, tunnel-like sunbonnets. The mountain men strode in, and stared about them freely, and were very bold in contrast to these decorous associates, with their grave, downcast eyes and pale, passionless faces. The book was held toward the witnesses, two or three were instructed to put their hands upon it, and then the clerk, in a voice that might have proceeded from an automaton, so wooden was the tone and elocution, recited the oath with a swiftness that seemed profane. The group stood half in the slanting sunbeams, half in the brown shadow, close about the clerk’s desk. Among the tall, muscular figures of the mountaineers and the pallid, attenuated elder women was Alethea, looking like some fine illusion of the dusky shadow and gilded sunshine, with her golden hair and her brown homespun dress. How shining golden her hair, how exquisitely fresh and pure her face, how deep and luminous and serious her brown eyes, showed as never before. Somehow she was embellished by the incongruity of the sordid surroundings of the court-room, the great, haggard, unkempt place, and the crude ugliness of its frequenters. Her face was fully revealed, for she had pushed back her bonnet that she might kiss the book. As she took it from the clerk’s hand and pressed her lips to it, Mink’s heart stirred with a thrill it had never before known. He was entering as a discoverer upon a new realm of feeling. He experienced a subtle astonishment at the turbulence, the fierceness, of his own emotion.

The judge was looking at her !

Gwinnan’s hand still held his pen. His head was still bent over the paper on which he wrote. The casual side-glance of those discerning gray eyes was prolonged into a steady gaze of surprise. He did not finish the word he was writing. He laid the pen down presently. He watched her openly, unconsciously, as she gave back the book, and as she walked with the other witnesses into the adjoining room to await the calling of her name.

Mink could hardly analyze this strange emotional capacity, this new endowment, that had come to him, so amazed was he by its unwonted presence. He had not known that he could feel jealousy. He could not identify it when it fell upon him. He had been so supreme in Alethea’s heart, so arrogantly sure of its possession, that he had not cared for Ben Doaks’s hopeless worship from afar; it did not even add to her consequence in his eyes. But that this stranger of high degree — he would not have phrased it thus, for he had. been reared in ignorance of the distinction of caste, yet he instinctively recognized it in the judge’s power, his isolated official prominence, his utter removal from all the conditions of the mountaineer’s world — that this man should look at her with that long, wondering gaze, should lay down his pen, forgetting the word he was to write !

Mink felt a terrible pang of isolation. For the first time Alethea was in his mind as an independent identity, subject to influences he could scarcely gauge, perhaps harboring thoughts in which he had no share. Her love for him had hitherto served for him as an expression of her whole nature. He had never recognized other possibilities. Even her continual pleas that he should take heed of the error of his ways he had esteemed as evidence of her absorption in him, her eager, earnest aspiration for his best good; she would endure his displeasure rather than forego aught that might inure to his welfare. He had felt no gratitude that she had come to rescue him, as she had often done, never so sorely needed as now ; it had seemed to him natural that she should bestir herself, since she loved him so. The first doubt of the permanence and pervasiveness of this paramount affection stirred within him. He wondered if she had noticed the man’s look, if she were flattered bv it. He sought to reassure himself. " Lethe jes’ bogues along, though, seein’ nuthin’, study in’ ’bout suthin’ else; rnebbe she never noticed. But ef Mis’ Purvine hed been hyar, or Mis’ Sayles, I be bound, they’d hev seen it, an’ tole her, too, else they ain’t the wimmin I take ’em fur.” He marveled whether G win nan had thought she was pretty. He himself had always accounted her a fairly “ goodlookin’ gal,” but no better favored than Elvira Crosby.

He had had no fear of the result of

the case since he had known of Alethea’s strange glimpse of Tad ; he was, too, in a moral sense, infinitely relieved by the circumstance. Otherwise he might not have been able to entertain a train of thought so irrelevant to the testimony which was being given by the witnesses for the State. He heard it only casually, though he now and then languidly joined the general smile that rewarded some happy hit of Harshaw’s. These pleasantries were chiefly elicited in crossexamining the witnesses for the State, and in wrangles with the attorney-general as to the admissibility of evidence. Kenbigh, with a determination of purple wrath to his bald head, would in his stentorian roar call aloud upon his authorities with a reverent faith as if they were calendared saints. More than once the court ruled against him, when it seemed appropriate in his next remark to drop his voice to a rumbling basso profundo. He maintained due respect for the judge and showed a positive affection for the jury, but the very sight of Harshaw would excite him to an almost bovine expression of rage, — the florid counsel being like a red rag to a bull. At first the only point which Harshaw seemed desirous to make was that none of the witnesses had attached any importance to Mink’s threats, the afternoon of the shooting match, to “ bust down the mill,” until they beard of the disaster. He tried, too, to induce them to admit that Mink was a good fellow in the main. The tragic results, however, of his late mischief had given a new and serious interpretation to all his previous pranks, and the witnesses were more likely to furnish supplemental instances of freakish malice and the mischievous ingenuity of his intentional reprisals than to palliate his jocose capers. One old man, a bystander at the shooting match, was especially emphatic, even venomous. Harshaw involved him in a sketch of what he considered a young man should be. When asked where he had ever known such a man he naively confessed, — himself, “ whenst I war young.”

Nevertheless, Harshaw found it much safer to take the aggressive. He played upon the alternating fears which Mink’s comrades entertained of the revenuers and the moonshiners. He seemed to question rather pro forma than with the expectation of eliciting serious results, and to amuse himself with the involutions and contradictions in which he contrived to enmesh them, in replying to his questions as to their sobriety that night in the woods, what they had to drink, how much it required to make them drunk. To the witness it was not a reassuring playfulness. Harshaw looked very formidable as he sat, his chair tilted back on its hind legs, both hands clasping the lapels of his coat. Whenever he made a point he smacked his confident red lips.

“ You were perfectly sober that night ? ”

The witness virtuously assented.

“ And why should n’t you be,” said the crafty Harshaw, “ when we all know there is no still but the God-fearing bonded still in the whole country ! Look at the jury, and tell them that you were not drinking that night.”

The unfortunate witness, meeting the eyes of Peter Rood and Jerry Price, so intimately associated with the recollection of that roistering orgy, faltered that he had been drinking some.

“ You had!” exclaimed Harshaw, with the accents of surprise. “ And yet you say, on oath, that you were sober. Now what do you call sober ? We must inquire into this. What do you take ? I wish I could put that question as it should be between gentlemen, but” — he waved his fat hand — “some other day.”

The witness stared dumbly at him, and the crowd grinned.

“ Let me put the question in another form. How much of the reverend stuff is enough to settle you ? A pint ? ”

The witness gallantly declared that he could stand a pint.

“ A jugful ? ”

“Oh, naw, sir,” — meaning a jugful would not be necessary.

In the staccato of affected amaze, “ Barrelfull !

The badgered witness protested and explained, and Harshaw asked, lowering his voice, as if it were exceedingly important, “Now, did that whiskey taste like brush whiskey?”

As the quaking, shock-headed country lout replied, the facetious counsel recoiled.

“ What! you tell this honorable court, and this intelligent jury, and this upright and learned and teetotaling attorney for the State, that you don’t know the difference in the taste between the illicit corn juice of the mountains and the highly honorable, pure, rectified liquor, taxed and stamped, made and drunk, under the auspices of this great, good, and glorious government! ”

The judge, who had watched Harshaw with a dilated, gleaming gray eye and a quivering nostril, spoke abruptly.

“ The court will not longer tolerate this buffoonery,” he drawled. “ Counsel may cross-examine witness, and if he has nothing to say he may be silent.”

Harshaw flushed deeply. He had always enjoyed certain privileges as a wit. Judge Averill, who loved a joke for its own gladsome sake, had often permitted him to transcend decorum. He had no idea, however, of figuring as the butt of his own ridicule. He was a quick fellow, and took what advantage was possible of the situation. “ If it please your Honor,” he said, rising to address the judge, and with an air of great courtesy, “ I will waive the right of cross-examination, since my methods fail in satisfying the court.”

Gwinnan looked at him with thinly veiled antagonism. Harshaw relapsed into his tilted chair, still lightly holding his lapels, that favorite posture of rural gentlemen, listening with an air of polite but incidental attention to the attorneygeneral’s examination of the next witness, and declining with a wave of his fat hand to cross-examine.

A stir of excitement pervaded the bar ; great interest was aroused in the audience. An old farmer, sitting on one of the benches, holding one treasured knee in both hands, put his foot on the door to take care of itself, and leaned forward in breathless eagerness to lose no word. Others, who had been less attentive, were nudging one another, and asking what had been said. Again and again, as the successive witnesses were turned over to the defense for cross-examination, and the lawyer waved his pudgy hand, there was a suppressed sensation. His freak of silence had the effect of greatly expediting matters, and the attorney-general announced before the adjournment for dinner that he had no more witnesses to call.

In conducting the examination of the defendant’s witnesses Harshaw was extremely grave. He had an excited gleam in his eye, a flurried, precipitate manner, as he went on. Now and then he nodded his head, and tossed back his mane of yellow hair as if it were heavy and harassed him. He still sat in the big, important posture he liked to assume, but every glance was full of an acute anxiety.

Mink strove again to fix his mind on the testimony. Over and over it wandered. He only knew vaguely that his best friends were assuring the jury that his escapades were all in mirth and naught in malice, and instancing as indications of his deeper nature all the good turns he had ever done. He was a loose-handed fellow. He had no thrifty instincts, and perhaps because he valued lightly he gave freely. But the habit, such as it might be, was displayed to the jury under the guise of generosity.

The sunlight now slanting upon the walls had turned to a deep golden-red hue, for the early sunset was close at hand. Through a western window one might see the great vermilion sphere, begirt with a horizontal band of gray cloud, and sinking down into the dun - colored uncertainties about the horizon. The yellow hickory-tree beside the window showed through its thinning leaves the graceful symmetry of its black boughs. The room was dropping into a mellow duskiness, hardly obscurity, for as yet the soft light was sufficient to make all objects distinct in the midst of the gathering shadow, — the lawyers, the prisoner, the tousled heads of the audience, the attentive jury, the unwearied judge. Harshaw could even read his own handwriting as he looked at the list, he held, and said, “Mr. Sheriff, call Alethea Sayles.”

“ Alethea Sayles ! ” roared Mr. Sheriff at the door, as if Alethea Sayles were “beyond the seas ” and hard of hearing besides, instead of waiting expectantly in the adjoining room, ten steps away.

As she came in, Mink was quick to notice the alert interest on Gwinnan’s face, — a sort of grave curiosity without any element of disrespect. She had a look in her eyes which Mink had often seen before, and which at once rebuked and angered him, — an expression of spiritual earnestness, of luminous purity ; he had sneered at it as “ trying to look pious.” She sat down in the witness-chair, and pushed back from her forehead her long bonnet; her golden hair showed under its brown rim in lustrous waves. Her saffron kerchief was knotted under her round chin. Her face was slightly flushed with the excitement of the moment, but she was neither flurried, nor embarrassed, nor restless, nor uncouth, as many of her predecessors had been. Her deliberate, serious manner gave her an air of great value, and as she began to reply to the questions, her clear-voiced, soft drawl pervaded the court-room, singularly silent now, and there was a growing impression that hers was the important testimony for which all had been waiting. Harshaw’s manner served to confirm this. He was repressed, grave; only the quick, nervous glance of his opaque blue eye indicated his excitement ; his questions were framed with the greatest care, and some of these were strange enough to excite comment. He asked her first to tell all that she knew about the party in the woods that night, — whether they were drinking and had access to any ample supply of liquor. She recited her adventure at Boke’s barn, and detailed the subsequent interview with the moonshiner and her refusal to keep his secret, throughout scarcely suppressed excitement in the court-room, for every man knew that with the words she courted martyrdom and took her life in her hands. Harshaw seemed to prize this attestation of her courage and her high sense of the sacred obligations of her oath, and dextrously contrived it so that the judge and the jury should be fully impressed with the crystalline purity of her moral sense, with her immovable determination to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. He persevered in the examination of this point with great pertinacity, despite many stormy wrangles with the attorney for the State as to the pertinence and admissibility of the evidence, and the occasional ruling of the judge against him. Enough was secured, however, to prove that despite the limitations of the bonded still, Mink had had the opportunity to get drunk if he chose, and his habits were not those of a teetotaler.

The lawyer’s questions then became more inexplicable.

“ When you discovered that you could give some testimony in this case, what did you do ? ”

Alethea pushed back her bonnet still further, and stared at him.

“ Why, you-uns know,” she said.

“ Tell the jury.”

Like many rural witnesses, she persisted in addressing the judge. She would fix her serious brown eyes on the stolid wooden faces in the jury-box, then lift them to the judge and answer.

“ I kem down ter the jail ter see Reuben, an’ tell him.”

“ And did you see him ? ”

She looked at Harshaw, with a deep humiliation and resentment intensifying the flush on her delicate cheek to a burning crimson. His gravity, the respect of his manner, reassured her. She replied with her deliberate dignity, —

“You-uns know mighty well he would n’t see me.”

“ Then what did you do ? ”

She seemed for a moment doubtful if she would answer.

“ I dunno how ye hev forgot,” she said, slowly. “ I hain’t.”

“ I want you to tell the jury,” he explained.

“ I tried to make you listen.”

“ And what did I do ? ”

Once more she pushed her brown bonnet further from her golden head, and looked at him silently.

The pause was so long that the attorney-general remarked that really he could not see the pertinence of the examination.

The judge spoke presently : “ Counsel would do well not to harass the witness with unnecessary questions.”

What new life was in the man’s tones ! He had forgotten to drawl. There had been many a badgered witness on the stand to-day whom he had not interfered to protect. Mink eyed him narrowly through the closing dusk. He was leaning forward upon the desk. He was listening with no impartial judicial interest. A personal concern was expressed in his face.

The sympathetic cadence in his voice struck on other ears than Mink’s. It was like an open sesame to Alethea’s heart. The pent-up indignation burst forth. She was all at once eager to tell the affronts she could not resent. He wouldn’t listen ter me, jedge !” she cried. " He ran from me, — actially ran down the street. An’ I did n’t know what ter do. An’ nobody knowed ’bout ’n it but me. An’ I dassent tell nobody ’ceptin’ the lawyer. An’ Jerry Price, — him ez air on the jury, — he ’lowed ef I knowed suthin’ I wanted ter tell in court, he’d make the lawyer listen, an’ so he did. An’ I tole him.”

“ When was that?” asked Harshaw.

“ Yestiddy morn in’.”

“ So that was the reason you did n’t tell it before ? ”

“ I war feared ter tell ennybody but the lawyer, kase Reuben’s enemies mought fix it somehows so ’t would n’t be no ’count.”

“ Well, what was this you wanted to tell ? ”

Her face was growing dim among the glooms. The dusky figures within the bar, the shadowy judge, the indistinct mass of the crowd, the great windows, — indefinite gray squares, — seemed for a moment the darker because of a dull suffusion of yellow light in the halls, falling through the doorways, and heralding the coming of the lamps.

“ I wanted to tell that I seen Tad one week arter they ’lowed he war drownded.”

There was absolute silence for a moment ; then, wild commotion. Men were talking loudly to each other in the crowd. The lights came in with a flare. Several of the jury requested to have the answer repeated. The attorneygeneral began to ask a question, left off, and bent his head to his notes. A sudden shrill, quaking voice pierced the tumult.

“ I know it air a true word ! ” cried the old miller, clasping his hands. “ God would not deliver my soul ter hell. I fund him in my youth, but my age air the age o’ the backslider. He would not desert me, though ! An’ I hev been gin ter do my good works o’ faith anew. I ’ll find my boy. I ’ll make amends. I’ll” —

The sheriff’s insistence, “ Silence in court! ” had no coercion for him. He began to sob and cry aloud, and to call the idiot’s name, and was finally taken by the deputy and led out of the courtroom, the officer promising to come and let him know as soon as Alethea had disclosed the boy’s whereabouts.

Mink glanced around him in triumph. His lip curved. A brilliant elation shone in his eyes. He tossed back, with an arrogant gesture, his long, red, curling hair, gilded by the lamplight to a brighter hue. He joyed to see the discomfiture of his detractors, who had given their testimony with all the gusto that appertains to stamping on a man, literally and metaphorically, who is already down. He noted, too, the surprise and pleasure in Ben Doaks’s eyes, in Jerry Price’s freckled, ugly face, and, strangely enough, Peter Rood looked transfigured. His surly scowl was gone, as if it had never existed. His swarthy face was irradiated by his great excited eyes. A flush dyed his cheek. His breath came in quick gasps. He seemed inordinately relieved, delighted. What! because the forlorn little idiot was not dead? Mink could not understand it. He stared with suddenly renewed gravity at his old enemy on the jury, with not even a surmise to explain the demonstration.

As soon as order was restored, Harshaw resumed his questions : —

“ Tell the jury when and where you saw him, and how you are sure it was one week after he was reputed to be drowned.”

“ Kase ’t war on the Sat’day o’ the camp-meetin’ in Eskaqua Cove, an’ that war one week percisely from the night the mill war busted down,” said Alethea.

She detailed the scene at the little school-house in her uncouth phrasings, every syllable carrying conviction to her hearers. Her bonnet had fallen quite back on her shoulders. Her face was delicately ethereal in the lamplight, — so much of the sincerities of her nature it expressed, so fine and true an intelligence that, beautiful as it was, it was still more spiritual. The strange story she had told was improbable. Looking upon her face, it was impossible to doubt it.

“ That night, what did you do ? ”

“ I let Buck an’ the rest o’ the fambly go by ter aunt Dely’s house, an’ whenst they war out o’ sight I called Tad, but he would n’t answer. An’ then I climbed over the fence, an’ sarched an’ sarched fur him. But I could n’t find him, — not in the house, nor under it, nare one. Then I went on ter aunt Dely’s, — Mis’ Purvine’s,” she added, decorously, remembering that her relative was a stickler for etiquette, and might not relish the familiar appellation of kinship in a public assembly. “ I never tole nobody, kase I war feared ez whoever hed Tad a-hidin’ of him fur spite agin Reuben would hear ’bout’n it, an’ take him so fur away ez we could n’t never ketch him agin. I went back ter the school-house over an’ over, a-sarchin’ fur him, hopin’ he’d take a notion ter kem thar agin. An’ at last I ’lowed I’d tell the lawyer.”

It had become very plain to the listeners why Harshaw had, in the interests of his client, permitted his own rude conduct to be made public. The prosecution could not now reasonably demand why a hue and cry had not been raised, and why the boy was not brought into court, as it was very evident that because of the witness’s mistaken secrecy and the lawyer’s purblind folly the facts had not become known to the defense until the preceding day, when it was futile to search a place where the fugitive had been glimpsed three months before.

The attorney-general, about to crossexamine the witness, cleared his throat several times on a low key. He began with a deliberation and caution which indicated that he considered her formidable to the interests of the State. He sat with his side to the table, — the rural lawyer seldom rises save to address the court, — with one elbow upon it, and the other hand twirling his heavy gold watch-chain that festooned his ample stomach. More than once he desisted in this operation, and passed his hand soothingly over his bald head, as if he were encouraging his ideas. He at once sought to show an interested motive in the testimony.

Was she a relation of the prisoner ? Was she not interested in him ? Was he not her lover ? Ah, he had been ! And he was not now ? And why ?

Alethea’s simple and modest decorum in answering these questions abashed the ridicule that the mere mention of the tender passion always excites in a rural crowd. She only threw added light upon her character when she replied : —

“ Reuben did n’t like folks ter argufy with him. I useter beg him not ter play kyerds, an’ be so powerful gamesome, an’ drink whiskey, an’ git in sech a many scrapes. An’ he ’lowed ’t war n’t my business. An’ I reckon’t war n’t. But. it never ’peared-like ter me ez sech goiu’s-on war right, an’ I could n’t holp sayin’ so. An’ so he lowed ez me an him could n’t agree, an’ thar war no use a-tryin’.”

Mink glanced up at Gwinnan to note the impression of this plain statement. The judge was looking at him.

The attorney-general went on, hoping to find a discrepancy in her testimony, yet hardly knowing how he had best approach it. The court-room had relapsed into absolute silence. One could hear in the pauses the slight movement of the branches of the trees without as the light wind stirred. They were distinctly visible beside the windows, for the night was fair. All the long upper sashes gave upon a sky of a fine, pure azure, seeming more delicate for the dull yellow lamplight flooding the room.

A moon with an escort of clouds was riding splendidly up the sky ; now and then they closed jealously about her, and again through their parting ranks she looked out radiantly and royally on her realms below. The frost touched the panes here and there with a crystalline sparkle. The attorney-general fixed his eyes upon the moon as he pondered ; then, his fingers drumming lightly upon the table, he asked, “ It was at the little school-house on the road to Bethel camp-ground ? ”

“ Yes, sir,” said Alethea.

“ Were you ever there before ? ”

“ A many a time,” said Alethea. “ The folkses in Eskaqua Cove goes thar ter preachin’.”

He glanced again absently at the moon, his fingers still drumming on the table.

“It’s a church-house, then,” he said, adopting the vernacular, “ as well as a school-house ? ”

“ Yes, sir,” assented the witness.

“ Well, is this fence by which you were standing the fence around the play-yard ? ”

“ Naw, sir,” said Alethea, amazed at the idea of this civilized provision for youthful sports. “The palin’s air round three sides o’ the house, leavin’ out the side whar the door be, ter pertect the graves.”

The drumming fingers of the attorney-general were suddenly still. “ It is a graveyard, then ? ” he said, in a sepulchral undertone, overmastered himself by the surprise.

“ Yes, sir. Folks air buried thar. It’s a graveyard.”

There was a pause.

“ There’s no place more appropriate for a boy in poor Tad’s predicament to be ! ” cried the lawyer. “ Look here.” squaring himself before the table and placing his elbows upon it, “ do you believe in ghosts?”

Harshaw had changed color; he had been fiercely biting his red lips and strok-

ing his yellow beard throughout these interrogatories, seeing their drift more clearly, perhaps, than the prosecuting officer did. Now he sprang to his feet, and insisted that the attorney for the State should not be permitted to play upon the superstition of the witness. She had seen no ghost. The court would not, he hoped, permit the questions to take the form of an attempt to persuade a witness — of great native intelligence, indeed, and of the highest moral worth, but densely ignorant, and doubtless saturated with the ridiculous superstitions of the uneducated — that in seeing this fugitive lad she had beheld a supernatural manifestation. “In one moment, sir,” he interpolated, addressing Peter Rood, who sat in the back row of the jury, and who had suddenly bent forward, pointing a long finger at the witness, as if he were about to ask a question. “ The boy doubtless swam out of the river, and being a maltreated little drudge ran away, and is now somewhere held in hiding by persons inimical to the prisoner. The witness had a glimpse of him. There is no man here ignorant enough to believe that she saw a ghost, — least of all the learned and astute counsel for the State.”

“ I don’t believe she saw a ghost,” said the attorney-general, still seated, cocking up his eyes at his vehement opponent. “ I do believe, however, most firmly, that the witness had an illusion, hallucination.”

There was an audible stir in the audience and the jury as he uttered these big words. They seemed to represent something more vaguely formidable than a ghost.

“ Counsel must conduct the examination on a reasonable basis,” remarked the judge.

“ I will do so, your Honor,” in the basso profundo of deep respect.

Mink, agitated, trembling with the sudden shock, leaned forward and looked at Alethea with burning eyes. How was she discrediting the testimony she had given for him ? How was she jeopardizing his fate ?

She was almost overcome for a moment. Her nerves were shaken ; she was appalled by the sudden revolution her simple disclosure had wrought. Her lips trembled, her eyes filled, but she made a gallant struggle for self-control, and answered in a steady voice the attorney-general’s next question.

“ Did the boy wear a hat, or was he bare-headed ? ”

There was suppressed excitement in the audience, for Tad’s hat and coat, recovered from the river, had been shown to the jury while she was in the anteroom with the other witnesses.

“I did n’t notice,— ’t war so suddint.”

“ How was he dressed ? ”

“ I did n’t see,” faltered Alethea.

“ What did you see ? ”

“ I seen his face, ez clear ez I see yourn this minit.”

“ How did he look, — hearty ? ”

“ Naw, sir; he looked mighty peaked. His face war bleached,” — a thrill ran through the crowd, — “ an’ I reckon he war skeered ez he seen me, fur he ‘peared plumb tarrified.”

“ How long did you see his face? ”

“A minit, mebbe; the fog passed ’twixt us.”

“ Ah, there was fog ! ”

The attorney-general cast a triumphant sidelong glance at the jury.

He paused abruptly, and turned toward them.

“ I beg your pardon, sir,” he said, addressing Peter Rood. “ I had quite forgotten you wanted to ask a question.”

It did not strike him as odd till a moment later that the man was still in the same position, — in the shadow, leaning forward, supported on the back of the chair of the juryman in front of him, and still pointing at the witness with a long finger.

The judge took note of the lapse of time. “ Mr. Sheriff,” he said, irritably, “ wake that juror up. The man ’s asleep.”

There was a stir in the jury-box among the attentive eleven men. The juror on whose chair the immovable figure leaned turned his head, and met the fixed gaze of the eyes so close to his own.

He sprang up with a loud cry.

“ The man is dead ! ” he shrieked.


The finger of the dead man still pointed at Alethea. His ghastly eyes were fixed upon her. The chair of the juryman in front of him had sustained his weight in the same position in which he had fallen when the first shock of the idea that the witness had seen a spectre instead of the boy, alive and well, had thrilled through the room.

For a few moments it was a scene of strange confusion. The crowd rose from their seats, and surged up to the bar. New-comers were rushing in from the halls. Some one was calling aloud the name of the principal physician of the place. Many were clamoring to know what had happened. The judge’s voice sounded suddenly. “ Look out for your prisoner, Mr. Sheriff ! ” he exclaimed sharply; for the officer still stood as if transfixed beside the dead man, on whose shoulder he had laid hold. No hand, however heavy, could rouse him from the slumber into which he had fallen.

The sheriff turned toward the prisoner. The proud mountaineer, keenly sensitive to an indignity, burst out angry and aggrieved. “ I hain’t budged a paig ! ” he cried. And indeed he had not moved. “It’s jes’ kase you-uns set thar in jedgmint, an’ I hev ter set hyar an’ he tried, ez ye kin say seek ez that ter me! ”

Harshaw had vehemently clutched his client’s arm as a warning to be silent. To his relief, he perceived that Gwinnan had not heard. He was absorbed in directing a physician to be called, and formally adjourned court until nine o’clock the following morning. The reluctant jurymen, quivering with excitement and consumed with curiosity as to the subsequent proceedings, were led off from the scene in charge of an officer, — himself a martyr to duty,— with many an eager backward glance and thought. The crowd hung around outside with an unabated curiosity. Often it effected an entrance and surged through the doors, to be turned out again by the directions of the physicians. Many climbed on the window-ledges to look through. The lower branches of the hickory-trees swarmed with the figures of nimble boys. The wind now was high. The boughs swayed back and forth with a monotonous clashing. Leaves continually fell from them like the noiseless flight of birds. The moon showed the pale, passionless sky ; a planet swung above the distant mountains, burning with the steadfast purity of vestal fires; the inequalities of the hills and dales on which the rugged little town was built — very dark beneath the delicately illumined heavens — showed in the undulating lines of lighted windows, glimmering points stretching out into the gloom. Constantly the weighted gate clanged as men trooped into the court-house yard. The shadows seemed to multiply the number of the crowd.

Suddenly there was a cry : “ He ’s comin’! They ’re bringin’ him ! He’s comin’ ! ”

The expectation had been so strong that the physician would pronounce it some transient paroxysm of the heart to which he was known to be subject, that the crowd was stricken into a shocked silence to recognize the undertaker among the men coming out and bearing a litter on which the motionless figure was stretched. One glance at it, and there seemed nothing so inanimate in all nature. The moon, the trees, even the invisible wind, were endowed with redundant life, with identity, with all the affirmations of speculation, of imagination, in comparison with the terrible nullity of this thing that once was Peter Rood. It expressed only a spare finality.

It was strange to think he could not hear the wind blow, straight from the mountains, the dull thud of the many feet that followed him through the gate and down the street; could not see the moon which shone with a ghastly gleam upon his stark, upturned face. He was dead!

He was so dead that already his world was going on with a full acceptation of the idea. He had no longer an individuality as Peter Rood; he was only considered as a dead man. Considered as a dead man, he furnished the judge with a puzzle which irritated him. Gwinnan could not remember any case in which a man had died upon a jury, and he debated within himself whether this instance came under the statute leaving it to the discretion of the court, in the case of a sick juror, to discharge the jury and order a new one to be impaneled, or to excuse the juror and summon another in his place from the bystanders. He went into one of the lawyers’ offices, and turned over a few books in search of precedent.

The attorney-general utilized the respite. He had lingered at the scene for a time, animated by curiosity. But when one of the physicians who had been summoned to the court-house returned to his office, after the vain efforts to resuscitate the man, he found the attorney for the State seated before the wood fire, his hands clasped behind his head, his feet stretched out upon the hearth, his chair tilted back upon its hind legs, waiting for him in comfortable patience.

There was no carpet on the floor. The small windows were lighted by tiny panes of glass. The hearth was broken in many places, but painted a bright red with a neat home-made varnish of powdered bricks mixed with milk, commonly used in the country. There were several splint-bottomed chairs, an easychair, and one or two tables; book-cases covered the walls from the floor to the ceiling. It was the doctor’s professional opinion that tobacco was the ruin of the country; on the high mantelpiece were ranged several varieties of pipe, from the plebeian cob and brier-root to the meerschaum presented by a grateful patient, all bearing evidences of much use.

Kenbigh looked up quietly as the owner of the appropriated quarters walked in. Dr. Lloyd was a tall, spare man of sixty odd, with a back that never bent, dressed punctiliously in black broadcloth and the most immaculate linen of an old-fashioned style. His thick hair was white. He wore a stiff mustache; his shaven chin was square and resolute; his features were singularly straight. His gray eye expressed great cleverness and goodness, but there was a refined sarcasm in the curl of his lips, and he affected a blunt indifference of manner, not to say brusqueness.

“ What ’s the matter with you ? ”

“ Nothing, doctor, — nothing with my vitals, or I would n’t have trusted myself near you. The instinct of self-preservation is strong. I have come for some information.”

“ An aching void in the regions of your brain, eh ? Well, at your time of life that’s incurable.”

“ I want you,” said the lawyer, his eyes roaming around the medical library ranged upon the wall with a gloating, gluttonous gleam at the idea of the feast of information within the covers of the volumes, “ to lecture me, doctor.”

“ Where ’s your Medical Jurisprudence ? ”

“ It does n’t teach me all I want to know about ghosts.”

Surprise was something Dr. Lloyd was never known to express or imply. He sat looking at the visitor with his calm professional eye, as if it were the most habitual thing in the world for sane lawyers to come into his office of nights wanting to know about ghosts.

“ I want to know all about absurd illusions, — in people of undoubted sanity.”

“ Subject of some scope,” dryly remarked the doctor.

u I want to know all that you know about hallucinations, visions. I want an elaborate exposition of the visual apparatus as connected with the brain, and of the derangement of its nervous functions.”

“ Upon my word, you ’re a pretty fellow ! ”

“ And then I want you to lend me all your books.” And once more he gazed around on the coveted treasures of the shelves.

One of the great logs had burned in two, the chunks falling forward upon the other blazing sticks. The doctor had made a move toward the tongs, but the lawyer arose, and with a sort of cumbrous agility kicked first one and then the other into the space between the dogs. Dr. Lloyd watched this proceeding with silent disapproval. Far be it from him to put his dapper old-fashioned foot-gear to any such purpose.

The warmth of the fire was grateful, for it had grown much colder without. The wind surged down the street like the passing of many feet, some tumultuous human rush. The fir-tree beside the door was filled with voices, sibilant whisperings, sighs. Clouds were scudding through the sky; Kenbigh could see them from where he sat listening to the doctor’s monologue. The moonlight lay on the old-fashioned garden without, all pillaged by the autumn winds, — the rose-bushes but leafless wands ; the arbors naked trellises ; the walks, laid off with rectangular precision, showing what the symmetry of its summer guise had been, as a skeleton might suggest the perfection of the human form. The lights in the two-story frame house beyond — for the doctor’s office was in the yard of his dwelling and the garden lay a little to the rear — were extinguished one by one. A dog close by barked for a time, with echoes from the hills and depressions and then fell to howling mournfully. The doctor talked on, now and then taking down the books to illustrate ; marking the passages with a neat strip of paper in lieu of turning down a leaf, as Kenbigh seemed disposed to do. He piled the volumes beside his apt pupil on the candle-stand, and as the lawyer fell to at them he himself read for a time, as alight recreation, from a history in some twelve volumes. It might have been considered a formidable undertaking except by a country gentleman of ample leisure and bookish habit, but to such an inveterate and insatiate reader it was but as a mouthful.

Dr. Lloyd rose at last, knocked the ashes out of his pipe upon the head of one of the fire-dogs, glanced at the absorbed lawyer, and remarked, " You ’ll come over to my house to go to bed after a little more, won’t you ? ”

“ Reckon so,” responded Kenbigh, without lifting his head.

The fire flared up the chimney in great white flames; they emanated from a lustrous, restless, pulsing red heart. The sparks flew. The faint and joyous sounds from the logs were like some fine fairy minstrelsy which one is hardly sure one hears. A sylvan fragrance came from the pile of wood in the jamb, the basket of chips, the pine knots.

The doctor left the room, opened the door and looked back.

“ Don’t you burn up these books,” he said, with the first touch of feeling in his tones that night.

The results of the attorney-general’s vigil were abundantly manifest in his speech to the jury the following day. For that body was recruited by summoning another talesman in Rood’s place, and the trial perforce began anew ; Gwinnan apparently thinking this alternative served better the ends of justice than to risk the delays and vicissitudes of again securing a competent jury. This decision encouraged Mink, who had been tortured by the fear that by some disaster the case would be continued to the next term. He was not now greatly perturbed by the strange turn which the attorney-general had contrived to give to Alethea’s testimony. Since Harshaw had found that any one claimed to have seen Tad after the report of the boy’s death he had felt confident of an acquittal, laying much stress on the necessity of proving the corpus delicti, as he phrased it; and Mink accepted his lawyer’s opinion and relied upon it. He had not been greatly affected by Rood’s death, so absorbed was he by his own interests ; but it was a moment of tense excitement when the testimony again reached the juncture at which, on the preceding day, the dead man had leaned forward and pointed at the witness, as if to fix the fact. Nothing further was elicited from Alethea except that she did believe in ghosts, but that she was sure she had seen Tad alive, albeit he had stood among the graves with a blanched face, disappearing in a moment, lost in the mist.

The whole testimony of the case occupied much less time than on the previous day, and as the afternoon progressed it began to be apparent that the case would go to the jury before the court adjourned.

The surprise of the day was the speech of the attorney-general. It opened simply enough. He sought to show that it was impossible for Tad to be alive. The poor boy was doubtless at the bottom of the Tennessee River. How could it be otherwise ? Assume, as his learned opponent would have them believe, that he had swum ashore. Where was he now? The suggestion that he was in the custody of some enemy of the prisoner, who sought by concealing him to effect the incarceration of Reuben Lorey in the penitentiary for a long term, was so absurd that he hesitated to argue such a foolish position before so intelligent a body of men as the jury whom he had the pleasure of addressing. Who would, for revenge, encounter the hazards of such a scheme ? The boy was as well known throughout the section as Piomingo Bald. Any chance glimpse of him by a casual visitor would fling the conspirators themselves into the clutches of the law, that would he loath to lightly loose its hold on such rascals. Who would voluntarily burden themselves with the support of an idiot boy ? If anybody had found Tad, he would have been mighty quick to carry the boy back to old man Griff. Say that no one had detained him, — what then ? He was an idiot, incapable of taking care of himself. If he were wandering at large, starving, half clad. would not some one have seen him besides Alethea Sayles, in all these weeks, gentlemen, in all these months ? It was a remarkable story that the witness had told,—a remarkable story. (The counsel seemed to find fit expression of his sense of its solemnity by sinking his basso profundo to a thunderous mutter.) No one could for a moment doubt the sanity of that witness. She was evidently a girl of fine common sense ; an excellent girl, too, — no one could fora moment doubt the truth of any word she uttered. The fact was, Alethea Sayles saw a strange thing that night. She thought she saw Tad. It was only his image, not himself. “ The forlorn boy is dead, gentlemen,” he continued. “She saw the fantasy of her own anxious, overwrought brain. He was in her mind. She had pondered long upon him, and upon the plight of her lover, who had killed him. What wonder, then, that in the mist, and the flickering moonlight, and the lonely midnight, she should fancy that she saw him ! ”

He told the gaping and amazed jury that this was not an isolated instance. He mentioned other victims of hallucination ; he detailed the strange experiences of Nicolai, of Spinoza, of Dr. Bostock, of Lord Londonderry, of Baron de Geramb, of Leuret, of Lord Brougham.

Ilarshavv, who had sat listening, with his hands in his pockets and his legiS crossed, a smile of ostentatious derision upon his face, grew grave upon the mention of the last name. He had never heard of the others, but to attempt to bolster a theory of spectral apparition by this name, revered in the profession, was, he felt, a juridical sacrilege that should cause the attorney-general to be at the very least stricken from the rolls. Nevertheless, Lord Brougham’s reputation was wilted thenceforth in his estimation.

As Kenbigh went on, expounding the relative and interdependent functions of the brain and eye, the line and subtle theories of spiritual and physical life, its vague boundaries, its unmeasured eajjabilities. — the deductions, the keen analysis of science, all reduced to the vernacular in the mouth of a man trained by years of practice to speak to the people,— Harshaw sat in blank dismay. He had never heard of any spiritual manifestation but the vulgar graveyard ghost, usually headless, stalking in its shroud to accomplish missions of vengeance upon the very ignorant in the deep midnight. But Ivenbigh’s account of sundry ethereal-minded and mild-mannered spectres, with a preference for high company, singing, appearing at dinner-tallies, conversing agreeably, arrayed in conventional garb, as decorous and reasonable and as mindful of etiquette as if still bound by all the restraints of the world, the flesh, and the devil, disappearing as uselessly as they had come, with no appreciable result of the visit, — it shocked every sense of precedent within him. He was country-bred and did not know that when ghosts are fashionable they conduct themselves as fashionable people do. He noted keenly the discrepancies in the scientific explanations. Always despite its show of learning, its systems, its terminology, its physiology, its psychology, and its persistent reference of supernatural appearances to natural causes, Reason retires from the spectral exhibition with some admission of occult influences, not fully understood, — in effect, making a bow to the ghost in question, “ Saving your presence.” He noticed, too, that the jury were listening with that intentness and eager interest which characterize every mind, even the most ignorant, in considering things of the other world, manifestations of hidden agencies. When he rose to reply he felt at a loss. The sound, however, of his own hearty voice ringing against the walls, instead of the sepulchral basso prof undo of the att orney for the State, his own stalwart arm sawing the air,— for he was in the habit of impressing his views with a good deal of muscular exertion, — had an invigorating effect upon him, and brought him back to his normal state of confidence and bluster. He found words for his ready scorn. He sought to discredit the attorney - general’s phantoms. He did not know where the counsel got these old women’s tales ; they were an insult to the intelligence of the jury. The learned counsel knew mighty well he was n’t going to be called upon for his authorities, and medical books can’t be produced as evidence in a court of justice,—much less ghost stories, “ Rawhead and Bloody-bones ” ! For his own poor part, he didn’t believe a word of them. A fact is a thing that can be proved. The law requires authentication. “ Henry Brougham, Lord Chancellor, saw visions, did he? And may be Lord Coke dreamed dreams,” he sneered indignantly. “And Lord Mansfield perchance walked in his sleep. And who knows they did ? And what drivel is this! Gentlemen. we live in the nineteenth century ! ”

The downfall of Lord Brougham in his estimation was very bitter to him. He was a man of few enthusiasms, and such hero-worship as was possible to him had. been expended upon the great lights of his profession whose acquaintance he had formed in his early reading of law, some twenty years ago. He so dwelt upon this point that the jury received the valuable impression that Henry Brougham was a chancellor and a “valley man,” hailing from Knoxville, perhaps, and was held in high esteem by the lawyers in Shaftesville, and that Harshaw seemed to think the attorneygeneral had slandered him. He wrenched himself from this phase of the subject with some difficulty. “ Gentlemen.” he said sarcastically, “ the attorney-general is a mighty smart man. He’s got a heap of learning lately about visions.” lie glanced down obliquely at his opponent; he would have given a good deal to know how the counsel for the State came by his information. He could have sworn that it was not indigenous. “ But there are plenty of folks in this town could have told him just as much and more. He’s mighty particular to show the difference between il-lusion and de-lusion, and hallucination and mania. Visions! That ain’t what we call ’em, gentlemen. Down here in the flat woods we call ’em — ‘ snakes ’! ” The hit told, and he went on, encouraged. “ Right over yonder in Tim Beeker’s saloon they keep every assortment of vision. Men have seen green rabbits there, and black dogs, and snakes, and whole menageries of hallucinations. Is anybody going to believe Alethea Sayles had the jim-jams that night, coming from camp-meeting ? She had no call to see visions! This girl had her head in her hands ; she was leaning on the fence ; she felt some one touch her; she looked up, and saw the boy before her. Mighty few of the ghosts that we have heard of had such consistency of entity as to make their presence perceived by the sense of touch; on the contrary, it is thus that their unreality is often demonstrated in these same fables. A lady passes her fan through one immaterial image. A man thrusts his knife vainly into the misty heart of another. And why does this instance differ? Because, gentlemen, there was no phantom. It was Tad Simpkins in flesh and blood. The fugitive boy sees Alethea Sayles, whom he knows well; he is about to appeal to her ; he lays his hand on her hand. She lifts her head, and at the unexpected appari— sight, she screams, and the foolish boy is frightened, and flees! ”

He went on to say that he would impose upon the patience of this court and jury only for a few moments longer. He wanted to contradict the statements of the attorney-general that no one would voluntarily burden himself with the support of a useless member of society. " How many yaller dogs at your houses, gentlemen ? I ‘d be afraid to count how many at mine. How many of your wife’s relations ? No, gentlemen, none of us are so rich in this world’s goods as we deserve to be, but we ain’t got down to dividing bread and meat that close yet. As to the reckless crime of keeping the boy in hiding in order to put Mink Lorey in the penetentiary for involuntary manslaughter,— why, gentlemen, if there were not just such reckless people continually committing crimes, the consequences of which they cannot escape, the attorneygeneral and I would have nothing to do. We’d have to suck our paws for a living, like a bear in the winter, and look at one another, — a profitless entertainment, gentlemen.”

He sat down, his pink smile enlivening his countenance, well satisfied with his efforts and with the prospects of the case.

The attorney-general, who had the last word, was very brief in saying it. The judge charged the jury, and he, too, was brief. The long slant of sunshine falling athwart the room was reddening when the jury were led out by the officer to their deliberations, noisily ascending the stairs to the jury-room above, assigned to their use.


They slouched into their lair, looking more like offenders detained against their will than the; free and enlightened citizens of a great country in the exercise of the precious privilege of serving on the jury. They were all tired. They had undergone much excitement. They felt the mental strain of the arguments and counter - arguments to which they had listened.

“ It hev fairly gin me a mis’ry in my hade ter hev ter hear ter them redmouthed lawyers jaw an’ jaw, like they done ! ” exclaimed one old codger, flinging himself in a chair, and putting his feet up against the round sides of the stove, which was cold and fireless, the day, like its predecessor, being warm and genial. The windows were open, the sunlight streaming over the dusty floor and chairs and benches. Two or three of the jurymen, looking out, laughing, and making signs to the people in the streets, were smartly remonstrated with by the officer in charge.

His objections had the effect of congregating them in the middle of the room, where the discussion began, many of them lighting their pipes, and tilting their chairs on the hind legs. Two or three lifted their feet to the giddy eminence of the backs of other chairs ; several stretched themselves at lank, ungainly length upon the benches. They were mostly young or middle-aged men; the senior of the party being a farmer of fifty, with a pointed, shaven chin, newly sprouting with a bristly beard, over which he often passed his hand with a meditative gesture. His eyes were downcast; he leaned his elbows on his knees ; his mien was depressed, not to say afflicted. “ I ain’t hearn ten words together,” he remarked. “ I never knowed when they lef’ off, sca’cely, bein’ so allfired oneasy an’ beset ’bout them cattle o’ mine.” He turned to explain to the new juror whom they had taken on that morning. “ Ben Doaks hed my cattle a-summerin’ of ’em up on Piomingo Bald, an’ when the cattle war rounded up I went thar ter pick out mine, an’ I druv ’em down an’got ez far ez Shaftesville, an’ I let ’em go on with Bob, my son, ’bout fifteen year old. An’ I stopped hyar ter git a drink an’ hear a leetle news. An’ durned ef they did n’t ketch me on the jury ! An’ Bob dunno what’s kem o’ me, an’ I dunno what’s kem o’ Bob an’ the cattle, nor how fur they hed traveled along the road ’fore they fund out I war n’t comin’ arter.”

“ Waal, I reckon they be all right,” said the new man, a hunter from the mountains, just come into town with peltry and game to sell.

“ Lord knows! I don’t!” said the old fellow, sighing over the futility of speculation. “ Ef Bob war ter draw the idee ez I got hurt, or robbed, or scrimmagin’ in them town grog-shops,— I hev always been tellin’ him a all-fired pack o’ lies ’bout the dangers in sech places, bein’ ez I war n’t willin’ ter let him go whar I’d go myself, —he’d leave them cattle a-standin’ thar in the road, an’ kem back ter town ter s’arch fur me. He hain’t got much ’speriunce, an’ he ain’t ekal ter keerin’ fur them cattle. They ’ll stray, an’ I ’ll never see ’em agin.”

“ I reckon they hev strayed back ter the mountings by this time ; must be wilder ’n bucks, ef they hev been out all summer,” suggested a broad-faced, twinkling-eyed young fellow, with a jocose wink at the others.

“ Bob dozes, too ; sorter sleepy-headed, ye know,” said the old man, taking note of all the contingencies. “ I hev seen him snooze in the saddle, ef the cattle war slow. He’s growin’, an’ runs mighty hard, an’ ef he sets still he falls off. Ef he got tired, he’s apt ter lie down in a fence-corner ter rest; an’ he mought go ter sleep thar, an’ somebody mought toll the cattle off. Or else he mought ax somebody ter keer fur the cattle till he could kem back an’ find me. Lord A’mighty, thar’s no yearthly tellin’ what Bob mought do.”

“ Then, agin, he mought n’t,” said Jerry Price. “Ye hev jes’got ter gin up yer hold on worldly things when ye air on a jury, like ye war dead.”

“ Yes, but when ye air dead ye ain’t able ter be pestered by studyin’ ’bout what yer administrator air a-doin’ with yer yearthly chattles an’ cattle.”

“ How d’ ye know ? ” demanded Price. “ Arter all we hearn ter-day, a body mought b’lieve a real likely harnt air ekal ter ennything in motion an’ looks, an’ ye dunno what they air studyin’ ’bout. But time’s a-wastin’. ’Less we air wantin’ ter bide hyar all night agin, we hed better be talkin’ ’bout our verdict on Mink Lorey. The jedge’s waitin’, an’ from all I hev seen o’ him he ain’t a man ez air handy at patience.”

“ Waal, sir,” said the man with his feet on the stove, who was the foreman of the jury, taking his pipe from his mouth, “ I ain’t settin’ much store on Gwinnan. I don’t b’lieve he acted right an’ ’cordin’ ter law about this jury. Thar’s thirteen men on this jury ! ”

They all sat motionless, staring at him.

“ Yes, sir,” he declared, reinserting his pipe between his teeth, and speaking with them closed upon it. “ I know the law! My uncle war a jestice o’ the peace fur six year, ’bout ten year ago. An’ he hed a Code o’ Tennessee! An’

I read in it! Some mighty interestin’ readin’ in the Code o’ Tennessee. Sure’s ye born, thar is ! The law say the juror, ef he be ailin’, kin be excused, an’ another summonsed. But Peter Rood war n’t excused, nor discharged nuther. He’s on this jury yit.”

“ Waal, fur Gawd’s sake, don’t git ter jawin’ ’bout Peter Rood! " cried Bylor, the man on whose chair the dead juror had fallen, and who had turned his face to the close encounter of the stare of death in his glassy eyes. Bylor’s nerves were still unstrung. He looked as ill as a broad-shouldered, sunburned, brawny fellow could look. “I never slep’ a wink las’ night; an’ that thar cussed ’torney-gineral a-tellin’ them awful tales ’bout harnts all day, an’ that thar solemn Lethe Sayles purtendin’ she hed seen that drownded idjit, —I felt ez ef I’d fall down in a fit ef they didn’t quit it.”

“ I don’t b’lieve she seen Tad’s harnt,” said Ben Doaks, instinctively adopting her view.

“ Then what war it in the graveyurd fur ? ” demanded the nephew of the exjustice conclusively.

There was momentary silence. The sunshine was dying out on the floor; the dim tracery of the boughs of the hickory-tree was the only manifestation of its presence. The rural sound of the lowing of cattle came in on the soft air, — the village kine were returning from their pastures. The voices of men in the rooms below rose and fell fitfully; they were trying another case, in the interim of waiting for the verdict.

“ An’ how kem nobody hev seen him sence, ’ceptin’ Lethe Sayles?” he supplemented his question.

“ The jedge hinted ez much ez we-uns oughter be powerful keerful o’ not convictin’ a man fur killin’, when a witness claimed ter hev seen the dead one sence,” argued Jerry Price, ambiguously.

“ She never seen nuthin’ but his ghost,” said the nephew of the ex-justice.

“ Ben, how’d that leetle red cow o’ mine git her hawn bruk ? ” interpolated the bereaved cattle-owner, meditating on the vicissitudes experienced by his herds in their summer vacation.

“ Gawd A’mighty, man, quit talkin’ ’bout yer cattle, interruptin’ we-uns jes’ ez we war a-gittin’ ter the p’int ! ” exclaimed the foreman.

“I’d heap ruther hear Mr. Beames talk ’bout his cattle ‘n hear ’bout harnts, an’ seeh,” said Bylor, as he lay on the bench. He was still feeling far from well. He got up presently, and went to the officer, who was at the door, and petitioned for something to drink. But that worthy, determined upon the literal performance of duty, withstood his every persuasion, even when he declared he was “plumb sick;” and the rest of the jury, alarmed lest he should be excused, another juror summoned, and the whole performance of the trial begin anew, the agony of their detention thus lengthening indefinitely, pleaded for him. The officer’s devotion to what he considered his duty did not save him from some abuse.

“’T would sarve ye right ef we war ter lay u-liolt o’ ye an’ fling ye outer this winder,” said Ben Doaks.

“ Ye mis Vole leetle green gourd, ye dunno nuthin’ ’bout nuthin’,” declared the foreman, the much informed because of the Code.

“ Waal, ye kin say what ye wanter,” retorted the official. He was a young man ; he had a resolute eye and a shock head. “ But ye ain’t goin’ ter git outer here till ye find yer verdict.” He withdrew his tousled head suddenly, and shut the door on them.

Rebellion availing nothing, they resorted to faction.

“ Ye need n’t be so powerful techy ’bout harnts ; ye ain’t seen none ez I knows on,” said the foreman, turning upon the sick juror.

“ Naw, an’ I don’t wanter hear ’bout none o’ ’em till my stommick feels stronger.”

“ Shucks ! that air nuthin’ oncommon, seein’ harnts an’ sech. Plenty o’ folks hev seen the same one. Thar’s ever so many o’ them herders on Thunderhead hev seen the harnt ez herds up thar. Rob Carrick seen him. I hev hearn him tell ’bout’n it arter he got his mind back. Hain’t you, Ben ? ”

The moon was at the eastern windows. The white lustre poured in. The great room seemed lonely and deserted, despite the group of deliberating jurymen, and the colorless double with which each had been furnished, to ape his gesture, and caricature his size, and dog his every step. An owl was hooting in some distant tree. The voices from the street were faint.

“ Ain’t that thar weasel of a constable goin’ ter hev no lamps brung hyar ternight ? ” exclaimed Bylor.

But the lamps, which came in almost immediately, were inadequate to contend with the solemn, ethereal, white pervasion of the night that still hung in the window, and lay upon the floor, and showed the gaunt bare tree outside. They only gave a yellow cast to the circle in which the party sat, and made their faces seem less pallid and unnatural.

“ Yes, I hev hearn Carrick tell it a many a time. He used ter herd with Josh Nixon in life.” Ben Doaks paused a moment. “ I seen the Herder wunst myse’f, though I never felt right sure about it till ter-night. I ’lowed I mought jes’ hev fancied it.”

“ What made ye sure ’bout it ternight ?” demanded Bylor, starting up from the bench.

“ Count o’ what the ’torney-gineral said ’bout kellucination. I know now ez ’t war a vision sent from hell, an’ I reckon that air one reason I hev fund it air so hard ter git religion. My mind hev got too much in league with Satan.”

“ Waal. Carrick ’lowed ez Josh Nixon kem back from hell ter herd on Thun-

derhead kase all his bones war n’t buried tergether,” said the foreman.

” Law, Ben,” broke out the owner of cattle, ” I wonder ef them beef bones we seen on the top o’ Piomingo Bald war n’t the bones o’ that thar leetle black heifer o’ mine ez couldn’t be fund, an’ ye ’lowed mus’ hev been eat by a wolf.”

“ I knocked off the vally o’ that thar heifer in our settlin’ up, an’ I hed hoped ter hear no mo’ o’ her in this mortal life! ” cried Ben Doaks, lifting his voice from the bated undertone in which he had discussed the spectral phenomena to an indignant worldly resonance. " I did n’t know ez ye branded yer beastis on her bones,” sarcastically; “ the las’ time I seen her she war too fat ter show ’em. I never looked fur yer mark on them bones on the bald.”

“ Waal,” said a slow, measured voice, with that unnatural tone one has in talking to one’s self, “ Tad hev got no call ter kem back.”

“Who air ye a-talkin’ ter?” cried Bylor, starting up, his nerves quivering at the slightest provocation.

“ Somebody told me just then ’t war Tad’s harnt,” said Price, rousing himself with an effort.

“ They never ! ” cried Bylor. “ Old man Beames hain’t got done moanin’ ’bout his cattle, like they war the ornymints o’ the nation. Nobody never opened thar mouths ter ye. Ye jes’ answered ter nuthin’.”

“ Harshaw never b’lieved Lethe Sayles seen no harnt,” declared one.

“ He hed ter say that,” observed the foreman, who was of spectral tendencies, “ no matter what he believed. The ’torney-gin’al war powerful sure she seen a harnt.”

“ He ’lowed it war a hellucination,” protested Bylor, being extremely averse to any theory involving an apparition.

“ Waal,” argued the logical Price, “ he ’lowed ez a hellucination war suthin’ ez looks like a person, but ’tain’t him. Now ain’t that a harnt? Ain’t Tad’s harnt suthin’ that looks like Tad, an’ ain’t Tad ? ”

“ Oh,” cried Bylor, springing from the bench, “ I feel obligated ter git away from sech talk ! I jes’ look ter see Peter Rood a-stalkin’ round hyar direc’ly, with that awful stare in his eyes when he war stone dead fur ever so long, with his face so close ter mine. I1 can’t abide it no longer ! Let ’s toss up. Heads, acquit! Tails, convict!” He produced a coin from his pocket.

“ Naw, ye won’t,” said the foreman quickly. “Naw! We’ll delib’rate on this hyar question, an’ decide it like a jury oughter.”

Bylor cast a glance at the windows, each with its great white image upon the floor below ; at the dim faces about him ; at the lamps, dull and yellow, making the moonlight seem more pallid and vaguely blue. He threw himself upon the bench, and for a time was silent.

“ Look hyar,” said Jerry Price, “ it hev jes’ got down ter this, — harnt or no harnt. Ef Lethe Sayles seen Tad, Mink never killed him, an’ hev ter be acquitted. Ef Lethe Sayles seen Tad’s harnt, Mink killed him whilst doin’ a unlawful act, an’ he hev ter go ter the pen’tiary fur involuntary manslaughter, ez the jedge ’lows sech be a felony.”

The wrangle over the question, which bristled with difficulties enough, began anew. They were even more illogical and irritable than before. They were utterly unused to debate, to reason. The mental strain of laboriously applying their attention to each detail, striving to master circumstance and argument, throughout the two days during which the case had been tried twice before them, had resulted in a certain degree of prostration of their faculties. The singular surprise in the evidence and the sudden death of one of their number had unnerved them all, more or less. Being ignorant men, untrained to discriminate and differentiate, while they could accept the strange occurrences which the attorney-general had brought to their knowledge, they were not able to perceive and apply the scientific explanations. And in fact many of these were lame and inadequate. They had heard these seemingly supernatural instances from a man of education and acumen, and it had fallen to their lot to probe the probabilities and possibilities, and decide an important question based upon them. They were no nearer a conclusion when Ben Doaks, who had been sitting with his arms folded, silently meditating for a time, broke out abruptly, “ That’s it! Tad’s harnt kem back ’kase his bones ain’t buried.”

Bylor once more started up. “ Who tole ye that ? Who said it fust ? ”

“ I dunno,” replied Ben Doaks quietly. “ Some o’ them boys.”

“They never!” cried Bylor. “I hev been listening ter every one. Some o’ ye answers the words o’ a man who never speaks aloud ! Thar’s a harnt on this jury! I know it! I feel it!” He stood up at his full height, trembling like a leaf. He was in a nervous panic. “ Gentlemen, we hey got ” — he faltered at the name, —“him with us yet. Thar’s thirteen men on this jury. For Gawd’s sake, let’s go down an’ tell the jedge we can’t agree. I ’ll see Rood d’rec’ly, an’ ye will too.”

“ Laws-a-massy ! ” cried old Beames, interested for the first time in aught save his cattle. “I ’ll make a break an’ run ”—he did not say where, the obdurate officer being on the other side of the door. He too rose, agitated, his toothless jaw shaking. “ I could n’t abide ter see him, like he looked las’ night! ”

“ Thar’s thirteen men on the jury. Thar’s no use denyin’ it,” said the foreman, “ whether Pete Rood’s sperit’s in the panel or no.”

A great shadow suddenly flapped awkwardly across the floor. Every man of them started. But it was only the owl they had heard in the distance now Hying past the window. It was not more cheerful when the ill-omened bird settled itself on the branch of the hickory-tree, and shrilled its nerve-thrilling cry and convulsively chuckled aloud.

The foreman rose, too. " Thar ‘s no use a-tryin’,” he said: " we can’t agree, an’ we hev got a right ter disagree. Le’s go down an’ tell the jedge, an’ git discharged. I ain’t easy shook, but this hyar whole case hev been mighty cur’us, an’ I hev mighty nigh petered out.”

“ Look hyar, ought n’t we ter hold on a while longer ? Fur Mink Lorey will hev ter stay in jail fur four months more, till he kin git tried at the next term.” suggested Jerry Price.

“ I ’m willin’,” said Ben Doaks reluctantly. lie looked doubtfully over his shoulder as he spoke. " Eh ? ” he said, as he turned his head back again.

“ Nobody never said nuthin’,” declared the foreman.

“ I ’lowed I hearn somebody call my name.”

“ I ’ll be bound ye did ! ” cried Bylor. “ But nobody called it ez we kin see — yit.”

He rushed to the door and summoned the officer. The court was notified, and the twelve men were conducted down the stairs, each conscious of the presence of the unseen thirteenth.

It was like a transition from the conditions of delirium to the serene atmosphere of right reason. The windows were all flaring with lights, as if the court-room were some factory that ran all night. The lawyers looked fagged and worn out; they had the air of working by momentum aggregated during the day rather than by immediate exertion. It was a contrast to Averill’s leisurely procedure, and they regarded the innovation with exasperation and the judge with some personal animosity. He had his pen still in his hand ; there was a moment’s silent waiting while he finished the line he was writing. Mink had been brought out from jail. He sat waiting, feverishly impatient and bright-eyed.

Harshaw and the attorney - general turned expectant and interested faces toward them.

The judge laid down his pen and looked kindly at them. He viewed them as a bit of completed work. He had a great respect for completed work.

When they were asked if they had agreed upon their verdict, the foreman answered that they could not agree.

The prisoner’s countenance changed instantly. It had upon it an expression of blank amaze, then of sharp distress. Harshaw’s face fell. The attorney-general pricked up his ears. The judge looked grave, concerned.

44 Do you desire any further instructions, — any point of difficulty explained? ”

The foreman interpreted this formula as a general inquiry into the nature of the trouble. He began precipitately, the quaking men behind him feeling all the despair of being the members of a responsible corporate body of which he was the mouth-piece.

“ Ye see, jedge, we-uns can’t but feel thar’s thirteen men on this jury.”

They felt the judge’s quick gray eye counting them. Perhaps at that moment they were all indifferent to the terrors of their spectral associate, so much more substantial a source of terror being presented to them.

The man who had read the Code went on: " Pete Rood — him ez died las’ night — war neither excused nordischarged, so thar’s thirteen men on this jury; an’ we hearn him talkin’ up-stairs along o’ the rest o’ the jurors, sometimes interruptin’ us, an’ we-uns can’t agree ’count o’ thar bein’ a harnt on the jury.”

Even he faltered before the look in the face of the judge, whose decisions were thus frankly criticised. There was something terrible in the fury that his eyes expressed. He sat motionless, with an air of great calmness and dignity. His face, however, crimsoned to the roots of his hair. The veins in his forehead stood out swollen and blue. There was an intense silence for a moment. Then his voice, as always, singularly low and inexpressive, broke the pause.

“ Mr. Sheriff,” he said, “ conduct those thirteen — those twelve men to the county jail, and keep them there for contempt of court until ten o’clock to-morrow morning, permitting no communication with others.”

He directed that a fine of ten dollars should be entered against each, and forthwith adjourned the court.

This high-handed proceeding had no parallel in the annals of the circuit. Harshaw, swelling with rage, found knots of men eagerly discussing it, as he pushed his way out into the hall. Some one was advancing the opinion that a jury in jail was no longer a jury, but merely twelve culprits. Another found a hearty laugh in the reflection that they would not probably discover so many harnts in jail as in the jury-room. A third demanded of Harshaw, “ Why did n’t he discharge the jury, and imprison them as men ? ”

“ Too afraid of the S’preme Court,” Harshaw hissed between his teeth. " Wish he had ! On appeal a premature discharge would operate as an acquittal of the prisoner.”

He regarded the action of the judge as an outrage, and he did not hesitate to express this opinion. He had expended much time and force upon his case, and looked for no compensation but the satisfaction of success. He had that excellent quality in a lawyer, the faculty of making his client’s cause his own. He felt the hardship of this extension of the prisoner’s jeopardy scarcely less deeply than Mink himself. A little remonstrance with the ignorant men, a little pocketing of personal and judicial pride, a few coaxing, explanatory words, might have sent them back refreshed and invigorated to their deliberations, with a good hope of agreement. Now, there was no prophesying what effect these strong measures would have upon them. He believed that Gwinnan bad transcended all the authority of his office. “ By God,” he cried, “ if he keeps on like be’s started he ‘ll get impeached some day ! And if I could see my way to it, I swear I’d introduce the resolution in the House myself! ”

He walked off, his head swimming a little. He had said this rash thing before a motley crowd, and at any time it might be repeated to Gwinnan, who was himself a politician in some sort, and a man of great force.

Charles Eybert Craddock.