The Golden Justice



DAVID LANE was right in his premonitions : his slender majority offered too great a premium to objectors. He was presently served with the proper notices, and his election was formally contested.

The taking of testimony in this contest took place in a long upper room of the Johannisberger House, sometimes used as a lodge-room, for assemblies and the like. It was at no great distance from the Polish quarter, and was deemed a convenient place for procuring the attendance of the persons interested. There had been an active stirring among the dry-bones when it was known that these proceedings would take place. Naturally, investigation would not be confined to one side only. Irregular characters of all sorts were hastily moved to embark on steamers and gravel trains, while others, of a higher class, with standing to maintain, who could not so easily take flight, quaked with even greater trepidation in their consciences. In the sequel, developments reached far beyond even the utmost that was expected. The principal legal talent of Keewaydin was enlisted. There were writs quo warranto and certiorari, mandamuses, injunctions, demurrers, appeals, all the law’s delays, voluntary and involuntary. Should all the surprises, feats of legal skill, hardihood, and chicanery, and store of legal learning poured forth be here set down, after the Homeric fashion, as they might very well be, this simple account could be extended to unheard-of length. With the vital interests they held at stake, each side strained every nerve. Paul Barclay, who himself bore no unimportant part in the proceedings, formed a habit of reporting to Mrs. Varemberg, at frequent intervals, for her information and pleasure, all their stages, — the humors, exciting episodes, and glimpses into new and quaint phases of life which this unexpected upheaval afforded.

The case for the contestant, Jim DeBow, was chiefly managed by that astute person, Counselor Rand, — the same who had once had Barclay’s property in charge. He proved, on this trial, to be a man of shrewd, quick invention, an adept in the sophistry that makes the worse appear the better reason. He had a ready gift of gab, was skilled both in irony and invective, and was well versed generally in all the unscrupulous resources of his art. In his opening speech he outlined his proposed policy. He said in substance, —

“ I offer to prove, and shall establish beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there were cast for David Lane, in all the various wards, not less than one hundred and twenty irregular and fraudulent votes. These are to be deducted from his total vote, as being wholly null and void. A clear title to the high and honorable office of mayor of Keewaydin will thereupon rest with my client, James Sapperthwaite DeBow, Esq.” (This middle name created a certain sensation in the court-room. It was perhaps the first time DeBow had ever been known to have any middle name at all, or any other prefix than the customary “ Jim.”) “ I shall show that these irregular and fraudulent votes,” Rand went on, “ were cast by the following persons, to wit: —

“ Aliens, or persons not qualified by sufficient residence in the country to exercise the right of suffrage as American citizens.

“ Others who had not resided in the State for the one year next prior to election, as required by law.

“ Others not resident in, or qualified electors of, the wards and precincts in which they assumed to vote.

“ Others vouched for by persons not householders, and therefore not competent to act as sponsors.

“ Finally, I allege that a large number of votes were manufactured outright, and corresponded to no persons having an actual existence.”

Rand charged, furthermore, bribery, corruption, and undue influence of many kinds. He glared about the court-room as he spoke, and preserved throughout a sonorous rhetoric and air of august indignation, as if he had been some other Edmund Burke impeaching a Warren Hastings of high crimes and misdemeanors, in the great hall of William Rufus. He put Ludwig Trapschuh on the stand, as an expert in the habits, manners, and customs of the Polish people. The bridge-tender proceeded to recollect names, dates, and circumstances with a prodigious facility. His own belief was that all was utterly lost to him henceforth, so far as concerned the favor of David Lane, — even, probably, to the stipend of Stanislava, — and his only salvation must be in deserving the gratitude of the opposition to the utmost.

Mr. Welby Goff next made a considerable figure, under examination, in describing his part in the wrangle over the ’bus-load of Bohemian workmen, as before mentioned.

“ Did you not distinctly hear their foreman threaten to discharge them unless they obeyed orders ? ” demanded counsel for the contestant.

“ How could I have understood him, if he was Bohemian ? ” returned witness, parrying.

“ Answer my question. Did you not distinctly hear him make that threat in English ? ”

“ What I want to know, in that case, is how the men could have understood him, if they were Bohemians,” said Welby Goff.

This was characterized by Rand as impudent and evasive quibbling, — as no doubt it was, — and when DeBow’s side finally rested their case the prospect looked dark for David Lane. It was plainly evident that Ives Wilson and some of his friends, acting with an ill-judged zeal, to put the most favorable construction upon it, had done things that would not at all bear the clear light of investigation.

When Lane’s counsel took the floor, however, the case assumed a very different complexion. It was shown that the DeBow party had engaged in the same, and even more iniquitous, practices. The issue seemed to resolve itself into one more of quantity than quality.

Paul Barclay was called to testify as to an expedition — consisting of himself, one Peter Stransky, the Polish letter-carrier, and a German interpreter — he had energetically organized of his own motion, to go about, on the South Side, searching for the numerous missing voters by affidavit for DeBow. He testified that he had taken a copy of the poll-list, and at several of the addresses given had found no houses at all, nor any such numbers on the streets ; and at numerous others, no trace whatever of the pretended voters named, nor of any persons who had ever known them.

He was attacked by Rand with all the arts permitted the unscrupulous cross-examiner. That individual had, for the first time, found an opportunity to wreak in a small way the malice he still cherished from the date of their former dealings together. He sought to impugn Barclay’s reputation for truth and veracity. He sought next to show that the little band of searchers were not qualified for their mission, that they had been frightened away from certain tenement-houses by fear of small-pox, that their search was but a mere pretense at best, that they had no real desire to find the voters, but had increased the mystification, and distorted facts for their own partisan purposes. He changed from the browbeating to the patronizing, from the menacing to the genially sarcastic ; he threw in plentiful taunts and innuendoes, calculated to enrage the callow in this kind of experience, to his own entanglement and destruction. The red color of resentment, in fact, mantled the cheek of Paul Barclay at the first few stings, and his eye kindled in a way that might have indicated danger to his tormentor. But he very soon recovered his self-control, and, adopting a far more effectual policy, began to return cool, baffling, sometimes half-amused replies, that showed him to be no tyro in linguistic conflicts, but one amply able to defend himself. Rand fell back from some of his more biting answers, much as the wild bull might fall back, from violent onslaughts, on the keen rapier of the toreador.

“ You have lived a long time in Poland, no doubt ?” he said, sneeringly. “You are thoroughly familiar with the language? ”

“ I have spent a short time in Poland. I have a certain idea of its pronunciation.”

The questioner was flustered ; he had not expected any such evidence of fitness.

He entered next upon questions of pronunciation at great length. He chose to impugn the competency of Peter Stransky — a renegade Pole, he said, whom his countrymen refused to associate with — and the German interpreter. “ Will you kindly describe to us,” he demanded, “ your method of asking for these voters ? ”

“ Where the person named was taken to be Polish, he was inquired for through the Polish interpreter; where he was taken to be German, through the German interpreter.”

“ How did you know whether the person was Polish or German ?”

“ I judged of his nationality from the name.”

“ Are you a first-class expert in judging of the nationality of a man from his name ? ”

“ I am perhaps about a third-class expert,” replied Barclay, smiling, “ but the combined expertness of the party must certainly have been pretty near the proper standard.”

“ Did you not know that if you did not find these men at all it would be more to the advantage of David Lane than if you did ? ”

“ Why, yes, we must take that for granted, just as the learned counsel knows that bluster and impertinence may take the place of argument and evidence, when he has none in his case, — though perhaps it is not to the point just at present,” returned Barclay, for once meeting the insult somewhat in kind.

Upon this, the court pounded with its gavel, and insisted on rather better order on both sides ; but Rand continued to thunder that the whole inquiry was a delusion and an intentional fraud, and that all the persons inquired for really existed, and could have been found by any honest and competent authorities. He next recalled Trapschuh to sustain his position, which this man did with a preposterous effrontery.

“ I ask you, as a person well versed in the peculiarities of the Polish people,” he said, putting the bridge-tender a long hypothetical question. “ Supposing a number of strange men, one an American, one a German, and one a Pole, should go about together through the Polish quarter, asking a great variety of questions, — such as who lived in a house, whether such and such persons lived there, and the like, — what sort of treatment would such a band of persons be likely to meet with ? ”

“ They would meet with no treatment at all. It would be lucky for them if they did n’t get licked.”

“ And they would not get any information at all ? ”

“ No : parties would run on ahead and tell other parties they was coming, and, when they got there, they would ask them what they wanted to know for; and no matter what they asked, they would not tell them anything.”

“ Now as to the Polish women. I ask you, as a person well versed in the peculiarities of the Polish people, what would be the course of the Polish women, if their husbands or other male relatives were absent from home, when such a band of men came prowling about. Would they give information ?”

“ No, the men would n’t let ’em. Besides, all them Polish women lie like the devil; they don’t ever answer no questions right.”

A slight cry was heard, upon this. Trapschuh, looking round, saw his niece, Stanislava Zelinsky, in the court. He wondered at her being there, but supposed it was only as a spectator, like the rest. The room was packed, several rows deep, all around its borders, with men, for the most part of the laboring sort, in rough, ill-smelling clothing, drawn there by their personal interest, or that of immediate friends, in the proceedings. The girl was being led up to a more favored position, it is true, apart from this crowd, and not far from the counsel for David Lane; but Trapschuh did not approve of the degree of forwardness and curiosity that could have brought her to such a place. He meant to have more to say of this anon, though by no means, as yet, suspecting the real cause of it.

“ Have you met with many instances, in your experience, where the Polish women would not tell the truth ? ” he was asked.

“ Yes, more as two hundred, — more as one thousand,” he replied, with a nonchalant recklessness.

Stanislava involuntarily lamented aloud once more at this wholesale aspersion. The glib perjuries of her uncle made her breath come thick and fast, with astonishment and grief. She wondered that the floor did not open and swallow them all up. She looked around the circle, as if all present were somehow responsible, too, and almost as bad as he, inasmuch as they did not stop it on the instant, but calmly sat there instead, and listened to it go on. The true history of her coming into court was as follows : —

David Lane, following with painful intensity all the stages of the trial, went to his daughter, one day, when it was well advanced, and said,—

“ You say this Polish girl, whom I have benefited, once told you she wished to be of service to me. Now is her opportunity, if she will use it. She seems an intelligent, observing person, who has undoubtedly seen something of the true facts in the case ; she may be got to deny some of the wild fabrications of this man, even though he be her relative. She can hardly wish to aid the combination against me, I am sure.”

Mrs. Varemberg had immediately sought the girl, and found her ready to speak the truth. She had sent her to Barclay, and he, in turn, to the discreet counsel in the case, and an arrangement had been effected by which, keeping suspicion averted till the last moment, she was to appear.

Such hard swearing as that of Trapschuh and his mates produced conviction in the humbler portion of the audience, who stood about in awe, and thought that egregious asseveration like this must make even those things to be which had not been so. It had its effect even in higher quarters, not too well versed as yet in distinguishing facts from protestation. The production of Stanislava, therefore, was a decided coup. It was rare that any woman entered the domain of these political turmoils, and here was a very young, pretty, and apparently ingenuous one. A little hubbub arose as she took the stand, which required some time to quell. The protruding little eyes of Ludwig Trapschuh started from his head with amazement.

She controverted his outrageous statements, tried to vindicate her humble country-women from the sweeping charge of mendacity, and traced Polish families and individual voters. She often knew the exact date of their arrival in the country, through having entered them as applicants for assistance and employment on the books of the benevolent societies. The excellent handwriting on which we have heard her complimented now stood her in good stead.

Most important of all, — casting a look of appeal at her uncle, as if to beseech him not to withhold his favor from her, even though she performed a duty which her conscience and the interests of truth clearly demanded, — she testified to overhearing the conspiracy between him, Barney, and Notary Kroeger, whereby, though appearing to act always for David Lane, they were covertly to procure and manufacture votes for Jim DeBow. She was timid and flushed with fevered nervousness, at first, but gained confidence as she proceeded, and her answers were of a clear positiveness that cross-examination could not shake. Her whole manner carried conviction with it.

A recall of Trapschuh, based upon her evidence, followed, and resulted in his utter collapse. He tangled himself up in a new tissue of preposterous falsehoods. Shown an “exhibit” that purported to be the affidavit of the voter Andreas Lanick, he was asked if he knew Lanick.

“ Yes,” he replied, “ I know him very well. He belong from Prussia Poland.”

Shown “ exhibit 23,” the affidavit of the pretended voter Wenzel Vai, he was asked, “ Do you know Wenzel Vai ? ”

“ Yes, I know a man like that. He’s a Bohemian man.”

Shown the affidavit of the pretended voter Andreas Lanick, he said, —

“ Yes, I know him.”

“ How long ? ”

“ Since twenty-five years ago.”

Shown a great number of other exaffidavits of the same general description, —

“ Yes, I know each and every one of them.” He caught up stray bits of the legal phraseology.

“ And you could find these men if you wished to ? ”

“ Yes, unless they moved away since election day.”

“ What makes you think they would move away since election day ? ”

“ More as two, three, hundred Polander families moved away since election time,” he asserted, in round numbers.

“ Does not that estimate seem a little high ? ”

“ No, it is not high ; it is low,” he insisted doggedly.

“ Now, will you tell us what you understand by a family ? ”

“ I und’stand a man, his wife, some children, and may be a few cousins and uncles.”

“Why do you think so many families would suddenly leave Keewaydin ? ”

“ If them Polanders can live cheaper by goin’ away as by stayin’ at home, they will go away, — in Minnezota, Illinois, and Michigan.”

Counsel amiably appeared to accept this as quite a philosophical answer and explanation, and Trapschuh was much pleased with his own ingenuity.

“ Will you, now, kindly give a description of the Andreas Lanick we have before mentioned ?”

“He had a — a — slouched hat and a — kind o’ — old coat,” stammered Trapschuh. “ I know him very well,” more promptly.

“ Give us a description of Wenzel Vai.”

“He’s a kind o’ sandy man, — not very short. I done some figurin’ with him once.”

“ Please describe Wozer Chezefski.”

“He’s not very tall. He wears a slouched hat,” the witness returned, already at the end of his invention.

“ Give us a description of Mike Matelski.”

“ The description of each and every Polander is mostly alike.”

“ Tell us where Mike Matelski lived.”

“ Down by Muckwonago Road. I guess I don’t remember the number.”

“ In what street ? ”

“ It was a wood house, — kind o’ red color, with green blinds,” he answered evasively.

“ Where did Wozer Chezefski live ? ”

“ His house was kind o’ blue color.”

The witness began to mop his forehead furiously with a handkerchief.

“ What was the age of your friend Andreas Lanick ? ”

“ Oh, he was a younk man, — he’s about twenty-two years old.”

“ Your memory is perfectly good ? ”

“ Nobody has so better a memory as what I got,” he replied, resenting any imputations upon it.

“ Well, then, how does it happen that you remember Andreas Lanick for the past twenty-five years, when you say he is but twenty-two years old ? ”

The witness’s jaw dropped. He was aghast; but was presently seen recovering himself, in a surly way, for new efforts.

“ Now, as to this large number of families that you say moved away : did you personally see them go ? ”

“ I seen some go, and parties told me about the others.”

“ What were the names of those you saw go ? ”

“ One’s name was Lijeski; I guess the man’s front name was Antony. Another’s name was Molicheck. Another’s name was Lexau.”

“ Those are three; how as to the rest of the three hundred ? ”

“ I don’t remember all the names.”

“ Nor any of them ?”

“ No.”

“ Who were the parties who told you they had seen the families leave the city ? ”

“ I don’t remember their names.”

“ Give a description of some of those who told you they had seen the families go.”

“ One was a big feller with a slouched hat.”

“ When did you see him last ? ”

The witness began to glare fiercely at his ruthless tormentor. It was hopeless to think of finding answers to such a remorseless torrent of questions.

“ On election day. I sent for him to come over,” he added, by way of embroidering with a detail as opportunity offered.

“ How did you send for him to come, if you did not know his name ? ”

“ I asked parties if parties over that way had voted,” was the reply, in an open fury which the presiding magistrate sternly repressed.

“ And you swear that all this is as true as any other part of your testimony ? ”

“ I swear that it is all true. All of them men bin voters ; they belong from Prussia Poland ; each and every one of ’em got his right citizen papers, and I know ’em all very well,” he returned, in a final all-embracing burst.

“ Oh, he makes me tired,” Welby Goff was heard to exclaim, in the slang of the day, affecting to fall dramatically on the back of his chair. Even hardened counsel sighed, in a pensive way. But Trapschuh was not yet released ; he had still to be questioned as to making the boy Nicodem Kraska vote. He brazenly insisted that Nicodem was of age. When asked how he knew, he said “ because he looked so.” The boy’s mother, Suzanka, was in court, and it was even after her testimony that Trapschuh perpetrated his effrontery. Suzanka set up a loud wailing, and, being suppressed, seemed to await his coming down from the witness-stand as if with the purpose of doing him a bodily injury.

“ Have you advised with your counsel as to what you were to say in this case ? ” Lane’s counsel thought good to ask, humorously, to cast part of the odium of Trapschuh’s lying upon Rand.

“ No, he advised with me,” returned Trapschuh, meaning to be surly, but really aiding the design in view even more than was expected.

Upon this he was allowed to retire, and he stepped down, abashed, into obscure private life, from the depths of which it was long indeed before he again emerged.

Barney Trapschuh, among others, was examined in his turn. Being asked why he signed affidavits as a householder, when he was not one, he said naively that he had understood by a householder “ a person what lived in a house.” At this, Welby Goff nearly fell on the floor, once more.

Peter Haller, the teamster, testified that he had certified to affidavits of a large number of persons he had never seen before, because “ they looked honest.”

The self-sufficient little notary, Kroeger, when his turn came, was found to have resisted the summons first sent out by the court, and to have been brought in under arrest.

“ You said you could not be bothered coming here,” said the presiding magistrate to him, in severe reproof. “ You were found in attendance at a wedding, instead.”

“ I knew I was all right, and there was n’t no need for me to come,” he responded sullenly.

“ That remains to be seen,” said the judge. And it was so effectually seen that Kroeger was shown to be one of the most heinous offenders on the entire list. It appeared that, through informalities in the taking out of his commission, he was not even a qualified notary-public, nor competent to certify any affidavits whatever. Here at the very Johannisberger House, the seat of his majestic egotism and claims to oracular wisdom, the little man was so thoroughly impugned in all the sources of his authority that he could never hold his head aloft again. In fine, the cases of the voters delayed by the arts of the inspectors at the Railroad Avenue precinct were taken up, and argued at great length. It was claimed that there were over forty of these men, all provided with Lane ballots, so that, by the fraudulent practices named, many votes were lost to that candidate.

Without doubt, the enterprise of Barclay and the testimony of Stanislava had been the two elements, in these complications, that had carried the balance of credibility and favor to the side of David Lane, and procured the final verdict in his favor. He was forced to owe his triumph to the children of those victims of the Chippewa Street bridge whose death was the cause even of this political strife.



At the customary time, as fixed by the city charter, — it was towards the end of April, — Paul Barclay took his seat in the new board of aldermen. His reputation for the active, managing sort of ability, as well as for financial soundness, had preceded him. He was well received, and put at once upon some of the more important standing committees.

Among other matters, at this first regular meeting of the year, a combination was discovered to take away the city printing from Ives Wilson and his Index. Set on foot by his usual adversaries in the other papers, it was aided by some as a punishment for his course in bolting the nominations of his party convention, and by others who had been made the objects of some of his embittered journalism. That sprightly person was alive to his danger, however, and fought it tooth and nail. It almost seemed as if he could be in half a dozen places at once, as, with the lock of hair streaming back from the apex of his head like an oriflamme, he moved from desk to desk among the aldermen, — in whose part of the council chamber, by the way, he had no business to be at all, — strengthening the weak, joking with his firmer friends, and even making propositions for their support to the less pronounced of his enemies. When the vote was taken, he had retained his patronage by a majority of but two. This was so close that his contemporaries of the press assured him that it ought to be a terrible warning to him, at least, henceforth to keep a civil point to his pen and less gall in his inkstand. But Ives Wilson did not take it at all in this light. He announced his success, in the Index, as a triumphant “ vindication,” and he began immediately a more trenchant course of abuse than ever before against all persons and things.

An interregnum of something like two months now ensued. Pending the contest between the rival claimants for mayor, the president of the aldermen continued to govern the city. What with all the delays incident to the decision, it was nearly July, instead of April, before the right of David Lane was finally recognized, and he was installed in his chair.

While his fate had still hung in the balance he had wasted, and grown perceptibly older and feebler. The two months of suspense were among the keener forms of his punishment. For a while it had appeared that he was not to have even the desperate chance of attempting his wild and difficult project. During this time, he had thought vaguely whether he might not cause to be introduced into the board of aldermen a resolution calling for the repair of the Golden Justice; counting that, when once scaffoldings were up, some laborer might perchance be corrupted, and induced to seize the ardently coveted paper for him. He had thought, also, of engaging the janitor; but the worthy Anton Klopp was a wheezy individual, even less capable, physically, than himself. And then the statue needed no repairing ; it would easily be discovered to be in excellent condition. And, again, even if it were not, he had decided, years before, that he dared trust his secret to no one. But behold him, at last, in possession of the poor vantageground he had sought, and relieved of this source of anxiety.

The inauguration of a mayor, always a stirring affair in political circles, was made especially important on the present occasion by the character of the events that had preceded it. There were deferred appointments to office to be made, and a mass of difficult business had also been diplomatically deferred, to fall upon the shoulders of the new incumbent.

A general amnesty had been tacitly decreed for the irregularities of the late election. Both sides had so equally participated in them that all might be considered as tarred with the same stick. Measures of legislation were at once introduced, however, to prevent the recurrence of such abuses in the future.

With as sharp a feeling of self-reproach as his preoccupation left him for anything less engrossing, David Lane recognized how largely he, the assumed model of probity, had been responsible for this corruption of the public virtue. All evil deeds seemed to follow upon his first, in direct sequence, as if he were another Macbeth. He delivered his brief inaugural address in the chamber of the aldermen, then gravely received some hand-shakings of congratulation as he stepped from the tribune, and then withdrew to his office. He was followed there by some persons connected with the accumulated business, and for a considerable time had to hold a levee in the spacious room ; but one by one these visitors dropped off, and, as the twilight drew on, he was at last quite alone.

He gave a long, heavy sigh, — conveying both relief and a newly arising form of trouble, — and threw himself down in his chair. The first step in his proposed deliverance was accomplished. He was free to come and go, and to remain and plan his projects in the building without question from any quarter. Soon he bent forward again, and, leaning his arm on his desk and his face on his hand, remained a long time in that position, suggesting the brooding attitude of the Lorenzo de’ Medici, who looks down from above the famous tombs at San Lorenzo, in Florence. He had brought with him, even on this first day, some of the tools for his exploit. He placed these safely in a drawer of the desk. On the morrow he would bring the others. He paced the floor meditatively, and lightly tested, by turns, the muscles of his legs and arms, as he had done once before, on a previous occasion. On the morrow, too, there would be delivered to him here a light grappling-ladder, already ordered ; tall enough, as he said, to reach to the uppermost of his high book-shelves.

For the next few days, as he walked to the city hall for his appointed tasks, — and in many a slow jaunt about the square, for the special purpose, — his eye fearfully sought the Golden Justice; his brain estimated heights, distances, times, and forecast the position of his ladder and all his own movements when at last he should find himself there aloft, where he had so long desired to be. Now, when actually face to face with his undertaking, its sheer physical obstacles loomed up before him, presenting the most formidable difficulties. “ I am an old, old man ! ” he would mutter. He put off its execution yet another day. and another, and at last he was taken with a sort of paralysis of supreme discouragement ; he revolted against the problem before him in utter despair. The shining figure seemed to mock him; high aloft there in the blue empyrean, it swam before his eyes, hopelessly unattainable by any puny efforts of his.

“ I cannot do it, — I will not do it ! ” he cried out to himself, all but demented. “It is impossible. Let them wait.”

His manner at home, during a great part of this long delay, had been strained, abstracted, and uncomfortable. Barclay had come there rather upon sufferance than as a welcome guest, and had repined and fumed under the situation with ever-increasing impatience. Lane had made no concession to the object for which the lovers were waiting; he had held obstinately to the letter of his words. Mrs. Varemberg had once or twice taken the initiative upon herself, and addressed him a few words, but only to be repulsed. He had answered her that he was thinking of it.

“ Are you indeed thinking of it deeply ? Does it require so much consideration ? ” she had demanded.

“ Yes, believe me, I am considering it deeply.”

On the momentous day, when he came home oppressed by utter lassitude and despair, as described, it chanced that she spoke to him again. She had, up to that time, preserved a very long silence. They had only their own company at dinner, Mrs. Clinton being absent.

“ Papa,” began Mrs. Varemberg.

Her father knew at once what was coming, and he evaded her large and earnest eyes, which were raised appealingly to his.

“ I did not think I should have to be the one to speak first,” she said, “ but a week has now passed since you became mayor ; the condition upon which you insisted is fulfilled, and yet — and yet ” — She arose before she added more, and, coming in a coaxing way around to his side of the table, rested her hand on his shoulder. “And yet,” she went on, “ you say nothing of the subject that is the nearest and dearest to the heart of Paul and myself.”

He affected at first not quite to know what she was talking about.

“ I mean your promise, papa, that you would decide as soon as you were elected. Paul and I have been waiting so patiently. Will you not let me send him word of your favorable answer today ? I know you have been doing all this only to try us a little, to see if we are really earnest in our affection.”

David Lane was suffering the tortures of the damned. He repulsed her caressing hand from his shoulder almost rudely, arose, moved back from his chair in a staggering, almost stupefied way, and then, collecting his faculties, said, “ Yes, I recall the matter now. Well, I have decided against it. I cannot consent.”

“ You cannot consent ? ” Mrs. Varemberg murmured, trembling, incredulous.

“ I cannot give my approval to your marriage with Paul Barclay.”

“ Oh, what is this ? What does it all mean ? ” she gasped, irrelevantly.

He seemed to feel it necessary to give some answer, and, casting about, he found a wretched excuse.

“ He was opposed to my election. I — I have it from the very best authority.”

And he proceeded to cite the episode, reported by Ives Wilson, of Barclay’s having refused to browbeat his men to his own way of voting.

“ I have heard that story, too. I honor him, rather, as you would once have done, for having been one of the few to resist political corruption, even in his own interest. For your interest was his. Was he not one of your strongest supporters ? What would you have done without him, in the contest ?”

“ Perhaps I am harsh, unrelenting, but I have made up my mind. I — I cannot forgive him.”

“ Forgive him ? May Heaven forgive you all the harm you have done us both,” rejoined his daughter, with a noble indignation and contempt, and she prepared to withdraw from the room. “ I call you no longer my father. I do not know what your motives can be, but my father would never have acted so. Let this be my farewell. I shall leave your house as soon as is possible.”

“ Where will you go ? What will you do ? ” he demanded in alarm, aroused to his full faculties, as an intoxicated man is often sobered by some sudden shock.

“ I do not know. I will place myself under honorable protection, and when a suitable time has expired I will marry Paul Barclay.”

“ Will you go to him without money, — if I give you none ? Will you throw yourself as a burden upon him ? ”

She was staggered a moment by this consideration, but, recovering herself, she answered, —

“Yes; he loves me. He alone of all the world wishes me well ; to him alone my happiness is dear. He will not look at it so.”

“ Florence ! ” cried David Lane, and this time he stretched out his arms towards her pleadingly. She had opposed to him at last an obstinacy and hardness of heart equal to his own. This unnatural casting off by his own daughter wholly unnerved and broke him down. “ This from you,” he said, — “ my darling, my child, the one always so dear to me ; you whom I held in my arms as a baby, whom I nursed through sickness ; you who made me the confidant of all your joys and troubles, who were always so sure of my affection, as you must be sure of it even now ? ”

“ Then why, papa ? then why, papa ? ” she asked, incoherently. She was easily touched, and quick to forgiveness and reconciliation.

David Lane then had the impulse to tell her all of his sad story. But he only exclaimed again, much as he had on a former occasion, —

“ I must have yet a little time. Wait till you see me again. To-morrow — perhaps it will be different. Oh, I assure you, you shall have reasons to-morrow.”

The die was cast. No more vacillations, no more shilly-shally. He had determined once for all that his attempt at freedom should be carried into effect that very night.

When all the other public officials had left the city hall that afternoon, the conscientious new mayor was still at his office, and apparently plunged up to the eyes in the mass of unfinished business there accumulated.

He was still immersed in it, when the janitor made his rounds to close up the building, towards ten o’clock. That rotund functionary put his head in once more in a deferential way, at eleven o’clock, having waited up expressly an hour later than usual to see if anything might be wanted of him.

“No, no, Klopp, don’t mind me,” returned David Lane cheerily. “ I ’ll probably be through in a few minutes. Go to bed. I ’ll let myself out by the small door. And, in any event, don’t let me give you the least bit of trouble.”

“He’s a pretty good feller, and a hard-workin’ feller for mayor, zure,” soliloquized Klopp to himself.

He gladly availed himself of the permission accorded him, and after banging a door or two and rattling a great poker in the vicinity of the furnaces, in the regions below-stairs, he was soon snoring in the midst of his family, who occupied with him the quarters assigned them in the basement.

For perhaps an hour longer the mayor bent over his official tasks. He paused from time to time, to listen. Finally he swept his papers aside, rose, and began to pace the floor, pressing a hand upon his heart, as to check its accelerated beatings. He had alreadydrawn the shades and tightly closed the shutters of the apartment, that no curious eye, if any were so disposed, might look in upon his proceedings. He now took from their place of deposit the tools he had prepared, an array of sharpcutting drills and saws, unhooked the new grappling-ladder from the high shelf, and lighted and extinguished once or twice a small dark lantern, to see that it was in working order.

Then he divested himself of a part of his clothing and put on shoes of listing, for greater celerity and stealthiness in his proposed movements. Thus partially disrobed, it could be seen that his was indeed no figure for great athletic undertakings. The work before him was of a kind to try even youthful and robust capacity, and he looked, as he was, old and crippled in his joints by his maladies. The excitement of the occasion gave him an unwonted briskness and color, it is true, and he gathered further strength from another source. He drew forth a flask, and took a long pull at it. At the last moment, another. So there! aid from any quarter is welcome in the supreme effort of one’s life.

He heard a sudden dash of rain against his windows, followed by the rumble of distant thunder, and immediately after the cathedral clock struck one. The moment for action had come. Rain ? So much the better ! Under the cover of storm and darkness, his movements must be hidden from any possible observation, his expedition must be doubly secure.

He opened the door of his apartment, and set foot in the corridor without, but, on the instant, stepped back again in affright. The vacant halls seemed full of stealthy whisperings and light footsteps. Surely persons were stealing along there to spy upon him. A dread haunted him of some ghostly circle of witnesses gathered around the balcony of the rotunda of the central dome, and waiting to flash a full light of recognition upon him and break out into jeers and laughter at his attempt, the moment he had fairly set forth. He stood for some time within, listening with painful intentness. At last he made sure that all this was but the sound of the rain and the draughts of air which wandered uninterrupted at night through the empty spaces of the great city hall, deserted by all its human occupants.

Thereupon he set forth with a renewed confidence. He passed in turn the office doors of the comptroller, the tax commissioner, the treasurer. What would his trusty subordinate functionaries have thought of him, their mayor, could they have but seen him thus, gliding by like some phantom of the night ? He recalled the story of that German burgomaster, who was wont to prowl in the dark over the roofs of the houses, armed with a long knife, committing robberies and murders, and the next day, in his staid official capacity, would conduct the inquiries as to the best means of seizing the assassins. He likened himself to him, and apprehended a similar exposure. He had to sit down and rest several times, overcome with fatigue, as he mounted the principal staircase.

“ An old, old man ! ” he would murmur ; but it was in a patient, almost mechanical way now, and with no thought of relinquishing his undertaking.

Once arrived in the upper stories, he breathed more freely ; the danger of any personal encounter, at least, seemed here got rid of. He gave himself, too, a fuller benefit of his lantern than he had hitherto dared to do. Once, however, he hastily dashed the dark slide across it, and crouched against the wall, while his heart leaped into his mouth with terror. He was on the secondary staircase, which he had partially mounted, and distinctly heard what seemed a step coming down it. Who could it be ? Who could possibly be abroad there at such an hour ? Was it perhaps one of Klopp’s children, dispatched thither on some unheard-of errand ? Was it some somnambulist, walking in those regions in his sleep ? Was it an apparition ? Old superstitious stories of his childhood, in which he did not in the least believe, came back to David Lane, and for the nonce took a certain reality.

The footstep still came downward, dropping from stair to stair with, as it were, an uncertain sort of tread. The presence, whatever it was, was close at hand, was passing him. He struck out, in uncontrollable affright, in the direction whence it sounded, and encountered nothing. But at the same moment a leaping and tumbling as of some animal was heard below him, and, flashing his dark lantern, he saw a large rat. It had been coming down with a billet of wood, which was attached to a scrap of leather, and, being discovered, it scurried precipitately away to one of the great dusty attics at the side. He had had no surplus of force to stand such useless drains upon it, but he soon collected himself, and climbed on.

At the balcony where he had once held his interview with Paul Barclay, he stopped a moment, to look out upon the night. It was raining steadily, and the darkness was even thicker than he could have desired. Thence onward again, passing through a minor door or two, which he opened with duplicate keys and locked behind him, to a region where dust and cobwebs were rarely disturbed. Thence up lengths of ladder-like stairway, up a spiral one twining interminably round a central post, and, at length, a steep ladder, which ended at the small trap door through which he must make his final exit upon the dome. He painfully climbed this last, once to throw open the trap door, and again to bring up his scaling-ladder and general budget.

At this point, he stood with his head and shoulders — the rain falling upon him unhindered — projecting through a small opening in the roof of the cupola which surmounted the principal dome. He was just above the level of its cornice, which constituted a flat ledge of considerable width. Above him, close at hand, but raised a considerable distance still, by her globular base, towered the long-sought Golden Justice.

David Lane thrilled at the strange proximity, and it was some time before he could exert himself to find a safe place for his effects, on the cornice. Next, raising himself by means of his hands and arms, he accomplished the feat — that would have seemed all but incredible to disabilities like his — of climbing out through the opening, and stretching himself briefly at rest beside his traps. The cathedral clock beside him in the air struck two, — he had consumed an hour in making the ascent. He had been drenched to the skin in the very first few moments, and the ledge where he lay would have required steady nerves to remain comfortably upon it even in broad daylight.

He delayed only for a short breathing space, but soon planted his scalingladder against the foot of the statue, catching its hooks in the folds of the drapery as best he could. The wind and rain beat violently upon him as he mounted it, as if in remonstrance, just as wild birds beat back with their wings some bold marauder who has climbed to rifle their nests.

The ladder slipped a trifle, but caught again, and, in this instant, he had a paralyzed sense or vision of himself, found, the next morning, dashed to pieces on the roofs below, with the paraphernalia of his mission about him. He saw the profound sensation he created among his neighbors, and could even forecast the columns of moving description, accompanied by diagrams in illustration, in which the newspapers — the Index in particular — would indulge. He arrived safely, nevertheless, at the base of the statue. Examining it with his lantern, he found, as well as his memory could serve him, after the lapse of so many years, the vicinity of the place where the paper had been sealed up. Steadying himself more firmly on the top round of the ladder, he began his search. He first effected an opening through the metal, and then began to enlarge this with his chisels and saws. He thought well to give the edges of the opening an irregular and ragged appearance.

“ Should investigation ever arise,” he said to himself, “ the cut will be attributed to the lightning.”

His saw presently ran against a stout brace inside the metal sheathing. It incommoded him greatly, in the section he was trying to cut out, and, unable to avoid it, he at length cut squarely across it, dividing it. From time to time, as he wrought, an illuminating flash of lightning showed him the city, spread out far below his dizzy height, and anon the darkness swallowed it up again, as if it had been only a vision. By turns his hand seemed endowed with an unnatural strength by the stimulus of the reward so near at hand, and again it was all but nerveless and incapable.

A long probe he carried finally struck something hard within, which he knew to be the box containing the documents. The focus of his hopes and fears, the pivotal point of his imagination and his destiny for so long a period, was reached. He had but to stretch forth his hand and grasp the prize. He drew back a little to wipe his brow, braced himself more firmly, and prepared to do so.

But at this very moment his forces failed, and he succumbed to an overpowering sense of exhaustion. Overtasked nature could do no more. If the promised reward had been infinitely greater, he could not have secured it. Hardly knowing how, he slipped and fell, rather than climbed, down his ladder, and lay supine, more dead than alive, on the narrow cornice ledge once more. The rain still pelted him, but he paid it no heed.

He rose, after a time, and feebly renewed the struggle ; but the conviction was remorselessly forced upon him that his labors were vain, and the attempt must be put off to another occasion. By what miracle was it that he was able at last to effect his retreat ? He decorously covered, too, all his tracks, taking great pains to hide his ladder and other properties in the vacant attics, where they would be secure from sight. He made his way painfully downward by the same long and devious route, stole as before along the great dark corridors, and entered once more his own office. He was so exhausted by overwhelming fatigue that he had scarce left in his body capacity for any effort, or in his brain for a single lucid idea. Hardly was he there, when, throwing himself down, he was lost in profound slumber.

Paul Barclay, as a means of tiding over the dreary period of his probation, had thrown himself most energetically, of late, into the duties of his new official position. All was arranged between him and Mrs. Varemberg ; they belonged to each other, and nothing could ever sunder them, but still they were kept apart. Each day in succession he had hung upon the prospect of hearing some favorable tidings from her, by messenger or word of mouth, and day after day had been disappointed. So long a time had elapsed, what with all these delays, that his private view was that the narrow conventionality which would have prevented the announcement of their engagement to the world, provided they had received the coveted permission, need have little further binding force; but this permission was still withheld. Mrs. Varemberg had checked her lover’s impatience, more than once, with her appeal: “ Let us be wiser than he, dear Paul. It is for a lifetime.” It seemed fair, at least, to await the end of these political complications, but Barclay was vaguely oppressed by fears and premonitions of new forms of evil. He found himself affected by somewhat the same uneasy feeling as the commander who, though successful and sending his squadrons in pursuit of the flying enemy, cannot be wholly sure that the victory may not yet be wrested from him, in some unexpected quarter.

On a certain night in question, he had returned to his lodging at a late hour. He was fatigued with a hard day’s work in inspecting the scene of proposed street openings in the northern part of the town, and had more of the same awaiting him on the morrow, but he was unable to sleep. To relieve his wakefulness, he arose at various intervals, and read and wrote awhile, or meditatively paced the door. It so happened, on this account, that he was at the window of his chamber towards the hour of three in the morning. He threw up the sash, though it was raining heavily, and looked forth into the night, to cool the fever in his head. He said to himself complainingly that there was something oppressive and portentous in the atmosphere, something sultry even in the rain. He distinctly felt currents of air blow alternately warm and cool on his face. There had been many things, in fact, rather abnormal about the current season. There had been not only a peculiar spring, but a peculiar summer as well. Nothing, he thought, seemed any longer as it used to be. For instance, there had been, of late, eclipses, solar and lunar, and extraordinary auroral displays. A large, greenish meteor had passed over, and burst with a loud report. Tornadoes were noted in the lower part of the State, considerably out of their usual course. Fortunately, they never came to Keewaydin. These portents, it may be said, in passing, seemed to warm the very cockles of the heart of old Fahnenstock. That veteran workman appeared almost gleeful in the conviction that the world was now coming to its end, in very short order, albeit he was himself enjoying the most comfortable existence he had ever known, in the little cottage at White-Fish Bay, to which he had been assisted by Paul Barclay.

But of Fahnenstock more anon. As Barclay now looked from his window, raising his eyes aloft, he all at once fancied he saw something like gleams of reddish light playing about the base of the Golden Justice. It was not lightning: it was much too feeble and too deliberate, even while it was fitful, for that. He had looked out at the time when David Lane was cautiously availing himself of his dark lantern.

“ Can it be electric fires ? Is the air so full of electricity as that ? ” speculated Barclay.

The storm centre was moving hither. There came presently some flashes of real lightning, — flashes of an unusually vivid sort, that made all the raindrops glitter on the background of the night like a shower of falling diamonds. Its illumination showed, too, the little park across the way, and the city hall in every detail. The statue on its dome was as effulgent as at noonday ; and then, — strange illusion ! — there was the figure of a man with a ladder, crouched darkly at the foot of it. Barclay rubbed his eyes in astonishment, and waited for new flashes. He took up his field-glass, which lay conveniently at hand, and devoted himself to a steady examination. For a little time, by the fitful illuminations, the shape seemed still there ; and, stranger yet, wilder yet (was there ever a madder conceit ?), it had a far-off resemblance to David Lane. The coruscations of lightning grew farther apart, as Barclay watched and scanned so eagerly. The sky cleared somewhat behind the statue, and aided the view ; bu now, rub his eyes as he would, he could see nothing further of the figure; it had disappeared.

“ Pshaw ! ” he muttered, turning away. “ It was some deceptive trick of the light, or of my own imagination.”

He soon went back to bed, and, to make up for his late vigils, he slept heavily in the morning, and did not awake till an advanced hour. He had a drive of considerable extent before him, to inspect, as member of the aldermanic committee, a right of way to be acquired for the purpose of bringing in a small, clear lake at the northward, to be added to the water supply of the city. Just as he had completed his preparations for it, a message was brought him from Mrs. Varemberg, anxiously worded, and asking him to come to her as soon as possible. He accordingly drove to her house before he should set out upon his expedition.

Meanwhile, the rosy-fingered Aurora of the ancients, and the less rosy-fingered hours of the later morning as well, had looked in upon David Lane, and passed over his lethargic slumbers without awaking him. When he again set foot in the corridors of the city hall all the ordinary business of the day had long been in progress. There might even have been some heavy knocks at his door, and fumbling by the janitor with his duplicate key, but he had not heard them. The bustling corridors showed no trace of what had passed through them the night before like a had dream. Lane himself could hardly have believed it. But its reality was impressed upon him anew, when, evading the demands that presented themselves to his attention, he went forth, and again looked up at the Golden Justice. His head was yet heavy, and he was sore in all his bones. The hard ordeal was to be repeated.

“ Courage ! ” he tried to say to himself bravely. “ The prize is so nearly won, and this is to be the end of it all.”

He sent home word that he had passed the night at his office at the city hall, and was still detained by a press of important business. Not precisely rejoicing like a strong man to run his race, he yet proceeded to treat himself like an athlete in training. He breakfasted at the Telson House, took a warm bath later on, and then proceeded to the office kept in the town for his private business. He locked himself in there, and went to sleep again; and, thus refreshed, finally returned, in the afternoon, to his duties as mayor, to await the opportunity for his new attempt. It was his intention to go no more to his own household and not to face his daughter again till the deed was done. Then he should meet with her on a far different footing.

Mrs. Varemberg tearfully related to Barclay, when he reached her, the interview at which we have assisted. She had conceived a harrowing new fear, arising from her father’s conduct throughout, and especially from the circumstances attending his last agitated departure from the house.

“ Surely no one in his right mind would act so,” she said. “ It is not like him. I hardly dare tell you what I dread. His bodily infirmities, the election, all these heavy burdens he has chosen to take upon himself — Oh, he is, he must be, very ill. I cannot but think, terrible as it is to have to suggest it to you, or to admit it to myself, that his faculties are failing, and may already be permanently overthrown. Will you not go to him ? Perhaps you can ascertain his condition. He passed the night at his office at the city hall, and has not returned.”

“ He passed the night at the city hall ? ” said Barclay, echoing her words.

“Yes,” she returned. “Ah, you see I was right to be alarmed. Will you not go and try to do something to keep him from such extremes ? ”

But Barclay was thinking of his vision or hallucination of the night before. It was a startling coincidence, to say the least. He was all but on the point of telling her the whole story, but something checked it on his lips. Could it be that David Lane was insane, and the most mystic and desperate of somnambulists ? No, that figment of the night was too utter a piece of folly in every aspect, and he dismissed it from his mind.

Nor was he greatly disposed to share her misgivings as to her father’s sanity. His bitterness — ready, finally, to break over all bounds — attributed it rather to the prejudice of which he had so long been the object.

The matter upon which Barclay was bound held him in an exacting way to its performance. It was one that could not be neglected. But after that was over, upon his return, he would endure no more shilly-shally, suspense, persecution, in the principal affair of his life. The election was over; filial deference had already been carried to the most punctilious extreme ; the time for decided and vigorous action was at hand.

“ Can you not come with me ? ” he asked. “ We have so much to talk over together, all our future to plan.”

In the midst of their deliberations a new message arrived from David Lane, to say that he was quite well; that he need not be expected to dine or sup at home that day, but no one was to have a moment’s uneasiness on his account. The entirely sane and easy character of the wording decided Mrs. Varemberg.

“ I will go with you,” she said.

The conveyance of Barclay was exchanged for that of Mrs. Varemberg, and Castor and Pollux once more drew them. Mrs. Clinton, who dared not object, though — even kept in the dark as she was to the graver aspects of the affair — she thought she ought to, said, with a feeble half affability, that perhaps they would see something of Mrs. Radbrook’s out-of-door fête at Ingebrand’s on the Lake.

It was very long since the couple had been out together, and they were now soon bowling along the pleasant upper country roads, much in their old way.

William Henry Bishop.