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all were arrayed against her and
that Jem's heart was set on going,
with many forebodings of evil from
this reckless venturing into the great
unknown, gave a reluctant consent.

Thus it came about that Jem was
at last to find out where the "big
road" went. He mentally resolved
to eventually discover whence it


At a corner where two busy streets
meet, in the heart of a great Southern
city, stood a country boy dressed in
plain cotton homespun, hands in
pockets, and eyes and mouth wide
open with acquired and acquiring
knowledge. It was Jem. This was
where the 44 big road," after many
days of excitement and pleasure un-
told, had brought him. Hour after
hour he would wander about, study-
ing with eager curiosity the show-
windows, or standing, as now, on
the corners, watch the surging, hurry-
ing crowd of restless humanity rush
by in ceaseless streams. What a
marvellous experience, this ushering
into modern fairyland, for a boy who
had been brought up within the con-
fines of a narrow valley, and to whose
wildest dreams a hundred people
would have seemed a multitude !

Buck had taught him enough about
the streets to prevent his losing him-
self, and his natural quickness kept
him out of harm's way.

As the shadows began to lengthen
Jem ceased to be a looker-on; and
becoming one of the units in the
great human conglomerate, himself
moved toward a less busy portion of
the city. He came presently to a
wagon-yard on one of the side streets
where Buck had 44 put up. " Here he


proceeded to feed and care for the
mules ; then he examined the curtain-
covered wagon to see if everything
was all right. A small portion of
the tobacco was still unsold.

While thus occupied, he was spoken
to by a pleasant-looking gentleman,
who asked if he owned the tobacco.
Jem explained that it was Buck's.

" Very well, " said the stranger. " I
am sorry that Mr. Thomas is not here.
I have a small order for some leaf
tobacco. You have just about enough
left to fill the order; and as what you
have seems to be particularly well
cured, I thought I would buy it. I
am willing to give a good price for
it, say — " and the gentleman named
a price which Jem knew to be con-
siderably more a pound than Buck
had been asking for it.

" If you are willing to sell it I will
take it at that price. I am afraid I
won't be able to see Mr. Thomas; so
unless we can trade I will have to
go elsewhere."

Jem hesitated ; the man was mov-
ing away with an air of indifference ;
Jem decided:

" You-un kin take it."

"Ah!— thanks."

The tobacco was quickly weighed
on the wagon-yard scales — a scant
hundred pounds — and paid for.
Then the man left, saying that he
would send around for it the next

Jem was jubilant. He felt that he
had done Buck a good turn ; and that
they could now go home to "mam,"
for whom, amid all the delights of
travel, he found time to get not a
little homesick. The trip had al-
ready lasted much longer than they
had anticipated, for they had come
even unto the city in search of a
good market, and (though of this
Jem was profoundly ignorant) to get
as far away as possible from where
Buck was personally known, in order
that no suspicion of unpaid revenue
might attach.

When that individual came to
" turn in" for the night (they slept in

the wagon-yard), Jem gave him the
money and told him of the trade.
Much to the boy's astonishment,
Buck's face became troubled. He
questioned Jem closely as to the ap-
pearance of the buyer, seemed satis-
fied with the boy's attempted descrip-
tion, and went to sleep.

Toward midnight Jem was rudely
awakened by the voices of angry men.
A hand was laid roughly on his
shoulder as he half- raised himself to
see what the matter was, and the
owner of the hand gruffly commanded
him to "get up" and consider him-
self under arrest — though what " ar-
rest" might mean he knew no more
than would the wild creatures of his
mountain home. He got up and
stared about in bewilderment. Sev-
eral men with lanterns surrounded
him. Buck was standing sullenly to
one side, for Buck had stubbornly
resisted these officers, who were the
embodiment of his pet antipathy —
the Government.

One of the men hastily read, by
his lantern's light, sonic words from
a paper, which were all Greek to
Jem. Then, before the boy could
collect his scattered senses, he was
taken out, thrust into a carriage with
one of the officers, and whirled away
into the darkness of the great lonely
city — away from Buck, his only
friend in all this vast multitude of
souls — away, he knew not whither.

The end of the journey came at
last. The carriage drew up before a
gloomy-looking stone building, upon
which the gas-light glinted coldly
and which upreared a cruel front of
impenetrable granite, broken only by
deep-set, iron-grated windows. But
to these things Jem was fortunately

Dazed and stupefied, he was carried
into a spacious office, where, after a
moment's parley with a blue-coated
individual and an entry upon a large
leather-bound book, the officer who
had him in charge turned him over
to the tender mercies of a coarse,
sour-looking man. This person, tak-



ing a bunch of great keys from his
belt, roughly commanded Jem to
"come on." Through heavy, clang-
ing doors and along narrow passages,
noisome and fetid, filled with a bed-
lamite pandemonium of shrieks,
curses, and drunken ravings from
wretched creatures of both sexes,
whom misfortune, misery, and sin
had brought into prison cells, our
thoroughly frightened Jem was half-
led, half-dragged, until a door opened
upon a rock-and-steel-lined room
filled with a mass of the fallen crea-
tures of earth.

Here Jem was left, more dead than
alive, wholly ignorant of why he was
so treated; and here, as he was un-
known and could give no bail, he
remained for many weary months,
in wondering ignorance and great
wretchedness. He was "awaiting
trial;" and, unconscious of any crime,
understanding nothing and instinc-
tively holding himself aloof from the
miserable creatures who shared his
confinement, this creature of green
fields and open air was left to beat
out his life behind prison bars until
the slow- revolving wheels of "jus-
tice" should come around to him and
— crush him !


The sky was sullen and hazy. The
city lay sweltering under an iron
band of oppressive heat. A grim
silence as of impending doom hung
over everything. Each out-bound
train was crowded with people es-
caping from the stifling heat and the
dread of what was to come ; for Ru-
mor busied herself with awe-struck,
whispered reports of a threatened

His honor Judge Blank, of the
United States District Court, had
for days been hurrying through his
criminal calendar, impatient to clear
the docket and get away from the
dangerous city to his wife and child
in the mountains. There were but

one or two cases left, and his pros-
pective vacation was at hand.

"Call the next case, Mr. Clerk."

"The United States vs. Buck

Buck was brought in, pale and
haggard from long confinement, but
sternly resolute in the consciousness
of self-justification. To prevent pos-
sible collusion, he and Jem had been
separately confined, and he did not
know what had become of the boy.
He had vainly endeavored to find
out, and supposed that when the na-
ture of Jem's connection with the sale
of the tobacco had become known he
had been released and sent home.
It never occurred to him that Jem
had also spent the heavy-footed
months in jail, "awaiting trial."

44 Mr. Thomas, you are charged
with selling tobacco upon which the
revenue tax had not been paid, and
therefore of violating the internal
revenue laws. Do you plead guilty
or not guilty?"

A moment's dogged silence. Buck
lowered his head as if to think ; then,
raising it and looking the judge de-
fiantly in the face, he said :

" Ef yer mean, did I sell the 'backer
withoutcn pay in' the tax — yes. Ef
yer mean, did I do enything wrong —
no! The Gover'ment ain't got no
right ter tax my stuff."

"We haven't the time nor is this
the place, Mr. Thomas, to discuss
the right or wrong of the revenue
laws. The only question for us to
consider is, did you or did you not
violate the law as it stands?"

"I sold the 'backer; 'r leastwise
Jem sold it fer me; 'n' I didn't
pay no tax on it nur I didn't aim

" Then you plead guilty?"

"I reckon."

"Are you ready for sentence?"

"I reckon."

"Stand up."

" Mr. Thomas, you have openly
defied the Government, and confess
to a direct and intentional violation
of the law. I feel that men who en-



tertain views like yours are danger-
ous to the community and a menace
to the commonwealth. I consider it
my duty, therefore, to punish you as
severely as the law applicable to
offences of this character will permit ;
both for the purpose of administering
a wholesome corrective to yourself
and of removing, for a time at least,
a dangerous element from society.
You are sentenced to a year's impris-

" Mr. Marshal, take charge of the

"Call the next case, Mr. Clerk."

"The United States vs. Jem

Buck was leaving the court-room
with the officer; but when he heard
Jem's name called he sprang back
and cried:

"No — no! Fer God's sake, jedge,
don't try the poor boy! It warn't
none uv his doin's. It wur all mine
— ever' las' bit. He didn't know
nothin' 'bout no laws nur nothin' —
'n' the 'backer didn't b'long ter
him !"

" Officer, remove the prisoner. "

Buck was forcibly carried out,
struggling and protesting Jem's in-

Poor Jem! pale, thin, and terror-
stricken — the merest shadow of his
former self — 'even " mam" would
scarcely have known him. He had
to be half-carried to a seat, and when
the charge was read to him and he
was called upon to plead, could
answer nothing. A young attorney,
appointed by the court, entered a
plea of "not guilty" for him, and the
trial proceeded.

The pleasant-looking gentleman —
a government detective — to whom
Jem had sold the tobacco testified
fully as to the facts of that transac-
tion, and also to the fact that the
revenue tax had not been paid on the
tobacco so sold. The prisoner him-
self failed to throw any light on the
subject, his testimony being limited,
through ignorance and fright, to:

" I dunno — I dunno nothin' 'bout

it. I wants ter go back home — I
wants ter go back home ter mam!"

The judge — a good man on the
whole — was touched by this heart-
cry for "home" and "mam," but
sternly considered the prisoner's re-
fusal to testify as due to obstinacy.

The district attorney, in his open-
ing address to the jury, expressed
his regret that one so young should
have been led into such flagrant
criminality, for that the boy was led
into it he doubted not; but he still
more regretted that he should imitate
the worst features of the man who
thus basely influenced him by pre-
serving a dogged, defiant, and obsti-
nate silence.

Continuing, he said :

" Silence, gentlemen of the jury,
is never reconcilable with innocence.
Only the guilty are afraid to speak
out — only the guilty shun the truth.
That the prisoner is guilty there can
be no doubt. The testimony is clear
and incontrovertible. It shows a de-
liberate violation of the law. There
is no defence attempted except igno-
rance, which is no defence ; and which
in this instance is, I doubt not, most
cleverly feigned.

" The revenue laws are being con-
stantly violated. This must be
stopped. To do so effectively, ex-
emplary punishment is necessary.
This boy's accomplice and instigator
entered a plea of guilty and has re-
ceived his sentence — much too light
a one, I regret to say, for the law in
these cases is very lenient. I must
now ask you, gentlemen, to add
another salutary example, by bring-
ing in a verdict against the prisoner
at the bar. Of his guilt, I repeat,
there can be no doubt ; and I sincerely
hope that men of your intelligence
are above being imposed upon by
the threadbare excuse of ignorance,
which, however his honor will
charge you, cannot be considered in
weighing the evidence."

The defence, a young fledgling
just admitted to practice, made a
rambling, disconnected talk to little



or no purpose, except to ask the
jury's consideration of the prisoner's
youth and evident ignorance.

The prosecution closed with a
terse, recapitulatory speech. The
judge's charge was short and to the
point — merely stating the law in the
fewest possible words. Without
leaving their seats the jury returned
a verdict of " Guilty."

Guilty! Little did Jem know the
fearful import of those two syllables,
voiced by the spokesman of twelve
good men and true. Guilty! — it is
the brand of the pariah — the social
outcast. Once let it be burned into
the character by the properly ap-
pointed authorities, and though you
are as innocent as purity itself, you
will be forever shunned as one
touched by the plague.

What a travesty on justice! An



honorable judge, a district attorney,
twelve jurymen, a hired witness — all
the ponderous legal machinery of a
mighty government, brought to bear
upon — what? a poor, frightened,
trembling boy, ignorant of every-
thing save utter loneliness and per-
fect helplessness ; vaguely aware that
a farcical tragedy, in which he is
somewhat interested, is being sol-
emnly enacted — that a fearful phan-
tasmagoria is passing before him — a
terrible dream of which he under-
stands nothing. But the law is plain.
It has been violated — ignorantly
maybe ; but what of that? — ignorance
of the law is no excuse. Then too
the honorable judge is frightened
by Dame Rumor, and must needs
hurry through with his work; the
district attorney cares for nothing
except the glory of a conviction —
why should he be lenient with
a miserable little "Covite?" the
jury are listless, tired, and hun-
gry — it is almost the dinner-hour
— they think with the judge and
the district attorney; and the
witness is merely earning the fee
paid him by the Government for
his shrewdness in ferreting out
these troublesome law-breakers.
Little chance here for badly de-
fended innocence.

This was the last case on the
docket. The judge hurriedly
dismissed the jury; asked the
prisoner's attorney if he wished
to appeal; was told that he did
not ; asked the prisoner if he was
ready for sentence; received a
hoarse "I dunno" for answer;
uttered a few trite platitudes
about youth, crime, etc. ; sen-
tenced the boy to six months'
imprisonment, and gave him in
charge of the marshal.

His honor then adjourned
court, brushed the cobwebs of
business from his brain, ate his
dinner, and went light-heartedly
to his wife and child. Little did
he think, as he lounged and
smoked and took his ease and



pleasure at the cozy mountain re-
sort, that in the valley which added
so much to the beauty of the view
was a poor, heart-broken woman, pa-
tiently yearning, waiting and watch-
ing, day after day, month after month,
for her boy's home-coming. Bless
you, no! — the trial of the boy was
only a very ordinary item in the
regular course of his judicial trans-
actions; besides, what did his com-
fortable honor, the judge, know of
the possible misery — -far-reaching
misery — that the letter of the law
might cause?

That night yellow fever broke out,
and the retreat from the doomed city
became a panic.


"Buck! air yer thar, Buck?
Come closter ter me — I'm afeard. I
b'l'eve I'm er goin' ter die, Buck.
I don't hurt nowhurs now, but I'm
so weak like — so weak. Whut d'yer
reckon becomes uv er feller like me
when he dies, Buck? Oh! I'm afeard
— I'm afeard!"

" Hush, Jem, honey — hush. Yer
ain't goin' ter die. Yer goin' ter git
well, 'n' le' me take yer back ter yer
mam "

But the man had to turn away to
hush a groan of agony, for all too
plainly he saw the boy's death-war-
rant written on his face.

They had been sent back to the
same jail — Jem and Buck ; and while
the fever raged they were all but
deserted and nearly starved. At last
the fever reached the jail itself and
marked its victims by the score.
Men and women died around them
daily— so fast that their neglected
bodies would putrefy before they
could be hauled away and dumped
into the trenches. Finally it fastened
upon Jem, and found, in his famine-
wasted body, an easy prey.

Buck, the mighty of brawn, hov-
ered over and nursed him with a
woman's tenderness, but all to no

purpose. In a few days the death-
film was in his eyes and the death-
damp on his brow.

He had suffered terribly and raved
in the delirium of fever. He had
cried out in his agony for his " mam ;"
and in his calmer moments seemed
wandering through his beautiful
home-valley, re-living the happy life
so rudely interrupted. Once Buck
drew back from him and shuddered.
The poor, tired brain and ceaseless
tongue were going over the details
of the arrest, imprisonment, and trial.
Not a minutia was wanting; and he
ended with :

" But it wur Buck's — it wur sholy
Buck's. I dunno — I dunno — I dunno.
It wur Buck's — it wur Buck's."

Now the end was near. The boy
dropped into a peaceful slumber.
After sleeping for an hour or more
he suddenly awakened, turned to
Buck, smiled faintly, and said:

" It's all right — I ain't afeard now,
Buck. Tell mam."

That was all.

As Buck stooped over him he saw
that there was nothing but the poor,
diseased body left; and then, per-
haps for the first time since his child-
hood, the strong man wept.


I knew Buck Thomas for many
years. One morning there came into
my office a man from whom I re-
coiled in horror. Never have I seen
such a mighty wreck — hollow-eyed,
sunken-cheeked, a forehead seamed
with agony of soul, and a massive
framework of bones over which the
skin hung loosely.

" Don' yer know me, Mr. Henry?"

The voice was subdued and broken.
Like the man, it seemed a remem-
brance of the past — a ghost of other

"Don't yer recerlec' Buck

Buck Thomas ! Could this wretch-
ed, wasted creature be Buck Thomas,



he whom I remembered as a brawny
giant of iron will and flawless consti-
tution? But Buck it was; and, oh,
so changed !

He told me Jem's story in broken
fragments, and then he added :

"But thet wurn't the wust — thet
wurn't the wust. Yer see, I served
out my time after he died; 'n' ever'
day, sittin' thar in the jail, with
nothin' ter do but ter think, 'n' think,
'n' think, I cud hear thet boy's voice
sayin', 'Tell mam — tell mam.'

"I didn't mind the jailin' fer my-
self, Mr.- Henry. I cud er stood it
easy, fer I wuz right, 'n' er year in
jail wudn't er hurt me none; but ter
er bin the death er thet boy — sech er
likely boy, Mr. Henry — 'n' ter hev
ter sit thar by myself, in my cell, 'n'
think uv it; 'n' ter hev ter think
'bout hevin' ter go back 'thout him
'n' tell mam — I tell yer, it nigh
onter et my heart outen me.

" Ez soon ez I wur discharged, I
went right straight back ter the Cove.
Oh, Mr. Henry ! I never'll fergi thet
day — I'm dyin' uv it.

" I asked the fust man I met in the
neighberhood ef Bill Smith's wife
wur livin' yet. 'Yes, ' he sez, 'livin',
but — ' 'n' he teched his hed.

"'Yer see,' sez he, 'her boy, Jem,
went off with er feller named Thomas
two year ergo, 'n' ain't never been
hearn tell uv sence. He wur er
likely boy, 'n' it purty nigh onter
killed she. Her looks fer him 'n'

waits fer him ever' day — sets out in
front uv her cabin, 'n' tends on er
little sickly rose-bush whut Jem
planted afore he lef 'n' thet hez
punied erlong tell now. Bill he
cusses 'roun' 'n' lazes mos' uv the
time; but he's good ter she when he
ain't drunk, which air mighty sel-
dom. Who might you-un be, eny-
how, stranger?'

" I tole him, 'n' he run frum me
like I wur er hant. Mebby I looked
like one.

" I went on ter the cabin ; 'n' thar,
sho 'nuff, wur pore old mam sittin'
out in front. Well, sir, she knowed
me the minit she sot her eyes on me
— which air more'n mos' folks does;
'n' she cum at me like er wil'-cat,
screamin' :

" 'Whur's Jem? whur's my Jem?'

" I helt her off 'n' she sorter
quieted down. Then I cud see thet
her senses lied cum back ter her,
'n' I wur sorry, fer I hed been
hopin' she wudn't be able ter un-

" I tole her all erbout her boy,
frum beginnin' ter end; 'n' she jes'
sot still 'n' never said er word.
When I finished she turned 'n' looked
at me — thet wur all; but I'd druther
she'd er stabbed me with er knife.
Thet look hants me — I tell yer, it
bants me; 'n' it's killin' me.

" Mebby I'd better die, fer I'm the
onliest one uv us whut's left. She
died thet night."



For every joy that goes new joys are given,
As when the golden sun dies down to death,
The fair round moon, uprising, wandereth

Across the happy star-sown fields of heaven.



N the field of American col-
lege sport football is su-
preme. Boating, baseball,
and the track have their
admirers and devotees, but
nothing excites such general interest
or creates such intense excitement as
football — American college football.
Ask a Harvard man what is the
loftiest ambition in the athletic world,
and he will answer, " To do what
Cumnock did." A Tiger victory at
Thanksgiving is the object dearest to
the heart of the Princetonian, while
New Haven men will tell you that
the chief glory of good old Yale is
fourteen years of football with but
one game lost in that time to Har-
vard and next to nothing to Prince-
ton. Farther West it is the same.
Michigan may defeat all comers at
baseball, but her cup of joy will never
be full until the rough and fast work
of the Cornell men has been met and
bested on the gridironed field. And
so it is with the men of Berkeley,
whose one hope is to retrieve their

laurels of years lost to the boys in
red of the Leland Stanford, Junior,
University. The lesser lights of the
coast are just as eager in their love
for the sport, and the Hopkins Acad-
emy, Cogswell Polytechnic, Oakland
and San Francisco high schools and
the Berkeley Gymnasium look upon
the football pennant as the chief
trophy of the athletic field. There
are, besides these, many other foot-
ball teams in California. Those of
Los Angeles, San Jose, Pasadena,
Stockton, and the Napa College have
shown great interest, but perhaps the
best outside of the two universities,
and the equal of either in the mate-
rial it is composed of, is that of the
Olympic Athletic Club of San Fran-
cisco. The universities at Berkeley
and Palo Alto have, however, the
great advantage of constant practice,
which cannot fail to tell in the team
work, and this always wins the day.

The increasing interest in the game
in the far West was attested by the
gathering of fully 15,000 people at


79 6


the Haight Street grounds in San
Francisco to witness the recent game
between the teams from these rival

Why is it that the game has as-
sumed such a place in the popular
affection and practically usurped the
place of the national game in the
hearts of the collegians and sport-
loving people generally? Perhaps it
is, as has been said, that it most
nearly approximates a battle or the
old-time tournament — only that the
armor is softer
and weapons are
barred. Foot-
ball is a contest
for every man in
the " line " or
behind it; and
one, moreover,
in which skill,
endurance, and
presence of
mind are as nec-
essary as in con-
tests with the
gloves or with
arms. Besides,
it has a dash, a
spirit, and a sys-
t e m of tactics
impossible t o
the dual con-
flicts of the
ring, and in a
way resembles
the tourney ring
contests of Ivanhoe and Richard of
the Lion Heart. This is why it is so
exciting and attracts the vast crowds,
always on hand in rain or sunshine to
see a game between two great univer-
sities. But there is another feature
which attracts the sport-loving pub-
lic, and that is the absolutely amateur
nature of the game. Nearly all other

Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 106 of 120)