Stor\> of lEpbraim Beneset
IGNATIUS DONNELLY |gT3l V
AUTHOR OF "ATLANTIS," "RAGTNAROK," "THE GREAT CRYPTO-
GRAM," "OESAR'S COLUMN," "DOCTOR HUGUET,"
" For good thoughts, // God accept them not, are
Indeed little better than dreams."
NEW YORK AND ST. PAUL
D. D. MERRILL COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1892, BY
D. D. MERRILL COMPANY,
I FEEL that some apology is due to the public for
the following book.
I am well aware that it is without that polish and
elaboration which should always distinguish literary
work. It was hurriedly written, much of it on my
knee, in railroad cars, and at country hotels, in the
intervals between campaign speeches. It scarcely as-
pires to be called a work. It is what they denominate
in England a "ste"
It is the outgrowth of the great political struggle
now going on, in this year of grace, 1892, in the
United States; and it is intended to explain and de-
fend, in the thin disguise of a story, some of the new
ideas put forth by the People's Party; and which
concern, I sincerely believe, all the peoples of the
civilized world. I have a hope that the interest of
" THE GOLDEN BOTTLE " may not end with the events
TTrl iich gave it birth.
It is not of so much importance that the author
. . .88
I Hear from Kansas,
Archibald M. Hayes' Letter, 117
I Appeal to Congress, 121
How Plutocracy Worked, 131
I Get Mad, 148
The Glad Tidings of Great Joy, 152
The Financial World, 157
I Organize the Brotherhood of Justice, .... 159
I Start a Town and Build a Railroad, . . . .164
The Demonetization of Gold, 173
I Am Elected President, 181
A Civil War Probable, 185
How the War was Averted, 189
Plutocracy Paralyzed, /. .194
My Inaugural Message, 200
Europe Prepares for War, 206
The Conquest of Canada, 208
The Conquest of Ireland, 210
England's Surprise, 218
Reconstructed Great Britain, 224
Sophie's Work, 228
The Wrath of the Kings, 231
The Battle of Marburg, ... ... 234
The Second Day of the Battle, 238
The Third Day of the Conflict, 241
The Day of Jubilee, 244
Armageddon, . . . 253
The Millennium, 261
Christianity, . , 269
The Universal Republic, 274
We Prepare to Go Back to America, .... 278
We Visit England and Ireland, . . . . 282
The Sound of the Hammer, 294
My Last Visitor, . . 298
THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
WHO I AM, AND WHAT I THOUGHT.
I HAVE a wonderful story to tell.
But first you ask " who are you ? "
Well, I am Ephraim Benezet, son of John Bene-
zet and Mary his wife, of Butler County, Kansas.
It is the old, old story. Grasshoppers, poor crops,
"pools," "trusts," "rings; " high prices for what we
bought, low prices for what we sold; "burning the
candle at both ends; " increasing taxation to support
a lot of office-holding non -producers; an increasing
family, with another lot of non-producers to sup-
port, much beloved, however, of their progenitors;
debt, pinching economy, and, at last, that condi-
tional sale of the homestead which is disguised under
the name of a "mortgage." More debt to pay inter-
est on, more pinching, more grasshoppers, more pools,
more "combines," and the end foreclosure wiping
out starting adrift, etc.
I was the oldest son and not much of a help at that.
10 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
I was never physically strong: I had a tendency to
pulmonary troubles, intensified by poor living and
hopelessness. I was full of high dreams, a great
reader, but of little real value to any one.
I had some thoughts at one time of studying for
the ministry, for I had strong impulses to goodness;
and I felt I was 'not equal to the labors of the
farm. But then, as I beheld the wretchedness of
mankind, universal and overwhelming; as I saw
vice triumphant and virtue trampled under foot, the
good cursed and the evil blessed, it seemed to me that
it was not God but the devil who was ruling this
wicked world. I used to go, in the night, and cry
out in the open fields, under the stars, for God to
come again on earth and make things right; and
drive the victorious devils back into their sulphurous
And then I reasoned it out that the great God, the
Father Almighty, maker of the immeasurable uni-
verse, must be omnipotent and omniscient that was
conceded by all. Being omniscient he knew the
condition of this misgoverned little planet; and being
omnipotent he had the power to remedy it all, in the
twinkling of an eye. And he did not do it. Why?
I could only explain it upon the theory that this
world was not the direct creation of God, but the
clumsy workmanship of a lot of spiritual beings,
above men in power, but like unto them in infirmity;
and that they had been set to work, by the divine
command, and had been experimenting for a few mill-
WHO I AM, AND WHAT I THOUGHT. 11
ion years to make something out of the elements com-
mitted to them; and had made a fearful muddle of it
all. I thought I could also see that man was their
deputy, to still further carry on this delegated work
of creation, at second hand; and there was in man's
evolution, for instance, of the locomotive, out of the
log-wheeled wagon of Charlemagne, the same slow
process, with the same imperfect adaptation of means
to ends, which marked the evolution of man from a
hairy simian; or the development of a humming-bird
out of an alligator.
The Englishman's railroad car built in separate
compartments, modelled exactly after the stage-coach
of the last century, was very like the perpetuation, in
man's body, of useless and often fatal inheritances
from his animal progenitors. The one did not speak
any more of omniscience and omnipotence than the
And so I worshipped, on bent knees, the sublime
Architect of the Universe, the all-wise, all-powerful,
and all-good, and called on him to listen to the cry
of one of his poor little human creatures; and come
to the aid of this perturbed planet, and whip his in-
visible spiritual agents into intelligence and righteous-
ness, that good might rule on the earth and evil be
banished into Hades.
But the stars listened to me, and winked their
innumerable eyes at me, and answered not. And no
reply came from behind the stars; and I fell into piti-
ful dejection and bitterness against all created things.
12 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
And my cough increased, and my heart was sore with
For there was one fair girl, Sophie Hetherington
by name, for whom my soul lamented. Years ago
we sat beside each other on the same slab-bench, in
the same old log school-house. She was fair and
good and bright and affectionate. We trudged to-
gether through the snow in winter; we gathered
flowers together in the woods in spring; we pelted
each other with apples and nuts in the autumn. And
the love which began in the little toddlers ripened to
tenfold warmth in the growing manhood and woman-
Sophie's father was also a farmer. He owned the
next farm to ours. He had caught the contagion of
debt which overspread the State. He was a good,
honest, intelligent, industrious man; but what can all
such faculties effect when the thieves get in their rob-
beries ; when the heavens withhold their rainfall ; when
the demoniacal swarms of insects gather; and the
clouds arc sent hurtling away from the brazen heavens
to pour down their load of moisture where it is not
wanted? Oh! ye earth-spirits, are ye asleep; or do ye
delight in the destruction of the honest and virtuous?
The blow at last fell. The Hetherington mortgage
was foreclosed. One bright morning a pitiful cortege
of grim-visaged men and weeping women went forth
from that little paradise of fields and woods and prolific
greenery, and took their sad way to the great city of
Omaha, to struggle with thousands of hungry ones
WHO I AM, AND WHAT I THOUGHT. 13
for daily food. And Sophie bright, resolute, in-
tellectual Sophie became a store-girl at starvation
wages, and stories began to come back to us but
enough! Her letters ceased, and my heart was
blacker than midnight without a star. Oh, why!
why! ye invisible, winged, deputy rulers of the globe,
did not that rainfall come in time to save the crop
and save Sophie?
And now it was our turn. Notice had been served
that our mortgage would also be foreclosed.
No one spoke that night at supper. Mother was
crying softly. Father looked the curses he did not
speak. I sat at the foot of the table, furious at my
own helplessness. The meagre meal was dispatched
quickly. Our thoughts turned to the future. The
future! It was like looking into the mouth of Hell.
Oh, how many bitter hearts are there in this world!
I went out and talked to the stars as usual. But
it was in vain. Useless was it to look to that quarter
for help. I would go and hire out in the great city.
But what could I do? The great city! The great
maw that swallows up the wretchedness of the country
and makes it greater. And then I had a fit of cough-
ing. I stamped my foot on the earth and swore
yes, swore a bitter oath. I. realized my own useless-
ness. I saw in the distance a pauper's grave. I
could help no one, not even myself. More of the
silly work of those wretched earth-spirits! In their
reckless eagerness to create they had manufactured
billions upon billions of microscopic forms of life,
14 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
deadly to the life of man; and they had created man
for the microbes to prey on and kill. I had a colony
of them in my left lung, and they would breed and
breed until they filled me and finished me. And
these wretched earth -spirits took better care of the vil-
lanous, deadly, murdering bacilli than they did of
me! Was I of no mo-re consequence in the universe
than these minute and wretched creatures? It seemed
not. What was intellect worth if it could be thus
overthrown by an army of animalcule?
But there was nothing to be gained by pursuing
such thoughts. I should go mad while thus flinging
myself against the iron front of fate.
If I could do nothing else I could sleep.
And so I climbed the ladder to the loft and stretched
myself upon my bed of straw. I knew every bare
rafter above my head. I had studied them by day-
light and moonlight and candle-light. I had woven
my thoughts into the black timbers until every knot-
hole seemed a piece of me. I knew they were there
in the darkness. I could count them: one, two,
three as I had done a thousand times before.
I sighed. I set my teeth. I fell asleep a dull,
pained, unhappy sleep, with an under-current of curs-
ing and bewailing.
WHAT I SAAV.
I THOUGHT - was awake. Now I know I was asleep
A light fell on my closed eyes and shone through
the lids. I lifted up my head from the pillow.
What a curious sight!
There was an old man in the room. An old man
with a broad brow, a smiling, gentle face, clear blue
eyes and long gray hair; an aspect altogether benev-
olent and noble.
"Who are you?" I asked, for I thought him simply
some human intruder.
In a clear, sweet voice he replied:
"THE PITY OF GOD."
The reply startled me. I had begun to think there
was no pity in all the depths of the universe.
I sat up in the bed.
"What do you want?" I asked.
"SEE!" he replied.
He drew from his pocket a curious-looking em-
bossed gold flask or bottle, and held it up before me.
"Yes," I replied, "what then?" For desperation
and bitterness make men bold.
16 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
"OBSERVE," he said.
He pulled from the wall a large iron nail, which
was used to hang clothes on. There was some water
in a pitcher on the pine wash-stand, and a cup with
a broken handle which I used for shaving. He
poured the cup full of water, and then dropped the
nail into it; there was just enough water to cover
it. He stepped nearer to the bed, and held the cup
sideways, so that I could look into it, and smiling at
He touched a spring in the neck of the golden
flask and the top flew up, and he dropped just one
drop of a clear, amber-colored liquid into the cup.
There was an effervescence for a moment which
clouded the water and hid the nail from sight.
Then he took the nail out and handed it to me. It
was as yelloio as gold !
The next instant he was gone, and the room was
darkness. Where that light came from which had
irradiated him I could never understand.
But it seemed to me that I went to sleep again.
THE GOLDEN NAIL.
I WOKE at daybreak and looked around the loft,
as it was revealed by the dim light I coughed.
All the horrors of my condition came back upon me.
The foreclosure of the mortgage! Consumption!
Death! And, worse than all, the injustice and
cruelty of nature; the misery of the good, the
happiness of the wicked. And Sophie gone ruined!
I sat up in bed. My eyes were moist.
There was something in my hand.
It was a golden nail !
Yes; it looked like gold. I took it to the small
window. Surely it did look like gold! But the
light of dawn was dim, for we toilers rose early; the
men who held the mortgages slept longer; but the
mortgage worked all night, and so one thing equal-
ized another. I lit a tallow candle and held the nail
close to it.
Yes, it was the exact color of gold. I scratched it
with my jack-knife. As far in as I cut it it was
yellow; the color then was not a plating.
Suddenly my dream came back to me: the old
man, the golden bottle, the transformed nail. This
18 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
then was the nail ; for he had handed it to me and I
woke with it in my hand.
I gave a great start. Then my dream was some-
thing more than a gossamer figment of the troubled
I looked eagerly around the room. What is that
lying on the foot of the bed, just where the old man
stood when he gave me the nail? I darted forward.
I seized it. My God! it is the embossed flask out
of which came that single drop which turned the
rusty old iron nail into this semblance of shining
Stop! I pressed my hands to iny throbbing head.
I staggered under the rush of surging thoughts.
Could it be possible that this is the elixir for which
the philosophers sought for a thousand years in vain?
Do I hold in my hands the cure of all earthly poverty
and the mastership of all worldly power?
I clutched the flask to my bosom.
Impossible, and yet I am awake, that is certain.
It is daylight. The vision of the old man may
have been a dream, but here is the golden nail,
here is the golden bottle. Nothing like these were
ever seen before in this garret, nor in this house,
nor in this neighborhood.
They are real. If the old man who called himself
the "Pity of God" did not bring them here, whence
And he showed me how to use the flask. I re-
THE GOLDEN NAIL. 19
I shook it. It seemed to be nearly full.
I hugged it to my breast with more fervor than man
ever embraced woman with.
But stop ! What assurance have I that the flask
will have, in my hand, the efficacy which it possessed
in the grasp of my strange spiritual visitant? If it
has not I am more wretched than ever, for I have
had a glimpse of paradise, only to find the golden
doors banged in my face.
But I can soon resolve that doubt.
I looked around the loft. Some children's clothes
hung upon another nail. I threw them on the floor.
I dragged the nail out it took all my strength.
Quickly I filled the cup with water, and placed the
nail in it. Then I hunted for the spring in the neck
of the flask. I found it. I pressed it. The lid flew
open. My hand trembled so violently that it was
some minutes before I could steady myself sufficiently
to drop a single drop into the water. My soul was in
my eyes. I trembled. I set the cup down on the
wash-stand. I could not hold it.
There was a white effervescence which clouded the
water; it foamed; then it cleared itself, and by the
light of the candle I saw another golden nail!
My God ! How excited I was ! I danced around
the garret and upset the single backless chair, and the
children in the next room wakened with the clatter.
But here there came upon me an appall ing thought:
What if these nails were not real gold? What if
some ingenious demon was making sport of me? I
20 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
stood still, paralyzed. My heart sank within me. I
thought of the mortgage. My very hair stirred with
There was one way to test it. The village of El
Dorado was five miles distant. There was a jeweller
there. He would tell me whether these nails were
gold or not.
I dressed hurriedly. Mother was already up. Her
tears were dropping into the pan of sizzling pork fat
She looked at me and saw I was strangely dis-
"Ephraim," she said, "what's the matter?"
"Mother," I replied, "I have got an idea in my
head, and I will take the gray mare and drive to El
Dorado. I will be back at once."
She asked me questions; she offered me food;
but I could neither answer nor eat. In a few minutes
I was thundering down the road as fast as our fleetest
horse could carry me.
Outside the town I stopped to calm myself. The
jeweller was a lame man, named William Burke,
with a leg which stuck out like a letter K; the rude
boys called him "William with the side-draft." He
was just opening his shop. He knew me.
"Good-morning, Mr. Burke,"! said, with an affec-
tation of calmness.
"Good-morning, Ephe," he replied; "how are all
"Very well," I replied, "and yours?"
THE GOLDEN NAIL. 21
"Very well, thank you. Can I do anything for
you this morning?"
" Yes," I said. " I ploughed up a couple of curious
nails yesterday, and I thought I would drive over and
see what they were worth."
He examined them. He filed into them. He ap-
plied acids. I watched him eagerly, my very knees
"Well?" I said.
"Well, "said he, "they are gold, of very pure
"Yes, perfectly sure."
My heart gave a great leap, and my face broke into
"You are in luck," he said.
I felt in the bosom of my coat to make sure that
the flask had not disappeared.
"Yes," I replied, "great luck. What are they
He weighed them.
"Thirty-five dollars," he replied.
"Will you pay that for them?" I asked eagerly.
"Yes," he replied.
"Then take them," I said.
He paid me the money, and I ran out of the shop,
leaving the jeweller looking after me, surprised and
Lord! what visions opened before me!
Kk-li! Richer than Croesus! Richer than any man
22 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
that had ever lived in this world. . No more pinch-
ing, nor poverty, nor mortgages, nor broken hearts,
nor ruined bodies. But Sophie! Ah! that was
the rub. There are some things which even wealth
cannot make good.
I went into a butcher-shop then into a grocery
store: meats, tenderloins, mutton-chops, the finest
teas and coffees and chocolates, and canned goods, and
candies for the children, and everything else I could
think of. The news spread quickly, as it does in
villages, and the merchants congratulated me on find-
ing those curious evidences of the work of the Mound
Builders (for that is the way in which they explained
it), and laughed at my excitement, and the way I
was loading up for the folks at home. The old gray
mare was well burdened with sacks, and it was all I
could do to hold them in place as we returned slowly
to the farm.
But what delightful dreams I had! I did not
cough once. Hope and joy had lifted me above the
reach of the microbes. I had inherited the whole
world, and I plotted and planned, until the road seemed
paved with gold and the very fences had a yellow-
ish hue as the old mare and I crawled past them.
I came in sight of the house. Father was sitting
on the porch looking very depressed and melancholy.
I gave a yell that brought the whole family, in-
cluding the dogs, out of the house with a rush.
"Give a hand here," I cried, as I lifted down the
THE GOLDEN NAIL. 23
We carried them in and emptied them on the kitchen
table. The children danced for joy, but mother be-
gan to <?ry.
"What is the matter, mother?" I asked.
"Oh, Ephraim, Ephraim," she said, "I fear that
in your desperation you have committed some
"Do you think I stole these things?" I said,
"I fear you did, my son; how else could you get
I roared with laughter.
"Come, mother," I said, "cook a royal breakfast
for us all. Here is some of the Oolong tea you are
so fond of, but you haven't had an ounce of it in the
house for years. The money all went to fill the
belly of that mortgage. I will pay off the mortgage
to-morrow and we will never be poor again."
Father looked at rne with open-eyed astonishment,
as if he feared I had lost my senses.
"It is all true," I said; "our good luck has come
at last marvellous, extraordinary, incredible good
luck. But hurry breakfast, send the children to
school, and I will explain all."
The old house had never before smelt such fragrant
odors as rolled through it and into every nook and
crevice of it that bright morning. The very windows
grew moist, like eyes overflowing with gratitude or
I shall never forget the aroma of the coffee, for I
24 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
brought to it a ploughman's appetite and a palate not
cloyed by surfeits.
When the children were all off, down the road to
school, with their books under their arms, I pulled
from my pocket the magical flask and told my story.
No words can describe the astonishment of my parents.
They believed and yet they doubted ; they doubted
and yet they believed. How their eyes dilated and
the wrinkles smoothed out as they looked into the
glorious vista of the future, where there was to be no
more debt, no more poverty. How the weight of the
whole world was lifted from off their souls.
But I must prove my wonderful assertions before
their very eyes.
This was at once done; and another golden nail
was soon in their hands, to be weighed, examined,
WE VISIT KANSAS CITY.
AND then we took counsel together.
The mortgage, that dreadful, devouring, insatiable,
rapacious monster, that dragon of modern civilization,
must be paid off. How?
After considerable conference it was agreed that I
should make a dozen or more golden nails to sell to
the jeweller; then we would take the team and wagon
and go to El Dorado, sell them and buy a second-hand
blacksmith's forge which I knew was in a certain tin-
shop there for sale; and, with a supply of coal and
bar-iron, we would forge brick-shaped masses, which I
could convert into gold, and we would take them with
us to Kansas City to sell.
This plan we carried out; and the next day half a
dozen men were prowling around the farm; and that
night we could see their lanterns as they dug away
at an elevation, a sort of natural mound, in the mid-
dle of the field. They were towns-people. We
laughed, but did not disturb them. They toiled all
night, and in the morning we found quite an excava-
tion where they had been laboring. They were look-
ing for the Mound Builders' gold.
26 THE GOLDEN BOTTLE.
We set up the forge in a shed, and all the next day
father and I worked the bellows and hammered and
welded, until we turned out several large bricks of
iron. We were clumsy workmen, but, Lord! how
our blows rang, for hope and home were in every
It took but a few minutes to convert these iron
masses into gold.
On the morrow we were off to Kansas City.
There we bought ourselves new suits of fashionable
clothing, and then called on the principal jeweller of
the city. We produced two bricks. He smiled a
superior smile, as if he knew we were farmers who had
been swindled by some "confidence game;" and to