Imagens da página

ered I was the meanest of God's creatures; I was the essence of all selfishness, a sort of human hog; I was hopeless and incorrigible. He called us by implication names that could not have passed unnoticed nor unchallenged in a club, where one man's privileges are no greater than another's. Then, having humbled us sufficiently, he changed his note, and, if all the stops in an organ had been pulled out at once, the volume of sound could not have been greater, as he cried, “Give, give!” Why, the two daughters of the horse-leech never cried, “Give, give!” more passionately. It seemed to me that the only way to heaven was to crawl through an empty purse. Should there remain but one lonely dollar bill, it would entangle our feet as we crawled, and impede our progress. The price of redemption was not repentance, but the limit of our wealth. He seemed to advertise himself as a “go-between,” and he would “ see” his boss about us, if we would "

see ” him. “Your money or your life,” is the cry of the highwayman. “Your money or no everlasting life,” is the clergyman's cry. When the plate was passed, I had intended to contribute twenty-five dollars, so in a little way to make up for absent Sundays, but he had made me feel so hopelessly a hog that it was useless to try to be anything else, so I gave twenty-five cents. Such men are pulpit Circes.

Now please don't imagine these comments reflect upon you in any way. You are a man who commands my respect and admiration in as many ways as there are points to a compass. I would change places with you and thank God, and yet - and yet

I should not like to be as sure about any

thing as you are about everything.

At present try to please me by being. more gentle with me. I know this will go against the grain, but, if you want to please a person, please him his way, not yours; until you are willing to do this, don't try at all, for you are only pleasing yourself, not him. I remember when I was a boy, my father gave me a dollar, and then told me how to spend it. I wished it back in his pocket. I had a pet foolish investment for that dollar that would have given me infinite joy, and he had robbed me of it.

You speak in your letter of "coddling criminals.” I assisted once at a "coddling." A good-looking mulatto man had murdered

benefactress. Kneeling on her breast, he had very thoroughly choked the life out of her. He was tried and convicted, and was

in murderers' row in the Tombs. Some young women, friends of mine, insisted they must feast their eyes upon so gallant a creature. “Would I take them?” “No, I would not.” Then they would go alone. I went. The victim of the law received them very kindly, and held pleasing converse with them between the bars, showing when he smiled two rows of brilliant teeth, which excited whispered comments of admiration. I was compelled to empty my pockets of all my matchless cigars, which were placed in his throttling hands by the guiltless hand of a girl. Much encouraged, they went on to the next cell, where an Italian was tarrying on his way to his Lord. As a slight correction, he had cut his wife's throat because his polenta had been overcooked. At the sight of the girls, his delight was boundless. Beckoning them to come nearer, he waited until all their lovely faces were pressed between the bars; then, with the accuracy and precision of an American man-of-war at gun-practice, he spat in each and every face before they could get away. I am sure this did him more good than the cigars did the other chap, so the girls should have been pleased, but they were not. They were a little indignant with him, but intensely so with me, for having brought them to such a place!

And now, my boy, let me speak for a moment about what you tell me of yourself and changed condition. You are ever in my thoughts; your face is a palimpsest over hers. I must lift your face in order to see hers. I cannot believe what you tell me. That Death stands behind you is true, but is it not true of all of us? If he has taken a step nearer you, he has also moved nearer

« AnteriorContinuar »