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He was tired out now, and his brains were beginning to clog. He said he would sleep himself fresh, and then see what he could do with this riddle. He slept through a troubled and unrestful hour, then unconsciousness began to shred away, and presently he rose drowsily to a sitting posture. "Now what was that dream?" he said, trying to recall it. "What was that dream? It seemed to unravel that puz-"
He landed in the middle of the floor at a bound, without finishing the sentence, and ran and turned up his light and seized his "records." He took a single swift glance at them and cried out: "It's so! Heavens, what a revelation! And for twenty-three years no man has ever suspected it!"
CHAPTER 21 - Doom
He is useless on top of the ground; he ought to be under it, inspiring the cabbages. -Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
APRIL 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four. - Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar Wilson put on enough clothes for business purposes and went to work under a high pressure of steam. He was awake all over. All sense of weariness had been swept away by the invigorating refreshment of the great and hopeful discovery which he had made. He made fine and accurate reproductions of a number of his "records," and then enlarged them on a scale of ten to one with his pantograph. He did these pantograph enlargements on sheets of white cardboard, and made each individual line of the bewildering maze of whorls or curves or loops which consisted of the "pattern" of a "record" stand out bold and black by reinforcing it with ink. To the untrained eye the collection of delicate originals made by the human finger on the gla.s.s plates looked about alike; but when enlarged ten times they resembled the markings of a block of wood that has been sawed across the grain, and the dullest eye could detect at a glance, and at a distance of many feet, that no two of the patterns were alike. When Wilson had at last finished his tedious and difficult work, he arranged his results according to a plan in which a progressive order and sequence was a princ.i.p.al feature; then he added to the batch several pantograph enlargements which he had made from time to time in bygone years.
The night was spent and the day well advanced now. By the time he had s.n.a.t.c.hed a trifle of breakfast, it was nine o'clock, and the court was ready to begin its sitting. He was in his place twelve minutes later with his "records."
Tom Driscoll caught a slight glimpse of the records, and nudged his nearest friend and said, with a wink, "Pudd'nhead's got a rare eye to business-thinks that as long as he can't win his case it's at least a n.o.ble good chance to advertise his window palace decorations without any expense." Wilson was informed that his witnesses had been delayed, but would arrive presently; but he rose and said he should probably not have occasion to make use of their testimony. [An amused murmur ran through the room: "It's a clean backdown! he gives up without hitting a lick!"] Wilson continued: "I have other testimony-and better. [This compelled interest, and evoked murmurs of surprise that had a detectable ingredient of disappointment in them.] If I seem to be springing this evidence upon the court, I offer as my justification for this, that I did not discover its existence until late last night, and have been engaged in examining and cla.s.sifying it ever since, until half an hour ago. I shall offer it presently; but first I wish to say a few preliminary words.
"May it please the court, the claim given the front place, the claim most persistently urged, the claim most strenuously and I may even say aggressively and defiantly insisted upon by the prosecution is this-that the person whose hand left the bloodstained fingerprints upon the handle of the Indian knife is the person who committed the murder." Wilson paused, during several moments, to give impressiveness to what he was about to say, and then added tranquilly, "WE GRANT THAT CLAIM."
It was an electrical surprise. No one was prepared for such an admission. A buzz of astonishment rose on all sides, and people were heard to intimate that the overworked lawyer had lost his mind. Even the veteran judge, accustomed as he was to legal ambushes and masked batteries in criminal procedure, was not sure that his ears were not deceiving him, and asked counsel what it was he had said. Howard's impa.s.sive face betrayed no sign, but his att.i.tude and bearing lost something of their careless confidence for a moment. Wilson resumed: "We not only grant that claim, but we welcome it and strongly endorse it. Leaving that matter for the present, we will now proceed to consider other points in the case which we propose to establish by evidence, and shall include that one in the chain in its proper place."
He had made up his mind to try a few hardy guesses, in mapping out his theory of the origin and motive of the murder-guesses designed to fill up gaps in it-guesses which could help if they hit, and would probably do no harm if they didn't.
"To my mind, certain circ.u.mstances of the case before the court seem to suggest a motive for the homicide quite different from the one insisted on by the state. It is my conviction that the motive was not revenge, but robbery. It has been urged that the presence of the accused brothers in that fatal room, just after notification that one of them must take the life of Judge Driscoll or lose his own the moment the parties should meet, clearly signifies that the natural instinct of self-preservation moved my clients to go there secretly and save Count Luigi by destroying his adversary.
"Then why did they stay there, after the deed was done? Mrs. Pratt had time, although she did not hear the cry for help, but woke up some moments later, to run to that room-and there she found these men standing and making no effort to escape. If they were guilty, they ought to have been running out of the house at the same time that she was running to that room. If they had had such a strong instinct toward self-preservation as to move them to kill that unarmed man, what had become of it now, when it should have been more alert than ever. Would any of us have remained there? Let us not slander our intelligence to that degree.
"Much stress has been laid upon the fact that the accused offered a very large reward for the knife with which this murder was done; that no thief came forward to claim that extraordinary reward; that the latter fact was good circ.u.mstantial evidence that the claim that the knife had been stolen was a vanity and a fraud; that these details taken in connection with the memorable and apparently prophetic speech of the deceased concerning that knife, and the final discovery of that very knife in the fatal room where no living person was found present with the slaughtered man but the owner of the knife and his brother, form an indestructible chain of evidence which fixed the crime upon those unfortunate strangers.
"But I shall presently ask to be sworn, and shall testify that there was a large reward offered for the THIEF, also; and it was offered secretly and not advertised; that this fact was indiscreetly mentioned-or at least tacitly admitted-in what was supposed to be safe circ.u.mstances, but may NOT have been. The thief may have been present himself. [Tom Driscoll had been looking at the speaker, but dropped his eyes at this point.] In that case he would retain the knife in his possession, not daring to offer it for sale, or for pledge in a p.a.w.nshop. [There was a nodding of heads among the audience by way of admission that this was not a bad stroke.] I shall prove to the satisfaction of the jury that there WAS a person in Judge Driscoll's room several minutes before the accused entered it. [This produced a strong sensation; the last drowsy head in the courtroom roused up now, and made preparation to listen.] If it shall seem necessary, I will prove by the Misses Clarkson that they met a veiled person-ostensibly a woman-coming out of the back gate a few minutes after the cry for help was heard. This person was not a woman, but a man dressed in woman's clothes." Another sensation. Wilson had his eye on Tom when he hazarded this guess, to see what effect it would produce. He was satisfied with the result, and said to himself, "It was a success-he's. .h.i.t!"
"The object of that person in that house was robbery, not murder. It is true that the safe was not open, but there was an ordinary cashbox on the table, with three thousand dollars in it. It is easily supposable that the thief was concealed in the house; that he knew of this box, and of its owner's habit of counting its contents and arranging his accounts at night-if he had that habit, which I do not a.s.sert, of course-that he tried to take the box while its owner slept, but made a noise and was seized, and had to use the knife to save himself from capture; and that he fled without his booty because he heard help coming.
"I have now done with my theory, and will proceed to the evidences by which I propose to try to prove its soundness." Wilson took up several of his strips of gla.s.s. When the audience recognized these familiar mementos of Pudd'nhead's old time childish "puttering" and folly, the tense and funereal interest vanished out of their faces, and the house burst into volleys of relieving and refreshing laughter, and Tom chirked up and joined in the fun himself; but Wilson was apparently not disturbed. He arranged his records on the table before him, and said: "I beg the indulgence of the court while I make a few remarks in explanation of some evidence which I am about to introduce, and which I shall presently ask to be allowed to verify under oath on the witness stand. Every human being carries with him from his cradle to his grave certain physical marks which do not change their character, and by which he can always be identified-and that without shade of doubt or question. These marks are his signature, his physiological autograph, so to speak, and this autograph can not be counterfeited, nor can he disguise it or hide it away, nor can it become illegible by the wear and mutations of time. This signature is not his face-age can change that beyond recognition; it is not his hair, for that can fall out; it is not his height, for duplicates of that exist; it is not his form, for duplicates of that exist also, whereas this signature is each man's very own-there is no duplicate of it among the swarming populations of the globe! [The audience were interested once more.]
"This autograph consists of the delicate lines or corrugations with which Nature marks the insides of the hands and the soles of the feet. If you will look at the b.a.l.l.s of your fingers-you that have very sharp eyesight-you will observe that these dainty curving lines lie close together, like those that indicate the borders of oceans in maps, and that they form various clearly defined patterns, such as arches, circles, long curves, whorls, etc., and that these patterns differ on the different fingers. [Every man in the room had his hand up to the light now, and his head canted to one side, and was minutely scrutinizing the b.a.l.l.s of his fingers; there were whispered e.j.a.c.u.l.a.t.i.o.ns of 'Why, it's so-I never noticed that before!'] The patterns on the right hand are not the same as those on the left. [e.j.a.c.u.l.a.t.i.o.ns of 'Why, that's so, too!'] Taken finger for finger, your patterns differ from your neighbor's. [Comparisons were made all over the house-even the judge and jury were absorbed in this curious work.] The patterns of a twin's right hand are not the same as those on his left. One twin's patterns are never the same as his fellow twin's patterns-the jury will find that the patterns upon the finger b.a.l.l.s of the twins' hands follow this rule. [An examination of the twins' hands was begun at once.] You have often heard of twins who were so exactly alike that when dressed alike their own parents could not tell them apart. Yet there was never a twin born in to this world that did not carry from birth to death a sure identifier in this mysterious and marvelous natal autograph. That once known to you, his fellow twin could never personate him and deceive you."
Wilson stopped and stood silent. Inattention dies a quick and sure death when a speaker does that. The stillness gives warning that something is coming. All palms and finger b.a.l.l.s went down now, all slouching forms straightened, all heads came up, all eyes were fastened upon Wilson's face. He waited yet one, two, three moments, to let his pause complete and perfect its spell upon the house; then, when through the profound hush he could hear the ticking of the clock on the wall, he put out his hand and took the Indian knife by the blade and held it aloft where all could see the sinister spots upon its ivory handle; then he said, in a level and pa.s.sionless voice: "Upon this haft stands the a.s.sa.s.sin's natal autograph, written in the blood of that helpless and unoffending old man who loved you and whom you all loved. There is but one man in the whole earth whose hand can duplicate that crimson sign"-he paused and raised his eyes to the pendulum swinging back and forth-"and please G.o.d we will produce that man in this room before the clock strikes noon!"
Stunned, distraught, unconscious of its own movement, the house half rose, as if expecting to see the murderer appear at the door, and a breeze of muttered e.j.a.c.u.l.a.t.i.o.ns swept the place. "Order in the court!-sit down!" This from the sheriff. He was obeyed, and quiet reigned again. Wilson stole a glance at Tom, and said to himself, "He is flying signals of distress now; even people who despise him are pitying him; they think this is a hard ordeal for a young fellow who has lost his benefactor by so cruel a stroke-and they are right." He resumed his speech: "For more than twenty years I have amused my compulsory leisure with collecting these curious physical signatures in this town. At my house I have hundreds upon hundreds of them. Each and every one is labeled with name and date; not labeled the next day or even the next hour, but in the very minute that the impression was taken. When I go upon the witness stand I will repeat under oath the things which I am now saying. I have the fingerprints of the court, the sheriff, and every member of the jury. There is hardly a person in this room, white or black, whose natal signature I cannot produce, and not one of them can so disguise himself that I cannot pick him out from a mult.i.tude of his fellow creatures and unerringly identify him by his hands. And if he and I should live to be a hundred I could still do it. [The interest of the audience was steadily deepening now.]
"I have studied some of these signatures so much that I know them as well as the bank cashier knows the autograph of his oldest customer. While I turn my back now, I beg that several persons will be so good as to pa.s.s their fingers through their hair, and then press them upon one of the panes of the window near the jury, and that among them the accused may set THEIR finger marks. Also, I beg that these experimenters, or others, will set their fingers upon another pane, and add again the marks of the accused, but not placing them in the same order or relation to the other signatures as before-for, by one chance in a million, a person might happen upon the right marks by pure guesswork, ONCE, therefore I wish to be tested twice."
He turned his back, and the two panes were quickly covered with delicately lined oval spots, but visible only to such persons as could get a dark background for them-the foliage of a tree, outside, for instance. Then upon call, Wilson went to the window, made his examination, and said: "This is Count Luigi's right hand; this one, three signatures below, is his left. Here is Count Angelo's right; down here is his left. Now for the other pane: here and here are Count Luigi's, here and here are his brother's." He faced about. "Am I right?"
A deafening explosion of applause was the answer. The bench said: "This certainly approaches the miraculous!"
Wilson turned to the window again and remarked, pointing with his finger: "This is the signature of Mr. Justice Robinson. [Applause.] This, of Constable Blake. [Applause.] This of John Mason, juryman. [Applause.] This, of the sheriff. [Applause.] I cannot name the others, but I have them all at home, named and dated, and could identify them all by my fingerprint records."
He moved to his place through a storm of applause-which the sheriff stopped, and also made the people sit down, for they were all standing and struggling to see, of course. Court, jury, sheriff, and everybody had been too absorbed in observing Wilson's performance to attend to the audience earlier.
"Now then," said Wilson, "I have here the natal autographs of the two children-thrown up to ten times the natural size by the pantograph, so that anyone who can see at all can tell the markings apart at a glance. We will call the children A and B. Here are A's finger marks, taken at the age of five months. Here they are again taken at seven months. [Tom started.] They are alike, you see. Here are B's at five months, and also at seven months. They, too, exactly copy each other, but the patterns are quite different from A's, you observe. I shall refer to these again presently, but we will turn them face down now.
"Here, thrown up ten sizes, are the natal autographs of the two persons who are here before you accused of murdering Judge Driscoll. I made these pantograph copies last night, and will so swear when I go upon the witness stand. I ask the jury to compare them with the finger marks of the accused upon the windowpanes, and tell the court if they are the same."
He pa.s.sed a powerful magnifying gla.s.s to the foreman.
One juryman after another took the cardboard and the gla.s.s and made the comparison. Then the foreman said to the judge: "Your honor, we are all agreed that they are identical."
Wilson said to the foreman: "Please turn that cardboard face down, and take this one, and compare it searchingly, by the magnifier, with the fatal signature upon the knife handle, and report your finding to the court."
Again the jury made minute examinations, and again reported: "We find them to be exactly identical, your honor."
Wilson turned toward the counsel for the prosecution, and there was a clearly recognizable note of warning in his voice when he said: "May it please the court, the state has claimed, strenuously and persistently, that the bloodstained fingerprints upon that knife handle were left there by the a.s.sa.s.sin of Judge Driscoll. You have heard us grant that claim, and welcome it." He turned to the jury: "Compare the fingerprints of the accused with the fingerprints left by the a.s.sa.s.sin-and report."
The comparison began. As it proceeded, all movement and all sound ceased, and the deep silence of an absorbed and waiting suspense settled upon the house; and when at last the words came, "THEY DO NOT EVEN RESEMBLE," a thundercrash of applause followed and the house sprang to its feet, but was quickly repressed by official force and brought to order again. Tom was altering his position every few minutes now, but none of his changes brought repose nor any small trifle of comfort. When the house's attention was become fixed once more, Wilson said gravely, indicating the twins with a gesture: "These men are innocent-I have no further concern with them. [Another outbreak of applause began, but was promptly checked.] We will now proceed to find the guilty. [Tom's eyes were starting from their sockets-yes, it was a cruel day for the bereaved youth, everybody thought.] We will return to the infant autographs of A and B. I will ask the jury to take these large pantograph facsimilies of A's marked five months and seven months. Do they tally?"
The foreman responded: "Perfectly."
"Now examine this pantograph, taken at eight months, and also marked A. Does it tally with the other two?"
The surprised response was: "NO-THEY DIFFER WIDELY!"
"You are quite right. Now take these two pantographs of B's autograph, marked five months and seven months. Do they tally with each other?"
"Take this third pantograph marked B, eight months. Does it tally with B's other two?"
"BY NO MEANS!"
"Do you know how to account for those strange discrepancies? I will tell you. For a purpose unknown to us, but probably a selfish one, somebody changed those children in the cradle."
This produced a vast sensation, naturally; Roxana was astonished at this admirable guess, but not disturbed by it. To guess the exchange was one thing, to guess who did it quite another. Pudd'nhead Wilson could do wonderful things, no doubt, but he couldn't do impossible ones. Safe? She was perfectly safe. She smiled privately.
"Between the ages of seven months and eight months those children were changed in the cradle"-he made one of this effect-collecting pauses, and added-"and the person who did it is in this house!"
Roxy's pulses stood still! The house was thrilled as with an electric shock, and the people half rose as if to seek a glimpse of the person who had made that exchange. Tom was growing limp; the life seemed oozing out of him. Wilson resumed: "A was put into B's cradle in the nursery; B was transferred to the kitchen and became a Negro and a slave [Sensation-confusion of angry e.j.a.c.u.l.a.t.i.o.ns]-but within a quarter of an hour he will stand before you white and free! [Burst of applause, checked by the officers.] From seven months onward until now, A has still been a usurper, and in my finger record he bears B's name. Here is his pantograph at the age of twelve. Compare it with the a.s.sa.s.sin's signature upon the knife handle. Do they tally?"
The foreman answered: "TO THE MINUTEST DETAIL!"
Wilson said, solemnly: "The murderer of your friend and mine-York Driscoll of the generous hand and the kindly spirit-sits in among you. Valet de Chambre, Negro and slave-falsely called Thomas a Becket Driscoll-make upon the window the fingerprints that will hang you!"
Tom turned his ashen face imploring toward the speaker, made some impotent movements with his white lips, then slid limp and lifeless to the floor.
Wilson broke the awed silence with the words: "There is no need. He has confessed."
Roxy flung herself upon her knees, covered her face with her hands, and out through her sobs the words struggled: "De Lord have mercy on me, po' misasble sinner dat I is!"
The clock struck twelve.
The court rose; the new prisoner, handcuffed, was removed.
It is often the case that the man who can't tell a lie thinks he is the best judge of one. -Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
OCTOBER 12, THE DISCOVERY. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it.
-Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar The town sat up all night to discuss the amazing events of the day and swap guesses as to when Tom's trial would begin. Troop after troop of citizens came to serenade Wilson, and require a speech, and shout themselves hoa.r.s.e over every sentence that fell from his lips-for all his sentences were golden, now, all were marvelous. His long fight against hard luck and prejudice was ended; he was a made man for good. And as each of these roaring gangs of enthusiasts marched away, some remorseful member of it was quite sure to raise his voice and say: "And this is the man the likes of us have called a pudd'nhead for more than twenty years. He has resigned from that position, friends."
"Yes, but it isn't vacant-we're elected."
The twins were heroes of romance, now, and with rehabilitated reputations. But they were weary of Western adventure, and straightway retired to Europe.
Roxy's heart was broken. The young fellow upon whom she had inflicted twenty-three years of slavery continued the false heir's pension of thirty-five dollars a month to her, but her hurts were too deep for money to heal; the spirit in her eye was quenched, her martial bearing departed with it, and the voice of her laughter ceased in the land. In her church and its affairs she found her only solace.
The real heir suddenly found himself rich and free, but in a most embarra.s.sing situation. He could neither read nor write, and his speech was the basest dialect of the Negro quarter. His gait, his att.i.tudes, his gestures, his bearing, his laugh-all were vulgar and uncouth; his manners were the manners of a slave. Money and fine clothes could not mend these defects or cover them up; they only made them more glaring and the more pathetic. The poor fellow could not endure the terrors of the white man's parlor, and felt at home and at peace nowhere but in the kitchen. The family pew was a misery to him, yet he could nevermore enter into the solacing refuge of the "n.i.g.g.e.r gallery"-that was closed to him for good and all. But we cannot follow his curious fate further-that would be a long story.
The false heir made a full confession and was sentenced to imprisonment for life. But now a complication came up. The Percy Driscoll estate was in such a crippled shape when its owner died that it could pay only sixty percent of its great indebtedness, and was settled at that rate. But the creditors came forward now, and complained that inasmuch as through an error for which THEY were in no way to blame the false heir was not inventoried at the time with the rest of the property, great wrong and loss had thereby been inflicted upon them. They rightly claimed that "Tom" was lawfully their property and had been so for eight years; that they had already lost sufficiently in being deprived of his services during that long period, and ought not to be required to add anything to that loss; that if he had been delivered up to them in the first place, they would have sold him and he could not have murdered Judge Driscoll; therefore it was not that he had really committed the murder, the guilt lay with the erroneous inventory. Everybody saw that there was reason in this. Everybody granted that if "Tom" were white and free it would be unquestionably right to punish him-it would be no loss to anybody; but to shut up a valuable slave for life-that was quite another matter.
As soon as the Governor understood the case, he pardoned Tom at once, and the creditors sold him down the river.
AUTHOR'S NOTE TO "THOSE EXTRAORDINARY TWINS"
A man who is not born with the novel-writing gift has a troublesome time of it when he tries to build a novel. I know this from experience. He has no clear idea of his story; in fact he has no story. He merely has some people in his mind, and an incident or two, also a locality, and he trusts he can plunge those people into those incidents with interesting results. So he goes to work. To write a novel? No-that is a thought which comes later; in the beginning he is only proposing to tell a little tale, a very little tale, a six-page tale. But as it is a tale which he is not acquainted with, and can only find out what it is by listening as it goes along telling itself, it is more than apt to go on and on and on till it spreads itself into a book. I know about this, because it has happened to me so many times.
And I have noticed another thing: that as the short tale grows into the long tale, the original intention (or motif) is apt to get abolished and find itself superseded by a quite different one. It was so in the case of a magazine sketch which I once started to write-a funny and fantastic sketch about a prince and a pauper; it presently a.s.sumed a grave cast of its own accord, and in that new shape spread itself out into a book. Much the same thing happened with PUDD'NHEAD WILSON. I had a sufficiently hard time with that tale, because it changed itself from a farce to a tragedy while I was going along with it-a most embarra.s.sing circ.u.mstance. But what was a great deal worse was, that it was not one story, but two stories tangled together; and they obstructed and interrupted each other at every turn and created no end of confusion and annoyance. I could not offer the book for publication, for I was afraid it would unseat the reader's reason, I did not know what was the matter with it, for I had not noticed, as yet, that it was two stories in one. It took me months to make that discovery. I carried the ma.n.u.script back and forth across the Atlantic two or three times, and read it and studied over it on shipboard; and at last I saw where the difficulty lay. I had no further trouble. I pulled one of the stories out by the roots, and left the other-a kind of literary Caesarean operation.
Would the reader care to know something about the story which I pulled out? He has been told many a time how the born-and-trained novelist works; won't he let me round and complete his knowledge by telling him how the jackleg does it?
Originally the story was called THOSE EXTRAORDINARY TWINS. I meant to make it very short. I had seen a picture of a youthful Italian "freak"-or "freaks"-which was-or which were-on exhibition in our cities-a combination consisting of two heads and four arms joined to a single body and a single pair of legs-and I thought I would write an extravagantly fantastic little story with this freak of nature for hero-or heroes-a silly young miss for heroine, and two old ladies and two boys for the minor parts. I lavishly elaborated these people and their doings, of course. But the tale kept spreading along and spreading along, and other people got to intruding themselves and taking up more and more room with their talk and their affairs. Among them came a stranger named Pudd'nhead Wilson, and a woman named Roxana; and presently the doings of these two pushed up into prominence a young fellow named Tom Driscoll, whose proper place was away in the obscure background. Before the book was half finished those three were taking things almost entirely into their own hands and working the whole tale as a private venture of their own-a tale which they had nothing at all to do with, by rights.
When the book was finished and I came to look around to see what had become of the team I had originally started out with-Aunt Patsy Cooper, Aunt Betsy Hale, and two boys, and Rowena the lightweight heroine-they were nowhere to be seen; they had disappeared from the story some time or other. I hunted about and found them-found them stranded, idle, forgotten, and permanently useless. It was very awkward. It was awkward all around, but more particularly in the case of Rowena, because there was a love match on, between her and one of the twins that const.i.tuted the freak, and I had worked it up to a blistering heat and thrown in a quite dramatic love quarrel, wherein Rowena scathingly denounced her betrothed for getting drunk, and scoffed at his explanation of how it had happened, and wouldn't listen to it, and had driven him from her in the usual "forever" way; and now here she sat crying and brokenhearted; for she had found that he had spoken only the truth; that it was not he, but the other of the freak that had drunk the liquor that made him drunk; that her half was a prohibitionist and had never drunk a drop in his life, and altogether tight as a brick three days in the week, was wholly innocent of blame; and indeed, when sober, was constantly doing all he could to reform his brother, the other half, who never got any satisfaction out of drinking, anyway, because liquor never affected him. Yes, here she was, stranded with that deep injustice of hers torturing her poor torn heart.
I didn't know what to do with her. I was as sorry for her as anybody could be, but the campaign was over, the book was finished, she was sidetracked, and there was no possible way of crowding her in, anywhere. I could not leave her there, of course; it would not do. After spreading her out so, and making such a to-do over her affairs, it would be absolutely necessary to account to the reader for her. I thought and thought and studied and studied; but I arrived at nothing. I finally saw plainly that there was really no way but one-I must simply give her the grand bounce. It grieved me to do it, for after a.s.sociating with her so much I had come to kind of like her after a fashion, notwithstanding she was such an a.s.s and said such stupid, irritating things and was so nauseatingly sentimental. Still it had to be done. So at the top of Chapter XVII I put a "Calendar" remark concerning July the Fourth, and began the chapter with this statistic: "Rowena went out in the backyard after supper to see the fireworks and fell down the well and got drowned."
It seemed abrupt, but I thought maybe the reader wouldn't notice it, because I changed the subject right away to something else. Anyway it loosened up Rowena from where she was stuck and got her out of the way, and that was the main thing. It seemed a prompt good way of weeding out people that had got stalled, and a plenty good enough way for those others; so I hunted up the two boys and said, "They went out back one night to stone the cat and fell down the well and got drowned." Next I searched around and found old Aunt Patsy and Aunt Betsy Hale where they were around, and said, "They went out back one night to visit the sick and fell down the well and got drowned." I was going to drown some others, but I gave up the idea, partly because I believed that if I kept that up it would arouse attention, and perhaps sympathy with those people, and partly because it was not a large well and would not hold any more anyway.
Still the story was unsatisfactory. Here was a set of new characters who were become inordinately prominent and who persisted in remaining so to the end; and back yonder was an older set who made a large noise and a great to-do for a little while and then suddenly played out utterly and fell down the well. There was a radical defect somewhere, and I must search it out and cure it.
The defect turned out to be the one already spoken of-two stories in one, a farce and a tragedy. So I pulled out the farce and left the tragedy. This left the original team in, but only as mere names, not as characters. Their prominence was wholly gone; they were not even worth drowning; so I removed that detail. Also I took the twins apart and made two separate men of them. They had no occasion to have foreign names now, but it was too much trouble to remove them all through, so I left them christened as they were and made no explanation.