[Illustration: LEAVING MRS. CHAMPNEY SEATED ALONE AND HELPLESS IN
THE MIDST OF THE CONFUSION, SMILK MARCHED MR. YOLLOP TO HIS BEDROOM]
GEORGE BARR McCUTCHEON
EDWARD C. CASWELL
In the first place, Mr. Yollop knew nothing about firearms. And so,
after he had overpowered the burglar and relieved him of a fully
loaded thirty-eight, he was singularly unimpressed by the following
tribute from the bewildered and somewhat exasperated captive:
"Say, ain't you got any more sense than to tackle a man with a gun,
you chuckle-headed idiot?" (Only he did not say "chuckle-headed,"
and he inserted several expletives between "say" and "ain't.")
The dazed intruder was hunched limply, in a sitting posture, over
against the wall, one hand clamped tightly to his jaw, the other
being elevated in obedience to a command that had to be thrice
repeated before it found lodgment in his whirling brain. Mr. Yollop,
who seemed to be satisfied with the holding up of but one hand,
cupped his own hand at the back of one ear, and demanded
"Are you hard o' hearin'?"
"Well for the—say, are you deef?"
"Don't say deef. Say deaf,—as if it were spelled d-e-double f.
Yes,—I am a little hard of hearing."
"Now, how the hell did you hear—I say, HOW DID YOU HEAR ME IN THE
ROOM, if it's a fair question?"
"If you've got anything in your mouth, spit it out. I can't make out
half what you say. Sounds like 'ollo—ollo—ollo'!"
The thief opened his mouth and with his tongue instituted a visible
search for the obstruction that appeared to annoy Mr. Yollop.
"They're all here except the one I had pulled last year," he
announced vastly relieved. A sharp spasm of pain in his jaw caused
him to abruptly take advantage of a recent discovery; and while he
was careful to couch his opinions in an undertone, he told Mr.
Yollop what he thought of him in terms that would have put the
hardiest pirate to blush. Something in Mr. Yollop's eye, however,
and the fidgety way in which he was fingering the trigger of the
pistol, moved him to interrupt a particularly satisfying paean of
blasphemy by breaking off short in the very middle of it to wonder
why in God's name he hadn't had sense enough to remember that all
deaf people are lip-readers.
"Spit it out!" repeated Mr. Yollop, with energy. "Don't talk with
your mouth full. I can't understand a word you say."
This was reassuring but not convincing. There was still the ominous
glitter in the speaker's eye to be reckoned with. The man on the
floor took the precaution to explain: "I hope you didn't hear what
I was callin' myself." He spoke loudly and very distinctly.
"That's better," said Mr. Yollop, his face brightening. "I was
'afraid my hearing had got worse without my knowing it. All you have
to do is to enunciate distinctly and speak slowly like that,—as if
you were isolating the words,—so to speak,—and I can make out
everything you say. What were you calling yourself?"
"Oh, just a lot of names. I'd sooner not repeat 'em if there's any
women in the house."
"Well, bless my soul, that's uncommonly thoughtful of you. My sister
and her young daughter are here to spend the holidays with me. They
sleep at the back of the apartment. Now, if you will just remain as
you are,—I dare say you'd better put up the other hand, too, if you
can spare it,—I will back up to the table here and get my listening
apparatus. Now you won't have to shout so. I don't know much about
revolvers, but I assume that all one has to do to make it go off is
to press rather firmly on this little contrivance—"
"Yes! But DON'T!"
"Not so loud! Not so loud! I'm not as deaf as all that. And don't
move! I give you fair warning. Watch me closely. If you see me shut
my eyes, you will know I'm going to shoot. Remember that, will you?
The instant you detect the slightest indication that my eyes are
about to close,—dodge!"
"By thunder,—I—I wonder if you're as much of a blame fool as you
seem to be,—or are you just playing horse with me," muttered the
victim, as he raised his other hand. "I'd give ten years of my life
"I won't be a second," announced Mr. Yollop, backing gingerly toward
the table. With his free hand he felt for and found the rather
elaborate contraption that furnished him with the means to
counteract his auricular deficiencies. The hand holding the revolver
wobbled a bit; nevertheless, the little black hole at which the
dazed robber stared as if fascinated was amazingly steadfast in its
regard for the second or perhaps the third button of his coat. "It's
a rather complicated arrangement," he went on to explain, "but very
simple once you get it adjusted to the ear. It took me some time to
get used to wearing this steel band over the top of my head. I never
have tried to put it on with one hand before. Amazing how awkward
one can be with his left hand, isn't it? Now, you see how it goes.
This little receiver business clamps right down to the ear,—so.
Then this disc hangs over my chest—and you talk right at it. For
awhile I made a practice of concealing it under my vest, being
somewhat sensitive about having strangers see that I am deaf, but
one day my niece, a very bright child often, asked me why I did it.
I told her it was because I didn't want people to know I was deaf.
Have you ever felt so foolish that you wanted to kick yourself all
over town? Well, then you know how I felt when that blessed infant
pointed to this thing on my ear and—What say?"
"I say, that's the way I've been feeling ever since I came to,"
repeated the disgusted burglar.
"Of course, I realize that it's a physical, you might well say, a
scientific impossibility, for one to kick himself all over town, but
just the same, I believe you are as nearly in the mood to accomplish
it as any man alive to-day."
"You bet I could," snapped the thief, with great earnestness. "When
I think how I let a skinny, half-witted boob like you walk right
into a clinch with me, and me holdin' a gun, and weighin' forty
pounds more than you do, I—Can you hear what I'm saying?"
"Perfectly. It's a wonderful invention," said Mr. Yollop, who had
approached to within four or five feet of the speaker and was
bending over to afford him every facility for planting his words
squarely upon the disc. "Speak in the same tone of voice that you
would employ if I were about thirty feet away and perfectly sound of
hearing. Just imagine, if you can, that I am out in the hall, with
the door open, and you are carrying on a conversation with me at
"I've said all I want to say," growled the other sullenly.
"What is your name?"
"None of your damn business."
Mr. Yollop was silent for a moment. Then he inquired steadily:
"Have you any recollection of receiving a blow on the jaw, and
subsequently lying on the flat of your back with my knees jouncing
up and down on your stomach while your bump of amativeness was being
roughly and somewhat regularly pounded against the wall in response
to a certain nervous and uncontrollable movement of my hands which
happened to be squeezing your windpipe so tightly that your
tongue hung out and—"
"You bet I remember it!" ruefully.
"Well, then," said Mr. Yollop, "what is your name?"
"I thought you said you could hear with that thing!"
"I heard you say Jones quite distinctly, but why can't you answer my
question? It was civil enough, wasn't it?"
"Well," said the crook, still decidedly uncertain as to the
expression in Mr. Yollop's eye, "if you insist on a civil answer,
"No, NOT Smith," hastily and earnestly; "Smilk,—S-m-i-l-k."
"Extraordinary name. I've never heard it before, have you?"
The rascal blinked. "Sure. It was my father's name before me, and
"Look me in the eye!"
"I am lookin' you in the eye. It's Smilk,—Cassius Smilk."
"Sounds convincing," admitted Mr. Yollop. "Nobody would take the
name of Cassius in vain, I am sure. As a sensible, discriminating
thief, you would not deliberately steal a name like Cassius, now
"Well, you see, they call me Cash for short," explained Smilk.
"That's something I can steal with a clear conscience."
"I perceive you are recovering your wits, Mr. Smilk. You appear to
be a most ingenuous rogue. Have you ever tried writing the book for
a musical comedy?"
"A musical comedy. A forty-legged thing you see on Broadway."
Mr. Smilk pondered. "No, sir," he replied, allowing himself a
prideful leer; "if I do say it as shouldn't, I'm an honest thief."
"Bless my soul," cried Mr. Yollop delightedly; "you get brighter
every minute. Perhaps you have at one time or another conducted a
humorous column for a Metropolitan newspaper?"
"Well, I've done my share towards fillin' up the 'lost' column,"
said Mr. Smilk modestly. "Say, if we're going to keep up this
talkfest much longer, I got to let my hands down. The blood's
runnin' out of 'em. What are you goin' to do with me? Keep me
sittin' here till morning?"
"I'm glad you reminded me of it. I want to call the police."
"Well, I'm not hindering you, am I?"
"In a way, yes. How can I call them and keep an eye on you at the
"I'll tell what I'll do," said Cassius Smilk obligingly. "I'll take
a message 'round to the police station for you."
"Ah! That gives me an idea. You shall telephone to the police for
me. If my memory serves me well, Spring 3100 is the number. Or is it
Spring 3100 that calls out the fire department? It would be very
awkward to call out the fire department, wouldn't it? They'd
probably come rushing around here and drown both of us before they
found out wer'd made a mistake and really wanted the police."
"All you have to do is to say to Central: 'I want a policeman.'"
"Right you are. That's what the telephone book says. Still I believe
"The simplest way to get the police," broke in the burglar, not
without hope, "is to fire five shots out of a window as rapidly as
possible. They always come for that."
"I see what you are after. You want them to come here and arrest me
for violating the Sullivan Law. Don't you know it's against the law
in New York to have a revolver on your premises or person? And
what's more, you would testify against me, confound you. Also
probably have me up for assault and battery. No, Mr. Smilk, your
suggestion is not a good one. We will stick to the telephone. Now,
if you will be kind enough to fold your arms tightly across your
breast,—that's the idea,—and arise slowly to your feet, I will
instruct you—Yes, I know it is harder to get up without the aid of
the hands than it was to go down, but I think you can manage it. Try
again, if you please." Then, as Mr. Smilk sank sullenly back against
the wall, apparently resolved not to budge: "I'm going to count
three, Cassius. If you are not on your feet at the end of the count,
I shall be obliged to do the telephoning myself."
"That suits me," said Cassius grimly.
"Do you object to the smell of powder?"
"I don't like it myself, but I should, of course, open the windows
immediately and air the room out—"
"I'll get up," said Cassius, and did so, clumsily but promptly.
"Say, I—I believe you WOULD shoot. You're just the kind of boob
that would do a thing like that."
"I dare say I should miss you if I were to fire all five
bullets,—but that's neither here nor there. You're on your feet,
so—by the way, are you sure this thing is loaded?"
"It wouldn't make any difference if it wasn't. It would go off just
the same. They always do when some darn fool idiot is pointin' them
"Don't be crotchetty, Cassius," reproached Mr. Yollop. "Now, if you
will just sidle around to the left you will come in due time to the
telephone over there on that desk. I shall not be far behind you.
Sit down. Now unfold your arms and lean both elbows on the desk.
That's the idea. You might keep your right hand exposed,—sort of
perpendicular from the elbow up. Take the receiver off the hook
"Oh, I know how to use a telephone all right."
"Now, the main thing is to get Central," said Mr. Yollop
imperturbably. "Sometimes it is very difficult to wake them after
two o'clock A.M. Just jiggle it if she doesn't respond at once.
Seems that jiggling wakes them when nothing else will."
Mr. Yollop, very tall and spare in his pajamas, stood behind the
burly Mr. Smilk, the dangling disc almost touching the latter's
hunched up shoulders.
"This is a devil of a note," quoth Mr. Smilk, taking down the
receiver. "Makin' a guy telephone to the police to come and arrest
"I wish I had thought to close that window while you were hors de
combat," complained Mr. Yollop shivering. "I'll probably catch my
death of cold standing around here with almost nothing on. That wind
comes straight from the North Pole. Doesn't she answer?"
"I did jiggle it."
"I said I jiggled it."
"Well, jiggle it again."
"Rottenest telephone service in the world," growled Mr. Smilk. "When
you think what we have to pay for telephones these days, you'd
"I thought I had for a second, but I guess it was somebody yawning."
"Say, if you'll hold that thing around so's I can talk at it, you'll
hear what I'm saying. How do you expect me to—hello! Central?
Central! Hello! Where the hell have you been all—hello! Well, can
you beat it? I had her and she got away."
"No use trying to get her now," said Mr. Yollop, resignedly. "Hang
up for a few minutes. It makes 'em stubborn when you swear at 'em.
Like mules. I've just thought of something else you can do for me
while we're waiting for her to make up her mind to forgive you. Come
along over here and close this window you left open."
Mr. Smilk in closing the window, looked searchingly up and down the
fire escape, peered intently into the street below, sighed
profoundly and muttered something that Mr. Yollop did not hear.
"I've got a fur coat hanging in that closet over there, Cassius. We
will get it out."
Carefully following Mr. Yollop's directions, the obliging rascal
produced the coat and laid it upon the table in the center of the
"Turn your back," commanded the owner of the coat, "and hold up your
hands." Then, after he had slipped into the coat: "Now if I only had
my slippers—but never mind. We won't bother about 'em. They're in
my bed room, and probably lost under the bed. They always are, even
when I take 'em off out in the middle of the room. Ah! Nothing like
a fur coat, Cassius. Do you know what cockles are?"
"No, I don't."
"Well, never mind. Now, let's try Central again. Please remember
that no matter how distant she is, she still expects you to look
upon her as a lady. No lady likes to be sworn at at two o'clock in
the morning. Speak gently to her. Call her Madamoiselle. That always
gets them. Makes 'em think if they keep their ears open they'll hear
"They general fall for dearie," said Mr. Smilk, taking down the
"Be good enough to remember that you are calling from my apartment,"
said Mr. Yollop severely. "Jiggle it."
Mr. Smilk jiggled it. "I guess she's still mad."
"Jiggle it slowly, tenderly, caressingly. Sort of seductively. Don't
be so savage about it."
"Hello! Central? What number do I have to call to get Spring 3100?
… I'm not trying to be fresh: … Yes, that's what I want … I
know the book says to tell you 'I want to call a policeman' but—
… Yes, there's a burglar in my apartment and I want you to—What's
that? … I don't want to go to bed. … Say, now YOU'RE gettin'
fresh. You give me police—"
"Tell her I've got you surrounded," whispered Mr. Yollop.
"Hello! Hell—lo! Central!"
"Ah, Mademoiselle! Pardon my—"
Voice at the other end of the wire: "Ring off! You've got wrong
number. This is police headquarters." Audible sound of distant
receiver being slapped upon its hook.
"Gee whiz! Now, we're up against it, Mister. We'll be all night
gettin' Central again."
"Be patient, Cassius. Start all over again. Ask for the morgue this
time. That will make her realize the grave danger you are in."
"Say, I wish you'd put that gun in your pocket. It makes the goose
flesh creep out all over me. I'm not going to try to get away. Give
you my word of honor I ain't. You seem to have some sort of idea
that I don't want to be arrested."
"I confess I had some such idea, Cassius."
"Well, I don't mind it a bit. Fact is, I've been doin' my best to
get nabbed for the last three months."
"Sure. The trouble is with the police. They somehow seem to overlook
me, no matter how open I am about it. I suppose I've committed
twenty burglaries in the past three months and I'll be cussed if I
can make 'em understand. Take to-night, for instance. I clumb up
that fire escape,—this is the third floor, ain't it?—I clumb up
here with a big electric street light shinin' square on my back,—why,
darn the luck, I had to turn my back on it 'cause the light
hurt my eyes,—and there were two cops standin' right down below
here talkin' about the crime wave bein' all bunk, both of 'em
arguin' that the best proof that there ain't no crime wave is the
fact that the jails are only half full, showin' that the city is
gettin' more and more honest all the time. I could hear 'em plain as
anything. They were talkin' loud, so as to make everybody in this
buildin' rest easy, I guess. I stopped at the second floor and
monkeyed with the window, hopin' to attract their attention. Didn't
work. So I had to climb up another flight. This window of yours was
up about six inches, so there wasn't anything for me to do but to
raise it and come in. What I had in mind was to stick my head out
after a minute or two and yell 'thieves', 'police', and so on. Then
before I knowed what was happenin', you walks in, switches on the
light, and comes straight over and biffs me in the jaw. Does that
look as if I was tryin' to avoid arrest?"
"That's a very pretty story, Cassius, and no doubt will make a
tremendous hit with the jury, but what were you doing with a loaded
revolver in your hand, and why were you so full of vituperation,—I
mean, what made you swear so when I—"
"You let somebody hit you a wallop on the jaw and bang your head
against the wall and dance on your ribs, and you'll cuss worse than
"But,—about the revolver?"
"Well, to be honest with you, I probably would have shot you if I
hadn't been so low in my mind. I won't deny that. It's a sort of
principle with us, you see. No self-respecting burglar wants to be
captured by the party he's tryin' to rob. Its so damn' mortifyin'.
Besides, if that sort of thing happens to you, the police lose all
kinds of respect for you and try to use you as a stool-pigeon, if
you know what that means."
"This is most interesting, I must say. I should like to hear more
about it, Mr. Smilk. I dare say we can have quite a long and
edifying chat while we are waiting for the police to respond to our
call for help. In the meantime, you might see if you can get them
now. Spring, three one hundred."
"As I was sayin' awhile ago, would you mind puttin' that gun in your
"While you've been chinning, Cassius, I have been making a most
thrilling and amazing experiment. Do you call this thing under
here a trigger?"
"Yes. Don't monkey with it, you—you—"
"I've been pressing it,—very gently and cautiously, of course,—to
see just how near I can come to making it go off without actually—"
"For God's sake! Cut that—Hey, Central! Give me police headquarters
again. … Lively, please. … Yes, it's life or death. … Come on,
"That's the way," complimented Mr. Yollop.
"By gosh, nobody ever wanted the police more than I do at this
minute," gulped Mr. Smilk. He was perspiring freely. "Hello! Police
headquarters? … Hustle someone to—to—(over his shoulder to Mr.
Yollop, in a whisper,)—quick! What's the number of this,—"
"418 Sagamore Terrace."
Into the transmitter: "To 418 Sagamore Terrace, third floor front.
Burglar. Hurry up!"
Telephone: "What's yer name?"
Smilk, to Yollop: "What is my name?"
Mr. Yollop: "Crittenden Yollop."
Smilk, to telephone: "Crittelyum Yop."
Telephone, languidly: "Spell it."
Smilk: "Aw, go to—"
Mr. Yollop: "After me now,—Y-o-l-l-o-p."
Telephone: "First name."
Smilk, prompted. "C-r-i-t-t-e-n-d-e-n."
Telephone, after interval: "What floor?"
Telephone: "Are you sure it's a burglar, or is it just a noise
Smilk: "It's a burglar. He's got me covered."
Telephone: "What's that?"
Smilk: "I say, I've got him covered. Hurry up or he'll blow my head
Telephone: "Say, what IS this? Get back to bed, you. You're drunk."
Smilk: "I'm as sober as you are. Can't you get me straight? I tell
you I beat his head off. He's down and out,—but—-"
Telephone: "All right. We'll have someone there in a few minutes.
Did you say Yullup?"
Smilk: "No. I said hurry up."
"The thing that's troubling me now," said Mr. Yollop, as Smilk hung
up the receiver and twisted his head slightly to peek out of the
corner of his eye, "is how to get hold of my slippers. You've no
idea how cold this floor is."
"If it's half as cold as the sweat I'm—-"
"We're likely to have a long wait," went on the other, frowning. "It
will probably take the police a couple of hours to find this
building, with absolutely no clue except the number and the name of
"I'll tell you what you might do, Mr. Scollop, seein' as you won't
trust me to go in and find your slippers for you. Why don't you sit
on your feet? Take that big arm chair over there and—"
"Splendid! By jove, Cassius, you are an uncommonly clever chap. I'll
do it. And then, when the police arrive, we'll have something for
them to do. We'll let them see if they can find my slippers. That
ought to be really quite interesting."
"There's something about you," said Mr. Smilk, not without a touch
of admiration in his voice, "that I simply can't help liking."
"That's what the wolf said to Little Red Riding-Hood, if I remember
correctly. However, I thank you, Cassius. In spite of the thump I
gave you and the disgusting way in which I treated you, a visitor in
my own house, you express a liking for me. It is most gratifying.
Still, for the time being, I believe we can be much better friends
if I keep this pistol pointed at you. Now we 'll do a little
maneuvering. You may remain seated where you are. However, I must
ask you to pull out the two lower drawers in the desk,—one on
either side of where your knees go. You will find them quite empty
and fairly commodious. Now, put your right foot in the drawer on
this side and your left foot in the other one—yes, I know it's
quite a stretch, but I dare say you can manage it. Sort of recalls
the old days when evil-doers were put in the stocks, doesn't it?
They seem to be quite a snug fit, don't they? If it is as difficult
for you to extricate your feet from those drawers as it was to
insert them, I fancy I'm pretty safe from a sudden and impulsive
dash in my direction. Rather bright idea of mine, eh?"
"I'm beginnin' to change my opinion of you," announced Mr. Smilk.
Mr. Yollop pushed a big unholstered library chair up to the opposite
side of the desk and, after several awkward attempts, succeeded in
sitting down, tailor fashion, with his feet neatly tucked away
"I wasn't quite sure I could do it," said he, rather proudly. "I
suppose my feet will go to sleep in a very short time, but I am
assuming, Cassius, that you are too much of a gentleman to attack a
man whose feet are asleep."
"I wouldn't even attack you if they were snoring," said Cassius,
grinning in spite of himself. "Say, this certainly beats anything
I've ever come up against. If one of my pals was to happen to look
in here right now and see me with my feet in these drawers and you
squattin' on yours,—well, I can't help laughin' myself, and God
knows I hate to."
"You were saying a little while ago," said Mr. Yollop, shifting his
position slightly, "that you rather fancy the idea of being
arrested. Isn't that a little quixotic, Mr. Smilk?"
"I mean to say, do you expect me to believe you when you say you
relish being arrested?"
"I don't care a whoop whether you believe it or not. It's true."
"Have you no fear of the law?"
"Bless your heart, sir, I don't know how I'd keep body and soul
together if it wasn't for the law. If people would only let the law
alone, I'd be one of the happiest guys on earth. But, damn 'em, they
won't let it alone. First, they put their heads together and frame
up this blasted parole game on us. Just about the time we begin to
think we're comfortably settled up the river, 'long comes some
doggone home-wrecker and gets us out on parole. Then we got to go to
work and begin all over again. Sometimes, the way things are
nowadays, it takes months to get back into the pen again. We got to
live, ain't we? We got to eat, ain't we? Well, there you are. Why
can't they leave us alone instead of drivin' us out into a cold,
unfeelin' world where we got to either steal or starve to death?
There wouldn't be one tenth as much stealin' and murderin' as there
is if they didn't force us into it. Why, doggone it, I've seen some
of the most cruel and pitiful sights you ever heard of up there at
Sing Sing. Fellers leadin' a perfectly honest life suddenly chucked
out into a world full of vice and iniquity and forced—absolutely
forced,—into a life of crime. There they were, livin' a quiet,
peaceful life, harmin' nobody, and bing! they wake up some mornin'
and find themselves homeless. Do you realize what that means, Mr.
Strumpet? It means—"
"Yollop, if you please."
"It means they got to go out and slug some innocent citizen, some
poor guy that had nothing whatever to do with drivin' them out, and
then if they happen to be caught they got to go through with all the
uncertainty of a trial by jury, never knowin' but what some
pin-headed juror will stick out for acquittal and make it necessary
to go through with it all over again. And more than that, they got
to listen to the testimony of a lot of policemen, and their own
derned fool lawyers, tryin' to deprive them of their bread and
butter, and the judge's instructions that nobody pays any attention
to except the shorthand reporter,—and them just settin' there sort
of helpless and not even able to say a word in their own behalf
because the law says they're innocent till they're proved guilty,—why,
I tell you, Mr. Dewlap, it's heart-breakin'. And all because
some weak-minded smart aleck gets them paroled. As I was sayin', the
law's all right if it wasn't for the people that abuse it."
"This is most interesting," said Mr. Yollop. "I've never quite
understood why ninety per cent of the paroled convicts go back to
the penitentiary so soon after they've been liberated."
"Of course," explained Mr. Smilk, "there are a few that don't get
back. That's because, in their anxiety to make good, they get killed
by some inexperienced policeman who catches 'em comin' out of
somebody's window or—"
"By the way, Cassius, let me interrupt you. Will you have a cigar?
Nice, pleasant way to pass an hour or two—beg pardon?"
"I was only sayin', if you don't mind I'll take one of these
cigarettes. Cigars are a little too heavy for me."
"I have some very light grade domestic—"
"I don't mean in quality. I mean in weight. What's the sense of
wastin' a lot of strength holding a cigar in your mouth when it
requires no effort at all to smoke a cigarette? Why, I got it all
figured out scientifically. With the same amount of energy you
expend in smokin' one cigar you could smoke between thirty and forty
cigarettes, and being sort of gradual, you wouldn't begin to feel
half as fatigued as if you—"
"Did I understand you to say 'scientifically', or was it
"I'm tryin' to use common, every-day words, Mr. Shallop," said Mr.
Smilk, with dignity, "and I wish you'd do the same."
"Ahem! Well, light up, Cassius. I think I'll smoke a cigar. When you
get through with the matches, push 'em over this way, will you? Help
yourself to those chocolate creams. There's a pound box of them at
your elbow, Cassius. I eat a great many. They're supposed to be
fattening. Help yourself." After lighting his cigar Mr. Yollop
inquired: "By the way, since you speak so feelingly I gather that
you are a paroled convict."
"That's what I am. And the worst of it is, it ain't my first
offense. I mean it ain't the first time I've been paroled. To begin
with, when I was somewhat younger than I am now, I was twice turned
loose by judges on what they call 'suspended sentences.' Then I was
sent up for two years for stealin' something or other,—I forgot
just what it was. I served my time and a little later on went up
again for three years for holdin' up a man over in Brooklyn. Well, I
got paroled out inside of two years, and for nearly six months I had
to report to the police ever' so often. Every time I reported I had
my pockets full of loot I'd snitched durin' the month, stuff the
bulls were lookin' for in every pawn-shop in town, but to save my
soul I couldn't somehow manage to get myself caught with the goods
on me. Say, I'd give two years off of my next sentence if I could
cross my legs for five or ten minutes. This is gettin' worse and
worse all the—"
"You might try putting your left foot in the right hand drawer and
your right foot in the other one," suggested Mr. Yollop.
Mr. Smilk stared. "I've seen a lot of kidders in my time, but you
certainly got 'em all skinned to death," said he.
Mr. Yollop puffed reflectively for awhile, pondering the situation.
"Well, suppose you remove one foot at a time, Cassius. As soon it is
fairly well rested, put it back again and then take the other one
out for a spell,—and so on. Half a loaf is better than no loaf at
Smilk withdrew his left foot from its drawer and sighed gratefully.
"As I was sayin'," he resumed, "if we could only put some kind of a
curb on these here tender-hearted boobs—and boobesses—the world
would be a much better place to live in. The way it is now, nine
tenths of the fellers up in Sing Sing never know when they'll have
to pack up and leave, and it's a constant strain on the nerves, I
tell you. There seems to be a well-organized movement to interfere
with the personal liberty of criminals, Mr. Poppup. These here
sentimental reformers take it upon themselves to say whether a
feller shall stay in prison or not. First, they come up there and
pick out some poor helpless feller and say 'it's a crime to keep a
good-lookin', intelligent boy like you in prison, so we're going to
get you out on parole and make an honest, upright citizen of you.
We're going to get you a nice job',—and so on and so forth. Well,
before he knows it, he's out and has to put up a bluff of workin'
for a livin'. Course, he just has to go to stealin' again. It makes
him sore when he thinks of the good, honest life he was leadin' up
there in the pen, with nothin' to worry about, satisfactory hours,
plenty to eat, and practically divorced from his wife without havin'
to go through the mill. If my calculations are correct, more than
fifty per cent of the crime that's bein' committed these days is the
work of paroled convicts who depended on the law to protect and
support them for a given period of time. And does the law protect
them? It does not. It allows a lot of pinheads to interfere with it,
and what's the answer? A lot of poor devils are forced to go out and
risk their lives tryin' to—"
"Just a moment, please," interrupted Mr. Yollop. "You are talking a
trifle too fast, Cassius. Moderate your speed a little. Before we go
any further, I would like to be set straight on one point. Do you
mean to tell me that you actually prefer being in prison?"
"Well, now, that's a difficult question to answer," mused Mr. Smilk.
"Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. It's sort of like being
married, I suppose. Sometimes you're glad you're married and
sometimes you wish to God you wasn't. Course, I've only been married
three or four times, and I've been in the pen six times, one place
or another, so I guess I'm not what you'd call an unbiased witness.
I seem to have a leanin' toward jail,—about three to one in favor
of jail, you might say, with the odds likely to be increased pretty
shortly if all goes well. Do you mind if I change drawers?"
"Eh! Oh, I see. Go ahead."
Mr. Smilk put his right foot back into its drawer and withdrew the
"Gets you right across this tendon on the back of your ankle," he
said. "Now, you take the daily life of the average laboring man," he
went on earnestly. "What does he get out of it? Nothin' but
expenses. The only thing that don't cost him something is work. And
all the time he's at work his expenses are goin' on just the same,
pilin' up durin' his absence from home. Rent, food, fuel, light,
doctor, liquor, clothes, shoes,—everything pilin' up on him while
he's workin' for absolutely nothin' between pay days. The only time
he gets anything for his work is on pay day. The rest of the time
he's workin' for nothin', week in and week out. Say he works
forty-four hours a week. When does he get his pay? While he's
workin'? Not much. He has to work over time anywhere from fifteen
minutes to half an hour—on his own time, mind you—standin' in line
to get his pay envelope. And then when he gets it, what does he have
to do? He has to go home and wonder how the hell he's goin' to get
through the next week with nothin' but carfare to go on after his
wife has told him to come across. Now you take a convict. He hasn't
an expense in the world. Free grub, free bed, free doctor, free
clothes,—he could have free liquor if the keepers would let his
friends bring it in,—and his hours ain't any longer than any union
man's hours. He don't have to pay dues to any labor union, he don't
have to worry about strikes or strike benefits, he don't give a
whoop what Gompers or anybody else says about Gary, and he don't
care a darn whether the working man gets his beer or whether the
revenue officers get it. He—"
"Wait a second, please. Just as a matter of curiosity, Cassius, I'd
like to know what your views are on prohibition."
"Are you thinkin' of askin' me if I'll have something to drink?"
inquired Mr. Smilk craftily.
"What has that to do with it?"
"A lot," said Mr. Smilk, with decision.
"Do you approve of prohibition?"
"I do," said the rogue. "In moderation."
"Well, as soon as the police arrive I'll open a bottle of Scotch. In
the meantime go ahead with your very illuminating dissertation. I am
beginning to understand why crime is so attractive, so alluring. I
am almost able to see why you fellows like to go to the
"If you could only get shut up for a couple of years, Mr. Wollop,
you'd appreciate just what has been done in the last few years to
make us fellers like it. You wouldn't believe how much the reformers
have done to induce us to come back as soon as possible. They give
us all kinds of entertainment, free of charge. Three times a week we
have some sort of a show, generally a band concert, a movin' picture
show and a vaudeville show. Then, once a month they bring up some
crackin' good show right out of a Broadway theater to make us forget
that it's Sunday and we'll have to go to work the next morning.
Scenery and costumes and everything and—and—" Here Mr. Smilk
showed signs of blubbering, a weakness that suddenly gave way to the
most energetic indignation. "Why, doggone it, every time I think of
what that woman done to me, I could bite a nail in two. If it hadn't
"Woman? What woman?"
"The woman that got me paroled out. She got I don't know how many
people to sign a petition, sayin' I was a fine feller and all that
kind o' bunk, and all I needed was a chance to show the world how
honest I am and—why, of course, I was honest. How could I help
bein' honest up there? What's eatin' the darn fools? The only thing
you can steal up there is a nap, and you got to be mighty slick if
you want to do that, they watch you so close. But do you know what's
going on in this country right now, Mr. Popple? There's a regular
organized band of law-breakers operating from one end of the nation
to the other. We're tryin' to bust it up, but it's a tough job. The
best way to reform a reformer is to rob him. The minute he finds out
he's been robbed he turns over a new leaf and begins to beller like
a bull about how rotten the police are. Ninety nine times out of a
hundred he quits his cussed interferin' with the law and becomes a
decent, law-observin' citizen. Our scheme is to get busy as soon as
we've been turned loose and while our so-called benefactors are
still rejoicin' over havin' snatched a brand from the burnin', we up
and show 'em the error of their ways. First offenders get off fairly
easy. We simply sneak in and take their silver and some loose
jewelry. The more hardened they are, the worse we treat 'em. Ring
leaders some times get beat up so badly it's impossible to identify
'em at the morgue. But in time we'll smash the gang, and then if a
feller goes up for ten, twenty or even thirty years he'll know
there's no underhanded work goin' on and he can settle down to an
honest life. The only way to stop crime in this country, Mr. Yollop,
"—is to make EVERYBODY respect the law. And with conditions so
pleasant and so happy in the prison I want to tell you there's
nobody in the country that respects and admires the law more than we
do,—'specially us fellers that remember what the penitentiaries
used to be like a few years ago when conditions were so tough that
most of us managed to earn an honest livin' outside sooner than run
the risk of gettin' sent up." He sighed deeply. Then with a trace of
real solicitude in his manner: "Are your feet warm yet?"
"Warm as toast. Your discourse, Cassius, has moved me deeply.
Perhaps it would comfort you to call up police headquarters again
and tell 'em to hurry along?"
"Wouldn't be a bad idea," said Mr. Smilk. He took down the receiver.
Presently: "Police headquarters? … How about sending over to 418
Sagamore for that burglar I was speakin' to you about recently? …
Sure, he's here yet. … The same name I gave you earlier in the
evening. … Spell it yourself. You got it written down on a pad
right there in front of you, haven't you? … Say, if you don't get
somebody around here pretty quick, I'm goin' to call up two or three
of the newspaper offices and have 'em send—… All right. See that
you do." Turning to Mr. Yollop, he said: "The police are a pretty
decent lot when you get to know 'em, Mr. Yollop. They do their share
towards enforcin' the law. They do their best to get us the limit.
The trouble is, they got to fight tooth and nail against almost
everybody that ain't on the police force. Specially jurymen. There
ain't a juryman in New York City that wants to believe a policeman
on oath. He'd sooner believe a crook, any day. And sometimes the
judges are worse than the juries. A pal of mine, bein' in
considerable of a hurry to get back home one very cold winter,
figured that if he went up and plead guilty before a judge he'd save
a lot of time. Well, sir, the doggone judge looked him over for a
minute or two, and suddenly, out of a clear sky, asked him if he had
a family,—and when he acknowledged, being an honest though ignorant
guy, that he had a wife and three children, the judge said, if he'd
promise to go out and earn a livin' for them he'd let him off with a
suspended sentence, and before he had a chance to say he'd be damned
if he'd make any such fool promise, the bailiff hustled him out the
runway and told him to 'beat it'. He had to go out and slug a poor
old widow woman and rob her of all the money she'd saved since her
husband died—say, that reminds me. I got a favor I'd like to ask
of you, Mr. Yollop."
"I'm inclined to grant almost any favor you may ask," said Mr.
Yollop, sympathetically. "I know how miserable you must feel,
Cassius, and how hard life is for you. Do you want me to shoot you?"
"No, I don't," exclaimed Mr. Smilk hastily. "I want you to take my
roll of bills and hide it before the police come. That ain't much to
ask, is it?"
"Bless my soul! How extraordinary!"
"There's something over six hundred dollars in the roll," went on
Cassius confidentially. "It ain't that I'm afraid the cops will grab
it for themselves, understand. But, you see, it's like this. The
first thing the judge asks you when you are arraigned is whether you
got the means to employ a lawyer. If you ain't, he appoints some one
and it don't cost you a cent. Now, if I go down to the Tombs with
all this money, why, by gosh, it will cost me just that much to get
sent to Sing Sing, 'cause whatever you've got in the shape of real
money is exactly what your lawyer's fee will be, and it don't seem
sensible to spend all that money to get sent up when you can obtain
the same result for nothin'. Ain't that so?"
"It sounds reasonable, Cassius. You appear to be a thrifty as well
as an honest fellow. But, may I be permitted to ask what the devil
you are doing with six hundred dollars on your person while actively
engaged in the pursuit of your usual avocation? Why didn't you leave
it at home?"
"Home? My God, man, don't you know it ain't safe these days to have
a lot of money around the house? With all these burglaries going on?
Not on your life. Even if I had had all this dough when I left home
to-night, I wouldn't have taken any such chance as leavin' it there.
The feller I'm roomin' with is figurin' on turning over a new leaf;
he's thinkin' of gettin' married for five or six months and I don't
think he could stand temptation."
"Do you mean to say, you acquired your roll after leaving home
"To be perfectly honest with you, Mr. Moppup, I—"
"—Yollop, I found this money in front of a theater up town,—just
after the police nabbed a friend of mine who had frisked some guy of
his roll and had to drop it in a hurry."
"And you want me to keep it for you till you are free again,—is
"Just as soon as the trial is over and I get my sentence, I'll send
a pal of mine around to you with a note and you can turn it over to
him. All I'm after, is to keep some lawyer from gettin'—"
"What would you say, Cassius, if I were to tell you that I am a
"I'd say you're a darned fool to confess when you don't have to,"
replied Mr. Smilk succinctly.
Mr. Yollop chuckled. "Well, I'm not a lawyer. Nevertheless, I must
decline to act as a depository for your obviously ill-gotten gains."
"Gee, that's tough," lamented Mr. Smilk. "Wouldn't you just let me
drop it behind something or other,—that book case over there
say,—and I'll promise to send for it some night when you're out,—"
"No use, Cassius," broke in Mr. Yollop, firmly. "I'm deaf to your
entreaties. Permit me to paraphrase a very well-known line. 'None so
deaf as him who will not hear.'"
"If I speak very slowly and distinctly don't you think you could
hear me if I was to offer to split the wad even with
you,—fifty-fifty,—no questions asked?" inquired Cassius, rather
"See here," exclaimed Mr. Yollop, irritably; "you got me in this
position and I want you to get me out of it. While I've been
squatting here listening to you, they've both gone to sleep and I'm
hanged if I can move 'em. I never would have dreamed of sitting on
them if you hadn't put the idea into my head, confound you."
"Let 'em hang down for a while," suggested Mr. Smilk. "That'll wake
"Easier said than done," snapped the other. He managed, however, to
get his benumbed feet to the floor and presently stood up on them.
Mr. Smilk watched him with interest as he hobbled back and forth in
front of the desk. "They'll be all right in a minute or two. By
Jove, I wish my sister could have heard all you've been saying about
prisons and paroles and police. I ought to have had sense enough to
call her. She's asleep at the other end of the hall."
"I hate women," growled Mr. Smilk. "Ever since that pie-faced dame
got me chucked out of Sing Sing,—say, let me tell you something
else she done to me. She gave me an address somewhere up on the East
Side and told me to come and see her as soon as I got out. Well, I
hadn't been out a week when I went up to see her one night,—or,
more strictly speakin', one morning about two o'clock. What do you
think? It was an empty house, with a 'for rent' sign on it. I found
out the next day she'd moved a couple of weeks before and had gone
to some hotel for the winter because it was impossible to keep any
servants while this crime wave is goin' on. The janitor told me
she'd had three full sets of servants stole right out from under her
nose by female bandits over on Park Avenue. I don't suppose I'll
ever have another chance to get even with her. Everything all set to
bind and gag her, and maybe rap her over the bean a couple of times
and—say, can you beat it for rotten luck? She—she double-crossed
me, that's what she—"
A light, hesitating rap on the library door interrupted Mr. Smilk's
"Some one at the door," the burglar announced, after a moment. Mr.
Yollop had failed to hear the tapping.
"You can't fool me, Cassius. It's an old trick but it won't work.
I've seen it done on the stage too many times to be caught napping
"There it goes again. Louder, please!" he called with considerable
vehemence and was rewarded by a scarcely audible tapping indicative
not only of timidity but of alarm as well—"Say," he bawled,
"you'll have to cut out that spirit rapping if you want to come in.
Use your night-stick!"
"Ah, the police at last," cried Mr. Yollop. "You'd better take this
revolver now, Mr. Smilk," he added hastily. "I won't want 'em to
catch me with a weapon in my possession. It means a heavy fine or
imprisonment." He shoved the pistol across the desk. "They wouldn't
believe me if I said it was yours."
A sharp, penetrating rat-a-tat on the door. Mr. Smilk picked up the
"You bet they wouldn't," said he. "If I swore on a stack of bibles I
let a boob like you take it away from me, they'd send me to
Matteawan, and God knows,—"
"Come in!" called out Mr. Yollop.
The door opened and a plump, dumpy lady in a pink peignoir, her
front hair done up in curl-papers stood revealed on the threshold
blinking in the strong light.
"Goodness gracious, Crittenden," she cried irritably, "don't you
know what time of night it—"
She broke off abruptly as Mr. Smilk, with a great clatter, yanked
his remaining foot from the drawer and arose, overturning the
swivel-chair in his haste.
"Well, for the love of—" oozed from his gaping mouth. Suddenly he
turned his face away and hunched one shoulder up as a sort of
"It's long past three o'clock," went on the newcomer severely. "I'm
sorry to interrupt a conference but I do think you might arrange for
an appointment during the day, sir. My brother has not been well and
if ever a man needed sleep and rest and regular hours, he does.
Crittenden, I wish you—"
"Cassius," interrupted Mr. Yollop urbanely, "this is my sister, Mrs.
Champney. I want you to repeat—Turn around here, can't you? What's
the matter with you?"
"Don't order me around like that," muttered Mr. Smilk, still with
his face averted. "I've got the gun now and I'll do as I damn'
please. You can't talk to me like—"
"Goodness! Who is this man?" cried the lady, stopping short to
regard the blasphemer with shocked, disapproving eyes. "And what is
he doing with a revolver in his hand?"
"Give me that pistol,—at once," commanded Mr. Yollop. "Hand it
"Not on your life," cried Mr. Smilk triumphantly. He faced Mrs.
Champney. "Take off them rings, you. Put 'em here on the desk.
Lively, now! And don't yelp! Do you get me? DON'T YELP!"
Mrs. Champney stared unblinkingly, speechless.
"Put up your hands, Yollop!" ordered Mr. Smilk.
"Why,—why, it's Ernest,—Ernest Wilson," she gasped, incredulously.
Then, with a little squeak of relief: "Don't pay any attention to
him, Crittenden. He is a friend of mine. Don't you remember me,
Ernest? I am—"
"You bet your life I remember you," said the burglar softly, almost
"Ernest your grandmother," cried Mr. Yollop jerking the disk first
one way and then the other in order to catch the flitting duologue.
"His name is Smilk,—Cassius Smilk."
"Nothing of the sort," said Mrs. Champney sharply. "It's Ernest
Wilson,—isn't it, Ernest?"
"Take off them rings," was the answer she got.
"What is this man doing here, Crittenden?" demanded Mrs. Champney,
paying no heed to Smilk's command.
"He's a burglar," replied Mr. Yollop. "I guess you'd better take off
your rings, Alice."
"Do you mean to tell me, Ernest Wilson, that you've gone back to
your evil ways after all I,—"
"I say, Cassius," cried Mr. Yollop, "is this the woman you wanted to
bind and gag and—and—"
"Yes, and rap over the bean," finished Mr. Smilk, as the speaker
"Rap over the—what?" inquired Mrs. Champney, squinting.
"The bean," said Mr. Smilk, with emphasis.
"I can't imagine what has come over you, Ernest. You were such a
nice, quiet, model prisoner,—one of the most promising I ever had
anything to do with. The authorities assured me that you—do you
mean to tell me that you entered this apartment for the purpose of
robbing it? Don't answer! I don't want to hear your voice again. You
have given me the greatest disappointment of my life. I trusted you,
Ernest,—I had faith in you,—and—and now I find you here in my
own brother's apartment, of all places in the world, still pursuing
"Well, you went and moved away on me," broke in Smilk wrathfully.
"That's right, Alice," added Mr. Yollop. "You went and moved on him.
He told me that just before you came in."
"You may as well understand right now, Ernest Wilson, that I shall
never intercede for you again," said Mrs. Champney sternly. "I shall
let you rot in prison. I am through with you. You don't deserve—"
"Are you goin' to take off them rings, or have I got to—"
"Would you rob your benefactress?" demanded the lady.
"Every time I think of all that you robbed me of, I—I—" began Mr.
"Don't blubber, Cassius," said Mr. Yollop consolingly. "You see, my
dear Alice, Mr. Smilk thinks,—and maintains,—that you did him a
dirty trick when you had him turned out into a wicked, dishonest
world. He was living on the fat of the land up there in Sing Sing,
seeing motion pictures and plays and so forth, without a worry in
the world, with union hours and union pay, no one depending—"
"What nonsense are you talking? How could he have union pay in a
"Don't interrupt me, please. However, I will explain that he was
just as well-off at the end of the week as any union laborer is, and
no street car fare to pay besides. Free food, fuel, lodging,
"I forgot to mention baseball," interrupted Mr. Smilk. "And once in
awhile an electrocution to break the monotony, to say nothin' of a
jail-break every now and then. Say, you'll have to get a move on,
Mrs. Champney,—God, will I ever forget that name!—'cause we're
expectin' the police here before long. I've changed my mind about
havin' you hold your hands up, Mr. Yollop. You made me telephone for
the police to come around and arrest me. Now I'm goin' to make you
bind and gag this lady. I can't very well do it myself and keep you
covered at the same time, and while I ought to give you a wollop on
the jaw, same as you done to me, I ain't goin' to do it. You can
scream if you want to, ma'am,—yell 'bloody murder', and 'police',
and everything. It's all the same to me. Go ahead and—"
"It is not my intention to do anything of the kind," announced the
lady haughtily. "But I want to tell you one thing, Crittenden
Yollop. If you attempt to gag and bind me, I'll bite and scratch,
even if you are my own brother."
Mr. Yollop pondered. "I think, Cassius, if you don't mind, I'd
rather you'd hit me a good sound wollop on the jaw."
"I'll tell you what I'll do," modified Mr. Smilk. "I'll lock you in
that closet over there, Mr. Yollop, so's you won't have to watch me
rap her over the bean. After I've gone through the apartment,
"Would you strike a woman, Ernest Wilson?" cried Mrs. Champney.
"See here, Smilk," said Mr. Yollop, "I cannot allow you to strike my
sister. If you so much as lay a finger on her, I'll thrash you
within an inch of your life."
"Oh, you will, will you?" sneered Mr. Smilk.
"If you want to go ahead and rob this apartment in a decent, orderly
way, all well and good. My sister and I will personally conduct you
"We will do nothing of the kind," blazed Mrs. Champney.
"I'd like to see you try to thrash me within an inch—"
"And, what's more," went on the lady, "I will see that you go up for
twenty years, Ernest Wilson, you degraded, ungrateful wretch."
Smilk's face brightened. He even allowed himself a foxy grin.
"Now you're beginnin' to talk sense," said he.
"Sit down, Ernest, and let me talk quietly to you," said Mrs.
Champney. "I'm sure you don't quite realize what you are doing. You
need moral support. You are not naturally a bad man. You—"
"Are you goin' to take them rings off peaceably?" muttered Smilk, a
hunted look leaping into his eyes.
"I am not," said she.
"Speak a little louder, both of you," complained Mr. Yollop. "This
contraption of mine doesn't seem to catch what you are saying."
"Jiggle it," said Smilk brightly.
"How long ago did you telephone for the police, Crittenden?"
"How long ago was it, Cassius?"
"Only about an hour. We got plenty of time to finish up before they
"Do you think it will go harder with you, Cassius, if they find Mrs.
Champney bound and gagged and everything scattered about the floor,
and the jewelry in your possession?"
"It might help," said Cassius. "The trouble is, you never can tell
what a damn' fool jury will do, 'specially to a guy with a record
"You had a splendid record up at Sing Sing," announced the lady.
"That's why I had so little trouble—"
"You don't get me," said Cassius lugubriously. "My record is a bad
one. I've been paroled twice. That's bound to influence most any
jury against me. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if they recommended
clemency, as the sayin' is, and after all that's been done to keep
me out of the pen, the judge is likely to up and give me the minimum
sentence. No," he went on, "I guess I'll have to rap somebody over
the bean. I'd sooner it as you, ma'am, on account of the way you
forced me into a life of crime when I was leadin' an honest, happy,
"Why, the man's insane, Crittenden,—positively insane. He doesn't
know what he's—"
"For God's sake, don't start anything like that," barked Cassius.
"That would be the LIMIT!"
"You don't understand, Alice," said Mr. Yollop kindly. "The poor
fellow merely wants to have the law enforced. He says it's a crime
the way the law is being violated these days. Or words to that
effect, eh, Cassius?"
"Yes, sir. There are more honest, law-abidin' men up in Sing Sing
right at this minute than there are in the whole city of New York.
Or words to that effect, as you say, Mr. Yollop. The surest and
quickest way to make an honest man of a crook is to send him to the
pen. I don't know as I've ever heard of a robbery, or a holdup, or
anything like that up there."
"The way he rambles, Crittenden, is proof—"
"It would be just like her to go on the stand and swear I'm batty,"
snarled Cassius. "I got to do something about it, Mr. Yollop. She's
goin' to interfere with the law again, sure as God made little
apples. I can see it comin'. I'm goin' to count three, ma'am. If you
don't let Mr. Yollop start to tyin' you up with that muffler of his
hangin' over there in the closet by the time I've said three, I'm
goin' to shoot him. I hate to do it, 'cause he's a fine feller and
don't deserve to be shot on account of any darn' fool woman."
"I suppose you know the law provides a very unpleasant penalty for
murder," said Mrs. Champney, but her voice quavered disloyally.
"One!" began Cassius ominously.
"Do you really mean it?" she cried, and glanced frantically over her
shoulder at the open closet door.
"Two," replied Cassius.
"Count slowly," implored Mr. Yollop.
"You—you may tie my hands, Critt—Crittenden,—" chattered the
"You mustn't bite or scratch him," warned Cassius.
Sixty seconds later, Mrs. Champney stood before the burglar, her
wrists securely bound behind her back.
"Will you gag her, or must I?" demanded Cassius.
"I will give you my word of honor not to scream," faltered the
"It ain't the screamin' I object to," said Smilk. "It's the talkin'.
You've done too much talkin' already, ma'am. If you hadn't talked so
much I wouldn't be here tonight."
"Have you a hanky, Cassius?" inquired Mr. Yollop.
"I refuse to have that disgusting wretch's filthy handkerchief
stuffed into my mouth," cried Mrs. Champney, with spirit. Mr. Yollop
chuckled. "Good gracious, Crittenden, what is there to laugh at?"
"I was thinking of your roll of bills, Cassius," said Mr. Yollop.
"Not on your life," said Cassius, who evidently had had the same
thought. "She'd swaller it."
"I suppose we'd better repair to your room, Alice, where we can
obtain the necessary articles. Mr. Smilk will naturally want to
ransack your room anyhow, so we 'll be saving quite a bit of time.
And the police are likely to be here any minute now."
"You forgot to take your rings off, ma'am," reminded Mr. Smilk.
"That's got to be attended to, first of all. Take 'em off, Mr.
Yollop, and put 'em here on the desk." A moment later he dropped the
three costly rings into his coat pocket. "Now," said he, "lead the
way. I'll be right behind you with the gun. No monkey business,
It was not long before Mrs. Champney, properly gagged, found herself
lashed to a rocking-chair in the charming little bed chamber,
occupying, so to speak, a select position from which to observe the
hasty but skillful operations of her recalcitrant beneficiary. She
watched him empty her innovation trunk, the drawers in her bureau,
and the closet in which her choicest gowns were hanging. He did it
very thoroughly. The floor was strewn with lingerie, hats, shoes,
slippers, gloves, stockings, furs, frocks,—over which he trod with
professional disdain; he broke open her smart little jewel case and
took therefrom a glittering assortment of rings, bracelets, and
earrings; a horseshoe pin, a gorgeous crescent, and a string of
pearls; a platinum and diamond wrist watch, an acorn watch, a
diamond collar, several bars of diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and
odds and ends of feminine vanity all without so much as pausing to
classify them beyond the mere word "junk". All of this dazzling
fortune he stuffed carelessly into his pocket.
During the proceedings, Mr. Yollop stood obediently over against the
wall, his hands aloft, his back towards the rummaging Cassius.
"What's in that room over there?" demanded the burglar, pointing to
a closed door. For obvious reasons there was no response. He scowled
for a second or two and then, striding over to Mr. Yollop, seized
him by the shoulder and turned him about-face. Then he repeated the
"That's the room where my niece sleeps. A little ten year old child,
Cassius. You will oblige me by not disturbing—"
"Is her hair bobbed?" broke in Mr. Smilk.
"Certainly not. She wears it long. Beautiful golden tresses, Smilk.
Particularly beautiful when she's asleep, spreading out all over the
pillow like a silken—" An audible, muffled, groan came from the
occupant of the rocking-chair heard only by Mr. Smilk. His gaze went
first to the purpling face of Mrs. Champney, then to the door, then
back to the lady again.
"For your sake, Mr. Yollop, I won't clip it," he announced. "I know
I'd ought to, but—Well, I guess it's about time we went back to the
library again. The cops will be along in a couple of minutes now,
according to my calculations. I can tell almost to a minute how long
it takes them to get around to where a burglary has been committed.
If you'll tell me where you think your slippers are we'll stop and
get 'em on the way."
Leaving Mrs. Champney seated alone and helpless in the midst of the
confusion, Smilk marched Mr. Yollop to his bedroom and then up the
hall to the scene of the first encounter.
"It seems sort of a pity not to get away with all this stuff," said
the burglar, rattling the objects in his pocket. "It ain't
professional. I'm beginnin' to change my mind about bein' arrested,
Mr. Yollop: I know a girl that would be tickled to death to have
these things to splash around in. She's a peach of a—say, I believe
I'll use your telephone again. I'll call her up and see how she
feels about it. If she says she'd like to have 'em, I'll make my
getaway before the cops—"
"You will find the telephone directory hanging on the end of the
desk, Cassius," said Mr. Yollop graciously. He was seated in the big
arm chair again, wriggling his toes delightedly in the cozy, fleece
lined bed-room slippers. "But are you not afraid she will be annoyed
if you get her out of bed this time o' night? It's after three."
"I know the number. Yes, she'll be sore at first, but—Hello
Central?" He lowered his voice almost to a whisper, so that Mr.
Yollop could not hear. "Give me Plaza 00100. Right." Turning to Mr.
Yollop, he announced as he sank back into the chair comfortably:
"It's an apartment. We'll probably have quite a long wait. I've
found it takes some little time to wake the head of the house and
get him to the 'phone. And say, he's the darndest grouch I've ever
tackled. Get's sore as a crab. But we've got him where we want him.
He knows darned well if he kicks up a row, she'll quit and his wife
couldn't get anybody in her place for love or money these days. I
was sayin' only the other night—" Again lowering his voice: "Is
this Plaza 00100? … I want to speak to Yilga, please." … Raising
his voice considerably: "Here, now, cut that out! … Well, it IS
important. … Course, I know what time o' night it is. … Yes,
it's a damned outrage an' all that, but—what? … All right, I'll
hold the wire. Tell her to hustle, will you?"
"I wish I had shot you, Smilk, when I had the chance," said Mr.
Yollop sadly. "This is abominable, atrocious. Getting a man out of
bed at half-past three! It's unspeakable, Smilk!"
"She's a light sleeper," mused Mr. Smilk aloud, dreamily.
"Don't bother me. I'm thinkin'!"
Mr. Yollop waited a moment. "What are you thinking about, Cassius?"
Cassius started. "… Eh? I was thinkin' about the last time I had
breakfast at Mr. Johnson's apartment. It was that terrible cold
morning the first of last week. By gosh, how that girl can cook! Six
fried eggs and—yes? Hello!"
Plaza 00100: "Yilga's not in yet."
Smilk, sharply: "What's that?"
Plaza 00100: "She's out."
Smilk, sharply: "Out? Come off! You can't put that sort of stuff
Plaza 00100: "I tell you she's not in. That's all. And say, don't
call up this apartment again at—"
Smilk: "Say, it's nearly four o'clock. She must be in."
Plaza 00100: "She's not in, I tell you. She went out last evening
with her young man. One of the other maids stuck her head out of her
door and told me."
Smilk, with fallen jaw: "What—what time do you expect her in?"
Plaza 00100: "I don't know, and I don't give a damn so long as she's
here in time to get break—"
Smilk, furiously: "Hey, you go back there and bust into her room.
Hear what I say? Better take a club or a gun or something—"
Plaza 00100; "Go to thunder!"
Smilk, flinching as he jerked the receiver away from his ear: "Lord!
I bet he put that telephone out of whack!"
He sagged a little as he slowly hung up the receiver. For a moment
he stared desolately at Mr. Yollop and then recovering himself
gradually rushed with ever increasing velocity into the most violent
hurricane of profanity that ever was centered upon the frailty of
woman. Running out of expletives he at last subsided into an ominous
"For two cents," groaned he, "I'd blow my head off." He gazed
hungrily at the revolver.
"I never dreamed there were so many cuss-words in the world," gasped
Mr. Yollop, blinking.
"There ain't half enough," announced Mr. Smilk, in a far away voice.
"Put that pistol down!" roared Mr. Yollop. "What are you going to
do? Shoot yourself?"
"It would save an awful lot of trouble," said Mr. Smilk.
"The deuce it would! My servants would be a week cleaning up after
you, and you'd probably ruin this Meshed rug. Besides, confound you,
the police would think that I shot you. Give me that pistol! Give it
to me, I say. You can come in here and rob to your heart's content,
but I'm damned if I'll allow you to commit suicide here. That's a
little too thick, Smilk. Why the dickens should you worry about that
infernal jade? Aren't you going to the penitentiary for fifteen or
twenty years? Aren't you-"
"You're right,—you're right," broke in Cassius, drawing a deep
breath. "I guess I had a kind of a brainstorm. It was the jewels
that done it. Funny how a feller gets the feelin' that he just has
to give diamonds and pearls to his girl. It came over me all of a
sudden. The only things I ever gave that girl was a moleskin coat, a
sable collar and muff, and a gold mesh bag with seventy-eight
dollars and a lace handkerchief in it. For a minute or two I was
tempted to give her diamonds and rubies—oh, well, I guess I've had
my lesson. Never again! Never again, Mr. Yollop. I'm off women from
now on. Here's the gun. If the police try to hang it on you, I'll
swear it's mine. Listen! there's the elevator stoppin' at this
floor. It's them. Before we let 'em in, I'd like to tell you I've
never had a more interestin' evenin' in my whole life. What's more I
never saw a man like you. You got me guessin'. You're either the
goshdarndest fool livin' or else you're the slickest confidence man
outside of captivity. Which are you? That's what's eatin' me."
"I'm both," said Mr. Yollop, picking up the revolver.
"That ain't possible," said Mr. Smilk.
"Oh, yes, it is. I'm a milliner, Cassius."
"I know you're a millionaire, but that don't,—"
"I said milliner."
"Run a mill of some kind?"
"No, I make hats for women."
As the incredulous burglar opened his mouth to say something the
buzzer on the door sounded.
"They got here just in time," he substituted.
The case of the State vs. Cassius Smilk, charged with burglary, was
finally set for trial the second week in February, just one year,
one month and eleven days after his arrest in the apartment of
Crittenden Yollop. There had been, it appears, a slight delay in
getting 'round to his case. The dockets in all Parts of General
Sessions were more or less clogged by the efforts of ex-convicts to
get back into the penitentiary. Also, there were a great many murder
cases that kept bobbing up every now and then for continuance on one
plea or another to the disgust of the harassed judges; to say
nothing of the re-trials made necessary by the jurors who listened
more attentively to the lawyers who "summed up" than they did to the
witnesses who were under oath to tell nothing but the truth.
Cassius, on arraignment, had pleaded not guilty, according to the
ancient ritual of his profession. Notwithstanding his evident and
expressed desire to return to a haven of peace and luxury, he was
far too conscientious a criminal to violate the soundest—it may
well be said, the elemental—law of his craft, by pleading guilty to
It was a matter of principle with him. Circumstances had nothing to
do with it. The instant he found himself in court, he reverted to
type, somewhat gleefully setting about to make as much trouble as
possible. He adhered to the principle that no criminal is adequately
punished unless the people are made to pay for the privilege of
suppressing him. The only way to make the people respect the law, he
contended, is to let 'em understand that it costs money to enforce
it. Besides, crime has a certain, clearly established dignity that
must be reckoned with. The world thinks a great deal less of you if
after you have violated the law, you also refuse to fight it.
Take the judge, for instance. (I quote Smilk.) What sort of an
opinion does he have of you if you slide up to the little "gate,"
with your tail between your legs and plead guilty? Why, he hardly
notices you. He has to put on his spectacles in order to see you at
all and he doesn't even have to look in the statute book to refresh
his memory as to the minimum penalty for larceny or whatever it is.
And the way the Assistant District Attorney looks at you! And the
bailiffs too. But put up a fight and see what happens. The whole
blamed works sits up and takes notice. The judge looks over his
spectacles and says to himself, "by gosh, he's a tough lookin' bird,
that guy is;" the District Attorney goes around tellin' everybody in
a whisper that you're a desperate character; the clerk of the court,
the stenographer and all the bailiffs sort of wake up and act busy;
the men waiting to be examined for jobs on the jury begin to fidget
and wonder whether the judge is a "crab" or a nice, decent feller
what'll let 'em off when they tell him they got sickness in the
family, and all of 'em ha tin' you worse than poison because you
didn't plead guilty.
He was remanded for trial within two weeks after his arrest. The
court, finding him penniless, announced he would appoint counsel to
defend him. Whereupon Smilk sauntered back to the Tombs with a light
heart, confident that his sojourn there would be brief and that
March at the very latest would see him snugly settled in his
rent-free, food-free, landlordless home on the Hudson, entertainment
for man and beast provided without discrimination, crime no object.
First of all, his lawyer unexpectedly got a job to represent a shady
lady in a sensational breach of promise suit that drew weekly
postponements over a period of five months and finally died a
natural death out of court sometime in June.
This resulted in his lawyer becoming so affluent that it wasn't
necessary for him to bother with Cassius, so he withdrew from the
case. After some delay, another lawyer was appointed to defend him
and things began to look up. But by this time the dockets had become
so jammed with unrelated dilemmas, and the summer heat was so
intense, that the new lawyer informed him he couldn't possibly
sandwich him in unless he would consent to change his plea to
"guilty", contending that the combination of humility and humidity
would go a long ways towards softening the judge. But Cassius
sturdily refused to cheapen himself.
In the meantime, new crimes had been committed by countless
gentlemen of leisure; the Tombs was full of men clamoring for
attention, and there was an undetected waiting list outside that
stretched all the way from the Battery to the lower extremities of
The principal witness, Mr. Crittenden Yollop, did his best to behave
nobly. He thrice postponed a business trip to Paris in order to be
within reach when Cassius needed him. Then, in the fall, when things
looked most propitious for a speedy termination of Smilk's suspense,
the millinery business took a sudden and alarming turn for the worse
and Mr. Yollop fell into the hands of the specialists. He had his
teeth ex-rayed, his sinuses probed, his eyes examined, his stomach
sounded, his intestines visited, his nerves tampered with, his blood
tested, his kidneys explored, his heart observed, his ears
inspected, his gall stones (if he had any) shifted, his last will
and testament drawn up, his funeral practically arranged for,—all
by different scientists,—and then was ordered to go off somewhere
in the country and play golf for his health. He went to Hot Springs,
Virginia, and inside of two weeks contracted the golf disease in its
most virulent form. He got it so bad that other players looked upon
him as a scourge and avoided him even to the point of
self-sacrifice. It was said of him that when he once got on a green
it was next to impossible to get him off of it.
But all this is neither here nor there. Suffice to say that shortly
after his return to New York, Mr. Yollop paid a more or less
clandestine visit to the Tombs, where he saw Cassius. This was the
week before the trial was to open. He found the crook in a
disconsolate frame of mind.
"Don't call me Yollop," he managed to convey to the prisoner. "I
gave another name to the jailer or whatever he is. Is it jail bird?
It wouldn't look right for the prosecuting witness to come down here
to see you. They think I'm your brother-in-law."
Smilk glowered. "Has your hearin' improved any?" he inquired, after
locating the disc.
"No, of course not."
"Then," said the prisoner, "I can't tell you what I think of you
without the whole damn' jail hearin' me, so I guess you'd better
"Splendid! That's just the way I might have expected you to talk to
"Well, what do you want anyhow?"
"I don't think that's a very nice way to speak to a—"
"Come on, what do you want to see me about? Get it over with and get
out. It can't help my case any if it gets noised around that you
come down here to pay a friendly visit to me. I'm havin' a hard
enough time as it is. It's gettin' so it's almost impossible to get
back into the pen even—"
"See here, Cassius, I've been giving your case a great deal—of
serious thought. I want to help you out of this scrape if there is
any way to do it."
"That's just what I thought you'd be up to," groaned Cassius.
"What's got into you? Have you soured on life, or what is it?"
"Not a bit of it. You do not get my meaning. Your wife came to see
me yesterday afternoon."
"My wife? Which one?"
"A tallish one with a flat nose."
"Yes, I know her. What'd she want?"
"She asked me to be as easy on you as I could, on account of the
"How many children has she got now?"
"Four, she informs me. The youngest is two and a half."
Cassius seemed to be doing a bit of mental arithmetic. He pondered
well before speaking. Then he said: "Did she say whose children?"
"I assumed them to be yours, Cassius."
Smilk grinned. "Well, I guess she's adopted a couple since the last
time I saw her, which was five years ago last Spring. I been married
twice since then. So she wants you to go easy on me, eh?"
"She seems to think that if I intercede for you the judge will let
you off with a suspended sentence, and then you can go to work and
support your family."
"It's time she woke up," snarled Smilk.
"I been at large quite a bit in the last ten years and if she can
prove that I ever supported her,—why, darn her hide, what right has
she got to accuse me of supportin' her when she knows I've never
been guilty of doin' it? She knows as well as anything that she
supported me on three different occasions when I was out for a month
or two at a stretch. I will say this for her, she supported me
better than the other two did,—a lot better. And it's her own fault
her nose is flat. If she'd stood still that time—But I'm not goin'
to discuss family affairs with you, Mr. Yol—"
"It's all right. He ain't listenin'."
"What is your brother-in-law's name?" in a whisper.
"I never had but one name for him, and it's something I wouldn't
call you for anything in the world," said Smilk. "Let's make it
Bill. You ain't goin' to do what she asks, are you? You ain't goin'
to do a dirty trick like that are you,—Bill?"
"I thought I would come down and talk the matter over with you,
Cash. I'm in quite a dilemma. She says if I don't help you out of
this scrape she and all your children will haunt me to my dying day.
It sounds rather terrible, doesn't it?"
"I can't think of anything worse," acknowledged Cassius, solemnly.
"She asked me what I thought your sentence would be, and I told her
I doubted very much whether you'd get more than a year or so, in
view of all the extenuating circumstances,—that is to say, your
self-restraint and all that when you had not only the jewels but the
revolver as well. That seemed to cheer her up a bit."
"You made a ten strike that time, Bill," said Smilk, his face
brightening. "I didn't give you credit for bein' so clever. If she
thinks I'll be out in a year or two, maybe she'll be satisfied to
keep her nose out of my affairs. If you had told her I was dead sure
to go up for twenty years or so, she'd come and camp over there in
the Criminal Courts Building and just raise particular hell with
Mr. Yollop turned his face away. "I'm sorry to bring bad news to
you, Cash, but she's made up her mind to attend your trial next
Monday. She's going to bring the children and—"
He was interrupted by the string of horrific oaths that issued,
pianissimo, through the twisted lips of the prisoner. After a time,
Cassius interrupted himself to murmur weakly:
"If she does that, I'm lost. We got to head her off somehow,
"I don't see how it can be managed. She has a perfect right to
attend the pro—"
"Wait a minute, Bill," broke in the other eagerly. "I got an idea.
If you give her that roll of mine, maybe she'll stay away."
"What roll are you talking about?"
"My roll of bills,—you remember, don't you?"
"My good man, I haven't got your roll of bills. And besides I
couldn't put myself in the position of—of—er—what is it you call
it?—tinkering with witnesses to defeat the ends of justice."
"But she ain't a witness, Bill. You couldn't possibly get in wrong.
What's more, it's my money, and I got a right to give it to my wife,
ain't I? Ain't I got a right to give money to my own wife,—or to
one of my wives, strictly speakin',—and to my own children? Ain't
"That isn't the point. I refuse to be a party to any such game. We
need not discuss it any farther. As I said before, I haven't your
roll of bills, and if I had it I—"
"Oh, yes, you have. You got it right up there in your apartment. I
stuck it away behind a—"
"Stop! Not another word, Cassius. I don't want to know where it is.
If you persist in telling me, I'll—I'll ask the judge to let you
off with the lightest sentence he can—"
"Oh, Lord, you WOULDN'T do that, would you?"
"Yes, I would. What do you mean by secreting stolen property in my
"I didn't steal it. I found it, I tell you."
"Hope I may die if I didn't."
"Well, it may stay there till it rots, so far as I am concerned."
"No danger of that," said Smilk composedly. "A friend of mine is
comin' around some night soon to get it. What else did she say?"
"What else did my wife say?"
"Oh! Well, among other things, she wondered if it would be possible
to get an injunction against the court to prevent him from depriving
her of her only means of support. She says everybody is getting
injunctions these days and—"
"Bosh!" said Smilk, but not with conviction. An anxious, inquiring
gleam lurked in his eyes.
Mr. Yollop continued:
"I told her it was ridiculous,—and it is. Then she said she was
going to see your lawyer and ask him to put her on the witness stand
to testify that you are a good, loyal, hard-working husband and that
your children ought to have a father's hand over them, and a lot
more like that."
"She tried that once before and the court wouldn't let her testify,"
said Smilk. "But anyhow, I'll tell my lawyer to kick her out of the
office if she comes around there offering to commit perjury."
"I rather fancy she has considered that angle, Cassius. She says if
she isn't allowed to testify, she's going to attempt suicide right
there in the court-room."
"By gum, she's a mean woman," groaned Smilk.
"I'm obliged to agree with you," said Mr. Yollop, compressing his
lips as a far-away look came into his eyes. "If I live to be a
thousand years old, I'll never forget the way she talked to me when
I finally succeeded in telling her I was busy and she would have to
excuse me. It was something appalling."
"Course. I suppose I got myself to blame," lamented Cassius
ruefully. "I don't know how many times I come near to doin' it and
didn't because I was so darned chicken-hearted."
"I have decided, Cash, that you ought to go up for life,—or for
thirty years, at least. So when I go on the stand I intend to do
everything in my power to secure the maximum for you. At first, I
was reluctant to aid you in your efforts to lead a life of ease and
enjoyment but recent events have convinced me that you are entitled
to all that the law can give you."
"It won't do much good if she's to set there in the Courtroom,
snivelling and lookin' heart-broke, with a pack of half-starved kids
hangin' on to her. Like as not, she won't give 'em anything to eat
for two or three days so's they'll look the part. I remember two of
them kids fairly well. The Lord knows I used to take all kinds of
risks to provide clothes and all sorts of luxuries for them,—and
for her too. I used to give 'em bicycles and skates and gold
watches,—yes, sir, we had Christmas regularly once a month. And she
never was without fur neck-pieces and muffs and silk stockings and
everything. The trouble with that woman is, she can't stand poverty.
She just keeps on hopin' for the day to come when she can wear all
sorts of finery and jewels again, even if I do have to go to the
penitentiary for it. All this comes of bein' too good a provider,
Bill. You spoil 'em."
Mr. Yollop was thinking, so Cassius, after waiting a moment,
scratched his head and ventured:
"That guy's beginnin' to fidget, Bill. I guess your time's about up.
What are you thinkin' about?"
"I was thinking about your other wives. How many did you say you
"Three, all told. The other two don't bother me much."
"Haven't you ever been divorced from any of them?"
"Not especially. Why?"
"Where do the other two live, and what are their names?"
"Elsie Morton and Jennie Finch. I mean, those are their married
names. I use a different alias every time I get married, you see.
Course, my first wife,—the one you met,—her name is Smilk. I
married her when I was young and not very smart. Elsie lives in
Brooklyn and Jennie keeps a delicatessen up on the West Side."
"Do they know where you are?"
"I don't think so. I forgot to tell 'em I was out on parole last
"And they have never been divorced from you?"
"No. They couldn't prove anything on me as long as I was locked up
in the penitentiary."
"Does either one of them know about the other two?"
"I should say not! What do you think I am?"
"Don't lose your temper, Cassius. I am trying to think of some way
to help you,—and I believe I see a ray of hope. You were regularly
married to Elsie and Jennie,—I mean, by a minister, and so on?"
"Sure. They both got their marriage certificates. I always believe
in doin' things in the proper legal way. It's only fair and right.
"Never mind. Give me their addresses."
There were quite a number of people in the court room when the case
of the State vs. Smilk was called. It was a bitterly cold day
outside and considerable of an overflow from the corridors had
seeped into the various court rooms. But little delay was
experienced in obtaining a jury. The regular panel was stuck, with a
few exceptions. Only one member was able to declare that he had
formed an opinion, and he did not form it until after he had had a
good look at the prisoner,—although he did not say so. Two were
challenged by counsel and one got off because he admitted that he
was acquainted with a man who used to be connected with the District
Attorney's office,—he couldn't think of his name.
Smilk's attorney succeeded in executing a very clever piece of
strategy at the outset. No sooner had the jury been sworn than he
ordered the bailiffs to crowd three or four more chairs alongside
his table, and then blandly invited a considerable portion of the
audience to take their seats inside the railing. The persons
indicated included a tall, shabbily dressed woman and seven ragged,
pinched children, ranging in years from twelve down to three.
Immediately the prosecution fell into the trap. Two agitated
Assistant District Attorneys jumped to their feet and barked out an
objection to the presence of the accused's wife and family on the
inside of the fence, and the court promptly sustained them. He also
said some very sharp and caustic things to Smilk's lawyer. Mrs.
Smilk and her bewildered seven patiently resumed their seats in the
front row of spectators, but not until after a four year old girl,
surreptitiously pinched, had caused a mild sensation by piping: "I
want my daddy! I want my daddy!"
Smilk cringed and it was quite apparent to close observers that he
was having great difficulty in suppressing his emotions.
The first witness for the prosecution was Crittenden Yollop,
milliner, aged 44. A more thorough examination by the State would
have disclosed the fact that he was six feet tall, spare, slightly
bald, beardless, well-manicured, and faultlessly attired.
"State your name and occupation, please," said the State's attorney,
advancing a few paces toward the witness stand.
"My name is Crittenden Yollop. I am in the millinery business."
The State: "Where do you reside?"
Yollop: "418 Sagamore Terrace."
The State: "In an apartment?"
Yollop: "A little louder, if you please."
The State, raising its voice: "Repeat the question, Mr.
Stenographer, leaning forward a little: "'In an apartment?'"
The State: "Were you living in this apartment on the 18th of
Yollop: "I was."
The State: "Was that apartment entered by a burglar on the date
Yollop: "It was."
The State, casually: "Will you be so good as to glance around the
court room and state whether you see and recognize the man who
entered and robbed your apartment?"
Yollop, pointing: "Yes. That is the man."
The State: "You are sure about that?"
Yollop: "I beg pardon?"
The State, patiently: "Repeat the question, Mr. Stenographer."
Stenographer, patiently: "'You are sure about that?'"
The State: "Now, Mr. Yollop, I'm going to ask you to tell the jury,
in your own words, exactly what occurred in your apartment on the
morning of December 18th. Speak slowly and distinctly, and face the
Mr. Yollop, assisted to some extent by the gentleman conducting the
examination, related the story of the crime, dwelling with special
earnestness upon the dastardly, brutal manner in which Smilk forced
him, at the point of a revolver to bind and gag and otherwise
maltreat the woman who had befriended him and whose jewels he was
preparing to make off with when the police arrived. He carefully
avoided any allusion to certain portions of the lengthy and
illuminating dialogue that had taken place between him and Smilk; he
said nothing of the unexampled behavior of the intruder in
telephoning for the police, or the kindness revealed by him in
suggesting a means for getting his captor's feet warm.
Smilk's lawyer, at the very outset of the cross-examination,
clarified the air as to the nature of the defense he was going to
put up for his client. After a few preliminary questions, he
"Now, Mr. Yollop, didn't this defendant state to you that he had
been unable to get work and that his wife and family were in such
desperate straits that he was forced to commit a crime against the
State in order to preserve them from actual starvation?"
Yollop: "He did not."
Counsel: "You are quite positive about that, are you?"
Counsel: "Did he, at the time appear to be a robust,
well-conditioned man,—that is to say, a man who looked strong
enough to work and who had had sufficient nourishment to keep his
body and soul together?"
Yollop: "He certainly did."
Counsel: "A big, rugged, healthy, desperate fellow, you would say?"
Counsel: "Armed with a loaded revolver?"
Counsel: "You would say that he was big enough and strong enough to
pull a trigger, wouldn't you?"
Yollop: "I can't answer that question. I don't know how much
strength it requires to pull a trigger."
Counsel: "Ahem! At any rate, he looked as though he was strong
enough to pull a trigger?"
Yollop: "I dare say he could have pulled it."
Counsel: "And yet you would have the jury believe that this big,
strong, well-nourished man, permitted you—By the by, how much do
you weigh, Mr. Yollop!"
Yollop: "About 145 pounds, in my clothes."
Counsel: "You are six feet tall, I should say?"
Yollop: "Lacking a quarter of an inch."
Counsel: "Ahem! As I was saying, this strong, desperate man, armed
with a revolver, allowed you to walk across the room and strike him
in the face, causing him to crumple up and fall to the floor as if
struck by a—well, someone like Jack Dempsey. Isn't that so?"
Yollop: "I never was so surprised in my life."
Counsel, thunderously: "Answer my question!"
Yollop: "Well, I hit him and he fell."
Counsel: "Do you regard yourself as an experienced boxer?"
Yollop: "No, I don't."
Counsel: "Are you what may be termed a powerful man, able to strike
a powerful blow with the fist?"
Yollop: "I don't know. The defendant can answer that question better
than I can."
Counsel, to the court: "Your honor, I appeal to you to direct this
witness to answer my questions—"
The Court: "Confine your answers to the questions as they are put to
you, Mr. Witness."
Counsel to Yollop: "Now see if you can answer this question, Mr.
Yollop. You have described in direct examination that this defendant
was a big, burly, rough looking man. You say you were surprised when
he went down under your inexpert blow. Why were you surprised?"
Yollop: "I was surprised to find how easy it is to knock a man
Counsel. "I see. You had never knocked a man down before. Is that
Yollop: "I had never even struck a man before."
Counsel: "And yet you found it singularly easy to deliver a blow on
the jaw of an armed man with sufficient force to knock him down?"
Yollop: "I can only answer that question by saying that he went down
when I struck him. I don't know how hard or how easy it is to knock
a man down."
Counsel: "But you admit you were surprised?"
Yollop: "Yes. I was surprised."
Counsel, shaking his finger and speaking with something like
malevolence in his voice and manner: "Don't you know, Mr. Yollop,
that this man was so exhausted from lack of food that he was not
only unable to defend himself from your assault but that the weakest
blow—or even a gentle push with the open hand,—would have sent him
Yollop: "I don't know anything about that."
Counsel: "Wasn't he so weak that he could hardly walk across the
room after he arose?"
Yollop: "Possibly. He was not too weak, however, to climb up two
floors on a fire escape and pry open my window before I,—"
Counsel: "Now,—now,—now! Please answer my question?"
Yollop: "He complained of being dizzy. He held his hand to his jaw.
That's all I can say."
Counsel: "You were pointing the revolver at him all the time, you
have testified. Is that true?"
Counsel: "If he had made an attempt to attack you, you would have
shot him, wouldn't you?"
Yollop: "I would have shot AT him, I suppose."
Counsel, slowly, distinctly, dramatically: "In other words, you
would have been strong enough to do the thing that he was unable to
do,—pull a trigger."
Yollop: "I haven't said he was unable to pull a trigger."
Counsel: "Answer my question!"
The State, bouncing up: "We object to this question. It calls for a
conclusion on the part of the witness that—"
The Court: "Objection sustained."
Counsel, glaring: "Exception." Then, after mopping his brow and
consulting his notes: "Now, Mr. Yollop, you say you conversed with
this defendant at some length while waiting for the police to
arrive. Have you any recollection of this defendant telling you that
he was driven to theft because he had been out of work for nearly
Counsel: "Didn't he say something of the kind to you?"
Yollop: "He didn't say he had been out of WORK for three months."
Counsel, patiently: "Well, what did he say?"
Yollop: "He said he had been out of jail for three months."
Counsel, suddenly referring to his notes again: "Er—ahem!—By the
way, Mr. Yollop, you don't hear very well, do you?"
Yollop: "I am quite deaf."
Counsel: "He might have said a great many things that you failed to
hear,—especially if his voice was weak?"
Yollop: "I dare say he did."
Counsel, lifting his eyebrows significantly and nodding his head:
"Ah-h-h! Didn't he tell you that he had a wife and several
Yollop: "I don't recall that he said anything about several
children. He said he had several wives."
Counsel, startled: "What's that?"
A bailiff, harshly addressing a woman in the front row of
spectators: "Order! Order!"
The Woman in the front row: "The dirty liar!"
The State, sticking its hands in its pockets and strutting to and
fro, smiling loftily: "Repeat the answer for the gentleman, Mr.
Counsel: "Never mind,—never mind. I move that the answer be
stricken out, your honor, and that you instruct the jury to
disregard the supposedly facetious reply of the witness."
The Court, to Mr. Yollop: "Did this defendant say to you that he had
Yollop, looking blandly at the jury until convinced by twelve
expressions and the direction in which twenty four eyes were gazing
that the court had spoken: "I beg pardon, your honor. Were you
speaking to me?"
The Court, raising his voice: "Did he tell you that he had several
Yollop: "He did."
The Court: "Motion overruled. Proceed."
Counsel: "Exception. Now, Mr.—"
Child in the front row, still gazing intently at a very baldheaded
man on the opposite side of the aisle: "I want my daddy! I want—"
The Court: "You must remove that child from the court room, madam.
Officer, see that that child is removed. Remove all of them. You may
remain here, madam, if you choose to do so, but the court cannot
allow this trial to be—"
The Woman in the front row: "Please, your honor, if you will let me
keep them here I'll promise to—"
The Court: "Officer, remove those children at once."
The Woman: "And what's more, he tells a dirty lie when he says—"
The Court: "Silence! You will have to leave the room also, madam.
This is outrageous. Officer!"
The State, magnanimously: "May it please the court, the State has
not the slightest objection to the lady and her children remaining
in the court room, provided they do not interrupt these proceedings
The Court, melting a little: "Do you think you can keep those
children quiet, madam, and refrain from audible comments yourself?"
The Woman: "Yes, sir. I'm sure I can."
The Court: "It is not my desire to be harsh with you, madam, but if
this occurs again I shall have you ejected from the room. Proceed."
Counsel: "Now, Mr. Yollop, you have testified that you bound and
gagged your sister at the direction and command of this defendant
and that he rifled the apartment at will, keeping you covered with a
revolver. You also have stated that you laid the pistol on the desk,
within his reach, when you believed the police to be at the door.
Why, did you do that?"
Yollop: "Because I did not think that I needed it any longer."
Counsel, sarcastically: "Oho! so that was the reason, eh?"
Yollop: "Well, I was glad to be rid of it. I was dreading all the
time that it might go off accidentally. They frequently do."
Counsel: "I see. Now, isn't it a fact, Mr. Yollop, that you laid the
revolver down to go to the assistance of this defendant who was in a
Yollop: "No, it isn't. He was all right."
Counsel: "Don't you know that you laid it down because you were
convinced in you own mind that he was physically unable to take
advantage of it? That he was in no condition to use it?"
Counsel, with a pitying look at the jury: "He was still the big,
strong, able-bodied man that you had knocked down with your brawny
Yollop, mildly: "He may have been a little sleepy. I was."
A Bailiff: "Order! ORDER!"
Counsel, severely: "Now, Mr. Yollop, will you tell this jury why,
after you had found it so simple to knock the defendant down and
disarm him earlier in the evening, you failed to repeat the
experiment when he had you covered the second time?"
Yollop: "The first time I acted on the spur of the moment, and under
stress of great excitement. I had had time to collect my wits by the
time he gained possession of the revolver. I wasn't as foolhardy as
I was at the beginning. I was afraid he would shoot me if I tackled
Counsel: "Isn't it a fact that he appeared much stronger and not so
weak and listless as when you first encountered him?"
Yollop: "I didn't notice any change in him."
Counsel: "Didn't you testify awhile ago that while he was sitting at
your desk, under cover of the gun, he ate a whole box of chocolate
creams,—at your generous invitation?"
Yollop: "Yes. He ate them, all right."
Counsel: "Wouldn't you, as an intelligent man, assume that a pound
of chocolates might have the effect of restoring to a half-starved
man a portion of his waning strength,—at least a sufficient amount
to encourage him to put up some kind of a fight against you?"
The State: "We object. The question calls for a conclusion on the
part of the witness, who does not even pretend to be an expert or an
authority on pathological—"
Counsel: "But he DOES pretend to be an intelligent man, doesn't he?
I submit, your honor, that the question is proper and I—"
The Court: "Objection sustained. The witness may state that the
defendant ate a box of chocolate creams. He cannot give an opinion
as to the effect the chocolates may or may not have had on him."
Mr. Yollop was on the stand for half an hour longer. Counsel for the
defense was driving home to the jury the impression that Smilk was a
poor, half-starved wretch who had gone back to thieving after a
valiant but hopeless attempt to find work in order to support his
wife and children. He announced, in arguing an objection made by the
State, that it was his intention to prove by the man's wife that
Smilk was a good husband and was willing to work his fingers off for
his family, but that he had been ill and unable to find steady
Mrs. Champney testified at the afternoon session. She made a most
unfavorable impression on the jury. She got very angry at Smilk's
counsel and said such spiteful things to him and about his client
that the jury began to feel sorry for both of them.
Two detectives and three policemen in uniform testified that Smilk
was the picture of health and a desperate-looking character. Now
anybody who has ever served on a jury in a criminal case knows the
effect that the testimony of a police officer has on three
fourths—and frequently four fourths,—of the jurors. For some
unexplained,—though perhaps obvious reason,—the ordinary juror not
only hates a policeman but refuses to believe him on oath unless he
is supported by evidence of the most unassailable nature. The mere
fact that the five officers swore that Smilk was healthy and rugged
no doubt went a long way toward convincing the jury that the poor
fellow was a physical wreck and absolutely unable to defend himself
on the night of the alleged burglary.
Moreover, a skilled mind-reader would have discovered that Mr.
Yollop had not made a good impression on the jury. Almost to a man,
they discredited him because he was fastidious in appearance;
because he was known to be a successful and prosperous business man;
because he was trying to make them believe that he possessed the
unheard-of courage to tackle an armed burglar; and because he was a
milliner. As for Mrs. Champney, she was the embodiment of all that
the average citizen resents: a combination of wealth, refinement,
intelligence, arrogance and widowhood. Especially does he resent
The State rested. Mrs. Smilk was the first witness called by the
defense. She told a harrowing tale of Smilk's unparalleled efforts
to obtain work; of his heart-breaking disappointments; of her own
loyal and cheerful struggle to provide for the children,—and for
her poor sick husband,—by slaving herself almost to death at all
sorts of jobs. Furthermore, she was positive that poor Cassius had
reformed, that he was determined to lead an honest, upright life;
all he needed was encouragement and the opportunity to show his
worth. True, he had been in State's Prison twice, but in both
instances it was the result of strong drink. Now that prohibition
had come and he could no longer be subjected to the evils and
temptations of that accursed thing generically known as rum, he was
sure to be a model citizen and husband. In fact, she declared, a
friend of the family,—a man very high up in city politics,—had
promised to secure for Cassius an appointment as an enforcement
officer in the great war that was being waged against prohibition.
This seemed to make such a hit with the jury that Smilk's lawyer
shrewdly decided not to press her to alter the preposition.
The cross-examination was brief.
The State: "How many children have you, Mrs. Smilk?"
Mrs. Smilk: "Seven."
The State: "The defendant is the father of all of them?"
Mrs. Smilk, with dignity: "Are you tryin' to insinuate that he
The State: "Not at all. Answer the question, please."
Mrs. Smilk: "Yes, he is."
The State: "When did you say you were married to the defendant?"
Mrs. Smilk: "October, 1906. I got my certificate here with me, if
you want to see it."
The State: "I would like to see it."
Counsel for Smilk, benignly: "The defense has no objection."
The State, after examining the document: "It is quite regular. With
the court's permission, I will submit the document to the jury."
The Court, to Smilk's counsel: "Do you desire to offer this document
Counsel: "It had not occurred to us that it was necessary, but now
that a point is being made of it, I will ask that it be introduced
The State, passing the certificate to the court reporter for his
identification mark: "You have never been divorced from the
defendant, have you, Mrs. Smilk?"
Mrs. Smilk: "Of course not." Then nervously: "Excuse me, but do I
get my marriage certificate back? It's the only hold I got on—"
Counsel, hastily: "Certainly, certainly, Mrs. Smilk. You need have
no worry. It will be returned to you in due time."
The State, after reading the certificate aloud, hands it to the
foreman, and says: "The State admits the validity of this
certificate. There can be no question about it." Leans against the
table and patiently waits until the document has made the rounds.
"Now, Mrs. Similk, you are sure that you have not been divorced from
Smilk nor he from you?"
Mrs. Smilk, stoutly; "Course I'm sure."
The State: "You heard Mr. Yollop testify that your husband said he
had several wives. So far as you know that is not the case?"
Mrs. Smilk. "I don't think he ever said it to Mr. Yollop. I think
Mr. Yollop lied."
The State: "I see. Then you do not believe your husband could have
deceived you—I withdraw that, Mr. Reporter. You do not believe
that your husband is base enough to have married another woman,—or
women,—without first having obtained a legal divorce from you?"
Mrs. Smilk: "I wouldn't be up here testifying in his behalf if I
thought that, you bet. He ain't that kind of a man. If I thought he
was, I'd like to see him hung. I'd like to see—"
The State. "Never mind, Mrs. Smilk. We are not trying your husband
for bigamy. I think that is all, your honor."
Counsel for Smilk: "You may be excused, Mrs. Smilk. Take the stand,
Instead of obeying Cassius beckoned to him. Then followed a long,
whispered conference between lawyer and client, at the end of which
the former, visibly annoyed, declared that the defendant had decided
not to testify. The Court indicated that it was optional with the
prisoner and asked if the counsel desired to introduce any further
testimony. Counsel for the defense announced that his client's
decision had altered his plans and that he was forced to rest his
case. The Assistant District Attorney stated that he had two
witnesses to examine in rebuttal.
"Send for Mrs. Elsie Morton," he directed. "She is waiting in the
District Attorney's office, Mr. Bailiff."
To the amazement of every one, Cassius Smilk started up from his
chair, a wild look in his eye. He sat down instantly, however, but
it was evident that he had sustained a tremendous and unexpected
shock. Mr. Yollop who had purposely selected a seat in the front row
of spectators from which he could occasionally exchange mutual
glances of well-assumed repugnance with the rascal, caught Smilk's
eye as it followed the retiring bailiff. The faintest shadow of a
wink flickered for a second across that smileless, apparently
troubled optic. Mr. Yollop, who had been leaning forward in his
chair for the better part of the afternoon with one hand cupped
behind his ear and the other manipulating the disc in a vain but
determined effort to hear what was going on, suddenly relaxed into a
comfortable, satisfied attitude and smiled triumphantly. He knew
what was coming. And so did Smilk.
Mrs. Morton was a plump, bobbed-hair blond of thirty. She had moist
carmine lips, a very white nose, strawberry-hued cheek bones, an
alabaster chin and forehead, and pale, gray eyes surrounded by
blue-black rims tinged with crimson. She wore a fashionable
hat,—(Mr. Yollop noticed that at a glance)—a handsome greenish
cloth coat with a broad moleskin collar and cuffs of the same fur,
pearl gray stockings that were visible to the knees, and high gray
shoes that yawned rather shamelessly at the top despite the wearer's
doughtiest struggle with the laces. Her gloves, also were somewhat
over-crowded. She gave her name as Mrs. Elsie Broderick Morton,
married; occupation, ticket seller in a motion picture theater.
The State: "What is your husband's name and occupation?"
Witness: "Filbert Morton. So far as I know, he never had a regular
The State: "When were you and Filbert Morton married?"
Witness: "June the fourteenth, 1916."
The State: "Are you living with your husband at present?"
Witness: "I am not."
The State: "Have you ever been divorced from him?"
Witness: "I have not."
The State: "How long is it since you and he lived together?"
Witness: "A little over three years."
The State: "Would you recognize him if you were to see him now?"
Witness: "I certainly would."
The State: "When did you see him last?"
Witness: "Day before yesterday."
The State: "Tell the jury where you saw him."
Witness: "Over in the Tombs."
The State: "Surreptitiously?"
Witness: "No, sir. With my own eyes."
The State: "I mean, you saw him without his being aware of the fact
that you were looking at him for the purpose of identification?"
Witness. "Yes, sir."
The State: "I will now ask you to look about this court room and
tell the jury whether you see the man known to you as Filbert
Witness, pointing to Smilk: "That's him over there."
The State: "You mean the prisoner at the bar, otherwise known as
Witness. "Yes, sir. That's my husband."
The State: "You are sure about that?"
Witness: "Of course, I am. I wouldn't be likely to make any mistake
about a man I'd lived with for nearly six months, would I? I've got
my marriage certificate here with me, if you want to see it."
Mrs. Smilk, in the first row, venomously addressing Mr. Smilk: "So
that's what you was up to when you was out for six months and never
come near me once, you dirty—"
All bailiffs in unison: "Silence! Order in the court!"
The State, presently: "Was he a good, kind, devoted husband to you,
Witness: "Well, if you mean did he provide me with clothes and
jewels and gewgaws and all such, yes. He was always bringing me home
rings and bracelets and necklaces and things. But if you mean did he
ever give me any money to buy food with and keep the flat going, no.
I slaved my head off to get grub for him all the time we were living
The State: "Did he ever mistreat you?"
Witness: "Oh, once in a while he used to give me a rap in the eye,
or a kick in the slats, or something like that, but on the whole he
was pretty sensible."
The State: "Sensible? In what way?"
Witness: "I mean he was sensible enough not to punch his meal ticket
It is not necessary to go any farther into the direct examination of
Mrs. Elsie Morton, nor into the half-hearted efforts of Smilk's
disgusted lawyer to shake her in cross-examination. Nor is it
necessary to introduce here the testimony of Mrs. Jennie Finchley,
who succeeded her on the stand. It appears that Jennie was married
in 1914 when Smilk was out for three months. She supported him for
several months in 1916,—up to the time he packed up and left her on
the morning of the fourteenth of June, that year. As Herbert
Finchley he not only managed to live comfortably off the proceeds of
her delicatessen, but in leaving her he took with him nine hundred
dollars that she had saved out of the business despite his
Despite the fact that the jury was out just a few minutes short of
seven hours, it finally came in with a verdict "guilty as charged."
Twice the devoted twelve returned to the court room for further
instructions from the judge. Once they wanted to know if it was
possible to convict the prisoner for bigamy instead of burglary, and
the other time it was to have certain portions of Mr. Yollop's
testimony read to them. Immediately upon retiring an amicable and
friendly discussion took place in the crowded, stuffy little jury
room. Eight men lighted black cigars, two lighted their pipes, one
joyously, almost ravenously resorted to a package of "Lucky
Strikes," while the twelfth man announced that he did not smoke. He
had been obliged to give it up because of blood pressure or
something like that.
The foreman, or Juror No. 1, was an insurance agent. He was a man of
fifty and he knew how to talk. His voice was loud, firm, overriding
and unconquerable; his manner suave, tolerant, persuasive. The
bailiff, after obtaining each man's telephone number and the message
he wished to have sent to his home (if any), informed the jurors
that he would be waiting just outside if they wanted him and then
departed, locking the door behind him; whereupon the foreman looked
at his watch and announced that it was twenty minutes to four. This
statement resulted in the first disagreement. No two watches were
alike. Some little time was consumed in proving that all twelve of
them were right and at the same time wrong, paradoxical as it may
sound. After the question of the hour had been disposed of, the
foreman suggested that an informal ballot be taken for the purpose
of ascertaining the views of the gentlemen as to the guilt or the
innocence of the defendant. The result of this so-called informal
ballot was nine for conviction, three for acquittal.
"Now we know where we stand," explained the foreman. "In view of the
fact that nine of us are for conviction and only three for acquittal
it seems to me that it is up to the minority to give their reasons
for not agreeing with the majority. I see by your ballot,
Mr.—er—Mr. Sandusky, that you are in favor of acquitting—"
"My name is I. M. Pushkin," interrupted Juror No. 7. "I wrote it
plain enough, didn't I?"
"The initials confused me," explained the foreman. "Well, let's hear
why you think he ought to be acquitted."
"I know what it is to be hungry, that's why. I see the time when I
first come to this country when I didn't have nothing to eat for
two-three days at a time, and ever'body tellin' me to go to hell out
of here when I ask for a job or when I tell 'em I ain't had nothing
to eat since yesterday morning and won't they please to help a poor
feller what ain't had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, and—"
Six or seven voices interrupted him. It was Juror No. 4, salesman,
who finally succeeded in getting a detached question to him.
"As I was saying, where do you get any evidence that he WAS hungry?"
"I guess you wasn't paying much attention to the evidence," retorted
Mr. Pushkin. "Didn't you hear that lawyer say, over and over yet,
how he was almost starved to death? Didn't—Wait a minute!—didn't
you hear him say to that deaf witness that the prisoner fell down
like a log when he push him in the face? Just push him,—nothing
else. Didn't you hear that?"
"Sure I heard it. We all heard it. But what EVIDENCE is there?"
"Evidence? My gracious, ain't that enough? Ain't one man's word as
good as another's? And say, let me ask you this: Is there any
evidence that he wasn't almost starved to death! Well! Humph! I
guess not. There ain't a single witness that says he wasn't
hungry—not one, I tell you. You can't—"
"Didn't all them policemen swear that he was as husky as—"
"Say, you can't believe a policeman about anything. It's their
business. That's what their job is. I know all about those fellers.
Why, long time ago when I first come to this country, I told a
hundred policeman I was almost starved to death and say, do you
think they believed me? You bet they didn't. They told me to get a
move on, get the hell out of this, beat it,—you bet I know all
about them fellers. I—"
The foreman interrupted Mr. Pushkin.
"So you want to acquit the defendant because his lawyer said he was
hungry,—is that it?"
"I don't blame nobody for stealing when he is almost starved to
death and got a wife and children almost starved to death too
because he cannot get a job yet. You bet I don't. I don't—"
"Well, of all the damned—"
"Can you beat this for—"
"I've heard a lot of—"
The foreman rapped vigorously with an inkwell, splashing the fluid
over his fingers and quite a considerable area of table-top.
"Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Let us talk this thing over quietly and
calmly. Mr. Pushkin seems to have a wrong conception as to what
constitutes evidence. Now, let me have the floor for a few minutes,
and I'll try to explain to him what constitutes evidence."
One hour and twenty minutes later Mr. Pushkin admitted that he DID
have a wrong conception as to what constitutes evidence, but still
maintained that he hated like sin to convict a man who had tried so
hard to get work and couldn't.
The non-smoking gentleman was one of the three who comprised the
minority. He was a mild little chap with weak eyes and the sniffles.
By profession he was a clock maker. He said he believed that the
defendant was unquestionably guilty of bigamy and that the State had
erred in charging him with burglary. He was perfectly willing to
send the man up for bigamy because, according to the evidence, it
took precedence over the crime alleged to have been committed in
December, 1919. In other words, he explained, Smilk had committed
bigamy some years prior to the burglary of Mr. Yollop's apartment
and he believed in taking things in their regular order. Of course,
he went on to say, he would be governed by the opinion of the judge
if it were possible under the circumstances to obtain it. He did not
think it would be legal to put the burglary charge ahead of the
bigamy charge, but if the judge so ordered he would submit,
notwithstanding his conviction that it would be unconstitutional.
Several gentlemen wanted to know what the constitution had to do
with it, and he, becoming somewhat exasperated, declared that the
present jury system is a joke, an absolute joke.
"Well, it's just such men as you that make it a joke," growled Juror
"Gentlemen! Gentlemen!" admonished the foreman. "Let us have no
recriminations, please. It occurs to me that we ought to send a note
to the court, asking for instructions on this point."
The note was written and despatched in care of the glowering
bailiff, who, it seems, had an engagement to go to the movies that
evening and couldn't believe his ears when he ascertained that the
boobs had not yet agreed upon a verdict in what he regarded as the
clearest case that had ever come under his notice.
In the meantime, the third juror explained his vote for acquittal.
He was a large, heavy-jowled man with sandy mustache and a vacancy
among his upper teeth into which a pipe-stem fitted neatly. He was
the superintendent of an apartment building in Lenox Avenue.
"I think it's a frame-up," he said, pausing to use the bicuspid
vacancy for the purpose of expectoration. "That's what I think it
is. Now I'm in a position as superintendent of a flat building to
know a lot about what goes on among the bachelor tenants. I ain't
sayin' that the prisoner didn't go to Mr. What's-His-Name's flat
without an invitation. You bet your life he wasn't expected, if my
guess is correct. I tell you what I think,—and my opinion ought to
be worth a lot, lemme tell you,—I think there's something back of
all this that wasn't brought out in the trial. Now here's something
I bet not one of you fellers has thought about. What evidence is
there that this Chancy woman is that deaf man's sister? Not a blamed
word of evidence, except their own statement. She ain't his sister
any more than I am. Did you ever see two people that looked less
like they was related to each other? You bet you didn't. Now I got a
hunch that the prisoner follered her to that guy's apartment. What
for, I don't know. Maybe for blackmail. He got onto what was goin'
on, and makes up his mind to rake in a nice bunch of hush-money.
That's been done a couple of times in the apartment buildin' I'm
superintendent of. A feller I had workin' for me as a porter cleaned
up five or six hundred dollars that way, he told me. This robbery
business sounds mighty fishy to me. Now I'm only tellin' you the way
the thing looks to me. I don't think that woman is Wollop's sister
any more than she is mine. It's a frame-up, the whole thing is. Look
at the way this Wollop says he tied her up and all that.
Humph!—Can't you fellers see through this whole business? He tied
her up so's the police would find her tied up, that's what he done.
The chances are she's some woman customer of his that's got stuck on
him, tryin' hats and all that,—and maybe gettin' all the hats she
wants for nothin',—and this feller Smilk he gets onto the game and
goes out for a little money. See what I mean?"
So loud and so furious was the discussion that followed the
extraordinary deductions of Juror No. 9, that the bailiff had to rap
half a dozen times before he could make himself heard. Finally the
foreman, purple in the face, called out through the haze of smoke:
"The judge says for you to come into the court room for
instructions," announced the officer. "Never mind your hats and
coats. No cigars, gents. Leave 'em here. They'll be safe. Come on,
now. It's nearly time to go to supper."
The judge informed the jury that they could not find the man guilty
of bigamy and curtly ordered them back to their room for further
deliberation. They took another ballot before going out to supper at
a nearby restaurant, guarded by six bailiffs, who warned them not to
discuss the case while outside the jury room. The second ballot, by
the way, was eight for conviction, four for acquittal. Juror No. 5
had come over to the minority. He said there was something in the
theory of Juror No. 9.
There was a very positive disagreement concerning the meal they were
about to partake of. The foreman spoke of it as dinner and was
openly sneered at by eleven gentlemen who had never called it
anything but supper. The little clockmaker, having been overruled by
the judge, was in a nasty temper. He accused the foreman of being a
republican. He said no democrat ever called it dinner. It wasn't
Upon their return to the jury room after a meal on which there was
complete agreement and which brought out considerable talk about the
penuriousness of the County of New York, they settled down to a
prolonged and profound discussion of their differences. It soon
developed that all but two of the jurors had been favorably inclined
toward the defendant up to the time the State introduced the
unexpected wives. They had regarded him as a poor unfortunate,
driven to crime by adversity, and after a fashion the victim of an
arrogant and soulless police system, aided and abetted by the
District Attorney's minions, a contemptible robber in the person of
a dealer in women's hats, and a bejeweled snob who insulted their
intelligence by trying to convince them that her confidence had been
misplaced. But the two wives settled it. Smilk was a rascal. He
ought to be hung.
"But," argued No. 9, "how the devil do we know that them women ARE
his wives. Their evidence ain't supported, is it?"
"Didn't they have certificates?" demanded another hotly.
"Sure. But that don't prove that he was the man, does it?"
"And didn't the prisoner jump up and yell: 'My God, it's all off!
You've got me cold! You've got me dead to rights,'" cried another.
"Oh, there's no use arguin' with you guys," roared No. 9,
Later on they returned to the court room to have certain parts of
Mr. Yollop's testimony read to them. After this a ballot was taken,
and the only man for acquittal was the clock-maker. At twenty
minutes to eleven he succumbed, not to argument or persuasion or
reason but to a chill February draft that blew in through the open
window above his head. He couldn't get away from it. The others
wouldn't let him. They got him up in a corner and he couldn't break
through. He told them he was getting pneumonia, that the draft would
be the death of him, that he'd take back what he said about the
smoke almost suffocating him,—still they surrounded him, and argued
with him, and called him things he didn't feel physically able to
call them, and at last he voted guilty.
Smilk, haggard with worry,—for he had come to think, as the hours
went by without a verdict, that there would be a disagreement or,
worse than that, an acquittal, in which case he would have to face
the charge of bigamy that the district attorney had more than
intimated,—Smilk slouched dejectedly into the court room a few
minutes before eleven o'clock and went through the familiar process
of facing the jury while the jury faced him. He straightened up
eagerly when the verdict was read. He took a long, deep breath. His
eyes brightened,—they almost twinkled,—as they searched the room
in quest of Mr. Yollop. He was disappointed to find that the gentle
milliner was not there to hear the good news.
The judge sentenced him to twenty years imprisonment at hard labor,
and he went back to his cell in the Tombs, a triumphant, vindicated
champion of the laws of his State, a doughty warrior carrying the
banner of justice up to the very guns of sentiment.
Mr. Yollop received a friendly letter from him some two months after
his return to Sing Sing. He found it early one morning on his
library table, sealed but minus the stamp that the government exacts
for safe and conscientious delivery. Mr. Yollop's stenographer,
being more or less finicky about English as it should be written,
even by thieves, is responsible for the transcript in which it is
I hope this finds you in the best of health. I am back on the job
and very glad to be so. It is very gay up here and I am getting fat
also. Regular hours is doing it, and no worry I suppose. I wish to
inform you that the movies have improved considerable since I was
here before and our baseball team is much better. Also the concerts
and so on. Grub also up to standard. I never eat better grub at the
Ritz-Carlton. Which is no lie either. Well, Mr. Yollop, before
closing I want to say you done me a mighty good turn when you
thought of them two wives of mine. If it had not been for them two
women I guess it would have been all off with me. I wish you would
drop in here to see me if you are ever up this way so as I can thank
you in person. Which reminds me. There is some talk among the boys
that a movement is on foot to have a regular fancy dress ball up
here once a month. Some kind of a benevolent society is working on
it they say. Big orchestra, eats from Delmonico's and a crowd of
girls from the smart set to dance with us. So as we won't get out of
practice, I suppose. Soon as I hear when the first dance is to be I
will let you know and maybe you will come up to be present. I will
introduce you to a lot of swell dames and maybe you can drum up a
nice trade among them on account of their all being fashionable and
needing a good many hats. It must be great to be in a business like
yours, where nobody cares how many times you rob them just so you
leave them enough money to buy shoes with, because if you ask me
they ain't wearing much of anything but hats and shoes these days.
Well, I guess I will close, Mr. Yollop. With kind regards from yours
truly, I remain
Yours truly, C. SMILK.
P. S.—I forgot to mention that this letter was left in your library
by a pal of mine who dropped in last night while you was asleep,
unless he got nabbed like a darned fool before he got a chance to do
this friendly little errand for me. He dropped in to get that wad of
bills I left there some time ago. If you get this letter he got the