THE CONFESSIONS OF
BEING THE INGENUOUS AND UNVARNISHED HISTORY OF ARTEMAS QUIBBLE,
ESQUIRE, ONE-TIME PRACTITIONER IN THE NEW YORK CRIMINAL COURTS,
TOGETHER WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE DIVERS WILES, TRICKS, SOPHISTRIES,
TECHNICALITIES, AND SUNDRY ARTIFICES OF HIMSELF AND OTHERS OF THE
FRATERNITY, COMMONLY YCLEPT "SHYSTERS" OR "SHYSTER LAWYERS," AS
FORMERLY ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY
NEW YORK COUNTY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
THE SCRIBNER PRESS
NEW YORK, U.S.A.
THE CONFESSIONS OF
I was born in the town in Lynn, Massachusetts, upon the twenty-
second day of February, in the year 1855. Unlike most writers of similar
memoirs, I shall cast no aspersions upon the indigent by stating that my parents
were poor but honest. They were poor and
honest, as indeed, so far as I have been able to ascertain, have been all the
Quibbles since the founder of the family came over on the good ship Susan and Ellen in 1635, and, after marrying a
lady's maid who had been his fellow passenger, settled in the
township of Weston, built a mill, and divided his time equally
between selling rum to the Indians and rearing a numerous progeny.
My father, the Reverend Ezra Quibble, was, to be sure, poor enough.
The salary that he received as pastor of his church was meagre to
the degree of necessitating my wearing his over-worn and discarded
clerical vestments, which to some extent may account for my otherwise
inexplicable distaste for things ecclesiastical. My mother was
poor, after wedlock, owing to the eccentricity of a parent who was
so inexorably opposed to religion that he cut her off with a shilling
upon her marriage to my father. Before this she had had and done
what she chose, as was fitting for a daughter of a substantial
citizen who had made a fortune in shoe leather.
I remember that one of my first experiments upon taking up the
study of law was to investigate by grandfather's will in the probate
office, with a view to determining whether or not, in his fury
against the church, he had violated any of the canons of the law
in regard to perpetuities or restraints upon alienation; or whether
in his enthusiasm for the Society for the Propagation of Free
Thinking, which he had established and intended to perpetuate, he
had not been guilty of some technical slip or blunder that would
enable me to seize upon its endowment for my own benefit. But the
will, alas! had been drawn by that most careful of draughtsmen,
old Tuckerman Toddleham, of 14 Barristers' Hall, Boston, and was
as solid as the granite blocks of the court-house and as impregnable
of legal attack as the Constitution.
We lived in a frame house, painted a disconsolate yellow. It
abutted close upon the sidewalk and permitted the passer-by to view
the family as we sat at meat or enjoyed the moderate delights of
social intercourse with our neighbors, most of whom were likewise
parishioners of my father.
My early instruction was received in the public schools of my native
town, supplemented by tortured hours at home with "Greenleaf's
Mental Arithmetic" and an exhaustive study of the major and minor
prophets. The former stood me in good stead, but the latter I fear
had small effect. At any rate, the impression made upon me bore
little fruit, and after three years of them I found myself in about
the same frame of mind as the Oxford student who, on being asked
at his examination to distinguish between the major and minor
prophets, wrote in answer: "God forbid that I should discriminate
between such holy men!"
But for all that I was naturally of a studious and even scholarly
disposition, and much preferred browsing among the miscellaneous
books piled in a corner of the attic to playing the rough-and-tumble
games in which my school-mates indulged.
My father was a stern, black-bearded man of the ante-bellum type,
such as you may see in any old volume of daguerreotypes, and entirely
unblessed with a sense of humor. I can even now recall with a
sinking of the heart the manner in which, if I abjured my food, he
would grasp me firmly by the back of the neck and force my nose
toward the plate of Indian mush—which was the family staple at
supper—with the command, "Eat, boy!" Sometimes he was kind to a
degree which, by a yawning of the imagination, might be regarded
as affectionate, but this was only from a sense of religious duty.
At such times I was prone to distrust him even more than at others.
He believed in a personal devil with horns, a tail, and, I suspect,
red tights; and up to the age of ten I shared implicitly in this
belief. The day began and ended with family prayers of a particularly
long-drawn-out and dolorous character.
My mother, on the other hand, was a pale young woman of an undecided
turn of mind with a distinct taste for the lighter pleasures that
she was never allowed to gratify. I think she secretly longed for
the freedom that had been hers under the broader roof of her father's
stately mansion on High Street. But she had, I suspect, neither
the courage nor the force of mind to raise an issue, and from sheer
inertia remained faithful to the life that she had elected.
My grandfather never had anything to do with either of them and
did not, so far as I am aware, know me by sight, which may account
for the fact that when he died he bequeathed a moderate sum in
trust, "the proceeds to be devoted to the support and maintenance
of the child of my daughter Sarah, at some suitable educational
institution where he may be removed from the influences of his
Thus it was that at the age of nine I was sent away from home and
began an independent career at the boarding-school kept by the
Reverend Mr. Quirk, at Methuen, Massachusetts. Here I remained
for seven years, in the course of which both my parents died,
victims of typhoid. I was cast upon the world utterly alone, save
for the rather uncompromising and saturnine regard in which I was
held by old Mr. Toddleham, my trustee. This antique gentleman
inhabited a musty little office, the only furniture in which
consisted of a worn red carpet, a large engraving of the Hon.
Jeremiah Mason, and a table covered with green baize. I recall
also a little bronze horse which he used as a paper weight. He
had a shrewd wrinkled face of the color of parchment, a thick yellow
wig, and a blue cape coat. His practice consisted almost entirely
in drawing wills and executing them after the decease of their
respective testators, whom he invariably outlived, and I think he
regarded me somewhat in the light of a legal joke. He used to send
for me twice a year, for the sole purpose, I believe, of ascertaining
whether or not I was sufficiently nourished at Quirk's establishment.
On these occasions he would take me to lunch with him at the Parker
House, where he invariably ordered scallops and pumpkin pie for me
and a pint of port for himself.
On my departure he would hand me solemnly two of the pieces of
paper currency known as "shin plasters," and bid me always hold my
grandfather's memory in reverence. On one of these occasions, when
he had laid me under a similar adjuration, I asked him whether he
had ever heard of the man who made his son take off his hat whenever
he met a pig—on the ground that his father had made his money in
pork. He stared at me very hard for a moment with his little
twinkling eyes and then suddenly and without any preliminary symptoms
exploded in a cackle of laughter.
"Goddamme," he squeaked, "I wish your gran'ther could a' heard y'
Then without further explanation he turned and made his way down
School Street and I did not see him for another six months.
My life at Quirk's was a great improvement over the life I had led
at home in Lynn. In the first place I was in the real country,
and in the second I had the companionship of good-natured, light-
hearted people. The master himself was of the happy-go-lucky sort
who, with a real taste for the finer things of literature and life,
take no thought for the morrow or indeed even for the day. He was
entirely incapable of earning a living and had been successively
an actor, a lecturer, a preacher, and a pedagogue. He was a fine
scholar of Latin and could quote Terence, Horace, and Plautus in
a way that could stir the somnolent soul even of a school-boy.
His chief enemy, next to laziness, was drink. He would disappear
for days at a time into his study, and afterward explain that he
had been engaged in the preparation of his magnum opus, which
periodically was just on the point of going to press.
During these interludes the school was run by Mrs. Quirk, a robust,
capable, and rosy Englishwoman, who had almost as much learning as
her husband and ten times as much practical ability. There were
twelve boys in the school, for each of whom the Quirks received
the modest sum of two hundred and seventy-five dollars a year. In
exchange for this they gave board, lodging, and tuition. Each of
us received separate instruction—or as Quirk expressed it "individual
attention"—and excellent instruction it was. We arose at six,
breakfasted at six-thirty, and helped around the house until eight,
when our studies began. These continued until twelve, at which
time we had dinner. After that we were free until two-thirty, when
we resumed our labors until four.
Quirk was a tall, lank, loose-jointed man, with long black hair
that lay well over his Byronic collar. He had a humorous eye and
a cavernous mouth that was always twisting itself into grimaces,
alternately side-splitting and terrifying. On occasions he would
use the birch—and very thoroughly, too, as I have reason to remember
—but he ruled us by fear of authority. For though he dressed like
a clergyman, he always smelled strongly of stale cigar smoke, and
his language at times was more forcible than is generally expected
of a wearer of the cloth.
I dwelt with the Quirks, winter and summer, until I was able to
pass my examinations for Harvard, which I did in the summer of
1871. My allowance had been gradually increased to meet my new
expenses, and I entered the freshman class with an income sufficient
to permit me to dress suitably and enjoy myself in such simple ways
as were in vogue among the collegians. But coming as I did, alone,
from a small boarding-school, proved to be a great disadvantage,
for I had all my friends to make after my arrival and I had neither
the means nor the address to acquire ready-made social distinction.
Thus it happened that I was very lonely during my first years in
Cambridge; missed the genial companionship of my old friends, the
Quirks, and seized every opportunity that offered for going back
I had grown into a tall, narrow-shouldered youth, with a high-arched
nose between rather pale cheeks, and prominent ears. Though I
could hardly flatter myself into the belief that I was handsome,
I felt that my appearance had something of distinction and that I
looked like a gentleman. I affected coats with long tails and a
somewhat dandified style of waistcoat and neck-cloth, as well as
a white beaver, much in favor among the "bloods" of those days.
But this took most of my available cash, and left me little to
expend in treating my fellow students at the tavern or in enjoying
the more substantial culinary delights of the Boston hotels. Thus
though I made no shabby friends I acquired few genteel ones, and
I began to feel keenly the disadvantages of a lean purse. I was
elected into none of the clubs, nor did I receive any invitations
to the numerous balls given in Boston or even to those in Cambridge.
This piqued my pride, to be sure, but only intensified my resolution
to become a man of fashion on my own account. If my classmates
could get on without me I felt that I could get on without them,
and I resolutely declined to appreciate any social distinction that
might artificially exist between a man born in Salem and one born
in Lynn, although I now understand that such distinction exists,
at least so far as Boston society is concerned. Consequently as
time went on and I could achieve prominence in no other way, I
sought consolation for the social joys denied by my betters in
acquiring the reputation of a sport. I held myself coldly aloof
from the fashionable men of my class and devoted myself to a few
cronies who found themselves in much the same position as my own.
In a short time we became known as the fastest set in college, and
our escapades were by no means confined to Cambridge, but were
carried on with great impartiality in Boston and the neighboring
We organized a club, which we called the Cock and Spur, and had a
rat-pit and cock-fights in the cellar, on which occasions we invited
out young actors from the Boston Museum and Howard Athenaeum stock
companies. These in turn pressed us with invitations to similar
festivities of their own, and we thus became acquainted with the
half-world of the modern Athens, which was much worse for us, I
trow, than would have been the most desperate society of our college
contemporaries. There was a club of young actors that we used to
frequent, where light comedy sketches and scenes from famous plays
were given by the members, and in due time several of us were
admitted to membership. Of these I was one and learned to do a
turn very acceptably. On one occasion I took a small part upon
the Boston Museum stage to fill the place made vacant by the illness
of a regular member of the cast—an illness due in part to a carousal
at the Cock and Spur the night before, in which he had come out
We were a clever crew, however, and never gave the faculty reason
to complain of any failure on our part to keep up in our studies.
When examination time came we hired an impecunious coach and,
retiring from the world, acquired in five days knowledge that our
fellows had taken eight months to imbibe. It is true that the
college at large viewed us with some disgust, but we chose to regard
this as mere envy. That we were really objectionable must, however,
be admitted, for we smoked cigars in the Yard, wore sky-blue
pantaloons and green waistcoats, and cultivated little side whiskers
of the mutton-chop variety; while our gigs and trotters were
constantly to be seen standing in Harvard Square, waiting for the
owners to claim them and take the road.
On Sundays, when the decorous youths of Boston had retired to Beacon
Street for their midday family feast of roast beef and baked beans,
the members of the Cock and Spur might be observed in their white
beaver hats driving countryward in chaises from the local livery
stables, seated beside various fair ladies from the Boston stage
or the less distinguished purlieus of the Cambridge chop-houses.
At noon these parties would foregather at some country tavern and
spend long afternoons singing, drinking, and playing draw poker
and other games of chance; and occasionally we would fight a main
of cocks in some convenient pig-pen.
But this sort of life took money, and I soon found myself borrowing
freely from my associates, most of whom were young fellows from
other States who had already come into their inheritances and had
gone to Harvard to get rid of them under the most approved conditions.
For these I came to stand as a sort of sponsor, and was looked up
to by them as a devil of a fellow, for I swore picturesquely and
had a belligerently unpleasant manner that was regarded as something
quite out of the ordinary and distinguished. These youthful
spendthrifts I patronized and taught the mysteries of a sporting
life, and for a time it became quite smart for a fellow to have
gone on one of "Quib's" notes. These notes, however, increased
rapidly in number, and before long amounted to such a prodigious
sum that they gave me great uneasiness.
My habits had become extravagant and careless. Having no money at
all I took no heed of what I did with that of others, for I hardly
believed that I could ever repay any of it. But I continued on in
my luxurious ways, well knowing that any change in my mode of life
would precipitate a deluge. The safety of my position lay in owing
everybody, and in inducing each to believe that he would be the
one person ultimately or immediately to be paid. Moreover, I was
now completely spoiled and craved so ardently the enjoyments in
which I had indulged that I would never of myself have had the will
to abjure them. I had gained that which I sought—reputation. I
was accounted the leader of the fast set—the "All Knights" as we
were known—and I was the envy and admiration of my followers.
But this bred in me an arrogance that proved my undoing. It was
necessary for me to be masterful in order to carry off the pose of
leadership, but I had not yet learned when to conciliate.
It so happened that in the spring of my junior year my creditors
became more than usually pressing, and at the same time a Jew by
the name of Poco Abrahams began to threaten suit on a note of mine
for two thousand dollars, which I had discounted with him for seven
hundred and fifty. I made my usual demands upon my friends and
offered to do them the favor of letting them go on some more of my
paper, but without the usual result. I then discovered to my
annoyance that a wealthy young fellow know as "Buck" de Vries, who
had considered himself insulted by something that I had said or
done, had been quietly spreading the rumor that I was a sort of
hocus-pocus fellow and practically bankrupt, that my pretensions
to fashion were ridiculous, and that I made a business of living
off other people. Incidentally he had gone the rounds, and, owing
to the rumors that he himself had spread, had succeeded in buying
up most of my notes at a tremendous discount. These he lost no
time in presenting for payment, and as they amounted to several
thousand dollars my hope of reaching a settlement with him was
small. In point of fact I was quite sure that he wanted no settlement
and desired only revenge, and I realized what a fool I had been to
make an enemy out of one who might have been an ally.
In this embarrassing situation I bethought me of old Mr. Toddleham,
and accordingly paid him an unexpected visit at Barristers' Hall.
It was a humid spring day, and I recall that the birds were twittering
loudly in the maples back of the Probate Office. As befitted my
station at the time of year, I was arrayed in a new beaver and a
particularly fanciful pair of rather tight trousers.
"Come in," squeaked Mr. Toddleham, and I entered easily.
The old lawyer peered quizzically at me from behind his square-
"Oh," said he, "it's you, Master Quibble."
"The same, and your most obedient," I replied, letting myself fall
gracefully into a chair and crossing my legs.
"You want money, I suppose?" he continued, after a few minutes,
during which he inspected by get-up with some interest.
"Well," I commenced lightly, "the fact is I am rather pressed. I
thought if you could make me a small advance out of my grandfather's
"Legacy! What legacy?" he inquired.
"The legacy my grandfather left me."
"He left you no legacy," retorted the old gentleman. "Your
grandfather, to whom you were once so considerate as to refer in
my presence as a pig, left you no legacy. He directed that as long
as you seemed to deserve it I should spend a certain sum on your
maintenance and education."
"Gad!" I cried. "That puts me in a nice position!"
The old lawyer looked at me whimsically.
"My gay young man," he remarked finally, "the only position you
occupy is one into which you have deliberately walked yourself.
You come here in your fine clothes and your beaver hat and—excuse
me—your whiskers, and you are surprised that there is no money
forthcoming to pay your debts. Do not look astonished. I know
and have known for a long time of your debts. I have followed your
career with attention if not with edification. Even for the son
of a Baptist minister you have done pretty well. However, life is
life and everybody is not the same. I sha'n't judge you. I was
a bit of a dog myself, although I don't look it now. But I can
give you no more money for game-cocks and cigars. It is time for
you to start in and earn your own living—if you can. At the end
of the term I will give you fifty dollars and a ticket to New York,
or one hundred dollars and no ticket to anywhere. You will have
to kick out for yourself. So fine a fellow," he added, "ought not
to find it hard to get along. No doubt you could find some rich
girl to marry you and support you in idleness."
I flushed with anger and sprang to my feet.
"I did not come here to be insulted!" I cried furiously.
Old Mr. Toddleham chuckled apologetically.
"Tut, tut! No offence. You won't find earning your living such
an easy matter. Have you thought anything about what you'll do?"
"No," I answered, still indignant.
"How much do you owe?"
"About forty-eight hundred dollars."
"Damme!" muttered Mr. Tuckerman Toddleham. "More than you could
earn in the first five years at the law!"
"See here," I interrupted, "do you seriously mean that except for
fifty dollars or so there is nothing coming to me out of my
grandfather's estate? Why, he was worth over a million!"
"That is exactly what I mean," he returned. "He left you nothing
except an allowance for your education during your good behavior.
He made me the judge. I'm your trustee and I can't conscientiously
let you have any more money to drink up and gamble with. It's over
and done with." He rapped with an air of finality on his desk with
the little bronze horse.
"Who gets all the money?" I asked ruefully.
"The Society for the Propagation of Free Thinking," he answered,
eyeing me sharply.
"I should think anything like that ought to be contrary to law!"
I retorted. "It ought to be a crime to encourage atheism."
"It's a good devise under our statutes!" he answered dryly. "I
suppose your own faith is beautiful enough, eh?"
I did not respond, but sat twisting my hat in my hands. Through
the open window the soft damp odors of spring came in and mingled
with the dusty smell of law books. So this was law! It suddenly
struck me that I was taking the loss of over a million dollars very
resignedly. How did I know whether the old boy was telling me the
truth or not? He had drawn the will and got a good fee for it.
Certainly he was not going to admit that there was anything invalid
about it. Why not study law—I might as well do that as anything
—and find out for myself? It was a game worth playing. The stakes
were a million dollars and the forfeit nothing. As I looked around
the little office and at the weazened old barrister before me,
something of the fascination of the law took hold of me.
"I rather think I should like to study law myself," I remarked.
He looked at me out of the corners of his bead-like little eyes.
"And break your gran'ther's will, mebbe?" he inquired slyly.
"If I can," I retorted defiantly.
"That would be better than fighting cocks and frittering your time
away with play actors," said he.
"Mr. Toddleham," I returned, "if I will agree to turn over a new
leaf and give up my present associates, will you continue my
allowance and let me stay on in Cambridge and study law?"
"If you will agree to enter my office and study under my supervision
Once more I glanced around the little room. Somehow the smell of
decaying leather did not have the same fascination that it had
exercised a few moments before. The setting sun sinking over the
Probate Office entered the window and lingered on the stern old
face of the Hon. Jeremiah Mason over the fireplace. The birds
twittered gayly amid the branches by the window. Spring called me
to the open air, to the world outside, to the future.
"Give me fifty dollars and my ticket to New York," said I.
It had so happened that at the time of my visit to Mr. Toddleham
my credit, and consequently my ready funds, had become so reduced
that I had only a dollar or two in my pocket. Therefore the check
for fifty dollars that the old gentleman had carefully drawn for
me with his quill pen and then had as carefully sanded over was by
no means inopportune. I took the shore-car back over the Warren
Avenue Bridge, depressed at the thought of leaving the scene of my
first acquaintance with the world and at the same time somewhat
relieved, in spite of myself, by the consoling thought that I should
no longer be worried by the omnipresent anxiety of trying to escape
from duns and Jews.
Resolved to terminate my collegiate career in a blaze of glory, I
went the rounds of the college buildings and bade all my friends
to a grand celebration at the Tavern, where, owing to the large
amount of trade that I had been able to swing to it, my credit was
still good. Even "Buck" de Vries was not forgotten, and without
a suggestion of my contemplated departure I entertained my colleagues
royally with a bowl of punch brewed after a celebrated Cambridge
recipe, which in a decadent age spoke eloquently of the glories of
the past. I was in the midst of a highly colored speech—during
which I must confess de Vries had eyed me in a somewhat saturnine
manner—when the proprietor tapped me on the shoulder and said that
I was wanted outside. Excusing myself I stepped to the door only
to be unexpectedly confronted by the local sheriff, who apologetically
informed me that he held a warrant of attachment for my worldly
goods and another for the arrest of my very worldly person. With
admirable presence of mind I requested his patience until I should
find my coat, and returning via the buttery made my escape from
the premises by means of the rear exit. Sic gloria transit!
That night I slept under the roof of the amiable Quirk in Methuen,
and the day after reached New York, the city of my future career.
My arrival in the metropolis was unaccompanied by any newspaper
comment or by any particular excitement on the part of the inhabitants.
I simply landed, after a seven hours' journey from Boston, with a
considerable quantity of fine raiment—rather too fine, as I soon
discovered, for the ordinary uses of a serious-minded, working
youth—some fifty odd dollars, and a well-developed bump of self-
confidence that was supported by a strong reserve resolution not
to let anybody get ahead of me. I had all the assurance of a man
double my years and an easy way of making acquaintances that was
destined to stand me in good stead, but I do not wish to be understood
as admitting that my manners were offensive or that I was in any
degree supercilious. I was simply a good fellow who had always
enjoyed the comradeship of other good fellows, and as a result felt
reasonably sure that the rest of the world would treat him kindly.
Moreover, I could dissemble without difficulty and, if occasion
arose, could give the impression of being a diffident and modest
young man, ready and anxious to order himself "lowly and humbly
before his betters."
Yet I had seen enough of the world to know that unless a man puts
a high appraisal upon his attainments and ability no one else is
likely to do so, and that the public takes one, nine times out of
ten, at his own valuation. Coming on the clay itself: I wore my
hair rather long, with an appreciable modicum of bear's grease well
rubbed in, side whiskers and white beaver, and carried a carpet
bag on which was embroidered a stag's head in yellow on a background
of green worsted. And the principal fact to be observed in this
connection is that, instead of creating a smile as I passed out of
the Grand Central Station, I was probably regarded as a rather
smart and stylishly dressed young man.
I had a card to some young actors in the city, given me by my
Thespian friends in Boston, and it proved but a short trip on the
horse-cars down Fourth Avenue to the locality, near the Academy of
Music, then as now frequented by the fraternity. I began my
professional career, then, by taking lodgings in an actors' boarding-
house, and I am free to confess that at the time I was undecided
whether to follow the bar or the boards. I have since frequently
observed that the same qualities make for success in both, and had
it not been for the fact that I found my new friends somewhat down
at the heels and their rate of emolument exceedingly low, as well
as for a certain little incident to be recounted shortly, I might
well have joined the group of future Booths and Forrests that
loitered along the near-by Rialto, looking for jobs as Roman soldiers
or footmen in some coming production.
But the change from my well-appointed lodgings in Cambridge and my
luxurious surroundings at the Cock and Supr to a distinctly shabby
theatrical boarding-house, where the guests plainly exhibited traces
of the lack of proper ablutional facilities and the hallways smelt
of cabbage and onions, was a distinct shock to my highly sensitive
tastes. However, my new acquaintances proved warm-hearted and
hospitable and did everything in their power to make me feel at my
ease, with the result that in spite of the cabbage and the wooden
slats that served as springs in my bed—which nearly filled the
rear hall bed-room I had hired for one week at four dollars and
twenty-five cents—I resolved to postpone entering upon an active
career until I should know the city better and have made a few
Those of my new comrades who were lucky enough to have employment
did not rise in the morning until the neighborhood of twelve o'clock,
and those who had no employment at all followed their example. I
thus found myself adopting of necessity, as it were, the pleasant
practice of sauntering out on Broadway after a one o'clock breakfast,
and of spending most of the afternoon, evening, and following
morning in or about the same locality. We usually went to some
theatrical show on what was known as "paper," and I afterward joined
my actor friends at a restaurant, where we sang songs and told
stories until the gas-lamps were extinguished and gray dawn crept
over the house-tops. Downtown—into the mysterious district of
Wall Street—I did not, as yet, go, and I might still be haunting
the stage entrances of the theatres had it not been for an adventure
in which I was an involuntary participant.
It so happened that among my new acquaintances was a careless,
rattle-brained youth known as Toby Robinson, who in spite of some
histrionic ability was constantly losing his job and always in
debt. He was a smooth-faced, rather stout, good-natured-looking
person, of the sort who is never supposed to have done harm to
anybody. Not long before he had enjoyed a salary of fourteen
dollars per week, but having overslept several times running he
had been discharged for absence from rehearsals. He had reached
the limit of his resources about the time of my arrival in the city
and had been in a most lugubrious frame of mind when I first had
the honor of his acquaintance. Suddenly, however, he appeared one
day with a large roll of bills and entered upon a period of
lubrication and open-handed hospitality, in which we all participated.
During this season of good cheer, as Toby and I were strolling down
Broadway one afternoon, an ugly looking man who had been following
us stepped forward and, touching my friend on the shoulder, said
"The captain wants to see you."
The uttering of these cryptic syllables produced a most extraordinary
effect upon my companion, for he turned deadly pale and the
perspiration collected in beads upon his temples, while he commenced
to wring his hands and bemoan his ill fortune.
"What is the trouble?" I inquired in great solicitude.
The belligerent stranger, however, pushing between us, grasped Toby
firmly by the arm and marched him across the street, while I trailed
behind in the nature of a rear guard. I had already begun to
suspect that the ugly man was none other than an officer of the
law, and visions of myself locked up in jail as a possible accomplice,
although innocent of wrong-doing, hovered in my mind. Toby, giving
every indication of guilt, slouched along beside his captor,
occasionally glancing shamefacedly over his shoulder.
We were now nearing a police station, and our companion, for the
first time showing any sign of personal interest, inquired if we
had a lawyer. On receiving a negative reply, the officer strongly
recommended our immediately retaining counsel in the person of one
Gottlieb, who could be found across the street from the police
station and whose precise whereabout were made obvious by means of
a large sign about six feet by three and one-half in size, reading
RENTS COLLECTED BAIL BONDS
INSURANCE GENERAL ADVICE
Without giving Toby time for consideration the officer led us across
the street and into the stuffy little den occupied by the lawyer.
"Here's the gent I told you of," said he, nodding in the direction
of a hawk-faced little man smoking a vile cigar, who was sitting
with his feet upon a table. "I'll leave you alone," he added, and
sauntering across the threshold, took his stand in front of the
"Howdy," remarked Gottlieb, without arising or removing his cigar.
"Mike tells me you're charged with obtaining money by false
"What!" gasped Toby, grasping the table for support. "False
"Flying a bit of bad paper, eh? Come now, didn't you cash a check
on the Cotton Exchange Bank for about six hundred dollars when
there was only fifteen on deposit? Don't try to bluff me. I know
your sort. Lucky if you don't get ten years."
"Save me!" wailed Toby. "Yes, I did cash a check, come to think
of it, for that amount, but I had no idea my account had run so
Mr. Gottlieb spat into a sawdust box under the table and winked
with great deliberation.
"How much have you got left?" he inquired indifferently.
Tony delved into his breeches and with trembling hands produced a
roll of bills still of some dignity. Gottlieb stretched forth a
claw, took them, placed them in his own pocket, and then swung his
feet to the floor with alacrity.
"Come on, my lads," he exclaimed, "and I'll show you how we get
the sinners off! All right, Mike." And he led the way across the
street and into the station-house, where poor Toby was searched
and his pedigree taken down by the clerk. It being at this time
only about eleven in the morning we were then conducted to the
nearest police court, where we found in attendance the unfortunate
hotel keeper who had so unwisely honored Toby's check.
"You rascal!" he shouted, struggling to reach my unfortunate friend.
"I'll show you how to take other people's money! I'll put you
where you belong!" But the officers haled him back and he was
forced to restrain himself until the could tell his story to the
judge. This, it so happened, was not to be for several hours, and
during this interval Gottlieb mysteriously vanished and as mysteriously
reappeared. It was half after three before the judge announced
that he would take up Toby's case. Now, the judge looked even more
of a rascal than did Gottlieb, which was paying his Honor a high
compliment, and I suspect that it was for this reason that the
complainant had in the meantime sent round for his own lawyer to
represent him. We were now pushed forward and huddled into a small
space in front of the rail, while the lawyers took their places
upon the platform before us.
"Your Honor," began the lawyer for the hotel man, "this fellow here
has swindled my client out of six hundred dollars by inducing him
to cash a worthless check."
"What have you to say, Mr. Gottlieb?" asked the judge.
"Confession and avoidance, your Honor," replied the attorney, with
what appeared to me to be the slightest possible drawing down of
his right eyelid. "Confession and avoidance. We admit the fact,
but we deny the imputation of guilt. My client, Mr. Robinson,
whose abilities as an actor have no doubt hitherto given your Honor
much pleasure, was so careless as to forget the precise amount of
his bank account and happened to draw a check for too large an
amount. No one was more surprised and horrified at the discovery
than he. And his intention is at once to reimburse in full the
complainant, whose action in having him arrested seems most
extraordinary and reprehensible."
"Your Honor," interrupted the other lawyer, "were there the slightest
possibility of any such outcome I should be glad to withdraw the
charge; but, as a matter of fact, this person is a worthless, lazy
fellow who has not a cent to his name, and who induced my client
to cash his check by leading him to believe that he was a man of
substance and position. No doubt he has spent the money, and if
not we might as well try to squeeze it out of a stone. This fellow
is guilty of a crime and he ought to be punished. I ask your Honor
to hold him for the grand jury."
"Well, Mr. Gottlieb," remarked the judge, "tell me, if you can,
why I should not lock your client up. Did he not falsely pretend,
by requesting the complainant to cash the check, that he had money
in the bank to meet it?"
"By no means, your Honor," answered Gottlieb. "The proffering of
a check with a request for money thereon is merely asking that the
money be advanced on the faith that the bank will honor the demand
made upon it. One who cashes a check does so at his own risk. He
has a full remedy at civil law, and if the bank refuses to pay no
crime has been committed. This is not a case for the penal law."
"That seems reasonable," said the judge, turning to the other.
"How do you make this out a crime? What false pretence is there
in merely inviting another to cash a check?"
"Why," answered the attorney, "if I ask you to cash a check for
me, do I not represent that I have a right to draw upon the bank
for the amount set forth? If not, no one would ever cash a check.
The innocent person who advances the money has the right to assume
that the borrower is not offering him a bad check. There is a
tacit representation that the check is good or that the maker has
funds in the bank to meet it."
"True—true!" nodded his Honor. "There is something in what you
say. What answer can you make to that, Brother Gottlieb?"
"I have a hundred good arguments," replied the lawyer in a low
tone. Then he added briskly: "But the intent, your Honor! There
can be no crime without a wrongful intent; and how can there have
been any such when my client honestly believed that he had the
money in the bank to meet the check?"
"But," cried the other, "he knew very well he had not!"
"What evidence have you to that effect?" queried Gottlieb. "You
say so, to be sure, but I, on the contrary, assert that he was
perfectly honest in the matter. Now, there is absolutely nothing
in this case to prove that he had any guilty knowledge to the effect
that his account was too low to meet the draft in question. You
have proven no scienter whatever."
"Ah!" exclaimed the judge. "That is it! You have shown no
"Exactly!" cried Gottlieb—"no scienter at all."
"But how in the world could I have proved a scienter?" wrathfully
demanded the lawyer. "I can't pry open the prisoner's skull and
exhibit his evil intent."
"No, but you could have shown that he knew he had only a few dollars
in the bank by the fact that he had previously tried to cash a
similar check and that it had been returned. In any event, my own
mind is clear on the subject. You have shown no scienter. The
prisoner is discharged."
Poor Toby was so overcome by his unexpected release that he began
to stammer out incoherent expressions of gratitude to the judge,
such as "Oh, thank you, your Honor! God bless your Honor! Thank
you, your Honor! I am an innocent man, your Honor!" until Gottlieb,
grasping him by the arm, dragged him away from the rail and pushed
him into the street. The complainant and his attorney indignantly
followed us, the former loudly deploring the way modern justice
was administered. Once outside Gottlieb shook hands with Toby and
told him if he were ever in trouble again to look him up without
fail. Toby promised gratefully to do so, and the lawyer was about
to leave us and enter his office when it occurred to me that he
still had my friend's roll of bills.
"But, Mr. Gottlieb," said I, "you are going to return Mr. Robinson's
money to him, are you not?"
"What!" he exclaimed, growing frightfully angry. "Give him back
his money! I have no money of his. It is he owes me money for
keeping him out of jail."
"But how about the roll of bills?" I protested. "You certainly do
not intend to keep all of that?"
"Certainly—that is my fee," he retorted calmly; "and small enough
it is too!"
"How much was there in that roll, Toby?" I asked.
"About five hundred dollars," answered my friend. "But let him
keep it, by all means!"
"Why," I exclaimed, "he has done nothing to earn such a fee. He
merely got up and said that you had no scienter—whatever that is.
It is not worth more than ten dollars."
"Ten dollars!" shouted Gottlieb. "Ten dollars! Why scienter is
one of the most complicated and technical defences known to the
law. Ten dollars! Scienter is worth a thousand! Your rascally
friend got his money for nothing, didn't he? He's lucky to be
outside the bars—for if I ever saw a guilty man he's one. Get
along, both of you, or I'll call an officer!"
And with that Gottlieb slipped inside his office and banged the
"Come along, Quib!" urged Tony; "there's a great deal of truth in
what he says. I don't begrudge it to him. It was well worth it
"Lord!" I groaned. "Five hundred dollars just for scienter. If
that is the law, then I'll turn lawyer."
And with that idea growing more firmly each moment in my mind I
returned to the boarding-house with my friend.
I am free to confess that the ease with which Counsellor Gottlieb
had deprived my friend Toby of the ill-gotten proceeds of his check
—or, for his sake putting it more politely, had earned his fee—
was the chief and inducing cause that led me to adopt the law as
a career. I shall not pretend that I had any lofty aims or ambitions,
felt any regard for its dignity or fascination for the mysteries
of its science when I selected it for my profession. My objects
were practical—my ambition to get the largest financial return
consonant with the least amount of work. My one concrete experience
of the law had opened my eyes to its possibilities in a way that
I had never dreamed of, and I resolved to lose no time in placing
myself in a position to rescue others from harm on the same pecuniary
basis as did Mr. Gottlieb.
Of course I realized that I must serve an apprenticeship, and indeed
the law required that were I not a graduate of a law school that
I must have worked as a clerk for two years before I could be
admitted to the bar. Accordingly I began to make inquiries as to
what were the best law firms in the city, and before long had
acquired pretty definite information as to who were and who were
not in high standing. Now, I had no letters of introduction and
nothing to recommend me except a certain degree of maturity and a
cultivated manner of speaking, and I might and probably should have
been trying to this day to break into some sedate and high-toned
old-fogy office had it not been for one of those accidents with
which my career has been replete.
I had visited all the firms on my list without finding any who
wanted to take in a student. Indeed all the offices seemed filled
if not crowded with studious-looking young men whose noses were
buried in law books. In one or two, to be sure, I might have
secured admittance and been given desk room in exchange for the
services of my legs as a runner of errands and a server of papers,
but none had any idea of paying anything. The profession at the
bottom was more overcrowded than the gallery of the Academy of
Music when they ran Rosedale. Each night as I returned to my
lodgings I felt more and more discouraged. Its smell of cabbage
came to have for me an inexpressible sensation of relief, of
protection, even of luxury. Here, at any rate, even in an actors'
boarding-house, I was independent, as good as anybody, and not
regarded as if I were a beggar on the one hand or a questionable
character on the other.
How long this might have continued I have no means of knowing, but
one afternoon as I was trudging uptown, still holding in my hand
a copy of a legal journal, the advertisements in which I had been
engaged in sedulously running down, my attention was attracted by
a crowd gathered in the street around a young man who had been so
unfortunate as to be run over by a stage. There was nothing external
to indicate the extent of his injuries, and as I drew nearer two
persons assisted him to his feet and began to lead him toward the
nearest store. Having nothing better to do I walked along with
them, and after they had gone inside remained looking curiously
through the window. While I was thus engaged a stout, bustling
man of about forty years of age came hurrying down the sidewalk
and turned to enter the store. As he did he observed me apparently
waiting there and his eye with a quick glance took in the title of
the paper in my hand. Instantly he stepped up beside me and tapping
me on the arm said in a low tone:
"Whom do you represent?"
I was somewhat taken aback by this inquiry, not seeing at the moment
its immediate relation to the business at hand, but for want of a
better answer I replied in the same spirit:
"Oh! Quibble, eh! I've heard of him. But look here, my young
friend, there is no reason why honest men should cut one another's
throats. Tell my friend Quibble I was here before ye and keep this
And with that he peeled a twenty-dollar bill from the top of a
heavy roll that he produced from his pocket and placed it within
"Very good," said I. "It may cost me dear if Quibble hears of it,
but a man must live, and I work at starvation wages."
I placed the bill in my breast pocket and made way for him to enter
the store, which he did without more ado. Why this busy gentleman
should gratuitously present me with twenty dollars did not at the
moment occur to me. I continued on my way northward, pondering
upon the question, and passed the street upon which the police
court was located and Counsellor Gottlieb had his office. The
thought came into my mind that here was the very person to shed
light upon the subject and I turned the corner and opened the door.
Gottlieb was in his customary position with his feet elevated upon
the table before him.
"Well," he said, "I didn't expect you back so soon."
"I've come for free advice this time," I answered.
"Oh," he grunted. "Well, in that case perhaps you won't get it."
Somehow I had taken a shine to the fellow, for all his robbery of
poor Toby, and I admired his quickness of perception and readiness
of speech. Perhaps he too felt not unkindly toward me. At any
rate I told him my story.
"Now," says I, "what d'ye make of it?"
"Was he a fat little turkey with gray eyes?" he inquired.
"The same," I replied.
"Then it was Tom Kelly," he answered. "On his daily still hunt
for the maimed, the halt and the blind. You say the chap had been
run over by the stage? Well, Tom'll take his case on a contingent
fee—fifty per cent. to Tom and fifty per cent. to the client of
all that comes of it—bring an action against the stage line and
recover heavy damages. Oh, it's terrible to think what that poor
injured young man will suffer. To-day he may feel quite well, but
to-morrow he will have all kinds of pains in his head and eyes,
his spine will ache, he will experience symptoms of a nervous
breakdown. He will retire to bed and not emerge for six months,
and when he does he'll be a hopeless and helpless cripple for life.
Tom is an artist, he is, in his own line. They tell me he made
sixty thousand last year out of his accident practice alone. Why,
the case he gave you twenty to keep out of may net him five thousand
"If I'd known that it would have cost him fifty!" I said, feeling
that an unjust advantage had been taken of me.
"Twenty is the regular rate," answered Gottlieb. "There are too
many chances to make it worth much more merely to get the other
fellow out of the way. Sometimes, though, I've paid as high as
fifteen hundred for a case."
"Fifteen hundred!" exclaimed I.
"Yes, and got a verdict of nineteen thousand, of which I pocketed
ninety-five hundred and four hundred dollars costs besides."
"Whew!" I whistled.
"Oh, there's pretty good pickin's on occasion even for a police-
court lawyer," he continued; "but it's nothin' to the return from
what I might call legitimate practice. Now, there's old Haight,
of Haight & Foster, for instance. He gets half a dozen twenty-
thousand-dollar fees every year, and all he has is strictly old-
fashioned probate and real-estate practice and a little of this
new-fangled railroad business. My great regret is that I didn't
stick to regular trade instead of going after easy money. Who's
Gottlieb now? Just a police-court lawyer, when he might be arguing
before the Supreme Court of the United States! My brain's just as
good as Haight's. I've licked him many a time in my young days.
And then I get tired of all this hogwash! I tell you it's dirty
business, most of it!"
"Well," I answered, remembering "scienter," "I've no doubt that
you could beat them all. But I fancy you have nothing to complain
of in the way of returns, yourself. What worries me is how to get
any start at all. I've tried half the law offices in town."
Gottlieb listened with some interest as I outlined my experiences.
"But," he exclaimed, "you didn't go to the right person. You should
have tackled the head of the firm himself. Find some sort of
introduction. Flatter him. Offer to work for nothing—and, trust
me, he'll have you. Now, my advice is to go straight to old Haight
and make up your mind to get into his office willy-nilly. It'll
be worth three thousand a year to you to graduate from there.
It'll give you the tone you need in the profession. There are two
qualities that make for the highest success in the law—honesty
and dishonesty. To get ahead you must have one or the other. You
must either be so irreproachable in your conduct and elevated in
your ideals that your reputation for virtue becomes your chief
asset, or, on the other hand, so crooked that your very dishonesty
makes you invaluable to your clients. Both kinds of lawyers are
equally in demand. Some cases require respectability and some
dirty work. But the crooked lawyer has got to be so crooked that
everybody is afraid of him, even the judge. Now, the trouble with
me is that I'm too honest. Sometimes I wish I were a crook like
the rest of them!"
He sighed deeply and slowly drew down his left eyelid.
"Thank you, Mr. Gottlieb," said I, suppressing an inclination to
smile. "I'll take your advice. Perhaps you'll let me talk to
you again later on."
"Come as often as you like," he replied. "And look you, young-
feller-me-lad, I'll give you half of all the profits I make out of
any business you bring me. You don't have to be a lawyer to get
clients. Hustle around among your friends and drum up some trade
and you'll do almost as well as if you could try cases yourself.
For every dollar I earn you get another. Is it a go?"
"Surely!" I cried. "And if I'm not very much mistaken I'll not be
long about it, for I have an idea or two in my head already."
The next day I again presented myself at the office of Haight &
Foster, where I had already applied for a position to the chief
clerk. This time I asked for the head of the firm himself, and I
was amused to see that whereas before I had been almost kicked out
of the office, I was now treated with the respect due to a possible
client. After a wait of some twenty minutes I was ushered into a
large sunny office lined with books and overlooking the lower East
River. Mr. Haight was a wrinkled old man with a bald scalp covered
with numerous brown patches about the size of ten-cent pieces. A
fringe of white hair hung about his ears, over one of which was
stuck a goose-quill pen. He looked up from his desk as I entered
and eyed me sharply.
"Well, Mr. Quibble," he began gruffly, as if he were about to add,
"out with what you have to say, young man, and be gone as soon as
"Mr. Haight," said I with great defence, "I have called on you at
the suggestion of my guardian and trustee, Mr. Tuckerman Toddleham,
of Barristers' Hall, Boston, to inquire whether I may not be allowed
the great privilege of a desk in your office. I am a Harvard man,
born in Salem, and of an old Massachusetts family. Ever since I
made up my mind as a boy to enter the law it has been my ambition
to study in your office; and, I may add, it is also the earnest
hope of my guardian, Mr. Toddleham."
"Do you refer to the Mr. Toddleham of 'Toddleham on Perpetuities'?"
he asked with some interest.
"The same," I answered, for although I had never heard of the work
in question, it seemed just the sort for old Toddleham's production.
"I am glad to know you, Mr. Quibble," he exclaimed, extending his
hand. "I have often wished that I could meet your guardian and
ask the great Mr. Toddleham face to face what he really thinks of
the Rule in Shelley's Case—what do you think of it? What was
the Rule in Shelley's Case, may I ask?"
Now, I had never heard of the rule in question, so for want of a
better answer I replied:
"The law is no respecter of person. I suppose the rule was the
same in his case as in any other."
Mr. Haight looked at me strangely for a moment and suddenly began
to chuckle. Then he eyed me again and chuckled still more. Finally
he laid aside all modestly and hugged himself with delight.
"I see that you are a man of esprit!" he remarked between spasms.
"I shall be glad to take you into my office. You may go and
introduce yourself to Mr. Spruggins, the chief clerk."
Thus it was that I secured my first slender foothold at the bar of
New York, and it was not for several years that I discovered that
the Toddleham who had written the book on Perpetuities was an
entirely different person, belonging to another branch of the
Of course I received no compensation for my services at Haight &
Foster's, but that was the customary rule with all students. As
a result we were not strictly tied down in our attendance at the
office. I really believe it would have been cheaper for the firm
to have paid a small salary to their clerks, for it would then have
been in a position to demand much more of them in return. As it
was I found myself able to come and go about as I chose, and being
obliged to support myself in some way my attendance at the office
was quite irregular. But I was started at last and belonged
somewhere. No longer was it necessary for me to wander about the
streets looking for a place to hang my hat, and I already had
schemes in mind whereby I was soon to become rich.
My associates in the office were all scholarly, respectable young
men, most of them law-school graduates and scions of well-known
families, and I was not insensible to the advantage to me that my
connection with them might be later on. It was essential that I
should impress them and the firm with my seriousness of purpose,
and so I made it a point, unpleasant as I found it, to be on hand
at the office every morning promptly at eight-thirty o'clock, ready
to arrange papers or serve them, and to be of any assistance, no
matter how menial, to Mr. Spruggins, whose sense of dignity I took
pains to flatter in every way possible. In the afternoon, however,
I slipped away on the pretext of having to go uptown to study, but
in point of fact in order to earn enough money to pay for my board
I had been cogitating several ideas since I had visited Gottlieb,
and the one that appealed to me the most was that of procuring of
business for other lawyers upon a percentage basis. I reasoned
that there must be several hundred thousand people in the city who
had no acquaintance with lawyers and would be as ready to consult
one as another. Reputable lawyers did not advertise, to be sure,
but I was not yet a lawyer, and hence many courses were open to me
at this stage in my career that would be closed later on. I had
considerable confidence in my own persuasive ability and felt that
it was only a question of time before I could drum up a substantial
amount of business. Accordingly I had a few cards neatly printed
on glossed board reading:
MR. ARTEMAS QUIBBLE
HAIGHT & FOSTER Contracts
10 WALL STREET Tax Matters
NEW YORK CITY General Advice
The Haight & Foster end of the card was done in very heavy type,
while my own name was comparatively inconspicuous. Further to
assist my plans I rented a tiny office not far from Madison Square
for the sum of two dollars per week and furnished it with a table,
two chairs, and an inkpot. The door bore the inscription:
ARTEMAS QUIBBLE, ESQ.
The reader will observe that not being authorized as yet to practice
as an attorney I was scrupulous not to hold myself out as one.
"Counsellor" might mean anything. Certainly I had the right to
give counsel to such as desired it. Here I might be found at and
after half-past one of every day, having already done five hours'
work at the office of Haight & Foster. I still had enough funds
to carry me for some three weeks and so felt no immediate anxiety
as to the future, but I realized that I must lose no time in getting
out my tentacles if I were to drag in any business. Accordingly
I made myself acquainted with the managers and clerks of the
neighboring hotels, giving them the impression, so far as I could,
that Haight & Foster had opened an uptown office and that I was in
charge of it. I made friends also with the proprietors and barkeepers
of the adjacent saloons, of which there were not a few, and left
plenty of my cards with them for distribution to such of their
customers as might need legal assistance, in each case promising
that any business which they secured would be liberally rewarded.
In short, I made myself generally known in the locality and planted
the seed of cupidity in the hearts of several hundreds of impecunious
persons. It was very necessary for me to net ten dollars per week
to live, and under the circumstances it seemed reasonable to believe
that I could do so.
Almost at the outset I had a piece of luck, for a guest at a Fifth
Avenue hotel was suddenly stricken with a severe illness and desired
to make a will. It was but a few days after I had called upon the
manager, and, having me fresh in his mind, he sent for me. The
sick man proved to be a wealthy Californian who was too far gone
to care who drew his will so long as it was drawn at all, and I
jotted down his bequests and desires by his bedside. I had originally
intended to go at once to Mr. Haight and turn the matter over to
him, but my client seemed so ill that it appeared hardly necessary.
I persuaded myself with the argument that the affair required a
more immediate attention than the office could give, and accordingly
decided to draw the will myself and incidentally to earn the whole
fee. The proceeding seemed honest enough, since, although I had
been introduced as representing Haight & Foster, the sick man had
never heard of them before and obviously did not care one way or
I had never drawn a will or any other legal paper, but I lost no
time in slipping around to Gottlieb's office and borrowing a work
on surrogates' practice, including forms, with which under my arm
I hurried back to my office. Here after a good many unsuccessful
attempts I produced a document sufficiently technical to satisfy
almost any layman and probably calculated to defeat every wish of
the testator. Of this, however, I was quite ignorant, and do myself
the justice to say that, had not that been the case, I would not
have attempted what I now know to have been an impossible task for
one of my lack of legal education. I carefully engrossed the will
in long hand on fresh foolscap, ornamented it with seals and ribbons
and, returning to the hotel, superintended its execution. My client
asked my how much was my fee and I modestly replied—as I never
expected to see him again this side of the grave—that my charge
would be one hundred and fifty dollars. He nodded, and indicating
his pocketbook, told me to help myself, which I did, regretting
not having asked for more. That night he died, and my impromptu
will was forwarded to California and became the subject of a
litigation lasting over eleven years and costing several hundred
It thus happened that my eagerness to begin to build up my material
fortunes, coupled with the necessity of having a technical connection
with a regular firm of lawyers, resulted in my leading a sort of
double legal existence. In the morning I was a mere drudge or
office devil, in the afternoon I was Counsellor Quibble, head of
his own office and my own master. Having now a capital of one
hundred and fifty dollars I was in a position to put one of my
schemes into practice, and accordingly I drew up with great care
the following instrument, copies of which I had struck off by a
theatrical job printer near by:
THIS AGREEMENT made this . . . . day of . . . . . . . . , 1878,
between . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , of the City and County
of New York, party of the first part, and Artemas Quibble, Esquire,
of the same, party of the second part, WITNESSETH:
That the said party of the first part in consideration of one dollar
to him in hand paid upon the first day of each month by the party
of the second part, hereby covenants and agrees to employ at a
reduced rate the said party of the second part to look after all
the legal matters that my arise in his business and to recommend
said party of the second part to his friends and acquaintances as
a suitable person to perform the like services for them; in the
latter event the said party of the first part to receive as a
further consideration a commission of one-third of the fees of the
party of the second part procured therefrom.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF we have hereunto set our hands and seals the
day and year above named.
Armed with these insinuating documents I procured a fresh roll of
one hundred one-dollar bills and set forth to interview all whose
acquaintance I had made in the course of my brief residence in the
city. My argument ran thus: Almost anybody would be willing to
receive a dollar every month in return for a service that would
cost him nothing. With an outlay of one hundred dollars I could
have a hundred persons virtually in my employ trying to get me
business. After the first month I could discontinue with those
who seemed likely to prove unremunerative. Almost any case would
return in fees as much as my original disbursement. On the whole
it seemed a pretty safe investment and the formal-looking contract
would tend to increase the sense of obligation upon the contracting
party of the first part. Nor did my forecast of the probabilities
prove at all wide of the mark. Practically every one to whom I
put the proposition readily accepted my dollar and signed the
agreement, and at the end of a week my one hundred dollars had been
distributed among all the cab drivers, conductors, waiters, elevator
men, clerks, bartenders, actors, hall boys, and storekeepers that
I knew or with whom I could scrape an acquaintance. None of them
expected to have any business of their own and all welcomed with
delight the idea of profiting by the misfortunes of their friends.
I had often lost or won at a single sitting at cards a much larger
sum than the one I was now risking in what seemed an excellent
business proposition, so that the money involved caused me no
uneasiness. Besides, I had fifty dollars left in my pocket.
Meantime I spent my evening in my office reading Blackstone and
such text-books as I cared to borrow from the well-equipped library
of my employers.
Business came, however, with unexpected promptitude. At the end
of the first week I had received calls from two actors who desired
to sue their managers for damages for breach of contract, five
waiters who wished to bring actions for wages due, and actress who
wanted a separation from her husband, a bartender who was charged
with assault for knocking the teeth of an unruly customer down his
throat, and a boy whose leg had been caught under an elevator and
crushed. Each of these I made sign an agreement that I should
receive half of any sum recovered in consideration of seeing that
they received proper legal advice and service, and each of them I
sent over to Counsellor Gottlieb, with whom I executed a mutual
contract to divide evenly the fees received.
The reader will notice that I did not technically hold myself out
as a lawyer in these contracts, and merely agreed to furnish counsel.
Thus I flattered myself I was keeping on the lee side of the law.
Gottlieb settled the case of the boy for twelve hundred dollars,
and we divided six hundred between us, and the other cases that
came in the first month netted us three hundred dollars apiece
more. The future began to look bright enough, as I had to distribute
as commissions only two hundred dollars, which left me a gross
profit of four hundred dollars. With this I secured fifty new
contracts, and after paying the second installments upon all the
first I pocketed as a net result two hundred and fifty dollars
cash. I now had a growing business at my back, finding it necessary
to employ an office assistant, and accordingly selected for that
purpose an old actor who was no longer able to walk the boards,
but who still retained the ability to speak his part. For a weekly
wage of ten dollars this elderly gentleman agreed to sit in my
office and hold forth upon my ability, shrewdness, and learning to
all such as called in my absence. In the afternoons I assumed
charge myself and sent him forth armed with contracts to secure
My business soon increased to such an extent that it bid fair to
take up all my time, and the bookkeeping end of it, with its
complicated division of receipts, proved not a little difficult.
The amazement of my friend Gottlieb knew no bounds, but as it was
a profitable arrangement for him he asked no questions and remained
in ignorance as to the source of my stream of clients, until one
of his friends, to whom my assistant had made application, showed
him one of the contracts. That night he sent for me to come to
his office, and after offering me a very large and exceedingly good
Havana cigar delivered himself as follows:
"Harkee, Quib, you are more of a fellow than I took you for. You
have more cleverness than any man of your years in my acquaintance
at the bar. This scheme of yours, now, it's a veritable gold mine.
Not but that anybody could make use of it. It can't be patented,
you know. But it's excellently devised; no one will deny that.
What do you say to a partnership, eh? On the same terms?"
Now, I had more than once thought of the same thing myself, but
the idea of associating myself in business with an out-and-out
criminal attorney had to my mind serious drawbacks. We discussed
the matter at length, however, and Gottlieb pointed out very wisely
that I was running a great risk in distributing broadcast cards
upon which appeared the unauthorized name of Haight & Foster, as
well as in conducting an office under my own name, when in fact I
was but an attorney's clerk downtown. My connection and association
with such a reputable firm was an asset not to be jeopardized
lightly, and he advised my withdrawing so far as I could all my
cards from circulation and conducting my business sub rosa. In
the end we came to an understanding which we reduced to writing.
I was to become a silent partner in Gottlieb's business and my
office was to become a branch of his, my own name being entirely
in abeyance. On the whole, this arrangement pleased me very well,
as under it I ran practically no risk of having my activities
discovered by my employers.
It is somewhat difficult to know just in what order to present
these memoirs to the reader, for from this time on my life became
a very varied one. Had I the time I should like nothing better
than to paint for my own satisfaction an old-fashioned law office
as it was conducted in the 'seventies—its insistent note of
established respectability, the suppressed voices of its young men,
their obvious politeness to each other and defence to clients,
their horror at anything vulgar, the quiet, the irritating quiet,
Mr. Wigger's red wig—he was the engrossing clerk—the lifelessness
of the atmosphere of the place, as if nothing real ever happened
there, and as if the cases we prepared and tried were of interest
only on account of the legal points involved. When I was there,
filing papers in their dusty packages, I used to feel as though I
was fumbling among the dust of clients long since dead and gone.
The place stifled and depressed me. I longed for red blood and
real life. There I was, acting as a clerk on nothing a year, when
uptown I was in the centre of the whirlpool of existence. It was
with ill-concealed gratification that I used daily at one o'clock
to enter the library, bow to whatever member of the firm happened
to be there, remove a book from the shelves and slip out of the
door. A horse-car dropped me in half an hour at a hotel near my
office. After I had snatched a sandwich and a cup of coffee in
the café I would dash up to my office—the door of which now bore
ATTORNEY & COUNSELLOR-AT-LAW
SIDDONS KELLY, MANAGER
Siddons Kelly was the superannuated actor of whom I have already
spoken, and when he was not, so to speak, in drink he was an
invaluable person. He had followed the stage all his life, but he
was of the sort that tear passion to tatters and he had never risen
above third-rate parts. In every respect save declamation he had
all the elegances and charm of manner that the stage can give, and
he would receive and bow out a scrubwoman who had fallen down a
flight of back stairs and wanted to make the landlord pay for her
broken head with a grace truly Chesterfieldian. This was all very
fine until he had taken a drop too much, when his vocabulary would
swell to such dimensions that the confused and embarrassed client
would flee in self-protection unless fortunate enough to be rescued
by Gottlieb or myself. Poor Kelly! He was a fine old type. And
many a client then and later was attracted to my office by his
refined and intellectual old face with its locks of silky gray.
An old bachelor, he died alone one night in his little boarding-
house with a peaceful smile on his wrinkled face. He lies in
Greenwood Cemetery. Over him is a simple stone—for which I paid
—bearing, as he had requested, only the words:
As may well be supposed, my professional career uptown was vastly
more entertaining than my experiences at Haight & Foster's. My
afternoons were filled with a constant procession of clients of
all ages, sexes, colors, and conditions. As the business grew and
greater numbers of persons signed our contracts and received their
honorarium of a dollar a month, a constantly increasing percentage
of criminal or semi-criminal cases came to the office. Of course
there was no better criminal lawyer than Gottlieb in the city, and
before long the criminals outnumbered our civil clients. At the
same time I noticed a tendency on the part of the civil business
to fall off, the reason for this probably being that my partner
was known only as a criminal attorney. Now, I began to dislike
the idea of paying a dollar a month to induce people to refer
business to us, and indeed I found that the disbursement of five
or six hundred dollars every four weeks for this purpose was no
trifling matter. Accordingly I decided to try letting them go for
a month or so, but business fell off to such an alarming extent
that I almost immediately resumed the contract system, merely
reducing its proportions.
In addition to our "dollar-a-monthers," as we called them, Gottlieb
employed half a dozen professional "runners," whose sole occupation
it was to hunt down unfortunate persons injured accidentally and
secure their cases. These employees made a business of joining as
many social clubs, labor and other organizations as possible and
swinging the business in Gottlieb's direction. At one time the
competition for accident cases became so fierce that if a man were
run over on Broadway the rival runners would almost tear him limb
from limb in their eagerness to get his case; and they would follow
a dying man to the hospital and force their way on one pretext or
another to his bedside. There used to be a story, which went the
rounds of the clubs and barrooms, of a very swell old buck who owed
an enormous amount of money and who happened to be knocked down
and rendered insensible by a butcher's wagon. He was taken to the
hospital and did not regain consciousness for several hours. When
at last he opened his eyes he saw several dozen cards plastered
upon the ceiling directly over his head, reading:
LEVY & FINKLESTEIN
WE GET YOU MONEY!
EINSTEIN & GOLDBERG
IN THE BUSINESS 30 YEARS
SOLOMONS & MEYER
CAN GET YOU
$5000 FOR A LEG
$10,000 FOR A LIVER
THE HONEST LAWYER
"Ah!" he murmured, rubbing his eyes and turning to the nurse; "I
thought I was in some strange place, but I see that all my friends
have been to call already!"
Our criminal business, however, was so extensive that it took
practically all of Gottlieb's time, and he found it necessary to
hire a couple of clerks to attend to the civil cases that came to
us. My partner was obliged to spend the whole of almost every day
in attendance at the criminal courts. Frequently he remarked
jestingly that under the circumstances, as he had to give all his
time to it anyway, he could as easily attend to all the criminal
business of the city as to the small part of it that came to him.
"Well," I said to him one day, "why don't you?"
"Why don't I what?" he retorted.
"Get all the criminal business there is," I answered.
"Quib," he exclaimed excitedly, "have you got another of your
"I think so," I returned. "How does this strike you? Why not
issue a policy, like life or accident insurance, in which for a
moderate sum you agree to defend free of charge any man accused
of crime? You know that every criminal is always trying to save
up money against the time when he shall be caught and have to hire
a lawyer. Now, it is true that these fellows pay very well, but
there are not many that can pay a large fee. If you could get
enough crooks to take out a policy at ten dollars per year you
might make a good thing of it."
"But how would we get our scheme going?" inquired my partner, with
a gleam in his eye. "It certainly is a gold mine, if it will work."
"Leave the thing to me," I admonished him.
That evening I drew up with great care a policy of insurance against
the loss occasioned by having to employ counsel if arrested for
crime. On its back was indorsed the following insidious philosophy:
"Innocent men, as well as guilty, are frequently arrested for
violating the law. This costs money. Lawyers are notorious
extortioners. For ten dollars a year we guarantee to defend you
for nothing if charged with crime. Twenty-five dollars insures
entire family. We make no distinction between ex-convicts and
My next task was to boom my scheme by successful advertising, and
with this in view I persuaded Gottlieb to issue free policies to
a dozen or so of the worst rascals that he knew. Naturally it was
not long before one of them was arrested for some offence, and
Gottlieb as naturally succeeded in getting him off, with the natural
result that the fellow went all over town telling how one could be
a burglar with impunity for ten dollars a year. At about the same
time I heard of a man who was in the Tombs charged with murder,
but who was almost certain to get off on account of the weakness
of the case against him. I, therefore, visited the defendant and
offered to give him a policy for ten dollars, in spite of the fact
that he was already in jail. He snatched readily enough at the
chance of getting as good a lawyer as Gottlieb to defend him for
ten dollars, and when he was acquitted made so much of it that
there was hardly a prisoner in the Tombs who did not send for one
of our policies to guard against future legal difficulties. To
all of these we offered free advice and a free trial upon the
charges pending against them, as a sort of premium or inducement
to become policy-holders, and in six months had over two hundred
subscribers. This meant in cash about two thousand dollars, but
it necessitated defending any or all of them whenever they were so
unfortunate as to run foul of the police, and as luck would have
it out of the two hundred policy-holders forty-seven of them were
arrested within the first six months—fifteen for burglary, eleven
for robbery and assault, sixteen for theft, and five for murder.
These latter cases took all of Gottlieb's working hours for some
seven and a half weeks, at the end of which time he threw up his
hands and vowed never to insure anybody against anything again.
It was impossible for me to try any of the cases myself, as I was
not as yet admitted to the bar, and the end of the matter was that
we returned the premiums and cancelled the policies of the remaining
one hundred and fifty-three insured. This done, Gottlieb and I
heaved sighs of mutual relief.
"You are a clever fellow, Quib," he acknowledged good-naturedly,
"but in some ways you are ahead of your time. You ought to have
gone into life insurance or railroading. Your genius is wasted on
anything that ain't done wholesale. Let's you and me just stick
to such clients as come our way in the natural course of events.
There isn't any one born yet big enough to do all the criminal law
business in this little old town by himself."
And in this I with some regret agreed with him.
As I have already taken some pains to indicate, I was fully persuaded
of the practical value of a professional connection with a legal
firm of so eminent a standing as that of Messrs. Haight & Foster,
and for this reason the reader may easily appreciate the shock with
which I received the information that my presence was no longer
desired in the office.
Mr. Haight had unexpectedly sent for me word that I was wanted in
the library and I had obeyed his summons without a suspicion that
my career as a civil attorney was to be abruptly terminated. As
I closed the door behind me I saw the old lawyer standing near the
window, his spectacles poked above his eyebrows and his forehead
red with indignation. Between the thumb and forefinger of his left
hand he held a card.
"So," he exclaimed, vainly trying to appear collected, "I find that
my firm has been conducting an uptown office for criminal business!
This is one of your cards, I believe?"
He tossed it from him as if it were infected with some virulent
legal disease, and I saw that it was one of the unfortunate cards
that I had had printed before forming my partnership with Gottlieb.
It was no use denying anything.
"Yes," I answered, as quietly as I could, "it is one of my cards."
"I am also informed," he continued, his voice trembling with
suppressed wrath, "that while you have been masquerading as a
student in this office you have been doing a police-court law
business in association with a person named Gottlieb."
I turned white, yet made no traverse of his indictment. I was
going to be kicked out, but I felt that I could at least make my
exit with a dignified composure.
"Young man, you are no longer wanted here," continued Mr. Haight
with acerbity. "You have found your own level without assistance
and you will no doubt remain there. You obtained your position in
this office by means of false pretences. I do not know who you
really are or whence you really come, but I have no doubt as to
where you will eventually go. This office does not lead in the
right direction. You ought to be locked up! Get out!"
Glib as I was in the defence of others I found it difficult to
argue in my own behalf. At any rate, it would have availed nothing.
I had been tried, convicted, and sentenced in my absence, and it
was vain to hope for pardon. These is something in righteous
indignation that inevitably carries respect with it. I fully
sympathized with Mr. Haight. I had cheated and outraged his firm
and I knew it. I had no excuse to offer and he was entitled to
his burst of excoriation. Morally I felt sure that the worm that
had worked deepest into his bone was the fact that my guardian,
whose name, as the reader may recall, I had made use of as an
introduction, had not in fact written "Tottenham on Perpetuities"
Thus I passed out of the office of Haight & Foster much as I had
slipped in—quite unostentatiously. All hope of success along the
slow and difficult lines of legitimate practice faded from my mind.
Whether I willed it or not, as a criminal attorney I was destined
to make my bread.
There was now no reason why Gottlieb and I should any longer conceal
our partnership, and we decided, therefore, to go into things on
a much larger scale than theretofore, and hired a suite of offices
on Centre Street, near the Tombs, where we could be within easy
reach of the majority of our clients. A sign some forty feet long
and three feet wide ran along the entire front of the building,
bearing the names Gottlieb & Quibble. Our own offices were in the
rear, the front rooms being given over to clerks, runners, and
process servers. A huge safe bought for a few dollars at an auction
stood in the entrance chamber, but we used it only as a receptacle
for coal, its real purpose being simply to impress our clients.
We kept but few papers and needed practically no books; what we
had were thrown around indiscriminately, upon chairs, tables—even
on the floor. I do not recall any particular attempt to keep the
place clean, and I am sure that the windows were never washed.
But we made money, and that was what we were out for—and we made
it every day—every hour; and as we made it we divided it up and
put it in our pockets. Our success from the start seemed in some
miraculous way to be assured, for my partner had, even before I
knew him, established a reputation as one of the keenest men at
the criminal bar.
As time went on our offices were thronged with clients of all sexes,
ages, conditions, and nationalities. The pickpocket on his way
out elbowed the gentlewoman who had an erring son and sought our
aid to restore him to grace. The politician and the actress, the
polite burglar and the Wall Street schemer, the aggrieved wife and
stout old clubman who was "being annoyed," each awaited his or her
turn to receive our opinion as to their respective needs. Good or
bad they got it. Usually it had little to do with law. Rather it
was sound, practical advice as to the best thing to be done under
the circumstances. These circumstances, as may be imagined, varied
widely. Whatever they were and however little they justified
apprehension on the part of the client we always made it a point
at the very outset to scare the latter thoroughly. "Conscience
doth make cowards of us all." But a lawyer is a close second to
conscience when it comes to coward-making; in fact, frightening
people, innocent or guilty, became to a very large extent our
The sinners most of them live in daily terror of being found out
and the virtuous are equally fearful of being unjustly accused.
Every one knows how a breath of scandal originating out of nothing
can wither a family and drive strong men to desperation. The press
is always ready to print interesting stories about people, without
inquiring too closely into their authenticity. Curiously enough
we found that an invitation to call at our office usually availed
to bring the most exemplary citizens without delay. I can remember
not more than three who had the courage to refuse. Most came, as
it were, on the run. Others made a bluff at righteous indignation.
All, in the end, paid up—and paid well. Our reputation grew, and
in the course of a few years the terror of us stalked abroad through
Our staff was well organized, however disordered may have been the
physical appearance of our office. In the first place we had an
agent in every police court who instantly informed us whenever any
person was arrested who had sufficient means to make it worth our
while to come to his assistance. This agent was usually the clerk
or some other official who could delay the proceedings in such a
way as to give us time to appear upon the scene. We also had many
of the police in our pay and made it a practice to reward liberally
any officer who succeeded in throwing us any business. In this
way defendants sometimes acquired the erroneous idea that if they
followed the suggestion of the officer arresting them and employed
us as their attorneys, they would be let off through some collusion
between the officer and ourselves. Of course this idea was without
foundation, but it was the source of considerable financial profit
to us, and we did little to counteract the general impression that
had gone abroad that we "stood in" with the minions of the law and
were personae gratae to the judges of the police courts.
After the telephone came into general use Gottlieb employed it in
many ingenious ways. He even had an unconnected set of apparatus
hanging on the wall of the office, through which he used to hold
imaginary conversations with judges and city officers for the
benefit of clients who were in search of "inflooence." It is a
common weakness of the layman to believe that more can be accomplished
through pull than through the merit of one's cause. Even litigants
who have the right on their side are quite as apt to desire an
attorney who is supposed to be "next" to the judge as are those
whose only hope is through judicial favor. Gottlieb's relations
to the lower magistrates were in many instances close, but he
professed to be on the most intimate terms with all who wore the
ermine, whether in the police courts or on the supreme bench. Time
after time I have overheard some such colloquy as the following.
A client would enter the office and after recounting his difficulties
or wrongs would cautiously ask Gottlieb if he knew the judge before
whom the matter would come.
"Do I know him?" my partner would cry. "I lunch with him almost
every day! Wait a minute, and I'll call him up."
Vigorously ringing the bell attached to the unconnected instrument
upon the wall Gottlieb would indulge his fancy in some such dialogue
"Hello—hello! Is this Judge Nemo? Oh, hello, Jack, is it you?
Yes, it's me—Abe. Say, I want to talk over a little matter with
you before I go into court. How about lunch? Sure—any time will
suit me. One o'clock? I'll be there. Thanks. So long, old man.
See you later!"
The client by virtue of this auricular demonstration of our friendly
relations with the bench would be instantly convinced that his
success was assured and that Gottlieb & Quibble were cheap at any
retainer they might choose to name.
For the most part the routine office work fell to me and Gottlieb
attended to the court end of the business. For there was no more
adroit or experienced trial attorney in the courts than my little
hook-nosed partner. Even down-town attorneys with almost national
reputations as corporation lawyers would call him in as associate
counsel in important cases in which a criminal element was involved.
Thus we frequently secured big fees in what Gottlieb was pleased
to call legitimate practice, although I am inclined to believe that
our share was small compared with that of the civil lawyers who
had retained us. On one occasion where Gottlieb had been thus
called in, the regular attorney of record, who happened to be a
prominent churchman, came to our office to discuss the fee that
should be charged. The client was a rich man who had sued successfully
for a divorce.
"How much, Mr. Gottlieb," inquired the attorney, stroking his chin,
"do you think would be a fair amount to ask for our services?"
My partner hesitated for a moment and mentally reviewed the length
of time of the case—a very simple one—had occupied.
"Do you think five thousand dollars would be too much?" he finally
asked with some hesitation.
"Five!" cried the lawyer in astonishment. "It should be twenty
thousand—at the least!"
It is not my intention to give a history of the firm of Gottlieb
& Quibble, but rather a general description of the work of any
criminal law office. Its object is precisely the same as that of
the best offices where civil law is practised—that is, to make
money out of the client. But inasmuch as the client who seeks the
aid of a criminal attorney is usually in dread of losing not merely
money but liberty, reputation, and perhaps life as well, he is
correspondingly ready to pay generously for any real or fancied
service on the part of the lawyers. Thus the fees of a criminal
practitioner—when the client has any money—are ridiculously high,
and he usually gets sooner or later all that the client has.
Indeed, there are three golden rules in the profession, of which
the first has already been hinted at—namely, thoroughly terrify
your client. Second, find out how much money he has and where it
is. Third, get it. The merest duffer can usually succeed in
following out the first two of these precepts, but to accomplish
the third requires often a master's art. The ability actually to
get one's hands on the coin is what differentiates the really great
criminal lawyer from his inconspicuous brethren.
The criminal attorney, therefore, whether he be called to see his
client at the Tombs or in the police station, or is consulted in
his own office, at once informs the latter that he is indeed in a
parlous state. He demonstrates to him conclusively that there
exist but a few steps between him and the gallows, or at least the
State's prison, and that his only hope lies in his procuring at
once sufficient money to—first, get out on bail; second, buy off
the witnesses; third, "fix" the police; fourth, "square" the judge;
and lastly, pay the lawyer. Even where the prisoner has no money
himself, his family are usually ready to do what they can to get
him off, in order to save themselves from the disgrace of being
related to a convict. It is not what may actually happen to your
client, but what he thinks may happen, that makes him ready and
anxious to give up his money. Thus, the more artistic the practitioner
in painting the dire consequences which will result if the family
of the offender does not come to his rescue the quicker and larger
will be the response. Time also is necessary to enable the ancestral
stocking to be grudgingly withdrawn from its hiding-place and its
contents disgorged, or to allow the pathetic representations of
his nearer relatives to work upon the callous heart of old Uncle
John, who once held a city office and has thus plenty of money.
The object of the lawyer being to hang on to the client until he
has got his money, it follows that if the latter is locked up in
jail it is all the better for the lawyer, unless it be expedient
to let him out to raise funds. Thus criminal attorneys are not,
as a rule, particularly anxious to secure the release of a client
from jail. Solitary confinement increases his apprehension and
discomfort and renders him more complacent about paying well for
liberty. The English king who locked up the money-lender and had
one of his teeth drawn out each day until he made the desired loan
knew his business. Once the fellow is out of jail—pfft! He is
gone, and neither the place nor you know him more. Very likely
also he will jump his bail and you will have to make good your
bond. One client in jail is worth two at large.
Lawyers exercise much invention in keeping their clients under
control. I recall one recent case where a French chauffeur who
had but just arrived in this country was arrested for speeding.
The most that could happen to him would, in the natural course of
events, be a fine of fifteen or twenty dollars. But an imaginative
criminal practitioner got hold of him in the police court and drew
such a highly colored picture of what might happen to him that the
Frenchman stayed in jail without bail under an assumed name, raised
some three hundred dollars by means of a draft on Paris, handed it
over to his counsel, and finally after a delay of two weeks was
tried in Special Sessions, found guilty, and let go on a suspended
sentence. He is now looking for the lawyer with a view to doing
something to him that will inevitably result in his own permanent
Another practical distinction between civil and criminal practitioners
is that while the first are concerned for the most part with the
law, the second are chiefly occupied with the facts. In civil
cases the lawyers spend most of their time in trying to demonstrate
that, even assuming their opponents' contentions as to the facts
to be true, the law is nevertheless in their own favor. Now, this
is a comparatively easy thing, since no one knows what the law in
most civil cases is—and it truth it might as well be one way as
the other. A noted member of the supreme bench of the United States
is reported to have said that when he was chief justice of one of
the State courts, and he and his confrères found themselves in a
quandary over the law, they were accustomed to send the sergeant-
at-arms for what they called the "implements of decision"—a brace
of dice and a copper cent. Thus the weightiest matters were decided
Now, the taking of a purse out of a lady's reticule does not present
much confusion as a legal proposition. It would be somewhat
difficult to persuade a judge or a jury that picking a pocket is
not a crime. It is far easier to demonstrate that the pocket was
not picked at all. This is generally only a question of money.
Witnesses can easily be secured to swear either that the lady had
no reticule, or that if she had a reticule it contained no purse,
or that some person other than the defendant took the purse, or
that she herself dropped it, or that even if the prisoner took it
he had no criminal intent in so doing, since he observed that it
was about to slip from the receptacle in which it was contained
and intended but to return it to her. Lastly, if put to it, that
in fact the owner was no lady, and therefore unworthy of credence.
Few persons realize how difficult it is for an outsider, such as
an ordinary juryman, to decide an issue of fact. A flat denial is
worth a hundred ingenious defences in which the act is admitted
but the attempt is made to explain it away. It is this that gives
the jury so much trouble in criminal cases. For example, in the
case of the pickpocket the lawyers and the judge may know that the
complaining witness is a worthy woman, the respectable mother of
a family, and that the defendant is a rascal. But each comes before
the jury presumably of equal innocence. She says he did, he says
he didn't. The case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Generally the defendant's word, so far as the jury can see, is as
good as his accuser's. If there are other witnesses it is usually
not difficult, and certainly not impossible, to show that they have
poor eyesight, bad memories, or are undesirable citizens in general.
The criminal lawyer learns in his cradle never to admit anything.
By getting constant adjournments he wears out the People's witnesses,
induces others to stay away, and when the case finally comes to
trial has only the naked accusation of the complainant to disprove.
Or, to put it in more technically correct fashion, the complainant
has only his own word wherewith to establish his case beyond a
reasonable doubt. A bold contradiction is often so startling that
it throws confusion into the enemy's camp.
I once defended a worthy gentleman named Cohen on a charge of
perjury, alleged to have been committed by him in a civil case in
which he, as defendant, denied that he had ever ordered a set of
stable plans from a certain architect. The latter was a young man
of very small practice who had an office but no clerks or draughtsmen.
He certainly believed with the utmost honesty that my client had
come to his office, engaged him to design a stable, and approved
an elaborate set of plans that he had drawn. When it came to paying
for them Mr. Cohen declined. The architect brought suit, and at
the trial swore to the dates and places of the interviews between
Cohen and himself, and to all the surrounding circumstances and
details connected with the execution of the plans in question.
His lawyer expected that the defendant would interpose the defense
that the plans were inferior, defective, or worthless. Not at all!
Mr. Cohen swore that he had never ordered the plans and, in fact,
had never seen the architect in his life! He alleged that until
the suit was brought he had never even heard of him, and that
either the architect was demented or a liar, or else some other
Cohen had given the order. The architect and his lawyer were
thunderstruck, but they had no witnesses to corroborate their
contentions, since no one had ever seen Cohen in the other's office.
The jury disagreed and the architect in some way secured Cohen's
indictment for perjury. But during the criminal trial, at which
I defended him, Mr. Cohen calmly persisted in his denial that he
had ever enjoyed the honor of the architect's acquaintance, and
after two prosecutions, in each of which the jury hopelessly
disagreed, the indictments against him were dismissed. From this
it may easily be inferred that no fact is too patent to be denied.
Frequently the more heroic the denial the greater its verisimilitude
to truth. The jury feel that no prisoner would deny a fact that
it would be much easier to explain away—and believe him.
I once represented an Italian called the King of Mulberry Street,
who was charged with having deliberately shot in the head and killed
a respectable dealer in olive-oil against whom he held no grudge
whatsoever. The King was just an egotistic little man who liked
notoriety and admiration. He was wont to refer to himself simply
as "The Bravest Man," without reference to time or place—just "The
Bravest Man." He was accustomed to demonstrate his bravery by
shooting inoffensive people whenever the idea seized him. He never
killed anybody save quiet and law-abiding fellow citizens who made
no resistance, and the method he selected was to shoot them through
the head. He seemed to feel that it was essential to his dignity
thus to execute at least one human being every six months, and the
extraordinary feature of his history was that he had never been
The case that I was called upon to defend was this: Not having
killed anybody for nearly a year and fearing to jeopardize his dual
title of King of Mulberry Street and The Bravest Man, he put a
forty-four calibre pistol in his pocket, donned his Sunday clothes
and took a walk. The thoroughfare was crowded, the day bright and
fair, the time twelve o'clock noon. Presently the oil merchant
approached and The King, first glancing about him to make sure that
he had a "gallery," went up to him, placed the pistol at his head
and fired. He was immediately arrested and indicted for murder.
Now, twenty witnesses had seen him fire the fatal shot. Yet there
was not the slightest reason in the world why he should have done
such a thing. Upon the trial my client insisted on simply denying
that he had done anything of the kind. I had naturally assumed
that he would either claim that the shooting had been accidental
or that he had fired in self-defense, after he had first been
attacked by the deceased. But no—he had had no pistol, did not
know the man, and had not killed him. Why should he have killed
him? he inquired. No one could answer the question, least of all
the jury. The twenty witnesses were positive that he had done so,
but he was equally positive that he had not. No one could offer
the slightest explanation of the deed—if it had in fact taken
place. The jury puzzled over the case for hours, at one time, I
am informed, being on the point of acquitting the prisoner for lack
of proof of any motive. They reasoned, with perfect logic, that
it was almost if not quite as improbable that the defendant should
in broad daylight on a public street have shot down a man against
whom he had not the slightest grudge as that twenty commonplace
citizens should be mistaken as to what they had seen. Whether they
were aided in reaching a verdict by "the implements of decision"
I do not know, but in the end they found my client guilty and in
due course he paid the penalty, as many another king has done, upon
the scaffold. The plain fact was that The King was a "bravo," who
took a childish and vain pride in killing people. He killed for
the love of killing, or rather for the egotistic satisfaction of
being talked of as a killer. At any rate, there are many like him.
While his defence was unsuccessful, he came near enough to escaping
to point out the value of a bold denial in a criminal case.
Our clients consisted, for the most part, of three clearly defined
classes of persons: Criminals, their victims, and persons involved
in marital or quasi-marital difficulties. These last furnished by
far the most interesting quota of our business, and, did not
professional confidence seal my lips, I could recount numerous
entertaining anecdotes concerning some of what are usually regarded
as New York's most respectable, not to say straight-laced, households.
A family skeleton is the criminal lawyer's strongest ally. Once
you can locate him and drag him forth you have but to rattle his
bones ever so little and the paternal bank account is at your mercy.
New York is prolific of skeletons of this generic character, and
Gottlieb had a magnificent collection. When naught else was doing
we used to stir them up and revive business. Over this feature of
the firm's activities I feel obliged, however, from a natural
feeling of delicacy, to draw a veil. Our function usually consisted
in offering to see to it that a certain proposed action, based on
certain injudicious letters, should be discontinued upon the payment
of a certain specified sum of money. These sums ranged in amount
from five to twenty thousand dollars, of which we retained only
one-half. I understand that some lawyers make more than this
percentage, but for such I have only contempt. A member of a
learned and honorable profession should be scrupulous in his conduct,
and to keep for one's self more than half the money recovered for
a client seems to me to be bordering on the unethical. But perhaps
I am hypersqueamish.
Of course we had a great deal of the ordinary "knock-down-and-drag-
out" variety of assault, robbery, theft, and homicide cases. Most
of these our clerks attended to, but the murder cases Gottlieb
defended in person, and in this he was so singularly successful
that there was hardly a celebrated trial in which he was not retained
in some capacity or other. For he was an adept in all those little
arts that make a jury feel well disposed toward a lawyer, and as
a word artist he was unsurpassed. Gottlieb could, I believe, have
wrung tears from a lump of pig iron, and his own capacity to open
the floodgates of emotion was phenomenal. He had that rare and
priceless gift shared by some members of the theatrical profession
of being able to shed real tears at will. His sobs and groans were
truly heart-rending. This, as might be expected, rendered him
peculiarly telling in his appeals to the jury, and he could frequently
set the entire panel snivelling and wiping their eyes as he pictured
the deserted home, the grief-stricken wife, and the starving children
of the man whom they were asked to convict. These unfortunate
wives and children were an important scenic feature in our defence,
and if the prisoner was unmarried Gottlieb had little difficulty
in supplying the omission due to such improvidence. Some buxom
young woman with a child at the breast and another toddling by her
side could generally be induced to come to court for a few hours
for as many dollars. They were always seated beside the prisoner,
but Gottlieb was scrupulous to avoid any statement that they
belonged to the client. If the jury chose to infer as much
that was not our fault. It was magnificent to hear (from the wings)
Gottlieb sum up a case, his hand, in which was concealed a pin,
caressing the youngest little one.
"Think, gentlemen, of the responsibility that rests upon you in
rendering this woman a widow and depriving this poor innocent babe
of a father's protecting love!"
Here Gottlieb would hiccough out a sob, sprinkle a few tears upon
the counsel table, and gently thrust the pin into the infant's
anatomy. Sob from Gottlieb—opportune wail from the baby. Verdict
There was a certain class of confidence men for whom we soon became
the regular attorneys. They were a perennial source of delight as
well as profit, and much of my time was given up to the drafting
of circulars and advertisements for the sale of stock in such form
that, whereas they contained no actual misstatement of an existing
fact, they nevertheless were calculated to stimulate in the most
casual reader an irresistible desire to sell all that he had and
Originally the dealers in valueless securities did not take the
trouble to purchase any properties but merely sold their stock and
decamped with the proceeds. Of course such conduct was most ill-
advised and unnecessary. It was obviously criminal to sell stock
in a concern that has no existence, and several of my clients having
been convicted of grand larceny, for this reason I took it upon
myself to advise the others actually to purchase lands, mines, or
other property and issue their stock against it. In this way their
business became absolutely legitimate—as strictly honest and within
the law as any of the stock-jobbing concerns of the financial
district. To be sure, the mine need not be more than the mere
beginning of a shaft, if even that; the oil-well might have ceased
to flow; the timber land might be only an acre or so in extent;
but at any rate they existed. Their value was immaterial, since
the intending purchaser was not informed in the advertisement as
to the amount of gold, silver, or copper mined in any specific
period, the number of gallons of oil per minute that flowed from
the well, or the precise locality of the timber forests, but merely
as to the glorious future in store for all who subscribed for the
This vital distinction has always existed in civil as well as
criminal law between what is fraud and what is legitimate encouragement
to the buyer. To tell the prospective vendee of your old gray mare
that she is the finest horse in the county is not fraud even if
she is the veriest scarecrow, for it merely represents your opinion
—perhaps colored in part by your desire to sell—and is not a
matter of demonstrable fact. To assure him, however, that she has
never run away, had blind staggers, or spring halt, when these
assertions are not true, is "a false statement as to a past or
existing fact," and as such constitutes a fraud—if he buys your
Now, it frequently has happened in my experience that gentlemen
desiring to find purchasers for securities or property of little
value have so carelessly mingled statements of fact with opinions,
laudations, and prophecies as to their goods, that juries have said
that they were guilty of fraud in so doing. Thus the lawyer becomes
at every turn indispensable to the business man. The following
circular was drawn up for one of our clients and is an excellent
example of a perfectly harmless and legal advertisement that might
easily become fraudulent. We will suppose that the corporation
owned one-quarter of an acre of wood lot about ten miles from a
region where copper was being mined.
"YOUR LAST CHANCE TO BUY THIS STOCK AT PRESENT FIGURES!
"The company's lands are located near the heart of the copper
district, not far from properties now paying from forty to sixty
per cent. a year. There is no reason in the world why Sawhide
should not do as well if not better. With immense quantities of
ore just beneath the surface, when our new smelter is completed
Sawhide will undoubtedly prove one of the best dividend payers in
the country! As the Buggenheims and other well-known financiers
are largely interested in the stock, it is only a question of time
before it will be marked up out of sight. The properties have
great surface value and are rolling in timber and mineral wealth."
This is a fair example of a perfectly safe variety of advertisement
that does not commit the author to anything. As long as there is
a piece of land somewhere and an actual incorporated company the
stock of which, however valueless, is being offered for sale, the
mere fact that the writer indulges himself in rosy prophecies does
not endanger him so far as the criminal law is concerned. It is
only when he foolishly—and usually quite as unconsciously—makes
some definite allegation, such as, for instance, that the company
"owns six hundred acres of fully developed mining property," or
has "a smelter in actual operation on the ground," or "has earned
sixty-five per cent. on its capital in the past year," that the
financier runs the slightest risk. It may be that a purchaser
would find it so difficult to prove the falsity of any of the
statements upon which he had relied in purchasing the stock that
the vendor would practically be immune, but in these days of muck-
raking and of an hysterical public conscience prosecutors sometimes
go to the most absurd lengths and spend ridiculous sums of money
out of the county treasuries to send promoters to jail.
They are apt to have a hard time of it, however. I recall one
scheme in which a client of mine was interested, involving the
floatation of about a hundred thousand dollars' worth of railroad
stock. The circulars, printed by a famous engraver and stationer,
were twenty pages in length and contained the minutest description
of the company's board of directors, rolling stock, capitalization,
bond issues, interests in other railroads, government grants of
land, and the like. They were embellished with beautiful photographs
of deep cuts, suspension-bridges, snow-sheds, railroad-yards, and
round-houses. The promoter did a mail-order business and sold the
stock by the bagful to elevator men, trained nurses, policemen,
porters, clerks, and servant girls.
After he had salted away about forty thousand dollars some of the
purchasers began to get anxious about their dividends. None were
forthcoming, and as the promoter was inclined to be indefinite as
to future prospects he was presently arrested. But when the case
came to trial I pointed out a fact that, strange as it may seem,
practically no one of the multitude of stockholders had previously
noticed, namely, that the circulars made no actual statement as
to where the railroad was located. By inference it might well
have been supposed to be somewhere in Canada, but there was no such
fact clearly alleged. Of course it was impossible for the prosecutor
to prove that my client did not own a railroad somewhere in the
world and the indictment had to be dismissed. Negations are
extremely hard to establish, and therein lies the promoter's safety.
If he sticks to generalizations, no matter how they glitter, he is
immune. Had my railroad promoter inserted a single word descriptive
of the location of his franchise or his terminals he would now be
in Sing Sing instead of owning a steam yacht and spending his
winters in Florida.
From the foregoing the reader will observe that the first-class
criminal lawyer by no means devotes his time to defending mere
burglars and "strong-arm" men. The élite of the profession do as
gilt-edged an office practice as the most dignified corporation
attorneys. Indeed, in many respects their work is strictly
The firm of Gottlieb & Quibble had not been long established before
—quite by chance—a new vista of opportunity opened before us.
My partner had a wretched client who, not unlike many others, would
go to more pains and trouble to steal a dollar than it would have
taken him to earn twenty. This, I have noticed, is a general
peculiarity of lawbreakers. The man's name was McDuff and my
partner had defended him on several occasions and had got him off,
with the result that he was always hanging about the office and
asking if this and that were "within the law." One fine day he
was arrested on the charge of having obtained money by false premises
in an unique manner.
It appeared that he had learned through a certain bar-tender that
one Jones, a patron of the place, had but recently come into a
legacy of a couple of hundred dollars and, in connection therewith,
had imbibed so freely that he had become involved in a fist fight
with a gentleman by the name of Holahan and had done the latter
considerable facial damage. McDuff pondered upon these facts for
some time over his beer and then set out to find Jones—not a
difficult task, as the legatee was making a round of all the near-
by saloons and endeavoring to drink up his good fortune as rapidly
as possible. Overtaking him in a side street McDuff grasped him
roughly by the shoulder.
"Look here, Jones," says he, pretending to be an officer; "I have
a warrant for your arrest for committing a battery upon Thomas
Holahan. You must come along with me to the station-house."
"What! For me!" cries Jones in an agony of dismay. "Sure, I did
nothing to the man. You're not going to lock me up for that!"
"It's my unpleasant duty," answers McDuff. "An officer has no
choice in the matter. You must step along."
"Come, come!" replies Jones, pulling his money from his pocket.
"Here's a hundred and fifty dollars. Say you couldn't find me!"
"I would be taking a great risk," responds the supposed officer.
"Have you no more than that?"
"I have my gold watch and chain," returned Jones. "You can have
them and welcome—only let me go!"
The bargain was stuck then and there and the transfer from Jones'
pockets to those of McDuff effected. Unfortunately, however, Jones
next day discovered that Holahan harbored no ill-will against him
and that the supposed officer was nothing of the kind. Rising in
his wrath, he in turn procured a warrant for McDuff and caused his
arrest and indictment. The trial came off and despite Gottlieb's
best efforts his client was convicted by the jury of stealing Jones'
watch, chain, and money by falsely representing himself to be an
officer of the law. The case went on appeal to the Supreme Court,
which affirmed the conviction, and there seemed no escape for McDuff
from a term in prison.
One evening Gottlieb and I got talking about the case among other
"How is it," said I, "that the criminal law will step in and give
a man back his money when, under precisely the same circumstances,
the civil law will let him whistle?"
"What mean you by that?" asked my partner.
"Why," answered I, "the civil law will not settle disputes between
thieves, it will not enforce an equitable division of stolen
property, and it will not compel rogues to keep a dishonest contract
between themselves. Now this fellow, Jones, it seems to me, was
almost as bad as your friend McDuff. He tried to induce a man he
thought was a sworn officer of the law to violate his oath and
disregard his duty. Why should the criminal law do anything for
him? Why should it hand him back his money as if he were an innocent
and honest man?"
"It is an ingenious argument," replied Gottlieb, scratching his
ear; "and yet it is poppycock for all that. The criminal law is
to punish criminals. According to your reasoning, two wrongs would
make a right and two thieves one honest man. Would you let McDuff
go unpunished simply because he was clever enough to induce Jones
to try to break the law as well as himself? Why, any judge would
laugh you out of court on such a proposition."
"But," I retorted, "surely, if I gave you a hundred dollars for
the purpose of bribing a judge and you failed to accomplish your
purpose, no court would assist me to recover the money. 'Twould
be against public policy and contra bonos mores."
"Even so," answered my partner, "would it not be more contra bonos
mores to let a thief go unpunished, once he had been arrested?
Take my word, Quib, there's nothing in it," insisted Gottlieb
warmly. "For instance, there is the crime against usury—a very
foolish law to be sure, but there it is. No one can commit usury
unless some one else participates in the offense by paying the
unlawful interest; but the usurer does not escape on that account.
Why, then, should the false pretender in our case?"
"I admit the force of your analogy," said I, "and I could easily
suggest others myself. Bribery, for instance; extortion and many
other offences, where the law does not refrain from punishing the
one because the other is equally guilty. But the cases differ in
that, in bribery, the briber is seeking to influence the acts of
an official; and, in extortion, the law imputes an element of force
which is supposed to overcome the will of the person paying the
money. I am not so clear on your usury. Still, I believe there
is a fighting chance to win the case on my theory."
"If you think so," grumbled Gottlieb, "you had better argue it
yourself before the Court of Appeals."
"Very well," said I. "Nothing will give me greater pleasure."
It was with some trepidation, however, that I went to Albany to
argue, before so august a body of judges, a proposition of law that
had in reality so little to commend it; particularly as I was
opposed in person by the district attorney of New York County—a
man of great learning and power of sarcasm. However, I found the
Court of Appeals much interested in my argument and had the pleasure
of hearing them put many puzzling questions to my opponent, in
answering which he was not always altogether successful.
Pending the opinion of the Court, which was not handed down for
several months, an incident occurred in our practice that may serve
to amuse the reader if not to illustrate the dangers of ignorance.
We were engaged in a litigation in the United States District Court,
where the subpoenas for the witnesses are issued by the clerk to
the deputy marshals for service. Our opponent in the case was a
testy old member of the bar over sixty years of age and of the very
highest respectability and standing, who had several times refused
elevation to the bench and was regarded as the personification of
dignity and learning. Unfortunately his appearance belied his
position, for he was almost totally bald and his face was as weazened
and wrinkled as that of a monkey.
It so happened that we desired to have in court the following day
certain papers that were in his possession; and, in order that we
might be in a position to introduce copies of them in case he failed
to produce the originals, we secured what is called a duces tecum
subpoena for him—that is to say, a subpoena directing him to bring
with him—duces tecum—"bring with you"—the papers in question.
There had recently been appointed as a deputy marshal a very honest
and enthusiastic, but exceedingly ignorant Irishman named Hennessey,
who, prior to his advent into officialdom, had been employed at
heaving coal at a dollar and eighty cents a day. The clerk called
him into his office and handed to him our subpoena.
"Mike," he said, "here is a subpoena for Winthrop Van Rennsellaer"
—our worthy opponent. "It is a duces tecum. Understand?"
"Shure, I do!" answered Mike, wiping his mouth with the back of
his hand and taking the paper; for, though he had no idea of what
duces tecum meant, he had no intention of disclosing the fact.
"It's important," continued the clerk. "Be sure and attend to the
matter at once."
"Lave that to me!" Mike assured him.
"Don't forget that it's a duces tecum," admonished the clerk as
Mike passed out of the door.
"Not on yer life!" replied the newly appointed deputy.
Outside, he found a fellow deputy, also newly appointed.
"Pat," said Mike, holding out the subpoena, "phat is the meanin'
o' thim two wurrds?"
His friend carefully examined the paper.
"'Duces tecum'," he repeated thoughtfully. "'Dooces taycum.'
They be Latin words meanin' 'take him alive or dead.'"
"Thanks," said Mike. "Trust me!"
And he started forthwith for Wall Street, where Mr. Winthrop Van
Rennsellaer's office was located. Having ascertained by inquiry
that his quarry was in, Mike pushed by the clerks and scriveners
in the outer offices and armed with the majesty of the law, boldly
forced his way into the lawyer's sanctum. Marching up to him, he
demanded in a loud voice:
"Are you Van Rennsellaer?"
The lawyer, exceedingly astonished, replied, with what dignity he
was able to assume under the circumstances;
"I am Mister Winthrop Van Rennsellaer."
"Come wid me!" ordered Mike.
"I shall do nothing of the kind!" retorted the lawyer, getting red
in the face.
"Y' won't, eh?" exclaimed the deputy; and, grasping Mr. Winthrop
Van Rennsellaer by his linen collar, he yanked him out of his chair
and, to the horror of the servile supernumeraries in the lawyer's
employ, dragged that eminent member of the bar through his own
offices, down the stairs, and into the street.
The lawyer protested loudly at the indignities to which he was
being subjected and a large crowd gathered, which for the time
being blocked Broadway. Mike, confident that he had the authority
of the United States Government behind him, exhibited his badge,
called upon the police to assist him in the exercise of his duty
and proceeded triumphantly to march Mr. Winthrop Van Rennsellaer,
hatless, up the street at the head of a large and enthusiastic
procession of interested citizens. From time to time Mike would
turn and call upon the crowd to disperse, at the same time announcing
in a loud voice that he had arrested his prisoner by an order of
the Government to take him alive or dead.
By this time the lawyer's little round head was glowing a bright
red and his legs almost refused to carry him. Once they had arrived
at the Post-office Building the mistake was quickly discovered and
Mr. Van Rennsellaer was set at liberty; but each and every United
States judge had to descend in his robes from the bench and implore
his pardon before the furious little lawyer would consent to call
a cab and return to his office.
I understand that he always believed that the whole thing was a
trick of Gottlieb's to humiliate him; and, indeed, some members of
the bar have suspected me of the same thing—entirely without
justification, of course. During the rest of his exceedingly
distinguished career one had only to mention the words duces tecum
in the presence of Mr. Winthrop Van Rennsellaer to deprive him instantly
of his composure; in fact, for a long time he abandoned appearing
in court and contented himself with nursing his dignity in his
office. I should add that the incident so affected his confidence
the next day in court that we won our case without difficulty.
But to return to the unfortunate McDuff. To my great astonishment
and still more so to that of my partner the Court of Appeals handed
down an opinion sustaining my contention and holding his client's
conviction to be illegal. That night Gottlieb and I, sitting in
his office, shook our sides with laughter at the idea of having
hoodwinked the greatest court in the State into a solemn opinion
that a rogue should not be punished if at the same time he could
persuade his victim to try to be a rogue also! But there it was
in cold print. They had followed my reasoning absolutely and even
adopted as their own some of the language used in my brief. Does
any one of my readers doubt me, let him read the report of a like
case in the forty-sixth volume of the reports of the Court of
Appeals of New York, at page four hundred and seventy.
Said the Court: "The prosecutor"—Jones—"parted with his property
as an inducement to a supposed officer to violate the law and his
duties; and if in attempting to do this he has been defrauded the
law will not punish his confederate, although such confederate may
have been instrumental in inducing the commission of the offence.
Neither the law nor public policy designs the protection of rogues
in their dealings with each other, or to insure fair dealing and
truthfulness, as between each other, in their dishonest practices."
(This sentence had been in my brief.) "The design of the law is
to protect those who, for some honest purpose, are induced upon
false and fraudulent representations to give credit or part with
their property to another, and not to protect those who, for
unworthy or illegal purposes, part with their goods."
"Why, Quib," quoth Gottlieb, "you are the discoverer of a new legal
principle. You will inaugurate a new field of human activity.
Generations yet unborn will profit by your ingenuity. From now on
every rascal in the land will set his wits to work trying to bring
his schemes within the scope of this beneficent opinion."
"Indeed," I replied, "however fine it may be for McDuff, I can
easily see that I have unloosed as many troubles as ever flew out
of Pandora's Box."
"Yes—but to our profit," he retorted, with a grin. "Don't forget
that. The inventors will all come flocking straight to us to get
them out of their difficulties—you may be sure of it!"
"'Tis extraordinary," I said, "what a multitude of opportunities
this new principle enunciated by the Court of Appeals affords to
a man of an inventive turn of mind. As I take it, all one has to
do is to induce another man to part with his money in the belief
that he is going to take a sharp advantage of some one else. For
example, let us suppose that I go to some person and falsely tell
him that I have a client serving a term in Sing Sing for burglary
who has confided to me the whereabouts of the secret hiding-place
of his loot. All that is necessary is some one to put up sufficient
money to cover the expense of transportation and excavation—and
it can be divided between us. For this purpose he intrusts me with
several hundred dollars, with which I make off. I have stolen the
money fast enough, but I can never be punished for it."
"Exactly!" exclaimed my partner. "And here is another idea that
is well calculated to appeal to almost anybody. It has just occurred
to me quite involuntarily while you were speaking. Many of our
clients want to know if they cannot send the judge, who is trying
the case, a present of some sort, or maybe loan him a little money;
and it is always distressing to be obliged to tell them—usually—
that it is quite out of the question; that it would only get them
into trouble. Of course, occasionally we let them send the judge
a box of cigars, but always with the compliments of our adversary
—never our own. Now this shows how readily persons who are mixed
up in lawsuits or other difficulties would be ready to put up their
money if they supposed the judge were going to get it. All you
need is some unscrupulous fellow to go up to one of our clients
and mention the fact that he is the judge's brother-in-law and is
in dearth of ready money. Can't you see the client digging up the
needful? He'd be stuffing it down our friend's pockets before he
got through speaking; and the whole thing could be done quite
openly, you observe, because, even if the client found out later
that he had made a mistake, the law would not help him."
"An excellent illustration," I answered, "of the uses to which a
legal decision may be put."
"Indeed, though," continued Gottlieb, "the scheme need by no means
by as raw as all that. It is enough if there be merely an immoral
or improper motive that induces the victim to part with his money.
For example, if he but thinks that he can do a sharp trick to some
one else. Let us suppose that I pretend to have secret information
to the effect that certain property is really much more valuable
than the owner supposes it to be. I propose to another that—if
he will put up the money for that purpose—we shall buy the property,
leading the owner to suppose he is getting full value for it. Now,
if, to induce the latter to make the sale, it is agreed between us
that we make false or misleading statements as to the real value
of the property I do not see but that I would be perfectly safe."
"Safe?" I queried. "I don't understand. You would have bought
the property, that is all."
"My dear Quib," returned my partner, "you seem singularly dull this
evening for one of your brilliant parts. The point is that the
property really isn't worth anything. I am in cahoots with the
man who sells it; and we divide even!"
"Yes," I answered; "a dozen similar schemes could be worked like
"A dozen!" cried Gottlieb, bounding enthusiastically out of his
chair and commencing to stalk up and down the room. "A hundred!
Why, there are endless ways in which it can be worked—and I know
the man to work them too!"
"Eh!" I exclaimed.
"I mean, who will undoubtedly avail himself of some of them," he
corrected himself. "Take this case: It is a crime under the law
to give back or rebate part of the premium on a life insurance
policy. Now many a man could be induced to insure his life if he
could get back the first year's premium. All you have got to do
is to tell him that you are an insurance agent and will give it
back—and then put the money in your own pocket, for he will have
given you the premium for an illegal purpose—that is to say, with
the idea of having it paid back to him contrary to law. Under the
decision he will have no chance to get you arrested."
"Never say that you are not a man of ingenuity yourself," said I.
I bade my partner good-night and walked slowly homeward meditating
upon the wonders of the law, but totally unconscious of what a
harvest was to be reaped from the seed I had sown so innocently.
It was but a short time after this that, happening to enter the
office somewhat unexpectedly one evening, I discovered Gottlieb in
animated conversation with a stockily built man of about forty
years of age, whose coal-black hair—by far his most conspicuous
feature—had been suffered to grow quite long and was parted evenly
in the middle, so that it gave him somewhat the appearance of the
hooded seal that was then on exhibition at P. T. Barnum's museum.
He had a good-humored face, jet-black eyes, and a familiar, easy
way with him that put one on a friendly footing at once.
"Hello! Quib!" exclaimed my partner. "I want you to meet my
friend, Charlie Billington."
"Delighted to meet you, Mister Quibble," cried the stranger, grasping
my hand. "Our friend Gottlieb knows me almost better than I know
myself—eh, Gottie? Between us we have turned many a trick."
"You mean that I have pulled you out of many a bad hole," retorted
"As you please," answered Billington good-temperedly. "But in any
event you are a splendid fellow at all times—and especially in
times of need."
"May I inquire your business, Mr. Billington?" I asked, curious to
identify my new acquaintance.
Billington winked at Gottlieb.
"How would you describe it, Mr. Lawyer?" said he.
Gottlieb laughed and shifted his cigar.
"Our friend Charlie lives by his brains," he replied. "He is an
inventor, a promoter, an artist. He has earned many a small fortune
by the simple use of a postage stamp. He can extract gold from
seawater or silver from pineapples. Incidentally, he is of a
scientific turn of mind and can rattle off the Morse alphabet as
deftly as any operator in the business. Occasionally he has, in
the interest of finance, tapped a wire."
"Tapped a wire!" Instantly I regarded Billington with a new
interest. So at last I had met one of those famous gentry of whom
I had so often heard!
"Never again, I fancy!" laughed Charlie. "My friend, you have
saved a lot of poor devils a deal of trouble. From this time on
none of us will ever need to tap wires. After this we shall only
pretend to tap 'em."
"How so?" I inquired, dropping into a near-by chair.
"Why, under the new law," responded Billington—"the law of which,
I may say, you are the creator—we shall only have to induce some
innocent countryman to believe that he has heard the result of a
horse-race being sent over the wire in advance of the pool rooms,
and persuade him to turn over his roll for the purpose of betting
it on a horse that is presumably already cooling off in the paddock
and we can keep his money, for he has parted with it for an illegal
or an inimical purpose—to wit, cheating the bookies."
"Not with my sanction!" I retorted, somewhat aghast at the idea of
having paved a broad and easy path for the way of criminals.
"Tut, tut, Quib!" said Gottlieb. "You have nothing to do with what
use our friend here sees fit to put your law to. I have never yet
advised any man how to do an illegal thing. The most I have ever
done has been to show some of my clients how to do in a perfectly
legal manner that which had heretofore been unlawful."
"Yea, Gottlieb," remarked Billington. "And many things that before
were accounted faults have now, thanks to you, become virtues."
After Billington bade us good-night, Gottlieb said to me:
"Quib, the more I think of it, the more astonishing is the result
of this new doctrine of yours that has been sanctified by the Court
of Appeals. I do not for the life of me see how a seller of 'green
goods' can be prosecuted. The countryman comes to the city for
the purpose of buying counterfeit money at a ridiculously low
figure. He puts up his money and gets a package of blank paper
with a genuine one-dollar bill on top of it. What good will it do
him to appeal to the police? Has he not parted with his money
avowedly for a most wicked purpose—that of uttering counterfeit
"I quite agree with you," I answered. "There seems to be no escape
from your result; and I, for one, do not see what is to prevent
New York from becoming the Mecca of all the thieves and rogues in
And such, indeed, it became. From this time on, until very recently,
the metropolis was the stamping ground of all the rogues who could
not earn a dishonest living elsewhere. With our friend Charles as
their sponsor, there sprang into being herds of "sick engineers,"
fake "wire-tappers," "green-goods" swindlers, and confidence men
of all sorts, who flourished safely under the protection of the
decision of the Court of Appeals in McDuff's case.
It was but shortly after this that one of Billington's friends
found himself in the toils of the police for having pretended to
sell a package of "green goods" to a yokel from the rural part of
the State. Charlie at once engaged me to defend him, asserting
that as I was responsible for the law it was my duty to apply it
for the benefit of our clients. So once again I entered the arena
in behalf of a principle that at heart I believed to be vicious
and even absurd, and once again, to my surprise and the delight of
my new clients, I triumphed. The Appellate Division reversed the
conviction that had followed the arrest and discharged the prisoner,
asserting that there was no longer any authority for holding him
if the McDuff case was to be taken as law.
Thus it was, by such unconscious steps, that I, the only son of a
clergyman, found myself—willy-nilly—a leader of the criminal bar.
Yet at no time during my career would I have exchanged places with
my honored parent or even with Mr. Tuckerman Toddleham, of Barristers'
As I jot down these random reminiscences I am impressed in a singular
fashion with the fact that my career consisted entirely in the
making, or rather getting, of money and the spending of it. I had
no particular professional ambitions and never but once sought
distinction as a constitutional lawyer; and, however unworthy of
an officer of the court such a confession may be, I am quite ready
to admit that a seat upon the bench would have afforded me neither
amusement nor sufficient compensation to satisfy my desires. Let
other men find their gratification and emolument in the supposed
honor of wearing the ermine! I have never found that a judge became
any the less an erring human being after his elevation to the dais,
and I could rake out of one good semi-criminal case twice the salary
of any judge on the supreme bench. What is popularly regarded as
respectability is oft-times in reality—if the truth were known—
merely stodginess and stupidity.
I am compelled to admit that in my early days, before I had formed
my affiliation with Gottlieb, I had different ambitions, although
they were none the less worldly. Then I wanted to be a judge
because I supposed a judge was the king-pin of the profession.
Now, as Pat Flanagan says, "I know different." The judge is apt
to be no less a tool of the boss than any other public officer
elected by the suffrages of a political party. He is merely less
obviously so. There are a few men in Wall Street who can press a
button and call for almost any judge they want—and he will come—
and adjourn court if necessary to do so—with his silk hat in his
hands. And if any young aspirant for legal honors who reads these
fugitive memoirs believes that the road to the supreme bench leads
via Blackstone, and is lighted by the midnight oil of study, let
him disabuse himself of that idea, but seek rather the district
leader; and let him make himself useful in getting the boys that
are in trouble out of it. Under our elective system there is no
more honor in being a judge than in being a sheriff or a hog-reeve;
but, when one is young—and perhaps starving—it may seem otherwise.
If any of my lay readers believe that the practice of the law is
a path of dalliance, let him but hazard his fortunes for a brief
space on the good ship Jurisprudence—he will find the voyage
tedious beyond endurance, the ship's company but indifferent in
character and the rations scanty. I make no doubt but that it is
harder to earn an honest living at the law than by any other means
of livelihood. Once one discovers this he must perforce choose
whether he will remain a galley slave for life or hoist the Jolly
Roger and turn freebooter, with a chance of dangling betimes from
his own yard-arm.
Many a man has literally starved at the law. And most of the
profession nearly do so; while some, by merest luck, have managed
to struggle on until they stumbled upon some professional gold
mine. I have heard many stories of how some young men managed to
pull success out of disaster when the odds seemed overwhelming.
One which has particularly appealed to me I shall call the anecdote
of The Most Capable Young Lawyer in New York.
Some years ago there came to the great city a young fellow who had
always lived in a country town where the neighbors were all such
good friends that they never went to law. He was able and industrious,
but in his native place found it almost impossible to earn a living;
and when by chance he met a well-known and prosperous attorney from
New York who advised him to seek his fortune in the whirlpool rather
than in the back eddies of life, he decided to follow the
"I will endeavor to throw you something from time to time," said
the prosperous lawyer, for it made him feel his own success to see
such a poor young man and it tickled his vitals into benignity.
The country boy sold all his possessions for a few hundred dollars
and came to New York. His friend was very kind in his manner and
prolific of advice, but, unfortunately, he had no room in his own
office for a junior or even an errand-boy. So Peters, for that
was the young man's name, dragged himself up and down the city
trying to find an opening, no matter how small. He was too old to
begin as a clerk and too much of a bumpkin for anything else, and
he found that nobody had any use for a young man of his particular
type and training. At last, in despair, he hired desk-room in an
office, shared jointly by half a dozen young men like himself, and
waited for something to turn up; but nothing came. His bank account
fell lower and lower, and he became more and more shabby. Moreover,
he was eating his heart out with disappointment, for he could not
return to his native town and confess himself a failure.
From time to time he would drop into his prosperous friend's offices,
but the latter never had anything to turn over to him and he would
return dejectedly to his own solitary desk. At last he was forced
to give up lunch and get along as best he could on two scanty meals
a day; he grew thin and haggard, his Adam's apple projected redly
above a frayed collar, his trousers grew wrinkled and shiny, and
he looked ready to take his place in the "bread line." Finally he
spent his last cent on a pretzel and made ready to "turn in his
At this point Peters paid a last visit to his friend, who was
visibly shocked at his emaciated appearance, for his eyes burned
with the fever of starvation and his jaw was set in a pitiful
determination to keep going until he dropped.
"Mr. Banks," said he grimly, "unless you give me something to do
I'll go under. The fact is, I'm starving!"
Mr. Banks look at him critically.
"Pretty near ready to give up, eh?" he remarked. "Better chuck it
and go back! I guess I was wrong when I told you to come down
"Not yet," answered Peters doggedly. "When I go back it'll be in
a wooden box."
"Well," replied Mr. Banks, "I'm sorry; but there isn't a thing in
the office I can give you." He pondered a minute. "I've got a
lot of old judgments against a fellow named Rosenheim—in the cigar
business, but he's no good—judgment proof—and they aren't worth
the paper they're written on."
"Give them to me!" almost shouted Peters.
Mr. Banks laughed.
"You can have ninety per cent. of all you collect," said he as he
bent over and, pulling out a lower drawer, removed a bundle of
soiled documents. "Here they are. My blessing to you!"
Peters grabbed the transcripts and staggered down the stairs. It
took him less than ten minutes to find Mr. Simon Rosenheim, who
was sitting inside a brass fence at a mahogany desk, smoking one
of the best of his own cigars.
"Mr. Rosenheim," said Peters, "I have some judgments here against
you, amounting to about three thousand dollars."
"Yes?" remarked Rosenheim politely.
"Can you let me have the money?" inquired Peters.
"My dear fellow," retorted Rosenheim, with an oily sneer, "I owe
the money all right, but I don't own a thing in the world. Everything
in this room belongs to my wife. The amount of money I owe is
really something shocking. Even what is in the safe"—he nodded
to a large affair on the other side of the room—"belongs to somebody
Rosenheim had been through this same performance hundreds of times
before, but not with the same dénouement.
Suddenly he saw a lean young man, with hollow cheeks and blazing
eyes, leap over the brass railing. In another instant horny hands
grasped him firmly by the windpipe and a voice hissed in his ear:
"Pay me those judgments or I'll strangle you here and now!"
With bursting veins and protruding tongue he struggled helplessly
to escape as his assailant dragged him toward the safe.
"I mean what I say!" half shrieked Peters. "I'm starving! I'd as
lief die one way as another; but before I die you'll pay up those
Rosenheim was on his knees now before the safe, his eyes starting
from his head.
"Open the safe!" commanded Peters.
Rosenheim, the sweat of death on his brow, fumbled with the
combination; the tumbler caught, the door swung open. Peters lifted
his captive enough to permit him to reach in and take out the bills.
"Count 'em out!" he ordered.
Rosenheim did as he was told, shaking with fear. Peters stuffed
the money into his pocket.
"Now do your damdest!" he shouted. "I've had one piece of law
business before I died. Good afternoon!"
Rosenheim crawled back to his desk, relit his cigar and endeavored
to pull himself together. He had a half-scared, half-puzzled look
on his face and once in awhile he scratched his head.
Meantime Peters repaired to the nearest hotel and ordered a dinner
of steak and fried potatoes, washed down with a pint of champagne.
He then purchased a new suit of clothes, a box of collars, a few
shirts, and a hat. When he entered Mr. Banks' office an hour later
the latter with difficulty recognized his visitor.
"I owe you three hundred dollars, I believe," remarked Peters,
laying down the bills.
"Owe—me—What? You didn't get that money out of Rosenheim?"
"Why not?" asked Peters casually. "Of course I did. Every cent
Banks looked at him in utter amazement. He, too, scratched his
"Say," he suddenly exploded, "you must be quite a feller! Now,
look here, I've got a claim against the Pennsylvania and Susquehanna
Terminal Company for two million dollars that I wish you'd come in
and give me a little help on. What do you say?"
Peters hesitated and pursed his lips.
"Oh, I don't mind if I do," said he carelessly.
You may have heard of the celebrated law firm of Banks & Peters—
who do a business of about four hundred thousand a year? Well,
that is Peters. Banks says he's "the ablest young lawyer in New
Peters, however, does not deserve the same credit as another young
fellow of my acquaintance, since in Peters' case necessity was the
parent of his invention; whereas in the other the scheme that led
to success was the offspring of an ingenuity that needed no starvation
to stimulate it into activity.
Baldwin was a youth of about thirty, who had done pretty well at
the bar without giving any evidence of brilliancy and only moderate
financial success. He perceived the obvious fact that the way to
make money at the law is to have money-makers for clients, but he
had no acquaintances with financiers and had no reason to advance
to himself why he should ever hope to receive any business from
such. Reading one day that a certain young attorney he knew had
received a large retainer for bringing an injunction in an important
railroad matter, it occurred to him that, after all, it was merely
chance and nothing else that had sent the business to the other
instead of to himself. "If I'd only known Morgan H. Rogers I might
have had the job myself," thought he.
So he pondered deeply over how he could get to know Mr. Morgan H.
Rogers and at least conceived the idea of pretending that he had
a client who—without disclosing his name for the time being—
desired to create a trust for the benefit of a charity in which
the railroad magnate was much interested. With this excuse he
found no difficulty in securing an interview and making an agreeable
impression. The next step was more difficult.
Finally, having learned through a clerk in the banker's office with
whom he had cultivated an acquaintance that Mr. Morgan H. Rogers
was going to Boston at a certain hour that very afternoon, he donned
his best funeral suit and boarded the same train himself. As he
passed through the drawing-room car he bowed to the great man, who
returned his greeting with the shortness characteristic of him,
and passed on to the smoker, where he ensconced himself in a chair
near the door, depositing on the seat next to him a pile of magazines
and his coat. Half an hour passed and the car filled up, save for
the seat next the young lawyer. Presently the bulky form of Morgan
H. Rogers filled the door-way. He already had a black unlit cigar
in his mouth and he scanned the rows of seats with ill-concealed
disappointment. Then his eye caught the one occupied by our friend's
"Let me have this seat!" said he abruptly.
"Oh, how are you, Mr. Rogers!" exclaimed the young lawyer.
"Certainly! Let me give you a light."
"Your name's Baldwin, isn't it?" inquired the banker as he took up
a magazine. "Saw you about that trust matter last week, didn't I?"
"Yes," answered Baldwin. "Nothing has occurred in connection with
it since then."
And he returned to his paper without paying any further attention
to his companion. At Bridgeport a telegraph boy rushed into the
car and yelled: "Baldwin! Mr. Baldwin!"
Mr. Baldwin held out his hand, in which lay half a dollar, and
without much apparent interest opened the envelope and scanned its
"H'm!" he remarked, half inwardly, and thrust the paper into his
At New Haven another boy boarded the train, calling anxiously for
Everitt P. Baldwin—this time there were two telegrams; and just
as the train pulled out a third arrived.
Mr. Baldwin read them all with the keenest interest and could hardly
conceal an exclamation of satisfaction; but the magnate gave no
sign. At New London there was another flurry and, in spite of
himself, Mr. Baldwin slapped his knee and muttered: "Good enough!"
As the train started again Morgan H. Rogers let fall his magazine
and growled half-facetiously:
"What the devil are all those telegrams about?"
"Just a little injunction suit," the young man answered modestly,
"in which my firm has been quite successful." And, without giving
any names—for, indeed, there were none—he sketched rapidly a
hypothetical situation of the greatest legal delicacy, in which he
had tied up an imaginary railroad system with an injunction,
supposedly just made permanent. Morgan H. Rogers became interested
and offered Mr. Baldwin a remarkably big cigar. He had been having
a few troubles of his own of a similar character. In a few moments
the two were deep in the problems of one of the financier's own
transcontinental lines and a week later Baldwin was on Rogers'
regular staff of railroad attorneys.
It is pleasant to reflect upon such happy incidents in the history
of a profession that probably offers more difficulties to the
beginner than any other. Yet the very obstacles to success in it
are apt to develop an intellectual agility and a flexibility of
morals which, in the long run, may well lead not only to fortune,
but to fame—of one sort or another. I recall an incident in my
own career, upon my ingenuity in which, for a time, I looked back
with considerable professional pride, until I found it a common
practice among my elders and contemporaries of the criminal and
even of the civil bar.
It so happened that I had an elderly client of such an exceedingly
irascible disposition that he was always taking offence at imaginary
insults and was ready to enter into litigation of the fiercest
character at the slightest excuse. Now, though he was often in
the right, he was nevertheless frequently in the wrong—and equally
unreasonable in either case. He was turned over to me in despair
by another and older attorney, who could do nothing with him and
wished me joy in my undertaking. I soon found that the old
gentleman's guiding principle was "Millions for defence, but not
one cent for tribute." In other words, as he always believed
himself to have been imposed upon, he litigated almost every bill
that was presented to him, with the result that three times out of
five judgment was given against him. He had himself studied for
the bar and had a natural fondness for technicalities; and he was
quite ready to pay handsomely any one he believed to be zealously
guarding his interests.
He was, at the time I became acquainted with him, nearly seventy
years of age and his chief diversion was to sit in my office and
harangue me upon his grievances. Being a sort of sea-lawyer himself
he was forever devising quaint defences and strange reasons why he
should not pay his creditors; and he was ever ready to spend a
hundred dollars in lawyers' fees in order to save fifty. This is
the most desirable variety of client a lawyer can have.
One trifling weakness, common to mankind in general, gave him much
encouragement; for he soon discovered that, rather than incur the
trouble of hiring lawyers and going to court, his creditors would
usually compound with him for considerably less than their just
claims. This happened so frequently that he almost never paid a
bill in the first instance, with the natural result that those who
had sent him honest bills before, after one or two experiences with
him, made it a practice to add thirty per cent. or so to the total,
in order that they might later on gracefully reduce their demands
without loss. Thus my client, by his peevishness, actually created
the very condition regarding which, out of an overactive imagination,
he had complained originally without just cause.
It so happened that the first matter in which he required my services
was a dispute over a tailor's bill that he regarded as excessive.
He had ordered a pair of trousers without inquiring the price and
was shocked to discover that he had been charged three dollars more
than for his last pair. The tailor explained at great length that
the first had been summer weight and that these were winter weight;
but to no purpose.
"You think you can take advantage of me because I'm an old man!"
he shrieked in rage. "But you'll find out. Just wait until I see
So down he came to my office and fumed and chattered for an hour
or more about the extra three dollars on his trousers. If he had
been less abusive the tailor might have overlooked the matter; but
even a tailor has a soul, and this time the man swore to have the
law on his cantankerous customer.
"Fight to the last ditch!" shouted the old man. "Don't yield an
A day or two later the tailor served my client, whose name was
Wimbleton, with a summons and complaint; and I was forced to put
in an answer, in which I took issue upon the reasonable value of
the trousers. By the time I had drawn the papers and listened to
my client's detailed history of the transaction, as well as his
picturesque denunciation of his opponent, I had already put in
about a hundred dollars' worth of my time without any prospect of
a return. I knew that if the case were tried it would mean a day
lost for myself and a judgment against my client. The old fellow
had a large amount of property, however, and I was willing to take
a loss if it meant future business. Yet the time involved and the
trifling character of the suit annoyed me and I resolved to take
it upon myself to settle the matter over my client's head.
On my way home I stopped in at the tailor's and told him to take
his three dollars and discontinue his action, which he was glad
enough to do. The next day I wrote Mr. Wimbleton that I had forced
his enemy to capitulate—horse, foot, and dragoons—and that the
suit had been withdrawn. My embarrassment may be imagined when my
client arrived at the office in a state of delirious excitement
and insisted not only on inviting me to dinner, but on paying me
fifty dollars for services in giving him the satisfaction of beating
the tailor. Instantly I saw a means of entirely satisfying the
old man and earning some good fees without the slightest exertion.
The same method—although for another purpose—will be recalled by
my readers as having been invoked by the unjust steward who called
his lord's debtors to him and inquired how much they owed. One,
if I remember correctly, said a hundred measures of oil.
"Take thy bill," said the steward, "and sit down quickly, and write
Another, who confessed to owing a hundred measures of wheat, the
steward let off with eighty. On discovering what he had done his
lord commended him for having done wisely, on the ground that the
children of this world were wiser than the children of light.
Thus, it will be observed, my early Biblical training stood me in
practical stead; and the only difference between the unjust steward
and myself lay in the manner in which we were each eventually
treated by our respective masters. Indeed, I found this Scriptural
scheme so profitable and effective that soon my client swore I was
the cleverest lawyer he had ever employed.
Some one would commence a suit against him for damages for breach
of contract amounting to a couple of thousand dollars, where he
thought he ought to pay only fifteen hundred, but where he really
had no defense. I would file an elaborate answer setting up all
sorts of defences, move for an examination of the plaintiff and of
his books and papers, secure a bill of particulars and go through
all sorts of legal hocus-pocus to show how bitterly I was contesting
the case as a matter of principle. Before the action came to trial,
however, I would settle it for one thousand seven hundred and fifty
dollars, telling my client that we had brought the other side to
his terms, and charge him seven hundred and fifty dollars for my
services—thus netting five hundred dollars in fees.
Often, when the amount sued for was small—say, fifty or one hundred
dollars—and where my client had absolutely declined to pay anything,
I paid the claim in full, simply for the satisfaction of leading
him to believe that he had been successful in resisting what he
regarded as an unjust or excessive demand.
This went on for several years, until, quite by chance, one of his
creditors, with whom I had settled over his head, either out of
forgetfulness or an evil wish to do me a bad turn, wrote him a
letter thanking him for his generosity. The next day he appeared,
purple with rage, and for some unaccountable reason, instead of
"commending" me, denounced me for a shyster. And this in spite of
the undoubted fact that my pacific methods had probably saved him
hundreds of dollars!
It was about this time that Gottlieb devised a truly brilliant
scheme, which had to commend it the highly desirable quality of
being absolutely safe.
There is a very wise provision of our law to the effect that, where
a wife desires to bring an action against her husband for divorce
and is without means for the purpose, the courts will allow her a
counsel fee and alimony pendente lite. The counsel fee is to
enable her to pay a lawyer and prepare for trial, and the amount
usually varies from one hundred to one thousand dollars.
One morning my partner came grinning into my office and showed me
a very soiled and wrinkled paper.
"What d'ye think of that?" he laughed.
The document, which turned out to be an affidavit executed in
Chicago, read as follows:
"STATE OF ILLINOIS )
"COOK COUNTY, CITY OF CHICAGO ) ss.
"LIZZIE YARNOWSKI, being duly sworn, deposes and says that she is
over twenty-one years of age and engaged in the employment of making
artificial flowers; that in the year 1881 the defendant induced
her to leave her home in New York and journey with him in the West
under a promise of marriage, representing himself to be a traveling
salesman employed by a manufacturer of soda fountains; that they
were married on July 5, 1881, in the town of Piqua, Ohio, by a
justice of the peace under the names of Sadie Bings and Joshua
Blank, and by a rabbi in Chicago on August 17, 1881; that two weeks
thereafter defendant deserted plaintiff and has never since
contributed toward her support, and that she has since learned that
the defendant is a banker and a broker, doing business on Wall
Street in the city of New York."
The affidavit then went on to state that the defendant had given
the plaintiff good grounds for seeking for a divorce and that she
was without means to engage counsel or prepare for trial. The
contents of the paper was skilfully worded so as to convey the
impression that the deponent was a woman of somewhat doubtful
character herself, but that on the other hand she had been tricked
by the defendant into a secret—and what he intended to be a
temporary—marriage. Attached thereto was another affidavit from
the justice of the peace to the effect that on the date in question
he had united in the holy bonds of matrimony a man and a woman who
had given the names of Sadie Bings and Joshua Blank.
"Well, Gottlieb," said I, "this is interesting reading, whether it
be fact or fiction; but what is its significance to us?"
"Why," answered my associate, "these are the papers I propose to
use on a motion for counsel fee and alimony in a divorce action
brought against Mr. Chester Gates, a broker downtown—and, I may
add, a very rich and respectable young gentleman. Of course, I
have no personal knowledge of the matter, as the case has been sent
to us by one of our legal friends in Chicago; but I am quite sure
that the court will grant me a counsel fee in order to enable the
poor woman to prepare her case and bring it to trial."
"But," I replied, "we have made just such applications a thousand
times before, have we not?"
Gottlieb gave me one of his long, slow winks.
"Not just like this," said he, and went back into his room, while
I pondered on what I had read.
A few days later Gottlieb served the complaint in an action for
absolute divorce upon Mr. Chester Gates, to the young man's great
indignation and annoyance; and shortly thereafter a very respectable
and prosperous old family lawyer called upon us to explain that
the whole matter was a mistake and that his client had never, never
been married, and knew no Miss Lizzie Yarnowski, either as Sadie
Bings or under any other name.
Gottlieb and I treated him with the greatest deference, explaining
that we had no option but to go on with the matter, as we were only
acting for our Chicago correspondent. At this the old lawyer grew
very indignant and muttered something under his breath about perjury
and blackmail, to which, however, neither Gottlieb nor I paid any
attention. A week or so later we made our motion for alimony and
counsel fee pendente lite, and in spite of the vehement affidavit
of Chester Gates, Esquire, that he had never seen or heard of the
plaintiff nor been married to anybody in his life, the court granted
us two hundred and fifty dollars as counsel fee.
This was made payable at our office, as the attorneys for plaintiff;
and a day or two later Mr. Gates himself called and asked to see
us. He was a rosy-cheeked, athletic young fellow, who could, I
fancy, have knocked both our heads together had he chosen to do so.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen," said he, closing the door and seating
himself at Gottlieb's invitation. This is a very interesting
experience you are putting me through. I am made the defendant in
a divorce action and ordered to pay you two hundred and fifty
dollars on affidavits that I know are perjured from start to finish.
Well, if that's law I have nothing to say. Of course, you can't
win your case, because you can't prove that I ever married anybody
—which latter fact, of course, you very well know. I would never
pay you a cent to settle this or any other unfounded suit, and I
never did anything for which you or any other scoun—beg pardon, I
mean lawyer—could blackmail me. But this is a new one on me.
You have got a court order that I am to pay you two hundred and
fifty dollars to bring a bogus action against myself. Well, here's
my check for it. I congratulate you. Now, I'm amused to see what
you're going to do next. I want to get something for may money."
Gottlieb took the check and rang a bell for the office boy.
"Take this over to the bank and cash it," he directed. "That's
the first thing I'm going to do," turning to Gates. "The next is
this." He opened the top drawer of his desk and took out a legal
paper. "Here," said he, "is a discontinuance of the action, which
I received this morning from Chicago. I suppose you have no
objection to having the matter disposed of in that way? You'll
Mr. Gates looked at him for a moment and then burst out laughing.
"By George!" he exclaimed. "Take it? Of course I'll take it. I
have no particular desire to go on with the litigation, I assure
you. I fully expected to be adjudged the father of a large family
of little Yarnowskis. But, now that the matter is settled, would
you mind telling me who the lady really is?"
Gottlieb looked at him very solemnly and, to my horror, gave an
"All I can tell you, sir," he replied, "is that her name is Lizzie
Yarnowski, and that you married her under the name of Sadie Bings
before a justice of the peace at Piqua, Ohio."
At one time Gottlieb and I represented a very objectionable old
party who ran a scurrilous "society" paper, chiefly for the
opportunity it gave him to blackmail people. His method was the
very simple one of publishing some unfounded scandal without using
any names, and then to print a paragraph immediately following in
which the real names of the parties appeared, ostensibly with
relation to some other item of news:
"It is a well-known fact that a certain young society couple, both
of whom have, to say the least, led rather lurid lives, are no
longer on good terms and are carrying on—sub rosa—independent
establishments. Mr. —— prefers the upper West Side, while Mrs.
—— has a tidy little Louis XVI flat on Eleventh Street. Incidentally
the family mansion remains at —— Fifth Avenue.
"Mr. and Mrs. Kopeck Louis d'Or Jones are not going to Newport this
summer. There is a persistent rumor that Mrs. Jones will remain
with her mother on the Hudson, while her husband's plans are quite
In point of fact it was Gottlieb who had invented this neat method
of publishing scandal without any of the usual attendant risks.
Generally what would happen would be that the day after the issuing
of the number in which the objectionable article had appeared, Mr.
Kopeck Louis d'Or Jones would call up the white-haired editor of
Social Sifting on the telephone and tell him that he proposed to
sue him for libel unless he printed an immediate retraction. Our
client would thereupon refer him to Gottlieb, who would explain to
Mr. Jones that the libel in question had no reference to him
whatsoever; that he could hardly expect favorable items to appear
about him unless he took a financial interest in the paper; and
end by offering to negotiate a purchase for him of some of the
stock. In many instances the injured parties would instantly take
this means of insuring that no further publications of such a
character should appear. The stock usually cost about ten thousand
dollars, which went into the pocket of the "General," as he was
called; and from that time on none but the most pleasing reflections
could be found in the columns of his paper in regard to its new
Unfortunately for all parties, however, the "General" took exception
to the size of one of our bills and we parted with mutual
recriminations, although he had paid us many thousands of dollars
in fees and we had saved him many more in judgments. He still owed
us a large sum of money, but Gottlieb had tied up his property in
such a fashion that the old fellow was judgment-proof. He was thus
able to snap his fingers in our faces, a fact that naturally
intensified our hard feelings against him. We cherished our anger
until an appropriate occasion should present itself for getting
even with him, which occurred sooner than any of us, least of all
the "General," expected.
It so happened that one of the victims, having failed to "come
across" substantially enough, discovered very shortly another
libelous paragraph, which reflected very seriously upon his young
and attractive wife; and as it was pretty generally known at the
time that the "General" and ourselves had parted company, the
husband forthwith came to us for advice.
"Of course," said he ruefully, "I can't thrash a white-haired
villain who is old enough to be my grandfather, even if I could
get to him, which is unlikely. You know he has an inner office
'way off from the rest and sneaks in and out, up and down the back
stairs. A suit for libel wouldn't do any good and the publicity
would hurt more than the satisfaction I might get out of a verdict.
But vengeance I'll have—at any cost. How can I get it?"
Gottlieb pondered the matter for several days and at last sent for
his new client, at the same time making an appointment at our office
with a well-known feather-weight prize-fighter.
"If you will leave this matter to me I'll guarantee—for a thousand
dollars—that the 'General' shall receive as severe a pounding as
his old carcass can stand."
The client joyfully wrote out a check to our order and an hour
later Hennessey, the celebrated bantam, arrayed in the uniform of
an overgrown messenger boy, called with a letter at the "General's"
office and asked to see him. He had, he insisted, orders to deliver
the letter into nobody's hands but those of the "General" himself,
and on this pretext in due course found himself, after being led
through a labyrinth of passages and stairs, in the presence of our
"Are you General ——?" he inquired.
"That's my name," answered the "General."
"I've got a letter for yous," continued the bantam, fumbling in
his cap and producing two letters, one of which he handed over.
The "General" took it and his eye glinted for he perceived that it
was addressed to a very well-known member of society whose escapades
were notorious. Quickly he ran his penknife through the tongue of
"Hold on, there!" suddenly cried Hennessey. "I've give yous the
wrong letter. Here's yours. That one is for Mr. ——. Gimme it
"One moment, my boy!" replied the "General," hastily tearing open
the envelope. "Just one moment."
"Don't you take out dat letter! It ain't fer yous!" expostulated
the messenger. "Here's your letter."
But the "General," with watering mouth, was already feverishly
devouring a violet-colored note beginning, "Darling Guy," his
bulbous nose close to the paper and scenting scandal in every line
—that is, he devoured it until, quite unexpectedly, the bantam
squared off and proceeded to hand him a few "upper cuts," "hooks,"
and straight leads from the shoulder, until the scandalmonger howled
for mercy. But the bantam had his instructions.
"No!" says he. Bing! "I'll teach you to read other people's
letters!" Bing! "I'll show yous what yous'll get if yous violates
de United States mail—see?" Bing! "Read Mr. ——'s letter, will
yous?" Bing! "Not wit' me here—see?" Bing! Bing! "You white-
haired old son of a printing-press!"
Hennessey's description, on his return to the office, of the
"General's" appearance at the conclusion of his drubbing was
eminently satisfactory; and he forthwith exchanged his messenger's
uniform for his Broadway regalia and a crisp one-hundred dollar
bill. That is the only time, so far as I ever learned, that the
"General" ever got his real deserts; but I am glad that he did,
for once. And the sight of his red nose—somehow it looks redder
now than it used to—invariably fills me with satisfaction.
Quite naturally our firm attracted a number of strange wastrels in
the way of clients, all of whom were picturesque and many of them
profitable. Among these was a gentleman known as the "Human Dog,"
who frequented the main thoroughfares during the crowded hours and
simulated the performances of a starving animal with a verisimilitude
that I believe to have been unsurpassed in the annals of beggary.
He would go on all fours snuffling along the gutters for food and
when he came to a morsel of offal he would fall upon it and devour
it ravenously. If he found nothing he would whine and sit on his
hind legs—so to speak—on the curb, with an imploring look on his
hairy face. If a police officer approached the "Human Dog" would
immediately roll over on his back, with his legs in the air, and
yelp piteously; in fact, he combined the "lay" of insanity with
that of starvation in a most ingenious and skilful manner. He was
a familiar sight and a bugbear to the police, who were constantly
arresting him; but, as he never asked for money, they had great
difficulty in doing anything with him. Usually the magistrate sent
him to the "Island," for thirty days and then Gottlieb would get
him out on a writ of habeas corpus. Some of these writs attracted
the attention of the bar and several appear in the reports. I am
under the impression that we secured his release some twenty-nine
separate times. At last he died in a fit of apoplexy caused by
overeating; and when we administered his estate we found that he
had already laid by, in a comparatively brief career, the very
creditable sum of forty-one thousand dollars.
The "Human Dog" was but a clever variation of the "Crust-Thrower"
—the beggar who tosses a dirty crust of bread into the gutter when
no one is looking and then falls upon it with a cry of fierce joy.
These "crust-throwers" have plied their trade for over six hundred
years and were known in England and Flanders long before the
discovery of America. Gottlieb was very shrewd at devising schemes
that came just within the law and used to amuse himself by so doing
in his leisure moments. One of the best—the idea which he sold
for three hundred dollars and which is still being used in New
York, Chicago, and elsewhere—is the following:
An old man, with a square of plate glass in a newspaper and a bundle
of glass-cutter's tools by his side is seen sitting dejectedly on
a curb with his head in his hands. He has no coat and the icy wind
blows through his straggling locks of gray hair—a pathetic picture.
He seems utterly discouraged, but no word of complaint passes his
lips. Presently a well-dressed woman approaches and her pity is
instantly aroused. She accosts him, and the aged one informs her
in a faint voice that he works in Harlem and has been sent by his
boss to set a pane of glass on Varick Street; but not knowing
exactly where Varick Street is, he has got off the elevated at
Fifty-ninth Street and finds that he is still several miles from
his destination. What woman, unless she had a heart of granite,
would not be moved by such a tale! She opens her purse and pours
its contents into his lap; for it is a psychological truth that,
if you can once get a woman up to the point of giving anything,
she will give all that she has. How often have I seen these old
men—the children of Gottlieb's brain—sitting patiently and silently
on the streets! And how often have they paid us handsome fees to
get them out of the "jug"!
In this catalogue of clients I must not forget "Banana Anna," who
recently, I am sad to say, met her Waterloo. Anna was a lady so
peculiarly gifted by the Almighty that she was able at will to
simulate a very severe physical mishap. I shall not describe with
any greater degree of particularity what her precise affliction
was, save to say that if genuine it would have entitled her to the
sympathy and generosity of mankind. It was the kind of thing that
might easily result from a fall; but which, in fact, under ordinary
circumstances gave her no inconvenience whatever.
Anna would conceal a bit of banana peel in her muff and, dropping
in upon a station platform, would put her heel upon it and fall
prostrate, uttering a groan of pain. The guard would come hastily
to her assistance and find, to his horror, a woman with every mark
of respectability suffering terrible agony from a condition obviously
the result of a fall caused by a bit of banana skin carelessly left
lying upon the premises. An ambulance would be summoned, but she
would insist upon being taken to her own home—an imposing mansion
—and calling her own physician. In due course the railroad would
send its doctor, who would report that her condition was serious;
and, as the leaving of a banana peel upon a public platform is in
its very nature "negligent," the company's lawyer would recommend
settlement. Thus "Banana Anna" was able to live in comfort if not
in luxury; and an infirmity that might under other circumstances
have been a curse became, in fact, a blessing. Of course she took
a new name and hired—temporarily—a new residence for each accident;
but, as she moved from city to city, she was able to keep up the
same old ruse for years.
Perhaps our most interesting client was the one who made his living
by supplying "to the trade" all kinds of corporate bonds and
certificates of stock. Some of these bonds had originally been
issued by corporations in good standing, but had been exchanged,
cancelled, outlawed, or in some other way had become valueless.
How our client secured them I never discovered. He also dealt in
the repudiated bonds of Southern cities and States, which can be
purchased for practically nothing almost everywhere.
His principal line of goods, however, was the bonds of companies
that he incorporated himself and disposed of at cut rates to a
clientele all his own. These companies all bore impressive names,
such as Tennessee Gas, Heat, and Power Company, the Mercedes-Panard-
Charon Motor Vehicle Supply Company, the Nevada Coal, Coke, Iron,
and Bi-product Company, the Chicago Banking and Securities Company,
the Southern Georgia Land and Fruit Company, and so on. He had an
impressive office in a marble-fronted building on Wall Street,
doors covered with green baize inside and gold lettering outside,
and he wore a tall hat and patent-leather shoes. He also had a
force of several young lady stenographers and clerks, who acted as
the officers and directors of his various concerns, all of which
were legally incorporated under the laws of West Virginia and New
Jersey. His clients were the gilt-edged "con" men of Wall and
Nassau Streets, who, when they needed them, could purchase a couple
of hundred engraved one-thousand-dollar bonds of imposing appearance,
in a real corporation, for a few hundred dollars in cash.
Our client did not act as an officer of these himself, but merely
took a power of attorney from the president, secretary, and treasurer,
authorizing him to sign their names to these bond issues. Yet no
one ever saw these officers, all of whom had names connotative of
wealth and financial responsibility. The Gates, Morgan, Rogers,
and other families multiplied and brought forth at the mere wave
of his pen. If you wished a half-million bond issue you simply
called him up on the telephone and some "Light and Power Company"
would hold a directors' meeting and vote a fifty-year debenture
gold seven-per-cent security that you could peddle around at fifty-
eight and one-eighth to unsuspecting investors, so as to net them
merely thirteen per cent. on their money—when they got it. You
could buy a million in these bonds for about three hundred and
seventy-five dollars and fifty cents; but they were real bonds in
real companies and legally issued against some form of property,
even if it had no market value. Sometimes, I am told, these
securities paid interest for a year or so, and the suckers got
their friends in while there were a few left—bonds, I mean—there
are always suckers.
Like other egoists, our client became careless as time went on and
one day took it upon himself to issue a few hundred bonds in a
company without holding a directors' meeting. He should not be
severely blamed for neglecting a detail of this sort when he was
so well aware of its purely formal if not farcical character.
Still, it was one of those little slips that even the most careful
of us will sometimes make, and the district-attorney took an
underhand advantage of our friend and indicted him for forging the
names of the officers of the company to an unauthorized issue of
bonds. Gottlieb and I had, perforce, to defend him; but, unfortunately,
his real defence would have been even worse than the charge. He
could not say that there was no real company and that there were
no such human beings as the persons whose names he had written
across the back of the bonds in question.
Poor fellow! He was an absolutely innocent man. Yet he went to
Sing Sing for seven years for committing no crime at all. How
could he forge the names of persons who did not exist? However,
he had invented these financial Frankensteins and they finally
overwhelmed him. Somewhere lying around I have my share of the
fee in this case—I forget just where. It consists of fourteen
millions in the securities of the National Mortgage and Security
Company of Jampole, Mississippi.
The fear that most people have of the criminal law has its origin
in their ignorance of it. They are, luckily, most of them unfamiliar
with bailiffs and constables, except at a distance. The gruff
voice of authority has echoed but dimly for them. They have heard
of the "third degree," "the cooler," "the sweat-box," and "the
bracelets," yet they have never seen the inside of a station-house;
and their knowledge of jails, if they have any at all, is derived
from reading in their childhood of the miraculous escapes of Baron
Trenck or the Fall of the Bastille. They picture officers of the
law as human bulldogs, with undershot, foam-dripping jaws and
bloodshot eyes. The bourne—from which so many travellers never
return—bounded by the criminal statutes, is a terra incognita
to the average citizen. A bailiff with a warrant for his arrest
would cause his instant collapse and a message that "all was
discovered" would—exactly as in the popular saw—lead him to flee
Upon this dread of the unknown the criminal attorney plays whenever
possible. It is his strongest asset, his stock in trade. The
civil lawyer, vaguely believing that there must be a criminal law
to cover every obvious wrong, retains him to put the screws on the
evil-doer and bring him to terms. The man who has done a dirty
business trick—in reality a hundred miles from being a crime—
engages the shyster to keep him out of jail. The practical weapon
of the criminal lawyer is the warrant of arrest. Just as at civil
law any one can bring a groundless suit and subject his enemy to
much annoyance and expense, so almost anybody can get almost anybody
else arrested. Of course if there is no justification for it a
suit for malicious prosecution and false arrest may arise; but most
persons who resort to such tactics are "judgment proof" and the
civil law has no terrors for them at all. At least fifty persons
out of every hundred would gladly pay an unrighteous claim rather
than be subjected to the humiliation of arrest, even if their
confinement were of the most temporary character.
In New York the right of having the defendant arrested in certain
classes of civil cases is a matter of statute. It is a preliminary
remedy not half as much availed of as it might be. The young lady
who brings a breach-of-promise suit against her faithless follower
has the right to put him under arrest and make him give bail; and
the young gentleman who would laugh ordinarily at the mere service
of papers may well settle her claim if a sheriff whispers in his
ear that he has a warrant for his person.
In the early days, before Gottlieb and I practised at the criminal
bar, a judgment creditor could arrest and lock up his delinquent
debtor. This was a most ancient and honorable form of redress;
and the reader has undoubtedly read dozens of novels in which some
of the scenes are laid in "Fleet Street." This locking up of people
who owed other people money but could not meet their just obligations
was sanctified by tradition and deeply rooted in our jurisprudence;
but the law governing the procedure in such cases was highly
technical and the wind of destiny was somewhat tempered to the
shorn lamb of the creditor. Thus, a warrant for the arrest of a
debtor could not be executed on the Sabbath, and, of course, had
no value outside of the State. Accordingly the neighboring cities
of New Jersey harbored thousands of bankrupt New Yorkers who could
not pay their bills and suffered a voluntary exile until they should
be in funds again. Indeed, there were certain hostelries entirely
given over to their accommodation. The man who had defied his
creditors simply converted his available property into ready cash
and slipped across the river to Jersey City or Hoboken, where he
remained six days in every week and returned to the bosom of his
adoring family on the seventh.
Later on civil orders of arrest were limited by statute to certain
classes of cases, such as, for instance, the conversion of money.
Among our clients there was a certain exceedingly attractive young
lady of French extraction, named Mademoiselle Valerie Carrell, who
was a popular favorite upon the light-opera stage when light opera
was in swaddling-clothes. Our fair client, like many another
histrionic genius, had more charm than business ability and was
persuaded by an unscrupulous manager to intrust to him a large sum
of money for investment in his various enterprises. Time went on,
and, although he seemed to be successful in his ventures, he insisted
that he had no money and was absolutely unable to repay her. In
utter desperation she came to Gottlieb and myself for assistance
and we speedily secured judgment for the full amount—fifteen
thousand dollars—after a hotly contested trial, in which the
defendant perjured himself very unlike a gentleman. The only result
was that Mr. Brown, the manager, gayly offered to settle for fifteen
hundred, and, on receiving a curt refusal, transferred his residence
to Hoboken, from which place he managed his business and paid
furtive visits to the metropolis in the night-time. On Sundays,
however, he always appeared in full regalia on Broadway and could
invariably be seen entertaining his friends lavishly in the
Gottlieb suffered this course of conduct to become a habit and then
informed me that he proposed to collect the full amount of Mademoiselle
Carrell's judgment upon the following Monday. I expressed some
incredulity at the idea, but later events proved that my partner
was well justified in his prophecy. We had long before procured
a warrant for Brown's arrest and the only difficulty lay in executing
it upon a week-day. Sunday came and as usual Brother Brown, with
his customary bravado, made his appearance in the city. That
evening Gottlieb invited me to dine with him at the resort ordinarily
frequented by our quarry. True to his invariable custom, Brown
turned up there with a party of his cronies and spent the evening
in merry feasting, presumably upon the money of our client. It
was a clear, moonlight night and when the glowworm showed the matin
to be near—or, more correctly, when it neared twelve o'clock—
Brown beckoned to the waiter, paid his bill out of a fat roll of
greenbacks, winked good-naturedly at us, and bade his friends good-
night. A moment or two later Gottlieb whispered to me to follow
him and we stepped forth upon the street. Brown was strolling
quietly down Broadway toward Twenty-third Street. A short distance
behind followed a thick-set man with a square-cut jaw whom I had
frequently noticed in Gottlieb's office.
On the corner of the cross-town thoroughfare Brown paused, looked
first at the moon and then at his watch, and proceeded on his
constitutional toward the ferry. The street, save for a distant
and presumably somnolent policeman, was deserted. The thick-set
man crossed to the other side of the way, quickened his steps,
overtook and passed Brown, recrossed and sauntered toward him. A
moment later there was a collision between them, voices were raised
in angry altercation and presently Brown was rolling undignifiedly
on the pavement, his calls for the police rending the stillness of
the night. The officer hastily approached, whistling wildly for
aid. Gottlieb and I took refuge in an adjacent doorway. Abruptly,
however, Brown's outcries ceased. It is probably that a sudden
vision of the consequences of an appeal to police protection came
to him as he lay like an overturned June-bug upon the sidewalk.
But the law had been invoked. The car of Juggernaut had started
upon its course.
"What's the trouble here?" cried the policeman, as he arrived
panting upon the scene.
"This fellow here assaulted me!" instantly answered the man with
the bulldog jaw.
"It's a lie!" bellowed Brown, climbing to his feet.
"Well, what have you got to say?" inquired the officer.
Brown hesitated. If he made a counter charge he realized that he
would have to go to the police station to make the complaint. This
would keep him in the city until after midnight.
"Well?" continued the policeman.
Still Brown paused, rapidly taking account of stock. If he did
not deny the charge in terms he would be locked up, which was just
as bad. But the bull-jawed chap spoke first.
"I want this man arrested!" he insisted. "He deliberately attacked
"I did no such thing!" shouted Brown. "He came at me without
provocation and knocked me down."
"It took you long enough to say so," commented the officer. "I'll
have to take you along to the house. Come on, both of you."
Grasping Brown by the arm, he marched him down the street. Suddenly
the unfortunate manager began to pour forth a long explanation,
quite incoherent so far as the policeman was concerned. He was
the victim of a frame-up—it was a job to get him arrested. The
officer remarked unsympathetically that he had heard that sort of
thing many times before. Gottlieb and I skulked in the rear. When
the police station was at last reached the thick-set man made a
charge of assault against the manager and Brown was compelled
perforce to make a similar charge against his adversary. Then both
were locked up to await a hearing the next morning in the magistrate's
court, when, after a prolonged examination, Brown was discharged
with an admonition against a too free indulgence in alcoholic
"Don't be hard on him, judge," said the bull-jawed man. "I had no
trouble in defending myself. I think he has had lesson enough."
Much the worse for wear, Mr. Brown passed out of the court-room,
only to be confronted on the sidewalk by a marshal with a warrant
for his arrest. It was Monday morning. His period of immunity
was over. His eye caught Gottlieb and myself standing on the
"Well, boys," he exclaimed ruefully, "I'm caught. How much is it
going to cost?"
"Fifteen thousand dollars," answered Gottlieb, adding, after a
moment's pause—"and disbursements."
I need hardly add that Mr. Brown lost no time in raising the
necessary ransom and within the hour had paid his judgment in full
and secured his discharge. The days are long since over, however,
when judgment defaulters had anything to fear; and now a beneficent
bankruptcy law, merely for the asking, washes all their debts away.
But the power to secure another's arrest is even more easily
available now than in the days of my early practice owing to the
great number of new crimes created by the statutes.
One of the most ingenious devices for extorting money that ever
came to my attention was invented by a client of mine named Levine
—a poor sort of character, to be sure, but cleverer than many a
better man. In detail his method was as follows: He first bought
at wholesale a large quantity of cheap watches covered with gold
plate. To the inexperienced they looked as if they might possibly
be worth forty or fifty dollars apiece. They cost Levine about
two dollars and twenty-five cents each. His next step was to select
some small shop belonging to a plumber, grocer, or electrician
which was ordinarily left in the charge of a clerk while the owner
was out attending to his work or securing orders. Levine would
find some excuse for entering the shop, engage the clerk in
conversation, and having secured his attention would produce one
of his watches and extol its merits at length, explaining what a
great bargain it was and how—only owing to an exceptional
concatenation of circumstances—he was able to offer it for the
ridiculously low figure of thirty dollars.
Now it never made any difference to Levine whether the clerk wanted
the watch or not. His procedure remained the same in all cases.
He would first offer to let the fellow have it by paying one dollar
a week on the installment plan. If this did not appeal to the
clerk Levine would persuade him to keep it for a short time on
approval, paying down a dollar "as security." Almost all of his
victims would agree to this if only to be rid of him. In default
of aught else he would lay the watch on the counter and run away.
Nothing more would occur for a couple of weeks, during which the
clerk would hold the watch pending its owner's return, little
suspecting what was going on meantime. Levine, having "landed"
his watch, immediately swore to a verified complaint in an action
at law for "goods sold and delivered," setting forth on the date
in question he had sold—not to the clerk, but to his employer—
a gold watch for the sum of fifty dollars, which the latter had
then and there promised to pay for at once. The complaint further
recited that the money had been duly demanded and payment refused,
and asked judgment for fifty dollars and the costs and disbursements
of the action. Levine would then procure from some irresponsible
person an affidavit that the latter had personally served a copy
of the complaint in question, together with a summons, upon the
defendant, and place the case on the calendar for trial. Of course
no papers were in fact served upon anybody and Levine would in due
course secure judgment by default for sixty-odd dollars. Armed
with a certified copy of the judgment and a writ of attachment,
and accompanied by a burly deputy marshal selected for the ferocity
of his appearance, Levine would wait until some opportune time when
the owner of the shop was again absent and the shop had been left
in charge of the same clerk or a member of the family. Bursting
roughly in, he would demand whether or not it was the intention of
the owner to pay the judgment, while at the same moment the deputy
would levy on the stock in trade.
The owner of the shop, having been hastily summoned, would return
to demand angrily what the rumpus was all about. By this time the
clerk would have recovered his wits sufficiently to denounce the
proceeding as an outrage and the suit as baseless. But his master,
who saw judgment against himself for sixty dollars and his goods
actually under attachment, was usually in no mood to listen to,
much less believe, his clerk's explanations. At all events, they
availed naught, when Levine, with an expression of horror at such
deliberate mendacity on the part of the clerk, was wont to say:
"Ask him, pray, whether he has not got the watch in his pocket at
this very moment!"
Usually this was indeed the fact, as the clerk had no idea what
else to do with it until Levine should return.
"So-ho!" his master would shout wrathfully. "What do you mean by
saying that you did not agree to buy the watch? Why, you have kept
it all the time! What's more, you've pretended to buy it in my
name! And now my shop is turned into a bear garden and there is
a judgment against me and my goods are attached! A fine result of
"But I never agreed to buy it!" insists the clerk. "This man left
it here on approval!"
"Pish!" answers the employer. "That is all very well; but what
have you to say to the judgment of the court? Now, my fine fellow,
you will either pay up this money that you owe or I'll advance it
myself and take it out of your wages."
In every case, despite the protests of the clerk, the money would
be handed over and the shop released from levy. Unfortunately,
after working the game for several years, Levine came a cropper by
carelessly trying it on one of the same clerks that he had victimized
some time before. The clerk, being of an unusually vindictive
disposition, followed the matter up. Having first arrested the
man who made the false affidavit of service, he induced him to turn
State's evidence against my client and landed the latter in jail.
Being a great reader, however, Levine did not find his incarceration
particularly unpleasant; and, hearing of the Court of Appeals
decision in the McDuff case, he spent his time in devising new
schemes to take the place of his now antiquated specialty. On his
release he immediately became a famous "sick engineer" and for a
long time enjoyed the greatest prosperity, until one of his friends
victimized him at his own game by inducing him to bet ten thousand
dollars on the outcome of a prize-fight that he was simple-minded
enough to believe had already been fought and won.
This was an elaborate variation of the ordinary wire-tapping game,
where the sucker or lamb is introduced to a person alleged to be
an inside official of a large telegraph company, who is ready to
sell advance information of the results of sporting events in return
for a share in the profits. The victim is taken to a supposed
"branch office" of the company and actually hears the results of
the races coming in over the wires and being telephoned to the pool-
rooms. Of course the whole place is merely a plant fitted up for
his benefit. He is then taken to a supposed pool-room and gives
up his money for the purpose of having it placed as a wager on a
horse-race already won. Under the McDuff case, it had been held
by the courts that he had parted with his money for an illegal and
dishonest purpose—to wit, in an attempt to win money from another
who was wagering his own money in good faith—and the rogue who
had seduced his conscience and slit his purse went free. This was
Levine's favorite field of operations.
But his friend went him one better. Knowing that Levine had salted
away a lot of money, he organized a gang of "cappers" and boosters,
who made a great talk about the relative merits of two well-known
pugilists. It was given out that a fight was to be "pulled off"
up the Hudson and a party was made up to attend it. A private car
was taken by the friend in question and Levine was the guest of
honor. Champagne flowed freely. The fight came off in a deserted
barn near a siding above Poughkeepsie; and Levine wagered all of
his money, with other prosperous-looking guests in the car, under
the assumption that a bargain had been made between the "pugs" that
his man should win. But the supposed sports were all "boosters"
in his friend's pay and the other man won after a spirited exhibition,
which, although exciting, hardly consoled Levine for the loss of
It is a curious fact that those of my clients who made great sums
from time to time in ways similar to these rarely had any money;
most of them died in abject poverty. Sooner or later all ran foul
of the law and had to give up to the lawyers all they had managed
to lay by.
When at last John Holliday, a dealer in automatic musical instruments,
was "trimmed" out of sixty-five thousand dollars by various schemes
of this character, the tardy Legislature finally amended the penal
code in such a way as to do away with the farcical doctrine of the
McDuff case and drove all our erstwhile clients out of business.
"Shake hands with Mr. Dillingham, Quib," said Gottlieb as I one
day unexpectedly entered the latter's office. "We have a matter
on hand in which he is interested."
"Glad to know you, Mr. Quibble," quoth the client, extending a
rather soft hand. "Your name is well known to me, although I have
never personally had the pleasure of your acquaintance."
"The future will, I trust, remedy that," I replied, not particularly
impressed with the stranger's features or expression, but conscious
somehow of the smell of money about him. For he was short and fat
and wore a brown surtout and a black stovepipe hat, and his little
gray eyes peeped out of full, round, red cheeks. On his lower lip
we wore a tiny goatee.
"As I was saying," he continued, turning again to my partner, "we
all of us make mistakes and I made the biggest one when I annexed
the present Mrs. D. I was a young fool hardly out of my teens,
and the sight of a pretty face and a tearful story of woe were too
much for me. She was an actress. Comprenez? A sort of Lydia
Languish, la-de-da kind of a girl. Oh, she caught me fast enough,
and it was only after I had swallowed the hook, sinker and all,
that I found out she was married."
"Ho-ho!" remarked Gottlieb. "The old story."
"The same little old story," assented Dillingham. "Take a cigar?"
He produced a well-filled case.
I dropped into a chair and hitched it toward them.
"Now, the fact of the matter is," continued he, "she wouldn't look
at me as long as she was tied to her husband, miserable rat though
he was; and he was and is a rat! I could call and take her out to
dinner, and all that, but—pst! nothing more! and she was always
telling me how I was her good angel and inspired her to higher
things! Gad! even then it bored me! But I could see nothing but
her face. You know how it is. I was twenty-six and a clerk in a
He laughed grimly.
"Well, as luck would have it, my Uncle John died just about that
time and left me ten thousand dollars and I started in to make her
my own by getting her a divorce. Now, this husband of hers was a
wretched fellow—the son of a neighbor—who never got beyond being
a waiter in a railroad station. Say, it is rather rough, eh? To
think of me, Dillingham, of Dillingham, Hodges & Flynn, the biggest
independent steel man in the State, tied up to a pale-faced woman
who can't speak the King's English properly and whose first husband
is a waiter—yes, a waiter to-day, understand, in a railroad
restaurant at Baltimore! It makes me sick every time I go to
Washington. I can't eat—fact! So I hired a lawyer for her—you
know him, I guess—Bunce. Oscar Willoughby Bunce! And he prepared
divorce papers—Oh, we had cause enough! And the next time Hawkins
—that was the husband's name, Arthur P. Hawkins—came over to New
York, to borrow some money from his wife, Bunce slapped a summons
on him. It makes me squirm to think how delighted I was to know
we had actually begun our case. Hawkins hired a lawyer, I believe,
and pretended he was going to put up a defence, but I bought him
off and we got our decree by default. Then, gentlemen"—Dillingham
paused with a wry face—"I had the inestimable privilege of marrying
my present wife!"
He sucked meditatively on his cigar for a few moments before resuming
"Curious, isn't it—the fascination of the stage? You, gentlemen,
probably have observed it even more than I have; but when he sees
a slim girl with yellow curls capering around in tights behind the
footlights, a young man's imagination runs riot and he fancies her
the incarnation of coquetry and the personification of vivacious
loveliness. I admit it—the present Mrs. Dillingham was a dancer.
On the stage she used to ogle me out of my shoes and off it she'd
help me spend my money and drink my wine and jolly me up to beat
the cars; but once I'd married her she changed completely. Instead
of a dashing, snappy, tantalizing sort of a little Yum-Yum, she
turned religious and settled down so you wouldn't have known her.
There was nothing in it. Instead of a peach I had acquired a lemon.
I expected champagne and found I was drinking buttermilk. Get me?
You would never have guessed she'd been inside a theatre in her
life. Well, we got along the best we could and she made a hit at
the church, as a brand plucked from the burning. Used to tell her
experiences Friday nights and have all the parsons up to five-
o'clock tea. Meanwhile I forgot my romantic dreams of flashing
eyes and twinkling feet and began to get interested in business.
To-day I'm worth real money and am on top of the heap downtown;
but socially—Good Lord! the woman's a millstone! She's grown fat
and talks through her nose, and—"
"You want to get rid of her," finished Gottlieb.
"Exactly!" answered Dillingham. "How much will it cost?"
"I think you had better give me your check for ten thousand dollars
to begin with," replied my partner. "Such a case presents great
difficulties—almost insuperable without money. I am not even sure
that what you want can be accomplished without running grave personal
risks—not on your part, but on ours. Such risks must be compensated
for. What you desire, I take it, is to have your marriage annulled.
To do that it will be necessary to prove that the divorce procured
by Mrs. Dillingham from her former husband, Hawkins, was improperly
and illegally granted. We must knock out the decree in Hawkins
versus Hawkins somehow or other. To be frank with you, it may
cost you a large sum."
"It is worth it," answered Dillingham. "Free me from this woman
and I'll give you twenty-five thousand dollars."
"Make it thirty-five thousand dollars," coaxed Gottlieb.
"Well, then, thirty-five thousand dollars," said Dillingham after
"But you must promise to do exactly what we tell you!" continued
"I expect to," replied the other.
"Very good, then," said Gottlieb. "In the first place, the original
decree is no good unless the summons actually was served on Hawkins
and the suit properly commenced. Now, perhaps Bunce served the
wrong man. He didn't know Hawkins. The latter was merely pointed
out to him. Already I begin to feel that there is grave doubt as
to whether the proceedings in Hawkins versus Hawkins were ever
"Hold on, Mr. Gottlieb!" remonstrated Dillingham. "You want to go
easy there. After Hawkins was served he retained a lawyer. I know
that, dammit, because it cost me twenty-five hundred dollars to
get rid of him."
"What was his name?" asked Gottlieb sharply.
"Crookshank—Walter E. Crookshank—down on Nassau Street."
Gottlieb gave a short, dry laugh.
"Luck's with you, Dillingham. Crookshank died three years ago."
None of us broke silence for the space of about two minutes.
"You see now why this sort of thing costs money?" finally remarked
Dillingham wiped his forehead with his handkerchief nervously.
"Say," he began, "isn't that taking a pretty long chance? I—"
"It is taking no chance at all," retorted Gottlieb, his little eyes
glistening like a snake's. "You have simply retained us to see if
your wife's original divorce was regular—not to see if it was
irregular—catch on? You tell us nothing. We ask you nothing.
We make our investigation. Much to our surprise and horror, we
discover that the defendant never was served—perhaps that he never
even knew of the proceeding until years afterward. We don't know
what you know. We simply advise you the divorce is N. G. and you
ask no questions. We'll attend to all that—for our thirty-five
"Well, you know your business," responded Dillingham hesitantly,
"and I leave the matter in your hands. How long will it take?"
"Everything now depends on our friend Hawkins," replied Gottlieb.
"We may be able to hand you your manumission papers in three
When Dillingham had written out his check and bade us good day I
no longer made any pretence of concealing from my partner my
perturbation. I had, of course, known that from time to time we
had skated on thin ice; but this was the first occasion upon which
Gottlieb had deliberately acknowledged to a client that he would
resort to perjury to accomplish his ends.
"Don't you think we're running entirely too close to the wind?" I
asked, pacing up and down the office.
"My dear Quib," answered Gottlieb soothingly, "don't agitate yourself
over so trifling a matter. The only living man who can prove that
Hawkins was served is Bunce—and Bunce is a fool. At best it would
simply be one swearing against the other. We have a perfect right
to believe Hawkins in preference to Bunce if we choose. Anyhow,
we're not the judge. All we have to do is to present the evidence
at our command—if we can get it. And, by God! we will get it if
it costs us ten thousand dollars! Why, Quib, the thing is a
windfall. Thirty-five thousand! Why, thirty-five hundred for
such a case would be a big fee!"
"I don't know!" I answered, for I felt a curious premonition in
the matter. "Something tells me that we ought to take no chances."
"Come, come!" quoth Gottlieb, with a light show of irritation.
"Don't lose your nerve. You've done many a worse thing than this,
to my own knowledge!"
I do not pretend to any virtue in the matter and yet I must admit
to some feelings of compunction about Mrs. Dillingham. Truth to
tell, I had taken a strong dislike to her husband, with his sleek
confidence and cold-blooded selfishness. In addition, I was quite
sure that there was some other fell reason why he wished to divorce
her—probably he had another marriage in contemplation, even if he
had not admitted it.
"I wish we could make the beggar do his own dirty work," I
"But what does he pay us for?" inquired Gottlieb innocently. "Quib,
just think of the money!"
I had, in fact, been thinking of the money, and it looked very good
to me. Since my days in Haight & Foster's law office, a great,
great change had come in my manner of life; and, though my friends
to a great extent remained among the theatrical and sporting class
to which I had received my first introduction on coming to New
York, I now occupied a large brick house with stone trimmings in
Washington Square, where I entertained in truly luxurious fashion.
I had a French cook and an English butler, and drove a pair of
trotters that were second to none except those of William H.
Vanderbilt, with whom I had many a fast brush on the speedways.
Though I had never allowed myself to be caught in the net of
matrimony, I had many friends among the fair sex, particularly
among those who graced the footlights; and some of my evening
parties did not break up until dawn was glinting over the roofs of
the respectable mansions round about me. It was a gay life, but
it cost money—almost more money than I could make; and my share
in the thirty-five thousand dollars offered by our friend Dillingham
would go a long way to keeping up my establishment for another
year. So I allowed my qualms to give me no further uneasiness and
told myself that Gottlieb was clever enough to manage the business
in such a fashion that there would be no "come-back."
A week or so later I encountered in our office a narrow-shouldered,
watery-eyed, reddish-nosed party that I instantly recognized for
Hawkins. There could be no doubt about the matter, for he had a
way of standing at attention and thrusting his head forward when
addressed that were unmistakable. He was waiting, it turned out,
for Gottlieb, who had sent for him to come on from Baltimore; and
the readiness with which he had responded could be better accounted
for by the five hundred dollars which he had received at the hands
of our emissary for travelling expenses than by any desire on his
part to regain the society of the present Mrs. Dillingham.
"I suppose," began Gottlieb when he had retired to the seclusion
of his inner office, "that you fully understand that the divorce
secured by your wife is inoperative—Tut! Tut! Don't interrupt
me!"—for Hawkins had opened his mouth in protest—"for the reason
—for the very good reason, I repeat—that you were never served
with any summons or notified that the proceeding had been commenced.
Am I correct?"
Hawkins grinned and turned his watery eyes from one of us to the
"Quite so, sir!" he stuttered. "Exactly, sir!"
"Now, on the contrary, if any one says you were served with such
a paper, it was quite impossible for the reason—by the way, what
was the reason?"
Hawkins dropped one eyelid to a narrow slit and pursed his lips.
"Quite impossible, sir! The fact is, sir, I was waitin' on a dinin'-
car that ran at the time between San Antonio and New Orleans, sir."
"You see, Quib?" exclaimed Gottlieb. "My suspicions in the matter
were quite correct. This gentleman has been most outrageously
treated! If you will kindly retire for a moment—as I have a matter
which I wish to discuss with him privately—I will turn him over
to you for the purpose of taking his affidavit."
A few moments thereafter Hawkins appeared in my office, apparently
in the act of stuffing something into his pocket, and announced
that he was ready to sign his "davy." Although I had no taste for
the business, there was nothing for it but to do my part; so I
called in a stenographer and dictated the following:
"SUPREME COURT—COUNTY OF NEW YORK
"RUFUS P. DILLINGHAM, Plaintiff )
against ) Action for Annulment of Marriage
LILIAN DILLINGHAM, Defendant )
"CITY AND COUNTY OF NEW YORK, ss.:
"ARTHUR P. HAWKINS, being duly sworn, deposes and says: That he
is forty-three years old, a waiter by occupation, and resides in
the city of Baltimore, Maryland; that he was married to the defendant
herein on the eighteenth day of June, 187-, and thereafter lived
with her as man and wife until the month of December, 1882, when
for some reason unknown to deponent the defendant left his house
and did not thereafter return; that he has recently learned that
said defendant, in July, 1887, procured a decree of divorce against
him in the county and State of New York, upon grounds of which
deponent is totally ignorant, and that thereafter said defendant
contracted a marriage with one Rufus P. Dillingham, the plaintiff
therein; that deponent was never served with any summons or complaint
in said action of divorce and had no knowledge or information that
any such proceeding was pending against him; that he never appeared
in such proceeding and until recently always supposed that the
defendant was his lawful wife.
"Sworn to before me this fourteenth )
day of September, 1894 ) ARTHUR P. HAWKINS
"ISAAC M. COHEN,
"Notary Public, New York County."
There was something about this seedy rascal that filled me with
disgust and suspicion, and he looked at me out of the corners of
his evil eyes as if he knew that by some trick of fate he had me
in his power and was gloating over it. Even while he was swearing
to the paper he had a sickly sneer on his pimply face that sickened
me, and when Cohen, my clerk, administered the oath to him he had
the audacity to wink in his face and answer:
"It's the truth—not!"
Cohen, who knew a thing or two and had taken affidavits before,
merely laughed, but the words sent a shiver down my spine and I
"Be careful what you're saying! Do you swear that this affidavit
of yours is true?"
"Yes, sir! Yes, sir!" he hastened to answer, somewhat chagrined
at my not taking as a joke what he had intended for one.
"Very well," I said to Cohen. "Show the gentleman out. I'm very
Afterward I would have given all the money I possessed to undo what
I had done.
The case of Dillingham versus Dillingham duly came on for trial,
with Oscar Willoughby Bunce as the chief witness for defendant.
He had visited our office several times in an attempt to convince
us that we were entirely misinformed in regard to the service of
the papers in the original action and had insisted vehemently that
he had personally delivered them to Hawkins in the office of the
Astor House. Gottlieb had gently assured him that he must be
mistaken and bowed him out, but Bunce for once in his little toy
career was "all up in the air." He felt that his own integrity
was, in some mysterious way, at stake, since it was upon his own
testimony to the effect that he had made the service of the papers
in question that the original decree had in part been granted.
The case was sent to a referee for hearing, and on the morning of
the day set Gottlieb called me into his office and said:
"Harkee, Quib! I've a plan that will put our little friend Bunce's
nose out of joint for good. It is nearly seven years now since he
has seen Hawkins and it was then only for a moment."
"Well," said I, "what is your game?"
"Come along to the hearing and you'll find out, my lad," answered
Gottlieb. "Don't fail if you want to see some fun."
Curious to discover what trick Gottlieb would be able to play, I
accordingly arranged my work so as to attend the hearing, which
was to be held in the referee's office in an old wooden building
on Broadway. As I climbed the stairs I caught sight of Hawkins
skulking on one of the landings, but he laid a finger on his lips
and I passed on and up to the attorney's office. The room, like
most old-fashioned lawyers' offices, was but dimly lighted, and on
entering I found the other side, with the exception of Mrs.
Dillingham, already there. The referee sat at one end of a large
table, surrounded by his books, with his stenographer beside him;
and to his left sat Bunce and a lawyer named Stires, the present
"attorney of record" for the defendant. I took my seat opposite
them, introduced myself to the referee and waited. In a few moments
the door opened noisily and Gottlieb entered with much bustle,
accompanied by a clerk carrying books and papers and by a perfectly
strange man, arrayed in very new clothes, who seemed much embarrassed
and doubtful as to what he should do.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen!" exclaimed Gottlieb breezily. "I regret
to have kept you waiting, but I was unavoidably detained. Shall
I sit down here? Yes? Very good. Please take your seat beside
me, Mr. Hawkins."
The stranger blushed, fumbled his hat, and sat down bashfully in
the place designated.
"Are you ready to proceed, gentlemen?" inquired the referee over
his spectacles. "Call your first witness."
Bunce, who had been fidgeting in his eagerness to tell what he
knew, instantly bobbed up and asked to be sworn.
After giving his name, age, and profession, he detailed how he had
prepared the papers in the original case of Hawkins versus Hawkins
and served them upon the defendant personally at the Astor House.
"I handed them to Mr. Hawkins myself and explained them to him.
He was dressed very much as he is now," cried Bunce.
"Do you positively identify this gentleman on your oath as the
person you served with the summons and complaint?" inquired Gottlieb
as if the matter were merely one of routine.
"Absolutely!" retorted Bunce hotly. "I could identify him anywhere
by the shape of his nose. I took especial pains to remark his
appearance in case the service should ever be disputed."
"Thank you. That is all," said Gottlieb. Then turning to the
stranger he directed him to take the stand.
"What is your name?" he asked sternly.
"Aaron Finkelstein—as you know very well, Mr. Gottlieb," answered
"Do you recognize this gentleman who has just testified?" indicating
"As far as I know I never saw him in my life," answered Finkelstein.
"Did he ever serve you with any papers—in the Astor House or
"What is your business?"
"I am an undertaker."
In an instant the room was in a turmoil, Bunce screaming out that
he had been tricked by a parcel of shysters, Gottlieb indignantly
defending his ruse as a perfectly proper method of discrediting
Bunce, and the referee vainly endeavoring to restore order. As
for myself, in spite of my anxiety over the whole affair, I could
not do otherwise than laugh heartily over Bunce's ludicrous mistake.
When Hawkins was brought in from outside, and, after proclaiming
his identity, denied ever being served in the original action, the
referee was but little inclined to listen to Lawyer Bunce, who now
corrected his testimony and swore just as insistently that the real
Hawkins was the person to whom he had given the papers in the case.
Here, then, was as pretty a trick as had ever been played upon an
unsuspecting and well-meaning lawyer; and by it Gottlieb had so
strengthened our position that, very likely, the referee would have
found for our side even had not Hawkins taken it upon himself to
swear the matter through. Moreover, the only person who could have
disproved the latter's testimony or given evidence that might have
militated against its probability—to wit, Crookshank, his former
attorney—was dead and buried, and it seemed as if truth were buried
with him. On the way back to our office I congratulated my partner
on the Napoleonic strategy which he had displayed and a few days
later a more substantial compliment followed, in the shape of an
unqualified finding in our favor on the part of the referee.
"Was ever thirty-five thousand dollars earned so easily!" laughed
Gottlieb over his cigar as we were dining at Delmonico's.
"So long as Hawkins stays bought—yes," I answered.
"Don't be a death's head, Quib!" he retorted. "Why, even if he
turned State's evidence, no one would believe him! Have another
glass of this vintage—we can drink it every night now for a year
at Dillingham's expense!"
"Well, here's to you, Gottlieb!" I answered, filling my goblet with
creaming wine; "and here's to crime—whereby we live and move and
have our being!"
And we clinked our glasses and drained them with a laugh.
I had now been a resident of New York for upward of twenty years
and had acquired, as the junior member of the firm of Gottlieb &
Quibble, an international reputation. It is true that my partner
and I felt it to be beneath our dignity to advertise in the newspapers
—and, indeed, advertising in New York City was for us entirely
unnecessary—but we carried a card regularly in the English journals
and received many retainers from across the water; in fact, we
controlled practically all the theatrical business in the city,
drawing the contracts for the managers and being constantly engaged
in litigations on their behalf. We had long since abandoned as
trivial all my various profit-sharing schemes, and, with the
exception of carrying on our pay-rolls many of the attendants
attached to the police and other criminal courts, had practically
no "runners." We did not need any. There was no big criminal case
in which we were not retained for the defence and rarely a divorce
action of any notoriety where we did not appear for one of the
This matter of Hawkins's was the first in twenty years in which he
had ever deliberately faked an entire case! Yet, if ever there
was a safe opportunity to do so, this seemed the one, and I cannot
even now charge Gottlieb with recklessness in taking the chances
that he did; but, as luck would have it, there were two facts
connected with the Dillingham annulment the significance of which
we totally overlooked—one, that Bunce was not so much of a fool
as he looked, and the other, that Mrs. Dillingham was a mother.
Once, however, judgment had been entered to the effect that Mrs.
Dillingham had never lawfully ceased to be Mrs. Hawkins, then the
real reason of our client's anxiety to be rid of his wife and her
child, a girl of six years, became apparent; for he instantly
announced his engagement to a fashionable widow, who lacked money
if not experience, and who needed the one as much as he had a super-
abundance of the other. He made a fairly liberal allowance for
his child and its mother, and since this was paid monthly through
our office, I had an opportunity of making their acquaintance; and
I confess that I had no sooner done so than I began to have a sort
of regret for my own part in the transaction. For Mrs. Dillingham
—Hawkins, or whatever she was—proved to be a rather sweet-faced
young woman, with great, sad blue eyes and a winsomely childish
innocence of expression that concealed, as I afterward found out,
a will of iron and a heart full of courage.
She used to come and wait for Gottlieb or me to pay over her money,
and while she waited she would sit there so helplessly, looking
withal so lovely, that the clerks cannot be blamed for having talked
to her. Incidentally she extracted from the susceptible Cohen
various trifles in the way of information which later proved highly
inconvenient. Yet she never asked me or my partner any questions
or showed the slightest resentment at the part we had played as
her husband's attorneys in ruining her life. Sometimes she brought
the little girl with her and I marvelled that Dillingham could have
sacrificed such a charming little daughter so easily.
Six months passed and the Dillingham scandal ceased to be a matter
of public or even of private interest. Other affairs, equally
profitable, engaged our attention, and the waiter, Hawkins, having
received a substantial honorarium from the firm's bank account,
had passed completely out of our minds. I had that winter been
giving a series of dinners at my house to actor clients and their
managers, and these had proved conspicuously successful for the
reason that my guests were of the sort who, after the wine had
begun to flow, had no hesitation in entertaining the rest of the
company by an exhibition of their talents. Occasionally, as part
of the fun, I would do a bit of a turn myself by way of reviving
old memories of the Cock and Spur and my Athenaeum days in Boston.
It was on one of these festive occasions—not unlike, my readers
may recall, my famous translation from college during my banquet
at the Cambridge Tavern—that Fate struck me my first severe blow.
My guests were still sitting at table while one of the ladies
executed a fantastic dance amid the wine-glasses, when my butler
touched me upon the arm and whispered that Mr. Gottlieb was outside
and desired to see me on urgent business. Excusing myself, I
hurried out, greeting my partner rather impatiently, as I disliked
to be interrupted by business details in my hours of relaxation;
but one sight of his weazened little hawk face sufficed to tell me
that no trifling matter was at stake. He was in his day clothes,
which were even more than ordinarily dishevelled, and his face,
usually pale, was chalklike.
"Quibble," he cried in a rasping voice as soon as my man had gone,
"our luck's turned! That woman has tricked us. She and Bunce went
down to Crookshank's office and, under the pretext of looking for
some deed or release, went through his papers and turned up some
letters from Hawkins in regard to the original divorce proceedings.
They've got one in which he admits being served by Bunce in the
Astor House and asks Crookshank to appear for him. They've got
another, written after Dillingham had fixed him, telling Crookshank
to put in no defence. Yesterday she and Bunce went before the
grand jury, who returned an indictment against Hawkins for perjury.
Then she telegraphed him to come on to New York and meet her to
arrange some money matters; and when he stepped off the train this
afternoon he was arrested and taken to police head-quarters."
"My God!" I cried, turning quite faint. "What's to be done?"
"Get him out of the way as soon as possible!" answered Gottlieb,
his lips trembling. "To-morrow morning he will be arraigned in
the General Sessions. They are going to ask for fifty thousand
dollars bail. We've got to have it. It's the only thing that
stands between us and State prison, for they've got the goods on
Hawkins and unless we see him safe he'll turn on us and help them
send us up!"
"Have you seen him?" I gasped.
"I've just come from head-quarters," he answered. "The fool had
been drinking and had given up a lot of information already. So
I frightened him until he agreed to shut up. They trouble is we
gave him too much money. He says now that unless we protect him
and keep him out of State prison he will give up the whole game to
the district attorney. That would be fun, wouldn't it? The district
attorney wouldn't waste much time on Arthur P. Hawkins if he could
land Gottlieb & Quibble in jail for subornation of perjury, would
he—eh? We've got to scratch gravel—and quick too!"
"But where can we raise fifty thousand dollars?" I groaned
"Dillingham," he retorted without hesitation. "He's our only hope.
He's in as bad as the rest of us. If we go we can pull him along
too. I understand that the woman is prepared to swear not only
that Hawkins admitted to her that he was properly served, but that
she told this to Dillingham, and that he and Hawkins talked the
thing over in her presence. Besides, Cohen confessed to me to-day
that she had pumped him all about Hawkins's coming over to New York
and signing papers; and, although he swears he didn't tell her
anything in particular, yet I don't trust the idiot. No, Quib;
it's bad business and we've got to get Hawkins out of the way at
It was not until nearly three o'clock in the morning that I discovered
Dillingham's whereabouts, which happened to be at the Fifth Avenue
house of a fashionable friend, where he was playing draw poker.
He greeted me in much the same inhospitable fashion that I had
accorded to Gottlieb, but only a few words were needed to convince
him of the gravity of the case. I had never loathed the man more
than I did at that instant when, with a cigar stuffed in his fat
face, he came out of the card-room, dressed in his white waistcoat
and pearl studs, and with a half-drunken leer asked what I wanted.
"I want fifty thousand dollars to keep you and me out of State
prison!" I cried.
He turned a sickly yellow and gave a sort of choking gasp.
"Hawkins!" he muttered. "Damn him!"
Then Dillingham had a sort of fit, due no doubt partly to the fact
that he had drunk more champagne than was good for him; for he
trembled with a kind of ague and then broke out in a sweat and
blubbered, and uttered incoherent oaths, until I was half beside
myself lest he should keep it up all night and I should not get
the money from him. But at last he regained control of himself
and promised to borrow the fifty thousand dollars the first thing
in the morning and to have it at my office at ten o'clock. Yet,
as I bade him good night, he had another turn of terror and his
teeth chattered in his head as he stammered out that he was a ruined
man, that he had cast off a good wife for a deceitful hussy who
only wanted his money, that he had lost his child, that now his
career was over, and that, unless I stood by him, he would end his
days in prison. This was hardly the sort of encouragement I wanted;
and though his words brought the cold sweat out upon my back, I
told him pretty sharply that he had better pull himself together
and not be any more of a fool than he could help, that all we needed
was enough money to whip Hawkins out of the way, and that if he
would "come up" with the needful we would look out for him. I left
him a disgusting sight, sitting in a red plush armchair, with his
face in his hands, his hair streaking down across his forehead,
moaning and mumbling to himself.
Outside, the city slept the prenatal sleep of dawn. A pale greenish
veil hung over the roofs, through which day must peer before
awakening those who slept beneath. I had often noticed this greenish
color in the sky, made doubtless by the flare of gas and electricity
against the blue-black zenith, yet never before had I felt its
depressing character. It was the green of jealousy, of disappointment,
of envy, hatred, and malice and all uncharitableness! The city
trembled in its sleep and the throbbing of its mighty pulse beat
evilly upon my ears with distant hostile rumblings. I was alone
in it and in danger. Disaster and ruin were looking for me around
the corner. I was like a child, helpless and homeless. I could
not call upon God, for I did not believe in Him.
It came home to me, as I stood there in the night upon the open
street, that there was not one soul among all the city's sleeping
millions who owed me aught but harm, and that even those who had
drunk the wine of my hospitality had done so more in fear than in
friendship. I had no friends but those who were bound to me in
some devil's bargain—no kith, no kin, nor the memory of a mother's
love. As I lingered there, like some outcast beast waiting for
day to drive me to my lair, I envied, with a fierce hatred and with
a bitter and passionate pity for myself, those to whom Fate had
been more kind and given home and wife and children, or at least
the affection of their fellow men, and I envied the lads I had
known in college who led clean lives and who had shunned me—they
knew not why—and the happy-go-lucky Quirk and his busy wife; and
even old Tuckerman Toddleham, in his dingy office in Barristers'
Daybreak found me still wandering in the streets, haunted by the
fear that the police might already be upon my track and furious at
the thought that one foolish step should have changed me from a
prosperous and powerful member of the bar into a fugitive. Often
in earlier days I had pitied the wretches who would come slinking
into our office after nightfall, empty their pockets of gold and
notes—taken often, no doubt, by force or fraud from others—and
pour it out before us, begging for our aid to save them from
punishment. It seemed incredible to me that human beings should
have staked their liberty and often their lives for a few wretched
dollars. Outcasts, they skulked through existence, forced, once
they had begun, to go on and on committing crimes—on the one hand
to live, and on the other to pay tribute to Gottlieb and myself,
who alone stood between them and jail. How they had cringed to
us. We were their masters, cracking the lash of blackmail across
their shoulders and sharing equally, if invisibly, in their crimes!
And how I had scorned them—fools, as they seemed to me, to take
such desperate chances! Yet, as the sun rose, I now saw myself as
one of the beings whom I had so despised. We were no longer their
masters—they were our masters! Hawkins had us in his power. He
alone could prevent us from donning prison stripes.
Already the streets were beginning to stir. Wagons rumbled along
the pavements. Streams of people emerged from the caverns of the
east and trudged westward across the city. I circled the square
and entered it from the lower side. My big brick mansion, with
its stone trimmings—the home where I had held my revels and
entertained my friends, where I had worked and slept—was but a
stone's throw away. I strained my eyes to detect any signs of the
police; but the street was empty. Then, pulling my hat down upon
my head, I turned up my coat-collar and, glancing from side to
side, hurried across the square and let myself in.
The household still slept. The air was close and heavy with the
perfume of roses and the reek of dead cigars. On the floor of the
entrance hall lay a pair of woman's white gloves, palms upward.
Beyond, through the open doors of the dining-room, I could see the
uncleared table, littered over with half-empty bottles and glasses.
An upset chair reclined as it had fallen. Last night I had been
an envied host; to-day I was an outcast.
As I stood there, a shadow darkened the doorway and with a leap of
the heart I jumped behind a portière. Then, as the shadow remained
and knowing that in any event I was trapped, I threw open the door.
Gottlieb, with wild eyes peering out of a haggard face, stood before
me. Without a moment's hesitation, he dodged inside.
"Did you get it?" he almost shrieked.
"Yes," I answered faintly. "What are we to do?"
"For God's sake give me something to drink!" he cried. "I need it!"
I led him to the sideboard and filled two glasses with whiskey.
"Here's to crime!" I muttered, with a bitter laugh.
Gottlieb shot a fierce look at me and his hand shook so that I
thought he would drop the tumbler; but he poured the liquor down
his throat and threw himself into a chair.
"That fellow has us by the throat!" he groaned.
"We should have thought of that—" I began.
"Stop!" he gasped. "You can hold a post-mortem later on. They
haven't got us yet—and, by God! we've a long start. Once let us
whip Hawkins out of the way and they're helpless! I must stay here
to fight the case, but you, Quib, must take this fellow where
they'll never find him—Africa, Alaska, Europe—anywhere! If you
could drop him over a precipice or off an ocean liner—so much the
For an instant we eyed each other keenly. Then I shook my head.
"No," said I. "If it came to that I'd rather go to jail."
It was now nearly seven o'clock and I felt faint for something to
eat; so I stumbled upstairs and awakened my butler, who stared at
me stupidly when he saw me beside his bed in evening dress. When
I rejoined Gottlieb I found him examining the morning paper, which
a boy had just brought to the front door. Across the front page
in double-leaded type was printed:
THE DILLINGHAM DIVORCE AGAIN
Arthur P. Hawkins Indicted for Perjury
Extraordinary Disclosures Expected
Two Prominent Criminal Attorneys Said to be Involved
"They've raised the hue and cry already!" muttered my partner,
pointing to the paper. "Damn them! How ready they are to turn on
a man! Think of all the stories I've given to these very papers!
Stories worth thousands of dollars to 'em! And now—they're after
our hearts' blood!"
While we were waiting for our breakfast he outlined his plan. We
were to get Hawkins out of town as soon as we had given bail for
him. Of course the railroads and ferries would be watched, but we
could manage somehow. I must take the fellow where nobody would
find him and keep him there. If he ever were brought back and
convicted he would turn on us like a snake. Only while he still
hoped to escape prison could we count on his co-operation. Meanwhile
my partner would remain in the city and try to upset the indictment.
Anyhow, some one must stand guard over Dillingham; for, if he lost
his nerve and endeavored to save himself by confessing his part in
the affair, we would be lost!
Gloomily we ate a few pieces of toast and swallowed our coffee.
Then I hastily changed my clothes and accompanied Gottlieb to the
Tombs, to which Hawkins had been transferred the night before. He
was brought down to us in the counsel-room, looking like a scared
and sickly ghost. What little spirit he had before had already
vanished. I have never seen a more wretched human creature. His
one dread was of going to prison; and together we hastened to
convince him that his only avenue of escape lay through us. We
pointed out to him that so long as he stuck to the story we should
prepare for him he had nothing to fear; and, as evidence of our
power to protect him, we instanced the fact that we had already
secured fifty thousand dollars' cash bail for him. At this he took
much heart, and even whistled a bit and begged us for a drink, but
we slapped him on the back and told him that he could have anything
he wanted once he was outside the Tombs—not before; so he gave us
a cold, slimy hand and promised to do precisely as we wished.
Ten-thirty came and we both walked across to Part One of the General
Sessions, where for so many years we had been monarchs of all we
surveyed. A great throng filled the room and many reporters
clustered around the tables by the rail, while at the head of a
long line of waiting prisoners stood the bedraggled Hawkins.
Presently the judge came in and took his seat and the spectators
surged forward so that the officers had difficulty in preserving
order. Somehow, it seemed almost as if we were being arraigned
ourselves—not appearing as counsel for another; but Gottlieb
preserved his composure admirably and, when Hawkins's name was
called, stepped forward, entered a plea of not guilty for him and
gave bail. We had already deposited the money with the city
chamberlain and Hawkins was immediately discharged, pending his
trial for perjury; but the tremendous sum demanded as security and
the fact that it was immediately forthcoming for a prisoner who
looked as if he had not a cent in the world of his own, and who
was known to be a mere waiter in a restaurant, caused a sensation
throughout the court-room; and as we forced our way to the street
we were accompanied by a multitude, who jeered at the defendant
and occasionally took a fling at Gottlieb and myself. We still,
however, were persons to be feared, and few dared venture beyond
making suggestive allusions to our obvious desire to secure the
immediate liberty of our client.
So far we had no reason to believe that the district attorney—a
man of high integrity and unrelenting zeal in the discharge of his
official duties—had sought to tamper with Hawkins; but I instinctively
felt that, once he had an opportunity to offer the latter personal
immunity in return for a confession which would implicate Gottlieb
and myself all would be over. As my partner had said, there was
only one thing to do—and that was to put it out of our client's
power to do us harm. The first step in this direction was to get
him hopelessly drunk, and this we successfully did in a back room
of our office.
Both of us knew that a dozen pairs of eyes were watching the entrance
of the old-fashioned building in which our rooms were located, and
that any attempt on our part to get Hawkins out of the city would
result in his immediate arrest. Once he were sent back to the
Tombs he would be out of our control. So, for three days, we kept
him—a foul, unwashed, maudlin thing—a practical prisoner, although
from his condition quite unconscious of it. Day and night, turn
and turn about, Gottlieb and I watched while he snored and gibbered,
cursed and giggled; but the strain was getting too much for both
of us and we set ourselves at work to devise a way to spirit him
Our offices were situated in a block the other side of which
consisted of tenement-houses. Investigation showed that it would
be possible to get over the roofs, walk nearly the length of the
block and gain access to one of the more distant tenements through
a skylight. For the sum of fifty dollars we found an Italian fruit-
dealer who was willing to hire himself, his rickety wagon, and his
spavined horse for our enterprise; and he agreed to carry Hawkins
concealed under piles of produce to a point on Long Island, where
we could take a ferry across to one of the Connecticut towns.
The following night we arranged that a hack should be drawn up
early in the evening in front of the entrance to the office, and
bags and boxes were brought out and piled upon the seat beside the
driver. We then half dragged, half lifted Hawkins up the stairs
and on the roof by means of a shaky ladder and conducted him across
the leads to the scuttle of the tenement-house. At this juncture,
by prearrangement, three of our clerks, one of whom somewhat
resembled Hawkins in size and who was arrayed in the latter's coat
and hat, rushed out of the office and climbed into the hack, which
at once set off at a furious gallop up Centre Street. Coincidentally
Gottlieb and I escorted our still maudlin prisoner down the narrow
stairs at the other end of the block and cajoled him into getting
into a sack, which the Italian placed in the bottom of the cart
and covered with greens. I now put on a disguise, consisting of
a laborer's overalls and tattered cap, while Gottlieb wheeled out
a safety bicycle which had been carefully concealed in the basement.
I had ten thousand dollars in the pocket of my ragged trousers and
a forty-four-calibre revolver at my hip. Gottlieb drew me back
into the shadow and whispered harshly in my ear.
"Quib," said he, "this fellow must never come back!—do you
understand? Once the district attorney gets hold of him, it's all
up with us! It's Sing Sing for each of us—ten years of it! For
God's sake, hire somebody to put him out of the way!—quietly.
Many a man would take him off our hands for a thousand or so."
I shuddered at the cold-blooded suggestion, yet I did not utter
one word of refusal, and must have led Gottlieb to believe that I
was of a mind with him, for he slapped me on the shoulder and bade
me good luck. Good luck! Was ever a man of decent birth and
education forced upon such an errand? The convoying of a drunken
criminal to—where? I knew not—somewhere whence he could not
Thus I set forth into the night upon my bicycle, my money bulging
in my pocket, my pistol knocking against the seat at every turn of
the wheel, my trousers catching and tearing in the pedals. At last
I crossed the bridge and turned into the wastes of Queens. Gas-
houses, factories, and rotting buildings loomed black and weird
against the sky. I pedaled on and at last found myself upon a
country road. I dared not ask my way, but luckily I had stumbled
upon the highway to Port Washington, whence there was a ferry to
the Connecticut shore. As I stole along in the darkness, my ear
caught far ahead a voice roaring out a ribald song—and I knew that
the time had come to take personal charge of my wretched client—
the "old man of the sea" that my own stupidity had seated upon my
shoulders. Soon I overtook them, the Italian stolidly driving his
weary horse and Hawkins sitting beside him with the sack wrapped
around his shoulders. I halted them, threw my bicycle in among
the vegetables, and climbed up to where they sat. Hawkins gave a
great shout of laughter when he saw who it was and threw his arm
around my neck, but I pushed him away and he nearly fell under the
wheels. My gorge rose at him! Yet to him I was shackled as tightly
as ever a criminal was to his keeper!
The thought of the remainder of that night and of the ensuing three
days and nights sickens me even now. In the early dawn we crossed
the ferry with dozens of other produce-laden wagons and landed on
the opposite side of the Sound, where we caught a local train for
Hartford. I had made no arrangements for communicating with
Gottlieb, and was in utter ignorance of whether or not our escape
had been discovered. We sat in the smoking-car, Hawkins by this
time ill and peevish. The air was stifling, yet I could not,
arrayed as I was or in the company of my client, go into the regular
passenger coach. At Hartford we changed for Springfield and I
purchased a New York paper. There was nothing in it relating to
the case and I breathed more easily; but, once in Springfield, I
knew not which way to turn, and Hawkins by this time was crazy for
drink and refusing to go farther. I gave him enough liquor to keep
him quiet and thrust him on a way train for Worcester. Already I
had exhausted my small bills and when I tried to cash one for a
hundred dollars the ticket agent in the station eyed me with
That night we slept in a single bed, Hawkins and I, in a cheap
lodging-house—that is, he slept a sordid, drunken sleep, while
I lay tossing and cursing my fate until, burning with fever, I rose
and drained part of the water in the pitcher. Yet, in the early
morning hours there came to me the first ray of hope throughout
that dreary space since I had left New York—the Quirks! The
Quirks! Twenty years had passed since I had heard from them. They
might be dead and gone long ago without my knowing it; yet, were
they alive, I felt that one or other of them would hold out a
friendly hand for auld lang syne. Before daybreak, I stole forth,
hired a horse and buggy, asked the way to Methuen and, rousing
Hawkins, bundled him, whining and fretting, into it.
Slowly we drove in the growing light through the country lanes I
had known and loved so well as a lad—the farmland which was the
only friendly thing in my disconsolate boyhood. It was in the
early spring and the apple-trees along the stone walls by the
roadside were showered with clustering blossoms. Dandelions
sprinkled the fields. The cloud shadows slowly moved across rich
pastures of delicate green. A sun-warmed, perfume-laden breeze
blew from the east, tinged with a keen edge that sent the blood
leaping in my temples. Tiny pools stood in the ruts glinting blue
toward the sky. The old horse plodded slowly on and the robins
called among the elms that stood arching over white farm-houses
with blinds, some blue, some green.
With a harrowing sense of helplessness, the realization of what I
had thrown away of life swept over me. I turned from the sodden
creature beside me in disgust. Hawkins had slumped back in his
seat, so that his head rested upon the hood, and had fallen sound
asleep, with his mouth wide open. How I wished that I had the
courage to strangle him—and then it came to me that, after all,
it was not he who had ruined me, but I who had ruined him!
About noontime we came to a landscape that seemed familiar to me,
although more heavily wooded and with many more farms than I
remembered; and at a turn in the road I recognized a couple of huge
elms that marked the site of the homestead occupied in my boyhood
by the Quirks. There was the brook, the maple grove upon the hill,
the old stile by the pasture, and the long stone wall beside the
apple orchard, radiant with white. Yet the house seemed to have
vanished. My heart sank, for somehow I had assumed that the Quirks
must still be living, just as they had always lived. And now, as
we drew near the turn, I saw that the place where the homestead
had stood was empty, and all that remained was a heap of blackened
stone and brick thickly overgrown with brambles.
Fifty yards farther down the road we came upon an old man sitting
on the fence, smoking a pipe. He wore a tattered old brown felt
hat and overalls, and his long gray hair and beard were tangled
and unkempt. I passed the time of day and he answered me civilly
enough, although vacantly; and I saw that his eye had the red film
of the drunkard. When I asked him for Quirk, the schoolmaster,
who used to live thereabout he gave a mirthless chuckle.
"My name's Quirk," said he; "but it's fifteen years since I taught
school. How did you come to know of me?"
Could this be Quirk—this aged and decrepit old man! Somewhere
beneath that mat of hair and beard, did there remain traces of
those good-natured lineaments that were wont to set the boys in a
roar? I scanned his face closely. The man was a stranger to my
"Do you remember me, Mr. Quirk?" I asked.
He peered out at me under his bushy brows and slowly removed his
"Not to my knowledge," he answered. "What might be your name?"
"Quibble," I returned—"Artemas Quibble."
"Artemas Quibble!" he exclaimed in a faltering voice and feebly
crawled over to the buggy.
I climbed down to meet him and extended my hand.
"What has happened to you?" he stammered. "I thought you were a
great lawyer in New York."
"I'm in a peck of trouble," I answered. "I need all the friends
I've got. I hope you're still one of them?"
"Well, well!" he muttered. "And to think that you're Artie Quibble!
And who may this be?" pointing to Hawkins.
"I'll tell you all," said I, "later on. For the present, he's a
friend of mine who's travelling with me—more on business than on
Quirk's story was soon told. As I already expected, drink had
become his master. The school had fallen away, his wife had died,
and in a fit of despondency he had—he said accidentally, but I
believe intentionally—overturned a lamp and set fire to the house.
Now he lodged in a small hotel farther down the road, living from
hand to mouth, and doing a day's work here and there when chance
offered. I gave him fifty dollars and bade him good-bye, for he
had no accommodations to offer us even had I been able to induce
Hawkins to remain there. Thus I realized that the only refuge I
ever had from the outside world, the only real home I had ever
known, was gone. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to deposit my evil
We drove on for a space, and now Hawkins awoke and began to clamor
for food. Where was I taking him? he demanded to know. And why
was I togged out like a bricklayer? He announced that he had had
enough of this kind of travelling and insisted on going to a hotel
and having a decent meal. I tried to reason with him and explained
that it was only for a day or so, and that presumably we would go
to Boston or some other city, where he should have everything that
money could buy. But he leered at me and said he had plenty of
promises already; that we had promised him that he would get into
no trouble if he signed his original affidavit, and that, unless
he were treated like a gentleman, he would go back to New York and
get other lawyers. He must have seen me turn white at his threat,
for from that moment he held it over me, constantly repeating it
and insinuating that I was not so anxious to save him as to save
myself, which, alas! I could not gainsay.
Soon we came to a small town and here Hawkins flatly refused to go
any farther. There was a hotel on the main street, and the fellow
clambered out of the buggy and staggered into the bar and called
loudly for whiskey. There was nothing for it but to put up the
horse in the stable and do as my prisoner demanded. So we had
dinner together, Hawkins talking in a loud, thick voice that made
the waitresses and other guests stare at him and me as if we were
some sort of outlandish folk; and after the meal was over he dragged
me to the nearest clothier and ordered new ready-made suits for
both of us. He had now imbibed much more than was good for him;
and when I took out my roll of bills to pay for what we had bought
he snatched it out of my hand and refused to give it back. For a
moment I almost surrendered myself to despair. I had had no sleep
for two nights, I was overwhelmed with mortification and disgust,
and here I was in a country store pranked out like a popinjay, the
keeper of a half-crazy wretch who made me dance to any tune he
chose to pipe; but I pulled myself together and cajoled Hawkins
into leaving the place and giving me back a small part of the money.
There was a train just leaving for Boston and my companion insisted
upon taking it, saying that he proposed to spend the money that
Dillingham had so kindly furnished him with. I never knew how he
discovered the part Dillingham was playing in this strange drama;
but if no one told him, he at any rate divined it somehow, and from
this moment he assumed the lead and directed all our movements.
It is true that I persuaded him to go to one of the smaller and
less conspicuous hotels, but he at once sent for another tailor,
ordered an elaborate meal for supper, with champagne, and procured
a box at one of the theatres, whither I was obliged to escort him.
Neither would he longer permit me to occupy the same room with him
—precious privilege!—but engaged a palatial suite for himself,
with a parlor, while I had a small and modest room farther down
the hall. In some respects this suited me well, however, since I
was now able to induce him to have his meals served upstairs. Yet
I began to see the foolishness of thinking that we could elude the
police should they set out to seek seriously for us, since, apart
from changing our names, we were making no effort at disguising
The day after our arrival, Hawkins slept late and I slipped out
about ten o'clock and wandering aimlessly came to Barristers' Hall,
where twenty years before old Tuckerman Toddleham had his office.
The day was warm and humid, like that upon which so long ago I had
visited the old lawyer when a student at Harvard and had received
from him my sentence. Even as then, some birds were twittering
around the stone window-ledges. An impulse that at the moment was
beyond my control led me up the narrow, dingy stairs to the landing
where the lawyer's office had been. A green-baize door, likely
enough the same one, still hung there—where the lawyer's office
had been. Naught about the room was altered. There were the
bookcases, with their glass doors and green-silk curtains; the
threadbare carpet, the portrait of the Honorable Jeremiah Mason
over the fireplace; the old mahogany desk; the little bronze paper-
weight in the shape of a horse; the books, brown and faded with
years; and at the desk—I brushed my hand across my eyes—at the
desk sat old Tuckerman Toddleham himself!
For the first time in my entire existence, so far as I can now
remember, I was totally nonplussed and abashed. I could not have
been more astonished had I walked into the family lot in the Salem
cemetery and found my grandfather sitting on his own tombstone;
but there the old lawyer surely was, as certainly as he had been
there twenty years before; and the same sensations that I had always
experienced as a child while in his presence now swept over me and
made me feel like a whipped school-boy. Not for the world would
I have had him see me and be forced to answer his questions as to
my business in the city of Boston; so, holding my breath, I tiptoed
out of the door, and the last vision I ever had of him was as he
sat there absorbed in some legal problem, bending over his books,
the sunlight flooding the mote-filled air of the dusty office, the
little bronze horse standing before him on the desk and the branches
of the trees outside casting flickering shadows upon the walls and
bookcases. Canny old man! He had never put his neck in a noose!
I envied him his quiet life among his books and the well-deserved
respect and honor that the world accorded him.
Ruminating in this strain, I threaded my way through the crowd in
Court Street, and was about to return to my hotel, when to my utter
horror I beheld Hawkins, in all his regalia, being marched down
the hill between two business-like-looking persons, who were
unmistakably officers of police. He walked dejectedly and had lost
all his bravado. There was no blinking the fact that in my absence
he had managed somehow to stumble into the hands of the guardians
of the law and was now in process of being transported back to New
For a moment my circulation stopped abruptly and a clammy moisture
broke out upon my back and forehead. Unostentatiously I slipped
into a cigar store and allowed the trio to pass me by. So the jig
was up! Back I must go, after my fruitless nightmare with the
wretch, to consult with my partner as to what was now to be done.
I reached the city late that evening, but not before I had read in
the evening papers a full account of the apprehension of the
fugitive, including my own part in the escape; and it now appeared
that the police had been fully cognizant of all our doings, including
the manner of our abduction of Hawkins from our office. They had,
under the instructions of the district attorney, simply permitted
us to carry out our plan in order to use the same as evidence
against us at the proper time, and had followed us every step of
the way to Worcester and on our drive to Methuen.
My heart almost failed me as I thought of how foolish I had been
to undertake this desperate journey myself, instead of sending some
one in my place for by so doing I had stamped myself as vitally
interested in my client's escape. Fearful to go to my own home,
lest I should find myself in the hands of the police, I spent the
night in a lodging-house on the water-front, wondering whether
Hawkins had already made his confession to the district attorney
in return for a promise of immunity; for I well knew that such a
promise would be forthcoming and that Hawkins was the last man in
the world to neglect the opportunity to save himself at our expense.
Next morning I telephoned Gottlieb and met him by appointment at
a hotel, where we had a heated colloquy, in which he seemed to
think that I was totally to blame for the failure of our attempt.
He was hardly himself, so worn out was he with anxiety, not having
heard from me until he had read of Hawkins's apprehension in Boston;
but, now that I was able to talk things over with him, we agreed
that any effort to spirit our client away would have been equally
unsuccessful, and that the one course remaining for us to pursue
was to put on as bold a front as possible and let the law take its
course. It was equally useless for us to try to conceal our own
whereabouts, for all our movements were undoubtedly watched; and
the best thing to do, it seemed to us, was to go as usual to our
office and to act as nearly as possible as if nothing had happened.
We were not mistaken as to the intended course of the district
attorney; for, when we visited the Tombs for the purpose of
interviewing Hawkins, we were informed by the warden that he had
obtained other counsel and that our services were no longer required.
This was an indisputable indication that he had gone over to the
enemy; and we at once began to take such steps as lay in our power
to prepare for our defence in case an indictment was found against
us. And now we were treated to a dose of the medicine we had
customarily administered to our own clients; for, when we tried to
secure counsel, we found that one and all insisted upon our paying
over in advance even greater fees as retainers than those which we
had demanded in like cases. I had never taken the trouble to lay
by anything, since I had always had all the ready cash I needed.
Gottlieb was in the same predicament, and in our distress we called
upon Dillingham to furnish us with the necessary amount; but, to
our amazement and horror, our erstwhile client refused to see us
or come to our office, and we definitely realized that he, too,
had sought safety in confession and would be used by the prosecution
in its effort to place the crime of perjury at our door.
From the moment of Hawkins's arrest the tide turned against us.
There seemed to be a general understanding throughout the city that
the district attorney intended to make an example in our case, and
to show that it was quite as possible to convict a member of the
bar as any one else. He certainly gave us no loophole of escape,
for he secured every witness that by any possibility we might have
called to our aid, and even descended upon our office with a search-
warrant in his effort to secure evidence against us. Luckily,
however, Gottlieb and I had made a practice of keeping no papers
and had carefully burned everything relating to the Dillingham case
before I had left the city.
The press preserved a singular and ominous silence in regard to
us, which lasted until one morning when a couple of officers appeared
with bench-warrants for our arrest. We had already made arrangements
for bail in the largest amount and had secured the services of the
ablest criminal attorneys we knew, so that we were speedily released;
but, with the return of our indictments charging us with suborning
the testimony of Hawkins, the papers began a regular crusade against
us. The evening edition carried spectacular front-page stories
recounting my flight to Boston, the entire history of the Dillingham
divorce, biographies of both Gottlieb and myself, and anecdotes of
cases in which we had appeared and notorious criminals whom we had
defended. And in all this storm of abuse and incrimination which
now burst over our heads not a single world appeared in mitigation
of our alleged offence.
It seemed as if the entire city had determined to wreak vengeance
upon us for all the misdeeds of the entire criminal bar. Even our
old clients, and the police and court officers who had drawn pay
from us, seemed to rejoice in our downfall. Every man's hand was
against us. The hue and cry had been raised and we were to be
harried out of town and into prison. At every turn we were forced
to pay out large sums to secure the slightest assistance; our clerks
and employees refused longer to work for us, and groups of loiterers
gathered about the office and pointed to the windows. Our lives
became a veritable hell, and I longed for the time when the anxiety
should be over and I should know whether the public clamor for a
victim were to be satisfied.
Gottlieb and the lawyers fought stubbornly every inch of the defence.
First, they attacked the validity of the proceedings, entered
demurrers, and made motions to dismiss the indictments. These
matters took a month or two to decide. Then came motions for a
change of venue, appeals from the decisions against us to the
Appellate Division, and other technical delays; so that four months
passed before, at last, we were forced to go to trial. By this
time my health had suffered; and when I looked at myself in the
glass I was shocked to find how gaunt and hollow-cheeked I had
grown. My hair, which had up to this time been dark brown, had in
a brief space turned quite gray over my ears, and whatever of good
looks I had ever possessed had vanished utterly. Gottlieb, too,
had altered from a jovial, sleek-looking fellow into a nervous,
worried, ratlike little man. My creditors pressed me for their
money and I was forced to close my house and live at a small hotel.
The misery of those days is something I do not care to recall. We
were both of us stripped, as it were, of everything at once—money,
friends, health, and position; for we were the jest and laughing-
stock of the very criminals who had before our downfall been our
clients and crowded our office in their eagerness to secure our
erstwhile powerful assistance. Our day was over!
It was useless to try to escape from the meshes of the net drawn
so tightly around us. Even if we could have forfeited our heavy
bail—which would have been an impossibility, owing to the watchfulness
of our bondsman—we could never have eluded the detectives who now
dogged our footsteps. We were marked men. Everywhere we were
pointed out and made the objects of comment and half-concealed
abuse. The final straw was when the district attorney, in his
anxiety lest we should slip through his fingers, caused our re-
arrest on a trumped-up charge that we were planning to leave the
city, and we were thrown into the Tombs, being unable to secure
the increased bail which he demanded. Here we had the pleasure of
having Hawkins leer down at us from the tier of cells above, and
here we suffered the torments of the damned at the hands of our
fellow prisoners, who, to a man, made it their daily business and
pleasure to render our lives miserable. Gottlieb wasted away to
a mere shadow and I became seriously ill from the suffocating heat
and loathsome food, for it was now midsummer and the Tombs was
crowded with prisoners waiting until the courts should open in the
autumn to be tried.
We were called to the bar together—Gottlieb and I—to answer to
the charge against us in the very court-room where my partner had
won so many forensic victories and secured the acquittal of so many
clients more fortunate than he. From the outset of the case
everything went against us; and it seemed as if judge, prosecutor,
and jury were united in a conspiracy to deprive us of our rights
and to railroad us to prison. Even when impaneling the jury, I
was amazed to find the prejudice against criminal lawyers in general
and ourselves in particular; for almost every other talesman swore
that he was so fixed in his opinion as to our guilt that it would
be impossible to give us a fair trial.
At last, however, after several days a jury of twelve hard-faced
citizens was sworn who asserted that they had no bias against us
and could give us a fair trial and the benefit of every reasonable
doubt. Fair trial, indeed! We were convicted before the first
witness was sworn! Convicted by the press, the public, and the
atmosphere that had been stirred up against us during the preceding
months. And yet, one satisfaction remained to me, and that was
the sight of Hawkins and Dillingham on the grill under the cross-
examination of our attorneys. Dillingham particularly was a pitiable
object, shaking and sweating upon the witness chair, and forced to
admit that he had paid Gottlieb and me thirty-five thousand dollars
to get him an annulment so that he could marry the woman with whom
he was now living. The court-room was jammed to the doors with a
curious crowd, anxious to see Gottlieb and me on trial and to learn
the nature of the evidence against us; and when our client left
the stand—a pitiful, wilted human creature—and crawled out of
the room, a jeering throng followed him downstairs and out into
The actual giving of evidence occupied but two days, the chief
witness next to Hawkins being the clerk who swore the latter to
his affidavit in my office. This treacherous rascal not only
testified that Hawkins took his oath to the contents of the paper,
but at the same time had told me that it was false. The farce went
on, a mere formal giving of testimony, until at length the district
attorney announced that he had no more evidence to offer.
"You may proceed with the defence," said the judge, turning to our
I looked at Gottlieb and Gottlieb looked at me. The trial had
closed so suddenly that we were taken quite unawares and left wholly
undetermined what to do. We had practically no evidence to offer
on our behalf except our own denials of the testimony against us;
and if once either of us took the stand we should open the door to
a cross-examination at the hands of the district attorney of our
entire lives. For this cross-examination he had been preparing
for months; and I well knew that there was not a single shady
transaction in which we had participated, not one attempt at
blackmail, not a crooked defence that we had interposed that he
had not investigated and stood prepared to question us about in
"What shall we do?" whispered Gottlieb nervously. "Do you want to
take the stand?"
"How can we?" I asked petulantly. "If we did we should be convicted
—not for this but for every other thing we ever did in our lives.
Let's take a chance and go to the jury on the case as it stands."
After consulting with our counsel, the latter agreed that this was
the best course to pursue; and so, rising, he informed the court
that in his opinion no case had been made out against us and that
we should, therefore, interpose no defence. This announcement
caused a great stir in the court-room, and I could see by the faces
of the jury that it was all up with us. I had already surrendered
all hope of an acquittal and I looked upon the verdict of the jury
as a mere formality.
"Proceed, then, with the summing up," ordered the judge. "I wish
the jury to take this case and finish it to-night."
So, with that, our counsel began his argument in our behalf—a lame
and halting effort it seemed to me, for all that we had paid him
twenty-five thousand dollars for his services—pointing out how
neither Dillingham nor Hawkins was worthy of belief, and how the
case against us rested entirely upon their testimony and upon that
of the clerk, who was an insignificant and unimportant witness
injected simply for the sake of apparent corroboration. Faugh!
I have heard Gottlieb make a better address to the jury a thousand
times, and yet this man was supposed to be one of the best! Somehow
throughout the trial he had seemed to me to be ill at ease and sick
of his job, a mere puppet in the mummery going on about us; yet we
had no choice but to let him continue his ill-concealed plea for
mercy and his wretched rhetoric, until the judge stopped him and
said that his time was up.
When the district attorney arose and the jury turned to him with
uplifted faces, then, for the first time, I realized the real
attitude of the community toward us; for in scathing terms he
denounced us both as men not merely who defended criminals but who,
in fact, created them; as plotters against the administration of
justice; as arch-crooks, who lived off the proceeds of crimes which
we devised and planned for others to execute. It was false and
unfair; but the jury believed him—I could well see that.
"These men have made a fat living for nearly a generation in this
city by blackmail, bribery, and perjury. They have made a business
of ruining homes, reputations, and the lives of others. They have
directed the operations of organized bands of criminals. They are
the Fagins of the city of New York. Once the poor and defenceless
have fallen into their power, they have extorted tribute from them
and turned them into the paths of crime. Better that one of them
should be convicted than a thousand of the miserable wretches
ordinarily brought to the bar of justice!"
And in this strain he went on until he had bared Gottlieb and myself
to our very souls. When he concluded there was a ripple of applause
from the spectators that the court officers made little attempt to
subdue; and the judge began his charge, which lasted but a few
minutes. What he said was fair enough, and I had no mind to quarrel
with him, although our counsel took many exceptions. The jury
retired and my partner and I were led downstairs into the prison
pen. It was crowded with miserable creatures waiting to be tried
—negroes and Sicilians, thieves and burglars—who took keen delight
in jostling us and foretelling what long sentences we were to
receive. One negro kicked me in the shins and cursed me for being
a shyster, and when I protested to the keeper he only laughed at me.
About half an hour later an officer came to the head of the stairs
and shouted down:
"Bring up Gottlieb and Quibble!"
Our keeper unlocked the pen and, followed by the execrations of
our associates, we stumbled up the stairs and into the court-room.
Slowly we marched around to the bar, while every eye was fixed upon
us. The jury was already back in the box and standing to render
their decision. The clerk rapped for order and turned to the
"Gentlemen of the jury, have you agreed upon a verdict?" he intoned.
"We have," answered the foreman unhesitatingly.
"How say you, do you find the defendants guilty or not guilty?"
"We find both of them guilty!" replied the foreman.
A slight shiver passed through Gottlieb's little body and for a
moment the blood sang in my ears. No man can receive a verdict of
guilty unperturbed, no matter how confidently expected. The crowd
murmured their approval and the judge rapped for silence.
"Are you ready for sentence?" asked the judge.
We nodded. It was useless to prolong the agony.
"I have nothing to say to you," remarked the judge, "in addition
to what the district attorney has said. He has fully expressed my
own sentiments in this case. I regard you as vampires, sucking
the blood of the weak, helpless, and criminal. Mercy would be out
of place if extended toward you. I sentence you both to the full
limit which the law allows—ten years in State's prison at hard
An officer clapped us upon the back, faced us round toward the rear
of the court-room, and pushed us toward the door leading to the
prison pen, while another slipped a handcuff on my right wrist and
snapped its mate on Gottlieb's left.
"Get on there," he growled, "where you belong!"
The crowds strained to get a look at us as, with averted faces, we
trudged toward the door leading to the prison pen. Our lawyers
had already hastened away to avoid any reflected ignominy that
might attach to them. The jurymen were shaking hands with the
"Adjourn court!" I heard the judge remark.
With a whoop, the spectators in the court-room crowded upon our
heels and surged up to the grating before the door.
"There's Gottlieb!" cried one. "The little fellow!"
"And that's Quibble—the pale chap with the thin face!" said
"Damn you! Get out of the way!" I shouted threateningly.
"There go the shysters!" retorted the crowd. "Sing Sing's the best
place for them!"
The keeper opened the door and motioned back the spectators. I
staggered through, shackled to my partner and dragging him along
with me. As the door clanged to I heard some one say:
"There goes the last of the firm of Gottlieb & Quibble!"