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boy soon regained his strength. His blue eyes grew bright and clear again; his young limbs were full of joyful activity. Had his convalescence lasted a little longer he would have been twenty in three weeks.
But one glad day he was pronounced to be in perfect health once more, and his execution was duly fixed for the following Tuesday.
The poor mother cried a little,—most of her tears had been used up; even the bank of crying will not stand against too long a run—when she found that her boy was to die the day before his birthday, a day she had always spent with him when he was on shore, and thinking about him when he was at sea. The newspapers merely announced that "Gibson, the high-sea murderer, who had recently been completely restored to health, was to be executed on Tuesday next at nine in the morning."
On the very Tuesday morning on which John Gibson was to be hanged, an early train was dragging its dreary way from Harwich to London. Most of the carriages, it is nice for unselfish people to know, were empty, but in one third-class compartment sat two travellers. One was a gentlemanlike sort of person, evidently a substantial Harwich tradesman, who had provided himself with various newspapers and illustrated magazines; the other was a sailor who had provided himself with nothing at all.
The train was one of those which are called express, not because they travel fast, but because they do not stop at many stations. if it had gone faster and stopped longer, or more frequently, at stations, the journey would have been a pleasanter one. As it was, the progress towards London was very tedious indeed, and before they had gone very far, the tradesman, who liked to do little kindnesses to other
people, having looked through one of his newspapers to make sure there was nothing interesting in it, handed it to the sailor.
"No, thank you, sir," said the man; "i don't read the papers."
With an effort the tradesman handed over one of his illustrated magazines with a remark that the pictures might amuse the man. "i don't like pictures," said the sailor. What did the sailor like? He neither looked out of the window nor went to sleep, but sat with his eyes open, doing nothing, seeing nothing, thinking nothing.
After his rebuff the other man very naturally gave up any further advance to the sailor. But as the train drew nearer London they got into a thick fog and the pace became slower than walking, almost marking time. The tradesman, who had read all his papers and could not see out of the window, turned again to the only other object of distraction, the sailor. "What time are we due in London, sir?" he asked. "Half-past eight," said the sailor. "We shall be late, i fear." The tradesman's fear seemed likely to be realized, for at that moment the train stopped altogether, and the rest of its journey to London was accomplished by a series of little jerks.
"i see you're a sailor," persisted the man. "Ay."
"They're hanging one of your profession in London this morning." "Ay?"
"And hard luck it is. if any one ever had hard lines its John Gibson."
For the first time the old sailor betrayed some interest.
"John Gibson, a sailor?" he said; "what ship might he belong to, and what age might he be?"
"Well, all the papers have been talking enough about him," said the tradesman. He himself had written several letters at the time of the excitement and signed his name.
"I don't read the papers," said the sailor; "and I've only Just been landed in this country. I've been roaming about in a foreign ship these last months."
"John Gibson's nineteen, he was on the Saucy Lass, and they're hanging him this morning."
"Poor little Johnny Gibson," said the sailor; "so they're hanging him. Well, it's a rum world."
"Did you know him?" asked the tradesman.
"I did," said the sailor, "seeing that he was standing by me when I fell overboard, apologizing as nice as might be for a little bit of a tiff we'd had the day before."
"What," shouted the tradesman excitedly, "you're not James Lale?"
'I am, though," said the sailor; "and I shall be very glad to know how you guessed it."
"But, man, they're hanging Gibson for having murdered you!"
"Rather previous of them," said tlie old salt with a humorous smile, "seeing I'm here talking to you about my shipmate. And a dear little chap he was. So they're hanging him, and for murdering me too. Well, I never understood the law and I never shall."
But the tradesman had risen to his feet, beads of perspiration on his forehead. "You don't understand." he cried. "I'm not joking,—God forbid!— Gibson is to be hanged at nine this morning for murdering you. You don't want to cause his death?"
"Hold hard," said the sailor goodhumoredly; "I must argue with you there. I couldn't cause poor Johnny's death. I didn't mean to fall overboard, you can lay your last shirt. And If other folks say he murdered me,—well, they're liars, but don't blame me."
"But we must telegraph at the station, and dash to Newgate." said the tradesman.
"Not much dashing in this fog," returned the sailor.
"The train's stopping again; we shall be late, and I've forgotten to bring my watch. Have you got one?" The tradesman looked at Lale with a kind of horror.
"Not now, sir," said the man; "I swopped mine with poor Johnny for a knife."
"How can you sit there, knowing what's going to happen?"
"Well, I shouldn't do much good walking about in this cabin. Johnny's in a tight place with the landsharks I admit, but a sailor's life is full of dangers, as you've heard, no doubt It's hard luck on him if he has to slip his cable at nineteen, but fate's fate."
"And to think that we should have been In London by now If it hadn't been for the fog! This Is the worst line in England. Damn the fog!" and the tradesman mopped his forehead.
"Fogs was always dangerous to sailors," remarked Lale.
But the most terrible journey comes to an end at last, and as the train drew in to the platform the tradesman grasped the sailor by the hand and dragged him out of the carriage up the platform within sight of the clock. Its pale face seen through the fog told them that It was ten minutes past nine.
"Is the station-clock right?" gasped the tradesman to a passing ticket-collector.
"Three minutes slow, sir, by Greenwich time," said the official.
The tradesman looked at the sailor who was watching him with an expression of slight but not unkindly curiosity. "I don't fancy we need bother." said the man quietly. "They're pretty punctual at Newgate, I expect."
"Brandy," said the tradesman hoarsely, as he staggered towards the refreshment-room, "brandy, for God's sake!"
"Well, I don't mind if I join you," said the sailor; "it's a nippy morning." Reginald Turner.
THE BAD MEN OF AMERICA.*
Americans, who have invented the most vivid slang in the world, know the value of occasional recourse to understatement. This may be satirical, or it may seem to English ears more of an understatement than it really is because words are used in their older and unimpaired sense. Thus "a sick man'' may be a man dangerously ill; and "a bad man" is the accepted phrase in the West for the most dangerous kind ot assassin America has produced. This book is a collection of short biographies of some of the most notorious scoundrels who lived "out West" when the West was more lawless than any part of the globe inhabited by men who ought to have been civilized. The great merit of the collection is that it tries to be historically exact. We confess that if the author were guilty of any posturing—of a kind of swashbuckling sentiment, compounded of frothy writing and loose history, in favor of men who died "with their boots on," as the American phrase is—we should have no use for his book. There is a tendency to that kind of thing, not only in America but in England, among men who have never been in circumstances that compelled them to keep a hand near their revolver, who never had occasion to "go after their gun," as they say in America. The explanation of it is generally to be found in a sort of revolt against the unromantic security of our civilization, which, after all, they could easily escape from (with the goodwill of us all) if they cared to get on familiar terms with danger by other means than pen and paper. We mention this manner only because it is possible to describe Mr. Hough's book by
• "The Story of the Outlaw: a Study of the Western Desperado." By Emerson Hoagh. New York: The Onting Publishing Company.
saying that he almost wholly avoids it. if writers could be persuaded to understand it, crimes as daring and ruthless as those related in this book lose some of their power to impress by every departure from literal statement. As it is, this book has given us shocks aud thrills of no ordinary calibre. if there are still people stupid enough to keep children quiet by frightening them, this is the kind of book which would serve their purpose. To think that a man like Murrell or Boone Helm or Billy the Kid was after you would be a perpetual nightmare.
Rascality is not a province in which any nation need wish to compete with any other, but honesty compels us to say that Mr. Hough claims too much for his desperadoes. England had something very like them in her gentlemen of the road, nnd Australia with her "bushrangers" came nearer still to the type. The present writer remembers examining the armor made of sections of large iron pipes which was worn by Kelly, the famous bushranger; the headpiece was a simple iron cylinder with an improvised visor, and he wondered at the time whether this was not the most perfect symbol of outlawry which the world could show. "Rol. Boldrewod's" story, Robbery under Arms, owes its great success, to our thinking, not to any literary merit, but to the wisdom which led the author virtually to transcribe Australian Blue-books on bushranging. The conditions under which civilization struggled to assert itself in the West of America are sufficiently defined in the following passage:—
Turn the white man loose in a land free of restraint—such as was always that Golden Fleece land, vague, shifting and transitory, known as the Amerlean West—and he simply reverts to the ways of Teutonic and Gothic forests. The civilized empire of the West has grown in spite of this, because of that other strange germ, the love of law, anciently implanted in the soul of the Anglo-Saxon. That there was little difference between the bad man and the good man who went out after him was frequently demonstrated in the early roaring days of the West. The religion of progress and civilization meant very little to the Western town marshal, who sometimes, or often, was a peace officer chiefly because he was a good fighting man.
The bad man of the genuine sort, says Mr. Hough, rarely looked the part. The long-haired blusterer, adorned with a dialect that never was spoken, serves very well in fiction about the West, but be is not the real bad man. Billy the Kid was outwardly a smlling-faced. amiable boy, and he had killed twentytwo men before he himself was twentyone. At that age he was shot dead by the famous peace officer, Pat Garrett, who twenty years later has received some of the rewards he deserved from Mr. Roosevelt. Ollinger, on the other hand, is still remembered in the West as the doubtful type with which pictures have made us familiar. He stepped over the narrow margin which divided the bad men who were against the law from the bad men who were nominally enlisted in the service of the law, and he acted as a peace officer:—
He wore his hair long and affected the ultra-Western dress, which to-day is despised in the West. He was one of the very few men at that time— twenty-five years ago—who carried a knife at his belt. When he was in such a town as Las Vegas or Santa Fé, he delighted to put on a buckskin shirt, spread his hair out on his shoulders, and to walk through the streets, picking his teeth with his knife, or once in a while throwing it in such a way that it would stick up in a tree or a board. He presented an eye-filling spectacle,
and was indeed the ideal imitation bad man.
We must give here Garret's own description of how he shot Billy the Kid:—
The Kid stepped up to the bedside and laid bis left hand on the bed and bent over Maxwell. He saw me sitting there in the half darkness, but did not recognize me, as i was sitting down. My height would have betrayed me had i been standing. "Pete, Quien est" he asked in a low tone of voice; and he half motioned toward me with his six-shooter. That was when i looked across into eternity. it wasn't far to go. That was exactly how the thing was. i gave neither Maxwell nor the Kid time for anything farther. There flashed over my mind at once one thought, and it was that i had to shoot and shoot at once, and that my shot must go to the mark the first time. i knew the Kid would kill me in a flash if i did not kill him. Just as be spoke and motioned toward me, 1 dropped over to the left and rather down, going after my gun with my right hand as i did so. As i fired, the Kid dropped back. i had caught him just about the heart. His pistol, already pointed toward me, went off as he fell, but he fired high. As i sprang up, i fired once more, but did not hit him, and did not need to, for he was dead. i don't know that he ever knew who it was that killed him.
The most ambitious of the bad men was John A. Murrell. Although he transcends the type of his kind, we must briefly take him as an example, because as a figure in the early history of the West he cannot be neglected. in another walk of life he would have been great. He had some personal "magnetism," he had patience, and he was an artist in his devilish adaptability. At one time he pretended to be a Methodist and went about preaching, and even, it is said, making converts; at another he was the prop and stay for three months of an old Roman Catholic gentleman, attending all the services of his church, and being devout and strict in the performance of the most minute ceremonial; at another he practised as a doctor; and yet all the time he was murdering lonely travellers and horsestealing and slave-stealing in the other manifestation of his dual personality. He never robbed without killing. He thought a man who did so a fool. He organized a loosely knit baud of robbers some two thousand strong, and the most trusted and skilful of them were known as the Grand Council of the Mystic Clan. it has been said that men of good position belonged to the Clan, and passed their whole lives without being suspected. The last generation used to be startled occasionally by rumors that some respectable pillar of the Republic had confessed on his deathbed that he used to be a member of Murrell's gang. We share the reserve with which Mr. Hough writes of these stories, but the fact that they existed at all shows the widespread character of Murrell's organization. Murrell's chief scheme was for a rising of the whole black population on Christmas night, 1835. All the whites were to be killed, and the blacks (so they were told), headed by the Grand Council of the Mystic Clan, were to enter into free enjoyment of the riches of the land. The plot was divulged by the spy Virgil A. Stewart, whom Murrell had trusted and admitted to the Grand Council.
in a lesser degree there is a repetition in the United States to-day of the difficulty of dealing with scoundrels. The agents of the law are unequal to their task chiefly because they are unwilling. it was the determination to have more protection than the law provided which caused the formation of the "Vigilantes" of California. The men who refused to suffer from the anarchy of the gold-rush banded themselves together and' took over the responsibility
L1V1NG AGE. VOL. XXXV. 1808
of administering the law. They were thus in the peculiar position of standing for the law against the law. They had their own miniature army, and the law, having failed to upset their irregular but fairly wholesome administration, left them alone. When the need for exceptional measures was past the Vigilantes laid down their office and tbe law resumed its sway. The interesting point about this singular affair is that it may be taken as the precedent and sanction for Lyneh-law. We think the services of the Vigilantes were probably necessary at their time and place; but when Mr. Hough uses them as an exact analogy for Lynch-law, which he extols, we can only say that he writes nonsense. Lynch-law, as at present understood, is an instrument almost entirely directed against the negroes; it is a negation of law, because it dispenses with proper trial; and even if it did not, it would still be infamous, because it makes one law for the white and another for the black. Mr. Hough's philosophizing is the weak part of bis book.
We have not space to write of Plummer, who was at the same time a Sheriff, a cultivated man, and a murdering brigand—another extraordinary example of dual personality. The most valuable chapter in the book is that on the Lincoin County War, to the history of which Mr. Hough adds many new facts. it was a war of families about their cattle rights. No Border feud ever had a higher percentage of casualties. it may be said that vendettas have had much higher percentages; but vendettas are private, and this astonishing affair involved troops and the Governor of the State, General Lew Wallace, and even the President of the United States. it seems almost too perverse to be true that a wellmeaning Englishman, Tunstall, and a delicate, dreamy, mild-mannered American lawyer, McSween, who happened to