Saturday, March 11, 2017

BACKGROUND OF A CITIZEN: An immigrant's famous son explains his patriotic debt



BACKGROUND OF A CITIZEN: An immigrant's famous son explains his patriotic debt

By CLARENCE BUDINGTON KELLAND
Distinguished U. S. Mystery Novelist and Arizona Political Leader
From the Rotarian Magazine Dec. 1954


ALL MY LIFE it has seemed to me that I have owed a sort of obligation to be as good a citizen as I can—and that I have owed it to a great many people who came
before me. It has also seemed to me that the best way to discharge this obligation is to take part in public affairs and politics.
Maybe the fact that I am the son of an immigrant has something to do with this. My father was born of a family of weavers in Manchester, England. When he was 6 years old he went to work in a mill in Manchester, He started work at 6 o'clock each evening and worked through the night until 6 o'clock in the morning. For his labors he received 2 shillings a week. Though at 6 he may have been a pretty mature fellow, my father still was actually a frightened little lad in a vast loft lighted only by candles. He worked at a carding machine, a frame covered with teasels over which the worsted runs and prickers raise the nap on the cloth. He was so small that he had to stand on a box in order to reach this frame upon which he worked.
At the next machine worked an old, broken-down, drunken weaver who could perform only the same duties as this 6-year-old boy. But that old drunken weaver was to my father and to me probably the most important personage who ever lived. Fortunately for both of us this old souse had a photographic memory, and through the long nights he told my father stories. He not only told him stories, but he recited them word for word—all of Shakespeare's plays, the classics of Dickens and Scott. Night after night he whiled away the long hours reciting these tales to this poor, little boy at the machine next to him. That was my father's education.
It is difficult for me to imagine today the severe poverty in which the Kelland family lived in England a century ago. This family—my grandfather and grandmother, four sons, and two daughters—in common with millions of other unfortunate people in Europe looked across the ocean to the United States of America, and there they saw hope. They believed that if they could find some way, of crossing the ocean, passing Ellis Island, and entering the United States, then their lot might be far different. Somehow they got the money to cross the ocean in the steerage of a sailing ship that look 12 weeks from Liverpool.
Upon arriving in the U.S., the family met and held a council. Two of the sons were men of reasonable age, old enough to enter the military service. Since it was then the second year of the Civil War, they decided it was their duty to express their gratitude to their new homeland by sending two of their sons to fight in the Union armies. That was my father's introduction to the United States.
He never became distinguished nor wealthy, but he was a good citizen. And he, from the time was very young, taught me his ideals of citizenship and of gratitude to the country which gave him refuge. In him resided those virtues which we today may look upon with something of envy.
He and my mother worked hard. Every time a dollar was earned they saw to it that a portion of that dollar was put away. They asked favors of nobody. The largest sum that my father ever earned was after middle age when, he became a travelling salesman at. the magnificent salary of $1,300 a year.
Yet my family had a pleasant life. We lived in a little Michigan town named Portland. It had 1,200 inhabitants. Dad clerked in a general store and Mother ran the local millinery store. Most of the business that was done in that town was done by barter. I can still remember sitting with Dad and candling the eggs that farmers had brought to trade for the cloth and groceries and whatever else they needed. The only contact we had with the Government of the United States in Washington was our trip to the post office to buy a 2-cent stamp. That was a pretty ideal age in a pretty ideal town.
We had another thing that was good to havethe Sabbath Day, I can remember now on Saturday being put in the washtub in front of the stove and given my Saturday-night bath. And on Sunday morning I was rousted out of bed.
There was something special about those Sabbath mornings. You had time to sit on the church porch and look off across the countryside at the yellow wheat and the apple trees and the locust and the maples. You could sense a sort of hum in the air. Everything was still and serene and very lovely. Then at 10 o'clock the Baptist church bell would ring. It was the biggest and the deepest-toned bell in town. Then the Congregational church bell would ring, and then the Methodist church bell, and then the bell in the United Brethren church. And the sounds of these church bells mingled and joined with the sounds of the birds and the insects and the rustling of the wind in the wheat and the trees; and somehow you knew that you had perfect peace.
Now what do these childhood memories have to do with citizenship? They have a great deal to do with it.
Good parents pass their blessings on. Though my father never had opportunity to go to school, he, I think, was the most usefully educated man I have ever known. Thanks to that old drunken weaver in his boyhood, he was intimately acquainted with all English literature. Ile would sit evenings around the hanging lamp in the parlor and read to me those stories that he had been told. That was our amusement. From it my father instilled in me a love of the written word.
Though my parents never attained great wealth, they nevertheless passed on their material gifts. When my father died at the age of 88, I found I knew far less than I thought of his and my mother's financial affairs. For years I had done what I could to see that their life was happy, but I now learned that they used hardly a penny that I had been able to give them. I now discovered that my parents owned two apartment buildings in Detroit, Michigan, and had $15,500 in Liberty Bonds! I think all of us might draw some sort of lesson from lives like that.
I think, too, that the world needs more of the church bells like those I used to hear in Portland. We need bells that will ring baud and long to call us to Divine worship where we can sit in our several places of reverence and meditate a little about the people that have gone before us, their integrity and independence, and the debt we owe them and ourselves and our children to be good citizens.





Sunday, February 5, 2017

FREE ONE MINUTE MYSTERY BY CLARENCE BUDINGTON KELLAND



“TALK FAST, MISTER!”

By CLARENCE BUDINGTON KELLAND
WALKING on the lawn to make no noise, the man hurried toward the bungalow. Keeping close to the wall, he tried to look through the living room window. Cautiously he set down his package and raised himself for a better view.
"Don't move . . . and keep your hands up," said an icy voice from the shadows. The man swung round, his face a pale mask in the dusk. Slowly his hands rose above his head.
"Just what do you think you're doing?" asked the policeman, stepping into the light from the window. Something metallic shone in his hand.
"I just wanted," said the man, his voice shaking slightly, "to see some one in the house."
"Then why didn't you go up to the door and ring the bell?"
"That's a long story, I'm afraid."
"Talk fast, mister," said the officer.
"It goes back about a year," the man said. "I was driving through here on my way to Chicago. It was raining and getting dark. I was tired. I never saw the little girl crossing the street — until after I'd hit her."
He paused, thinking of sonic way of expressing his thoughts. "Imagine how I felt, knowing it was my fault. Of course, I did everything I could, but that wasn't much. I'd have gone crazy if it hadn't been for one thing. I knew the kid's hospital and doctor bills would be paid. I knew she'd get the best of care. And the insurance company had promised to keep me informed of her progress. Yesterday, thank God, they called up to tell me that she had com­pletely recovered at last."
The man's face was full of eagerness now. He was completely absorbed in his story. "I didn't have to do a thing. It had all been so easy for me. But I felt I had tosce her for myself, to see her well and happy. So here I am. She lives in this house. I brought her a little present."
"I still don't see," said the officer, "why you didn't ring the bell and ask to see the little girl."
"I didn't ring the bell because I didn't want to meet her father." He took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead. "You see, he made a point of never meeting me. He said that if he ever did, he couldn't trust himself. He said — well he might kill me."
"I see, I see," said the officer thoughtfully.
Suddenly the front door opened and a little girl came running out. "Is that you, daddy?', she cried.
"Of course it is, darling," said the policeman, "and look, I've brought home one of our best friends. He'll be staying for dinner."

(The above appeared in an obscure magazine in the 1940s that ran super short mystery stories from time to time which purportedly took only that long to read. Reprinted by permission the Kelland Estate.)  

Click here to read a sample in Kindle of his best historical mystery, The Cardiff Giant Affair. Only 2.99 or free for Kindle Unlimited members.

Or click here to read a sample of  The Sinister Strangers File, a mid century mystery featuring a Park Ranger, an assassination plot, and  two very strong women with mysterious backgrounds.

Type "free" into this browser to read more free, and much longer, Kelland short stories. 
 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

FREE READ GOLDEN AGE MYSTERY STORY FEATURES GRANDMA CUTCHEON, DETECTIVE




Grandma Cutcheon Solves "The Mysterious Murder of Myron Goodspeed"
How Grandma Cutcheon carried out a strange piece of detective work
By Clarence Budington Kelland
(from The American Magazine September 1920)
Reprinted by permission if the Author’s Estate

(Illustrations By Paul Meylan)

GRANDMA CUTCHEON was sixty-seven years old. She was ample-bosomed, gray-eyed, and wore carefully crimped the most beautiful white hair anybody in Pleasant Point ever saw. Her best dresses were trimmed with jet, even in the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Twenty, and she drank tea out of her saucer. Her pastime was to knit woolen stockings with four steel needles which clicked on even after her eyes closed in a cat-nap as she rocked on her piazza. She never missed a circus nor a social; the doctor was always second to reach a home in which there was about to be a birth; everybody in the township called her Grandma; and if any of her relatives presented her with a particularly nice bit of underwear she laid it away in a chest in the attic to be buried in. When she cut a dress pattern her jaws moved in unison with the scissors.
It will be seen that Grandma Cutcheon was an old-fashioned old lady indeed.
Grandma was just turning the heel of a stocking for one of her grandsons, a process that required a few minutes of careful attention. Martha Spooner, old maid and animated bulletin of the town's daily history, sat in the opposite rocker with Grandma's biggest coffee pot at her feet. There was to be a sociable at the Congregational Church, and at such seasons the coffee pot was a sine qua non.
"Here comes Myron Goodspeed, lickety-split," she observed.
Grandma looked up from her knitting and regarded the cloud of summer dust which had for its center a team and a man, who drove them with the whip as much as with the reins. She regarded him placidly.
"Two good names and a bad man," she observed, "but it couldn't be knowed what kind of a man he'd turn out when he was christened."
Martha sniffed. "Names is jest names," she said.
"Names ought to show. Folks hadn't ought to be named till their habits is formed. Then strangers could take warnin' from a man's name what kind of a man he was."
"There'd be more named Apollyon than Gabriel," said Miss Spooner shortly. "He killed a dog with a whiffietree yestiddy."
"He hain't killed no human yet," Grandma said with that gentle placidity which seemed never to desert her. "I'm a-wonderin'—"
"A-wonderin' what?"
"The kind of end he'll come to."
"Most like he'll die in bed like a Christian," said Miss Spooner with the bitterness of one who has been disillusioned. She arose to go. "You'll fetch over the layer cake yourself?"

Grandma nodded and went on with her knitting. She was considering Myron Goodspeed, casting back to his youth, his infancy, and separating her recollections of him from her store of recollections of a thousand folks born and raised under her eyes. She could recall no incident qualifying his hardness, his cruelty, his cynical disregard of the laws of God.... He charted his course through the laws of Man so that no punishment save the hatred of his neighbors had fallen upon him.
Myron's inheritances had made him "comfortable" in the language of Pleasant Point. During twenty years, by grasping and trickery, by ruthless selfishness and callous disregard of the rights or the misfortunes of his fellows, he arrived at a pinnacle where Pleasant Point admitted him to be "wealthy." Nor had he wronged his neighbors for financial gain alone. At the age of twenty-four he coveted his neighbor's wife; before he was twenty-six his outrageous conduct had driven her to lasting refuge in a neglected grave. He paid a grudge against Old Man Jennings by enticing his son and by tolling him on to drunkenness.
"He's been rollin' up hate in front of him like a snowball," Grandma said in her thoughts.
Grandma cleared her mind of Myron Goodspeed, rolled up her knitting and went into her kitchen to bake the Congregational layer cake.
 
At four she carried it to the church basement, where other women of the congregation were gathering to make ready the evening's feast. . . . Martha Spooner was the center of a group that listened eagerly. “I seen him drivin' by. I knowed right if he'd been up to somethin'. He had a devilish look, and he was thrashin' his hosses.... You seen him as well as I did," she said, turning to Grandma Cutcheon for confirmation. "Myron Goodspeed, I mean. I was jest tellin the ladies.... He'd come from a fight. Seems young Ralph Harvey walked right up to Myron and hit him in the face, and then Myron like to have killed Ralph. Thrashed him somethin' frightful, and kicked him when he was a-layin' in the dirt.... Myron just left him a-layin' and drove off."
 
"Ralph Harvey," said Grandma. "'Tain"t like Ralph to go hittin' nobody. Hear how he come to do it?"
"Somethin' about his girl," said Martha. "Laura Crane--she was mixed in it."
"Calc'late I don't have to hear no more," said Grandma. "Ralph's a good boy and Laura's a good girl. . . . One of these days Myron's goin' too fur, and he'll get his comeuppance. He’ll meet someone who leaves him lyin’ in the dirt.”
"I come past old Man Jenningses'," said Sarah. "Doctor was jest comin' out, and he says George was awful low. Said he wasn't like to last out the night."
"Poor boy," said Grandma. "Poor leetle feller.”
She was remembering George as he once was, in patched knee trousers, coming to her kitchen door for doughnuts. That was years before he had taken to drink—and now, at the dawn of his thirtieth year, he was dying.. .. She wondered if a deathbed repentance could wash that crime from Myron Goodspeed’s soul.”

When Minister Woodbury arose at the head of the bountiful table to bless the food to their uses, he extended his prayer to contain a petition for the "soul of the weak and wayward young man who has this day been removed from our midst," and to beseech that, in spite of all, it might be brought into safe harbor "through thy sweet and plenteous mercy, O Lord....”
George Jennings had passed. . . . Grandma's eyes were wet for the little by in the patched trousers.

It was at exactly ten minutes to eleven that night—Grandma Cutcheon will always remember the hour—when someone pounded insistently on her front door. She lifted the window and leaned her night-capped head outward.
"Who's there?" she asked.
"We want you should come right away. We can't git no doctor.... Myron Goodspeed's killed—dyin'."
"Who done it?" said  Grandma, her voice retaining its placidity even in that moment.
"Walter Shepherd's bull. . . . It was a Holstein-Friesian," the voice added, as if the breed of the creature were of importance in the event.
"I'll be right down," said Grandma.
She dressed quickly and was driven the short half-mile to Walter Shepherd's stock farm. The light of half a dozen lanterns swayed and danced against the huge bulk of the barns; but Grandma Cutcheon was accustomed to the habits of lanterns. She alighted from the buggy and made her way through the deep grass to the open barnyard gate. Half a dozen men stood about a body lying upon the ground but not approaching it closely. Even Deputy Sheriff Tabin, representing the inquisitorial powers of the law, was reluctant to draw near.
Grandma Cutcheon approached; bent over the body of Myron Goodspeed. "He's gone," she said presently.
"Then he mustn't be tetched till the coroner views him," said a voice.
"Where's Walter Shepherd ?" asked Grandma.
"Gone to the city—this mornin.."
"Who shut up the bull?" she demanded.
Nobody knew. Bagby Jones and Tom Woods had found the body. They had been taking a short cut across Walter Shepherd's place. It had not appeared to them as strange that the body of a man, slain by a bull, should lie alone in a barnyard—and that the creature which caused his death should be invisible.
“Somebody must 'a' shet him up 'fore we come," they said.
Grandma was on her knees beside the body. It lay upon its back, hands and arms concealed beneath it. It was a strange position. “Shed the light over here," she directed. She pointed to the feet, queerly close together for a man who died as Myron Goodspeed had died.
“The bull only helped," said Grandma. "It wa'n't God that struck down Myron, usin' a bull as His instrument."
The feet were tied together!
"Turn him!" Grandma directed.
She was obeyed. The wrists as well as the ankles, were bound by a small rope, an ordinary clothes-line. Grandma shook her head. "I thought God was tired of Myron Goodspeed's ways," she said, "but he wa'n't. . . It was only man that was wore out in his patience.”
She paused. "Myron Goodspeed has done his worst crime. He has provoked a fellow creature to do murder."

The crime, the identity of the victim, but most of all the manner of his taking off, stirred the little village of Pleasant Point as nothing else had ever moved it. It was a New England village, stern, unbending, and having unshakable faith in a God whose justice was administered with unmitigated austerity. Pleasant Point recognized no unwritten law, was deaf to any voice which would qualify the fact, and the fact stood patent to all—that the life of a citizen had been taken unlawfully by some person or persons as yet undetected.
Martha Spooner was in Grandma Cutcheon's kitchen before Grandma had finished scraping the breakfast pancake griddle. She came to Grandma to receive an eye witness, preparing herself for a long day of gossip mongering.
“Who coulda done it?” she asked when Grandma ended a brief recital.
"How many hated Myron Goodspeed with cause?"
"I've named over eleven that I know of—that's been wronged grievous."
"In their souls or in their pockets?" asked Grandma.
"Some in one, some in 'tother."
"You kin lay aside the pocketbooks," said Grandma. "This wa'n't no pocketbook killin'. It was hatched in a soul that Myron crippled past all mendin'."
"There are seven sich,” Martha said.
"Seven known," said Grandma. "How many unknown? Only the Great Record Book knows."
"They're a-talkin' of Ralph Harvey."
"Fiddlesticks," said Grandma.
"After Myron Goodspeed thrashed him, Ralph raved around, tellin' how he was calc’latin' on killin' Myron and nailin' his hide to a barn door. Them was his very words."
"Ralph might do a killin' in the heat of anger, like any other man. If he'd had a weapon in his hand at the minnit, he might 'a' struck down Myron. . .. But this was planned and schemed and done deliberate. 'Twa'n't no boy with a fresh lickin'. No, Marshy, this murder was the upshot of a grudge that had set a-straddlin' somebody s soul, a-stranglin' it, and poisonin' it with its fingers. Myron was killed by somebody that didn't have nothin' to live for excepting to kill Myron."
"They say Ralph hain't no witnesses to prove where he was last night, and they say he was seen on that very road not a quarter of a mile from where the killin' was done."
"They say!" Grandma repeated acidly. " Looks to me sometimes like "they say' was a cryin' evil worse'n drink. 'They say' this, and 'they say' that—and somebody's character ruined by it, or somebody killed by it, or somebody's heart broke by it. Whisperin's behind hands! Mutterin's behind backs! Every time a body uses them words 'they say' it seems like I git that exasperated I could smash my best chiny.”
"The' can't be so much smoke without a mite of fire," said Martha.
Grandma's blue eyes glinted. "You go right home out of here, Marthy Spooner. I won't listen to you. You go right home, and pray to God to fasten up your tongue so's it can't wag at more'n one end to once."

Grandma was not disturbed by  Martha Spooner's report of the pointing of public suspicion at Ralph Harvey. It was just talk, she told herself, gabble of the sort one must expect; but when Laura Crane, terrified, her pretty face swollen by weeping, knocked at Grandma's door and sobbed out the news that Ralph Harvey had been placed under arrest, charged with murder, the old lady faced the fact and all of its significance.

"Poor leetle poppet," Grandma said, and drew the girl into her kitchen. "You and me is goin to look right into this."
"It's . . . all owin' to me!" said Laura, with an ominous shrillness in her voice.
"Stop that. Don't you go to havin' no high-strikes in my kitchen. You jest grab a-holt of yourself. Now, stop your snifilin', and tell me the hull thing from innin' to end."
"Ralph and me was engaged to be married," said Laura.
"Start with somethin' everybody don't know," said Grandma.
"Myron Goodspeed's been pesterin' me for months—kind, of sly and secret. I didn't dast to let on to nobody—and I was all alone."
"Some men's delight is onprotected orphants."
"The other night he come and frightened me, and then Ralph come and I was cryin', and he made me tell ... and Ralph he went out ragin' and found Myron Goodspeed, and Myron 'most killed him... And Ralph was ashamed, so he wouldn't come back to me, and wrote me a letter that said he wouldn't ask me to marry no man that couldn't pertect me; but he'd show me he could pertect me.... I hain't seen him sence.... He said he was goin' to kill Myron, and folks heard him ... and Myron's dead.”
“Sakes alive, if the girl don't b'lieve he done it! That all you know?"
"It was Ralph sold that bull to Walter Shepherd."
"So folks says the bull knowed Ralph, and Ralph knowed the bull, and could handle him.... Um.... That all?"
Laura could only nod.
" If 'twan't for Ralph," said Grandma, "I dunno but what I'd let sleepin' dogs lie. Myron collected what was owin' him, and nobody kin say it’s the Lord's intention his slayer sh'u'd be brought to justice. But it hasn't justice of no kind, for the innocent to suffer. You're scairt because you think Ralph done it, don't you?"
"He done it for me.... It all happened because of me."
"Fiddlesticks and sugar tongs! You hain't in this only like a man's in a fight he's watchin' and gits hit by a flyin' brick. Ralph didn't kill Myron Goodspeed no more'n I did."
"You're jest sayin' that to comfort me."
"I'm sayin' what I know is true."
"How do you know it ?"
"Because God give me more sense 'n he give to geese and girls. Everythin' works in its own way, man and critter and plant and tree. If somebody fetches you' an apple, you know it didn't come off'n a punkin vine. If somebody throws a stone through your winder, you know it wasn't the Methodist minister. If somebody does a murder that's cold and calc'latin' and cruel--a murder that was planned and schemed out in a mind that s been made sick by a hellish wrong--then you know it wasn't done by a clean-hearted, happy-go-lucky, healthy-minded boy like Ralph."
""There hain't no proof there, Grandmother,
"The' would be if courts knowed what kind of evidence to blieve. Heed what I'm sayin', Laura. Ralph's young, and hain't never suffered from nothin' wuss'n a stumrnickache. His brain's as healthy as his lungs. He hain't had no time to brood and git himself twisted. And, Laura, he han't had no wrong done to him--scarcely."
"I told him--"
"You told him Myron Goodspeed was calclatin' on doin' him a sin and strivin' to do him a sin. But Myron didn't git to do it. . . If he had, then I might be figgerin' different. Gittin' a lickin hain't no reason to make a boy like Ralph do a killin' in an awful way. So it comes to this: Ralph didn't have no cause to kill Myron; and the killin' wasn't done in the manner Ralph would 'a' done it if he'd had cause. That's enough, hain't it, to prove Ralph didn't do it?"
"They'll hang him," said Laura.
"Not while I keep my strength and bigness," said Grandma.
"What you've said hain't 'evidence for any court.”
"Then we'll git some that is. The' must be a-plenty. But the law's got Ralph, so it won't bother to do any lookin.' I don't call to mind the law's ever workin' to diskiver facts to clear a man. That'll be for you and me."
"I-I hope Ralph didn't do it."
"You go on about your business and keep a-thinkin' about what I've said till you know he didn't do it. . . Why was you a-goin' to marry Ralph?"
"Because I love him."
"Love," said Grandma, "hain't mouth a sneeze in a hurricane if 'tain't coupled up with faith and trust."


Grandma Cutcheon was present, as were most of the inhabitants of Pleasant Point, at the examination of Ralph Harvey before the local magistrate. Grandma brought her knitting and occupied a seat in the front row.
The representatives of the law had gone about their business of securing a conviction. An individual was accused. It became their duty to fasten guilt upon him, not to inquire with impartiality into the question of his guilt or innocence, and fact after fact was unearthed and paraded in court with a sort of stern gusto, facts which weighted the scales of Justice so that they tilted far downward on the side of guilt.
Grandma listened without interest to testimony of citizens who had heard the accused threaten the life of Myron Goodspeed, who had seen him in the locality of the murder, who had seen him pace back and forth in front of Myron's house on the night of the crime. It did not dismay Grandma when men testified under oath to Ralph Harvey's skill as a handler of cattle, nor to his acquaintance with the creature who had been the instrument of Goodspeed's death. To her mind this was all immaterial.
When Ralph himself was questioned, Grandma laid down her knitting to, listen and to watch.
“Did you threaten Myron Goodspeed?" was the question asked
 "I did."
"Was it just an idle threat?"
"I meant it."
"Where were you on the night of this murder?"
"Looking for Myron Goodspeed."
"Alone?'
“Alone,”
"Can you offer any evidence of your innocence?"
Ralph shook his head in a dumb, bewildered way, and looked around the room slowly before he answered: "The only evidence I got is that it wa'n't reasonable for me to kill him like he was killed. I wouldn't never have thought of it."
Grandma nodded her head twice. To her mind this was the single piece of important testimony heard in the room that day. She stood up and pointed her knitting needles at the justice. "Nathan Hopper," she said, "ask the boy if he was ever a sailor?"
"Now, Mis' Cutcheon!"
"Ask him," Grandma said sharply, and the question was put.
"I wa'n't never a sailor, Grandma," said Ralph.
"My husband was," said Grandma, sitting down and resuming her knitting.
The hearing came to an end. Ralph Harvey was held to answer in a superior court of the county to a charge of willful murder and, that very day, was transported under guard to the jail in the county seat.
"Don't you worry, Laura," Grandma told Ralph's sweetheart. "I was hopin' without much reason, that somethin' would turn up at this here examination. It didn't, so nobody's disap'inted. But I hain't been idle, poppet. I've been a-laborin' to fit the act and the man--to picture what kind of a tree would bear rich fruit, and then to find the tree."
"Have you found it?"
"Not yit. The' was too many folks had grudges agin Myron, deep and searin' grudges. I been a-workin' through the list. For one reason and another, none of them I've considered could 'a' done it. I got three men more to reason out."
"But if you find a man you think done it, Grandma, how be you a-goin' to prove it?"
"By that man," said Grandma.

Grandma walked up the street alone and as she walked she talked to herself aloud, a habit born of her years of loneliness.
. "Only three," she said. "I've left 'em to the last a-purpose. I done so because I dreaded thinkin' of them aid this in the same mind.... Old friends!" She sighed wearily. "If 'twa'n't for the boy--" She stopped and turned in through a white picket fence and walked around the house to the kitchen door.
"Mary," she said to the woman who answered, "I want to ask a question. Was your pa ever a sailor?"
"Never, Grandma Cutcheon. Why?"
"Jest old woman's curiosity," said Grandma.
"That leaves two," she said to herself. "I dread askin' that question agin." However, she turned about and walked slowly to the bank, where she rapped on the door of the president's office.
"Jim," she said when a voice bade her enter, "I come to ask one question. You been many things in your life. Amongst 'em all, was you ever a seafarin' man?"
"Never onto a ship in my life, Sairy."
"Thankee. Good-by, Jim."
Grandma walked on again, this time toward her home. Her footsteps were slow and heavy--reluctant, soul-weary footsteps. "Either of them could 'a' done it," she said. "They both had cause that had rankled and poisoned 'em.... I'd xxxrusher it was one of them than him. . . And on that very night! I s'pose that's why he done it then."

That evening Grandma Cutcheon sat knitting on her piazza until a late hour, for Grandma. It was ten o'clock before she thrust her steel needles through the ball of yarn and arose heavily to go within. One who saw her sitting there would have carried away a picture of gentle, peaceful, placid old age.
He would have seen a beautiful old lady intent upon a trivial task, undisturbed, holding no quarrel with the world, or with any inhabitant of it.
But Grandma was not at peace. She was suffering as one must suffer when the soul is a battleground for Duty and Inclination; when one must choose between a friendship of fifty years, and Righteousness.
At ten o'clock she went into the house and made ready for bed. Then, arrayed in flowing nightgown and securely tied nightcap, she knelt beside her bed and prayed to a Deity who was not the accepted God of Pleasant Point; to a God of love and of mercy; to a God whose heart softened in forgiveness, and by whose divine grace the repentant sinner might win backxx his soul from the blackness of eternal night.... She prayed, not for herself, not for Ralph Harvey, not for the murdered man who lay in his grave, but for that other who doubtless cried out for Death to relieve him of his weight of guilt.

In the morning Grandma went about her usual duties. Not until they were completed did she turn to other matters. She could not have done so. Grandma was one of that ancient type who could function only in a severely orderly house.
Now she did an absurd thing. Out of rubbish from the attic she fashioned two cylinders, each some four feet in length by four inches in diameter, and covered them with strong paper. These she laid on her dining table—and resumed her seat and her knitting on the piazza. . . . Her eyes were fixed upon the road and upon the passers-by upon the road.
It was nine o'clock. At five minutes  past nine the figure of an old man emerged from a gate a hundred yards beyond. His was a remarkable figure, huge, bearded as the patriarchs were bearded. He looked neither to right nor left, nor did he answer the greetings of the few pedestrians who encountered him. He did not look up as he approached Grandma Cutcheon's gate—but Grandma laid down her knitting and called:
"Jason!"
Old Man Jennings stopped, turned, faced her, but did not speak,
"Jason," she said placidly, "I want you should come in a minnit. I got need for a man's hands."
He hesitated, opened the gate, and walked up the path.
"It's been long sence you came through that gate, Jason," she said gently.
"It's been long sence I went anywheres," said the old man. "It's been long I've walked under a weight of grief."
"I know.. . . I know. But, Jason, old friends is for consolation—and counsel."
"There was neither consolation nor counsel for me, Sairy."
"There was both," she said gently; "but you didn't know how to git at them. Come in, Jason."
She led the way into the dining-room and pointed to the pair of cylinders.
"I got to tie them together at the end," she said. "Tight, so's they won't come apart. It was beyond me to manage.... Here's a piece of clothes-line."
Mechanically the old man received the rope and adjusted it about the cylinders, his fingers clumsy, reluctant, hesitating. He fashioned a knot.
"No, Jason, not that kind of a knot," said Grandma. "I want you should tie the kind of a knot you'd use if you was fastenin' together the ankles of a man."
Jason stood erect and stared into Grandma's face. His own face altered. It was no longer torpid, dead. It burned. His eyes glittered. He became a creature dreadful to look upon.... Grandma smiled.
"Like you'd use to tie the ankles of a man," she repeated.
The huge old man clutched a chair; swung it above his head. Grandma continued to smile.
"Jason," she said, "how old be you?" He lowered the chair and dropped his eyes. "Seventy-six," he said.
"Then God has been good to you in the matter of fullness of years," she said. "He's given you six more'n the allotted span. Hain’t it 'most enough, Jason?"
“More ‘n enough,” he said
"Them ropes, Jason, how come you to leave them ropes fastenin' his ankles and wrists? But for that, folks might never 'a' suspicioned a man was concerned in the kilhn'."
He looked at her strangely. "Ropes," he said, "ropes. I wa'n't concerned with 'em, Sairy. They done their part. . . . When I seen Myron a-layin dead I couldn't bring myself to go nigh him. Somethin' seemed to stand betwixt me and him, holdin' me away."
"It was Him," said Grandma, pointing upward, "arrangin' for Justice to be done." She paused a moment, and then said solemnly:
"Jason Jennings, you meddled in God's affairs. Be you gotta' to stand by and see a boy suffer for your meddlin'?" .
His face was the face of a man who looks into the open door of perdition.
"You done the deed, Jason. Another man's payin' the penalty."
"I done what I was called on to do," he said harshly, "and in the way I was called on to do it."
"Couldn't you have waited for the Justice of God, Jason?"
"God did nothin'.... I waited. I saw that man take my boy out of my home and besmirch him and bedaub him with filth. I saw that man steal from my boy the manhood that belonged to him, and turn him into a beast. . . . God saw, Sairy; but He didn't do nothin'. He let it pass."
"He hadn't forgot, Jason."
"I was His instrument."
"He don't use sich instruments, nor sich ways, old friend. And His punishments hain't all of the flesh."
"Myron Goodspeed had to suffer in the flesh. I was the one appointed. . . . I wasn't sure till the last. Then I saw my boy die. With these eyes I saw him die—my leetle George—in torment and in horror.... I was alone with him, prayin' that a minnit's peace might come at the last, but it didn't come. . . . So I covered his face with the sheet, Sairy, and I knew what I must do. .. . It wasn't fittin' that Myron Goodspeed should die by the hand of a man. That would 'a' affronted God. Sairy. . . . So I was inspired to find a better way."
"I calc'late I understand, old friend. But the's laws of God and laws of Man. Nobody but the guilty kin suffer by the workin' out of God's laws, but the laws of man hain't so perfect.... You're ready to meet the first, Jason. Why hain't you ready to meet the lesser?"
Jason Jennings shook his huge, magnificent head—not in negation, but as if it were hard for him to comprehend.
"Jason, you've lived out your life, and six more years that's been loaned to you. Your hopes hain't of many more years, and how you come to pass 'em hain't of great importance. But down there in a cell is a boy—as good a boy as your leetle George that I loved as well as you. He's at the beginnin' of life, and you're a-threatenin' to take his life away from him. The years that's to come is wuth everything to Ralph Harvey, and they hain't wuth a pinched candle wick to you."
"What would you have me do, Sairy?"
"I'm thinkin'.... You're goin' to meet your God face to face, Jason, and soon. It may be that he used you for his instrument, or it may be that He's seen you was weighted with more'n He could expect you to bear. He's witnessed your sufferin's, Jason, and it hain't for me to say He won't welcome you home.... But not if you smash the life and the soul of the innocent. God wouldn't forgive that, for it's done without excuse and from cowardice. . . . Look into your heart, Jason, and see if I must tell you what you got to do."
The old man brushed a knotty, powerful hand across his brow. He leaned upon the table, a wrecked, a tortured, but a dignified .figure. His face worked. Presently he opened his eyes and peered into Grandma's face, and saw there neither loathing nor condemnation, but love and sorrow. Jason Jennings sighed, the sigh of a stricken Titan.
"Peace," he said. "I covet peace, Sairy."
"Then git it for yourself, old friend."
"Peace...." he said. "Peace ... and rest."
He turned without other word or sign and strode to the door, but there he turned, and his face was no longer the face of a man who deals with Damnation. It was calm. The eyes were peaceful, almost happy. It had acquired a rare gentleness.
"God bless you and keep you, Sairy," he said. "I'm a-goin' to face the laws of Man before I kneel askin' pity of the laws of God."

Note: this story has been scanned and proofread once, it has not yet received a through proofreading for publication, it will appear in The Best Mystery Stories of Clarence Budington Kelland.

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