Grandma Cutcheon Solves "The Mysterious Murder of Myron Goodspeed"
How Grandma Cutcheon carried out a strange piece of
By Clarence Budington Kelland
Reprinted by permission if the Author’s
(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.
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.
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
Martha sniffed. "Names is jest names," she said.
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'—"
"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
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
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 goodboy 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 pastold ManJenningses'," 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
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 ?"
"Gone to the city—this mornin.."
"Who shut up the bull?" she
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
“The bull only helped," said Grandma.
"It wa'n't God that struck down Myron, usin' a bull as His
The feet were tied together!
"Turn him!" Grandma directed.
She was obeyed. The wrists as well asthe
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
“Who coulda done it?” she asked when Grandma ended abrief
"How many hated Myron Goodspeed with
"I've named over eleven that I know of—that's been wronged
"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 allmendin'."
"There are seven sich,”
"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 tokill 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
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
Grandma was not disturbed byMartha 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
"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
"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
"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
"I'm sayin' what I know is
"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
"Not while I keep my strength and bigness," said
"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
"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
"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
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
"Was it just an idle threat?"
"I meant it."
"Where were you on the night of this murder?"
"Looking for Myron Goodspeed."
"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
"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
"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
. "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.
"Jest old woman's curiosity,"
"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
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
minutespast 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:
Old Man Jennings stopped, turned, faced her, but did not
"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
"There was neither consolation nor counsel for me,
"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
"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
"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
"Like you'd use to tie the ankles of a man," she
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?"
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
"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
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
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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