Nightmare Town: and Other Stories

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Paperback edition. A near fine copy, reading crease at spine edge, spine edges rubbed. Small octavo, cover by Robert Stanley, pictorial wrappers. Dell A mapback edition. Small octavo, cover art by Robert Stanley, pictorial wrappers. First mass market paperback edition. Dell A Dell mapback.

Reading crease at spine edge, spine ends rubbed, a near fine copy. Seller: L. Currey, Inc. Published: []. Knopf First Edition. Soft cover. A GOOD copy with wear along the spine ends and yellowing of the pages common to this cheaply made magazine. Seller: Bren-Books. First Printing. Dell A Dell Map Back. Near Fine condition. Seller: My Book Heaven. New York: Knopf.. Fine in Fine dust jacket. First Edition; First Printing. Fine in fine dust jacket.

Hammett's stories from the pulps. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Collects twenty stories originally published in Black Mask and other magazines. Introduction by William F. Tiny spot to the bottom edge and to the verso of the Acknowledgments page. About fine in fine dustjacket. First printing. Fresh and bright. No defects. In mylar. First American Edition. Westminister, Maryland, U. DELL Alfred A. Hard Cover. Spine slightly cocked. We have more books available by this author!.

New York, N. First Edition, with correct number line sequence, no writing, marks, underlining, or bookplates. No remainder marks. Spine is tight and crisp. Boards are flat and true and the corners are square. Dust jacket is not price-clipped. My name, were it not painted on the windows of my shop, would be unknown to even the Polish family that lives and has many children across the street. Yet I shall live in the memories of men when those names are on every one's lips now are forgotten, and when the events of today are dim.

I do not know whether I shall be remembered as a great wit, a dreamer of strange dreams, a great thinker, or a philosopher; but I do know that I, Oscar Blichy, the grocer, shall be an immortal. I have saved nearly seventeen thousand dollars from the profits of my shop during the last twenty years.

I shall add to this amount as much as I can until the day of my death, and then it is to go to the writer of the best biography of me! If you get these first three books, you have most of the stories, and certainly all the best ones. Along with many stories that used to be very hard to find, this book also has a wealth of biography, history, and criticism, plus an introduction by Joe Gores. See the publisher's page for more details. This is an excellent collection that includes Hammett's testimony at the McCarthy trials and much more.

To get the rest you have to go to out-of-print books. You can get them at your library perhaps through interlibrary loan or at used bookstores. Here is the full text of Hammett's first published short story, "The Parthian Shot" from Smart Set , October : When the boy was six months old Paulette Key acknowledged that her hopes and efforts had been futile, that the baby was indubitably and irredeemably a replica of its father.

Here is the full text of Hammett's second published short story, "Immortality" from 10 Story Book , November , as "Daghull Hammett" : I know little of science or art or finance or adventure. Books in print If you get these first three books, you have most of the stories, and certainly all the best ones.

Hammett, Dashiell. For six months, now, the village has been its own proper self once more—honest, narrow, self-righteous, and stingy. I reckon he was the best-hated man among us, except the Reverend Burgess. Mean as the town is, it knows how to estimate HIM. Edward, doesn't it seem odd that the stranger should appoint Burgess to deliver the money? The husband seemed perplexed for an answer; the wife kept a steady eye upon him, and waited. Finally Richards said, with the hesitancy of one who is making a statement which is likely to encounter doubt,.

I know. The whole of his unpopularity had its foundation in that one thing—the thing that made so much noise. As if that 'one thing' wasn't enough, all by itself. I am ashamed, but I will make it. I was the only man who knew he was innocent. I could have saved him, and—and—well, you know how the town was wrought up—I hadn't the pluck to do it. It would have turned everybody against me.

I felt mean, ever so mean; but I didn't dare; I hadn't the manliness to face that. Oh, I wouldn't have had you do it for anything! As long as he doesn't know that you could have saved him, he—he—well that makes it a great deal better. Why, I might have known he didn't know, because he is always trying to be friendly with us, as little encouragement as we give him. More than once people have twitted me with it. I wish he wouldn't persist in liking us so; I can't think why he keeps it up. It's another confession.

When the thing was new and hot, and the town made a plan to ride him on a rail, my conscience hurt me so that I couldn't stand it, and I went privately and gave him notice, and he got out of the town and stayed out till it was safe to come back. It scares me yet, to think of it. I repented of it the minute it was done; and I was even afraid to tell you lest your face might betray it to somebody. I didn't sleep any that night, for worrying.

But after a few days I saw that no one was going to suspect me, and after that I got to feeling glad I did it. And I feel glad yet, Mary—glad through and through. Yes, I'm glad; for really you did owe him that, you know. But, Edward, suppose it should come out yet, some day! And of course HE didn't care. They persuaded poor old Sawlsberry to go and charge it on him, and he went blustering over there and did it. Goodson looked him over, like as if he was hunting for a place on him that he could despise the most; then he says, 'So you are the Committee of Inquiry, are you?

Goodson; I will take the general answer first. And I'll give you some advice, Sawlsberry; when you come back for the particulars, fetch a basket to carry what is left of yourself home in. He had only one vanity; he thought he could give advice better than any other person. Then they took up the gold-sack mystery again, with strong interest. Soon the conversation began to suffer breaks—interruptions caused by absorbed thinkings.

The breaks grew more and more frequent. At last Richards lost himself wholly in thought. He sat long, gazing vacantly at the floor, and by-and-by he began to punctuate his thoughts with little nervous movements of his hands that seemed to indicate vexation. Meantime his wife too had relapsed into a thoughtful silence, and her movements were beginning to show a troubled discomfort. Finally Richards got up and strode aimlessly about the room, ploughing his hands through his hair, much as a somnambulist might do who was having a bad dream.

Then he seemed to arrive at a definite purpose; and without a word he put on his hat and passed quickly out of the house. His wife sat brooding, with a drawn face, and did not seem to be aware that she was alone. Lead us not into Ah, who would be hurt by it? Lead us After a little she glanced up and muttered in a half-frightened, half-glad way—. But, oh dear, he may be too late—too late Maybe not—maybe there is still time. Lord, how we are made—how strangely we are made! She turned the light low, and slipped stealthily over and knelt down by the sack and felt of its ridgy sides with her hands, and fondled them lovingly; and there was a gloating light in her poor old eyes.

Meantime Cox had gone home from his office and told his wife all about the strange thing that had happened, and they had talked it over eagerly, and guessed that the late Goodson was the only man in the town who could have helped a suffering stranger with so noble a sum as twenty dollars. Then there was a pause, and the two became thoughtful and silent.

And by-and-by nervous and fidgety. At last the wife said, as if to herself,. The husband came out of his thinkings with a slight start, and gazed wistfully at his wife, whose face was become very pale; then he hesitatingly rose, and glanced furtively at his hat, then at his wife—a sort of mute inquiry. Cox swallowed once or twice, with her hand at her throat, then in place of speech she nodded her head. In a moment she was alone, and mumbling to herself. And now Richards and Cox were hurrying through the deserted streets, from opposite directions.

They met, panting, at the foot of the printing-office stairs; by the night-light there they read each other's face. Cox whispered:. The men were starting up-stairs; at this moment they were overtaken by a boy, and Cox asked,. Time-table for Brixton and all the towns beyond changed to-day, sir—had to get the papers in twenty minutes earlier than common. The men turned and walked slowly away, not waiting to hear the rest.

Neither of them spoke during ten minutes; then Cox said, in a vexed tone,. Then the friends separated without a good-night, and dragged themselves home with the gait of mortally stricken men. In both houses a discussion followed of a heated sort—a new thing; there had been discussions before, but not heated ones, not ungentle ones. The discussions to-night were a sort of seeming plagiarisms of each other.

Richards said:. There, now—is that true, or not? She broke down, crying. Her husband tried to think of some comforting thing to say, and presently came out with this:. Just the same, it was ORDERED that the money should come to us in this special way, and it was you that must take it on yourself to go meddling with the designs of Providence—and who gave you the right?

God knows I never had shade nor shadow of a doubt of my petrified and indestructible honesty until now—and now, under the very first big and real temptation, I—Edward, it is my belief that this town's honesty is as rotten as mine is; as rotten as yours. It is a mean town, a hard, stingy town, and hasn't a virtue in the world but this honesty it is so celebrated for and so conceited about; and so help me, I do believe that if ever the day comes that its honesty falls under great temptation, its grand reputation will go to ruin like a house of cards.

There, now, I've made confession, and I feel better; I am a humbug, and I've been one all my life, without knowing it. Let no man call me honest again—I will not have it. It seems strange, too, so strange. I never could have believed it—never. A long silence followed; both were sunk in thought. At last the wife looked up and said:. Let us make a pallet here; we've got to stand watch till the bank vault opens in the morning and admits the sack Oh dear, oh dear—if we hadn't made the mistake! I do wonder what that remark could have been. But come; we will get to bed now. By this time the Coxes too had completed their spat and their reconciliation, and were turning in—to think, to think, and toss, and fret, and worry over what the remark could possibly have been which Goodson made to the stranded derelict; that golden remark; that remark worth forty thousand dollars, cash.

The reason that the village telegraph-office was open later than usual that night was this: The foreman of Cox's paper was the local representative of the Associated Press. One might say its honorary representative, for it wasn't four times a year that he could furnish thirty words that would be accepted. But this time it was different. His despatch stating what he had caught got an instant answer:. A colossal order! The foreman filled the bill; and he was the proudest man in the State. By breakfast-time the next morning the name of Hadleyburg the Incorruptible was on every lip in America, from Montreal to the Gulf, from the glaciers of Alaska to the orange-groves of Florida; and millions and millions of people were discussing the stranger and his money-sack, and wondering if the right man would be found, and hoping some more news about the matter would come soon—right away.

Hadleyburg village woke up world-celebrated—astonished—happy—vain. Vain beyond imagination. And the minor and unimportant citizens and their wives went around acting in much the same way. The little mean, smirking, oily Pinkerton showed the sack to all comers, and rubbed his sleek palms together pleasantly, and enlarged upon the town's fine old reputation for honesty and upon this wonderful endorsement of it, and hoped and believed that the example would now spread far and wide over the American world, and be epoch-making in the matter of moral regeneration.

And so on, and so on. By the end of a week things had quieted down again; the wild intoxication of pride and joy had sobered to a soft, sweet, silent delight—a sort of deep, nameless, unutterable content. All faces bore a look of peaceful, holy happiness. Then a change came. It was a gradual change; so gradual that its beginnings were hardly noticed; maybe were not noticed at all, except by Jack Halliday, who always noticed everything; and always made fun of it, too, no matter what it was.

He began to throw out chaffing remarks about people not looking quite so happy as they did a day or two ago; and next he claimed that the new aspect was deepening to positive sadness; next, that it was taking on a sick look; and finally he said that everybody was become so moody, thoughtful, and absent-minded that he could rob the meanest man in town of a cent out of the bottom of his breeches pocket and not disturb his reverie. At this stage—or at about this stage—a saying like this was dropped at bedtime—with a sigh, usually—by the head of each of the nineteen principal households:. What horrible thing are you mulling in your mind?

Put it away from you, for God's sake! But that question was wrung from those men again the next night—and got the same retort. But weaker. And the third night the men uttered the question yet again—with anguish, and absently. This time—and the following night—the wives fidgeted feebly, and tried to say something. But didn't. Halliday's comments grew daily more and more sparklingly disagreeable and disparaging. He went diligently about, laughing at the town, individually and in mass. But his laugh was the only one left in the village: it fell upon a hollow and mournful vacancy and emptiness.

Not even a smile was findable anywhere. So three weeks passed—one week was left. It was Saturday evening after supper.


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Instead of the aforetime Saturday-evening flutter and bustle and shopping and larking, the streets were empty and desolate. Richards and his old wife sat apart in their little parlour—miserable and thinking. This was become their evening habit now: the life-long habit which had preceded it, of reading, knitting, and contented chat, or receiving or paying neighbourly calls, was dead and gone and forgotten, ages ago—two or three weeks ago; nobody talked now, nobody read, nobody visited—the whole village sat at home, sighing, worrying, silent.

Trying to guess out that remark. The postman left a letter. Richards glanced listlessly at the superscription and the post-mark—unfamiliar, both—and tossed the letter on the table and resumed his might-have-beens and his hopeless dull miseries where he had left them off.

Two or three hours later his wife got wearily up and was going away to bed without a good-night—custom now—but she stopped near the letter and eyed it awhile with a dead interest, then broke it open, and began to skim it over. Richards, sitting there with his chair tilted back against the wall and his chin between his knees, heard something fall. It was his wife. He sprang to her side, but she cried out:. He did. He devoured it, his brain reeling.

The letter was from a distant State, and it said:. It was a happy half-hour that the couple spent there on the settee caressing each other; it was the old days come again—days that had begun with their courtship and lasted without a break till the stranger brought the deadly money. By-and-by the wife said:. I never liked him, but I love him now.

Nightmare Town and Other Stories

And it was fine and beautiful of you never to mention it or brag about it. I always loved you, and now I'm proud of you. Everybody believes there was only one good generous soul in this village, and now it turns out that you—Edward, why don't you tell me? She was troubled and silent for a moment, then she laid her hand within his and said:. We have wandered far enough from our bearings—God spare us that! In all your life you have never uttered a lie. I think you made the promise, Edward. Let it rest so. Let us keep away from that ground. Now—that is all gone by; let us be happy again; it is no time for clouds.

Edward found it something of an effort to comply, for his mind kept wandering—trying to remember what the service was that he had done Goodson. The couple lay awake the most of the night, Mary happy and busy, Edward busy, but not so happy. Mary was planning what she would do with the money. Edward was trying to recall that service. At first his conscience was sore on account of the lie he had told Mary—if it was a lie. After much reflection—suppose it WAS a lie? What then? Was it such a great matter? Then why not tell them? Look at Mary—look what she had done. While he was hurrying off on his honest errand, what was she doing?

Lamenting because the papers hadn't been destroyed and the money kept. Is theft better than lying? THAT point lost its sting—the lie dropped into the background and left comfort behind it. The next point came to the front: HAD he rendered that service? Well, here was Goodson's own evidence as reported in Stephenson's letter; there could be no better evidence than that—it was even PROOF that he had rendered it.

Of course. So that point was settled No, not quite. He recalled with a wince that this unknown Mr. Stephenson was just a trifle unsure as to whether the performer of it was Richards or some other—and, oh dear, he had put Richards on his honour! He must himself decide whither that money must go—and Mr. Stephenson was not doubting that if he was the wrong man he would go honourably and find the right one.

Oh, it was odious to put a man in such a situation—ah, why couldn't Stephenson have left out that doubt? What did he want to intrude that for? Further reflection. That looked good. Yes, that looked very good.

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In fact it went on looking better and better, straight along—until by-and-by it grew into positive PROOF. And then Richards put the matter at once out of his mind, for he had a private instinct that a proof once established is better left so. He was feeling reasonably comfortable now, but there was still one other detail that kept pushing itself on his notice: of course he had done that service—that was settled; but what WAS that service? He must recall it—he would not go to sleep till he had recalled it; it would make his peace of mind perfect.

And so he thought and thought. He thought of a dozen things—possible services, even probable services—but none of them seemed adequate, none of them seemed large enough, none of them seemed worth the money—worth the fortune Goodson had wished he could leave in his will. And besides, he couldn't remember having done them, anyway. Now, then—now, then—what KIND of a service would it be that would make a man so inordinately grateful?

Ah—the saving of his soul! That must be it. Yes, he could remember, now, how he once set himself the task of converting Goodson, and laboured at it as much as—he was going to say three months; but upon closer examination it shrunk to a month, then to a week, then to a day, then to nothing. Yes, he remembered now, and with unwelcome vividness, that Goodson had told him to go to thunder and mind his own business—HE wasn't hankering to follow Hadleyburg to heaven!

So that solution was a failure—he hadn't saved Goodson's soul. Richards was discouraged. Then after a little came another idea: had he saved Goodson's property? No, that wouldn't do—he hadn't any. His life? That is it! Why, he might have thought of it before. This time he was on the right track, sure. His imagination-mill was hard at work in a minute, now. Thereafter, during a stretch of two exhausting hours, he was busy saving Goodson's life. He saved it in all kinds of difficult and perilous ways.

In every case he got it saved satisfactorily up to a certain point; then, just as he was beginning to get well persuaded that it had really happened, a troublesome detail would turn up which made the whole thing impossible.


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As in the matter of drowning, for instance. And sure enough, by-and-by he found it.

Nightmare Town by Dashiell Hammett, First Edition - AbeBooks

Goodson, years and years ago, came near marrying a very sweet and pretty girl, named Nancy Hewitt, but in some way or other the match had been broken off; the girl died, Goodson remained a bachelor, and by-and-by became a soured one and a frank despiser of the human species. Soon after the girl's death the village found out, or thought it had found out, that she carried a spoonful of negro blood in her veins. Richards worked at these details a good while, and in the end he thought he remembered things concerning them which must have gotten mislaid in his memory through long neglect.

It was all clear and simple, now, and the more he went over it the more luminous and certain it grew; and at last, when he nestled to sleep, satisfied and happy, he remembered the whole thing just as if it had been yesterday. Meantime Mary had spent six thousand dollars on a new house for herself and a pair of slippers for her pastor, and then had fallen peacefully to rest.

That same Saturday evening the postman had delivered a letter to each of the other principal citizens—nineteen letters in all. No two of the envelopes were alike, and no two of the superscriptions were in the same hand, but the letters inside were just like each other in every detail but one.

They were exact copies of the letter received by Richards—handwriting and all—and were all signed by Stephenson, but in place of Richards's name each receiver's own name appeared. All night long eighteen principal citizens did what their caste-brother Richards was doing at the same time—they put in their energies trying to remember what notable service it was that they had unconsciously done Barclay Goodson.

In no case was it a holiday job; still they succeeded. And while they were at this work, which was difficult, their wives put in the night spending the money, which was easy. During that one night the nineteen wives spent an average of seven thousand dollars each out of the forty thousand in the sack—a hundred and thirty-three thousand altogether. Next day there was a surprise for Jack Halliday. He noticed that the faces of the nineteen chief citizens and their wives bore that expression of peaceful and holy happiness again.

He could not understand it, neither was he able to invent any remarks about it that could damage it or disturb it. And so it was his turn to be dissatisfied with life. His private guesses at the reasons for the happiness failed in all instances, upon examination. When he met Mrs. The subdued ecstasy in Gregory Yates's face could mean but one thing—he was a mother-in-law short; it was another mistake.

In some cases the guesses had to remain in doubt, in the others they proved distinct errors. An architect and builder from the next State had lately ventured to set up a small business in this unpromising village, and his sign had now been hanging out a week. Not a customer yet; he was a discouraged man, and sorry he had come. But his weather changed suddenly now. First one and then another chief citizen's wife said to him privately:. We think of building. He got eleven invitations that day.

That night he wrote his daughter and broke off her match with her student. He said she could marry a mile higher than that. Pinkerton the banker and two or three other well-to-do men planned country-seats—but waited. That kind don't count their chickens until they are hatched. The Wilsons devised a grand new thing—a fancy-dress ball. The days drifted along, and the bill of future squanderings rose higher and higher, wilder and wilder, more and more foolish and reckless. It began to look as if every member of the nineteen would not only spend his whole forty thousand dollars before receiving-day, but be actually in debt by the time he got the money.

In some cases light-headed people did not stop with planning to spend, they really spent—on credit. They bought land, mortgages, farms, speculative stocks, fine clothes, horses, and various other things, paid down the bonus, and made themselves liable for the rest—at ten days. Presently the sober second thought came, and Halliday noticed that a ghastly anxiety was beginning to show up in a good many faces.

Again he was puzzled, and didn't know what to make of it. There was another puzzled man, too—the Rev. He was expecting that there might be one claimant for the sack—doubtful, however, Goodson being dead—but it never occurred to him that all this crowd might be claimants. When the great Friday came at last, he found that he had nineteen envelopes.

The town-hall had never looked finer. The platform at the end of it was backed by a showy draping of flags; at intervals along the walls were festoons of flags; the gallery fronts were clothed in flags; the supporting columns were swathed in flags; all this was to impress the stranger, for he would be there in considerable force, and in a large degree he would be connected with the press. The house was full. The fixed seats were occupied; also the 68 extra chairs which had been packed into the aisles; the steps of the platform were occupied; some distinguished strangers were given seats on the platform; at the horseshoe of tables which fenced the front and sides of the platform sat a strong force of special correspondents who had come from everywhere.

It was the best-dressed house the town had ever produced. There were some tolerably expensive toilets there, and in several cases the ladies who wore them had the look of being unfamiliar with that kind of clothes. At least the town thought they had that look, but the notion could have arisen from the town's knowledge of the fact that these ladies had never inhabited such clothes before. The gold-sack stood on a little table at the front of the platform where all the house could see it. The bulk of the house gazed at it with a burning interest, a mouth-watering interest, a wistful and pathetic interest; a minority of nineteen couples gazed at it tenderly, lovingly, proprietarily, and the male half of this minority kept saying over to themselves the moving little impromptu speeches of thankfulness for the audience's applause and congratulations which they were presently going to get up and deliver.

Every now and then one of these got a piece of paper out of his vest pocket and privately glanced at it to refresh his memory. Of course there was a buzz of conversation going on—there always is; but at last, when the Rev. Burgess rose and laid his hand on the sack, he could hear his microbes gnaw, the place was so still. He related the curious history of the sack, then went on to speak in warm terms of Hadleyburg's old and well-earned reputation for spotless honesty, and of the town's just pride in this reputation.

He said that this reputation was a treasure of priceless value; that under Providence its value had now become inestimably enhanced, for the recent episode had spread this fame far and wide, and thus had focussed the eyes of the American world upon this village, and made its name for all time, as he hoped and believed, a synonym for commercial incorruptibility. The responsibility is individual, not communal. From this day forth each and every one of you is in his own person its special guardian, and individually responsible that no harm shall come to it.

Do you—does each of you—accept this great trust? Tumultuous assent. Then all is well. Transmit it to your children and to your children's children. To-day your purity is beyond reproach—see to it that it shall remain so. To-day there is not a person in your community who could be beguiled to touch a penny not his own—see to it that you abide in this grace. I am done. Under my hand, my friends, rests a stranger's eloquent recognition of what we are; through him the world will always henceforth know what we are.

We do not know who he is, but in your name I utter your gratitude, and ask you to raise your voices in indorsement. The house rose in a body and made the walls quake with the thunders of its thankfulness for the space of a long minute. Then it sat down, and Mr. Burgess took an envelope out of his pocket. The house held its breath while he slit the envelope open and took from it a slip of paper.

He read its contents—slowly and impressively—the audience listening with tranced attention to this magic document, each of whose words stood for an ingot of gold:. Tell it to the marines! There was a wondering silence now for a while. Everybody was puzzled, and nineteen couples were surprised and indignant. Perhaps you will be good enough to explain to the house why YOU rise. It was Burgess's turn to be paralysed.

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He stood looking vacantly at first one of the men and then the other, and did not seem to know what to do. The house was stupefied.

Dashiell Hammett

Lawyer Wilson spoke up now, and said:. And what kind of apology are you going to make to me and to this insulted house for the imposture which you have attempted to play here? Burgess and substituting a copy of it signed with your own name. There is no other way by which you could have gotten hold of the test-remark; I alone, of living men, possessed the secret of its wording. There has evidently been a mistake somewhere, but surely that is all. If Mr. Wilson gave me an envelope—and I remember now that he did—I still have it.

He took one out of his pocket, opened it, glanced at it, looked surprised and worried, and stood silent a few moments.


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Then he waved his hand in a wandering and mechanical way, and made an effort or two to say something, then gave it up, despondently. Several voices cried out:. The house gazed at him marvelling. Go, and reform. I knew perfectly well my note was purloined. Take your seats, both of you, please. They obeyed, shaking their heads and grumbling angrily. The house was profoundly puzzled; it did not know what to do with this curious emergency.

Presently Thompson got up. Thompson was the hatter. He would have liked to be a Nineteener; but such was not for him; his stock of hats was not considerable enough for the position. He said:. Chairman, if I may be permitted to make a suggestion, can both of these gentlemen be right? I put it to you, sir, can both have happened to say the very same words to the stranger?

The tanner got up and interrupted him. The tanner was a disgruntled man; he believed himself entitled to be a Nineteener, but he couldn't get recognition. It made him a little unpleasant in his ways and speech. Said he:. THAT could happen—twice in a hundred years—but not the other thing. The Chair. Sit down, if you please—both of you.

Neither of the notes has been out of my possession at any moment. The Tanner. Chairman, one thing is now plain: one of these men has been eavesdropping under the other one's bed, and filching family secrets.

By Mark Twain

If it is not unparliamentary to suggest it, I will remark that both are equal to it. The two have not quoted the remark in exactly the same words. You would have noticed that, if there hadn't been a considerable stretch of time and an exciting quarrel inserted between the two readings. Burgess made a slit in the sack, slid his hand in, and brought out an envelope. In it were a couple of folded notes.

It is worded—to wit:. My benefactor began by saying he seldom gave advice to anyone, but that it always bore the hallmark of high value when he did give it. Fifty Voices. People jumped up and crowded around Wilson, wringing his hand and congratulating fervently—meantime the Chair was hammering with the gavel and shouting:. Let me finish reading, please. A ghastly silence followed. First an angry cloud began to settle darkly upon the faces of the citizenship; after a pause the cloud began to rise, and a tickled expression tried to take its place; tried so hard that it was only kept under with great and painful difficulty; the reporters, the Brixtonites, and other strangers bent their heads down and shielded their faces with their hands, and managed to hold in by main strength and heroic courtesy.

At this most inopportune time burst upon the stillness the roar of a solitary voice—Jack Halliday's:. Then the house let go, strangers and all. Even Mr. Burgess's gravity broke down presently, then the audience considered itself officially absolved from all restraint, and it made the most of its privilege. It was a good long laugh, and a tempestuously wholehearted one, but it ceased at last—long enough for Mr. Burgess to try to resume, and for the people to get their eyes partially wiped; then it broke out again, and afterward yet again; then at last Burgess was able to get out these serious words:.

It involves the honour of your town—it strikes at the town's good name. The difference of a single word between the test-remarks offered by Mr. Wilson and Mr. The two men were sitting limp, nerveless, crushed; but at these words both were electrified into movement, and started to get up.

And it was—but for only one of them. But the matter has become graver; for the honour of BOTH is now in formidable peril. Shall I go even further, and say in inextricable peril? BOTH left out the crucial fifteen words. Billson was not used to emergencies; he sat in a helpless collapse.