But notwithstanding that our many meetings had the effect of strengthening our mutual admiration and love for each other, and that I was beginning to fairly idolize this beautiful young woman, still certain things came to pass that I could not understand, and which caused me to feel that Arletta's actions were very mysterious, and that there was something about her life she was trying to withhold from me.
In the first place she would never meet me anywhere else except in that obscure nook in the park, and in departing would not permit me to escort her beyond the Seventy-eighth street entrance, where she would abruptly bid me a hasty adieu, with instructions that I must take another route.
That, in itself, appeared to be a strange proceeding, but one evening as I entered a fashionable Fifth avenue restaurant on one of my tours of inspection of plutocratic conditions, I was amazed to see her seated at one of the tables, drinking wine with a male companion. Her face was flushed from the effects of the beverage, and she was acting a trifle hilarious, and displaying traits of frivolity such as I had never observed in her before. As I caught her eye she gave a quick start, and then deliberately turned her head in another direction, and pretended not to have seen me. At this act I rushed out into the street, and it was with great difficulty that I was able to control my feelings.
The next evening I met her in the park, and was further surprised when she not only failed to mention the incident, but intimated that she had spent the evening at an entirely different place. She appeared so innocent, however, and was so charming in her manner that I almost immediately forgot the affair, and said nothing about it. A few nights later, though, as I was walking down Broadway, near Twenty-seventh street, I noticed a large crowd of men and women gathered, and questioning a bystander as to the reason thereof, I was informed that a stylishly dressed lady was "too drunk to navigate" and was in the hands of a policeman. As I craned my neck to get a glimpse of the unfortunate woman, I was shocked beyond expression to find that it was none other than Arletta who had created the commotion. Horrified, I rushed through the crowd, pushing men right and left, until I had reached the policeman, who was holding her up by the arm and trying to ascertain her name and address. She could hardly stand, and seemed dazed to the point of falling, but as I spoke her name, her memory revived somewhat, and, fixing her half-closed eyes upon me, she said: "Why, hello Jack" And then, turning to the officer, remarked: "This is my friend Jack; he will take me home." I could not understand the reason she called me Jack. She had never addressed me in that way before. But without delay I informed the policeman that I would take charge of her, and requested him to call a cab. When the vehicle arrived it became necessary for me to lift her bodily into it, and then I was at a loss to know just where to take her. In order to get away from the crowd, however, I told the driver to go on and I would give him the address later.
"Tell him to take us to the Seraglio Apartments," she mumbled.
"Do you know where the Seraglio Apartments are?" I inquired of the driver.
"Yes, sir, in Central Park West," replied he, as he whipped up his horse and started in that direction.
Arletta said no more, but remained silent, as if stupefied from the effects of the intoxicating drink she had taken.
"What a pity," thought I, as we sped along, "that this young woman, with all of her beauty, grace and charm, and with all of her splendid traits of character, should fall a victim to the awful curse of drink! Could this condition have been brought about because she had no work to perform and too much time and money to squander recklessly? What a pity that there are human beings who make and sell poisonous stuff for money which not only robs those who use it of their reasoning power, but which undermines the very foundation of the human race! Those people who make and sell liquor, knowing that it will ultimately destroy the lives of thousands of human beings, are just as much murderous poisoners as would be the chemist who would knowingly give a deadly drug to an intended suicide."
When we arrived at the apartment house, which was one of the most magnificent in New York, it was with some difficulty that I was able to arouse her sufficiently so that she could walk with my assistance. Entering the vestibule, I asked her if she could get along without further help, but she insisted that I should go to her rooms, so getting into the elevator we were taken up to the eighth floor. As though he was accustomed to this sort of an affair, the elevator attendant went ahead and opened one of the doors on the right of the hallway, and after turning on the electric light, and we had entered, he withdrew at once, quietly closing the door after him. I then found myself within one of the most elegantly furnished drawing rooms imaginable. At one end of the apartment was an archway gorgeously draped with costly tapestries which partially screened another room beyond, which served as a bed-chamber. Arletta staggered forward, half pulling me along with her into this other room, and throwing herself upon the bed, ordered me, in a dazed sort of a way, to remove her clothing. I was dumbfounded at this extraordinary command and felt that I was placed in an extremely awkward position. I did not like the idea of allowing the poor girl to remain over night, in the uncomfortable position she had taken, bound as she was by tightly fitting garments, and still I realized that it was a very delicate undertaking to follow out her instructions, knowing full well that if she were in her right senses she would be horrified at the thought of such a thing. But as I stood looking at her for several moments in a state of perplexed indecision, and wondering what course to pursue, she began to moan as if in agony, and without further hesitation I decided to go ahead and do my best to make her position more comfortable. So I began by taking off her shoes.
"What a superb foot!" mused I enthusiastically, as I unlaced and removed her pretty little shoes. "Was there ever another quite so shapely or entrancing? And the ankle! How daintily its joints showed beneath embroidered hose of exquisite material." Hardly had I begun this task before I realized that a strange magnetic force was stealing upon me. With such a feast for my eyes to contend with, it seemed as if my senses were being gradually overcome by the intoxicating clutch of voluptuous dreams.
The shoes off, I turned my attention to the collar which apparently caused her much uneasiness. The collar, as I discovered, was a part of the bodice and could not be taken off without removing the whole garment, which task required considerable time, patience, and careful maneuvering to perform. This I finally accomplished, however, with the aid of Arletta, who revived occasionally from her comatose state long enough to give a few indistinct directions, and then as my eyes rested upon her lovely arms, neck and shoulders, I was plunged into ecstatic emotion such as words have not the power to express. At last I succeeded in loosening the stays and different cords and ribbons usually worn by women, which alleviated her distress considerably, and after throwing a light robe over her form was about to, arrange her position so that she might rest comfortably, when to my utter astonishment she threw her arms around my neck, kissed me several times, and whispered in my ear, "You won't leave me alone tonight, will you, darling?"
This seemed to be almost too much for me to bear; the cravings of my sensual nature began a desperate struggle with my better self. My blood started to tingle with the heat of passion. Evil thoughts crowded themselves into my brain. The more of these evil thoughts I allowed to enter my head the less power of resistance I held against their subtle ravages. I was losing self-control. I felt powerless to battle successfully against the temptation. Stealthily walking over to the door, I softly bolted it and then stood still for some time and listened. It was past midnight and everything was quiet. I turned out the light and started to go over to Arletta. As I did so, something within me seemed to cry out with shame against such cowardice. As I paused for a moment, the voice from within became stronger in its disapproval of my intentions. Apparently I became divided into two parts, and each was struggling for the mastery of me. One side was trying with all its might to push me forward, while the other was attempting to hold me back with reproachful warnings. These two parts were my material and spiritual selves, contending for supremacy. I wavered back and forth, from one to the other, and it seemed that the material side was about to conquer and carry me down to disgrace, when suddenly there passed through my mind like a great wave of strength the Sagewoman's wonderful precept:
"Always consult your soul for advice.
"Do no act your conscience will not sanction."
And recognizing the full meaning of these words, I immediately turned about, unbolted the door, and quietly left the apartment, feeling that the soul was still master of my actions.
Almost from the first day after I left the hospital I began to feel an earnest desire to follow out the instructions of the great Sage-woman in regard to teaching my fellow beings the philosophy of Natural Law, and, knowing of no better way to begin this work, I decided to go out and lecture upon the streets to all persons who might care to listen. I set aside three evenings each week to preach the Truth, and took a position at the corner of Fifth avenue, and Twenty-third street, just opposite the "Flatiron" building, with nothing but a soap-box for a platform; it was here that I devoted many evenings instructing the masses in the principles of Sagemanism. At first I felt a little awkward, and could not find sufficient words to express myself properly upon the subject, but gradually there came self-reliance, which enabled me to communicate my thoughts to others, and within a few weeks I had acquired a fluency of speech whereby I could talk for hours without embarrassment. During my first attempts at public speaking, few people would remain more than a moment or two to hear what I had to say, but with the increased force and power of speech, which I acquired with practice, my audiences grew larger and larger, until finally the streets were blockaded with their numbers at these meetings. Many of my hearers, both rich and poor alike, got into the habit of coming repeatedly to listen to these talks, and after a short time they would come to me one by one and request personal tutorage in the principles set forth. In fact, the number of these proselytes increased to such an extent, and their intentions were so earnest and serious, that it finally became necessary to engage a hall, where we might hold private meetings. It was in this way that there was finally organized the society for the propagation of the principles of Natural Law. Little by little the society gained in numerical strength, until I felt sure that the seed of this grand work had been planted in human soil for all time to come, and that its fruits would blossom forth in abundance as time passed by.
But while success appeared to be crowning my humble efforts in this direction, and the more progress I made in this propaganda, the more opposed to my methods Arletta became. She grew intensely antagonistic to my work, and tried in every way to have me discontinue it. She could not believe that all human beings were born to have equal rights and privileges in the world. She had been taught from infancy that there must always be a master and a servant, and that the Deity was responsible for the position held between them. She believed, as most good Christians do, that it is the Creator's will that some people are born in wealth and luxury, while others are born and bred in poverty and squalor. She repeatedly endeavored to persuade me to desist in the work I had undertaken and re-enter the Church as a good Christian member. My efforts to convert her as a believer in Natural Law were futile, and a great gulf seemed to be springing up and separating us from one another. I felt that I was placed in a very difficult position. On the one hand, I loved this beautiful young woman more than words can convey any idea of. She seemed to be a part of my life. I would have gladly suffered any pain or torture, if by so doing it would have afforded her one moment of pleasure. On the other hand, I had sworn most solemnly to the great Sagewoman that I would devote the remainder of my natural life to the dissemination of the principles in which she had instructed me. I often wondered at my strange predicament. Here I was being censured by the reincarnated soul of the great Sage-woman for carrying out the very work she taught me, and for fulfilling my promise to her.
The climax of this peculiar situation was reached one night at our meeting place in the park. Arletta had sent me an urgent despatch to come and see her without fail, and then she had stated that it was her intention to leave New York the next day on a protracted trip through Europe. She said she had come to bid me good-bye, and that it was to be good-bye forever, as she never intended to see me again. She appeared depressed and sad upon this occasion, and her eyes were filled with tears. In answer to my inquiry, as to her reason for leaving me in this way, she said that it was because she could not uphold me in my crusade against all recognized principles of religious beliefs.
She told me frankly that she loved me and that she cared nothing for any other man in the world except myself, but that she could not do otherwise than go away and forget me. She claimed that nothing further could come of our friendship as long as I continued an emissary of Natural Law; that her religion forbade it and her parents would oppose it; that her friends would be against it, and the whole world would sneer at it; and that to be placed in such a trying position was more than she could possibly bear. According to her, there was no good reason why I could not give up my undertaking, to please her. She had everything in the world to make me happy and was willing to give me anything within her power, if I would only relinquish my purpose and promise never to think of it again. She told me that she was wealthy, that she had millions in her own name, and that her father and uncles were multi-millionaires, to whose wealth she would be the sole heir. She said that if I would promise to quit the work I was engaged in, that she would give me her hand in marriage, and also deposit in the bank to my credit one million dollars on the following day as a dowry, with which I could do as I pleased. She was serious and, apparently in earnest, and I did not doubt one word of what she said as being the truth. So I was placed in the position of choosing between great wealth, the woman I loved, and all other earthly pleasures on the one hand, and a duty which I had solemnly sworn to perform, on the other. It was a trying situation, to say the least. With bowed head I sat and considered all phases of the matter, with much earnestness and equal indecision. To think that Arletta would leave me forever was to feel that my heart was being torn from its fastenings. To have her as my wife, this alone seemed to be the very greatest happiness that life could afford, and mayhap, the promise of a million dollars was not without its allurement. A position in the very best society of the country also loomed before my vision, as I considered these things. On the other hand, if I refused, I could look forward to a life of poverty, hard work, and the abuse of my fellow beings. The temptation was a trying one, and it seemed impossible for me to refuse Arletta's offering. As I raised my head and looked into her beautiful eyes, which expressed great love, and tenderness, and expectation, I felt that I could not say no to her. It seemed as if I had been placed between honor and temptation, and was about to fall into the arms of the latter. I hesitated a moment, undecided as to what to do, when something within me distinctly said: "Be a man. Give up all earthly pleasures during this life and teach Natural Law, according to your promise." Then once again the wise words of the great Sagewoman passed through my mind:
"Always consult your soul for advice.
"Do no act your conscience will not sanction."
Instantly arising and feeling that I should follow the advice of my soul above all other considerations, I determined to do that which was right. I concluded that to lose Arletta, and all the pleasures incidental to a life with her, was but a temporary loss, but the opportunity of setting a great example to my fellow beings, a precedent that would have lasting influence, might never arrive again, and that it was my solemn duty to seize this chance while I had the power to do so. So, standing erect and without further hesitation, I took Arletta's hand in mine and said: "My dear girl, to lose you will cause me much suffering and pain, so much that it would be impossible for you to form any conception of it. To lose you is to deprive me of all that is dear and sweet in this life. To permit you to go without acceding to your wishes taxes my strength to the utmost limit, but believe me, the life of one little human being is of short duration in the immense sea of time, and while I am giving up the delight and pleasure of your companionship now, I am doing so in order that I may lend my feeble efforts toward the establishment of a social system whereby the conditions of this world will be made such that at some future date our souls may be able to join each other in peace and harmony and enjoy the blessings of a heavenly world, free from money, which I hope will eventually be the result of my present labors. Therefore, in acting contrary to your wishes now, I feel that I am working for your future happiness. I shall remain at my present post of duty, trying to uplift mankind, I shall follow the dictates of my conscience in doing this, and as long as the bones of my little anatomy hold together as a living being and my brain has the power to reason, I shall teach the principles of Natural Law even if all the world follows your example and turns against me."
At the conclusion of this little speech my emotion overcame me and I could say no more. Arletta also appeared overcome with sadness, and was unable to speak. She withdrew her hand from mine and without a word turned and walked slowly away, sobbing bitterly as she left. I stood and watched her retreating form in a dazed sort of a way. With each step which put us farther apart, increasing darkness obscured my vision. I wanted to call her back but a lump came in my throat and I could not speak. My brain was in a whirl. A terrible feeling of gloom over- shadowed me. I labored under great excitement. My head seemed as if it were ready to burst. I felt that I was going mad. The trees and everything else appeared to be moving about in great confusion. Those same symptoms which I experienced after falling among the rocks of Sageland returned. My body seemed to be dividing into several parts and then becoming one again. I tried to control myself but without avail. All of a sudden I saw standing before me two Arlettas, one at the right hand and the other at the left. The one at the right I instantly recognized as the great Sagewoman, while on the left stood the girl Arletta. They were facing and pointing in opposite directions. Looking to my right I saw a path running up a steep hill which seemed almost impossible to climb and upon which was inscribed the word strength. To my left I observed a path running down the hill upon which was written the word weakness. At the top of the hill everything looked bright and cheerful and orderly, while at the bottom darkness and confusion prevailed. Above the extreme top, as though stamped in space like a great rainbow, these words appeared: Natural Law, Wisdom, Love for Others. At the bottom, and almost obscured in the gloom, I faintly discerned the following: Religion, Ignorance, Love of Self.
As I stood speechless at this wonderful vision everything suddenly became dark and I knew no more.
The next impression my memory has any record of was a huge ocean steamer, floating away upon the deep. Great volumes of smoke were pouring forth from its smoke-stacks as it majestically glided over the water. Upon its many decks were hundreds of human beings, scattered about in little groups, gaily chatting and enjoying to the fullest extent the delight experienced by an ocean voyage. Among all of the happy faces, however, there was one that appeared sad and forlorn. It was the face of a beautiful young woman, standing alone against the railing of the promenade deck, who was weeping in silence. As she raised her eyes and looked in my direction, I instantly recognized the girl Arletta, and realized that she was leaving me forever. And then, like one in a dream, I held out my hands and mutely implored her to return. She appeared to be within a short distance and looking straight at me, but still made no sign of recognition. I could not understand the reason for such coldness on her part, and in astonishment rubbed my eyes and looked again, when lo and behold, she had vanished from sight. But far out into the distance, almost to the horizon, I could plainly see a large steamer headed toward the vast ocean beyond. I looked around in a confused sort of a way, and discovered, to my surprise, that I was standing almost at the water's edge on one of the docks near Battery Place. It was daylight, and the sun was shining overhead. I then concluded that I must have been out of my head for some time, and questioning a stranger, who stood nearby, I learned that just fourteen hours had elapsed since I had bade Arletta good-bye, and I could form no recollection of the slightest incident that happened since then.
After watching the steamer until it had disappeared from view, I slowly walked to a bench in Battery Park and sat down, in the depths of despair, to reflect upon the strange occurrence. I must have sat there for about an hour in deep meditation, when my attention was attracted by a newspaper urchin, shouting at the top of his voice: "Paper! Extra! All about the great murder." At the same time he rushed up to me, pushed a paper into my hand, took the penny I offered him mechanically, and scampered along.
"Another murder," mused I; "what a pity human beings cannot dwell together without taking each other's lives."
Glancing over the headlines, I learned from the big black type that a beautiful young woman had been murdered in cold blood. Reading further, I was horrified to find that the young woman's name was Arletta Fogg, and that she was murdered in her own rooms, at the Seraglio Apartments, Central Park West. I could hardly believe my eyes saw the thing aright. I felt sure that it must be an optical illusion wrought by my constant thought of Arletta. I looked again and again, yet read ever the same words, and, laboring under tremendous excitement, I hurriedly perused the account of the murder. It stated that about eleven o'clock of the previous night Arletta Fogg had arrived at the apartment house, and had been taken to her rooms by the elevator attendant. A half hour later a tall, smooth-faced, white-haired gentleman arrived, and was shown to her apartments. This man was seen by the watchman to leave the place at three o'clock in the morning, and the chambermaid discovered her at ten o'clock in the morning, dead, and covered with blood from several stabs in the body.
Cold perspiration oozed from every pore of my body as I read and re-read this article, over and over again. I was puzzled, dumbfounded, horror- stricken. The description given of the apparent murderer tallied exactly with myself. Straining every nerve I endeavored to regain some impression that might lead to a knowledge of my actions from the time Arletta left me the night before until I had recovered my senses that day. But try as I might, I could no more recall to memory the slightest movement on my part during that time than I could recollect any event which happened during the twenty-one years of which my life had been a blank.
Like a man under the influence of liquor I arose and staggered hurriedly forward until I reached the "L" station where I boarded a train and rode up to Eighty-first street. Here I alighted and walked rapidly over to the Seraglio Apartments. A vast crowd of curious people was collected about the place, and as I approached, all eyes were apparently turned upon me.
Hastening forward I bounded up the entrance steps and almost flew into the vestibule. There were little knots of people standing about the hallway, talking in low tones. Even their voices hushed as I hurried into the elevator and told the attendant to take me up to the eighth floor. The operator appeared to be almost frightened out of his wits at the sight of me, but after a momentary pause he ran the elevator to the eighth floor, peering at me all the time as he might have eyed a wild beast who was about to devour him. Many people were in the upper hall- way, but looking neither to the right nor to the left, I went straight to the door of the room I had entered the night I had taken Arletta home. Finding it locked, without a moment's hesitation I threw against it, all of the force my gigantic frame could command which caused it to give way and fly open before me. I then observed that there were several men in the room, in different positions and groups, as if making a study of the surroundings. Lying upon the bed, in the room adjoining, was the form of a woman partly covered by a spread, and being examined by a man who might have been the coroner. As I rushed forward like a madman, every one there became frightened and made way for me to pass.
Approaching the bed I eagerly scanned her features, and being positive of her identity I took the inanimate form of Arletta in my arms and kissing her tenderly, was overcome by emotion.
Arrested for the murder of Arletta Fogg, after being positively identified by the elevator attendant and the night watchman as being the only person who visited her apartments on the night of the crime, was the next incident of my strange career. Thrown into prison, and caged like a savage beast in a little cell hardly large enough to turn around in, has been my lot ever since that awful tragedy. The case attracted widespread interest, and the newspapers teemed with sensational accounts of it. At the trial, all of the evidence pointed directly to me as the perpetrator of the deed. The elevator operator swore that I was the man whom he had taken to Arletta's apartments shortly after eleven o'clock that night. The watchman testified that he saw me leave her room at three o'clock in the morning. On the stand, I was made to tell, under oath, that Arletta and I had been lovers; that we had been together that same night in the park, and had parted at about half past ten o'clock; that she had informed me of her intention to never see me again. By these statements the prosecuting attorney showed the motive for the crime. I could give no account of my time between half past ten that night and the next day at noon, which was another strong point against me. I had pleaded not guilty, feeling that as I knew nothing about the crime I could not very wisely do otherwise, but also, stating that I had suffered a temporary aberration of the mind during that time, and that if I really did commit the deed, which I could not believe possible, then I had done it in an entirely different character or personality from my normal self.
My attorney endeavored to have me sham insanity during the trial, and he became irritably insolent in his manner toward me because I positively refused to do so. He told me that if I stuck to the truth I would surely be convicted, but if I followed his advice by openly assuming idiotic tactics in court and making false statements under oath, according to his directions, he could save me without any trouble. He frequently growled and cursed at me for the straightforward way that I gave my testimony, claiming that his professional reputation was being ruined by my telling the truth. He privately acknowledged that, in his opinion, I was guilty, but that if he were successful in having me acquitted, he would achieve great fame thereby, and incidentally be able to increase the size of his future clients' fees.
It was proved in court-alas, the saddest blow I had yet received, that Arletta was a frivolous young woman, who practically lived a life of ease and luxury, by monetary gifts derived from two wealthy men, one a United States Senator and the other a prominent Wall Street financier, both being high pillars of the Church, and one of them being old enough to be her grandfather. That was the most painful testimony of the whole proceedings. It did not seem possible to me that the dear, sweet, innocent girl, whom I had loved so much for her gentleness and kindness of nature, could possibly lead such a dual existence, and I could not understand why she should have deceived me, with accounts of herself so at variance with the facts. When I thought of her as she had always appeared to me, excepting those times when I saw her under the influence of liquor, she seemed like a good angel, who was far beyond even the suspicion of reproach; and so when I learned the worst, I pictured her at her best, and my love remained unshaken. While I realized that it was the poor girl's weakness that led her into temptation, still it was plain to discern that the cause of her downfall was money and the miserable creatures who utilized it to buy her very life's blood and drag her along the mire of shame. The poor girl is dead, but the great men, through whose efforts she was disgraced, are still alive, and are considered eminently respectable by both the Church and the community. The curse of money could not have been more forcibly demonstrated than by this incident. The unfortunate young woman craved money, and sold herself for it. My deepest sympathy goes after her to the grave. The finger of scorn is now raised against Arletta by the whole world, but if she could be brought back to life again, I should gladly take her by the hand and say, that my love for her was as strong as ever, and that I would defend her against the insults of the depraved society which reared and educated her in the vices which it now deplores.
It took the jury just forty-five minutes to reach a decision against me. Ten minutes of this time, as I learned from newspaper accounts, were devoted to prayer, that the Almighty should point out the right way to decide the case. Evidently the god, to whom the jury prayed, demonstrated that it was their duty to convict me. For convict me they did, by bringing in a verdict of murder in the first degree. My sentence was that I pay the penalty of the crime with my life by being electrocuted.
The trial was severe and brutal from beginning to end, from my point of view. I was bullied by the prosecutor, scathingly censured by the judge, libeled by the press, cursed by the public, and deserted by my own attorney. I was treated like a cowardly beast of the most depraved type. But with all the abuse that was heaped upon me, I endured it without a murmur, calmly claiming that I was not responsible for the deed, but perfectly willing to take any punishment the law meted out to me. There was one thing, however, which stood out prominently amidst the many shoals of my misfortune, which made me feel that I had not lived in vain. My faithful little band of followers, whom I had taught the principles of Natural Law, remained loyal to me until the very end. Not one member of the society was there who would believe that I was guilty of such an atrocious crime. They insisted that there was some mistake, and spent much time and money in trying to ferret out the mystery. They called upon me as often as the prison regulations would permit, and amid scenes that were touching, protested their undying fidelity to me and the cause I espoused. Each individual promised most solemnly to carry on the work I had begun as long as his life lasted, and I feel sure that, although the end of my time is drawing near, the work entrusted to me by the great Sagewoman is born again, and will grow to huge proportions as time passes on.
And so I have come to the end of my story. Tomorrow I must die. In writing this book, I have tried to confine myself exclusively to the truth. I have felt all along, however, my inability to do the subject justice. There are many things that the great Sagewoman tried to impress upon me which my little brain was not strong enough to grasp. There are also many things which are perfectly clear in my mind, that I have been unable to convey to others, but I have done my best, and that is all that can be expected of any one. I should like to have given more attention to the arrangement of this work, but unfortunately the time allowed me has been very short, and I have had to rush it along in order to complete it. I have produced this treatise while confined within my cell in the death-house, and therefore have had many disadvantages to contend with. I shall give the manuscript to the little body of men and women who are banded together and known as the Natural Law Society, of which I had the honor to be the founder, with the understanding that it will be published and distributed at the earliest possible date. I could wish that the reader might peruse the contents of this work a second time, if it is not asking too much; at least that he might go over carefully and thoughtfully that portion of it which contains the teachings of the great Sagewoman. While I probably have failed to present clearly much of the great wisdom directly received from her magnificent brain, there may arise in the future, wise men, who will be capable of reading in these lines much more than even I, who write them, am able to comprehend. It is my one hope that great men will spring up in the future and take hold of this work—men with minds so strong, so broad, so courageous, and so unselfish, that they will be willing to devote their lives to the noble task of trying to put the whole human race on a footing of equality. There can be no equality so long as those who are strong want to take more of nature's gifts than those who are weak, and no man can ever be great who thinks that one human being is entitled to more than another. That is selfishness. Selfishness and greatness are the extreme opposites.
This is my last day on earth, to use a common but erroneous expression. At noon today my soul will be separated from its body by the hand of man, acting according to a most unnatural, diabolical, and murderous law. And the poor unfortunate creature, who actually slays me, will do so, not because he has a thirst for blood, but for money. Money furnished by the State—a Christian civilization which bred and reared us both.
I am now forty-four years old, and have just reached the threshold of mental strength. As I am in perfect condition physically, and have a splendid constitution as a foundation, there is no good reason why I could not have lived at least forty years more. Forty years longer could I have served the world at my very best, but my fellow beings have decided to kill me, right at a time when I could have been of the most use to them. I am really sorry that I must die, not because I fear death, but because my opportunity to do good to others is taken from me. Twenty-two years ago I was anxious to die, aye even by my own hand. I thought that there was nothing to live for at that time. But the beautiful teachings of the great Sagewoman awakened new ideas of responsibility within me, and now I can see that the grandest thing within the reach of a human being is to live; live as long as nature will allow; live for others.
Natural Law teaches that it is idiotic to pray, and I believe that prayer is a form of insanity, but were I to pray, which I profess I have no idea of doing, my one request of the Creator would be that I might live out my life, in order to spread the principles of Natural Law to the furthermost corners of the earth; or, that I might be born again in a well-constructed body, with a mind capable of grasping nature's ideas in their entirety, and interpreting them to my fellow men in a way that could not be misunderstood. If the Creator would grant me this request, and I could have the ability and the power to change the conditions of the earth to those existing in Sageland before the Catastrophe, I would gladly give in exchange for the privilege, my eternal soul as a sacrifice, and take upon myself everlastingly, all of the misery, suffering, and torture now inflicted upon the rest of mankind.
Good-bye, dear reader, and may your soul always guide you.
END OF JOHN CONVERT'S WORK.
Epilogue on following pages.
FROM THE NEW YORK DAILY (Special Despatch:)
"SING SING, N. Y., 11 A. M.-Electrocution day here always attracts many curious people about the prison walls, but the much heralded execution of John Convert seems to have brought an unusual number of persons to this neighborhood, and the hill overlooking the prison is almost black with people, who have come from all parts of the State.
"Viewed from this hill, Sing Sing prison presents the appearance of a huge, square pen, covering many acres of land, and enclosed by a high, brick wall on the three land sides, and a tall, iron picket fence on the side adjoining the Hudson River.
"On the top of these walls, sentinels are stationed at intervals, who walk back and forth, armed with breech-loading rifles, and under orders to shoot dead any prisoner attempting to escape.
"Within the enclosure, at the north end, are several red brick buildings, which are used as workshops for the twelve hundred time prisoners, now incarcerated here. Running along its eastern border is a massive stone structure, about seven hundred feet long, fifty feet wide, and sixty feet high, with windows crated by heavy, iron bars. This is the main building of the prison, and is used principally as a dormitory for the inmates and offices for those who have charge of the institution.
"The extreme south end of the main building is walled off separately, and occupied exclusively by prisoners whom the State has doomed to death. This place is called the Death Chamber. Inside of this chamber is a high steel cage, four tiers high, and divided into several cells, which are about eight by six feet in dimension. Thick, cement walls, floor, and ceiling, make each cell separate and distinct from the others. Heavy doors of barred steel open outward onto the different platforms, which run all the way around the inside of the cage. Armed patrolmen, known as death guards, are kept constantly walking around these platforms. Within this cage is John Convert and many other notorious murderers, waiting their turns to be put to death as punishment for their heinous crimes.
"At the south end of the Death Chamber is a solid iron door, which leads into an adjoining little red brick building, about fifty by twenty feet in dimension, one story high, and containing two rooms. These rooms are perfectly bare, excepting that in one of them there is a chair, and in the other a table. About ten feet from the door leading from the Death Chamber is the electric chair, by which the State kills its worst criminals. In appearance it is similar to a plain, old-fashioned garden arm-chair, with a high back. Connected to this chair are several straps, by which the condemned man is harnessed in a sitting position, so that he cannot move. These straps are adjusted across the head, chest, abdomen, both fore and upper arms and the ankles. They are not bound too tightly, but left taut in order to allow for the expansion of the body. The electro connections are at the head and the inside of the right calf, the trousers being cut from the knee downward, so that a contact can be made with the bare flesh. Just back of the chair is a large closet, which conceals all of the electrical apparatus necessary to throw on or off the current at the will of the Electrician, by whose hand the condemned man is sent to eternity. Stationed within the closet, the Electrocutioner can see what is going on outside, but cannot be seen from without. Just back of the closet is a partition dividing the two rooms, through which is a door leading into it. In the center of this other room is a stationary table, upon which the autopsy is performed.
"All of the machinery has been thoroughly tested, and found to be in good running order, and neither the State's Electrician nor the Warden expect the slightest hitch in connection with today's proceedings. The twelve witnesses invited by the Warden, and made necessary by law, together with the brain experts, have arrived upon the scene, and everything is in complete readiness for the electrocution of John Convert."
FROM THE NEW YORK DAILY (Special Despatch:)
"SING SING, N. Y., 1:15 P. M.-One of the strangest and most pathetic tragedies that has ever happened in the State of New York has just taken place within the house of electrocution here, the result of which must cause the whole civilized world to pause and shudder. Your correspondent earnestly prays that he may never again be called upon to witness another such horror, the effects of which have completely unnerved him and beggars even a faint description.
"At precisely twelve o'clock today, with the State Electrician, medical experts, and witnesses, mutely stationed in their places, the great iron door leading from the Death Chamber was suddenly swung open, and between two guards the gigantic form of John Convert walked over to the electric chair, with a firm and unfaltering step. Immediately, all eyes were turned upon him, and at the same instant there was a subdued murmur of surprise by many of those present at the magnificent appearance of the man.
"Tall and erect, with finely formed limbs, and powerfully built shoulders, he easily towered above all of the other occupants of the room. With a clean shaven face, the handsome features of which expressed extraordinary intelligence, kindness, and gentleness of nature, combined with wonderful strength of character, and a shapely head, overhung by an abundance of beautiful snow-white hair, he looked more like an ambassador from heaven than a convicted murderer. He wore a black Prince Albert suit of clothes. As he reached the side of the chair he paused, and calmly looking from one to the other of the assemblage, he began to address them in a clear and melodious voice. Almost from the first utterance, his hearers became electrified by his charming manner and eloquence, and for nearly half an hour were held spellbound, while he explained the principles of Natural Law, and the vast benefits the human race could derive by putting them into effect.
"In a convincing way he drew a beautiful picture upon the minds of those present of a heaven that should be established here on earth by and for all living things, in which they should work united and harmoniously together for a common and unselfish cause, instead of each one pulling in a different direction for his own selfish purposes. He explained that all living things were composed of the same material, which was constantly undergoing a change from life to death and from death to life by being molded and remolded into different forms, which are constructed according to the intelligence absorbed by the whole. That it is within the power of the human race, if working together as a unit, to reconstruct all living matter on earth into more perfect organisms, just as it is within the power of man to re-mould a pile of dead scrap iron into new and useful machinery. That these results could only be accomplished by the eradication of selfishness from the human race, and that it was impossible to extinguish selfishness as long as the money system was kept in force, and individuals were recompensed according to their craftiness to help themselves. He told of the soul being everlasting, and how a wise law of nature breaks the monotony of its existence through the process of re-incarnation, and that the soul of the rich aristocrat of today may be the soul of the suckling pig tomorrow. He said that it was within the power of every living thing to do good, if only following the advice of the soul, and that the oftener this advice was taken the easier it became to do right, but that the less the soul's warning was heeded, the more hardened and vile became the nature of the individual. He told of how children inherit the weaknesses of their parents, and mentioned how much grander it is for parents to give their children character without gold, than to give them gold without character.
"So earnestly and pathetically did he present the whole subject, that at the conclusion of his discourse there was not a dry eye in the room, and as he calmly took his seat in the electric chair, the whole assemblage, including the guards, stood motionless for several moments as if in a hypnotic trance. And then, as the guards reluctantly began to adjust the straps about his body, three men burst into loud sobs and rushed from the room, bitterly denouncing the electrocution as savagery, and refusing to witness the proceedings any further. With the exception of the condemned man, everybody was completely unstrung. But John Convert, in the shadow of death, did not lose his wonderful self-control for a moment, but sat with perfect equipoise in that murderous chair, calmly watching with apparent interest the work of fastening him in. "'You have that strap around the abdomen twisted,' he coolly remarked to one of the excited guards, and then quietly added, 'you are not sufficiently hardened for this kind of work, my man, but perhaps your children may be.' And as if stung by remorse at these words, the guard suddenly burst into a frenzy of grief and cried out in piteous tones: 'No, no! Don't say that! I love my children. I undertook this objectionable work for their sakes, that I might be able to give them the same advantages that other children enjoy. But now that you have spoken, I can see that I am paying for their advantages at the expense of their moral characters, and that they too might follow in my miserable footsteps and, eventually sell themselves for money. But listen, I have but just taken this position, and now I am getting my first experience at this kind of work, and I feel as if I were about to commit murder. And now, after hearing your wonderful words, my conscience is crying out within me to stop, and so, in the presence of these witnesses, I not only renounce all further connection with this abominable act, but I most solemnly swear that I believe in Natural Law, and that I shall henceforth devote my life to teaching its principles to my own children, and also to those of my fellow beings. My eyes have suddenly been opened. For the first time in my life I feel like a man.'
"At this unexpected turn of affairs, the countenance of John Convert lighted up with a look of divine happiness that was truly glorious to behold, and, addressing the guard, he said: 'Well spoken, my noble man. May you accumulate sufficient strength to enable you to faithfully follow out your splendid resolution; may your future deeds be so unselfish, heroic, and fruitful, towards uplifting mankind, that the grandchildren of your enemies may live to praise your name.'
"These words seemed to have a cheering effect upon the guard, who affectionately shook the hand of Convert, and then left the room.
"During this time, however, the other guard had continued the work of adjusting the straps, and finally having them properly arranged, stepped backward a few feet and raised his left arm as a sign to the Electrocutioner in the closet that everything was in readiness. And then, just as John Convert uttered the words, 'Always Consult Your Soul for Advice,' a terrible, dull, buzzing sound took the place of his voice, his body suddenly expanded, as if about to burst, his limbs were drawn up and distorted, blue flames shot forth with a weird glow, a sickening odor of burning flesh saturated the air, and quicker than it takes to tell, the deadly current had penetrated through every fiber of his body.
"And then, as all turned away their heads from the awful sight, a loud crash was heard, and the door leading from the court-yard into the other room burst open, and in rushed the Warden, yelling like a madman: 'Stop it! For God's sake, stop it! You are killing the wrong man!' And pulling open the door of the closet which concealed the Electrician, he threw off the current with his own hands. At the same time, amidst great confusion, several of the spectators rushed forward and began unfastening the straps which bound the unfortunate man to the chair, after which the body was carried into the other room and laid upon the table.
"Following in the footsteps of the Warden, was a tall, beautiful, young woman, hatless, and with hair disheveled and dress disarranged. She was panting heavily, and a wild, terrified look gleamed in her eyes. She appeared dazed and almost exhausted. Catching sight of Convert, she frantically tried to get near him, but was held in check by one of the doctors, while the other one made a hurried examination of the body. And then, this doctor, apparently suffering from great mental excitement, turned toward those present, and, with his eyes full of tears, chokingly whispered, 'Too late, he is dead.'
"At these terrible words, the young woman uttered a heart-piercing shriek, and, rushing forward, threw herself upon the corpse, as she piteously moaned: 'You have murdered him. You have murdered him.'"
FROM THE NEW YORK DAILY.
"The following statement, made by one of Chicago's most beautiful and brilliant young society women, is the sequel to the most extraordinary case that ever attracted public attention in this country:
"'My name is Arletta Wright. My father is R. U. Wright, of Chicago, Ill., the well-known financier and multi-millionaire. A few years ago, while in Paris, I was introduced to a man by the name of John Convert. I supposed he was an American, but at that time did not take enough interest in him to inquire as to who he was or where he came from. Later, however, I found that he was continually crossing my path, and appeared anxious to court my attention. He was a tall, well-built, handsome man, with a clean-shaven face and snow-white hair, apparently about forty years old. But there was something about his looks and actions that I did not like, and I tried to avoid him as much as possible. But he was not to be avoided very easily, and, after persistently following me all over Europe, he crossed the ocean in the same steamer, and finally came to my home in Chicago. He got to be such a nuisance that he was refused admittance to our house, and in order to get rid of him entirely, I secretly left Chicago and went abroad again. A few months afterward I returned home, and found that he had left for parts unknown, and the incident was soon forgotten.
"'During the month of March, 1903, about two and a half years later, important business called my father to New York for a stay of several months, and mother and I, accompanying him, we took apartments at the Opulent Hotel, on Broadway, near Seventy-eighth street.
"'About that time I decided to visit the different institutions of New York, and one day as I was being shown through a charity ward of the Ruff Hospital, I was astonished to see John Convert lying sick upon one of the cots. He had a wild and peculiar stare in his eyes and at first gave no sign of recognition, but seemed to be undergoing an intense" mental strain, as if trying to recall to mind some event that had escaped his memory. The doctor informed me that he was an unidentified charity patient suffering with typhoid fever and was evidently insane. He told me that the man imagined he had been in a trance for over four thousand years, and could only be brought out of it by a kiss from one he called Arletta. My heart seemed to melt with pity and sorrow, and my dislike changed into love for the man upon hearing these words, and without hesitation I kissed him, at the same time hoping most sincerely that the act would have a salutary effect. Strange as it may seem, the whole expression of his countenance changed instantly as if by some magic force; his eyes lighted up radiantly, and looking at me in great astonishment he uttered my name-Arletta. But while I was quite elated over my strange success, I was also much surprised and puzzled at his following utterances, whereby he claimed that I was the re-incarnated soul of Arletta of Sageland, who, according to his story, had died on the same day I was born, over twenty-one years before, and from which time he could form no recollection of events whatever.
"'Subsequently, I was informed by an eminent brain specialist, who examined him, that he was mentally sound, but that owing to a severe fracture of the skull received some time previously his brain had become divided into two distinct parts, causing two personalities to exist and enabling him to recollect events only as they were separately recorded on either side of the brain. By this explanation I readily understood the reason why he did not recognize me and also for the wonderful change which took place, both in his character and my feelings toward him. On that day my first and last love for man was born.
"'As time passed by, and he recovered his health and strength, he appeared to me the most beautiful character I had ever known, and with each succeeding day my love for him grew stronger. But while love formed a strong mutual link of attachment between us, another force succeeded in putting us apart.
"'He believed in Natural Law and unselfishness, with equal rights for both strong and weak alike. I believed in religion and selfishness, with the strong enjoying more earthly blessings than the weak.
"'He believed in a Supreme Being, who created immutable laws whereby the entire machinery of the universe is governed, and that these laws could no more be changed by the silly prayers of man than by the prayers of a microbe. I believed in a god to whom I could pray to change earthly conditions to suit my fancies; a god willing to grant me favors even at the expense of others.
"'He believed in re-incarnation, and the power of the soul to eventually master the flesh and create a heaven on earth. I believed in the transmigration of the soul to some obscure heaven where there would be nothing farther to do but rest during all eternity.
"'He was broad in his views and never tried to restrain me from thinking as I liked. I was narrow in mine, and quite unwilling that he should believe in any theory except my own.
"'These and other differences of opinion caused us to separate.
"'One night last June, the same night that awful murder took place in the Seraglio Apartments, I met John Convert at our regular meeting place in Central Park for the last time. It was my habit to meet him in an out-of-the-way corner of the park, because I did not want my parents or friends to know of it. For this same reason, I had never told him my last name or place of residence. At this meeting, I informed him that he must either give up all further connection with the movement he had instituted toward the regeneration of mankind, or bid me good-bye forever. He chose the latter course, although I know that his heart was fairly bursting with grief when I left him.
"'Now, that it is too late, I can fully appreciate what a grand, noble fellow he was. I offered him a million dollars to forsake the cause he had pledged himself to uphold. Think of it, one million dollars! A sum of money for which most civilized men would gladly sell their eternal souls. But John Convert, a believer in Natural Law, could not be bought at any price, and even though I offered him my hand in marriage, an offering which many Crown Princes of Europe have repeatedly begged for, still he would not recede from the grand purpose he had undertaken.
"'Well, we parted, and the next morning I boarded a steamer bound for Europe. But I was wretched and unhappy, and felt that life was a burden to me. I was unable to drive the image of John Convert out of my mind, and as I stood upon the deck of the steamer, as it passed along the river leading to the ocean. I looked back toward New York, and fancied I could see poor John standing alone, and forlorn, upon one of the docks, with his arms outstretched, sadly imploring me to return, and with a feeling of remorse I started for my stateroom to lie down and have a good cry.
"'As I hurried along the dark passageway leading to my room, I was almost startled out of my senses by coming face to face with the very man I thought I had left behind, John Convert. He appeared to be even more startled than myself, and, stepping backward a few paces, he fairly trembled, as he hoarsely exclaimed: 'My God, Arletta, is that really you?' At these words I became frightened, and as the faint rays of light from a distant port-hole fell squarely upon his face, I observed a wild, peculiar stare in his eyes, and noticed that his whole countenance was overcast by a most villainous expression. At that moment, I remembered the doctor's warning words, that he might change personalities at any time that he was subjected to severe mental excitement, and I now recognized in the man standing before me the same character I had met in Paris. Just as quickly as love had taken possession of my feelings for John Convert in the hospital, just that suddenly did it depart when I saw this detestable looking creature in front of me. In an instant he became loathsome to my sight, and without waiting for another word I rushed into my state-room and bolted the door.
"'Not once did I leave my room during that trip across the ocean, but when the steamer arrived at Liverpool, and I started to go ashore, the very first person my eyes rested upon was John Convert; and from that time on he incessantly dogged my footsteps all over Europe. The more I saw of him, the more debased and despicable he appeared to me. The good, kind, old face, that I had loved so well, had now apparently become distorted by a murderous expression, and the soulful eyes which had intoxicated me with ecstasy, now depicted the nature of a degenerate. I shunned him as I would a leper, and many times I wished that I had left him to die in the hospital, instead of aiding him to recover. He became so objectionable to my sight that I threatened to have him arrested if he did not stop following me about. But this had no effect upon him whatever, and after three long, weary months of travel on the continent, in which I attempted to elude him, without success, I finally returned to England and boarded a steamer at Southampton for New York. I fully expected to see John Convert make the voyage also, but to my surprise and great joy I saw him standing on the pier after the steamer had left her moorings and was steaming away. He stood waving his hand at me, and I watched him until beyond the range of vision, then went down to my state-room, with a feeling of relief, as though a great load had been lifted from my shoulders. One of the first things that attracted my attention after entering the state-room, was a large, well-filled envelope, lying upon the bed, and addressed to me. Tearing it open, I found an assortment of various documents, among which was the following letter.'"
"'My dear Arletta: At last realizing that you are beyond my reach and that further efforts to win your love would be useless, and feeling that after all, my affinity is not really you but she whom I recently killed, and as my conscience is torturing me until I can find no rest or contentment in life, I have decided to avenge the many crimes I have committed during the past by taking my own life, and ere you read these lines I shall be dead.
"'My life has been a most miserable failure, and were it not for the fact that during my last hours I feel a strong desire to try and make amends, through you, to the man I have been impersonating for many years, I should, quietly pass out of existence without further ado.
"'In the first place my name is not John, but Edward Convert, son of Henry Convert, and grandson of Peter Convert, who many years ago was a wealthy banker of London, England.
"'My grandfather had two sons; James, the elder, being my uncle, and Henry the younger, my father.
"'About the time my father reached maturity, both he and my uncle fell in love with beautiful twin sisters of a poor family, and in due course of time each took one as a wife. This was done in direct opposition to my grandfather's commands, and so incensed did he become over the affair, that when he died shortly afterward, it was found that he had cut them both off with a mere pittance, while the bulk of his estate which was valued at several million pounds, was to be held in trust until the eldest son of my uncle James had reached maturity, after which it was to be delivered to him intact.
"'At that time neither my father nor uncle had children, and being of different temperaments-my uncle a pious clergyman, and my father a broker with gambling tendencies-they soon parted and lost track of each other.
"'My parents emigrated to Canada and resided in Toronto for some years, in which city I was born. When I was about five years of age my mother died, and a short time later my father moved to Buffalo, N. Y., and entered into the brokerage business there. As I grew up, I was educated with the sole idea that the only purpose for which I had been created was to get money. At home I was taught by my father, in school through books, and at church by the pastor, that my success in life would be judged according to the amount of money I could accumulate. Was it any wonder, then, that I grew up to worship money as the real god, and to finally sell my soul for it? Oh, the terrible curse of money! And what an awful crime for parents to teach their children to love it! Had I not been taught from infancy to crave money, I might have become a useful member of the human family, and utilized my brain power for some worthy cause, instead of using it to scheme, cheat, steal, and even murder, in order that I might obtain it.
"Well, one day when I was about sixteen years old, my father, having just returned from one of his western trips, informed me that he had accidentally run across his brother James, the clergyman, in a little Kansas town named Eden. He said that my uncle told him that his wife had died sixteen years before, while giving birth to an only son, as they were crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Subsequently this son, who had been named John, ran away from home when he was but eleven years old, and had never been seen or heard of since. My father said that Uncle James had evidently brooded over the matter so long that he was broken down in health and could not live much longer. Then he showed me a picture of John Convert, when he was ten years old, and said that it looked exactly like me at that age. Finally, he told me that Cousin John was the sole heir to his grandfather's estate, and intimated that it would be a splendid stroke of business for me to go to Eden and pretend to be the long-lost son, and, after reaching the age of twenty-one, claim the estate as my own. My father told me that as soon as he heard my uncle's story, his well-trained financial brain had immediately formulated this excellent plan, and consequently he led my uncle to believe that he had no children of his own. He also ascertained the names of the different places where my uncle had lived during the past, and proposed that I should visit these localities and become acquainted with John's old playmates, in order to acquire a thorough knowledge of his youthful characteristics and any other useful information necessary to carry out the deception successfully.
"'Well, I entered into the plot with enthusiasm, and within six months presented myself to Uncle James as his son.
"'At first the scheme worked to perfection, and there was great rejoicing in the little town of Eden, where the Rev. James Convert was an honored and respected citizen of the community. But as time went by, my uncle apparently began to doubt my identity, for at times he would look at me long and searchingly, and then, with a sorrowful shake of the head, would remark that I lacked the character of the boy he had known as his son. So, fearing that he might ultimately discover the fraud and foil our plans, my father and I jointly murdered him by a slow process of poison. Then, with the necessary papers in my possession, and plenty of reputable witnesses from Eden to swear that I was the acknowledged son of the Rev. James Convert, at the age of twenty-one I took possession of my grandfather's vast estate in England.
"'But the fear of the rightful heir turning up sooner or later to expose the fraud began to haunt me, and, feeling my insecurity as long as he was alive, I began a long and tedious search for John Convert, which extended to all parts of the world, and covered a period of over twenty- three years, with the sole purpose of killing him if found.
"'In the meantime, fearing that my father might become conscience- stricken sooner or later, and make a confession of our crime to the authorities, I killed him also; and of the three murders, of which I am now responsible, I feel less concern over my father's death than of the other two; for was it not from him that I inherited the instincts to lie, cheat, steal, and murder for money, and by his instructions that these instincts were developed, instead of being discouraged from infancy?
"'Well, although I searched in nearly every nook and corner of the globe, I was unable to find even a clue to my missing cousin, but during that time a most peculiar affair happened, which resulted in my killing a third victim.
"'As you will remember, I met and became infatuated with you in Paris over three years ago, and then followed you to Chicago. After learning that you had secretly departed for Europe again in order to avoid me, I made up my mind to bother you no further, and taking a trip in the opposite direction I spent considerable time touring Australia, Africa and Asia. It was about two years after, while stopping at a fashionable hotel in Berlin that I discovered a young woman boarding there by the name of Arletta Fogg. So closely did she resemble you that I supposed it was you living there under an assumed name. At first when I accused her of being Arletta Wright, of Chicago, she denied it emphatically. But later, after learning that I was a millionaire, she pretended that I was right in my supposition and led me to believe that she had left home for an indefinite period owing to some family disagreement and was now traveling incognito. She permitted me to show her many attentions and gradually we became very good friends. So infatuated with her charms did I become that I was her abject slave. We went to Italy and Egypt together and I lavished money upon her without stint. I proposed honorable marriage to her a hundred times, but she always refused, saying that she preferred a free and independent life. We went to New York, and there I discovered that there were other men besides myself interested in her, and that she had two different places of residence. Several times I saw her in fashionable restaurants dining with other men, and following her one night into the Seraglio Apartments, I found that she occupied a suite of rooms there, of which I had known nothing. She was somewhat under the influence of liquor that night, and the information I secured from her was of such a kind that it almost drove me mad with jealousy, and in a fit of frenzy I stabbed her to death with her own toy dagger and left her lying on the bed. The next morning I quietly boarded the steamer for Europe, and keeping out of sight until away from land, I started to go to the purser's office to pay for my passage, when the very first person I met was you. You can well imagine how it startled me to see one whom I thought was dead. But after the first shock had passed away, and learning from the list that Arletta Wright was a passenger, I gave the whole matter thoughtful consideration and finally concluded that Arletta Fogg and Arletta Wright were two different persons and that the other was merely a beautiful adventuress and your double.
"'Well, you know the rest. You never would care for me, and as the great wealth I so wrongfully acquired cannot buy happiness of peace of mind, I shall ask God to forgive my sins and then blow out the brains that have become so useless.
"'Somewhere in this world the right John Convert may be earning his bread by the sweat of his brow, entirely ignorant of the fact that he is a millionaire by birth, for it was his father's intention never to disclose this secret to him, preferring that he should spend his time as a useful laborer, rather than a moneyed loafer, living without work. Whether he resembles me at this age or not, I cannot say. Perhaps not, for my hair has become prematurely white from sin and worry. Then again, he may wear a beard, while my face is clean shaven. But no matter where he is, what he does, or how he looks, I shall trust in you to do all within your power to try and locate him, and deliver into his hands the enclosed papers, which will be the means of restoring his possessions to him.
"'If you are fortunate enough to find him, beg his forgiveness for me, and say that the cause of all my wickedness was money, and a father who taught me to love it. With a prayer to God for mercy, I shall expect to go to heaven in spite of my sins, as I have faith in Jesus Christ, and, hoping to meet you there, I bid you good-bye until then.
"'EDWARD (JOHN) CONVERT.'"
"'Notwithstanding the dreadful contents of this letter, I felt like crying with joy after reading it, as my mind once more became occupied with thoughts of the splendid character whom I had so ardently loved, but shamefully deserted in New York three months previously. I made up my mind to return and ask his forgiveness, and then join him in his praiseworthy labors of uplifting mankind. Oh! what happiness I experienced during the next few days in anticipation of seeing him again and hearing his manly voice. But alas, how little we know what sorrows are in store for us! The steamer arrived at her wharf at ten o'clock this morning, and a few minutes later. I was seated in a carriage speeding along in the direction of the Waldoria Hotel. At forty minutes past ten I inquired of the clerk for John Convert. Then came the appalling information that he was to be electrocuted at noon for the murder of Arletta Fogg. The rest seems like an awful nightmare. Getting a schedule of trains for Sing Sing, I rushed outside the hotel, and, jumping in the first cab I saw, handed the driver a roll of bills, and told him they were all his if he could get me to the depot in time to catch the eleven o'clock train. Through the streets like mad we whirled, and, reaching the station, I quickly alighted and ran to the ticket office, and from there to the train, which I boarded just as it started away. It was an express, which made no stops before reaching Sing Sing, and was due there at exactly twelve o'clock, the time set for the electrocution. I told the conductor that I would give him a million dollars if he would land me in Sing Sing fifteen minutes ahead of time, but he apparently thought I was insane, and paid no attention to my frantic entreaties to go faster. To make matters worse, the train arrived five minutes late, but, hoping against hopes, I got into a carriage and was driven to the prison.
"Here the attendants thought I was crazy, as I rushed into the reception room, crying out to stop the electrocution, and they would not permit me to see the Warden, who was in his private office. Hearing my cries, however, the Warden came out to see what was the trouble, and as quickly as possible I explained to him the circumstances surrounding the murder of Arletta Fogg, and showed him the written confession of Edward Convert. He read just enough to make sure he was right, and then with an exclamation of horror he rushed out of the office, followed by me. Through grated doors, long, dismal corridors, and a court-yard, we ran, and coming to a little, red brick house, he broke open the frame door with a crash, and hurried inside, only to find that we were just a minute too late.'"
"After a fit of sobbing, Arletta Wright quieted herself long enough to say: 'Telegraph the news to all parts of the civilized world that the State of New York has just murdered the noblest mortal of which history has ever made mention. Tell the inhabitants that through his teachings a new dispensation has sprung into existence, and that Sagemanism is born again. Publicly announce my firm belief in the beautiful principles of Natural Law, and say that henceforth I renounce all further allegiance to a religion which permits the strong to victimize the weak, and upholds a corrupt and unnatural system, which allows schemers, thieves, gamblers, sneaks, loafers, spongers, and all other kinds of human parasites to grow fat off the labors of those who toil. Say that I shall take up the work where John Convert left off, and devote the remainder of my life and all of my wealth towards the cause he advocated.'"
The foundation of humbug is faith.
The light of the universe is reason.
Better be an unselfish dog than a selfish man.
Advice is cheap, so always give the best.
To exhibit temper is to demonstrate insanity.
The rich of today breed thieves for tomorrow.
Strengthen yourself that you may help those less fortunate.
There is never a pleasure lost that there is not another gained.
True philanthropy does not steal from one to give to another.
Religions burn their bridges in front instead of behind them.
One good man on earth is better than ten thousand in heaven.
Feed the mind with good thoughts and you will always be happy.
Keep the mind and body clean and the soul will take care of itself.
Put your trust in the desires of your conscience.
There are two ways to think—animal and human.
Make your soul the master of your mind and body.
Observe at least one day each week for rest and play.
Man is great among men as the flea is great among fleas.
No drawback should cause man to lose control of himself.
Better be a good man persecuted, than a bad man praised.
You of few weaknesses should not judge harshly of those with many weaknesses.
Hate not, but pity your enemies, for thereby you demonstrate your own superiority.
It makes little difference who gets the credit, as long as the world derives the benefit.
Without Labor, Capital would starve; without Capital, Labor could live in luxury.
A liar is a moral coward who fears to speak the truth and abide by the consequences.
Permit your soul to look from the eye and all of nature's objects will appear beautiful.
Hide not your face behind a fantastic beard, that the world may read your character.
The expression of the face is caused by the tendency of the thought.
Semi-intelligent beings try to live on the strength of those less intelligent.
Persecution is a deadly poison which reacts upon those who administer it.
He with many faults is generally too weak to overlook the faults of others.
Which is the most beastly, the pig itself, or the man who rears, kills and eats it?
Behold yourself through the eyes of others and judge your worth accordingly.
When man dies he leaves his works for the approbation or contempt of posterity.
As the mother loves her child, so should all living things love each other.
The sins of the parents are visited upon the children as a natural result, and not by an act of the Almighty.
There are thoughts in existence today which man will not be able to grasp for thousands of years to come.
Replace the Church with schools of moral, mental and physical culture and the world will pro& thereby.
As the swindler first creates a feeling of faith in his intended victim, so religion demands faith in its followers.
Of what good are you if you gain the produce of the whole world and breed ten thousand criminal descendants.
There are many men in this world who call it work to figure how they can secure the results of others' labor.
If you have knowledge, offer it to others; if they do not accept it, that is their loss.
Do not fill your head so full of other people's ideas that there is no room left for your own.
Point out the defects of him who is present; praise the good qualities of him who is absent.
Those who ride upon the backs of others must in turn carry others upon their own backs.
The Bible not only proves its own absurdities, but any others that the human mind can conceive.
Parents should mould their children's character before they are born, by their own thoughts and actions.
Your ancestors are responsible for the weaknesses you inherit, but you are responsible for non-improvement.
Marrying for money or position without mutual love is but one way to breed and preserve the germs of prostitution.
It is not only the selfishness of the strong that robs the weak, but also the selfishness of the weak that keeps them so.
If nature has blessed you with superior ability and you do not use it to benefit mankind, then you have betrayed nature's trust.
The laborer furnishes the capitalist with money, houses, clothes, eatables, service and then the weapons and power to keep him enslaved.
If you have not improved your condition physically, mentally and morally over that of your parents, your life has been a failure.
Religion is a great cudgel held threateningly by the strong over the heads of the weak to keep them in a state of ignorance and slavery.
If the soul were born with the body, then it must die with it; but if the soul live afterward, then it must have lived before the body was born.
The learned man is sometimes wise; the wise man is not always learned. The wise man produces good thoughts direct from nature; the learned man acquires them afterward.