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From Place to Place   By: (1876-1944)

Book cover

First Page:

FROM PLACE TO PLACE

The Works of

IRVIN S. COBB

[Illustration: Emblem]

The Review of Reviews Corporation Publishers New York Published by Arrangement with George H. Doran Company

Copyright, 1920, by George H. Doran Company Copyright, 1918, 1919, by the Curtis Publishing Company Copyright, 1918, by the Frank A. Munsey Co. Copyright, 1913, 1918, by the Red Book Corporation

Printed in the United States of America

TO

CHARLES R. FLINT, ESQ.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I THE GALLOWSMITH 11

II THE BROKEN SHOELACE 55

III BOYS WILL BE BOYS 96

IV THE LUCK PIECE 156

V QUALITY FOLKS 206

VI JOHN J. COINCIDENCE 259

VII WHEN AUGUST THE SECOND WAS APRIL THE FIRST 302

VIII HOODWINKED 332

IX THE BULL CALLED EMILY 382

FROM PLACE TO PLACE

CHAPTER I

THE GALLOWSMITH

This man that I have it in mind to write about was, at the time of which I write, an elderly man, getting well along toward sixty five. He was tall and slightly stooped, with long arms, and big, gnarled, competent looking hands, which smelled of yellow laundry soap, and had huge, tarnished nails on the fingers. He had mild, pale eyes, a light blue as to colour, with heavy sacs under them, and whitish whiskers, spindly and thin, like some sort of second growth, which were so cut as to enclose his lower face in a nappy fringe, extending from ear to ear under his chin. He suffered from a chronic heart affection, and this gave to his skin a pronounced and unhealthy pallor. He was neat and prim in his personal habits, kind to dumb animals, and tolerant of small children. He was inclined to be miserly; certainly in money matters he was most prudent and saving. He had the air about him of being lonely. His name was Tobias Dramm. In the town where he lived he was commonly known as Uncle Tobe Dramm. By profession he was a public hangman. You might call him a gallowsmith. He hanged men for hire.

So far as the available records show, this Tobias Dramm was the only man of his calling on this continent. In himself he constituted a specialty and a monopoly. The fact that he had no competition did not make him careless in the pursuit of his calling. On the contrary, it made him precise and painstaking. As one occupying a unique position, he realized that he had a reputation to sustain, and capably he sustained it. In the Western Hemisphere he was, in the trade he followed, the nearest modern approach to the paid executioners of olden times in France who went, each of them, by the name of the city or province wherein he was stationed, to do torturing and maiming and killing in the gracious name of the king.

A generous government, committed to a belief in the efficacy of capital punishment, paid Tobias Dramm at the rate of seventy five dollars a head for hanging offenders convicted of the hanging crime, which was murder. He averaged about four hangings every three months or, say, about nine hundred dollars a year all clear money.

The manner of Mr. Dramm's having entered upon the practise of this somewhat grisly trade makes in itself a little tale. He was a lifelong citizen of the town of Chickaloosa, down in the Southwest, where there stood a State penitentiary, and where, during the period of which I am speaking, the Federal authorities sent for confinement and punishment the criminal sweepings of half a score of States and Territories. This was before the government put up prisons of its own, and while still it parcelled out its human liabilities among State owned institutions, paying so much apiece for their keep. When the government first began shipping a share of its felons to Chickaloosa, there came along, in one clanking caravan of shackled malefactors, a half breed, part Mexican and the rest of him Indian, who had robbed a territorial post office and incidentally murdered the postmaster thereof... Continue reading book >>




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