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A Republic Without a President and Other Stories   By: (1861-1932)

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A REPUBLIC WITHOUT A PRESIDENT AND OTHER STORIES

BY HERBERT D. WARD

AUTHOR OF "THE NEW SENIOR AT ANDOVER," "THE MASTER OF THE MAGICIANS," ETC.

NEW YORK TAIT, SONS & COMPANY Union Square

Copyright, 1891. BY HERBERT D. WARD.

A REPUBLIC WITHOUT A PRESIDENT.

PART I.

On the morning of the eighth of June, 1893, at about ten o'clock, crowds were seen clustered in front of the daily newspaper bulletins in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Boston. The excitement rivalled that occasioned by the assassination of Garfield, and by night the country was as bewildered and aghast as when the news came that Lincoln was murdered. This was the announcement as it appeared in blood red, gigantic capitals by the door of the New York Tribune building:

UNPRECEDENTED CALAMITY!

AWFUL MYSTERY!

THE PRESIDENT AND HIS WIFE SPIRITED AWAY FROM THE WHITE HOUSE!

TWO SERVANTS FOUND GAGGED!

NOT A TRACE OF THE DISTINGUISHED COUPLE!

THE COUNTRY AGHAST AT THE DREADFUL POSSIBILITIES OF THIS DISAPPEARANCE!

Extras found enormous sales, but they contained no more news than this. Business was brought to a standstill and stocks fell in half an hour from five to twenty per cent. The land was convulsed. It was true that there were those who thought the whole thing a colossal hoax perpetrated by the defeated party. But as time went on the startling and incredible news was confirmed. The evening edition of the New York Sun had these ominous headers.

THE PRESIDENT AND HIS WIFE HAVE ACTUALLY DISAPPEARED.

THE GAGGED SERVANTS OF THE WHITE HOUSE TELL THEIR STORY.

THEY ARE IN PRISON ON GRAVE SUSPICION OF CONSPIRACY.

THE CARD OF AN EMINENT POLITICIAN FOUND IN THE VESTIBULE OF THE EXECUTIVE MANSION.

IS A DARK POLITICAL PLOT ABOUT TO BE UNEARTHED?

The next day found the situation unchanged. Rumors of every description ran wild. Telegrams of condolence from all the sovereigns of the world were received at Washington by the dazed Department of State. These were fully given to the omnivorous press. By order of the Vice President, all other news was for the present rigorously withheld from publication. To this censorship the press submitted cordially. Mystery was brooding over the land, and despair laughed detectives in the face. Men met each other and asked only this question:

"Have they been found?"

A sad shake of the head always followed.

"No wonder," the Governor of Massachusetts was heard to say, "with thousands of assassins coming over here every year. Even our President was not safe. God help our country!"

At the end of a few days the full news, as far as it went, was published, and the nation then drew its second breath. The facts about this stupendous abduction, as given to the public by the end of the week, were briefly these: This is the affidavit of the night sentry, who was stationed in the vestibule of the White House.

"My name is George Henry. I am thirty four years old. I was born in this country. My father was a slave. It was about one thirty last night when I was aroused by a double rap at the main entrance. I was not asleep, but I may have been a little sleepy. I asked who was there, and a voice answered that the Secretary of State wished to see the President on business of the greatest importance. I answered that the President was in bed. He said that he must see the President immediately. Then I thought I recognized the voice of Mr. Secretary. I opened the door and, sure enough, Mr. Secretary entered. He had on a silk hat and the gray overcoat he usually wears. He gave me his card, and told me to take it right up to the President. The door was left open and I noticed it was raining. The carriage of the Secretary was standing under the portico. I did not see the coachman. When I bowed and turned to go upstairs there was a strange smell in the air, and I remember nothing more... Continue reading book >>




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