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they removed him under charitable
pretenses, and searched his pockets in the passage for the key of Alfred's room.
To their infinite surprise and
disappointment it was not upon him.
The fact is, Mrs. Archbold had
snatched it from him in her wrath, and put it in her own pocket. How far her
suspicions went, how much her spies had discovered, I really don't know; but
somehow or other she was uneasy in her mind, and, seeing Hayes in such a state,
she would not trust him during her absence, but took the key away with her.
The Robin and Garrett knew
nothing of this, and were all abroad; but they thought Rooke must have the key;
so they proceeded to drink with him, and were just about to administer a really
effective soporific in his grog, when they and all the merry party were suddenly
startled by violent ringing at the bell, and thundering and halloaing at the
hall-door. The men jumped to their feet and balanced themselves, and looked half
wild, half stupid. The women sat, and began to scream: for they had heard a word
that has terrors for us all; peculiar terrors for them.
This alarm was due to a personage
hitherto undervalued in the establishment.
Mr. Francis Beverley had been
THINKING. So now, finding all the patients boxed up, and their attendants
romping in the drawing-room, he lighted seven fires, skillfully on the whole,
for practice makes perfect; but, singular oversight, he omitted one essential
ingredient in a fire, and that was the grate.
To be plain, Mr. Francis made
seven bonfires of bed-curtains, chairs, and other combustibles in the servants'
garrets, lighted them contemporaneously, and retired to the basement, convinced
he had taken the surest means to deliver his friend out of Drayton House; and
with a certain want of candor that characterizes the weak, proceeded to black
his other bad masters' shoes with singular assiduity.
There was no wind to blow the
flame; but it was a clear frost; and soon fiery tongues shot out of three
garret-windows into the night, and lurid gleams burnished four more, and the old
house was burning merrily overhead, and ringing with hilarity on the first
But the neighbors saw, pointed,
wondered, comprehended, shouted, rang, knocked, and surged round the iron gate.
"Fire! fire! fire!" and "Fire!" went down the road, and men on horseback
galloped for engines; and the terror-stricken porter opened and the people
rushed in and hammered at the hall doors, and, when Rooke ran down and opened,
"Fire!" was the word that met him from a score of eager throats and glittering
"Fire! Where?" he cried.
"Where! Why, you are on fire.
He ran out and looked up at the
tongues of flame and volleys of smoke. "Shut the gate!" he roared. "Call the
police. Fire! fire!" And he dashed back, and calling to the other keepers to
unlock all the doors they had keys of, ran up to the garrets to see what could
be done. He came out awe-stricken at what he saw. He descended hastily to the
third floor. Now the third floor of that wing was occupied principally by
servants. In fact, the only patients at that time were Dodd and Alfred. Rooke
called to the men below to send Hayes up to No. 75 with his key directly: he
then ran down to the next floor; of which he had keys; and opened all the doors,
and said to the inmates with a ghastly attempt at cheerfulness, belied by his
shaking voice, "Get up, gentlemen; there is a ball and supper going on below."
He was afraid to utter the word "fire" to them. The other keepers were as rapid,
each on his beat, and soon the more rational patients took the alarm and were
persuaded or driven out half dressed into the yard, where they cowered together
in extremity of fear; for the fire began to roar overhead like a lion and
lighted up the whole interior red and bright. All was screaming and confusion;
and then came a struggle to get the incurable out from the basement story. There
was no time to handcuff them. The keepers trusted to the terror of the scene to
cow them, and so opened the doors and got them out anyhow. Wild, weird forms,
with glaring eyes and matted hair, leaped out and ran into the hall, and
laughed, and danced, and cursed in the lurid reflection of the fires above. Hell
seemed discharging demons. Men recoiled from them. And well they did; for now
the skylight exploded, and the pieces fell tinkling on the marble hall fast as
hail. The crowd recoiled and ran; but those awful figures continued their
gambols. One picked up the burning glass and ground it in his hands that bled
directly: but he felt neither burn nor cut. The keepers rushed in to withdraw
them from so dangerous a place: all but one obeyed with sudden tameness: that
one struggled and yelled like a demon. In the midst of which fearful contest
came a sudden thundering at a door on the third floor.
"Christ! What is that?" cried
"It is Mr. Hardie," screamed the
Robin. "You have left him locked in."
"I told Hayes to let him out long
"But Hayes hasn't got the key.
You've got it."
"No, no. I tell you Hayes has got
"No, no Murder! murder! They are
dead men. Run for Mrs. Archbold, somebody. Run! Here, hammers, hammers! for
God's sake come and help me break the door. Oh, Rooke, Rooke!"
"As I'm a man Hayes has got the
key," cried Rooke, stamping on the ground, and white with terror.
By this time Garrett had got a
hammer, and he and Wales rushed wildly up the stairs to batter in the strong
door if they could. They got to the third floor, but with difficulty; the smoke
began to blind them and choke them, and
fiery showers fell on them, and
drove them back, smarting and choking. Garrett sank down gasping at the
stair-foot. Wales ran into the yard uttering pitiful cries, and pointing wildly
upward: but before he got there a hand had broken through the glass of a window
up in the third floor, the poor white hand of a perishing prisoner, and clutched
the frame-work and tore at it.
At this hand a thousand white
faces were now upturned amidst groans of pity and terror such as only multitudes
can utter. Suddenly those anxious faces and glistening eyes turned like one, for
an attempt, wild and unintelligible, but still an attempt, was about to be made
to save that hand and its owner out of the very jaws of death.
Now among the spectators was one
whose life and reason were at stake on that attempt.
Mrs. Dodd was hurrying homeward
from this very neighborhood when the fire broke out. Her son Edward was coming
at nine o'clock to tea, and, better still, to sleep. He was leaving the fire
brigade. It had disappointed him; he found the fire-escape men saved the lives,
the firemen only the property. He had gone into the business earnestly too; he
had invented a thing like a treble pouch hook, which could be fastened in a
moment to the end of a rope, and thrown into the window, and would cling to the
bare wall, if there was nothing better, and enable him to go up and bring life
down. But he had never got a chance to try it; and, per contra, he was on the
engine when they went tearing over a woman and broke her arm and collarbone in
the Blackfriars'-road: and also when they went tearing over their own fire-dog
and crippled him. All this seemed out of character, and shocked Edward: and then
his mother could not get over the jacket.
In a quarter of an hour he was to
take off the obnoxious jacket forever, and was now lounging at the station
smoking a short pipe, when a man galloped up crying "Fire!"
"All right!" said Edward, giving
a whiff. "Where?"
"Lunatic Asylum. Drayton House."
Guess how long before the horses
were to, and the engine tearing at a gallop down the road, and the firemen
shouting "Fire! fire!" to clear the way, and Edward's voice the loudest.
When the report of fire swept
townward past Mrs. Dodd, she turned: and saw the glow.
"Oh dear," said she, "that must
be somewhere near Drayton House." And full of the tender fears that fill such
bosoms as hers for those they love, she could not go home till she had
ascertained that it was not Drayton House. Moreover, Edward's was the nearest
station; she had little hope now of seeing him to tea. She sighed, and retraced
her steps, and made timid inquiries, but could gain no clear information.
Presently she heard galloping behind her, and the firemen's wild sharp cry of
fire. An engine drawn by two powerful brown horses came furiously, all on fire
itself with red paint and polished steel gleaming in the lights: helmeted men
clustered on it, and out of one of these helmets looked a face like a fighting
lion's, the eyes so dilated, the countenance in such towering excitement, the
figure half rising from his seat as though galloping was too slow and he wanted
to fly. It was Edward: mother and son caught sight of one another as the engine
thundered by, and he gave her a solemn ardent look and pointed toward the fire:
by that burning look and eloquent gesture she knew it was something more than a
common fire. She trembled and could not move. But this temporary weakness was
followed by an influx of wild vigor; she forgot her forty-two years, and flew to
hover round the fire as the hen round water. Unfortunately she was too late to
get any nearer than the road outside the gates, the crowd was so dense. And,
while her pale face and anxious eyes, the eyes of a wife and a mother, were bent
on that awful fire, the human tide flowed swiftly up behind her, and there she
was wedged in. She was allowed her foot of ground to stand and look like the
rest—no more. Mere unit in that mass of panting humanity, hers was one of the
thousands of upturned faces lurid in the light of the now blazing roof. She saw
with thousands the hand break the window and clutch the frame: she gasped with
the crowd at that terrible and piteous sight, and her bosom panted for her
fellow-creature in sore peril. But what is this? The mob inside utter a great
roar of hope; the crowd outside strain every eye.
A gleaming helmet overtops the
outer wall. It is a fireman mounting the great elm-tree in the mad-house yard.
The crowd inside burst in a cheer. He had a rope round his loins; his face was
to the tree. He mounted and mounted like a cat; higher, and higher, and higher,
till he reached a branch about twelve feet above the window and as many distant
from it laterally: the crowd cheered him lustily. But Mrs. Dodd, half distracted
with terror, implored them not to encourage him. "It is my child!" she cried,
despairingly; "my poor reckless darling! Come down, Edward; for your poor
mother's sake, come down."
"Dear heart," said a woman, "it
is the lady's son. Poor thing!"
"Stand on my knee, ma'am," said a
"Oh no, Sir, no. I could not look
at him for the world. I can only pray for him. Oh, good people, pray for us!"
And she covered her face, and prayed and trembled and sobbed hysterically. A few
yards behind was another woman, who had arrived later, yet like her was wedged
immovable. This woman was more terror-stricken than Mrs. Dodd: and well she
might; for she knew who was behind that fatal window: the woman's name was Edith
Archbold. The flames were now leaping through the roof, and surging up toward
heaven in waves of fire six
feet high. Edward, scorched and
half-blinded, managed to fasten his rope to the bough, and, calculating the
distances vertical and lateral he had to deal with, took up rope accordingly,
and launched himself into the air.
The crowd drew their breath so
hard it sounded like a murmur. To their horror he missed the window, and went
There was a cry of dismay. But
Edward had never hoped to leap into the window; he went swinging by the rope
back to the main stem of the tree, gave it a fierce spang with his feet, and by
this means and a powerful gesture of his herculean loins got an inch nearer the
window; back again, and then the same game; and so he went swinging to and fro
over a wider and wider space; and, by letting out an inch of cord each swing,
his flying feet came above the window-ledge, then a little higher, then higher
still, and now, oh sight strange and glorious—as this helmeted hero, with lips
clenched and great eyes that stared unflinching at the surging flames and
gleamed supernaturally with inward and outward fire, swang to and fro on his
frail support still making for the window—the heads of all the hoping, fearing,
admiring, panting crowd went surging and waving to and fro beneath; so did not
their hearts only but their agitated bodies follow the course of his body, as it
rushed to and fro faster and faster through the hot air starred with snow-flakes
and hail of fire. And those his fellow-men for whom the brave fireman made this
supernatural effort, did they know their desperate condition? Were they still
alive? One little hour ago Alfred sat on the bed, full of hope. Every minute he
expected to hear the Robin put a key into the door. He was all ready, and his
money in his pocket. Alas! his liberator came not: some screw loose again.
Presently he was conscious of a great commotion in the house. Feet ran up and
down. Then came a smell of burning. The elm-tree outside was illuminated. He was
glad at first; he had a spite against the place. But soon he became alarmed, and
hammered at the door and tried to force it. Impossible. "Fire" rang from men's
voices. Fire crackled above his head. He ran about the room like a wild
creature. He sprang up at the window and dashed his hand through, but fell back.
He sprang again and got his hand on some of the lighter wood-work; he drew
himself up nearly to the window, and then the wood gave way and he fell to the
ground, and striking the back of his head, nearly stunned himself; the flames
roared fearfully now; and at this David, who had hitherto sat unconcerned,
started up, and in a stentorian voice issued order upon order to furl every rag
of sail and bring the ship to the wind. He thought it was a tempest. "Oh hush!
hush!" cried Alfred, in vain. A beam fell from the roof to the floor, precursor
of the rest. On this David thought the ship was ashore, and shouted a fresh set
of orders proper to the occasion, so terribly alike are the angry voices of the
sister-elements. But Alfred implored him, and got him to kneel down with him,
and held his hand, and prayed.
And, even while they kneeled and
Alfred prayed, Death and Life met and fought for them. Under the door, tight as
it was, and through the keyhole struggled a hot stifling smoke, merciful
destroyer running before fire: and the shadow of a gigantic figure began to
flicker in from the outside, and to come and go upon the wall. Alfred did not
know what that was, but it gave him a vague hope: he prayed aloud as men pray
only for their bodies. (The crowd heard him and hushed itself breathless.)
The smoke penetrated faster,
blinding and stifling; the giant shadow came and went. But now the greater part
of the roof fell in with an awful report; the blazing timbers thundered down to
the basement with endless clatter of red-hot tiles; the walls quivered, and the
building belched skyward a thousand jets of fire like a bouquet of rockets; and
then a cloud of smoke. Alfred gave up all hope, and prepared to die. Crash! as
if discharged from a cannon, came bursting through the window with the roar of
an applauding multitude and a mother's unheeded scream, a helmeted figure rope
in hand, and alighted erect and commanding on the floor amidst a shower of
splinters and tinkling glass. "Up men for your lives!" roared this fire warrior,
clutching them hard, and dragged them both up to their feet by one prodigious
gesture: all three faces came together and shone in the lurid light; and he knew
his father and "the wretch," and the wretch knew him. "Oh!" "Ah!" passed like
pistol shots; but not a word: even this strange meeting went for little, so
awful was the moment, so great are Death and Fire. Edward clawed his rope to the
bed; up to the window by it, dropped his line to fireman Jackson planted express
below, and in another moment was hawling up a rope-ladder: this he attached, and
getting on it and holding his own rope by way of baluster cried "Now men, quick,
for your lives." But poor David called that deserting the ship, and demurred,
till Alfred assured him the captain had ordered it. He then submitted directly,
touched his forelock to Edward, whom he took for that officer, and went down the
ladder; Alfred followed.
Now the moment those two figures
emerged from the burning pile, Mrs. Dodd, already half dead with terror for her
son, saw and knew her husband: for all about him it was as light as day.
What terror! what joy! what
gratitude! what pride! what a tempest of emotions!
But her fears were not ended;
Edward, not to overweight the ladder, went dangling by his hands along the rope
toward the tree. And his mother's eyes stared fearfully from him to the other,
and her heart hung trembling on her husband descending cautiously, and then on
his preserver, her son, who was dangling along by the hands on that frail
support. The mob cheered him royally, but she screamed and hid her face
again. At last both her darlings
were safe, and then the lusty cheers made her thrill with pride and joy, till
all of a sudden they seemed to die away and the terrible fire to go out; and the
sore-tried wife and mother drooped her head, and swooned away, wedged in and
kept from falling by the crowd.
Inside, the mob parted and made
two rushes, one at the rescued men, one at the gallant fire-man. Alfred and
David were overpowered with curiosity and sympathy. They had to shake a hundred
honest hands; and others still pressing on, hurried them nearly off their feet.
"Gently, good friends, don't part
us," said Alfred.
"He is the keeper," said one of
"Yes, I'm his keeper: and I want
to get him quietly away. This excitement will do him harm else; good friends,
help me out by that door."
"All right," was the cry, and
they rushed with him to the back door. Rooke, who was about twenty yards off,
saw and suspected this movement. He fought his way and struggled after Alfred in
silence. Presently, to his surprise, Alfred opened the gate and whipped out with
David, leaving the door open. Rooke shouted and halloaed: "Stop him! he is
escaping!" and struggled madly to the door: now another crowd had been waiting
in the meadows; seeing the door opened they rushed in and the doorway was jammed
directly. In the confusion Alfred drew David along the side of the wall; told
him to stay quiet, bolted behind an outhouse, and then ran across country for
the bare life.
To his horror David followed him,
and with a madman's agility soon caught him.
He snorted like a spirited horse,
and shouted cheerily. "Go ahead messmate; I smell blue water."
"Come on then," cried Alfred,
half mad himself with excitement, and the pair ran furiously, and dashed through
hedges and ditches, torn, bleeding, splashed, triumphant; behind them the
burning mad-house, above them the spangled sky, the fresh free air of liberty
blowing in their nostrils, and rushing past their ears.
Alfred's chest expanded, he
laughed for joy, he sang for joy, he leaped as he went; nor did he care where he
went. David took the command, and kept snuffing the air, and shaping his course
for blue water. And so they rushed along the livelong night.
THE BRIDGE ACCIDENT AT
page 748 we illustrate the
falling of the Rush Street Bridge at Chicago, an accident which took place on 3d
instant. Our illustration is from a photograph by Mr. Alschuler. A Chicago paper
thus describes the event:
A few minutes before five o'clock
last evening the iron bridge across the river at Rush Street broke in two while
turning, and precipitated twelve human beings and at least fifty cattle into the
river. Several were drowned. Owing to the fact that it was growing dark at the
time of the accident, and to the bustle and confusion incident to the scene, it
was impossible to gather full particulars of the catastrophe. The following is
all that could be ascertained:
A herd of fat cattle, numbering
about one hundred and fifty, was being driven over the bridge, in a northerly
direction, at a quarter before five o'clock. About sixty of them were on the
bridge, the remainder having crossed over, when the tug Prindiville, having two
small vessels in tow, came steaming down the river, and blew the whistle as a
signal to open the bridge. A minute afterward, and before having arrived within
dangerous distance, the captain saw the cattle crowding over, and immediately
reversed the screw, signaling the fact to the vessels in tow at the same moment.
But it was too late. The bridge-tender saw the tug approaching, and,
apprehensive of a collision, he commenced to swing the bridge,, the north end of
which was covered with cattle, the south end being empty. Of course this gave an
immense preponderance to the former, and no sooner did the bridge swing clear of
the bearings at the abutments than the north end descended. It sunk very slowly
till it had dropped eight or nine feet, and then the whole weight of the
structure being rested on one edge of the platform the bridge broke in the
middle with a tremendous crash, precipitating every thing into the river, the
two pieces falling right across the channel, one on each side, and leaving but
one narrow space through which a vessel can pass.
There were on the bridge at the
same time two drovers, one of them mounted on horseback; James H. Dole,
commission-merchant in this city; one woman with a child; a boy: and about four
other men. The scene was indescribably terrible. Several of the cattle were
jammed in among the broken material, being horribly mutilated, and sending forth
most distressing sounds of agony. Human beings were struggling in the water,
shrieking for help, and all around them were the uninjured cattle swimming
about, and threatening mischief to their human companions in misfortune. The
brig Goble was lying just below at the time, and her captain, Lewis Berry, sent
off the first boat to the assistance of the sufferers. Other boats were quickly
dispatched to the scene, and then the work of rescue began. This was not easily
accomplished, as the animals were very thick in the water, and it was almost
impossible to move among them for the purpose of aiding first the passengers. In
consequence of this, and the rapidly increasing darkness, no one knew with
certainty the number of those in peril. The following is believed to be the
correct record of saved and lost.
The bridge-tender leaped from the
platform overhead to the one below. He fortunately was not struck by any of the
splinters, and escaped with only a few bruises received in falling. His
assistant is believed to be lost.
Mr. Dole escaped almost by a
miracle, falling into the water unharmed, and was picked up almost immediately.
The horse and buggy were lost. The animal was a rather valuable one—worth four
One elderly gentleman secured one
of the planks which formed the floor of the bridge, and swam ashore by its aid;
three other men were picked up by the boats. The boy was also saved. He said
there was a woman walking alongside him when the bridge broke. Nothing was seen
of her. She is in all probability lost, with her child. It is feared that both
drovers were lost. nothing having been seen of them since, and the cattle were
last evening roaming about the streets of the North Division, with no one to
take care of them.
The horse on which the drover was
riding was taken in tow by the Goble's boat and hoisted on board the vessel. He
was soon claimed and taken away. In attempting to get him ashore the plank
slipped and he again fell into the river. The task of effecting a second
emersion was much more difficult than the first. The animal was nearly drowned.
The majority of the cows swam to
the dock without aid, and were pulled on land by the by-standers. Of the others,
two were seen to drown, and five others were killed after reaching the dock,
their injuries being of such in nature as to render recovery impossible. Several
others remained inextricably fixed in the wreck, their moanings being plainly
heard to a late hour last evening.