CARNIVAL OF CRIME IN CT.
CARNIVAL OF CRIME IN CT.
THE FACTS CONCERNING THE RECENT CARNIVAL OF CRIME IN CONNECTICUT
I was feeling blithe almost jocund. I put a match to my cigar and just
then the morning's mail was handed in. The first superscription I
glanced at was in a handwriting that sent a thrill of pleasure through
and through me. It was Aunt Mary's; and she was the person I loved and
honored most in all the world outside of my own household. She had been
my boyhood's idol; maturity which is fatal to so many enchantments had
not been able to dislodge her from her pedestal; no it had only
justified her right to be there and placed her dethronement permanently
among the impossibilities. To show how strong her influence over me was
I will observe that long after everybody else's "do-stop-smoking" had
ceased to affect me in the slightest degree Aunt Mary could still stir
my torpid conscience into faint signs of life when she touched upon the
matter. But all things have their limit in this world. A happy day came
at last when even Aunt Mary's words could no longer move me. I was not
merely glad to see that day arrive; I was more than glad--I was grateful;
for when its sun had set the one alloy that was able to mar my enjoyment
of my aunt's society was gone. The remainder of her stay with us that
winter was in every way a delight. Of course she pleaded with me just as
earnestly as ever after that blessed day to quit my pernicious habit
but to no purpose whatever; the moment she opened the subject I at once
became calmly peacefully contentedly indifferent--absolutely
adamantinely indifferent. Consequently the closing weeks of that
memorable visit melted away as pleasantly as a dream they were so
freighted for me with tranquil satisfaction. I could not have enjoyed my
pet vice more if my gentle tormentor had been a smoker herself and an
advocate of the practice. Well the sight of her handwriting reminded me
that I way getting very hungry to see her again. I easily guessed what I
should find in her letter. I opened it. Good! just as I expected; she
was coming! Coming this very day too and by the morning train; I might
expect her any moment.
I said to myself "I am thoroughly happy and content now. If my most
pitiless enemy could appear before me at this moment I would freely
right any wrong I may have done him."
Straightway the door opened and a shriveled shabby dwarf entered. He
was not more than two feet high. He seemed to be about forty years old.
Every feature and every inch of him was a trifle out of shape; and so
while one could not put his finger upon any particular part and say
"This is a conspicuous deformity" the spectator perceived that this
little person was a deformity as a whole--a vague general evenly
blended nicely adjusted deformity. There was a fox-like cunning in the
face and the sharp little eyes and also alertness and malice. And yet
this vile bit of human rubbish seemed to bear a sort of remote and
ill-defined resemblance to me! It was dully perceptible in the mean
form the countenance and even the clothes gestures manner and
attitudes of the creature. He was a farfetched dim suggestion of a
burlesque upon me a caricature of me in little. One thing about him
struck me forcibly and most unpleasantly: he was covered all over with a
fuzzy greenish mold such as one sometimes sees upon mildewed bread.
The sight of it was nauseating.
He stepped along with a chipper air and flung himself into a doll's
chair in a very free-and-easy way without waiting to be asked. He
tossed his hat into the waste-basket. He picked up my old chalk pipe
from the floor gave the stem a wipe or two on his knee filled the bowl
from the tobacco-box at his side and said to me in a tone of pert
"Gimme a match!"
I blushed to the roots of my hair; partly with indignation but mainly
because it somehow seemed to me that this whole performance was very like
an exaggeration of conduct which I myself had sometimes been guilty of in
my intercourse with familiar friends--but never never with strangers I
observed to myself. I wanted to kick the pygmy into the fire but some
incomprehensible sense of being legally and legitimately under his
authority forced me to obey his order. He applied the match to the pipe
took a contemplative whiff or two and remarked in an irritatingly
"Seems to me it's devilish odd weather for this time of year."
I flushed again and in anger and humiliation as before; for the language
was hardly an exaggeration of some that I have uttered in my day and
moreover was delivered in a tone of voice and with an exasperating drawl
that had the seeming of a deliberate travesty of my style. Now there is
nothing I am quite so sensitive about as a mocking imitation of my
drawling infirmity of speech. I spoke up sharply and said:
"Look here you miserable ash-cat! you will have to give a little more
attention to your manners or I will throw you out of the window!"
The manikin smiled a smile of malicious content and security puffed a
whiff of smoke contemptuously toward me and said with a still more
"Come--go gently now; don't put on too many airs with your betters."
This cool snub rasped me all over but it seemed to subjugate me too
for a moment. The pygmy contemplated me awhile with his weasel eyes
and then said in a peculiarly sneering way:
"You turned a tramp away from your door this morning."
I said crustily:
"Perhaps I did perhaps I didn't. How do you know?"
"Well I know. It isn't any matter how I know."
"Very well. Suppose I did turn a tramp away from the door--what of it?"
"Oh nothing; nothing in particular. Only you lied to him."
"I didn't! That is I--"
"Yes but you did; you lied to him."
I felt a guilty pang--in truth I had felt it forty times before that
tramp had traveled a block from my door--but still I resolved to make a
show of feeling slandered; so I said:
"This is a baseless impertinence. I said to the tramp--"
"There--wait. You were about to lie again. I know what you said to him.
You said the cook was gone down-town and there was nothing left from
breakfast. Two lies. You knew the cook was behind the door and plenty
of provisions behind her."
This astonishing accuracy silenced me; and it filled me with wondering
speculations too as to how this cub could have got his information.
Of course he could have culled the conversation from the tramp but by
what sort of magic had he contrived to find out about the concealed cook?
Now the dwarf spoke again:
"It was rather pitiful rather small in you to refuse to read that poor