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- Taken Alive - 6/66 -
worse off than nothing. The kindly words and looks, the cordial grasp of the hand, and the temporary loan occasionally, of those who stood by me when scarcely sane from overwork, trouble, and, worse than all, from insomnia, can never be forgotten while a trace of memory is left. Soon after my insolvency there came a date when all my interests in my books then published must be sold to the highest bidder. It seemed in a sense like putting my children up at auction; and yet I was powerless, since my interests under contracts were a part of my assets. These rights had been well advertised in the New York and county papers, as the statute required, and the popularity of the books was well known. Any one in the land could have purchased these books from me forever. A friend made the highest bid and secured the property. My rights in my first nine novels became his, legally and absolutely. There was even no verbal agreement between us--nothing but his kind, honest eyes to reassure me. He not only paid the sum he had bidden, but then and there wrote a check for a sum which, with my other assets, immediately liquidated my personal debts, principal and interest. The children of my fancy are again my children, for they speedily earned enough to repay my friend and to enable him to compromise with the holders of indorsed notes in a way satisfactory to them. It so happened that most of these creditors resided in my immediate neighborhood. I determined to fight out the battle in their midst and under their daily observation, and to treat all alike, without regard to their legal claims. Only one creditor tried to make life a burden; but he did his level best. The others permitted me to meet my obligations in my own time and way, and I am grateful for their consideration. When all had received the sum mutually agreed upon, and I had shaken hands with them, I went to the quaint and quiet little city of Santa Barbara, on the Pacific coast, for a change and partial rest. While there, however, I wrote my Charleston story, "The Earth Trembled." In September, 1887, I returned to my home at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, and resumed my work in a region made dear by the memories of a lifetime. Just now I am completing a Southern story entitled "Miss Lou."
It so happens in my experience that I have discovered one who appears willing to stick closer to me than a brother, and even to pass as my "double," or else he is so helplessly in the hands of his publishers as to be an object of pity. A certain "Edward R. Roe" is also an author, and is suffering cruelly in reputation because his publishers so manage that he is identified with me. By strange coincidence, they hit upon a cover for his book which is almost a facsimile of the cover of my pamphlet novel, "An Original Belle," previously issued. The R in the name of this unfortunate man has been furnished with such a diminutive tail that it passes for a P, and even my friends supposed that the book, offered everywhere for sale, was mine. In many instances I have asked at news stands, "Whose book is that?" The prompt and invariable answer has been, "E. P. Roe's." I have seen book notices in which the volume was ascribed to me in anything but flattering terms. A distinguished judge, in a carefully written opinion, is so uncharitable as to characterize the coincidence in cover as a "fraud," and to say, "No one can look at the covers of the two publications and fail to see evidence of a design to deceive the public and to infringe upon the rights of the publisher and author"--that is, the rights of Messrs. Dodd, Mead would be well, as a rule, for other writers to begin with reputable, honorable publishers and to remain with them. A publisher can do more and better with a line of books than with isolated volumes. When an author's books are scattered, there is not sufficient inducement for any one to push them strongly, nor, as in the case above related, to protect a writer against a "double," should one appear. Authors often know little about business, and should deal with a publisher who will look after their interests as truly as his own. Unbusinesslike habits and methods are certainly not traits to be cultivated, for we often suffer grievously from their existence; yet as far as possible the author should be free from distracting cares. The novelist does his best work when abstracted from the actual world and living in its ideal counterpart which for the time he is imagining. When his creative work is completed, he should live very close to the real world, or else he will be imagining a state of things which neither God nor man had any hand in bringing about.
TAKEN ALIVE AND OTHER STORIES
SOMETHING BEFORE UNKNOWN
Clara Heyward was dressed in deep mourning, and it was evident that the emblems of bereavement were not worn merely in compliance with a social custom. Her face was pallid from grief, and her dark beautiful eyes were dim from much weeping. She sat in the little parlor of a cottage located in a large Californian city, and listened with apathetic expression as a young man pleaded for the greatest and most sacred gift that a woman can bestow. Ralph Brandt was a fine type of young vigorous manhood; and we might easily fancy that his strong, resolute face, now eloquent with deep feeling, was not one upon which a girl could look with indifference. Clara's words, however, revealed the apparent hopelessness of his suit.
"It's of no use, Ralph," she said; "I'm in no mood for such thoughts."
"You don't believe in me; you don't trust me," he resumed sadly. "You think that because I was once wild, and even worse, that I'll not be true to my promises and live an honest life. Have I not been honest when I knew that being so might cost me dear? Have I not told you of my past life and future purposes when I might have concealed almost everything?"
"It's not that, Ralph. I do believe you are sincere; and if the dreadful thing which has broken me down with sorrow had not happened, all might have been as you wish. I should have quite as much confidence in a young man who, like you, has seen evil and turned resolutely away from it, as in one who didn't know much about the world or himself either. What's more, father--"
At the word "father" her listless manner vanished, and she gave way to passionate sobs. "His foul murder is always before me," she wailed. "Oh, we were so happy! he was so kind, and made me his companion! I don't see how I can live without him. I can't think of love and marriage when I remember how he died, and that the villain who killed him is at large and unpunished. What right have I to forget this great wrong and to try to be happy? No, no! the knife that killed him pierced my heart; and it's bleeding all the time. I'm not fit to be any man's wife; and I will not bring my great sorrow into any man's home."
Brandt sprang up and paced the room for a few moments, his brow contracted in deep thought. Then, apparently coming to a decision, he sat down by his companion and took her cold, unresisting hand.
"My poor little girl," he said, kindly, "you don't half understand me yet. I love you all the more because you are heart-broken and pale with grief. That is the reason I have spoken so earnestly to- night. You will grieve yourself to death if left alone; and what good would your death do any one? It would spoil my life. Believe me, I would welcome you to my home with all your sorrow--all the more because of your sorrow; and I'd be so kind and patient that you'd begin to smile again some day. That's what your father would wish if he could speak to you, and not that you should grieve away your life for what can't be helped now. But I have a plan. It's right in my line to capture such scoundrels as the man who murdered your father; and what's more, I know the man, or rather I used to in old times. I've played many a game of euchre with him in which he cheated me out of money that I'd be glad to have now; and I'm satisfied that he does not know of any change in me. I was away on distant detective duty, you know, when your father was killed. I won't ask you to go over the painful circumstances; I can learn them at the prison. I shall try to get permission to search out Bute, desperate and dangerous as he is--"
"Oh, Ralph, Ralph," cried the girl, springing up, her eyes flashing through her tears, "if you will bring my father's murderer to justice, if you will prevent him from destroying other lives, as he surely will, you will find that I can refuse you nothing."
Then she paused, shook her head sadly, and withdrew the hand she had given him. "No," she resumed, "I shouldn't ask this; I don't ask it. As you say, he is desperate and dangerous; and he would take your life the moment he dreamed of your purpose. I should only have another cause for sorrow."
Brandt now smiled as if he were master of the situation. "Why, Clara," he exclaimed, "don't you know that running down and capturing desperadoes is now part of my business?"
"Yes; but you can get plenty of work that isn't so dangerous."
"I should be a nice fellow to ask you to be my wife and yet show I was afraid to arrest your father's murderer. You needn't ask me to do this; you are not going to be responsible for my course in the least. I shall begin operations this very night, and have no doubt that I can get a chance to work on the case. Now don't burden your heart with any thoughts about my danger. I myself owe Bute as big a grudge as I can have against any human being. He cheated me and led me into deviltry years ago, and then I lost sight of him until he was brought to the prison of which your father was one of the keepers. I've been absent for the last three months, you know; but I didn't forget you or your father a day, and you remember I wrote you as soon as I heard of your trouble. I think your father sort of believed in me; he never made me feel I wasn't fit to see you or to be with you, and I'd do more for him living or dead than for any other man."
"He did believe in you, Ralph, and he always spoke well of you. Oh, you can't know how much I lost in him! After mother died he did not leave me to the care of strangers, but gave me most of his time when off duty. He sent me to the best schools, bought me books to read, and took me out evenings instead of going off by
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