The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899, September 23, 1898, Image 1

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    The Hesperian
Vol. X5VIII.
No. 2.
7 was the 19th day of October, I remeinher the date now, oven if I
had forgotten It when the prosecuting attorney questioned me. I sat
in the lost seat in tilie row, on tilie east side of the school room near
the window. A dull October rain was frilling outside, and oecn-
M the etivcb ogn.ihWt the prone. The sh and howl made me skiver.
.X browiv, ajid the Kit.n1lowetr n't tihe edge of the neighiboring eonntlold.
wtdofd Kite skeCetoiii's wlt'h 'their blekened hesids and' curled retninViaitu
of leaves. The corn had been gathered from the field adjacent to tilie
window, mid a drove of cnttle were taking tilieir first run- through
tilie wilks, I wns dreamily watching one of them eat a big ear of
corn when the sheriff's rop at the door startled me.
Thta school wa small tili.t day for not mumy of the tittle omen h(ad
ventured out. and few of the oldiir pupils had eniroffiied ycit.. Three
large girls sut opposite nic, kovo.ii boAs were in the double row of
small seats back of tbe Ktove, and two wee girls occupied a moveable
bench ot the fire. The teacher, Orin Stearns, wis busying himself
with little Clifford Henhin, who hud come u long distance through
the. naiu mifcl mud. He htwl tnkewoff the child's shoes a,nd wns tkyfoig
wild u inning hl.i feet at the stove. I recall that I had observed
that uioriving more tllinn ever the peculiar expression in the tench
er's face. The older people had nil noticed it one Sunday in August
when he came to church for the first time at Mlnona. They had no
ecifc rulfcs for Lnfetoilng oharatafier from it.he phiysLogaomy wbuib- iQitey
had decided onia nmd nfll tQinlb ther wa raincth hi ng 6m lite m hull Thfey
-oftorwrd umltarutiotr whhit It was. 1 noticed, ,too that, hiis oyes wot
lveavy as though from loss of sleep and that his cheeks were more
HiiiiKeu uhii uHiini. ai Times ne sat-, unobserved he supposed, and
W looked before 1iim as though deep in thought or stood and gazed
jrom me window witti his tlrm lips relaxed from their habitual smile,
lis heavy brows and bis dark eyes seemingly fixed upon some grave
object in tlie chambers of his mind. Such n gloomy aspect possessed
hint at these times that ecn IHie smaW cflnildiren niatwl its L'Jlitle Clif
ford Rcalmi, wlio was more familiar with the teacher than were any
.; oi me rw or ms, once .lie foimtl Iinm tunis iibf5rtmtitml wlwim he KtoCe
iw 1? '" ftt rec!RS trom t,,e Phiyground to liave ti talk with ihlm. I recollect
41 7 ne ns'c1 me 'n n wliJniier, "What's the matter wif teodher? He
tM'l looks so funny!" T tiptoed into the entry and while Clifford inndvert-
' ivciy
coilgihed, I saw a transformation.
ALhough school liad lieen in progress for six weeks none of us felt
, y acquainted with the teacher. It was not because he repelled us, for
' ' no one could le more affable. He
liad a brlcrht smile and n. dheerful.
1 kiml word for us everywhere, but we had heard minors and read
omcni unUUJ w cajne 1o negtiira 'liils dturk, iaioi.eouilc rueo wthton nniivmig
on us, ne the countenance of an actor, and we sought his secret at a
distance, as one Burrounds the lair of dangerous game.
juwp jjeunauMie in tine iMinonn train k, nai icmown wtu'MuiK at. 'line innu-
versity, and had told my father about liiin. It seemed lie ImuI stood
rery wll in his chiCTse.s, but 'he 'had not. moved tin Lo Ommdie'ssooKail ftrit,
he hod lacked the olinh of polite circles', besides he had dressed
,'utbblly mkl litwl put in li'iw spmre m I mi tea weK'jrlng ofTlcew, rti'rtnyi'Jng
papers awl other low jobs, llalp'h had a dim recollection' of seeing
'' I. la mmn nnnniuiliul cuvmv iinvt tf lllllialnil Wnt'lt. hill. t VIiSi illllOinff
Mm IIIIIIIV VWMMl.VIVM "t'H ..w... ... .. , .... .. .. ... .- - CJ
n very degrtidwl uIiush of peojile.
Wliw tliie officer had ivtid lie wnpraiivt to hiim tilie ttMicflwir cjune) ilnito
the room if 'he mil glut linve Jutftilwvo'liuulnninvltailiion.tod'liiKThitwin
at 10 o'clock Wednesday, lie told us there wouM be no more school
until Monday, and wiled the roll with liiw usual clear, steady voice
and xlojibern'te niairnM'. T told fa titer alrout Itlm and1 lie sluook his
head remarking t'.ia't an educattetl rogue is worse than any other.
hen I reached home 1 learned Mint during previous nugim. uu
at Mtnona liad been robbed of live tmousnnd dollars. a wire
Irtul been torn away from a window and tiltc g:ass brokera but
no one hind healixl tliie noW, noit. even tliie watchers .Iry MlnH Howes
sick bed, in the room jut over Ulife vindow (lind ihcnr any stir be
low). At twenty miiuttes to one o'clock the doctor had seem some one
hastily luvving tilm' buildfing. TQifi fvnet itnkl a kviy to the oomlblirttiuron
of the tfe picked up on tilie iloor of tilie bank next mwiiiing were tlie
oini'.y clues. 1 fouind oii't. a.fterwairds tluit to Italph. 1a Gnamklte, the. nis
sistant caslvier more than to any other belonged the praise of fol
lowing up the doctor's story and causing the arrest of Steanv before
tlic crime was a day old.
For some reason Lc(3raiide liad come early to the bank that morning
and found the open window and the ritled safe. There were foot
pnJnits ill the sort earth at 'he end of tlie sidewailk fcudR'ng from tilie
livink. WBifcin after tal'ku'ng witlh Dr. lxlinil'iirs, lie folil'a-et: thtase. For
a. m'ille a,nl a llikilf tliey 'had led 'hiim along tlilu dege of the .wxwlto the
liome of Farmer Inuiinn with whom Stearns had been, lodging. With
this information and some of tlie bank's papers wlileli lie claimed
to 'htiiw pickvklup a fltalf mile ut. lne returned to town. Pttttimg tllieije
wit'lt some private suspicions, before iive people in. Minonu knew what
had linppened, he tis on his way o the county seat. (
Thursday at half past one Stearns had liis preliminary hearing. .
In te forenoon a telegram had come for the prisoner in. t;ese words:
"Orin Stearns. Her suffering is over at last; motliex passed away nt
seven twenty this morning. .John."
As he sa:t thut afternoon in the smoky court room I sow on liia face
that expression out of which little Clifford Beahm 'had startled liim
that day in the school room. Then I thought I understood1 Qiim, but
1 knew iilinbtter later'Oti. "" -
The evidence against the necused although purely oircumstan'tial,
was convincing. He liad left Mart Howe's sick room before twelve,
but if lie was the figure seen by the doctor as the foot prints scorned
to juwlKBi-te, he ahis stilt 'aibont Wie building nit twemlty mdn'mtteS to One
'Wiese facts talten wit'Ji the tell-tale paper made a strong chain,
in the minds of the listeners which closed around tlie unifortun,ate
school teacher. There were two mysteries, however, not yet ex
plal'iied; a tfliorough search of the culprit's belongings liad' failed to
d'jisotoise tliie tiXMiisure amid yet Stearns lifcid lltitle clitinee 'ho seclude
it itiul no good use had yet been made of the safe combinations The
only Copy known to be in existence had' tree a ia possessioni of Mr.
WacGtaiugliKiins the pnvsldeirt. The one faunkl oin' the floor o the bank
afer the robbery wis in. n hand writing not untlike thut of the assist
ant cashier.
It was by the merest chance that the real truth of the matter .ever
became known. Mrst McCurdy wns very proud of her part in the dis
covery nnd she certainly deserved a great deal of praise for it. She
dined with my mother on Sivuday nnil told all about it. I suppose if
she were to visit us now after so many yeans she would- tell the
story o'vr agnlm hind htngh at TeGrande's ctanelefcliress.
"You see," she said, "Ralph has lived with us ever since the first
day hiis frilKliiw -etilt him to Avorik in iflie lxtank here. I nWver did' li.;e
lilis st.uck-up wtt.yv, but he iwid ills bills tol'by regular and' thhtt's v-liriit
Interested me. I've noticed he's 'been more reckless- of late,
I alius thought he drunk more or less, but I never knew him to gam
ble tel jest last summer. Fourth o' July he fetched some young fel
liers from tQite city to dlwuw with him. Theyv'e visitled v-liitili: him oiV
and on ever settee. Two weeks ago today one of them., n. dissipated
lookin' clinp staid all night with him. Well, when this thing hap
pened nnd "Ral'ph wuz in slcfli a hurry to ihove it off on the school
teacher that T knowed would never do the like of it. T bctytin to think.
I remembered hc ied been out late Tuenlnv nitrht. but it ain't like'.v
T should have said atrvthlntr if he hedn't left his trunk open Thurso
ilnv morn inc." Tt appeared afterwards that tl? presTdent had been
tliii"l'im Ti'ipii befo'v Mts. MoCttrdv.
Whfini wli'poT. ea'i'.fiil Memid'a'y nuarn.iri'? we p nijS'js n? felt. ni?qu.'li,rcfl
with Orin Stearns. ' "" " "'
On day last .Tu.iip'T v'sited Mlnona ngivin. The little town showed