Block Island

I have been on an excursion to Block Island, and I desire to tell you something about that sea-girt isle. I proceeded from Providence by steamer Canonicus, down the beautiful Narragansett Bay. The scenery along the shore is as fine as any in the world, and I enjoyed it hugely. After leaving Newport the Canonicus began to heave badly, as did also most of the passengers. Being an old salt myself, I didn’t mind it. There was one other man on board who did not—a melancholy looking individual whose attire had hardly a shabby-genteel respectability. He seemed to take a good deal of interest in me, and, as he paced up and down the saloon, it became obvious to me that he had been “taking something warm.” His breath was decidedly aromatic, as I noticed more particularly when he accosted me as follows:

“Isn’t the swell charming? I was once a swell myself; but that was in the remote past, before I committed murder.”

This was cheerful, to say the least; this standing face to face with an avowed murderer had something novel in it. I eyed the fellow askance, but he looked supernaturally grave; and I said:

“So you have committed murder? Does the ghost of your victim ever haunt you?”

“No, not now,” he answered, “but it did for several years. I am a dentist by profession. After the murder I tried to continue my business, but every afternoon my victim came and sat by me. I struggled against his presence; I moved my business from one place to another; but all in vain. Finally, broken down in health, with flagging energies and my reason almost unseated, I sold out my office to a German, and came East. The ghost has never troubled me since.”

“Then it was in the West where you perpetrated the crime?”

“Yes, in Silesia, Michigan. Silesia is a small town fifty miles from Detroit, a beautifully situated hamlet nestling among the softy-sloping hills of—”

“Oh, let it nestle among the sloping hills,” I impatientiy broke out. To tell the truth, I don’t think poetry and murder should be mixed indiscriminately. If some poetry is murderous, no murder is poetical, and I told him so. He admitted that I was correct, and at my solicitation, he narrated the terrible details of the affair. I give his story verbatim as told to me.

“It was mid-winter, 1857. I had not been doing any business for weeks. Every decayed tooth in Silesia had been extracted, every toothless adult who could raise the money to pay for a false set had been supplied. One afternoon, as I sat smoking by the fire and praying inwardly for the advent of spring, which I knew would send me many customers from the farms back in the country, I heard a rap at the door, and crying out cheerily, ‘Come in,’ a tall, middle-aged man stepped into the room. He proceeded directly to business, as follows:

“ ‘I am from over on the frontier. I’ve got a rattling bad tooth that has nigh drove me crazy these cold nights, and I want you to pull on it. I don’t spect you can yank him, for a fellow over in Detroit has tried it and gin it over. But you can stir it up a little, p’raps, and I’ll get a little comfort for awhile, any how.’

“I begged him to be seated, and went to work,” continued the murderer, “but nothing came of my endeavors. I tried every instrument I had, every trick known to the profession; but the only impression I could make was to lift him from his chair. I felt very bad to let him go off, but he insisted that I had done bravely, paid me five dollars, and said he would certainly call in the spring if the tooth troubled him again. It was the first time I had ever been balked, and I determined to draw his molar if he ever placed himself in my hands again. As soon as he was gone, I went over to Jim Milliken’s harness-shop and bought twenty feet of trace-leather, and on my way back I stopped into Sam Hancock’s hardware-store and bought three pounds of screws, fifty feet of rope, and a small derrick-block. These I took to my office, and the next day I went to work with them. First I screwed my operating-chair to the floor. Then I arranged my trace-leather into a sort of harness, and procuring buckles from Milliken, I had that perfected in less than three days. Meanwhile, John Pettingill, blacksmith, happened in, and I told him to make me a strong

  By PanEris using Melati.

  Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.