قراءة كتاب Seven Wives and Seven Prisons Or, Experiences in the Life of a Matrimonial Monomaniac. A True Story

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‏اللغة: English
Seven Wives and Seven Prisons
Or, Experiences in the Life of a Matrimonial Monomaniac. A True Story

Seven Wives and Seven Prisons Or, Experiences in the Life of a Matrimonial Monomaniac. A True Story

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

the fullest confidence in me. The Warden talked to me whenever he saw me, and always had some kind word for me. One day I ventured to speak to him about his horse, of which he was very proud, and indeed the horse was a very fine one.

Mr. Warden, said I "that's a noble horse of yours; but he interferes badly, and that is only because he is badly shod. If you will trust me, I can shoe him so as to prevent all that."

"Can you?" exclaimed the Warden in great surprise; "Well, if you can, I'll give you a good piece of bread and butter, or, anything else you want."

"I don't want your bread and butter," said I "but I will shoe your horse as he has never been shod before."

"Well take the horse to the shop and see what you can do."

Of course, I knew that by "bread and butter" the warden meant that if I could shoe his favorite horse so as to prevent him from interfering, he would gladly favor me as far as he could; and I knew, too, that I could make as good a shoe as any horse need wear. I gladly led the horse to the shop where I had so signally failed in pick and tool sharpening, and was received with jeers by my old comrades who wanted to know what I was going to do to that horse.

"O, simply shoe him," I said.

This greatly increased the mirth of my former shopmates; but their amusement speedily changed to amazement as they saw me make my nails, turn the shoes and neatly put them on. In due time the horse was shod, and I led him to the Warden for inspection; and before him and an officer who stood by him, I led the horse up and down to show that he did not interfere. The Warden's delight was unbounded; he never saw such a set of shoes; he declared that they fitted as if they had grown to the horse's hoofs. I need not say that from that day till the day I left the prison, I had everything I wanted from the Warden's own table; I fared as well as he did, and had favors innumerable.

About once a month I shod that horse, little thinking that he was to carry me over my three years' imprisonment in just half that time. Yet so it was. For talking now almost daily, in the hospital or in the yard, with the Warden, he became interested in me, and in answer to his inquiries I told him the whole story of my persecution, as I considered it, my trial and my unjust and severe sentence. When he had heard all he said:

"You ought not to be here another day; you ought to go out."

The good chaplain also interested himself in my case, and after hearing the story, he and the Warden took a lawyer named Bemis, into their counsel, laid the whole matter before him and asked his opinion. Mr. Bemis, after hearing all the circumstances, expressed the belief that I might get a pardon. He entered into the matter with his whole heart. He sent for my son Henry and my first wife, and they came and corroborated my statement about the mutual agreement for separation, and told how long we had been parted. Mr. Bemis and they then went to Governor Briggs, and told him the story, and that I had served out half of my severe sentence, and pressed for a pardon. The Governor after due deliberation consented to their request. They came back to Charlestown with the joyful intelligence. Warden Robinson advised my son, that considering my present mental and physical condition, he had better break the intelligence gradually to me, and so Henry came to me and said, simply, that he thought he would soon have "good news" for me. The next day I was told that my pardon was certain. The day following, at 12 o'clock, I walked out, after eighteen months' imprisonment, a free man. I was in the streets of Charlestown with my own clothes on and five dollars, given to me by the Warden, in my pocket, I was poor, truly, but I was at liberty, and that for the day was enough.



I went at once to the Prisoners Home, where I was kindly received, and I stayed there two days. The superintendent then paid my passage to Pittsfield where I wished to go and meet my son. From Pittsfield I went to Albany, then New York, and from there to Newtown N. J. Here I went into practice, meeting with almost immediate success, and staid there two months. It was my habit to go from town to town to attend to cases of a certain class and to sell my vegetable preparations; and from Newtown I went to Belvidere, stopping at intermediate towns on the way, and from Belvidere I went to Harmony, a short distance below, to attend a case of white swelling, which I cured.

Now just across the Delaware river, nine miles above Easton, Penn., lived a wealthy Dutch farmer, named Scheimer, who heard of the cure I had effected in Harmony, and as he had a son, sixteen years of age, afflicted in the same way, he sent for me to come and see him. I crossed the river, saw the boy, and at Scheimer's request took up my residence with him to attend to the case. He was to give me, with my board, five hundred dollars if I cured the boy; but though the boy recovered under my treatment, I never received my fee for reasons which will appear anon. I secured some other practice in the neighborhood, and frequently visited Easton, Belvidere, Harmony, Oxford, and other near by places, on either side of the river.

The Scheimer family consisted of the "old folks" and four sons and four daughters, the children grown up, for my patient, sixteen years old, was the youngest. The youngest daughter, Sarah, eighteen years old, was an accomplished and beautiful girl. Now it would seem as if with my sad experience I ought by this time, to have turned my back on women forever. But I think I was a monomaniac on the subject of matrimony. My first wife had so misused me that it was always in my mind that some reparation was due me, and that I was fairly entitled to a good helpmate. The ill-success of my efforts, hitherto, to secure one, and my consequent sufferings were all lost upon me—experience, bitter experience, had taught me nothing.

I had not been in the Scheimer family three months before I fell in love with the daughter Sarah and she returned my passion. She promised to marry me, but said there was no use in saying anything to her parents about it; they would never consent on account of the disparity in our ages, for I was then forty years old; but she would marry me nevertheless, if we had to run away together. Meanwhile, the old folks had seen enough of our intimacy to suspect that it might lead to something yet closer, and one day Mr. Scheimer invited me to leave his house and not to return. I asked for one last interview with Sarah, which was accorded, and we then arranged a plan by which she should meet me the next afternoon at four o'clock at the Jersey ferry, a mile below the house, when we proposed to quietly cross over to Belvidere and get married. I then took leave of her and the family and went away.

The next day, at the appointed time, I was at the ferry—Sarah, as I learned afterwards, left the house at a much earlier hour to "take a walk" and while she was, foolishly I think, making a circuitous route to reach the ferry, her father, who suspected that she intended to run away, went to the ferryman and told him his suspicions, directing him if Sarah came there by no means to permit her to cross the river. Consequently when Sarah met me at the ferry, the ferryman flatly refused to let either of us go over. He knew all about it, he said, and it was "no go." I had two hundred dollars in my pocket and I offered him any reasonable sum, if he would only let us cross; but no, he knew the Scheimers better than he knew me, and their goodwill was worth more than mine. Here was a block to the game, indeed. I