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The Mellette County pioneer. [volume] (Wood, Mellette County, S.D.) 19??-1971, October 11, 1912, Image 5

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn96090217/1912-10-11/ed-1/seq-5/

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The Corrector of Destinies
I
““hJp “.u cz:” d *
The LIFE TENANT
I ] , H i remained tho night at Ran
ppli Masons house. It was very
. arnli and at daybreak Pietro opened
II t he doors and windows to invite in
hat littlo breeze there was. 1 was
kturbed by this, and presently arose
ni | took a cold shower bath, after
hieh Pietro brought mo a Continen
j breakfast served on a tray.
It was early then, doubtless not
iter than six o’clock, when 1 left my
rechamber. As I turned the landing
f tho stair, I noticed a man standing
, the street door. He was a tall,
endor young man, rather well dress
j the lower part of his face was
lihlrn by a handkerchief, which he
t . 1 pressed against his mouth; there
er,, blood spoil, widening on the
R .ukcrehlef, and an unmistakable
teesion of fear wus in the eyes,
vic evident that he had met with
)ir<> injury.
I led him at once into tho office and
ing for Pietro. In a moment the
ittt r was at the door, and I directed
im to bring a bowl of. water as
uukl.' as possible. Ho far. the in
-I:.i.i.m had not spoken. 1 doubted
1., could speak, tho wound being
x tly in the mouth or throat. The
k . . it he got Into the room he lay
i .it nt full length on the floor, per
p< t motionless, his head back, his
ios< d, still pressing the bloody
. • rrhlef to his lips. When Pie-
r • i the bowl of water on the floor
r him, he dipped the handker-
I t lo It, squeezed out the blood
i < turned the damp cloth to Ifts
I saw the blood coming slow
i ci between his lips; it was very
r t--arterial blood, a little frothy.
i • rned to Pietro and directed him
n . ' a surgeon. At the word the
i g man shook his head and
• his eyes with an expression of
i •. This re final of medical at-
• ’ln one so desperately hurt
ii •> highly significant; it sub-
p ’ him instantly to suspicion. I
<’• 'red to see if lie could speak,
you want a physician?” I
. ■ , ,1
I ok his head.
on badly hurt?”
he replied with the rime
' . ve sign.
is the matter with you
It ■. I purposely phrased the ques
li * .. that a nodding would rot
i It.
r iby,” he sain thickly behind
.1 •ikerchicf. The reply was un-
i ible to me. It wns doubtless
I- i ' rm current among criminals.
I now convinced that the man
k <1 to the criminal classes, lie
’ elnly In lured and ho refused
i n—yet 1 could not leave him
k» <1 on the floor, in this quandary.
I ’ ’ d to find Randolph Mason
1 ’.i'.g behind me.
• ’••’rn," ho said, “this man is hav
f a hemorrhage. Leave him alone.”
•' i < n he went back into tho next
room.
'* antly the mystery cleared. Tho
Poor fellow was merely a consump
l doing the only thing possible
a slight bleeding—to lie stretched
motionless. The hemorrhage had
d less oomo on him in tho street,
UH * o had noticed our open door
Mui corn© in. Tho flow of blood had
fc,,w about ceased, and I went to my
i;th> to examine the morning’s mall.
I’ esontly the man got up and sat
“ r '" r in a chair by my table.
“"’as that Randolph Mason?” he
laid.
y* s.” I replied.
thought so,” said the man. ”1
cam. to New York to see two great
"diets. Dr. Ashby Clark and Ran
“°lph Mason.”
' tupped his breast with his fln
t'r.
‘>k says no* good. I w’onder
*Mason will say.”
'i were looking for his house,
Un n -•
'• ; I was corning up the steps to
n I gnt the ‘ruby*.” This he
iii 'd: '’That's what we call the
v -' rrhage, the blood Is so bright,
• 11 <<w—a, technical term of the
lUI
! 1 bought you were a wounded
1 raid. “If you wish to talk
. I,! Mason, you would better go
1 lV ‘ while there is an opportunity.”
otan arose and went Into the
” office. I heard Mason direct
ti* 1 ,. to * and order Pietro
him a glass of whisky.
( ‘'me over to see you and Dr.
“c'b’ began the visrtor; “Clark, be
<;ti\ ’ consumption; you, be-
I* ' 1,0 Dian ever has simple con
°n ’ He always baa another
J . wlth u __ a bad heart that
w ‘ ’ K | tnn<l h,gb •JWtndea, a wife who
fur i ’***• home folks, or no
Mv fix Is the latter. Clark
A 1 win last six months in an
on<7 an c,,niat «; but If I *lll *o at
l (] ' ,a tbo Marquesas Islands, my
Probably heal and I will
wit/ ° n ’ mt, l some native pinks me
” fl«h spear.
tnid,/'!?’'’’ ll,e p,ac ° * an,t 80 bad ; ,tB
of I’Vench and quite a garden
Off c,nrlt anys. But It is away
a f i 10 South Seas. It would take
rh./i ■'* an<l dollars to get there and a
<h v . r ‘ n ’ivlng regularly every pay
*® p going. I have read
beerh-notrbers on these Pn
ujj. ' b a nda—.there's no hoho worse
•'Dd | lo | 0 a rent
ji’ ■
By Melville Davisson Post
Copyright by
ward J. dole
and 0 .i,. C0, ’ ra U * 9 °” l ’’ ,r “ d -
"hlVn. 1 ha "
tinned Whl ’ e man to eat ,8
d h. y 0 got to b,, y H
the ship lands. You’ve got to be a
government Johnny, a missionary or
frn/ | VP ’ o, h* M wi «o you live on money
from home or the French deport vou
for a convict. Thatw ( lark's garden
or Eden, j got tho facts at a tour
•"ts joint uptown. So, there I am!
can’t live if i <j on ’t go; j can « t go;
I can t live If r couifl go » X|ce pom
rortable bunch of alternatives that!
I had a little money, but » court down
in West Virginia skinned me out of
It. Now 1 haven’t enough to pay a
doctor. That's why I shook my head
on thr floor a while ago.”
You mean, said Randolph Mason,
a legal decision rendered against you
in a suit at law ?”
Not a bit of it." replied the man:
I mean what | say—skinned nut of
it. I had no lawsuit. I was standing
in a crowd of rubes before a court
house when the blindfold lady step
ped out with a little shell game and
Jifted my wad.”
This, said Mason, “is the jargon
of a cab driver. What do you mean?"
1P cut It. out," replied the man.
‘ I will begin over. When my father
died he left me ten thousand dollars
in bank storks. It paid a dividend of
■ibout four per cent, and no taxes.
Being naturally smarter than my
father, 1 at nnce determined to take
that money and get rich. I sold the
stock, pocketed a check book and got
busy. One bright morning, in a little
town on the Monongahela river, a
commissioner was selling a tract of
land before tho court bouse. In my
hunt for good things T happenod by
accident to know about that land. It
is a rough mountain tract, not worth
ten dollars an acre: but It is under
laid with the Pittsburgh v fln of coal,
standing up eight feet thk k, clean
nn 1 : olid like a ledge of sandstone.
A corner of the land comes down to
the railroad and there is a little mine,
o; ned and operated by th< old farm
er vho lived on the place. He had a
pole tipple, wheeled tho coal out by
hand, and got off about :• car a day.
T 1 • tract contains some two hundred
acres.
' I stoop - i up to the commissioner
an 1 inquired about the sale, lie told
me that the owner was broke ami the
court was selling the land. I Inquired
if the coal w as in<flud< d and he said.
’Yes; from tho sky to the ct nt' r of
the earth.’ Then 1 asked the bid.
When he answered flfto< n dollars, I
nearly threw a fit! Fifteen dollars!
Tlio coal was worth two hundred an
acre. Now. I had been knocking
about the real country for a good bit
and I was no gr< enborn. I knew that
this was the Pittsburgh vein and 1
knew what it was nvorth. Tho court
was selling the land, so there could
bo no doubt about the title. I would
not have trusted any dealer about a
land title If It had been a private
sale; but hero was the court—the old
blind lady herself—selling the land,
so the game was bound to be straight.
I bld twenty. The commissioner call
ed It a moment, and a big man. out
a little way in the crowd, with a nose
like your elbow, bid twenty-five. I let
the thing hang to see If there was an
other bidder; then, just before the
•going,' I bld thirty. Nosy looked me
over, snorted and finally bld thirty
five. and 'five more.’ 1 said. He
stamped around for a while and final
ly lifted ft to forty-five.
"’All right. Nosy.’ I said to myself,
'l’ll just throw a good, stiff bluff into
you and end it.’ 'An' five', I said, ‘an’
five moro every time you raise It.’
Ho looked at mo for a good minute.
“ You’re a damned fool!’ ho said,
and then he walked out of tho crowd.
Nosy was right about that; but
didn’t know It just then. The land
was knocked down to mo at flits dol
lars an acre. I paid cash ami g*'t m.v
deed, all signed, sealed and delivered.
“When I got home and opened my
package. 1 had as nice a box of saw
dust as vou ever saw. The old girl In
tho blinkers had double-crossed mo
llko nn expert. No Creet fakir eo>>M
have cleaned a smoother job. My t tie
to this land proved to be only a life
estate. I hunted up a lawyer. He
said that a court did not guarantee
a title when It sold land. I remember
his language-lt cost mo money and
shall always remember It. He said
•The doctrine of caveat emptor ob
tained at judicial
bought nt bls peril. Thai! Is. Your
eves are your market. Ihe <ou t
sells land through Irs officer to the
public, sells the title for a good one
takes your money; and. If the * 8
defective, vou are stuck, you can 1 get
X money back. The old indy comes
out to her door and tell- you •
in n noke If there's no pig In It. the
loke’e on you. If Ifi somebody else a
hou ’ e " . pi b ow on the table and
I leaned my eioow uu
.Irolng hl« || ko ,
panlly o, “ ’
tipsy sailor. This sanguine tempera
ment goes surely with this disease;
no other dying men whistle thus
cheerily hi the face of death.
‘‘So there I was,” the man contin
ued, “no money, no land. 1 bad
bought only the right to use this
ground as long as the old farmer
lived. A goat with creepers on bls
feet would have starved on the top
of It. 1 tried to sell out to Nody. 1
discovered then that he was a capper
for tho Union Fuel company, a little
branch of on© of tho two soft coal
combines of America.
” Nothin’ doing’, he said. ‘Our com
pany put up that little job to catch
just such suckers as you are. We
bought tho foe simple title to that
land; then we picked up the debts of
the old farmer, who was supposed to
own It but had only a life estate, as
wo knew*. We got the debts for ten
cents on the dollar, when we showed
th© creditors that tho rubo had no
title. Then we thought a creditor’s
suit to sell tho land. I expected to
buy It in for the fare amount of our
debts, but when you hutted In and
bid It over our debts, I side-stepped.
We made about nine thousand dollars
on your rut-in. No. we will not pay
out any good money for your old life
estate. Not us; our beading won’t
get up to this land for tho next ten
years. I guess we'll just set back on
our hunkers and wait till the old man
dies. So long! I may not see you
again. You’re a lunger; ain’t you?’
’ That was two years ago. The bugs
haven’t knocked off any time, Clark
“I believe
says, and, unless I can get to the
South Seas, I’m all in."
Randolph Mason loaned over and
made a little calculation with his
pencil on the corner of the writing
pad.
“In your condition of health,” he
said, "ten thousand dollars should
easily buy a six per cent annuity.
Could you live in the Marquesas on
six hundred a year?"
Tho sick man’s eyes snapped.
"With all tho comforts of home,
and money to invest in the funds, as
the French say. Outside the grub,
you only need a sleeping mat and a
pair of pajamas. Fifty plunks a
month? I should say yes.”
“Very well," said Mason,"you shall
have twelve hundred dollars down for
expenses, and six hundred payable
semi-annually as long as you live.”
The facetious youth made a wide,
ludicrous gesture with both arms ns
though gathering up a groat heap of
bundles.
"An’ a motor, an’ a private car. an’
an Insurance directorship, an’ tho
young princess, my daughter, for a
wife, an’ twelve she asses laden v. Ith
gold—where from?”
Randolph Mason looked dow-. a*
him as one does at a pert, gtblnft
bootblack.
"From tho Union Fuel Company,”
he answered.
The cheerful consumptive snapped
his fingers.
"Stuff’s off.” he said. “You might
get ft from the Fresh Air Fund or
Uncle Abdul of Turkey, but not the
coal trust."
"We shall get ft from the Union
Fuel company,” said Mason. ”Mr.
Parks, have Pietro call a carriage,
and come with us.”
The young man arose, waved his
right arm ft a groat gesture of as
sent.
’’All right. Governor,” ho said;
"bare It your own way; but when you
wake up don't take It out on me."
Then he cocked his hat on one side
of his head and followed out to the
carriage behind Randolph Mason.
Tbo offices of the Union Fuel Com
pany are a 4 the foot of Broadway, an
entire floor, reached by a great semi*
circle of elevators, banging, rattling,
clicking, in their amphitheater of
cages. The businesß carried on here
is of necessity stupendous. It has to
do with modifying the temperature
of the whole country. The forces, too,
that labor everywhere under a man's
fingers, are sold here, stored in a
block of csrhon. The companies
housed under this roof, and the rival
ones occupying as great a building
across Broadway, practically own
the available coal beds of America,
the virgin sources of all the energy
used commonly by man. from th * fire
cooking his egg to the fire driving his
steamship. That there should be two
well-defined groups of such companies
thus In rivalry, standing like duelists
with the street between them, arises
from the fact that there are two great
railroad systems, as yet uncombined,
leading into tbe storehouses of Amer
ica’s coal, each railroad greater in
its authority than an empire, having
its retinue of operating companies at
tached like feudal dependencies,
bound to the overlord under penalty
of ruin, and coming and going at its
beck like the servants of the cen
turion. The two buildings are thus
packed with the chief offices of coal
e tfior
companies having mines on t
ougbfare of these roads. Any one of
these companies would find an alert
rival across the street.
It was quite an hour before we got
into tho office of Andrew Flint, the
president of the Union Fuel Company,
although it was one of the smallest
companies in the combine. Ho was a
man magnetized by the rubbing of
gold coins; he seemed to point con
stantly to the financial North; no
matter how tho needle were flung, It
swung finally back tnere. The very
physical type of the man was metallic.
Ho was thin and sharp, with Iron
hair, bluo like the po’nts of a
drill, and a manner ns of a constant
clicking. Ho had abridged the courte
sies of life to a formula of brief con
ventions; but in the discussion of dol
lar© ho was almost voluble, his voice
raced. He waited, seemingly hung on
a string like a suspended pendulum,
while Randolph Mason in a dozen
sentences stated the gist of the un
fortunate's story.
Mr. Flint spoke a monosyllable to
a clerk, who brought a case of papers
and laid it open on a table before him.
For a moment he ran bls eyes
through the file.
"Correct,” he said; "your Mr. Hop
kins owns a life estate in these lands.
We own the remainder. What do
you want?”
"I want you to buy tho life estate.”
Mr. Flint looked again at bls pa
pers.
"The advice here is against IL” be
answered. "This tract Is a patch at
taching to the eastern corner of our
field. Our main openings are four
miles west; the coal won’t be avail
able to us for ten yeare. This life
estate may be terminated then. Why
should we buy It now?”
"For the very reason that ft may
be terminated then,” answered Ran
dolph Mason.
▲ smile flitted snroes the face of
Mr. Andrew Flint like the sun over
gun metal.
“You have come to the wrong
place," he said. “This is not a char
ity bureau."
“Pardon me, sir," replied Randolph
Mason; “we have ernno to the right
place. Ry the use of the machinery
of tho law. you have taken this man's
money. You must now purchase his
title to the land, pay him in cash the
two years* interest already duo on his
purchase money, that is. twelve hun
dred dollars, and the interest semi
annually hereafter, that Is, six hun
dred dollars per year until his death.
This Is not an unreasonable proposi
tion. because, in the present condi
tion of Mr. Hopkins’s health, It is not
likely that he will live for a longer
period than the fanner at whose
death tho estate terminates."
Tho president of the Union Fuel
Company laughed, hrs voice cackling
like a spinning cog-wheel.
“Really," he said, "you e amuse me.”
An ugly sneer gathered in the cor
ners of Mason’s mouth.
“You do not amuse me,” he said;
"you annoy me."
Mr. Andrew Flint flushed and turn
ed sharply in his chair.
"1 believe this conference is ended,"
he said.
“Not quite ended," replied Randolph
Mason. ‘Listen a moment, if you
please. It is the law of the State of
West Virginia that a life tenant—that
is. one owning a life estate In lands —
cannot open mines and remove coal
or minerals from such lands during
his life, but must get his living from
the surface and pass over all the
wealth beneath his feet to his succes
sor. He inny be sick, weighted with
debt, starving, the wealth of the In
dies may lie beneath the sod of his
lands like a buried treasure, yet it is
held in certain decisions that he can
not touch it. Does such a rule of law
seem to you to be justice?"
It was now Andrew Flint’s turn to
sneer.
“I am not interested.” he replied, "in
the justice of it."
"Perhaps,” continued Mason, "you
may be Interested in a further pro
vision of that doctrine, quite as cur
ious. It Is also tho law of the Statft
of West Virginia that, if at the time
the iife tenant comes into his estate
there is a mine opened on the land
and in operation, then this person
with the life estate can not only con
tinue the operation of the mine, but
he can also work it to exhaustion. He
can gut the land of every ounce of
value. If a way be but cut to the
door of the storehouse, he can rifle
It to the last penny. He. can dlrm
bowel the land and leave his suo-'w
sor only a worthless shell. Does is
seem to you to be any sounder .
tlce?”
The president of the Union Fuel
Company fell back into his attitude of
business interest, as by the snapping
of a lever.
"What! what!” he said. “Let me
understand you.”
"You shall understand me exactly,”
replied Mason. "There Is a little mine
In operation on this land. If you do
not choose to make this contract with
Mr. Hopkins. I shall take him to the
coal company across the street, which
also operates in this region. I shall
lease the land to it for any royalty it
suggests, even a cent a ton. This
Pittsburgh vein is eight feet thick.
It will yield ten thousand tons to the
J.i. •>
• JjJ
acre. At one cent a ton that would
net Mr. Hopkins a royalty of one hun
dred dollars per acre. Ordinarily any
company would take out ten acres
every year. Under the existing con
dltions, this couuptyiy will take out
twenty. This will yield Mr. Hopkins
some twenty thousand dollars in the
end. and the company a profit of a
hundred thousand; and you at the
farmer’s death will have a shell of
broken rocks to Inherit as your es
tate, Does my proposition seem now
a matter of so much amusement?"
Mr. Flint saw that the matter had
reached that practical status which be
called business, and, after his cus
tom, he prepared instantly to meet It.
"Just a moment, please." he said,
He turned to his telephone on the
table and called up one of the great
law firms of the city. He stated in a
few rapid words the legal question in
volved. We could not, of course, hear
the answer, but the jerky expletives
of Mr. Flint were eloquent.
Presently he placed tho receiver on
its horn.
"We will take Mr. Hopkin ;’s title at
your figure." he said.
Rut just then the sick man emphat
ically thrust into the conference.
“No, you don’t!" he cried bo inrlng
out of his chair. “I’ve got the harpoon
in you, an’ I’m goln’ to Jump on It.
You pay me a thousand dollars a ye ir,
and every minute I raise it five hun
dred!”
Randolph Mason reached over his
hand caught the excited Mr Hopkins
by the arm, and replaced him in his
chair.
“Your silence.” he said, "will oblige
me. You shall receive exactly the sum
I have named, neither a dollar morn
nor less. I do not intend that either
you or this company shall take an ad
vantage."
I do not know which regarded Ma
son with a greater wnnd#r, the hum
bled fellow or Mr. Andrew Flint. The
one. no loss than the other expected
an advantage to be pressed home: .it
was tho first law of commerce, a«<
they knew it; all else was a theory
of churches.
I think the sick man would have
broken Into protest, but the manner
of Randolph Mason was not to be mis
read. and. too. in the former’s eye he
was something of the mag’cian in the
fairy book, and nnt to be set in
lest the gold in sight vanish
A deed was swiftly written executed,
and a chock for twelve hundred dol
lars passed over to Mr. Hopkins.
I shall always remember the com
ment of that erratic but chrerful per
son as w•h ft the building. He walk
ed along through tho corridor beside
me, his eye traveling in sort of child
ish wonder over Randolph Mason, whq
strode b< fore him, doubtless like a
Providence. Finally, as we were com
ing »o the door, he plucked my sleeve
and oke his comment, which,
phre.ed differently, was. indeed, the
comment of us all.
‘ The old boy’s a terror! ain't be?"
For the legal principle In
volved in this ctory see Tne
Law of Mines ard Mining In the
United States (Barringer 4
Artirr.s, page 15), also the fol
lowing cases: Koen v. Bsrtlett.
41 W. Va., 559! especially 567:
Williamson v. Jones, 39 W. Va.,
231; Wilson v. Yost, 43 W. Va.,
834.
“The rule Is well settled that
a tenant for life, when not pre
cluded by restraining words, may
not only work open mines, but
may work them to exhaustion,"
p. 567, Koen v. Bartlett, supra.
Opinion.
COMBINE BEAUTY AND UTILITY
Practical Nature of the Swiss Shown
in Their Gardens—Cow Houses
Built Over Springs.
The Swiss gardens are a quaint
combination of the artistic and prac
tical, writes F. Harris Deans In the
Wide World. A row of geraniums
will be followed by a lino of red cab
bages: lettuce nnd lilies grow In per
fect harmony side by side; archways
are covered with scarlet runners The
effect, however, is quite pleasing.
In many cases, too, the farmers take
advantage of the numerous springs on
the mountainside and build their cow
houses over them, thus ensuring a
constant supply of water running
through the cow house. T observed
this for the first time one day imme
diately after having quenched my
thirst at a sparkling spring. I felt a
horrible doubt that all was not clea
that sparkled It was a hot day, but
1 felt quite cool as I retraced my steps
and tracked that spring to its source
I was relieved to find that the farmer
who owned that particular spring
didn’t keep cows; I should have be
come a vegetarian if he had. After
that I found lukewarm water from a
Gasthaus mor© refreshing. What the
eye doesn’t see the atomack doesn’t
grieve about.
Suggestion for Now Holiday.
Texas has an “onion day.'* Com
menting; on Its observation, a New
Yorker said to a Galveston merchant:
“The Ix>ne Star state has the better
of the Empire state, for we have no
vegetable or flower to which we do
tearful homage as you do to the frag
rant onion. The fact is. wo are open *
to suggestions aa to a new holiday.
The latest proposition In that Uno was
a 'moving day.* Now. don't misunder
stand the term. Those who move wilt
not celebrate: they will just move and
experience all the joys pertaining to
that heart and furniture-breaking func
tion. Those who will celebrate win be
the people who can 'look on."—Now
York Tribune
I/? '
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