Read CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX of Watch Yourself Go By , free online book, by Al G Field, on

Not hurrying to, not turning from the goal.
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils; but with a whole
And happy heart, that pays the toll
To you and age, and travels on with cheer.

Uncle Madison, stage driver, soldier, planter, historian, a gentleman of the old school; versed in the classics and current events, most positive in his deductions. He fought every day and year of the Civil War for the cause of the South. He had labored every day since Appomattox to better the conditions he had been active in unsettling. The soul of honor, as courtly as a king, as keen as a flint, as blunt as a sledge, as tender as a child.

It was telegraphed all over the country that A. P. Clayton, Mayor of St. Joe, Mo., and Alfred, were behind the bars in Pittsburgh, Pa. Bill Brown telegraphed W. E. Joseph, Masonic Temple, Columbus: “Clayton and Field in jail here, will you help to get them out?” The answer was: “If Clayton and Alfred are in jail, it’s where they belong. W. E. Joseph.”

Uncle Madison read of it in the newspapers. He reared and charged. “Bill Brown nor no other man could put him in jail without suffering for it.” Alfred’s explanation did not satisfy Uncle Madison. “It’s only Bill’s way of having fun with his friends. No one that goes to Pittsburgh but Bill plays some sort of a joke on him. We are glad to get off so easy. We expected him to steal our clothes or have us indicted for bootlegging. Why, there are a number of people in the west good people who will not go east via Pittsburgh, fearing Bill’s practical jokes.”

Pet Clayton, Imperial Potentate of the Shrine, was compelled to visit Pittsburgh in connection with his official duties. Clayton carried Alfred with him as protection. Alfred, in his haste, forgot his dress suit. Arriving in Pittsburgh only a few moments before the ceremonial session, Bill insisted Alfred wear one of his (Bill’s) dress suits; that it was the rule of the Temple that all must wear dress suits to gain admission. Bill is wider than Alfred, “thicker through,” but not quite as tall. There was too much space everywhere excepting in the length of legs and arms of Bill’s dress suit, as it encompassed Alfred. No coaxing or lengthening of the suspenders or pulling at the sleeves could make Alfred look other than ridiculous. After walking from the Ft. Pitt Hotel to the Temple, the suit began to “set” to its new conditions. The legs, seat and sleeves, were drawing up at every breath.

Bill, in introducing the visitors, kindly made apologies for the condition of Clayton, and the appearance of Alfred, explaining that Clayton had just come from Louisville, where he was booked for one night only, but there was more to inspect than he had ever tackled before. He also assured the Nobility that Alfred owned a dress suit but they would not permit him to take it out of Columbus; that the suit Alfred wore was one he had kindly loaned him and he hoped that if anything happened Alfred those assembled would respect the clothes. When Alfred arose the next morning to prepare for the automobile ride the local people had tendered the visitors, his clothes were missing from the room. Bill Brown and the committee were waiting. “Slip on your overcoat; that will hide Bill’s old suit. You won’t be out of the automobile until you return. This hotel will make that suit good. How much did it cost you?” “Sixty dollars; well, we’ll make them buy you a hundred dollar suit.”

Every out of town guest, (Shriners) had lost something from their rooms. Harrison Dingman was tugging at an odd pair of shoes, a number eight and a ten, to get ready for the automobile tour. Bill Brown was everywhere consoling the losers, making notes of the losses pretending he wanted to bring suit against the hotel.

Alfred and Clayton were hustled into an automobile under Brown’s tender care. As the auto sped on, Clayton remonstrated as to the high speed at which the machine was traveling. Brown was describing the Carnegie Technical School. Clayton, seemingly not interested, bluntly informed Bill he would not ride further at the speed we’re going. “I’m too damn good a man to get killed by one of these machines,” declared Clayton.

Brown pretended his feelings were injured. Halting the auto as he climbed out backwards, he remarked: “I don’t want to annoy you, gentlemen. The educational institution we are now passing is one of the most noted in the world. I supposed you’d be interested in it. It is one of which Pittsburghers are justly proud. We take a young man from the home, pass him through this school and turn him out versed in any profession or trade.”

Clayton said something about an institution in St. Joe that took a hog from the pen every minute, passed him through and turned him out every minute, ready for the table. Clayton referred to St. Joe’s slaughter houses.

After Brown left the auto there was no slacking of its speed. Both Alfred and Clayton remonstrated with the chauffer. He claimed they were not traveling nearly so rapidly as the machines containing the other guests; that he did not know their destination and must keep in sight of them. As Clayton was insisting that the auto be halted, a policeman threw up his hands, commanding the chauffer to halt, advising all they were arrested for exceeding the speed limit. Clayton quickly informed the officers that we were guests, not the owners of the machine; that we had protested since we entered the park at the high speed; that we were not to blame and should not be arrested. “I’m not here in Pittsburgh to break laws that I instruct my officers to enforce. I am the Mayor of St. Joe and I won’t stand for this arrest.”

“St. Joe, St. Joe,” mused the Irish policeman, “well, uv course, I have no authority to turn yez loose. There may be a St. Joe but I haven’t heered uf it. There’s so meny new korporations springing up around yere, I exshpect Coryopolis will be havin’ a Mayor next an’ he’ll come in the city an’ want to have immunity fur any crime he may commit. No, you nabobs wid dese automobiles must be held in check. Ye kilt two shill-dren and a hog out uv wan family last week.”

Clayton led the officer behind the machine. Alfred overheard him offer the cop two dollars and to set them up to turn the pair loose. “It’s done every day in St. Joe,” Clayton confided. The officer shook his head and remarked:

“I’ll have tu take yez down. Get in!” and he pointed with his club to the open door of the machine. “Climb in! I’ll let yez talk to the sargent.” The Mayor of St. Joe and the meek minstrel re-embarked. The officer sat up beside the chauffer, Clayton slinging it into him every foot of the way to the station.

There was a crowd outside the door. “Phwat are they pinched fur?” inquired a ward politician who had a pull, and consequently got a reply from the cops. “Exceedin’ the spheed law in the park,” replied the officer. “They’re from out of town, are they?” “Yis,” answered the cop. “The big one claims he’s the Mayor of St. Joseph’s Academy, er some other place. The other one has thryed to hide hisself in his overcoat.”

They were in front of the Sergeant’s desk. Alfred whispered to Clayton: “Give a fictitious name.” Clayton was arguing the case with the Sergeant. “My name’s Clayton. This is Mr. Field, Al. G. Field, of minstrel fame. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, right near you. He is the Potentate of Aladdin Temple, Columbus.”

“Hold on, Pet, hold on,” pleaded Alfred, “I I ”

“Never mind, Alfred, never mind. Now, I’m the Mayor of a city. I know just how to handle these matters.”

“Well, don’t give them my name and pedigree. Handle it without that,” requested Alfred.

“Put them both together in cell twenty-three and send for the Bertillon officers. I think you’ll find their mugs in the Hall of Fame.” Clayton advised Alfred the Hall of Fame had reference to the Rogue’s Gallery.

Clayton clamored for an opportunity to telephone the Chief of Police, the Director of Public Safety, or some other high mogul. “If I was in St. Joe, I’d be out of here in two minutes,” he excitedly declared.

“Of course you would,” assented Alfred, “but you’re not in St. Joe. You’re in jail in Pittsburgh, a shake-down town, and it will cost us fifty and costs, you see if it don’t.”

“Not on your life it won’t. Let me get this fellow on the phone. What’s his name? I met him last night. I’ll tell him something,” said Clayton.

“Do you know him?” meekly inquired Alfred.

“Know him? Hell? Why, I’m well acquainted with him. I had fifty drinks with him last night.”

“Well, telephone him quick,” urged Alfred.

“Hello, hello! This is Clayton, Clayton, C-l-a-y-t-o-n, Clayton. I met you last night. (Ha-ha-ha). How do you feel? (Oh, all right). Where am I at? No, no! Pet Clayton, Mayor of St. Joe, Imperial Potentate of the hello gurgle gurgle,” and Pet hung up the phone. “Well, don’t that beat the bugs! Now this fellow knows me but he says he must see me. He only met me last night, he isn’t familiar with my voice. I told him who I was but he said I might be all right, but he would come out and investigate.”

“It seems to me Bill Brown would come back looking for us. You’re the guest of honor.”

This reminder riled Clayton up. “I’ll attend to Mr. Brown’s case. I put him where he is. I’ll show him something next session of the Imperial Council.”

Just then the jailer thrust a thin loaf of bread part ways between the bars. Alfred and Pet gazed at the bread as it stuck there. In a moment the man sat a thin can of water beside the bread. Clayton endeavored to bribe him to go to a restaurant and bring some real refreshments.

“Phwat wud yez like to eat?”

“Oh, Old Crow or Joe Finch’s ‘Golden Wedding.’”

“Oh, yez’ll git none of those things out here. They wudn’t know how to cook them if they had ’em. Yez’d better have some corned beef and cabbage. No, this is Friday, yez can’t get that. Salt mackerel is the bhest I can do for yez the day.”

Clayton pinched off a crust, with the remark: “I’ll eat your bread but damned if I drink your water.”

Clayton swore he could buy the police, the police station, the police department or anything else in Pittsburgh, but he wouldn’t be shook down. He had endeavored to bribe everyone he came in contact with, but all refused to accept, even the policeman. Pet confidentially informed Alfred, as they sat in the dark, dismal cell, that he knew there wasn’t a straight man in Pittsburgh; that being Mayor of St. Joe he had got next to all the grafting cities in the country. “I will admit to you, and you are the first man I ever breathed it to, there is a little, very little, grafting going on in St. Joe.” Pet had Pittsburgh people sized up right, but he applied St. Joe prices and they were rejected.

The old janitor seemed to be taken up greatly with the two prisoners. “Yez belongs to some kind of a sacret society, don’t yez?” he inquired.

Clayton straightened up to his full height. “Yes, we belong to the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America.” Pet rolled off the lengthy title so rapidly the old fellow was astounded. Resting his hands on the cell bars, he gazed admiringly at Clayton fully a half minute, ere he asked: “Are yez Pope of it?” Later it developed the janitor was a captain of police, also a Shriner. He played his part well.

When Bill Brown and McCandless arrived they almost came to blows. Bill swore they were disgraced. Bill endeavored to borrow the fifty dollar fine from both Clayton and Alfred. Failing, he borrowed, or pretended to borrow the amount from McCandless. Clayton and Alfred were liberated, loaded into an auto, the chauffer ordered to drive slowly to the Work House. When Clayton and Alfred stepped on to the veranda, the doors were flung open. On each side of the long tables there was a row of red fezzes. Under each a Shriner. There was a welcome, and such a welcome as could only be extended by those who at one time or another have been the victims of Bill Brown’s practical jokes.

To those who are not intimate with Bill Brown, his sense of humor may appear forced. But his pranks are only the over-flowing exuberance of a great, big, fun-loving man a big body but scarcely big enough to contain a heart so filled with love for his fellow man. Alvah P. Clayton thanked the committee, thanked Bill Brown, thanked the police for their kindly consideration in placing him in jail. He stated that visiting the city in his official capacity, he had concluded the duties that called him to Pittsburgh, that he carried on his person money and valuables representing thousands of dollars. He was compelled to remain in the city all day and he felt much safer in jail than loose on the streets of Pittsburgh.

We love men like Bill Brown and Pet Clayton because they are lovable men. Happy is the man who has that in his soul that acts upon the dejected mortal as April showers upon violet roots.

Bill Brown has a motto worked on brass, with steel fish-hooks. It hangs over the mantelpiece in his home, and reads:

“I am an old man; my troubles are many, but most of them never happened.”

Alfred has added to this motto: “They mostly happened to others.”

Uncle Madison never could understand why Alfred was indifferent as to his arrest. He never could appreciate the sense of humor that influenced Alfred to go to jail for a joke.

Uncle Madison, while on a visit to Alfred, read in the Columbus papers of the different classes of people composing its citizenship. “You have the upper class, the middle class, the lower class.” When Uncle Madison was asked if the people of Virginia were not designated by classes, he replied: “No sir! No sir! We only have one class of people in Virginia the high class. All the others are Republicans.”

Uncle Madison declares this is the age of shriek and frenzy, the over-zealous, ambitious politician who gets his ideas from history, going back a little further than most people read, puts them forward as his own.

“The majority of folks, in this the best of countries, believe that the founders of it, knew just about what they were doing when they made out the plans and specifications. If you will read the writings of Jefferson, you will find them as applicable to present conditions as they were the day they were written.

“Alfred I hope you won’t be bamboozled by the ravings of demagogues, who constantly preach about the wrongs of the people. You’ll find the wrongs that influence them are their own imaginary wrongs. The founders of this country provided for the righting of all wrongs. We can right any wrong at the ballot box. We do not require any new-fangled, or rather old-fangled, ideas warmed over. The man who advocates the so-called Referendum, the Initiative, and particularly, the Recall, is a traitor to the true principles of government as established by our forefathers. We have lived and thrived for more than a hundred years under the best form of government ever devised. If we want to preserve it, if we desire to perpetuate our institutions, the demagogue, the mountebanking politician must be squelched. They ruined every republic of the ancient world and if we don’t throttle them they’ll ruin ours.

“The self-seeking demagogue starts out with the captivating doctrine, the rule of the people, but his end will be the dangerous despotism of one man rule the rule of himself. Could you or any reasoning man who has followed the demagogues of this country, for a moment doubt that any one of them, on the slightest pretext or opportunity would make a despot that would shade those of the old world?

“The initiative, the referendum and the recall lend themselves to the demagogues’ schemes, and they call it progressiveness. Nothing in government could be more reactionary. It was tried in Greece and it failed. It was tried in ancient Rome and it failed. The political party that’s ‘agin’ the recall, the referendum and the initiative, will win and it deserves to win.

“Socialism, in theory, is a most beautiful dream, an illusion. Socialism, as it is practiced by the discontented and turbulent, is about as near anarchy as we can get. See what they have done wherever they have obtained a foothold. It’s un-American; it’s unpatriotic; it is against all that a patriotic American citizen holds most sacred. Despite the demagogues who have brought about these conditions, those who love this country, respect its laws and appreciate the advantages it offers to every man willing to work, will triumph. The evolution will never come to revolution.

“The Romans, two thousand years ago, experienced the same troubles we are having. There is a fable comparing the corporeal body to the body politic. Once upon a time the feet became discontented and struck. They refused to be walked upon longer. The legs noted the dissatisfaction of the feet. Although they never had cause for complaint before, they said: ’Well, we will quit also. We will refuse to carry the body around longer.’ The stomach said: ’Well, I can’t digest food if you refuse to work, so I’ll just quit also; besides, I’ve been working all these years for that aristocrat, the brain. I am down under the table doing the work while the brain is enjoying the wit and gaiety. I want to be up where he is. The brain has been the master long enough.’ The brain became stubborn: ’All well and good for you. If that is the manner in which you look upon your duties; if you feel that you have been imposed upon, go your way. I refuse to think for you further.’

“The feet stubbed their toes; their course was irregular; they stepped on broken glass; they swelled up as large as watermelons. The legs, illy nourished, not clothed, became weak and rheumatic, gave way altogether. The stomach, not receiving food, began to ache and cramp. The brain was suffering from the ills that had befallen the stomach, the limbs and the feet. The misery became general. The entire body was suffering, and its sufferings had weakened it greatly.

“After a while they all concluded their only hope to live happily was that one should depend upon the other. It was decided the brain should run things; but the ills brought upon the body had caused so much suffering that it required a length of time until all recovered the condition they were in before the strike as we will call it. All agreed the brain should have all the powers as before but must consider the other parts of the body as of greater importance than heretofore. This the brain had learned, and further that they were all necessary parts of one great body. And thus they all concluded to go to work together. After the brain put food into the stomach, clothes on the legs, healed the wounds of the feet, it found its sufferings had ceased. The brain learned it must take good care of all parts of the body or it would suffer. Neither one could long exist without the aid of the other.

“God needs all kinds of people in this world. Some represent the brain, others the stomach, more the feet and legs. As Abraham Lincoln said: ‘God must love the common people: He made so many of them.’

“Along comes the demagogue. In his zeal to gratify vainglorious ambitions, he endeavors to convince the common people that confusion and agitation will right their wrongs.

“They quote from Abraham Lincoln. Let me ask you to compare their speeches and appeals with those of Abraham Lincoln. Do you remember any speech of these modern demagogues in which they have told the common people that they were living in the best country in the world? That they, the common people, had it in their power to relieve themselves of their few wrongs? Do you ever remember one of them telling the dear common people that good government was essential to prosperity? That it was a higher honor to be governed in a republic like ours, than to live in any other country?

“Every human being begins life under control and there is not one in a thousand that ever should live, only under control. Three-fourths of the people in this world never knew they were counted until they get into a mob.

“The demagogues array their hearers against wealth. They leave the impression that all who are so fortunate as to possess a little more of this world’s goods than the poorest, are dishonest; that it is dishonorable to be of the moneyed class. They never tell the people it is but natural and necessary that some should be richer than others. These conditions have always prevailed and could only be changed by a gross violation of rights, held inviolate since the beginning of civilization. Since the world began, industry and frugality have been rewarded by wealth.

“These demagogues never tell the people that the opportunities are ever open that have made others rich. They never tell the boys growing up that ten or twenty years hence, they the boys of today, will be the business men, the moneyed class of this country.

“To be prosperous is not to be superior. Wealth should form no barrier between men. The only distinction that should be recognized is as between integrity and corruption.

“The present day fads are only the revival of the brain throbs of demagogues gone before. Read Jewett’s translation of politics. Aristotle, who dealt wisely with many momentous questions, designated the initiative, referendum and recall, as the fifth form of democracy, in which not the law but the multitude, have the superior power and supersede the law by their decrees. Homer says that ’it is not good to have a rule of many.’

“As I said before, there will be no revolution. The patriotic people of this country will attend to this. But we will be compelled to do a little deporting and perhaps a little disciplining. The American people will attend to this sooner or later. The red flag has no place in this country. Curb the trusts, curtail combinations in restraint of trade, let all men get an even start in the race and the deserving will win. I am not a rich man; I’m a poor man. I’ve worked all my life. I am happy and contented. Insofar as riches are concerned, I would like to possess them, but damned if I want them if I’ve got to rob others who have labored more diligently and with more intelligence than I have.”

“Now, Uncle Madison, what’s your cure for the political and social upheavals?”

“Patriotism, loyalty to our country, to our flag, to our institutions, to the principles that have made us what we are.”

“Uncle Madison, you were a Confederate soldier.”

“Yes, and I’m proud of it. I fought for what I believed to be right. We of the south lived under conditions that had grown upon us, been forced upon us; I refer to slavery. I’m not defending slavery, I’m glad it’s done, but we had lived under a government that guaranteed to protect our rights and property. No matter if slavery was wrong was it right for one-half of the people of a country to insist the other half impoverish themselves give up all their possessions?

“Slavery was handed down to us and well, there’s nothing in threshing this matter over; slavery was the cause of the war, the negro was the issue. If the negro had been a commercial product in the north there would have been no war. The south lost because it was ordained they should lose. That does not lessen my pride in the fact that I fought for the cause I thought was right; we were right in the fact that we fought for the property this government promised to protect us in, and that’s just what the north would have done if conditions had been reversed.”

“Uncle Madison, do you believe in the majority rule?”

“The majority, if you mean the greater number of people, never did rule and never will. It’s the few that does the thinking, does the ruling. Why, my boy, there are times in our lives when God and one are a majority.”