Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Making of an American > VI. In which I become an Editor and receive my First Love Letter
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914). The Making of an American. 1901.
 
VI. In which I become an Editor and receive my First Love Letter
 
I HAD my hands full that winter. The profession I had entered by so thorny a path did not prove to be a bed of roses. But I was not looking for roses. I doubt if I would have known what to do with them had there been any. Hard work and hard knocks had been my portion heretofore, and I was fairly trained down to that. Besides, now that the question where the next meal was to come from did not loom up whichever way I looked, the thing for me was to be at work hard enough and long enough to keep from thinking. With every letter from home I expected to hear that she was married, and then—I never got any farther. A furious kind of energy took possession of me at the mere idea, and I threw myself upon my work in a way that speedily earned for me the name of a good reporter. “Good” had reference to the quantity of work done rather than to the quality of it. That was of less account than our ability to “get around” to our assignments; necessarily so, for we mostly had six or seven of an evening to attend, our route extending often from Harlem clear down to the Bowery. So that they were nearly “on a line,” we were supposed to have no cause of complaint. Our office sold news to morning and evening papers both, and our working day, which began at 10 A.M., was seldom over until one or two o'clock the next morning. Three reporters had to attend to all the general news of the city that did not come through the regular department channels.   1
   A queerly assorted trio we were: “Doc” Lynch, who had graduated from the medical school to Bohemia, following a natural bent, I suppose; Crafts, a Maine boy of angular frame and prodigious self-confidence; and myself. Lynch I have lost sight of long ago. Crafts, I am told, is rich and prosperous, the owner of a Western newspaper. That was bound to happen to him. I remember him in the darkest days of that winter, when to small pay, hard work, and long hours had been added an attack of measles that kept him in bed in his desolate boarding-house, far from kindred and friends. “Doc” and I had run in on a stolen visit to fill their place as well as we might. We sat around trying to look as cheerful as we could and succeeding very poorly; but Crafts's belief in himself and his star soared above any trivialities of present discouragement. I see him now rising on his elbow and transfixing the two of us with long, prophetic forefinger:—   2
   “The secret of my success,” he said, impressively, “I lay to—”   3
   We never found out to what he laid it, for we both burst out laughing, and Crafts, after a passing look of surprise, joined in. But that finger prophesied truly. His pluck won the day, and won it fairly. They were two good comrades in a tight place. I shouldn't want any better.   4
   Running around was only working off steam, of which we had plenty. The long rides, on Harlem assignments, in horse-cars with straw in the bottom that didn't keep our feet from freezing until all feeling in them was gone, were worse, a good deal. At the mere thought of them I fall to nursing my toes for reminiscent pangs. However, I had at least enough to eat. At the downtown Delmonico's and the other swell restaurants through the windows of which I had so often gazed with hungry eyes, I now sometimes sat at big spreads and public dinners, never without thinking of the old days and the poor fellows who might then be having my hard luck. It was not so long since that I could have forgotten I bit a mark in the Mulberry Bend, too, as my professional engagements took me that way, promising myself that the day should come when I would have time to attend to it. For the rest, if I had an hour to spare, I put it in at the telegraph instrument. I had still the notion that it might not be labor lost. And though I never had professional use for it, it did come handy to me as a reporter more than once. There is scarcely anything one can learn that will not sooner or later be useful to a newspaper man, if he is himself of the kind that wants to be useful.   5
   Along in the spring some politicians in South Brooklyn who had started a weekly newspaper to boom their own fortunes found themselves in need of a reporter, and were told of a “young Dutchman” who might make things go. I was that “Dutchman.” They offered me $15 a week, and on May, 20, 1874, I carried my grip across the river, and, all unconscious that I was on the turning tide in my fortunes, cast in my lot with “Beecher's crowd,” as the boys in the office said derisively when I left them   6
   In two weeks I was the editor of the paper. That was not a vote of confidence, but pure economy on the part of my owners. They saved forty dollars a week by giving me twenty-five and the name of editor. The idea of an editor in anything but the name I do not suppose had ever entered their minds. Theirs was an “organ,” and for the purposes for which they had started it they thought themselves abundantly able to run it. I, on my part, quickly grew high notions of editorial independence. Their purposes had nothing to do with it. The two views proved irreconcilable. They clashed quite regularly, and perhaps it was as much that they were tired of the editor as that the paper was a drag upon them that made them throw it up after the fall elections, in which they won. The press and the engine were seized for debt. The last issue of the South Brooklyn News had been put upon the street, and I went to the city to make a bargain with the foundryman for the type. It was in the closing days of the year. Christmas was at the door, with its memories. Tired and disheartened, I was on my way back, my business done, as the bells rang in the Holy Eve. I stood at the bow of a Fulton Street ferryboat listening sadly to them, and watched the lights of the city kindling alongshore. Of them all not one was for me. It was all over, and I should have to strike a new trail. Where would that lead? What did it matter, anyhow? Nobody cared. Why should I?   7
   A beautiful meteor shot out of the heavens overhead and spanned the river with a shining arc. I watched it sail slowly over Williamsburg, its trail glowing bright against the dark sky, and mechanically the old wish rose to my lips. It was a superstition with us when we were children that if we were quick enough to “wish out” before the star was extinguished, the wish would come true. I had tried a hundred times, always to fail; but for once I had ample time. A bitter sigh smothered the wish, half uttered. My chance had come too late. Even now she might be another man's wife, and I—I had just made another failure of it, as usual.   8
   It had never happened in all the holiday seasons I had been away that a letter from home had reached me in time for Christmas Eve, and it was a sore subject with me. For it was ever the dearest in the year to me, and is now. But that evening, when I came home, in a very ill humor, for the first time I found the coveted letter. It told me of the death of my two older brothers and of my favorite aunt. In a postscript my father added that Lieutenant B—, Elizabeth's affianced husband, had died in the city hospital at Copenhagen. She herself was living among strangers. She had chosen her lover when the family demanded of her that she give him up as a hopeless invalid. They thought it all for her good. Of her I should have expected nothing less. But she shall tell the story of that herself.   9
   I read the letter through, then lay down upon my bed and wept. When I arose, it was to go to the owners of my paper with a proposition to buy it. They laughed at me at first; asked to see my money. As a reporter for the news bureau I had saved up $75, rather because I had no time to spend it than with any definite notion of what I was going to do with it. This I offered to them, and pointed out that the sale of the old type, which was all that was left of the paper beside the goodwill, would bring no more. One of them, more reasonable than the rest—the one who had generally paid the scores while the others took the tricks—was disposed to listen. The upshot of it was that I bought the paper for $650, giving notes for the rest, to be paid when I could. If I could not, they were not much out. And then, again, I might succeed.   10
   I did; by what effort I hesitate to set down here lest I be not believed. The News was a big four-page sheet. Literally every word in it I wrote myself. I was my own editor, reporter, publisher, and advertising agent. My pen kept two printers busy all the week, and left me time to canvass for advertisements, attend meetings, and gather the news. Friday night the local undertaker, who advertised in the paper and paid in kind, took the forms over to New York, where the presswork was done. In the early morning hours I shouldered the edition—it was not very large in those days—and carried it from Spruce Street down to Fulton Ferry, and then home on a Fifth Avenue car. I recall with what inward rage I submitted to being held up by every chance policeman and prodded facetiously in the ribs with remarks about the “old man's millions,” etc. Once or twice it boiled over and I was threatened with summary arrest. When I got home, I slept on the counter with the edition for my pillow, in order to be up with the first gleam of daylight to skirmish for newsboys. I gathered them in from street and avenue, compelled them to come in if they were not willing, and made such inducements for them that shortly South Brooklyn resounded with the cry of “News” from sunrise to sunset on Saturday. The politicians who had been laughing at my “weekly funeral” beheld with amazement the paper thrust under their noses at every step. They heard its praises, or the other thing, sung on every hand. From their point of view it was the same thing: the paper was talked of. Their utmost effort had failed of that. When, on June 5, Her birthday, I paid down in hard cash what was left of the purchase sum and hoisted the flag over an independent newspaper, freed from debt, they came around with honeyed speeches to make friends. I scarcely heard them. Deep down in my soul a voice kept repeating unceasingly: Elizabeth is free! She is free, free! That night, in the seclusion of my den, clutching grimly the ladder upon which I had at last got my feet, I resolved that I would reach the top, or die climbing. The morning sun shone through my window and found me sleepless, pouring out my heart to her, four thousand miles away.   11
   I carried the letter to the post-office myself, and waited till I saw it started on its long journey. I stood watching the carrier till he turned the corner; then went back to my work.   12
 
 
Brother Simmons. [The Rev. Ichabod Simmons.]
 
   To that work there had been added a fresh spur just when I was at last free from all trammels. The other strongest of human emotions had been stirred within me. In a Methodist revival—it was in the old Eighteenth Street Church—I had fallen under the spell of the preacher's fiery eloquence. Brother Simmons was of the old circuit-riders' stock, albeit their day was long past in our staid community. He had all their power, for the spirit burned within him; and he brought me to the altar quickly, though in my own case conversion refused to work the prescribed amount of agony. Perhaps it was because I had heard Mr. Beecher question the correctness of the prescription. When a man travelling in the road found out, he said, that he had gone wrong, he did not usually roll in the dust and agonize over his mistake; he just turned around and went the other way. It struck me so, but none the less with deep conviction. In fact, with the heat of the convert, I decided on the spot to throw up my editorial work and take to preaching. But Brother Simmons would not hear of it.   13
   “No, no, Jacob,” he said; “not that. We have preachers enough. What the world needs is consecrated pens.”   14
   Then and there I consecrated mine. I wish I could honestly say that it has always come up to the high ideal set it then. I can say, though, that it has ever striven toward it, and that scarce a day has passed since that I have not thought of the charge then laid upon it and upon me.   15
   The immediate result was a campaign for reform that made the town stare. It struck the politicians first. They were Democrats, and I was running a Democratic paper. I did it con amore, too, for it was in the days of the scandals of Grant's second term, and the disgrace of it was foul. So far we were agreed. But it happened that the chief obstacle to Democratic success in the Twenty-second Ward, where my paper was located, was the police captain of the precinct, John Mackellar, who died the other day as Deputy Chief of the Borough of Brooklyn. Mackellar was a Republican of a pronounced type and a good deal of a politician besides. Therefore he must go. But he was my friend. I had but two in the entire neighborhood who really cared for me—Edward Wells, clerk in a drug-store across the street, who was of my own age, and Mackellar. Between us had sprung up a strong attachment, and I could not think of having Mackellar removed, particularly as he had done nothing to deserve it. He was a good policeman. I told the bosses so. They insisted; pleaded political expedience. I told them I would not allow it, and when they went ahead in spite of me, told the truth about it in my paper. The Twenty-second was really a Republican ward. The attitude of the News killed the job.   16
   The Democratic bosses were indignant.   17
   “How can we run the ward with you acting that way?” they asked. I told them I did not care if they didn't. I could run it better myself, it seemed.   18
   They said nothing. They had other resources. The chief of them—he was a judge—came around and had a friendly talk with me. He showed me that I was going against my own interest. I was just starting out in life. I had energy, education. They were qualities that in politics were convertible into gold, much gold, if I would but follow him and his fortunes.   19
   “I never had an education,” he said. “I need you. If you will stick to me, I will make you rich.”   20
   I think he meant it. He certainly could have done so had he chosen. He himself died rich. He was not a bad fellow, as bosses go. But I did not like boss politics. And the bait did not tempt me. I never wanted to be rich. I am afraid it would make me grasping; I think I am built that way. Anyhow, it is too much bother. I wanted to run my own paper, and I told him so.   21
   “Well,” he said, “you are young. Think it over.”   22
   It was some time after that I read in a newspaper, upon returning from a hunting trip to Staten Island, that I had been that day appointed an interpreter in my friend the judge's court, at a salary of $100 a month. I went to him and asked him what it meant.   23
   “Well,” he said, “we need an interpreter. There are a good many Scandinavians and Germans in my district. You know their language?”   24
   “But,” I protested, “I have no time to go interpreting police court cases. I don't want the office.”   25
   He pushed me out with a friendly shoulder-pat. “You go back and wait till I send for you. We can lump the cases, and we won't need you every day.”   26
   In fact, they did not need me more than two or three times that month, at the end of which I drew my pay with many qualms of conscience. My services were certainly not worth the money I received. Such is the soothing power of public “pap”: on the second pay-day, though I had performed even less service, I did not feel nearly so bad about it. My third check I drew as a matter of course. I was “one of the boys” now, and treated with familiarity by men whom I did not like a bit, and who, I am sure, did not like me. But the cordiality did not long endure. It soon appeared that the interpreter in the judge's court had other duties than merely to see justice done to helpless foreigners; among them to see things politically as His Honor did. I did not. A ruction followed speedily—I think it was about our old friend Mackellar—that wound up by his calling me an ingrate. It was a favorite word of his, as I have noticed it is of all bosses, and it meant everything reprehensible. He did not discharge me; he couldn't. I was as much a part of the court as he was, having been appointed under a State law. But the power of the Legislature that had created me was invoked to kill me, and, for appearance's sake, the office. Before it adjourned, the same Legislature resurrected the office, but not me. So contradictory is human nature that by that time I was quite ready to fight for my “rights.” But for once I was outclassed. The judge and the Legislature were too many for me, and I retired as gracefully as I could.   27
   So ceased my career as a public officer, and forever. It was the only office I ever held, and I do not want another. I am ashamed yet, twenty-five years after, of having held that one. Because, however I try to gloss it over, I was, while I held it, a sinecurist, pure and simple.   28
   However, it did not dampen my zeal for reform in the least. That encompassed the whole range of my little world; nor would it brook delay even for a minute. It did not consider ways and means, and was in nowise tempered with discretion. Looking back now, it seems strange that I never was made to figure in the police court in those days in another capacity than that of interpreter. Not that I did anything for which I should have been rightly jailed. But people will object to being dragged by the hair even in the ways of reform. When the grocer on my corner complained that he was being ruined by “beats” who did not pay their bills and thereby compelled him to charge those who did pay more, in order that he might live, I started in at once to make those beats pay up. I gave notice, in a plain statement of the case in my editorial columns, that they must settle their scores for the sake of the grocer and the general good, or I would publish their names. I was as good as my word. I not only published the list of them, but how much and how long they owed it, and called upon them to pay or move out of the ward.   29
   Did they move? Well, no! Perhaps it was too much to expect. They were comfortable. They stayed to poison the mind of the town against the man who was lying awake nights to serve it; in which laudable effort they were ably seconded by the corner grocer. I record without regret the subsequent failure of that tradesman. There were several things wrong with the details of my campaign,—for one thing, I had omitted to include him among the beats,—but in its large lines we can all agree that it was right. It was only another illustration of the difficulty of reducing high preaching to practice. Instead of society hailing me as its saviour, I grew personally unpopular. I doubt if I had another friend in the world beside the two I have mentioned. But the circulation of my paper grew enormously. It was doubled and trebled week by week—a fact which I accepted as public recognition of the righteousness of my cause. I was wrong in that. The fact was that ours was a community of people with a normally healthy appetite for knowing one's neighbor's business. I suppose the thing has been mistaken before by inexperience for moral enthusiasm, and will be again.   30
   I must stop here to tell the reason why I would not convict the meanest thief on circumstantial evidence. I would rather let a thousand go free than risk with one what I risked and shudder yet to think of. There had been some public excitement that summer about mad dogs, especially spitzdogs. A good many persons had been bitten, and the authorities of Massachusetts, if I remember rightly, had put that particular breed under the ban as dangerous at all times. There was one always prowling about the lot behind my office, through which the way led to my boarding-house, and, when it snapped at my leg in passing one day, I determined to kill it in the interest of public safety. I sent my office-boy out to buy a handful of buckshot, and, when he brought it, set about loading both barrels of the fowling-piece that stood in my office. While I was so occupied, my friend the drug-clerk came in, and wanted to know what I was up to. Shooting a dog, I said, and he laughed:—   31
   “Looks as though you were going gunning for your beats.”   32
   I echoed his laugh thoughtlessly enough; but the thing reminded me that it was unlawful to shoot within the city limits, and I sent the boy up to the station to tell the captain to never mind if he heard shooting around: I was going out for a dog. With that I went forth upon my quest.   33
   The dog was there; but he escaped before I could get a shot at him. He dodged, growling and snapping, among the weeds, and at last ran into a large enclosed lot in which there were stacks of lumber and junk and many hiding-places. I knew that he could not get out, for the board fence was high and tight. So I went in and shut the door after me, and had him.   34
   I should have said before that among my enemies was a worthless fellow, a hanger-on of the local political machine, who had that afternoon been in the office annoying me with his loud and boisterous talk. He was drunk, and as there were some people to see me, I put him out. He persisted in coming back, and I finally told him, in the hearing of a dozen persons, to go about his business, or some serious harm would befall him. If I connected any idea with it, it was to call a policeman; but I left them to infer something worse, I suppose. Getting arrested was not very serious business with him. He went out, swearing.   35
   It was twilight when I began my still-hunt for the spitz in the lumber lot, and the outlines of things were more or less vague; but I followed the dog about until at last I made him out standing on a pile of boards a little way off. It was my chance. I raised the gun quickly and took aim. I had both barrels cocked and my finger on the trigger, when something told me quite distinctly not to shoot; to put down the gun and go closer. I did so, and found, not the dog as I thought, but my enemy whom I had threatened but an hour or two before, asleep at full length on the stack, with his coat rolled under his head for a pillow. It was his white shirt-bosom which I had mistaken in the twilight for the spitz dog.   36
   He never knew of his peril. I saw my own at a glance, and it appalled me. Stranger that I was, hated and denounced by many who would have posed as victims of my violence; with this record against me of threatening the man whom I would be accused of having slain an hour later; with my two only friends compelled to give evidence which would make me out as artfully plotting murder under the shield of a palpable invention—for who ever heard of any one notifying the police that he was going to shoot a dog?—with no family connection or previous good character to build a defence upon: where would have been my chance of escape? What stronger chain of circumstantial evidence could have been woven to bring me, an innocent man, to the gallows? I have often wished to forget that evening by the sleeping man in the lumber lot. I cannot even now write calmly about it. Many months passed before I could persuade myself to touch my gun, fond as I had always been of carrying it through the woods.   37
   Of all this the beats knew nothing. They kept up their warfare of backbiting and of raising petty ructions at the office when I was not there, until I hit upon the plan of putting Pat in charge. Pat was a typical Irish coal-heaver, who would a sight rather fight than eat. There was a coal office in the building, and Pat was generally hanging around, looking for a job. I paid him a dollar a week to keep the office clear of intruders, and after that there was no trouble. There was never any fighting, either. The mere appearance of Pat in the doorway was enough, to his great disgust. It was a success as far as preserving the peace of the office was concerned. But with it there grew up, unknown to me, an impression that personally I would not fight, and the courage of the beats rose correspondingly. They determined to ambush me and have it out with me. One wintry Saturday night, when I was alone in the office closing up the business of the week, they met on the opposite corner to see me get a thrashing. One of their number, a giant in stature, but the biggest coward of the lot, was to administer it. He was fitted out with an immense hickory club for the purpose, and to nerve his arm they filled him with drink.   38
   My office had a large window running the whole length of the front, with a sill knee-high that made a very good seat when chairs were scarce. Only one had to be careful not to lean against the window. It was made of small panes set in a slight wooden framework, which every strong wind blew out or in, and I was in constant dread lest the whole thing should collapse. On that particular night the window was covered with a heavy hoar-frost, so that it was quite impossible to see from outside what was going on within, or vice versa. From my seat behind the desk I caught sight through the door, as it was opened by a chance caller, of the gang on the opposite corner, with Jones and his hickory club, and knew what was coming. I knew Jones, too, and awaited his début as a fighter with some curiosity.   39
   He came over, bravely enough, after the fifth or sixth drink, opened the door, and marched in with the tread of a grenadier. But the moment it fell to behind him, he stood and shook so that the club fairly rattled on the floor. Outside the gang were hugging their sides in expectation of what was coming.   40
   “Well, Jones,” I said, “what is it?”   41
   He mumbled something so tremulously and incoherently that I felt really sorry for him. Jones was not a bad fellow, though he was in bad company just then. I told him so, and that it would be best for him to go out quietly, or he might hurt himself. He seemed to be relieved at the suggestion, and when I went from behind the counter and led him toward the door, he went willingly enough. But as I put my hand on the latch he remembered his errand, and, with a sudden plucking up of courage at the thought of the waiting gang, he raised the stick to strike at me.   42
   Honestly, I didn't touch the man with a finger. I suppose he stumbled over the sill, as I had sometimes done in my sober senses. Whatever the cause, he fell against the window, and out with him it went, the whole of the glass front, with a crash that resounded from one end of the avenue to the other, and brought neighbors and policemen, among them my friend the captain, on a run to the store. In the midst of the wreck lay Jones, moaning feebly that his back was broken. The beats crowded around with loud outcry.   43
   “He threw him out of the window,” they cried. “We saw him do it! Through window and all, threw him bodily! Did he not, Jones?”   44
   Jones, who was being picked up and carried into my office, where they laid him on the counter while they sent in haste for a doctor, nodded that it was so. Probably he thought it was. I cannot even blame the beats. It must have seemed to them that I threw him out. They called upon the captain with vehement demand to arrest me for murder. I looked at him; his face was serious.   45
   “Why, I didn't touch him,” I said indignantly. “He must have fallen.”   46
   “Fallen!” they shouted. “We saw him come flying through. Fallen! Look at the window!” And indeed it was a sorry sight.   47
   Dr. Howe came with his instrument box, and the crowd increased. The doctor was a young man who had been very much amused by my battle with the beats, and, though he professed no special friendship for me, had no respect for the others. He felt the groaning patient over, punched him here and there, looked surprised, and felt again. Then he winked one eye at the captain and me.   48
   “Jones,” he said, “get up! There is nothing the matter with you. Go and get sober.”   49
   The beats stood speechless.   50
   “He came right through this window,” they began. “We saw him—”   51
   “Something has come through the window, evidently,” said the captain, with asperity, “and broken it. Who is to pay for it? If you say it was Jones, it is my duty to hold you as witnesses, if Mr. Riis makes a charge of disorderly conduct against him, as I suppose he will.” He trod hard on my toe. “A man cannot jump through another man's window like that. Here, let me—”   52
   But they were gone. I never heard from them again. But ever after the reputation clung to me of being a terrible fighter when roused. Jones swore to it, drunk or sober. Twenty witnesses backed him up. I was able to discharge Pat that week. There was never an ill word in my street after that. I suppose my renown as a scrapper survives yet in the old ward. As in the other case, the chain of circumstantial evidence was perfect. No link was missing. None could have been forged to make it stronger.   53
   I wouldn't hang a dog on such evidence. And I think I am justified in taking that stand.   54
   The summer and fall had worn away, and no word had come from home. Mother, who knew, gave no sign. Every day, when the letter-carrier came up the street, my hopes rose high until he had passed. The letter I longed for never came. It was farthest from my thoughts when, one night in the closing days of a hot political campaign, I went to my office and found it lying there. I knew by the throbbing of my heart what it was the instant I saw it. I think I sat as much as a quarter of an hour staring dumbly at the unopened envelope. Then I arose slowly, like one grown suddenly old, put it in my pocket, and stumbled homeward, walking as if in a dream. I went up to my room and locked myself in.   55
 
 
The Letter.
 
   It lies before me as I write, that blessed letter, the first love-letter I had ever received; much faded and worn, and patched in many places to keep it together. The queer row of foreign stamps climbing over one another—she told me afterward that she had no idea how many were needed for a letter to America, and was afraid to ask, so she put on three times more than would have been enough—and the address in her fair round hand,
       
MR. JACOB A. RIIS,
Editor South Brooklyn News,
Fifth Avenue cor. Ninth Street,
Brooklyn, N. Y.,
North America,
the postmark of the little town of Hadersleben, where she was teaching school, the old-fashioned shape of the envelope—they all then and there entered into my life and became part of it, to abide forever with light and joy and thanksgiving. How much of sunshine one little letter can contain! Six years seemed all at once the merest breath of time to have waited for it. Toil, hardship, trouble—with that letter in my keep? I laughed out loud at the thought. The sound of my own voice sobered me. I knelt down and prayed long and fervently that I might strive with all my might to deserve the great happiness that had come to me.
   56
   The stars were long out when my landlord, who had heard my restless walk overhead, knocked to ask if anything was the matter. He must have seen it in my face when he opened the door, for he took a sidelong step, shading his eyes from the lamp to get a better look, and held out his hand.   57
   “Wish you joy, old man,” he said heartily.   58
   “Tell us of it, will you?” And I did.   59
   It is true that all the world loves a lover. It smiled upon me all day long, and I smiled back. Even the beats looked askance at me no longer. The politicians who came offering to buy the influence of my paper in the election were allowed to escape with their lives. I wrote—I think I wrote to her every day. At least that is what I do now when I go away from home. She laughs when she tells me that in the first letter I spoke of coming home in a year. Meanwhile, according to her wish, we were to say nothing about it. In the second letter I decided upon the following spring. In the third I spoke of perhaps going in the winter. The fourth and fifth preferred the early winter. The sixth reached her from Hamburg, on the heels of a telegram announcing that I had that day arrived in Frisia.   60
   What had happened was that just at the right moment the politicians had concluded, upon the evidence of the recent elections, that they could not allow an independent paper in the ward, and had offered to buy it outright. I was dreadfully overworked. The doctor urged a change. I did not need much urging. So I sold the paper for five times what I had paid for it, and took the first steamer for home. Only the other day, when I was lecturing in Chicago, a woman came up and asked if I was the Riis she had travelled with on a Hamburg steamer twenty-five years before, and who was going home to be married. She had never forgotten how happy he was. She and the rest of the passengers held it to be their duty to warn me that “She” might not turn out as nice as I thought she was.   61
   “I guess we might have spared ourselves the trouble,” she said, looking me over.   62
   Yes, they might. But I shall have to put off telling of that till next time. And I shall let Elizabeth, my Elizabeth now, tell her part of it in her own way.   63

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