Two Lives For One





The place of Macon, Georgia, in the early part of this century was marked

only by an inn. One of its guests was a man who had stopped there on the

way to Alabama, where he had bought land. The girl who was, to be his

wife was to follow in a few days. In the morning when he paid his

reckoning he produced a well-filled pocket-book, and he did not see the

significant look that passed between two rough black-bearded fellows who

had also spent the night there, and who, when he set forth, mounted their

horses and offered to keep him company. As they rode through the deserted

village of Chilicte one of the twain engaged the traveller in talk while

the other, falling a little behind, dealt him a blow with a loaded whip

that unseated him. Divining their purpose, and lacking weapons for his

own defence, he begged for mercy, and asked to be allowed to return to

his bride to be, but the robbers had already made themselves liable to

penalty, and two knife-thrusts in the breast silenced his appeals. The

money was secured, the body was dropped into a hollow where the wolves

would be likely to find and mangle it, and the outlaws went on their way.



Men of their class do not keep money long, and when the proceeds of the

robbery had been wasted at cards and in drink they separated. As in

fulfilment of the axiom that a murderer is sure to revisit the scene of

his crime, one of the men found himself at the Ocmulgee, a long time

afterward, in sight of the new town--Macon. In response to his halloo a

skiff shot forth from the opposite shore, and as it approached the bank

he felt a stir in his hair and a touch of ice at his heart, for the

ferryman was his victim of years ago. Neither spoke a word, but the

criminal felt himself forced to enter the boat when the dead man waved

his hand, and he was rowed across, his horse swimming beside the skiff.

As the jar of the keel was felt on the gravel he leaped out, urged his

horse to the road, sprang to the saddle, and rushed away in an agony of

fear, that was heightened when a hollow voice called, Stay!



After a little he slackened pace, and a farmer, who was standing at the

roadside, asked, in astonishment, How did you get across? There is a

freshet, and the ferryman was drowned last night. With a new thrill he

spurred his horse forward, and made no other halt until he reached the

tavern, where he fell in a faint on the steps, for the strain was no

longer to be endured. A crowd gathered, but he did not see it when he

awoke--he saw only one pair of eyes, that seemed to be looking into his

inmost soul--the eyes of the man he had slain. With a yell of terror and

of insane fury he rushed upon the ghost and thrust a knife into its

breast. The frenzy passed. It was no ghost that lay on the earth before

him, staring up with sightless eyes. It was his fellow-murderer--his own

brother. That night the assassin's body hung from a tree at the

cross-roads.





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