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Then he knew what had happened. He'd committed The unthinkable crime—or lunacy—of declaring the Grand Panjandrum mistaken. So by the operation of truth, which was really an anesthetic gas cloud drifted over the trading post, he had vanished from sight.
Mrs. Munro nodded, and there was silence between the two women, who were both thinking of Trixie, aged nineteen, pretty, pleasure-loving, wilful, as the wife of a man nearly thirty years her senior; a man, moreover, who had been noted for his intolerance of feminine frailty, for his almost puritanical views where the conduct of women was concerned. How could such a marriage prove a success on either side?
??Why have I no will??? she cried harshly.
“Oh, come on, boys, let’s go to supper.”
The career of the two Harpes4 in Tennessee, southern Illinois, and Kentucky, particularly Kentucky, at the close of the eighteenth century has rarely been equalled in the history of crime, either in peace or war. Its beginning was so sudden, its motives wrapped in such mystery, its race so swift, and its circumstances so terrible and unbelievably brutal as to justify Collins, the distinguished historian of Kentucky, in referring to the brothers as “the most brutal monsters of the human race.”
Shortly after the Baker robbery John Mason, a son of Samuel Mason, was lodged in the Natchez jail charged with taking part in the affair. It is more than likely that John Mason happened to be in town when he was accused and arrested than that an officer brought him in from the country. At any rate, he was tried, convicted, and punished by whipping. It is possible that he was innocent of the specific crime for which he was punished, for he may not have been present when the Mason band robbed Colonel Baker. About seventy years later George Wiley, who was a mere lad at the time this whipping occurred, wrote a sketch on “Natchez in the Olden Times.” In it he says:
reminded me of all that I had read and heard of the superstitions of the common people of the country and gave me as insight, such as I had not had before, into the way in which the masses of the people feel toward the Catholic Church, with all its religious ceremonies and symbols. It led me to suspect, also, that much in the religious life of the Sicilian people which looks, perhaps, to those who have had a different training, like superstition, is in fact merely the natural expression of the reverence and piety of a simple-minded and, perhaps, an ignorant people.
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