Baltimore Evening Sun (15 April 1912): 6.


The Fable of the Southern Democrat who came To Baltimore To Study Civilization. Once upon a time the Democrats of the United States held a national convention in Baltimore and an humble Democrat of the South, eager to feast his eyes upon the archangels, decided to attend. Accordingly, he put on his Sunday clothes, threw 40 plugs of Natural Leaf and a pair of extra sox into his carpet-bag and departed for one of the great Southern rosin ports. There he took shipping for the Chesapeake and was soon so sea-sick that the thought of hog-meat made him swoon.

But after what seemed to be six or eight months Cape Henry was reached and soon the craft upon which he voyaged was plowing up the placid Chesapeake. When it got to the Patapsco the Democrat took his station in the bow of the boat and strained his eyes for a glimpse of Baltimore, but all he could see was a faint green haze. Suddenly the wind, which had been from a-stern, shifted to dead ahead, and the Democrat clapped his hand to his forehead, staggered backward four steps and exclaimed: “Pfew!” Then he fainted. When he revived he interrogated the steward who chafed his wrists. “Did we run into a school of polecats?” he asked. “I have heard tell of such who take to the water.” “No,” said the steward gently. “A polecat has got too much sense to”—

At that moment another zephyr came wandering down, and the Democrat gave a piteous shriek and began weeping like a child. At Fort Carroll he tried to jump overboard. At the Lazaretto he had to be chained to the mast. And when, entering the Harbor Itself, the ship began stirring up the Genuine Article, he passed into convulsions and from convulsions into coma.

The business of tying up at the wharf and unloading baggage distracted attention from him for a while, but in the course of time one of the ship’s officers noticed him lying on the deck and gave orders that he be sent to a hospital. So a call was sent in for an ambulance, and after a delay of two hours, due to various fights and fires, the police patrol wagon came rumbling down to the dock. For in Baltimore the sick and injured are taken to hospitals in patrol wagons, and all the attention they get en route is that which an honest gendarme can give them.

The gendarme who appeared on this particular wagon was a novice at the business, and so he sought advice from the driver, a pathologist of greater experience. “What do you think,” said he, “is the matter with the gink?” The driver gazed critically for a moment and then said: “The finest load I ever seen. A jag like that ain’t hardly met with no more. Take a good look at it, McGinnis; it’s educational.”

Whereupon, after a long journey over the cobblestones, the wagon arrived at a police station and the Democrat was unloaded. An affable turnkey of long experience at once proceeded to revive him—first by rubbing his ears, secondly by sticking plus under his finger nails, and thirdly by beating the soles of his feet with a scantling. When he failed to move it occurred to the turnkey that he might be dead, and so the wagon was called again and he was sent to the morgue. But on the way he gave a couple of groans, and the driver of the wagon, on his own responsibility and without pausing for a consultation with other diagnosticians, turned the wagon toward a hospital.

There it was found that the medical student in charge of the accident ward was at dinner and so the driver and the janitor of the dissecting room gave the Democrat first aid. That is to say, they dashed ice-water into his face, jogged him in the ribs, and yelled “Hey, there!” and “Wake up. Mister!” into his ears. After dessert, demi-tasse and an oakum cigarette, the medical student came in leisurely and proceeded to more scientific medication. The patient was then put to bed in the alcoholic ward.

Four days later, after paying a hospital bill of $326, including an operating room fee of $25 and three consultation fees, he was discharged as incurable and took lodgings in a downtown hotel, where he was compelled to pay $210 in advance, and given a cot in the barroom. There he went to sleep at 1 A. M., after the last Bryan man had fallen snoring to the floor, but half an hour later the wind veered to the south and the poor Democrat caught another whiff of harbor ozone. Jumping up with a scream, he dashed out of the hotel in his scant lingerie and ran northward at great speed.

At the Madison avenue entrance to Druid Hill Park he was overtaken by a bicycle cop and dragged to the police station, where charges of disorderly conduct, arson and night assault were entered against him. Next morning, the magistrate taking pity on him, he was released on paying a nominal fine of $25 and $7.60 and costs. He then paid a messenger boy $3 to get his pantaloons from the hotel, and another boy $4 to get his baggage from the dock. With the baggage came a demurrage bill for $7.24.

Discharged from custody at last and again fully clad, the Democrat got board at a boarding house in the far northern suburbs, and went there to recuperate, thus missing the convention entirely. A week or so later, afraid to enter Baltimore again, he walked to Cockeysville, boarded an accommodation train for York, and thence returned home by way of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville and Vicksburg. The day he reached home he fell ill of typhoid fever, contracted in Baltimore, and was laid up 16 weeks. While he was thus down and out his business went to the dogs, one of his clerks embezzled $460 and his wife eloped with a piano-player in a moving-picture show. His doctor’s bill came to $354, and he paid $525 to two trained nurses, both or whom later sued him for breach of promise of marriage. Altogether, counting in lawyer’s charges, court costs and ice bills, the experience mulcted him in the sum of $1,874.60.

The day the Democrat got back to his store and began to put things in order for the sheriff, there entered a drummer wearing a Preston button. “What town are you from?” asked the Democrat, his tense voice betraying his agitation. “Baltimore,” answered the drummer proudly. “The town of terrapin and”—— Whereupon, without waiting to hear any more, the Democrat reached under the counter, seized a bung-starter firmly in his palsied hands, and brought it down with a terrific ker-thump upon the drummer’s head, dashing out his brains. At the same time he said: “Take that!—and that!—and that!”

Two hours later a coroner’s jury, after hearing all the evidence in the case, brought in a verdict of justifiable homicide cum laude.