An Eye for an Eye

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When Hank Clery left the switch-yards in the outskirts of Chicago he took the street car and went down town. He was going to the county jail on the north side of the river. Hank had never been inside the jail though he had been arrested a number of times and taken to the police court, escaping luckily with a small fine which his mother had contrived to pay. She was one of the best washerwomen of the whole neighborhood, and never without work. All the officers knew that whenever Hank got into trouble his mother would pay the fine and costs. Hank had often been arrested, but he was by no means a bad fellow. He lived with his old Irish mother and was very fond of her and often brought his wages home if none of the boys happened to be near when the pay-car came around. Hank was a switchman in one of the big railroad yards in Chicago. Of course, he and his companions drank quite a little, and then their sports and pastimes were not of the gentlest sort; for that matter neither was their work - climbing up and down running cars and turning switches just ahead of a great locomotive and watching to make sure which track was safe where the moving cars and engines were all around - did not tend to a quiet life. Of course, most people think that no man will work in a switch-yard unless he drinks. Perhaps no man would drink unless he worked in a switch-yard or some such place.<br><br>Well, on this day Hank was going to the jail, not on account of any of his own misdeeds, but on an errand of mercy. The night before, the priest had come to Hank's home and told him that his old friend, Jim Jackson, had begged for him to visit the jail. Hank at first refused, but the priest told him that Jim had no friends and was anxious to have a few minutes' talk with him before he died; Jim had some message that he wanted to give Hank that he could not leave with anyone else. Hank knew that Jim was to be hanged on Friday, and he had thought about it a good deal in the last few days and wished that it was over. He had known Jim for a long time; they had often been out together and sometimes got drunk together. Jim, once worked in the yards, tut one night one of the other boys was struck by the Limited as it pulled out on the main track, and Jim and Hank gathered him up when the last Pullman coach had rolled over him; and after that Jim could never go back to the yards; so he managed to get an old horse and wagon and began peddling potatoes on the street.<br><br>One evening Hank took up the paper, and there he saw a headline covering the whole page and a little fine print below telling how Jim had killed his wife with a poker.

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