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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 200 pages of information about Crime.

XXXIV

LUCK AND CHANCE

Accident and luck may seem to have no place in a world of law, and yet the fate of lives rests almost entirely on what can be better classified under this head than any other.

This is a pluralistic universe.  The world is made up of an infinite number of independent machines, each having its own existence and controlled by the laws of its own being.  In going its several ways and living its own life, inevitably it often clashes with others and is seriously affected by them.  The fox and the rabbit both roam the woods, apparently at will, at least independently of each other.  By an infinite number of circumstances, at a particular time and place, their paths cross and the fox devours the rabbit.  Had they not met at the time and place, the fate of the rabbit would not have been the same.  The fox would have traveled farther and eaten another rabbit or some other animal in its stead.

An engine is running on a railroad track.  It makes the trip day after day without accident or disaster.  An automobile is one of a million built in a far off city.  Its mechanism is marvelous, and each part is dependent on the rest for its normal functioning.  Some vital piece of the machine contains a flaw.  How it chanced to be imperfect is another story involving endless speculation.  An inherent natural defect in the ore, or a tired workman anywhere from the original smelting place to the last hand that touched it, may have been the cause; or, the reason may be still more impossible to discover.  The machine is purchased and does its work perfectly for months.  It is driven thousands of miles without any mishap.  It is propelled along the highway and reaches the railroad track over which the engine runs.  It is filled with happy people enjoying a vacation.  The automobile and the engine reach the crossing at almost the same time.  The automobile driver sees the engine and applies the brakes.  For the first time since it left the shop, the machinery does not work.  The car forges ahead and reaches the tracks just in time to be struck by the engine.  The merry party meets disaster.  No power could foresee the catastrophe, nor provide against the death that must result.  Inevitably comes the clash of independent machines.  Each human being is a separate machine.  Along the road of life he meets countless others like himself.  Some chance meetings are fortunate and help the journey.  Some other chance meeting with a human machine, a mechanical device, an infinitesimal microbe that happened to be at the same place at the same time brings disaster or death.  This is luck or chance or fate, and this really hovers over every life, controlling its course and destiny and deciding when the puppet shall be laid away!

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