So on through this night of anguish. Jimmie lost old man Drew in the darkness, and was all alone when the dawn came, and he could see the sweep of desolation about him, and the awe-stricken faces of the spectators. Soon afterwards came the climax. He saw a crowd gathered, and as he came up, this crowd parted for him. Nobody seemed to want to speak, but they all watched, as if curious to see what he would do. One of the men bore a burden, wrapped in a horse-blanket; Jimmie gazed, and after a moment’s hesitation the man threw back part of the blanket and there before Jimmie’s eyes was a most horrible sight—a human leg, a large white leg, the lower half covered with a black stocking tied at the top with a bit of tape. It was such a leg as you see in the windows of stores where they sell pretty things for ladies; only this leg was soft, mangled at the top, smeared with blood, and partly charred black. One glance was enough for Jimmie, and he put his hands over his eyes and turned and ran—out to the road and away, away—anywhere from this place of nightmares!
Jimmie’s whole world was wiped out, ended. He had no place to go, no care what became of him. He stumbled on till he came to the trolley-track, and got on the first car which came along. It was pure chance that it happened to be going back to Leesville, for Jimmie had no longer any interest in that city. When the car came to the barn, he got out and wandered aimlessly, until he happened to pass a saloon where he had been accustomed to meet Jerry Coleman, distributor of ten-dollar bills. Jimmie went in and ordered a drink of whisky; he did not tell the saloon-keeper what had happened, but took the drink to a table and sat down by himself. When he had finished, he ordered another, because it helped him not to think; he sat there at the table, drinking steadily for an hour or more. And so upon his confused mind there dawned a strange, a ghastly idea, climax of all that night of horror. Which leg of Lizzie was it the man had been carrying wrapped in a horse-blanket? The right leg or the left? If it was the left leg, why, nothing; but if it was the right, why then, under the stocking was sewed a bandage, and in that bandage was wrapped a package containing seven faded yellow twenty-dollar bills!
And what would they do about it? Would they bury the leg without investigation? Or would the man who had found it happen to undress it? And what was Jimmie to do? A hundred and forty dollars was not to be sneezed at by a working-man—it was more money than he had ever had in his life before, or might ever have again. But could he go to the man and say, “Did you find any money on my wife’s leg?” Could he say, “Please give me my wife’s leg, so that I can undress it and unsew the bandage and get the money that I was paid for keeping quiet about the surgical operation on Lacey Granitch, that was done in my house before it was blown to pieces by the explosion.”