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"Man Proposes–"; The Story Of A Man Who Wanted To Die
by [?]

As he lurched up the frozen street men cheered him and something warm awoke in his heart, but when he stumbled into DeVoe’s room he found that young man still in bed, his cheeks flushed and feverish. Henry was coughing and groaning; he complained of pains in his head and chest.

An hour later a doctor pronounced it pneumonia, and when the patient grew rapidly worse he was moved to the wretched excuse for a hospital. Murray snatched a few hours’ sleep that night as he sat by his friend’s bedside and the next day found him as fit as ever. But in spite of every attention DeVoe’s fever mounted, his lungs began to fill, and on the second night he died.

The suddenness of this tragedy stunned Butler Murray and its mockery enraged him. He had promised DeVoe, toward the last, to take his body East, and now decided it was just as well to do so, for he had proven, to his own satisfaction at least, that he could not catch pneumonia, no matter how hard he tried. A few hours later, therefore, he was on the overland train bound for New York.

He had wasted a month of valuable time, but as to relinquishing his purpose, the idea never occurred to him.


The physical comfort of his club was most agreeable after his recent ordeal, but he enjoyed it only a few days, then began to look about for a suitable place in which to end his grim comedy. He selected the spot with little delay–a sharp turn in a hillside road that wound down from the heights near Spuyten Duyvil–he had often passed it in summer and knew the danger well. If his automobile went over the edge, now that the roads were icy, who could say it was not accidental?

He did not advise Muriel of his return, fearing to trust himself either to write or to telephone, but spent much time in front of the morocco case with its three photographs, longing desperately to see her and the children.

When he felt that an auspicious time had arrived, he ‘phoned his friend, Dr. Herkimer, and invited himself to dinner. Herkimer was delighted, and a few evenings later the clubman motored out toward Yonkers, where he was made welcome and spent an agreeable evening.

“Where’s your chauffeur?” the doctor inquired as his guest drew on his fur coat and driving-gloves, preparatory to leaving.

“I let him go to-night. I thought I’d enjoy running the machine, for a change.”

“The roads are bad; be careful you don’t skid on the hills. I nearly went over to-day.”

Murray promised to heed the warning, and a few moments later was gliding toward the city.

The beauty of this cold, sharp night was inspiriting; the moon was brilliant; the air was charged with life and vigor. It gave him a thrill to realize that he was sweeping to probable death; that nothing now could intervene to thwart him, and while, of course, there was the unpleasant possibility that a plunge over the declivity might do no more than maim him, he had studied the place carefully and intended to reduce that chance to a minimum by driving his car down the hill with sufficient velocity to hurl it far out over the edge. There were railroad tracks beneath; anything short of instant death would be miraculous.

As he came out upon the heights at last it occurred to him that he was behaving very well for a man about to die. His hand was steady, his heart was not greatly quickened, he was absolutely sane and healthy and full of the desire to live. A short distance from the crest he stopped his machine, then sat motionless for a few moments drinking in the beauty of the night and taking his farewell of Muriel. When he had arrived at peace with himself he fixed his wife’s image in his mind, then, thrusting down the accelerator, let in the clutch. There was a jar, a jerk, a spasmodic shudder of the machinery; the motor went dead.