Davis' Short Stories Vol. 1 HTML version

The Frame Up
When the voice over the telephone promised to name the man who killed Hermann Banf,
District Attorney Wharton was up- town lunching at Delmonico's. This was contrary to
his custom and a concession to Hamilton Cutler, his distinguished brother-in-law. That
gentleman was interested in a State constabulary bill and had asked State Senator Bissell
to father it. He had suggested to the senator that, in the legal points involved in the bill,
his brother-in-law would undoubtedly be charmed to advise him. So that morning, to talk
it over, Bissell had come from Albany and, as he was forced to return the same afternoon,
had asked Wharton to lunch with him up-town near the station.
That in public life there breathed a man with soul so dead who, were he offered a chance
to serve Hamilton Cutler, would not jump at the chance was outside the experience of the
county chairman. And in so judging his fellow men, with the exception of one man, the
senator was right. The one man was Hamilton Cutler's brother-in-law.
In the national affairs of his party Hamilton Cutler was one of the four leaders. In two
cabinets he had held office. At a foreign court as an ambassador his dinners, of which the
diplomatic corps still spoke with emotion, had upheld the dignity of ninety million
Americans. He was rich. The history of his family was the history of the State. When the
Albany boats drew abreast of the old Cutler mansion on the cast bank of the Hudson the
passengers pointed at it with deference. Even when the search lights pointed at it, it was
with deference. And on Fifth Avenue, as the "Seeing New York" car passed his town
house it slowed respectfully to half speed. When, apparently for no other reason than that
she was good and beautiful, he had married the sister of a then unknown up State lawyer,
every one felt Hamilton Cutler had made his first mistake. But, like every thing else into
which he entered, for him matrimony also was a success. The prettiest girl in Utica
showed herself worthy of her distinguished husband. She had given him children as
beautiful as herself; as what Washington calls " a cabinet lady " she had kept her name
out of the newspapers; as Madame L'Ambassatrice she had put archduchesses at their
ease; and after ten years she was an adoring wife, a devoted mother, and a proud woman.
Her pride was in believing that for every joy she knew she was indebted entirely to her
husband. To owe everything to him, to feel that through him the blessings flowed, was
her ideal of happiness.
In this ideal her brother did not share. Her delight in a sense of obligation left him quite
cold. No one better than himself knew that his rapid-fire rise in public favor was due to
his own exertions, to the fact that he had worked very hard, had been independent, had
kept his hands clean, and had worn no man's collar. Other people believed he owed his
advancement to his brother-in-law. He knew they believed that, and it hurt him. When, at
the annual dinner of the Amen Corner, they burlesqued him as singing to "Ham" Cutler,
"You made me what I am to-day, I hope you're satisfied," he found that to laugh with the
others was something of an effort. His was a difficult position. He was a party man; he
had always worked inside the organization. The fact that whenever he ran for an elective
office the reformers indorsed him and the best elements in the opposition parties voted