Rolling Stones HTML version
[This was the last work of O. Henry. The Cosmopolitan Magazine had ordered it from
him and, after his death, the unfinished manuscript was found in his room, on his dusty
desk. The story as it here appears was published in the Cosmopolitan for September,
Murray dreamed a dream.
Both psychology and science grope when they would explain to us the strange adventures
of our immaterial selves when wandering in the realm of "Death's twin brother, Sleep."
This story will not attempt to be illuminative; it is no more than a record of Murray's
dream. One of the most puzzling phases of that strange waking sleep is that dreams which
seem to cover months or even years may take place within a few seconds or minutes.
Murray was waiting in his cell in the ward of the condemned. An electric arc light in the
ceiling of the corridor shone brightly upon his table. On a sheet of white paper an ant
crawled wildly here and there as Murray blocked its way with an envelope. The
electrocution was set for eight o'clock in the evening. Murray smiled at the antics of the
wisest of insects.
There were seven other condemned men in the chamber. Since he had been there Murray
had seen three taken out to their fate; one gone mad and fighting like a wolf caught in a
trap; one, no less mad, offering up a sanctimonious lip-service to Heaven; the third, a
weakling, collapsed and strapped to a board. He wondered with what credit to himself his
own heart, foot, and face would meet his punishment; for this was his evening. He
thought it must be nearly eight o'clock.
Opposite his own in the two rows of cells was the cage of Bonifacio, the Sicilian slayer of
his betrothed and of two officers who came to arrest him. With him Murray had played
checkers many a long hour, each calling his move to his unseen opponent across the
Bonifacio's great booming voice with its indestructible singing quality called out:
"Eh, Meestro Murray; how you feel—all-a right—yes?"
"All right, Bonifacio," said Murray steadily, as he allowed the ant to crawl upon the
envelope and then dumped it gently on the stone floor.
"Dat's good-a, Meestro Murray. Men like us, we must-a die like-a men. My time come
nex'-a week. All-a right. Remember, Meestro Murray, I beat-a you dat las' game of de