In the summer of 1902, John Barrington Ashley from the town of Coletown, the center of a small coal mining district in southern Illinois, was brought to trial on charges of killing Breckenridge Lansing, a resident of the same city. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. Five days later, on the night of Tuesday, July twenty-second, he escaped from custody on his way to the place where the sentence was being carried out. And five years later, the state prosecutor’s office in Springfield announced the disclosure of new circumstances that completely establish the innocence of Ashley.
Destiny brought Lansing and Ashley seventeen years earlier, when they moved to Kultowne with their families. The manager of the mines of Coletown Breckenridge Lansing was the exact opposite of John Ashley: he never went into his work “with his head,” and basically only signed orders, hung out later on the board. In fact, the mines were run by John Ashley. Alien ambition and envy, equally indifferent to praise and reproach, quite happy in his family, he willingly “covered” Lansing, developed new ideas, made dizzying drawings, giving himself to his work completely and demanding nothing in return. It seemed that nothing could take this man out of balance. During the process he did not detect the shadow of fear, he was calm and as if waiting,
A strange story happened during the escape of John Ashley. He did not move his finger to free himself. Six men entered the locked car and without a single shot, without a word, coped with the escorts and carried the convict from the train. Ashley had no idea whom he owed his release. Perhaps, miracles always happen so – simply, everyday and incomprehensible. The handcuffs on his wrists were opened, he was given clothes, some money, a map, a compass, matches. Someone put his hand on the horse’s saddle and pointed the direction. Then the deliverers sank into the darkness, and Ashley did not see them again.
Ashley moved south, being in constant tension. He pretended to be a sailor-Canadian looking for work. Never longer than four days did not live in one place. He called himself a different name. But at the same time he was not afraid. He lived, fearing nothing and not thinking about anything.
Finally, Ashley reached Manantiales, a city in Chile, where he met Mrs. Wickers, owner of the hotel “fund,” who soon became his friend. Thanks to this woman, as well as everything seen after liberation, there is a spiritual rebirth of Ashley, who earlier at work did not notice the beauty of the surrounding world. After his escape he was struck by the beauty of the dawn in Illinois, and now – the beauty of the Chilean mountains, which became for him native. For the first time in many years, he recalls his parents, who left without reason for many years many years ago, having left with his wife Beata in Kultaun. Even before meeting with Mrs. Wickers, Ashley, living in the village of Rokas-Verdes, builds a church and agrees that there should be a priest in the village: “it is very bad to impose God on those who do not believe in it, but even worse, to those who do not without God can not. “
Ashley appeared in the “Fund” at a critical time for Mrs. Wickers: the steering wheel with which she always guided the course of her life, hesitated in her hands. Being a woman in years, she could no longer, as before, keep everything under control: the forces quietly left her. And then Ashley appeared in the “Fund”. He set to work quickly and worked from morning till night, and in the evening, tired for the day, gratefully reveled in the warmth of a friendly conversation with Mrs. Wickersham. However, the perceptive Mrs. Wickersham quickly realized that her new friend was not telling something.
Unexpectedly in Manantiales comes Wellington Bristow, a businessman from Santiago, regularly runs into the hotel three or four times a year. Mrs. Wickersham is always glad to see him. He brings the latest gossip from the coast, brings animation to the card game, but he is especially interested in “catching rats”, that is, catching fugitive prisoners, for whom a large reward is promised. Ashley was obviously interested in him.
Bristow leaves for a few days on business. Mrs. Wickersham, who suspects... something wrong, decides to check his suitcase and finds a “list of rats” where the information about John Ashley is highlighted. The last one, to which Mrs. Wickersch addresses for explanations, tells her everything. Mrs. Wickersham is shocked, but, gathering courage, she devises how to help her friend by staging his death.
Returning, Bristow no longer hides that Ashley is a runaway criminal, but he does not promise a benefit to this discovery: by all indications it is clear that he is suffering from a fatal illness. And for the police captain Mrs. Wickersham prepared a stunning speech, proving that the perpetrator was rather Bristow, but certainly not Ashley.
Saying goodbye and promising to write, Ashley secretly leaves the hotel, but Mrs. Wickersham receives from him only one letter – he drowned on the road near Costa Rica.
The fate of the children of Ashley has developed in different ways, but all are extraordinary. Roger, the only son, immediately after his father’s escape, went to Chicago to work and somehow help the family. He reveals the talent of an outstanding journalist, who in a few years will love and respect throughout the country.
Lily, the eldest daughter, became an opera singer, reaching her stubbornness and talent of enormous heights. She devoted her life to music and the upbringing of children, whom she loves and grows alone.
Quickly flew out of the nest and Constance, whose purpose of life was to help the destitute. Directness and self-confidence were given to her as a gift from her father and brother, an extraordinary strength of spirit helped her to withstand the most difficult trials: police brutality, insults and hostile attacks of the public. She was the first to put forward the principle of preventive medicine. She managed to collect huge sums for public needs, and most often she lacked money to pay the bill in the hotel. Sophie, who was left with her mother, got more than others: she was still taking care of her mother’s lost will to live with her children’s shoulders. Realizing that Beata alone can not cope with the family, Sophie picked up the entire farm, and later opened a boarding house in the house. Dr. Gilliz, Friend of the family, has repeatedly warned Beata that Sophie does not have such a burden, but it always seems young to the young that they are not sick.
On Christmas Day, 1905, Roger came to Kowloon. On the platform he meets Felicits Lansing, daughter of the late Breckenridge, who later becomes his wife. It turns out that Ashley was not at all to blame for her father’s death. Togo was killed by George, the son of the deceased, and later, unable to learn more and hide the truth, wrote a confession at the dictation of his mentor Olga Dubkova, who, secretly from her father, took Russian lessons. Fond of Russian culture as a native, he subsequently left for Russia and became a great actor. Breckenridge Lansing never showed his love to his wife or children. George is accustomed to seeing in him an insignificant reveler and a rude man who ruined his mother’s life. But before his death, Lansing suffered a serious illness, during which he changed a lot. However, only his wife, Justice, became the witness of this rebirth, and George was sure,
Roger also learns about who released his father. One day my father helped the community church of the covens. The isolation of the covens was explained not only by religious reasons, but also by the fact that Indian blood was flowing in their veins. Few of whom they could wait for help, but from John Ashley could. The Elder showed Roger a letter from his father, sent before his death. This letter is Ashley’s farewell to life, to this world. He did a lot, his mission is fulfilled, even if Roger and his sisters follow suit.
Nature does not know sleep, says Dr. Gilliz. Life never stops. Creation of the world is not finished. The Bible teaches us that on the sixth day God created man and then gave himself rest, but each of the six days lasted millions of years. The day of rest was, indeed, very short. Man is not a completion, but a beginning. We live at the beginning of the second week of creation. We are the children of the Day of the Eighth.