A Little Talk About Mobs (Henry)

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A Little Talk About Mobs
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A tall man from Indiana discussed with a New Yorker about the nature of mobs in New York City, particularly those surrounding streetcar accidents, and shared his own experience with lynching.

A tall gentleman in a frock coat and black slouch hat discussed with a New Yorker about a recent incident in which a streetcar motorman narrowly escaped being lynched by an infuriated mob.

The Tall Man — from Indiana; wears a frock coat and black slouch hat; chews tobacco; opinionated, observant.
The New Yorker — defensive about his city; curious, engaged in conversation.

The tall man explained that the motorman's mob was one of the least dangerous mobs in the city, and that the motorman was never in any real danger. He went on to describe a typical scene where a young boy, Willie Goldstein, would be involved in a minor accident with a streetcar, leading to a mob of angry citizens surrounding the motorman and demanding his lynching.

Whenever one of your mobs surrounds a man and begins to holler, ‘Lynch him!’ he says to himself, “Oh, dear, I suppose I must look pale to please the boys.

The tall man explained that the mob never intended to do any real harm to the motorman, and that the motorman would often work with the police to stage a fake rescue. He argued that New Yorkers were not cowards, but that they lost their nerve when gathered in large groups.

Not one at a time. You’ve got a fine lot of single-handed scrappers in your town. I’d rather fight three of you than one.

The tall man admitted that there were some instances where mobs had caused harm, but these were rare and usually involved high-profile events like weddings.

The New Yorker accused the tall man of being in favor of lynch law, but the tall man denied this, stating that he was an advocate of law and order. However, he admitted that he had once participated in the lynching of a man who had stolen money from his brother.

I am from Indiana, sir, and I don’t think you will condemn my course when I tell you that the colored man in question had stolen $9.60 in cash, sir, from my own brother.

The tall man revealed that he was from Indiana, and the New Yorker acknowledged that the situation in the South was indeed deplorable.