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Olbrich, M. B. (ed.) / The Wisconsin literary magazine
Vol. 1, No. 7 (June 1904)

The silent five,   pp. 254-259

Page 258

   My host drained the glass he had filled a few minutes be-
   "'Now it happened", he resumed, "that two of the five were
studying for the ministry, though, strange as it may seem,
those two were the worst harum-scarums in the crowd. But
that is not my story. One evening we were all together
drinking. Joe, the old negro who is still my servant, was
kept busy serving us. It was then that the subject of an here-
after was brought up by one of the fellows preparing for the
ministry. A discussion followed and thenceforth we were all
deeply interested in the matter. We studied the subject,
read up on it, and talked with our professors. Naturally
suicide came up-I will burden you no longer-we formed a
suicide club."
   "A binding compact was drawn up, in which it was pro-
vided that on the tenth day of November of every year, all
of the five who were living, were to meet and spend the even-
ing drinking. Each time, before breaking up, we were to
draw a slip of paper from a specially arranged box. Now in
that box were placed five slips with the words 'The Silent
Five' written on them. Besides these, fifty or sixty blank
slips were also placed in the box. If one drew a blank slip
he was safe until the next meeting, but if he drew a 'Silent
Five' slip he was to kill himself before sunrise."
  Here he again resorted to his decanter.
  "At our 'first meeting one 'Silent Five' was drawn, and a
suicide followed. Then the war broke out and the remaining
four enlisted in the same company. On the following No-
vember, we all secured leave of absence, and held our cele-
bration. Four blank slips were drawn at that meeting. Be-
fore the next drawing, one of the five was killed in battle.
Regularly we held our meetings, but it was not till eight
years later that the second 'Silent Five' was drawn. Just
six years ago, the third marked slip sent my one remaining
companion to his grave. Needless to say, I am the last of
'The Silent Five,' and to-night is November tenth."

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