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All the King's Men

All the King's Men

by Robert Penn Warren

All the King's Men Chapter 5 Summary

  • Jack tells us that that's how his first "job of historical research ended in failure.
  • Now he's going to tell us about the second job, which was quite successful. (Remember that the second job is to dig up dirt on Judge Irwin.)
  • Jack calls this "the Case of the Upright Judge." The only problem with this journey into the past was that it "meant something."
  • That night after Jack and Willie visited Judge Irwin, they return to the Stark farm.
  • Jack goes to bed around 3:30 am, but can't sleep right away because he's thinking about Irwin.
  • The next day Jack begins looking. He does find the dirt, but he finds it slowly.
  • First Jack thinks about the reasons people get into trouble: "Ambition, love, fear, money."
  • He rules out ambition, then love, then fear, and settles on money, thinking there might have been a time when the Judge didn't have enough of it to "make him happy."
  • He remembers seeing his father, Ellis Burden, and the Judge talking one day. He also remembers that they stopped talking when they saw Jack. Jack tries to recall their conversation but can't.
  • So he goes to visit his father, who had been best friends with the Judge for a long time, before he moved.
  • Ellis now lives above a Mexican restaurant.
  • Jack can see the religious signs tied to the third floor balcony, and he knows Ellis still lives there.
  • He goes into the restaurant to buy a pack of cigarettes, and learns that his dad is not home.
  • The people who run the restaurant seem to think his dad is a saint. Jack tells them that his dad is also crazy.
  • Soon the old man himself arrives.
  • He greets the people in the restaurant. They point to Jack and say he's waiting.
  • His father doesn't recognize him. Jack says he wants to go with him, though, and his father gives Jack his hand.
  • As they move to leave, one of the men in the bar gives Ellis a bag of old bread.
  • Jack asks Ellis if he plans to feed pigeons with that bread. Jack says the bread is for someone named George, who is an "unfortunate."
  • "Unfortunate" apparently means bum who is lucky enough to have a softhearted person like Ellis help.
  • Ellis tells Jack that George uses the bread in his work.
  • When the enter Ellis's apartment, George tells Ellis he's out of bread.
  • When Ellis gives George the bread, George starts chewing pieces of it and spitting them out. He makes angels out of this chewed up bread.
  • Ellis points Jack to one of the finished products, and then starts warming some soup and tells Jack the story of George.
  • George and his wife were in the circus together, and George's wife was killed. After that, George became mentally ill.
  • At the end of the story Jack and Ellis notice that George is crying.
  • Ellis calls himself "stupid" for telling the story in front of the Judge. Then he tries to comfort George with soup but it doesn't help. Finally, Ellis busts out a chocolate bar and begins feeding it to George. This works.
  • Jack is hit by a memory of his dad feeding him chocolate in a similar way when he was a kid. Watching his father and having his memory softens something in Jack and he says, "Father." Ellis asks him what he said, but Jack knows that he's no longer a child and he says, "Oh, nothing."
  • Then he asks Ellis to tell him about the Judge, and about whether he was ever broke.
  • Ellis says, "That time is dead," refused to discuss the matter, even though Jack pushes him extremely hard.
  • Still, Ellis's reaction convinces Jack that there is something to be known, and someone besides Ellis who knows it.
  • Jack then goes to a football game where Tom Stark has just lead his team to victory.
  • Willie was ecstatic, and they all go to the Boss's hotel.
  • Now we leave Willie and go to the Stanton house in Burden's Landing.
  • Jack is there in the living room watching Anne light the fire, just as she had as a girl, long ago.
  • Anne has invited Jack up for the weekend to hang out with her and Adam.
  • Anne and Jack are laughing and holding hands, just as they had done fifteen and twenty years ago.
  • All of the sudden Anne stops laughing, and the connection is broken.
  • So Jack asks her if Judge Irwin ever needed money, hoping that by asking the question fast, Anne will let something spill. She doesn't though, and instead asks Jack why he wants to know. He tells her it's Willie that wants to know, not him.
  • Anne asks Jack why he has to ruin things. She says she and Jack had great times in the past, and wants to know why he has to spoil their reunion.
  • He asks her why she didn't marry him if they had such a wonderful time in those days. And why things are so bad now if they were so good before.
  • She tells him to stop talking and soon brings up Willie, calling him "that man."
  • Jack brings up the new hospital.
  • Anne says she knows about it because she had lunch with Willie just the other day. She did it to ask him for money for the "Children's Home," where she is a volunteer .
  • Apparently Willie agreed to give her the money.
  • Jack insinuates that if people see Anne and Willie together, they will think she's sleeping with him.
  • They go on arguing like this for some time until Anne puts her head on Jack's chest, and while he pats her back, tells him he has "to be her friend." He agrees.
  • Then Adam arrives, smiling and with packages.
  • Quickly, Jack asks him if Judge Irwin was ever in need of money.
  • Adam immediately says, "Yes," and speaks of a memory of overhearing adults talking about it in 1913 or 1914.
  • Anne tattles to Adam that the info is for Willie, but Adam says it couldn't possibly matter if Willie knows that the Judge was broke way back then.
  • Then he breaks the tension by playfully ordering Anne to start cooking.
  • The three friends have lots of fun that night, eating and drinking. Adam plays the piano and Anne and Jack dance and play.
  • The next day, Jack goes back to the Capitol and listens to Tiny and Sadie discuss the hospital the Boss wants to build.
  • Soon, Anne calls him laughing. She tells him that "old Cousin Mathilde" told her that the Judge was indeed broke back then, but that he "married money" and got out of it.
  • Jack remembers that the Judge had been married twice.
  • The first wife had fallen off a horse, and had died when Jack was still a child.
  • He barely remembers the second wife, though he thinks she wasn't pretty, and that she wasn't from around here. She had gotten sick, and lived upstairs in the Irwin house, forgotten by the world, and eventually died.
  • This second wife was apparently wealthy. This, Jack thinks, explains why the Judge would marry her even though she wasn't pretty.
  • So, according to Anne, that settles the matter.
  • But Jack wasn't sure. He decided that he should continue digging.
  • Jack thinks that if the Judge needed a big chunk of change, he would have borrowed on his plantation.
  • Jack drives out to the Mortonville Courthouse, where the records of such transactions are kept.
  • Sure enough, in 1907 the Judge had borrowed forty two thousand dollars on his plantation.
  • It was due to be repaid on January 1, 1910. He paid some of it back, and refinanced the mortgage, but in March 1914, the bank was foreclosing.
  • Somehow, the Judge paid everything back by May 1914, and never mortgaged it again.
  • Now Jack needs to find out about the wife.
  • He looks in the society pages of old newspapers in the library. Her name was Mabel Carruthers from Savannah Georgia. She was Le Moyne Carruthers's only child.
  • She married the Judge in January 1914.
  • Jack visits Le Moyne's old house. As the record of his will indicated, Le Moyne was rich when he died in 1903, and left Mabel a hefty inheritance.
  • She managed her funds just fine until 1911. But in 1911 she began spending extravagantly.
  • Jack travels to a Savannah bank to find out about a small loan on which Mabel had defaulted.
  • He learns that she was already broke and deep in debt when the Judge married her.
  • Jack imagines that the Judge had married her for her money (for she'd had the means to make herself look rich) but soon found out the truth.
  • So…how had the Judge paid off the mortgage on his plantation.
  • Jack knows that in 1915 the Judge gave up his job of Attorney General.
  • He went to work as the lawyer for the American Electric Power Company. This was a high paying job, but it hadn't come in time to pay off that money.
  • But Jack has a hunch.
  • To get access to the Power Company's records, Jack buys a little bit of their stock.
  • He learns that in May of 1914 Judge Irwin sold stock in this company to some officials of the company. This sale would have earned the Judge enough to pay off his loan, and, the dates fit.
  • So, the question is, where did the Judge get the stock in the first place?
  • Jack suspects that as Attorney General, the Judge had done the Power Company some favors, and got the stock in exchange.
  • This theory doesn't pan out – the Company didn't have any legal issues then.
  • It turns out there was another company involved, the Southern Belle Fuel Company.
  • The Fuel Company had operated on State land, and the State was suing the Fuel Company for royalties.
  • The contract between the State and the Fuel Company wasn't clear.
  • In February 1914 the Attorney General (Judge Irwin) had decided that the contract was so unclear that the State couldn't win against the Fuel Company.
  • Now Jack has to connect The Power Company and the Fuel Company.
  • One night as he's falling asleep a name pops into his head: Mortimer L. Littlepaugh. This name isn't as random as it seems: when Jack was digging through old newspapers he had seen the name.
  • There was an article reporting that Littlepaugh's death had been accidental.
  • Jack looks it up and learns that Mortimer had "fallen" from a fifth story window of a hotel. His sister said he had been sick, and had fallen from dizziness.
  • Two things don't sit right with Jack. First of all, when Mortimer died his finances were a big mess. Secondly, the railing was high. Not to mention the fact that there was talk he had jumped.
  • A bellhop reported that Mortimer had sent a letter to his sister the evening of his death, but his sister says she never got a letter.
  • Jack learns that Mortimer also happened to be the lawyer for American Electric.
  • He manages to locate Mortimer's sister, Miss Lily Mae Littlepaugh, who lives in a nasty smelling room.
  • She's old an a little out of it, and apparently can communicate with the dead.
  • Jack is visiting her on the pretext of having her lead a séance for him.
  • In the middle of it, he tells her he wants to talk to Mortimer.
  • She says that "the vibrations are bad."
  • Jack says he wants to ask Mortimer about his suicide.
  • Miss Lily goes silent. Then she is furious and she accuses Jack of lying to her.
  • Jack says he wasn't lying; he really wants to ask Mortimer why he killed himself.
  • She says that Mortimer didn't kill himself.
  • So Jack gives her three hundred dollars. He tells her nobody will blame her now for lying back then.
  • She insists it was an accident.
  • Jack tells her his guess: Judge Irwin got the job with the Power Company by doing that favor for the Fuel Company (saving them millions of dollars).
  • Mortimer knew what was going on and said so, but didn't have proof. So he lost his job. He even complained to Governor Stanton about the matter, but the Governor didn't listen, and didn't look into it.
  • Jack is shocked, and grabs the old woman roughly and asks if she's telling the truth.
  • She says it is true, and that she has that final letter from her brother to prove it.
  • Jack wants to see the letter, and offers her another three hundred.
  • She is reluctant. She thinks Jack wants to get rid of the letter to bury the truth.
  • He promises he will only use the letter against Irwin, and that the insurance company won't bother her either.
  • She says that after her brother's death she too went to Governor Stanton and demanded justice, showing him her brother's letter.
  • Stanton told her she had sworn that she didn't get the letter, and if she changed her story, she'd be prosecuted for lying under oath.
  • So she dropped her case.
  • Jack tells her that he will protect her now.
  • She gives him the letter, which proves what Jack suspected, and what Miss Lily had just confirmed.
  • In the postscript Mortimer tells his sister to make sure the insurance company doesn't find out he killed himself.
  • Otherwise, she won't be able to collect the little bit of money left on his policy.
  • Jack tells Miss Lily that he's going to make a copy of the letter and bring her back the original.
  • He also wants her to go with him so she can make a sworn statement about her conversation with Stanton.
  • And now he has it. The dirt on Irwin that Willie wanted.

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