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The Brentford Mercury

Hugo Rune: A Biography

Part Two

by Michael Carroll


Hugo Rune

Hugo Rune left Mrs Millhouse’s Boarding House in early 1912. He paid his debts in full, and — according to a note Mrs Millhouse made in her rent book — Rune left behind a small padlocked box, which he claimed he would one day return to collect. He left Mrs Millhouse an undisclosed sum to cover the cost of storage. From Boston, Rune travelled to Tilden, Nebraska where — aside from a few brief trips — he stayed for almost a year. One of the people he befriended was naval officer Harry Ross Hubbard. Rune frequently visited the Hubbard household, and was apparently quite taken with the Hubbard’s one-year-old son Lafayette. Though the other family members, Harry included, joked that young Lafayette bore a remarkable resemblance to Rune, it was many years before anyone realised that Harry’s wife, Ledora, had made a number of trips to Boston in 1910. Over the next twelve years, Rune kept up a correspondence with young Lafayette. Though most of these letters are now lost, it is generally believed that they went into great detail about Rune’s adventures. One of the surviving letters (dated 1864 but received in 1917) contains the following: “My young friend, though you are no doubt unaware of it at present, there is a certain credulity among the common man. It is said that if you give them what they want, they will love you forever. Such nonsense! I, Rune, say that if you tell them what they want, then give it to them, life is a lot easier. It is possible to become vastly rich by exploiting three things about the common man: his gullibility, his need to be led, and his belief that science will cure all ills. I have it in mind to one day combine these into a doctrine that will be the foundation of a vast money-making empire. But ... There is so much else for me to do first.” Towards the close of the letter, Rune adds: “As you know, I have as yet no legitimate heir. Should I die before I sire a male child within the bonds of matrimony, I will allow you to take on the responsibility of fulfilling my dreams.”

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