THE BURGLAR'S FATE AND THE DETECTIVES.
Author of "Expressman and Detective," "Melnotte and Detectives," "Professional Thieves and Detectives," "Railroad Forger and Detectives," "Mollie Maguires and Detectives," "Spiritualists and Detectives," Etc., Etc., Etc.
New York: G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers. London: S. Low, Son & Co. MDCCCLXXXIV. Copyright, by Allan Pinkerton. Stereotyped by Samuel Stodder, 42 Dey Street, N.Y. Trow's Printing And Book-Binding Co., N.Y.
In the pages which follow I have narrated a story of actual occurrence. No touch of fiction obscures the truthful recital. The crime which is here detailed was actually committed, and under the circumstances which I have related. The four young men, whose real names are clothed with the charitable mantle of fiction, deliberately perpetrated the deed for which they suffered and to-day are inmates of a prison. No tint or coloring of the imagination has given a deeper touch to the action of the story, and the process of detection is detailed with all the frankness and truthfulness of an active participant. As a revelation of the certain consequences which follow the perpetration of crime, I send this volume forth, in the fervent hope that those who may read its pages, will glean from this history the lessons of virtue, of honor, and of the strictest integrity. If in the punishment of Eugene Pearson, Dr. Johnson, Newton Edwards and Thomas Duncan, the young men of to-day, tempted by folly or extravagance, will learn that their condemnation was but the natural and inevitable result of thoughtless crime, and if their experience shall be the means of deterring one young man from the commission of a deed, which the repentance of years will not obliterate, I shall feel that I have not labored in vain. As a true story of detective experience, the actors in which are still living, I give this volume to the world, trusting that its perusal may not fail in its object of interesting and instructing the few or many who may read its pages.
CHAPTER I. Geneva—The Robbery—Search for the Burglars—My Agency notified 11
CHAPTER II. The Investigation begun—John Manning's Visit to Geneva—Eugene Pearson's Story—The Detective's Incredulity—A Miraculous Deliverance with a Ten-Cent Coin 22
CHAPTER III. An Interview with Miss Patton—Important Revelations—Doubts Strengthened—Mr. Bartman's Story—William Resolves to seek Newton Edwards 38
CHAPTER IV. The Work Progresses—Eugene Pearson's Early Life—On the Trail of Newton Edwards 51
CHAPTER V. New Developments—Tidings of Newton Edwards—Suspicions Strengthening against Eugene Pearson—Mr. Silby's Confidence 63
CHAPTER VI. The Detective at Woodford—An Interview with the Discarded Wife of Newton Edwards 77
CHAPTER VII. A Fire and a Talkative Fireman—Mrs. Edwards Receives a Letter 90
CHAPTER VIII. A Plan to Intercept Correspondence—Edwards fully Identified A pretty Servant Girl and a Visit to Church 102
CHAPTER IX. Waiting and Watching—Two Letters—Newton Edwards' Hiding-Place Discovered 116
CHAPTER X. The Burglar Tracked to his Lair—The old Stage Driver—A Fishing Party—A Long Wait—A Sorrowful Surprise—The Arrest of Newton Edwards 125
CHAPTER XI. Newton Edwards brought back to Chicago—Attempt to Induce a Confession—a Visit to his Relatives—The Burglar Broken Down 141
CHAPTER XII. The Confession of Newton Edwards—The foul Plot fully Explained Eugene Pearson's Guilt clearly Proven—A Story of Temptation and Crime 154
CHAPTER XIII. Edwards taken to Geneva—The Arrest of Eugene Pearson His Confession—More Money Recovered—Dr. Johnson Arrested 167
CHAPTER XIV. Proceedings at Geneva—Speculations as to the Missing Five Thousand Dollars—John Manning Starts in Search of Thomas Duncan 182
CHAPTER XV. On the Track of the fleeing Burglar—Duncan's Home—Some Reflections 192
CHAPTER XVI. Bob King meets with a Surprise—His Story of Duncan's Flight The Detective starts Westward 208
CHAPTER XVII. Manning Strikes the Trail—An Accommodating Tailor—Temporary Disappointment and final Success—The Detective reaches Minneapolis 224
CHAPTER XVIII. The Detective at Bismarck—Further Traces of the Fugitive A Protracted Orgie—A Jewish Friend of the Burglar in Trouble 241
CHAPTER XIX. From Bismarck to Bozeman—The trail Growing Warmer—Duncan Buys a Pony—A long Stage Ride 254
CHAPTER XX. The Stage Driver's Story 266
CHAPTER XXI. False Information which nearly Proves Fatal—A Night Ride to Helena—Dangers by the Wayside 280
CHAPTER XXII. In Helena—A Fruitless Quest—Jerry Taylor's Bagnio—Reliable Tidings—A Midnight Ride—Arrival at Butte City 293
CHAPTER XXIII. The Long Trail Ended—Duncan Traced to his Lair—Caught at last The Escaping Burglar a prisoner 306
CHAPTER XXIV. The Burglar Returns to Chicago—Revelations by the Way The Missing Five Thousand Dollars 319
CHAPTER XXV. The Mystery of the Missing Five Thousand Dollars Solved at Last The Money Recovered—Duncan at Geneva 328
CHAPTER XXVI. Conclusion—Retribution 337
THE BURGLAR'S FATE AND THE DETECTIVES.
Geneva—The Robbery—Search for the Burglars—My Agency Notified.
Geneva is one of the prettiest and most thriving little towns in the west. Situated, as it is, in the midst of one of the finest agricultural districts in the country, its growth has been rapid beyond expectation, while its social progress has been almost phenomenal. Stretching for miles in all directions, over a country beautifully interspersed with gentle elevations and depressions, lie the well-cultivated farms of the honest tillers of the soil. The farm-houses, which nestle down beneath the tall trees, present an appearance of comfort and beauty rarely witnessed, while the commodious and substantial out-buildings evince the thorough neatness of systematic husbandry. Standing upon a high knoll, and gazing over the scene upon a bright sunny morning, the eye lights upon a panorama of rustic splendor that delights the vision and entrances the senses. The vast fields, with their varied crops, give indications of a sure financial return which the gathered harvests unfailingly justify, and the rural population of Geneva are, in the main, a community of honest, independent people, who have cheerfully toiled for the honest competence they so fully enjoy.
Nor is the town dependent alone upon the farmer and the herdsman for its success in a financial sense. Nature has been bounteous in her gifts to this locality, and in addition to the fertile and fruitful soil, there is found imbedded under the surface, great mines of coal, of excellent quality, and seemingly inexhaustible in quantity. This enterprise alone affords employment to hundreds of men and boys, who, with their begrimed faces and brawny arms, toil day and night in the bowels of the earth for the "black diamonds," which impart warmth and light to countless happy homes, and materially add to the wealth of the miners.
Numerous manufacturing industries also find a home here. Large buildings, out of whose huge chimneys the black smoke is pouring forth in dense volumes, and whose busy wheels and roaring furnace fires, mingled with the sound of scores of ringing hammers, make merry music throughout the day.
On certain days in the week Geneva presents a cheerful and animated appearance. On every hand are heard the sounds of honest toil and the hum of busy trade. Farmers from the surrounding country come in numbers into the village to purchase their necessary supplies and to listen to the news and gossip of the day, and the numerous stores transact a thriving business and reap a handsome profit on their wares.
The old mill, weather-beaten and white with the accumulating flour dust of ages, and with the cobwebs hanging thick and heavy from its dingy rafters, stands near by, and this too is an object of interest to the sturdy farmers of the surrounding country. From morn till night its wheels go round, transmuting the grain into the various articles of consumption for man and beast, and bringing a goodly share of "honest toll" into the coffers of the unimpeachable old miller. The mill is a great place of meeting for the farmers, and the yard in its front is daily filled with teams from the country, whose owners congregate in groups and converse upon topics of general interest, or disperse themselves, while waiting for their "grist," about the town to transact the various matters of business which had brought them hither.
In common with all progressive American towns, Geneva boasts of its school-house, a large brick building, where rosy-cheeked children daily gather to receive the knowledge which is to fit them more thoroughly for the great battle of life, when the years shall have passed and they become men and women.
Here, too, are banking institutions and warehouses, and every element that contributes to the thrift and advancement of a happy, honest, hard-working and prosperous people.
Of its history, but few words are necessary for its relation. Not many years ago it was the home of the red man, whose council fires gleamed through the darkness of the night, and who roamed, free as the air, over the trackless prairie, with no thought of the intruding footsteps of the pale-face, and with no premonition of the mighty changes which the future was to bring forth.
Then came the hardy pioneers—those brave, self-reliant men and women who sought the broad acres of the west, and builded their homes upon the "edge of civilization." From that time began the work of progress and cultivation. Towns, villages and cities sprang up as if under the wand of the magician. Fifty years ago, a small trading post, with its general store, its hand grist-mill, rude blacksmith-shop and the fort. To-day, a busy active town, with more than five thousand inhabitants, a hundred business enterprises, great railroad facilities, and every element that conduces to prosperity, honesty and happiness.
Such is Geneva to-day, a substantial, bustling, thriving and progressive village of the west.
It is a hot, sultry day in August, 18—, and the shrill whistles from the factories have just announced the arrival of six o'clock. Work is suspended for the day, and the army of workmen are preparing for their homes after the labors of the day.
At the little bank in Geneva the day has been an active one. Numerous herders have brought their stock into market, and after disposing of them have deposited their moneys with the steady little institution, in which they have implicit confidence, and through which the financial affairs of the merchants and farmers round about are transacted.
The last depositor has departed, and the door has just been closed. The assistant cashier and a lady clerk are engaged within in settling up the business of the day. At the Geneva bank the hours for business vary with the requirements of the occasion, and very frequently the hour of six arrives ere their customers have all received attention and their wants have been supplied. This had been the case upon this day in August, and breathing a sigh of relief as the last customer took his leave, the front door was locked and the work of balancing up the accounts was begun.
Suddenly, a knock is heard at the outer door, and Mr. Pearson, the assistant cashier, being busily engaged, requested the young lady with him to answer the summons. As she did so, two men, roughly dressed, and with unshaved faces, burst into the room. Closing the door quickly behind them, one of the men seized the young lady from behind and placed his hand upon her mouth. Uttering a piercing scream, the young lady attempted to escape from the grasp upon her, and with her teeth she inflicted several severe wounds upon the ruffianly hand that attempted to smother her cries. In a moment she was knocked down, a gag was placed in her mouth, and she was tied helplessly hand and foot. While this had been transpiring, the other intruder had advanced to the assistant cashier, and in a few moments he too was overpowered, bound and gagged. In less time than is required to tell the story, both of them were lying helpless before their assailants, while the open doors of the bank vault revealed the treasures which had excited the passions of these depraved men, and led to the assault which had just been successfully committed.
No time was to be lost, the alarm might be sounded in a moment, and the thieves, picking up a valise which stood near by, entered the vault, and securing all the available gold, silver and bank-notes, placed them in the satchel and prepared to leave the place.
Before doing so, however, they dragged the helpless bodies of the young man and woman into the despoiled vault, and laying them upon the floor, they deliberately closed the doors and locked them in.
Not a word had been spoken during this entire proceeding, and now, in silence, the two men picked up the satchel, and with an appearance of unconcern upon their faces, passed out of the bank and stood upon the sidewalk.
The streets were filled with men and women hurrying from their work. The sun was shining brightly in the heavens, and into this throng of human beings, all intent upon their own affairs, these bold burglars recklessly plunged, and made their way safely out of the village.
How long the two persons remained in the bank it is impossible to tell; Miss Patton in a death-like swoon, and Mr. Pearson, in the vain endeavor to extricate himself from the bonds which held him. At length, however, the young man succeeded in freeing himself, and as he did so, the young lady also recovered her consciousness. Calling loudly for help, and beating upon the iron door of their prison, they indulged in the futile hope that some one would hear their cries and come to their rescue.
At last, however, Mr. Pearson succeeded in unscrewing the bolts from the lock upon the inside of the doors of the vault, and in a few minutes thereafter, he leaped out, and dashing through a window, gave the alarm upon the street. The news spread far and wide, and within an hour after the robbery had taken place, the town was alive with an excited populace, and numerous parties were scouring the country in all directions in eager search of the fugitives. All to no avail, however, the desperate burglars were not discovered, and the crest-fallen bank officers contemplated their ruin with sorrowful faces, and with throbbing hearts.
Meanwhile, Miss Patton had been carefully removed to her home, her injuries had been attended to, and surrounded by sympathetic friends, who ministered to her wants, she was slowly recovering from the effects of the severe trial of the afternoon.
An examination of the vault revealed the fact that the robbers had succeeded in obtaining about twenty thousand dollars in gold, silver and currency—all the available funds of the bank, and the loss of which would seriously impair their standing, and which would be keenly felt by every one interested in its management.
Though sorely crippled by their loss, the bank officials were undismayed, and resolved to take immediate steps for the capture of the criminals, and the recovery of the stolen property. To this end they decided to employ the services of my agency at once, in the full hope that our efforts would be crowned with success. Whether the trust of the directors was well founded, and the result so much desired was achieved, the sequel will show.
The Investigation Begun—John Manning's Visit to Geneva—Eugene Pearson's Story—The Detective's Incredulity—A Miraculous Deliverance With a Ten-Cent Coin.
On the evening of the same day on which this daring robbery occurred, and as I was preparing to leave my agency for the day, a telegram was handed to me by the superintendent of my Chicago office, Mr. Frank Warner. The message read as follows:
"GENEVA, August —, 18—.
"Bank robbed to-day. Twenty thousand dollars taken. Please send or come at once.
"(Signed,) HENRY SILBY, President."
This was all. There was no detail of particulars, no statement of the means employed, only a simple, concise and urgent appeal for my services. As for myself, realizing the importance of promptness and despatch in affairs of this nature, and fully appreciating the anxiety of the bank officials, I resolved to answer their call as speedily as possible. But few words of consultation were required for the subject, and in a short time I had selected the man for the preliminary investigation, and requested his presence in my office. John Manning was the operative chosen for this task, an intelligent, shrewd and trusty young man of about thirty years of age, who had been in my employ for a long time. Well educated, of good address, and with a quiet, gentlemanly air about him that induced a favorable opinion at a glance. Frequently, prior to this, occasions had presented themselves for testing his abilities, and I had always found him equal to any emergency. Sagacious and skillful as I knew him to be, I felt that I could implicitly rely upon him to glean all the information that was required in order to enable me to devise an intelligent plan of detection, and which would, as I hoped, lead to eventual success.
Giving John Manning full instructions as to his mode of proceeding, and cautioning him to be particular and thorough in all his inquiries, I directed him to proceed as soon as possible to the scene of the robbery, and enter at once upon the performance of his duties.
In a very short time Manning had made his preparations, and at eight o'clock that evening he was at the depot awaiting the departure of the train that was to bear him to his new field of operation.
After a journey of several hours, in which the detective endeavored to snatch as much comfort as possible, the train drew up at the neat little station at Geneva, and Manning was upon the ground.
It was two o'clock in the morning when he arrived, consequently there were but few people stirring, and the station was almost entirely deserted. Two or three passengers who were awaiting the train, the persons connected with the railroad, and the runners of the two hotels (Geneva boasted of two of these very necessary establishments), were the only persons who greeted him upon his arrival.
Having never been to Geneva before, and being entirely ignorant of the accommodations afforded by either of these houses of entertainment, Manning, at a hazard, selected the "Geneva Hotel" as his place of abode. Consigning his valise to the care of the waiting porter, he was soon on his way to that hostelrie, and serenely journeyed along through the darkness, all unconscious of the reception that awaited him. On arriving at their destination, he perceived through the glimmering light that hung over the doorway, that the "Geneva Hotel" was an old, rambling frame structure, which stood in the midst of an overgrowth of bushes and shrubbery. So dense was the foliage that the detective imagined the air of the place was damp and unwholesome in consequence. Certain it was, as he discovered afterward, the air and sunshine had a desperate struggle almost daily to obtain an entrance into the building, and after a few hours engaged in the vain attempt, old Sol would vent his baffled rage upon the worm-eaten old roof, to the decided discomfort of the lodgers in the attic story.
Ceremony was an unheard-of quality at the "Geneva House," and the railway porter performed the multifarious duties of night clerk, porter, hall boy and hostler. As they entered the hotel, the porter lighted a small lamp with the aid of a stable lantern, and without further parley led the detective up two flights of stairs which cracked and groaned under their feet, as if complaining of their weight, and threatening to precipitate them to the regions below. Opening the door of a little box of a room, out of which the hot air came rushing like a blast from a furnace fire, the porter placed the lamp upon a dilapidated wash-stand and the valise upon the floor, and without uttering a word, took himself off.
With all its progressiveness, it was evident that Geneva was far behind the age in regard to her hotel accommodations; at least so thought Manning as he gazed disconsolately around upon his surroundings. The room was small, close and hot, while the furniture exceeded his powers of description. The unpainted wash-stand seemed to poise itself uneasily upon its three remaining legs—the mirror had evidently been the resort of an army of self-admiring flies, who had left their marks upon its leaden surface until reflection was impossible—two hard and uncomfortable-looking chairs—and a bed, every feature of which was a sonorous protest against being slept upon—completed the provisions which had been made for his entertainment and comfort. Casting a dismal look upon his uninviting quarters, but being thoroughly tired, the detective threw himself upon the couch, which rattled and creaked under him like old bones, and in a few moments was sound asleep.
How long he might have remained in this somnolent condition if left to himself, it is impossible to state, for a vigorous alarm upon his door cut short his slumbers, and startled him from his dreams.
Imagining that the hotel had taken fire, or that the porter had eloped with the silver ware, he jumped hastily out of bed and opened the door.
"It's late and breakfast is waitin'," was the laconic message delivered to him by the porter of the night before, as he started away.
With a muttered malediction upon this ruthless destroyer of his rest, the detective donned his clothing, and, feeling as tired and unrefreshed as though he had not slept at all, descended to the dining-room. If his experiences of the previous evening had been distressing, the breakfast which was set before him was positively heart-rending. A muddy-looking liquid which they called coffee—strong, soggy biscuits, a beefsteak that would rival in toughness a piece of baked gutta percha, and evidently swimming in lard, and potatoes which gave decided tokens of having been served on more than one previous occasion. With a smothered groan he attacked the unsavory viands, and by dint of great effort managed to appease his hunger, to the serious derangement of his digestive organs. After he had finished his repast he lighted a cigar, and as the hour was still too early for a conference with the bank officials, he resolved to stroll about the town and ascertain the locality of the Geneva bank, before entering upon the duties of the investigation.
His stroll, however, was not a very extended one, for as he started from the hotel he noticed upon the opposite side of the street the sign of the bank. The building in which it was located was a large, square brick structure, occupied in part by the bank, and in part as a store for the sale of hardware and agricultural implements. The upper floor was used as an amusement hall, and was called the "Geneva Opera House." Here the various entertainments of a musical and dramatic nature were given, to the intense delight of the people of the village.
There was no notice of the bank having suspended operations on account of the loss they had sustained, and the operative inferred from this, that business was being transacted as usual.
When the doors were at length opened the operative entered the banking room, and requesting to see Mr. Silby, was ushered into the private office of the president. As he passed through the room he took a passing inventory of the young assistant cashier, Mr. Pearson, who was busily engaged upon his books. He appeared to be a young man of about twenty-four years of age; of a delicate and refined cast of countenance and about medium height. His hair and a small curly mustache were of a light brown shade, and his complexion was as fair as a woman's. The young lady who had been the other victim of the assault was not present, and the detective concluded that she was as yet unable to attend to her duties.
These thoughts and impressions passed through his mind as he walked through the banking room into the office of the president. As he entered this apartment, he found several gentlemen evidently awaiting his appearance, all of whom wore a thoughtful, troubled look, as though they keenly felt the losses they had sustained and were resolved to bear up manfully under their misfortune.
Mr. Silby, the president, a tall, fine-looking gentleman in the prime of life, arose as the detective entered. Mr. Silby was one of those persons who instinctively impress the beholder, with a confidence closely approaching to veneration. Of a commanding presence, a broad noble face surmounted with a wealth of hair in which the silvery touch of time has left many traces, while his deep blue eyes were as bright as those of a youth of twenty. There was such an air of rugged and uncompromising honesty, of kindly feeling and warm-heartedness about the man, that even before he had spoken the detective experienced a strong impulse of regard for him, and a corresponding determination to perform his full duty in this investigation and to devote all the energy of his being to the task before him.
Presenting his letter of introduction, Mr. Silby hastily ran his eyes over the contents, and then extending his hand he gave the detective a most cordial greeting, and introduced him to the other gentlemen present, all of whom received him warmly.
"Take a seat, Mr. Manning," said Mr. Silby, drawing up a chair. "You find us anxiously awaiting your arrival, and prepared to give you any information you desire."
"Thanks," responded the operative, taking the proffered chair. "As I have come here for the purpose of making an examination into this case, I shall require all the information that is possible to obtain."
"Very well," said Mr. Silby. "Now, what do you desire first?"
"A full statement as to how the robbery was committed," answered the detective, promptly.
"Mr. Welton," said Mr. Silby, turning to a gentleman at his right, who had been introduced to the detective as the cashier of the bank, "perhaps you can relate the particulars better than I can."
"Excuse me," interrupted the detective, "but were you present at the time the robbery occurred?"
"No, sir, I was not present," replied Mr. Welton. "Mr. Pearson, our assistant cashier, and Miss Patton, were the only persons in the bank at that time."
"Then," said the detective, "suppose we have Mr. Pearson in at once, and hear the story from him. We always prefer," he added, with a smile, "to receive the particulars of these affairs from eye-witnesses."
The other gentlemen nodded a cordial assent to this proposition, and Mr. Welton arose, and going to the door, requested Mr. Pearson to enter the consulting room.
The young man entered the office, and upon being introduced, greeted the detective with an air of frank earnestness, and signified his readiness to relate all that he knew about the robbery.
He remained standing, and from his statement the facts were elicited which I have given in the preceding chapter. As he finished, he pointed to a scar upon his forehead, which he stated was the result of the blow he received at the time from the robber who attacked him. The wound did not appear to be a very serious one, although the skin had been broken and blood had evidently flowed freely.
"Mr. Pearson," inquired the detective, after the young man had concluded, "do you remember having seen either of those men before?"
The assistant cashier darted a quick glance at the detective, and then answered:
"Yes, sir; about three o'clock yesterday afternoon, a well-dressed gentleman came into the bank, carrying a small valise in his hand, which he requested permission to leave here until the next morning. I asked him if it was of any value, and he replied no. Informing him that I would then place it in the office, the man thanked me, and went away. When the two men entered the bank at six o'clock in the evening, I instantly recognized one of them as the man who had called in the afternoon. He was, however, dressed very roughly on the occasion of this last visit, and had evidently changed his clothes for the purpose of escaping detection or recognition."
"Which one of the men attacked you?" now asked the detective.
"The one who left the valise in the afternoon. While the tallest of the two was struggling with Miss Patton, who was screaming loudly, the other one came behind the counter and struck me upon the head with the butt end of his revolver. I became insensible after this, and knew nothing until I found myself in the vault."
"How did you extricate yourself from this dilemma?" inquired Manning.
"Well, sir," began Pearson; and the detective imagined that he noticed a hesitancy in his manner, which was not apparent before, "when I recovered consciousness, I found myself locked up in the vault, with Miss Patton lying beside me. When she recovered, we both shouted loudly for help, and beat with our hands upon the iron doors, in the hope of attracting attention. This failed, and we were nearly desperate. Just then, however, my foot came in contact with some loose silver upon the floor, and on stooping to pick them up, I found that they were ten-cent pieces. Instantly, the idea occurred to me, to attempt to remove the screws which fastened the lock to the inside of the door, and of using one of these coins for the purpose. To my intense joy the screws yielded to my efforts, and in a short time the heavy door swung open, and we were free. I have told you already what followed."
As John Manning jotted these recitals down in his note-book, he could not repress nor account for, a feeling of doubtfulness which crept over him at this point. He looked up into the young man's face, but there he saw only the evidence of serious truthfulness, and honest frankness; but still that lingering doubt was upon him and he could not shake it off.
At his request, young Pearson then furnished him with a description of the two men, as nearly as his memory would serve him, and these the detective noted down for future use.
At length, finding that he had obtained all the information which could be afforded him here, he thanked the gentlemen for their assistance, and promised to call again in the course of the day.
"Remember, Mr. Manning," said Mr. Silby, "we rely entirely upon the resources of Mr. Pinkerton's agency, and that we are confident that you will succeed."
"I cannot promise that," returned Manning, "but you may be assured that if success is possible, we will accomplish it."
So saying, he shook hands with the gentlemen, and left the bank. He betook himself at once to the hotel to prepare himself for further action in this investigation.
An Interview with Miss Patton—Important Revelations—Doubts Strengthened—Mr. Bartman's Story—William Resolves to Seek Newton Edwards.
As the morning was not yet very far advanced, John Manning concluded to pay a visit to Miss Patton, the other eye-witness to, and active participant in the robbery.
Ascertaining the locality of her residence, he walked along the pleasant shaded street, revolving in his mind the various points upon which he had been enlightened during the interview just concluded. Arriving at his destination, he found a neat, cosy little cottage, set in the midst of a bright garden of blooming flowers, the perfume of which filled the morning air. There was an appearance of neatness and beauty and comfort about the place, which at once gave evidence of the refinement of those who dwelt within, and as the detective walked along the graveled path that led to the front door, he found himself involuntarily arranging his shirt-collar, and calling up his best manner for the occasion.
His knock was responded to by a kindly-faced, matronly looking lady, whom he instinctively felt was the mother of the young lady. Making his business known, and requesting an interview with Miss Patton, he was ushered into a cool, well-furnished parlor, to await the conveyance of his message and to learn the disposition of the invalid.
In a few minutes the lady reappeared, and stated that although her daughter was still very weak and nervous from the shock she had sustained, she would see him, and requested him to step into her room.
Entering a neatly furnished little chamber, he beheld the young lady reclining upon a couch, looking very pale, but with a pleasant smile of welcome upon her face that at once gave him the courage to proceed with the unpleasant business he had in hand.
Bidding her a polite good morning, he took the seat, which had been placed for him near the bed, and as delicately as possible, stated his business and the reason for his calling upon her. At this point Mrs. Patton excused herself, and retired, with the evident intention of leaving them alone.
Manning quietly and delicately made his inquiries, and the girl answered them in a plain, straightforward manner. Her story corroborated all that had previously been related by young Pearson, and left no doubt in the mind of the detective that the occurrences of the eventful afternoon had been correctly detailed. He could not, however, control the doubtfulness that was impressing him with regard to Eugene Pearson.
"I cannot forbear the thought," said he, when Miss Patton had concluded her story, "that if Mr. Pearson had displayed a reasonable amount of manly bravery, this robbery could not have taken place."
"There is something very strange to me," said the girl, musingly, "about the manner in which Eugene acted; and—there are some things that I cannot understand."
"Would you object to telling me what they are?" said the detective. "Perhaps I can enlighten you."
"Well," responded the girl reluctantly, "I fear that Eugene has not told the entire truth in this matter."
"In what respect?" inquired the detective.
"I would not do anything to injure Mr. Pearson for the world, Mr. Manning, and he may have forgotten the circumstance altogether, but I am sure that I saw one of those robbers on two occasions before this occurred, in the bank and talking to Mr. Pearson."
"Why should he seek to conceal this?" asked the operative.
"That is just what I cannot understand," answered the lady.
"Tell me just what you know, and perhaps I can help you in coming to a correct conclusion."
"I don't like to say anything about this, but still I think it is my duty to do so, and I will tell you all that I know. More than two weeks ago, I returned from my dinner to the bank one day, and I saw this man in the private office with Mr. Pearson; I noticed then that their manner toward each other showed them to be old acquaintances rather than mere strangers. This man left the bank in a few minutes after I came in. He had the manner and appearance of a gentleman, and I did not think anything of it at the time."
"Did Mr. Pearson tell you who he was, or explain his presence there at that time?"
"No, I did not ask anything about him, and he did not mention the matter to me."
"When did you see them together again?"
"That same evening about dusk. I had been making a call upon a friend, and was returning home when I met them walking and conversing together."
"Did Mr. Pearson recognize you on that occasion?" inquired the detective.
"No, sir, he did not seem to notice me at all, and I passed them without speaking."
"You are quite sure about this?"
"Oh, yes, quite sure. I recognized him immediately when he came yesterday afternoon to leave the valise in the bank, and also when he came with the other man when the robbery was committed."
"Do you feel confident that you would be able to identify him, if you were to see him again?"
"I am quite sure that I would," returned the girl confidently, "his features are too indelibly fixed in my mind for me to make any mistake about it."
"Have you said anything to Mr. Pearson about this?"
"Yes; as soon as we were out of the vault, I said to him—'One of those men was the man who left the valise and the same one I saw in the office the other day.'"
"What reply did he make."
"He appeared to be doubtful, and simply said, 'Is that so?'"
"Very well, Miss Patton," said the detective at length, "we will look fully into this matter; but in the meantime, I particularly desire that you will say nothing to any one about what you have told me to-day. It is very necessary that a strict silence should be preserved upon this point."
The young lady cheerfully promised compliance with this request, and in a few moments the detective, after thanking her for her kindness in seeing him, arose and took his departure.
As he strolled back to the hotel, he revolved the information he had received carefully in his mind. He had also obtained from Miss Patton a description of the two men, and found that they agreed very nearly with what he had learned from Mr. Pearson. He went to his room immediately, and prepared a report of all that had transpired during the morning, carefully detailing all that he had heard relating to Mr. Pearson's alleged intimacy with one of the robbers, and of the successful attempt he made to extricate himself from the vault, by means of the ten-cent piece. After concluding his relations, he requested the assistance of another operative, in order that they might scour the country round about, in the hope of finding some clues of the escaping robbers.
On the next morning, operative Howard Jackson, a young, active and extremely intelligent member of my force, arrived at Geneva, and placed himself in communication with John Manning, for the continuance of this investigation.
When Manning's reports were duly received by my son, William A. Pinkerton, the superintendent of my Chicago agency, he gave the matter his most careful and earnest attention, and as he finished their perusal, he formed the opinion that young Pearson was not entirely guiltless of some collusion in this robbery. The more he weighed the various circumstances connected with this case, the more firm did this conclusion become, until at last he experienced a firm conviction that this young man knew more about the matter than he had yet related.
It seemed strange to him that a young, strong and active man like Pearson should not have manifested even ordinary courage in a crisis like this. He was behind the desk when the attack was made upon Miss Patton at the door, and saw what was transpiring before the second assailant had time to reach him. Even if powerless to defend her, it seemed reasonable that he could have raised an alarm, which would have attracted the attention of the passers by; or, failing in that, he could, at least, have hastily closed the vault doors, and thus have saved the money of the bank. He knew that these doors were open, and that within the vault were nearly thirty thousand dollars, for which he was indirectly responsible. But a moment's time would have sufficed to close these doors and adjust the combination, and yet he made no effort to prevent a robbery which he knew was intended.
The ordinary promptings of manhood would, it was thought, have induced him to make some show of resistance, or to have gone to the rescue of a young and delicate girl; but none of these things did he do, and, if the story related was true, the young man had acted like a base coward at the best, and submitted without a murmur to the outrages that were perpetrated in his presence. Instead of acting like a man, he stood tamely by and allowed a woman to be cruelly beaten, the bank robbed, and the robbers to walk off unmolested and unharmed.
There was another matter which seemed impossible of accomplishment. Pearson had stated that while in the vault he had removed the screws from the lock upon the door with the aid of a ten-cent piece. This idea seemed to be utterly incredible, and prompted by his doubts, William attempted the same feat upon the lock on his office door. After several efforts, in which he exerted his strength to the utmost, he was obliged to desist. The screws utterly defied the efforts to move them, while the coin was bent and twisted out of all shape, by the pressure that it was subjected to.
While he was thus engaged with his thoughts upon this perplexing problem, he was informed that two gentlemen from Geneva desired to speak with him. Signifying his readiness to receive them, two well-dressed gentlemen entered and announced their business.
One of these men was a Mr. Perry, a director of the Geneva bank, and his companion was a Mr. Bartman, a merchant in Newtonsville, a little town situated but a few miles distant from Geneva.
"Mr. Bartman," said Mr. Perry, addressing my son, "has some information to communicate, which I think is important enough to deserve serious consideration, and I have brought him to you."
Mr. Bartman's information proved to be of very decided importance. He stated that he was a merchant, doing business in Newtonsville, and that he was in the habit of purchasing his goods from various traveling salesmen who represented Chicago houses. Among this number was a young man named Newton Edwards, who was in the employ of a large commission house, located on South Water Street, in the city of Chicago. He had known Edwards for some years, and had frequently dealt with him during that period. During the forenoon of the day on which the robbery occurred, he saw Newton Edwards in Newtonsville, but that instead of attempting to sell his goods, that gentleman was apparently seeking to avoid observation. He met him upon the street and familiarly accosted him, but Edwards received his salutations coldly, and did not engage in any conversation. Mr. Bartman thought nothing of this at the time, but in the afternoon, having business in Geneva, he drove over to that place, and, to his surprise, he found Edwards, in company with a strange young man, lingering around the public house in Geneva, apparently having nothing whatever to do. He noticed also, that Edwards was somewhat under the influence of liquor, and that he had effected a complete change in his apparel. A few hours after this he heard of the robbery, and instantly his mind reverted to the strange appearance and actions of Newton Edwards. He endeavored to find him, but, as if in confirmation of his suspicions, both Edwards and his companion had disappeared.
Mr. Bartman gave a full description of Edwards as he appeared that day; and in substantiation of his suspicions, it was found to agree perfectly with that given by both Eugene Pearson and Miss Grace Patton.
Mr. Perry stated that within two hours after the robbery had been discovered, men had been sent out in all directions, in search of the fleeing robbers, but without success. They had only been enabled to learn that two men, carrying a valise between them, had been seen walking along the railroad track in a north-westerly direction from Geneva, but that was all. In the darkness of the night, they had succeeded in eluding their pursuers, and on the following day all traces of them were obscured.
Two things were now to be done at once; to ascertain the antecedents of Eugene Pearson, and to seek the whereabouts of Newton Edwards. To these tasks William applied himself immediately, and with what result will be shown hereafter.
The work progresses—Eugene Pearson's early life—On the trail of Newton Edwards.
In the meantime operatives Manning and Jackson had been untiring in their efforts to obtain some traces of the robbers. They had found a number of people who recollected seeing two men, answering the description of the suspected thieves, who carried a valise between them, but beyond a certain point all traces of them stopped. It seemed that the ground had opened and swallowed them up, so effectual had been their disappearance.
While thus engaged, operative Manning received instructions to keep a watchful eye upon young Pearson, and also to make quiet and judicious inquiries as to his habits and associates in Geneva.
The result of these inquiries was most favorable to the young man, and under ordinary circumstances would have disarmed suspicion at once. During the progress of this search after truth, operative Manning had preserved the utmost good feeling and cordiality in his dealings with Eugene Pearson, and had succeeded in establishing a friendly intimacy with him, that would have allayed any fears which the young man might have had, as to the opinions entertained by the detectives with regard to himself. Mr. Pearson was very positive that one of the robbers was the same man who had left the valise at the bank during the afternoon, and, after learning that Manning had paid a visit to Miss Patton, he stated his belief that this same person had called at the bank a few weeks before. He could not remember the name he had given at that time, but thought he had inquired as to the financial standing of several of the business men of Geneva. During all these interviews Mr. Pearson displayed the utmost willingness to assist the detectives in their investigation, and with a frankness that was refreshing, answered every question that was put to him as if with the earnest desire of facilitating their labors and contributing to the accomplishment of their success.
Eugene Pearson was a young man, it was learned, who had first seen the light in the little town of Geneva, then a straggling little village with none of the pretensions it now presented. His parents were most exemplary people, and his father at one time had been a wealthy grain merchant, but during one of the financial panics that swept over the country, he was unfortunate enough to suffer embarrassments which stripped him of his fortune and left him penniless in his old age to begin again the battle of life. At the present time, he was a benevolent-looking, intelligent old gentleman, who occupied the honorable and not very lucrative position of postmaster of Geneva, from the receipts of which, and a few other interests he was enabled to maintain his family in comparative comfort.
Young Pearson had grown to manhood surrounded by the refining influences of his family, and, save for a few months spent at a business college in a neighboring city, had always dwelt in his native town. Among the residents of Geneva he was universally respected and admired. Possessed, as he was, of more than ordinary intelligence, and evincing good business qualifications, he had occupied his present position in the bank for several years, and at the time of the robbery, arrangements were being made for his promotion to the position of cashier, owing to the contemplated retirement of Mr. Welton, the present incumbent. His personal habits were unexceptionable, so far as known, and every one with whom John Manning conversed upon the subject, were loud in his praises. In the social circles of the town, he was an acknowledged favorite; he was a fair musician, was a member of the choir in the leading church of Geneva, and a teacher in the Sunday-school. His handsome face and pleasing manners gained for him a host of friends, and his companionship was eagerly sought by the young people with whom he associated. The young ladies were particularly partial to his society, and it was stated that he was engaged to be married to a beautiful young lady of the town, whose father was one of the wealthiest men in the country round about. At the bank, he was held in high esteem by both the officers and directors, and Mr. Silby's affection for him amounted almost to the love of a father for a favorite child. From infancy to manhood his name had never been associated with aught that was injurious or degrading, and among all the young men of Geneva, Eugene Pearson stood highest in public esteem and general favor.
The result of these inquiries were not calculated to strengthen the doubts which had been formed of young Pearson's participation in this robbery, and yet the suspicion remained unchanged, and we determined to await developments before yielding our opinions to what seemed to be a pressure of circumstances.
In the meantime, William had not been idle in the city. Ascertaining the name of the firm for which Newton Edwards was traveling, and determined to satisfy his mind upon this point, he dispatched an operative to the business house to which he had been referred. The result of this inquiry was that Mowbray, Morton & Co., the firm with which Edwards had at one time been engaged, stated that he had severed his connection with them a short time before, and since then had done nothing for them, but had been traveling for another house on the same street, and they believed he was the junior partner of the firm. Inquiry at this house elicited the information that Edwards had retired from this firm, and had connected himself with a large eastern house, which dealt extensively in fruits and a general line of groceries. At this place, however, several items of information were gleaned which were of importance. The gentlemen connected with this establishment were very well acquainted with Newton Edwards, of whom they spoke in the highest terms. He had been in Chicago during all of the week previous to the robbery, but had left the city on Saturday, stating that he intended to travel through Wisconsin and Minnesota in the interest of the new firm which he represented. He had not been seen since, nor had they heard from him.
Finding that the gentleman who furnished this information was an intimate acquaintance of Edwards, the operative next inquired as to his family connections and his place of residence. On these points he was fully informed, and he cheerfully imparted the desired information. Edwards, it appeared, had been married recently to a lovely and accomplished young lady from one of the outlying towns, and since his marriage had been residing with the husband of his sister, a gentleman named Samuel Andrews, who resided at 29 Logan Place, in Chicago. Edwards also had a brother who was married, and who lived in the city, and the location of this gentleman's residence was also cheerfully furnished by the merchant.
Upon returning with this information, the operative at once reported to my son William, who decided upon an immediate course of action. Directing the operative to inquire for tidings of Edwards at both of the places named, he indited a telegraphic message to the chief of police at Milwaukee and Minneapolis, for the purpose of ascertaining if Edwards had been at either place since leaving the city. He described the man fully, stated the name of the house which he represented, gave the fullest particulars as to his identity, and then requested to be informed if he had made his appearance in either of these cities.
To all these messages the answer was received that Edwards had not, as yet, arrived, although the chief at Milwaukee stated that he had met a friend of Edwards, who informed him that he had received a letter from the young man dated four days prior to the robbery, stating that he would be in Milwaukee in a few days, and that he would be accompanied by his wife. As yet, however, he had not arrived, and nothing further had been heard of him.
This was a corroboration of the first suspicion regarding Newton Edwards, and was convincing of the fact that he had not done as he had informed his friends that he would do. William was convinced, therefore, that he was upon the right track, and impatiently awaited the return of the operative who had been sent to the residences of Edwards' relatives.
The detective delegated for that purpose proceeded to the locality to which he had been directed, where he found a comfortable-looking, well-kept brick dwelling-house, and upon a metal plate upon the door, he noticed the name he was in search of. Ascending the steps, he rang the bell, and shortly afterward was ushered into a handsomely furnished parlor, where he was greeted by a pleasant-faced lady, who announced herself as the sister of Mr. Newton Edwards.
"Is Mr. Edwards residing with you?" inquired the detective.
"Not now," answered the lady, "he was here until Saturday last, when he left, saying that he was going to Milwaukee upon business. I have heard however, that he was in town on Sunday last, but that I am not sure of."
"Did his wife go with him?" now asked the operative, hoping to obtain an interview with her, if possible.
"No, sir," replied Mrs. Andrews, with an air of sudden coldness and reserve, which was not lost upon the watchful man before her. "Mrs. Edwards left on the same day, in company with her brother, who has taken her to his home; I do not wish to allude to this matter, but I am afraid my brother and his wife do not live happily together."
"Have they separated?" asked the detective, in a tone of solicitude.
After a momentary hesitation, the woman replied: "I am inclined to think they have. Newton has not been himself lately, and has, I am sorry to say, been drinking a great deal. This naturally led to harsh treatment of his wife, and I presume she wrote to her brother, and on last Saturday he came and took her away."
Finding the lady indisposed to furnish further information, the detective took his leave.
At the second place he received much the same information, and concluding that he had exhausted this matter, he started to return to the agency. At this latter place, however, he had casually inquired for the name and residence of Mrs. Edwards' brother, and on learning that, had concluded his visit.
Everything thus far had favored a belief that Edwards was concerned in this robbery. His leaving home a day or two before the act was committed, his quarrel with his wife, his statement made to friends that he was going upon a business trip, which it was evident he had not done, his strange appearance at Newtonsville and Geneva on the day the robbery took place, the fact that his personal appearance agreed perfectly with that given of the robber, by eye-witnesses to that event, and his mysterious disappearance since, all went to prove beyond question that Newton Edwards was the thief, and that decided steps should be taken to discover his whereabouts.
Leaving William to devise a plan to accomplish this much-desired result, we will return to Geneva, and watch the movements of John Manning and Howard Jackson.
New developments—Tidings of Newton Edwards—Suspicions strengthening against Eugene Pearson—Mr. Silby's confidence.
In extending their investigations in and around Geneva, operatives Manning and Jackson had discovered numerous items of intelligence corroborative of their previous suspicions. A salesman, connected with a large mercantile house from one of the large cities, furnished the information that on Monday, the day on which the robbery occurred, he had traveled with Edwards as far as Newtonsville, and as he did not see him after leaving that place, he concluded that he must have stopped there. He also stated that Edwards appeared to be unusually cold and reserved, and that he was accompanied by a companion whom he did not introduce to his friends. At Newtonsville it was learned that a man, fully answering the description of Edwards' companion, had visited both of the livery stables in that town, and had attempted to hire a team of horses and a carriage. He had been refused in both instances, for the reasons that he was a stranger, and appeared to be under the influence of liquor. Several people both in Geneva and Newtonsville were found who remembered seeing Edwards, whom they knew—and a companion who was a stranger to them—about these towns on the day of the robbery, and they described their actions as being very peculiar. They had disappeared immediately after that and had not been seen since. If further proofs of the complicity of Edwards were required they could have been procured by the score, and as all traces of their route from Geneva had been lost, William resolved to commence a thorough and systematic process of espionage, which he believed would eventually lead to the discovery of his hiding-place. He thoroughly canvassed the situation and his conclusions were soon found. Newton Edwards had a father and mother—he had brothers and sisters; and in addition to these he had a lovely young wife, from whom he had parted in anger. It was not possible that he could shake himself loose from all these ties of kindred and affection at one blow, and it was reasonably sure that sooner or later he would attempt to correspond with them in some manner. Again, it might be the case that some of his relatives were already aware of his crime, and of the fact that he was hiding from the officers of the law, and it could not be expected that they would voluntarily give information that would lead to his discovery. However grieved and disappointed they might be, however angry they must naturally feel, they could not be expected at such a time as this to turn his accusers, and aid in his capture.
I have known cases in the course of my professional practice, however, when fathers, actuated by what they considered the highest motives, have delivered up their sons to the law, and, though the ordeal was an exceedingly trying and distressing one, they never faltered for a moment in what they considered the performance of their duty. I need not say that such evidences of self-sacrifice were painful to me, and that my feelings were always deeply touched by the mental sufferings of the poor criminals, who in the hour of their sorest need, found themselves deserted by the only friends upon whom they believed they could rely in an emergency which threatened disgrace and servitude.
While this is true, it is equally certain that I have yet to record a single case in which a female relative ever assisted, in any manner, toward the apprehension of a criminal. No power seemed able to force from her a word that would tend to work him injury, and though her heart was breaking, and her love for the lost one had passed away, yet, with a persistence worthy of all admiration, she refused to do aught that would add to the misery of the fallen one; and, if occasion offered, invariably rendered her assistance to secure his escape.
Taking these ideas into consideration, therefore, it would not do to rely at all upon any assistance from the relatives of Edwards, and to advise them of our suspicions and search, would naturally only tend to place both him and them upon their guard.
A slower and more laborious operation was therefore necessary. Fully in earnest in his determination to capture these men, and firmly supported by the officials of the bank, who were as resolute as he in their resolve to apprehend the robbers, William at once put this plan into execution.
Operatives were posted to watch the residences of the relatives of Edwards in the city, and instructed to carefully note their actions, particularly in the matter of receiving or posting of any letters. Another operative was despatched to Woodford to note the movements of Mrs. Edwards, the wife of the suspected thief, and to endeavor to obtain some information that would assist us in the chase. It might be possible that this reported quarrel was a mere ruse, to blind the detectives, and to throw them off the scent; and it was important that the truthfulness of this story should be substantiated. At the same time, William decided on no account to lose sight of young Pearson, and directed the operatives at Geneva to maintain a strict watch over his movements, and by no means to permit him to leave town unaccompanied by some one who could note his every action. The young bank clerk, however, gave no cause for any new suspicion. He performed his duties at the bank with unflagging industry and evinced the greatest desire that the thieves might soon be captured. His solicitude for Miss Patton was apparently sincere and unceasing, and he frequently reproached himself for not having acted in a more manly manner at the time the assault was made. So humiliated did he appear at the loss the bank had sustained, and so earnest was he in everything that approached a vigorous and determined chase after the robbers, that he soon became an object of profound sympathy and higher regard to the bank officers and his numerous friends in Geneva. After fully considering this matter of young Pearson, William deemed it his duty to acquaint Mr. Silby with his suspicions. It was due to that gentleman, he argued, that he should be thus informed, and then if results should justify the suspicion he would be prepared for what would follow, while if the contrary should prove true he would have all the more reason for his high estimation of his young assistant cashier.
He did not have long to wait before making this revelation, for in a few days after he had put his plans into operation and posted his men, William received a call from Mr. Silby, who desired to be informed of the progress that was being made. After fully detailing to the honest old banker all that we had thus far learned, and the steps which had been taken to ascertain the whereabouts of Newton Edwards, all of which met with his hearty approval, William delicately broached the unpleasant subject.
"Mr. Silby," said he, "there is another matter which I desire to speak of, and one which I fear may occasion you some pain, or may meet with your opposition."
"Let me know what it is, by all means," responded Mr. Silby, with a smile. "I am satisfied that what you have to say is for the best interests of the bank, and it would be absurd in me to offer opposition to that."
"Well," said William, "there have been certain developments made in this case which, I regret to say, lead me to believe that Eugene Pearson is not entirely blameless in this robbery."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Mr. Silby, starting to his feet, and with a tremor in his voice, which told of inward agitation; "you do not mean that you suspect Eugene?"
"I must confess that I do," said William solemnly, "and I regret it sincerely, both on your account and his own."
"But this will not do," suddenly interrupted the old gentleman, "this cannot be. Why, I have known that boy ever since his childhood, and I have loved him as my own son. No, no, Mr. Pinkerton, you must be mistaken about this."
"Mr. Silby," said my son, "let us look at this matter calmly and dispassionately. You have employed us to ferret out the thieves, and to recover, if possible, the money of which you have been robbed. We have therefore but one duty to perform, and that is to find the men. I have looked into this case carefully; I have noted every point thus far attained; I have weighed every item philosophically, and I tell you now, that I am convinced that Eugene Pearson knows more about this robbery than has yet been revealed."
William then slowly and concisely detailed the various points upon which he founded his suspicions. The fact that Eugene Pearson had been seen in intimate conversation with the suspected man, his presence at the bank on the afternoon of the robbery, his actions, cowardly at best, when the assault was made upon the helpless girl, his peculiar statements since, and then the manner of his release by the aid of the ten-cent silver piece. Taking a coin from his pocket, he requested Mr. Silby to attempt the feat upon the slight lock upon the office door, which he tried, and though he labored strenuously, he was unable to move it. He also informed him that Manning had attempted the same thing upon the lock of the vault door, and that he could not budge a screw. All these facts he pointed out to the old gentleman as strong proofs of the young man's guilt.
Mr. Silby sat during this recital with a dazed and stricken look upon his face, and when William had finished, he sat for a time in speechless amazement. Recovering himself at length, he said:
"Mr. Pinkerton, this may all prove to be true; but at present, you must excuse me, I cannot believe it—it is too terrible."
True and trustful old man! he could not be brought to believe that one so dearly loved and highly trusted could prove so base and undeserving.
"Now, Mr. Silby," said William, "I have only this to ask—I may be wrong, or I may be right; but until definite results are achieved, I must request you to keep this matter a profound secret, and to keep a close watch upon young Pearson without exciting his suspicion; will you do this?"
"I will do what you request," responded Mr. Silby; "but believe me, you will find that you are mistaken."
"Another thing," continued William. "If at any time I should telegraph to you these words—'Look out for that package!' please remember that 'that package' means Pearson, and he must not be allowed to go away."
"All this I will do, because I know you are doing what you think best; but I am confident all will be made right for the boy in good time."
"For your sake, Mr. Silby, I hope so, too, but I am not so sanguine of that: and we cannot afford to take any risks."
Mr. Silby arose to his feet, and grasping my son's hand, withdrew without a word. As he passed out, William looked after him with a feeling of compassion he rarely experienced.
"It is a great pity," he murmured to himself, "that so much strong, manly faith should be so sadly misplaced, and I fear very much that before we are through with this case, Mr. Silby's trust in human nature will be badly shattered. But we must do our duty, and the right must triumph at last—we must await the result."
The Detective at Woodford.—An Interview with the Discarded Wife of Newton Edwards.
It was on a hot sultry morning in August, about ten days after the robbery at Geneva, that William Everman arrived at the picturesque little city of Woodford. Woodford was the home of the brother of Mrs. Newton Edwards, with whom that lady was supposed to have taken refuge after her quarrel with her husband. Everman proceeded directly to the hotel upon his arrival, and quickly announced himself as a traveling salesman from a neighboring city. In a casual conversation with the clerk, he ascertained that Edwards and his wife were quite well known in the place, and that the clerk was an intimate acquaintance of the lady's husband.
"Is Edwards stopping here now?" inquired the detective, in a careless manner.
"No!" answered the clerk, as he fondly curled the ends of a very delicate and scarcely perceptible mustache. "He hasn't stopped here since his marriage; he usually goes to the home of his wife's family now."
"Do you know whether he is in town now?"
"I think not, unless he arrived last night," answered the young man. "There are several letters here for him, and he would have called for them before this. He has his mail always directed here."
"I am sorry for that," said Everman. "I have some instructions for him from the house he travels for, and he ought to get them as soon as possible."
"Perhaps Mr. Black could tell you where he is. I believe Edwards' wife is staying with him, and she certainly could tell you where you could address him, or whether he is expected here very soon."
After thanking the clerk for his information and ascertaining the business place of Mr. Black, the detective left the hotel, and sauntered about the city.
Walking leisurely down the main street, he soon came in sight of the place to which he had been directed. It was a small frame building, somewhat old and dilapidated, and was sadly in need of the painter's brush and a new covering of paint. Over the doorway swung a dingy, time-worn and weather-beaten sign, upon which he could barely decipher the words: "HENRY BLACK, Locksmith," and over which were suspended a pair of massive crossed keys which at one time had been bright golden, but which now were old and rusty looking. In the low window in front there was a rare and curious collection of articles that would have delighted the eyes of an antiquarian. Locks there were, that were relics of a by-gone age, and seemed as if they might have done service on dungeon doors in some ancient keep in feudal times—strange and grotesque locks that had evidently pleased the fancy of some old connoisseur, whose treasures were guarded by these strange looking protectors, which had now outgrown their usefulness, and were exhibited as curiosities in the practical age of to-day. Locks of latest finish and design, and locks red and rusty and worn out, were mingled together with a confusion and carelessness that bespoke a thriving business, which left no time for order or arrangement.
Entering the shop without hesitation and with a careless air of assurance, Everman found himself in the presence of the locksmith, who was busily employed at his work. Mr. Black was a stout, good-looking, middle-aged man, who wore bushy whiskers and a pair of iron-rimmed spectacles. On the entrance of the detective he came forward with a pleasant smile on his face, as though expecting a profitable customer, and greeted the operative.
"Well, sir, what can I do for you to-day?"
"Nothing in the way of business," replied the detective; "I am seeking some information which perhaps you can give me."
"Take a seat," said the locksmith, pushing a stool toward the detective, and at the same time seating himself upon the counter. "I don't know a great deal, but if I can tell you what you want to know I shall be happy to do so."
"Thank you," replied Everman, as he produced a couple of fragrant cigars, and handed one to Mr. Black. "My name is Everman; I am a salesman for a city house, and am a neighbor of your brother-in-law, Newton Edwards. I have a message for him from his employer, and want to find out where to address him. I understood he had come to Woodford, and was informed at the hotel that I would be apt to learn from you whether he was in town."
While he was speaking, he watched the countenance of the locksmith carefully, and as he mentioned the name of Edwards he noticed that the cheerful smile disappeared from his face and was replaced with a heavy frown; this remained but a moment, and when Everman finished speaking, he promptly and pleasantly replied:
"I cannot tell you, I am sorry to say, where Mr. Edwards is at present, for I do not know myself. I only know that he was in Chicago on Saturday, a week ago, and at that time he stated that he was going to Milwaukee and St. Paul; whether he did so or not I cannot tell you."
"I understood from his employer that he and Mrs. Edwards contemplated stopping in Woodford for a few days before he started upon his business trip."
In response to this, Mr. Black stated to the detective, after much hesitation, but believing he was speaking to a friend, that on the Saturday mentioned, he had received a telegram from his sister, who was the wife of Newton Edwards, requesting him to come to her at once. He immediately responded to this summons, and on going to the house where she was stopping, he found her in great distress, and weeping violently. From her he then learned that Edwards had come to the house that morning in a state of intoxication, and had shamefully abused her. That he had ordered her to return to her family, and declared that he would never live with her again. Mr. Black had therefore brought his sister home with him, and threatened to inflict personal chastisement upon Edwards if he ever crossed his path again.
Finding that the story of the separation was a truthful one, at least so far as the relatives of Mrs. Edwards were concerned, Everman decided to obtain an interview, if possible, with the forsaken wife. Inviting Mr. Black to accompany him to the hotel, which was but a short distance from the shop, the locksmith took off his leather apron and paper cap, and the two strolled away together.
Over their cigars and a cooling draught of very good beer, the brother-in-law of the suspected criminal became quite friendly and communicative, relating many trifling particulars of Edwards' earlier life, which need not be repeated here. Preferring his request, at length, Mr. Black cordially invited him to his residence, and giving him explicit directions, suggested that he should call that afternoon. To this proposition Everman readily assented, and after a short time spent in friendly conversation, Mr. Black returned to his shop, and the detective wended his way to the locksmith's house.
Arriving at the place designated, he found a pretty little cottage, overgrown with climbing vines, while a garden of bright blooming flowers rendered the front of the house an attractive spot. Ascending the stoop, he rang the bell, and in a few moments a pleasant-faced lady appeared at the door. Inquiring if Mrs. Edwards was within, and being informed in the affirmative, he was invited to enter the cool and cosy parlor and await her appearance.
After a short delay Mrs. Edwards entered the room, and the heart of the detective was at once touched at the sad and sorrowful expression which she wore. She was young, scarcely more than twenty, and a handsome brunette. Her dark hair was brushed in wavy ringlets back from a broad, intellectual brow, and the dark eyes were dewy, as if with recent tears. Her cheeks were pale, and there were heavy shadows under the eyes, which told of sorrow and a heart ill at ease. Another thing the detective noticed, with a feeling of compassion, for he was himself a man of family, the lady was about to become a mother. How strange and unreasonable it seemed, that a young man of Edwards' position in society, with a lovely and loving wife, with business prospects of the most excellent character, could sacrifice all upon the altar of a base and ignoble ambition to be suddenly rich. That he could at one fell blow cast away the ties of kindred, the love of a devoted wife, the blissful anticipation of becoming a happy and proud father, and in an evil hour yield to a temptation which eventually would place the brand of the felon upon his brow, would cause him to be shunned and despised by his former friends and associates, clothe him in the garb of the convict, and, if justice were meted out to him, would make him an inmate of a prison. These thoughts flitted through the mind of the detective as he gazed upon the pale sad features of the suffering wife, and for a moment he regretted the profession which he had adopted. It is a common error, I fear, to imagine that a detective is devoid of those finer feelings which animate humanity, and to credit him with only the hard, stern and uncompromising ideas of duty which only appear upon the surface. This is a grave mistake, and does gross injustice to many noble men and women, who, in my own experience, have developed some of the most delicate and noble traits of which human nature is capable. It is true, their duty is hard and unyielding, its imperative requirements must be rigidly observed; but many a criminal to-day has urgent reasons to be thankful to the man who was instrumental in bringing him to account for the crimes he had committed. Many a convict's wife and children are the recipients of kindly actions from the very men whose duty it was to deprive them, by a legal process, of a husband and father. This may seem strange and incredible, but from my own experience I can testify to its absolute truthfulness. With the capture of the criminal the detective's duty ceases, and all the sympathetic promptings of his nature have full play. He has performed his duty to the state, to the law and to society, and that done, his knowledge of the sufferings which crime have caused leads him to acts of kindness and of practical assistance. To-day, I have some of the warmest and most grateful friends among the families of the men whom I was compelled to bring to justice, and in many cases the criminals themselves have acknowledged my actions, and have been better men in consequence. But this is a digression, and we will return to our narrative.
Rising to his feet, the detective politely acknowledged the salutation of Mrs. Edwards, and in as few words as possible he stated his errand. With painful embarrassment of manner, Mrs. Edwards informed him that she could not tell him anything about her husband's movements, as, contrary to his usual custom, he had not informed her of the route he intended to take when he left home. Not a word or a hint was given of the trouble that was preying upon her heart, of the harsh, unfeeling treatment to which she had been subjected, or of the brutal order, expulsion and separation. The dignity of the noble little woman sustained her grandly, and no confession of her wrongs escaped her lips. She then informed the detective that she expected to hear from him every day, and that she believed he was now traveling through Wisconsin.
That she was entirely unaware, at present at least, of her husband's whereabouts, the operative was firmly convinced; and she appeared to be equally uninformed of the suspicions that were entertained regarding him.
After a few moments spent in friendly converse, the detective arose to take his leave; and after being invited to renew his visit, he departed from the house.
"By George!" murmured Everman to himself, as he made his way back to the hotel; "that little woman is a wife to be proud of. That she knows nothing at present I am fully convinced, but I am also certain that if she learns of the crime her husband has committed, she would sacrifice her life rather than aid us in his discovery. What a strange, unequal world this is!—bad men linked with angelic wives; and vicious and unprincipled women yoked with men who are the very soul of honor. Well, well, I cannot set things right. I have only my duty to perform, and moralizing is very unprofitable."
So pondering he returned to the hotel and resolving to call upon the chief of police in the afternoon, he went into the spacious dining-room and ordered his dinner.
A Fire and a Talkative Fireman—Mrs. Edwards Receives a Letter.
After dinner operative Everman called upon the chief of police, and acquainting him fully with the nature of his business in the city, he enlisted his services in our behalf. Men were detailed to watch the arriving and departing trains, in order to discover if Edwards either paid a visit to Woodford or attempted to leave the place. This step was taken as a mere precaution, for the detective as yet felt confident that Mrs. Edwards was entirely ignorant of the movements of her husband or of the crime which he was suspected of committing. This was continued without result for three days, but on the afternoon of the fourth, the chief sought Everman at the hotel and informed him that he had important news to communicate.
"What is it?" inquired Everman, when they were alone.
"Well," said the chief, "it is just this. Last night, one of my men informs me, Mrs. Edwards received a letter from her husband, and to-day she appears to be in great trouble and distress of mind. There can be no doubt that she has been informed of his crime, and also that she now knows his present whereabouts."
"She will never tell any one where that is, unless I am very much mistaken in her," interrupted Everman, "and we must look elsewhere for the information we desire."
"Just my opinion exactly," replied the chief; "and I have thought of a way in which we might get what we want."
"Let me hear what it is," said Everman.
"It is just this—Mrs. Black has an intimate friend and confidante, to whom she tells everything she knows, and there is no doubt that she will soon, if she has not already done so, inform this lady of the letter received yesterday. Well, so far, so good. Now, this lady has a husband to whom she tells all she hears, and so he is apt to be as well informed in a short time. This man is Tom Nelson by name, a carpenter by trade, and a jovial, easy, good-natured fellow by nature. This man you must work up, and if you touch him correctly, you will find out all he knows."
"Very good," replied Everman confidently; "now point out Tom Nelson to me and leave me to work the rest."
At this moment an alarm of fire was sounded, and in a few minutes the street in front of the hotel was alive with people hurrying to the scene of the conflagration. Men and boys were running at the top of their speed, and shouting at the top of their voices; women were gazing from doors and windows, and the merry jingle of the bells of the fire-engines were soon heard, as the brave fire laddies were rushing to the rescue of the burning building.
"The very thing!" ejaculated the chief. "I must go to the fire, and do you come along with me. Tom Nelson is one of the most active firemen of the city, and I will point him out to you. After that you must work your own way, for if I was to approach him upon the subject, he would become suspicious at once."
So saying the chief hurried out of the hotel, closely followed by the detective. Turning a corner they saw, not a great distance off, the flames leaping from the windows and roof of a large frame structure, which was blazing and crackling like a huge pile of kindling prepared for the torch. Already the department was upon the ground, and when the chief and the detective reached the scene, several streams of water, shimmering like ropes of silver, were pouring into the burning building. With a noble self-sacrifice and a disregard for their own safety which was truly admirable, the brave fire laddies battled with the flames, and exerted themselves to the utmost to prevent the fire from reaching the adjoining buildings. At last, yielding to the almost superhuman efforts of the firemen, the fire was extinguished, leaving only the bare and blackened walls standing as monuments of the destruction that had been wrought. Foremost among the brave fellows who were performing their self-appointed and herculean duty was a man about thirty-five years of age, stout and muscular in form, and with a good-humored, honest face, that would attract your friendly regard at a glance. He was the most active and energetic man upon the ground, and it could be seen at once, that his whole heart was in the work in which he was then so earnestly engaged.