She arrived safely. Rivers relieved Roch and he reported to me. I supposed she would remain for the night in Philadelphia, but was disappointed, as she went directly to the North Pennsylvania station and took the cars for Jenkintown.
I was not quite prepared for this move, but by four in the morning I was in a buggy on my road to Jenkintown. When I arrived I put up at Stemples's, had an early breakfast, and seized upon a favorable opportunity to have a short conversation with Madam Imbert. I hurriedly instructed her to try and meet Mrs. Maroney, and if possible draw from her an account of what had happened and learn her plans for the future. I then got into my buggy and drove back to the city. It was a beautiful, bright morning, and the drive was very delightful.
Madam Imbert, accompanied by Miss Johnson, went for her accustomed stroll in the garden. They walked around for some time and were about returning when they met Mrs. Maroney and Flora. Miss Johnson took charge of Flora, who was her special favorite, and drew her to one side to have a romp while Mrs. Maroney and the Madam strolled along together.
Mrs. Maroney asked very anxiously about the Madam's health and seemed to be much pained when she learned that she was very poorly.
"Mrs. Maroney," said Madam Imbert, "I fear you find me poor company, indeed. Your life must be happy beyond expression. You have a kind husband, a sweet child, everything that makes life enjoyable! while I am separated from my dear husband, far away, with no one to love me! no one to care for me! I have bitter trouble, rendered all the harder to bear by the fact that I have to brood over it alone. I have not one friend in this wide world to whom I can fly for consolation. No! not one! My life is unspeakably lonely. You will forgive me for not being more gay; I cannot help it! I strive to be, but it is impossible. I often fear that my melancholy has a chilling effect on those around me, and that they think me cold and heartless!"
"Madam Imbert, my dear Madam, don't say that you are thought to be cold and heartless! Every one feels that you are suffering some great sorrow, and all are drawn towards you. As for me I have always tried to secure the sympathy of my lady friends, but I have only half succeeded. You are the first one in whom I have ever felt that I could confide, the first whom I wished to be my friend. If you are in trouble and feel the need of a friend, why not rely on me? make me your confidante."
"Mrs. Maroney, you do not know what you ask! My story is a sad one, indeed. I already value your friendship too highly to risk losing it. If you were to know my history, I fear you would turn from me in disgust."
Madam Imbert's tears flowed freely; she leaned on Mrs. Maroney for support. Mrs. Maroney turned into one of the side paths and they took a seat on a bench. After much persuasion, Madam Imbert was prevailed on to disclose her secret.
She described to Mrs. Maroney the many virtues of her husband; told how wealthy he was, and then, with many sobs, and much apparent reluctance, stated that he was enticed into committing forgeries; that he was arrested, tried, convicted and sent to the State prison for ten years, and that now she was debarred from seeing him.
She was greatly relieved when she found that Mrs. Maroney did not turn from her in horror on discovering that she was the wife of a convict. On the contrary, Mrs. Maroney said:
"It was too bad, indeed!"
She had suffered also, worse even than Madam Imbert, as her husband was innocent. Things looked bad for him at present, but all would be bright by-and-by. They had plenty of friends, but when they wanted them, they were not to be found.
She said that she was going South soon, but did not intend to stay long. She did not say that her husband was in jail, but merely that he was in some trouble.
Madam Imbert replied that it was very hard; that there seemed nothing but trouble in this world, and they were both shedding tears copiously, when who should come in sight but De Forest?
De Forest was truly in love with Mrs. Maroney. He had heard that morning that she had returned, and, finding that she was in the garden, had started in pursuit of her, and arrived at a most inopportune moment. As he came in view, Mrs. Maroney exclaimed: "Here comes that awkward fool! He is such a hateful creature! I'd like to poison him!"
De Forest came gaily along, expecting to be received with open arms, but instead found both the ladies in tears. "O ladies, what's the matter? Crying!" The ladies said nothing, but Mrs. Maroney gave him a scornful look which made him tremble. He had, however, broken up the interview, and the party separated, Madam Imbert saying that she would call in the afternoon.
De Forest walked off with Mrs. Maroney, but he found that she had changed wonderfully, and he got nothing from her but cold looks and sharp answers. He could not understand her conduct, and the next day came into the Express Office, and mournfully reported that Mrs. Maroney had acted in a manner he could not understand, and that he feared some one had cut him out.
Rivers kept a close watch on Mrs. Maroney, and in the afternoon called at the house to see Josh. He found the house in confusion, and an improvised washing of Mrs. Maroney's and Flora's clothing going on. Josh. was carrying water, and doing all he could to help the washing along. "D——d busy to-day," said he; "the old woman got an idea into her head to wash, and although I protested against it, I had to give in and haul the water."
"Oh!" said Mrs. Cox to Josh., "you are always in my way."
Rivers took this as a rather broad hint to him that he was in the way, and so asked Josh. to come up town with him. Josh. willingly acquiesced, and they started out. On the way they met Barclay and Horton, and adjourned to Stemples's. Rivers treated, and then endeavored to find out from Cox the reasons of his wife's hurry and bustle. Cox told him that his wife had taken a sudden notion to wash, and although he had strongly objected, she had impressed him into the service, and set him at work doing the chores and hauling the water.
Rivers tried to get more explicit information, but could not. Cox, with all his shiftlessness, knew when to hold his tongue; and so, after plying him with several drinks, Rivers was obliged to let him go, without finding out what he wanted. Rivers felt that something important was under way. He had followed Mrs. Maroney on her hurried journey to Jenkintown; had seen her hold a long confidential interview with Madam Imbert, which was broken up by the unwelcome appearance of De Forest, and knew of the preparations going on at Cox's. So he was on the alert.
In the afternoon Madam Imbert called on Mrs. Maroney, leaving Miss Johnson at home. Mrs. Maroney met her kindly, and poured into her ear a tale of sorrow. She told Madam Imbert that she was going South for a short visit, but that she would soon return, and then they could comfort each other. She did not mention where she was going, or allude in any way to Montgomery.
Madam Imbert did not deem it good policy to ask questions too closely, and, although she very much wished to get information, she remembered my strict orders against running any risk, and did not ask.
In the evening Rivers went up to Stemples's and took a seat in the bar-room, as it was the best place to gain information of what was going on. He had not been long there before Josh. Cox came in and asked for Stemples. "He is in the stable," said Rivers; "I will go and get him for you."
"No," said Cox, "don't disturb yourself," and started for the stable himself.
Rivers very politely accompanied him, but was unable to overhear what was said, as Cox drew Stemples to one side and spoke to him in a low tone. Stemples said, "All right!" and Cox started off. Rivers stopped him, and asked him to take a drink.
"I don't mind if I do," answered Josh.; and after drinking he said: "I am in a d——d hurry," and was gone. "There is one drink gone to no purpose," muttered Rivers, as he made his way to the barn. He found Stemples hurriedly harnessing up his team, and turned in to help him.
"Strange fellow, that Cox!" remarked Stemples. "He wanted to get my team and not let me know where he was going. I told him he could not have it if he did not say where he was going, and he then said he was going to Chestnut Hill, a few miles this side of Philadelphia, but I'll bet he is going into the city. He said he would have the team back before morning, so I finally consented to let him have it."
This was startling news to Rivers. There were no horses in the town that he could hire, and he had no time to harness them if there had been. He managed to see Madam Imbert, and reported to her his predicament.
"They are going into the city," said she, "and you must follow them at all hazards, even if you have to run every step of the way."
Rivers had no time to lose. Stemples's team was at the door, and in a few minutes Josh. came for it and drove down to his house. Mrs. Maroney and Flora were waiting for him, and, as he drove up, got into the wagon, while Josh. hoisted up their trunks.
Rivers had no conveyance, but he was determined not to be outdone; he was young and athletic, and as they drove off he started after them on a keen run. He knew he had a twelve-mile race before him, but felt equal to the task. The night was very dark, and he had to follow by sound. This was an advantage to him, as it compelled Cox to drive somewhat slower than he otherwise would have done, and rendered it impossible for them to see him from the wagon. On and on he plunged through the darkness, following the sound of the hoofs and the wheels. The moments seemed to have turned to hours; when would they ever reach the city? At times he felt that he must give up and drop by the way; but he forced the feeling back, and plunged on with the determination of winning. When they reached the outskirts of the city Josh. reduced his speed, so that Rivers easily followed without attracting attention. Josh. drove to the corner of Prime and Broad streets, to the depot of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, and assisted Mrs. Maroney and Flora to alight. As usual, there was a great crowd at the depot, and Rivers, mixing with it, followed Mrs. Maroney and Flora to the ticket-office without being observed by them, and went close enough to them to hear her ask for tickets to Montgomery. Rivers knew no time was to be lost; it was a quarter past ten, and the train left at ten minutes past eleven. He rushed out of the depot, where he saw Josh. getting the baggage checked, and hailing a hack, said to the driver: "Here is a five-dollar bill for you if you will drive me to the Merchants' Hotel and back in time to catch the train."
"All right," said the driver, and springing to his seat he put his horses to a full gallop, and whirled off toward the hotel.
Bangs had run down from New York the same evening to consult me on some matters, and he and I were sitting in a room at the Merchants', smoking our cigars, preparatory to retiring after a hard day's work, when Rivers rushed in, and gasped out: "Get Roch up. Mrs. Maroney and daughter are on the train bound for Montgomery."
We threw our cigars out of the window, and had Roch up, dressed as a Dutchman, his trunk packed, and he into the carriage with us on the way to the P., W. & B. R. R. before he was fully awake. I turned out all the money I had with me—not a great deal, as it was so late—and rapidly gave him his instructions as we drove along. We arrived at the station just in time. Roch rushed to the ticket office, said "Second-class, Montgomery," received and paid for his ticket, and sprang upon the last car of the train as it slowly drew out of the station. There were no sleeping-cars at the time, which was fortunate for him, as, if there had been, he might not have been allowed to get on the train. In a moment the train disappeared in the gloom, and Mrs. Maroney and Flora were kindly provided with an escort, in the person of Roch. Leaving them to pursue their journey, we will now return to Maroney, in the Eldridge street jail.
White and Shanks soon came on from Chicago, and Bangs gave them full instructions as to their duties. White was ordered to follow his instructions implicitly, and not to attempt to move too fast. Bangs arranged a cipher for him, to be used in his correspondence, and he learned it thoroughly, so as not to need a key.
Having thoroughly posted them, Bangs turned his attention to procuring the arrest of White. He secured the services of a common, one-horse lawyer, and placed the case in his hands. The lawyer felt highly honored at being employed in a case of such magnitude, involving thirty-seven thousand dollars, and remarked that he would soon have Mr. John White secure in prison. He procured the necessary papers and placed them in the hands of the Marshal to execute.
Bangs knew just where White was to be found, but gave the Marshal a big job before coming across him. He searched the hotels, saloons, lawyers' offices, etc., going up to the different places, peeping in, and then going off on not finding him. He was doing an immense business hunting for White. Toward evening White was discovered talking to Shanks. The Marshal took him into custody and conducted him to the Eldridge street jail. Shanks, being a stranger in New York, accompanied him, so that he might know the place afterwards. White was booked at once, and while going along with the jailer was asked whether he wished to go to the first or second-class, the jailer judging that he would not take the third-class. The first-class was composed of those fortunate mortals who had money enough to send out to the neighboring restaurants and order in their meals. Of course Maroney was in the first-class, so White followed suit. He gave the jailer the usual douceur for introducing him to the prison, and then had his cell pointed out. White sent Shanks, who had accompanied him so far, to fetch his carpet-bag and some clothes. He then retired to his cell to meditate over his painful situation.
He glanced around amongst the prisoners, and soon picked out his man. Maroney did not seem to be doing any thing particular, but sat musing by himself. In this manner, brooding over their misfortunes, White and Maroney spent the evening until the hour of retirement. The next day White kept by himself, pondering over what he should do. In the course of the day his nephew, Shanks, who was a young man of about twenty, came with the satchel, and made himself very useful to White by carrying several messages for him. Some of the prisoners noticed this and asked White if he would not let his nephew do little outside favors for them. White said "Certainly, I shall be only too happy to assist you in any way I can."
Shanks was soon such a favorite with the prisoners that he greatly reduced the perquisites of the jailor. Maroney gradually became quite familiar with White. He would bid him good morning when they were released from their cells, and take an occasional turn in the hall with him. They were shut in together, and it became necessary to get acquainted. White wrote frequent letters to his lawyer, who was Bangs, under another name, and received regular replies, Shanks being the medium of communication. This was a great convenience, as lawyers are not always able to visit their clients when they wish them to. Maroney appeared to have few friends. Mrs. Maroney had gone, and he had no one to pay him regular attention. A few friends would call occasionally, but their visits seemed prompted rather by curiosity than by a desire to assist him, they gradually grew fewer and farther between, and finally ceased altogether. He received letters from the South, from Mrs. Maroney, who was on her journey, and from Charlie May, Patterson, and Porter, at Montgomery. These friends kept him well posted. The letters sent by Porter were copies of those I sent him, and were on the general topics of the day. Porter said he was sorry to have to address him in Eldridge street jail, and wished he could be of some assistance to him. He alluded with anger to the report which had been circulated of his, (Maroney's) marriage. Of course all his friends at Patterson's knew he had been married for years, and that the report was a dodge of the Express Company to make him unpopular. Outside of his friends at Patterson's, every one in Montgomery seemed to believe the slander, and many said they always thought there was something wrong about Mrs. Maroney, and they expected nothing better from her. Many, also, said they had a poor opinion of him and believed he had committed the robbery. Porter concluded by stating that McGibony, the detective, seemed completely nonplussed, and had but little to say about the matter. He, (Porter) had conversed with him, and McGibony seemed of the opinion that it was a move of the Adams Express to place him in an odious position with the inhabitants of Montgomery.
After the receipt of this letter, Maroney appeared to be exceedingly down hearted. White noticed it, and so reported to Bangs. As Mrs. Maroney had not yet arrived in Montgomery, she was of course entirely unaware that the news of their marriage had been spread broadcast, and her letters were quite cheerful.
White was occasionally drawn into a game of cards. Euchre was the game generally played; he was well able to hold his hand, and seldom lost. The stakes were generally for the cigars, or something in a liquid shape, and the supplies were brought in by Shanks. Maroney would sometimes take a hand, but it was a careless habit with him, and he did not care how he played. As time passed away the prisoners became well acquainted, and would talk over the various reasons for their imprisonment. At certain times of the day they would be visited by their lawyers. Maroney had no lawyer engaged, but keenly watched those that came, in order to see which was the smartest, so that he might know whom to employ should he require one's services. Maroney was a smart man, and he gradually came to the conclusion that a lawyer named Joachimson would be the right man for him. White observed that he began to nod to him, and that they always exchanged the compliments of the day. This was as far as he went at present, it being evidently his intention not to employ counsel until Mrs. Maroney returned from the South. At least these were his thoughts so far as White could fathom them.
Leaving Maroney for the present, we will glance at Jenkintown. Here everything was quiet; in other words, quotations were low and no sales. Madam Imbert had little to do. She walked in the pleasure grounds with Miss Johnson, or called at Mrs. Cox's, with whom the Madam was now on the best of terms. Mrs. Cox had a number of children and the Madam often bought them little presents and exerted a kindly influence over them. Whenever Miss Johnson and she met Josh. on the street they would notice him, and the attention would make him feel quite proud. De Forest acted the same as before, and was becoming rather sweet on Miss Johnson. Madam Imbert was sad and melancholy, and repelled all his advances with quiet dignity. We will leave them to enjoy their easy times, having to make only two reports a week, while we follow Mrs. Maroney and Roch.
Nothing worthy of record occurred on the journey and they arrived at Montgomery in due time. Roch telegraphed to Porter from Augusta, Ga., that they were coming, and he, having been previously informed of the fact, was, of course, at the station to meet them. He was now Maroney's bosom friend, and as such paid much attention to Mrs. Maroney. He met her at the depot with a carriage when she arrived, and conducted Flora and her to the Exchange Hotel and gave them a room.
The difficulty with Mr. Floyd had been smoothed over and she soon felt at home. But something strange seemed to have taken place in Montgomery. Porter, of course, paid her great attention and gave her one of the best rooms the house afforded; but all the ladies she met during the day passed her very coolly. The gentlemen were all friendly, but not so cordial as usual. She could not understand it.
She did not go out much the first day, but called up the porter, and, going to the garret with him, pointed out the old trunk and had him take it down to her room. The following day she called at Charlie May's. Something unusual must have happened, as she left there in bitter anguish. The house was near the hotel and Porter had seen her go in and come out. She wore no veil and the traces of her grief were plainly visible. She returned to the hotel and went to her room. Porter, in a short time, stepped up, knocked at her door and enquired of Flora how her ma was. Flora said her ma was not well, that she had a bad headache. He was bound to get in, so he pushed past the child and saw Mrs. Maroney lying on the bed crying. Being the clerk of the hotel, his coming in would not be considered unusual.
He enquired if there was nothing he could do for her, and she said no. He surmised what had happened and concluded he could find out all about it at Patterson's. He went over to Patterson's and met Charlie May. Charlie said that Mrs. Maroney had called on his wife, but had been roughly handled—tongued would be the proper word. Mrs. May informed her of what she had read and otherwise heard about her getting married at this late date.
Mrs. Maroney denied the report and declared that they had been married in Savannah long before; that they had afterwards lived in New Orleans, Augusta, Ga., and finally had settled in Montgomery.
Mrs. May replied that it was useless for her to try and live the report down; that the ladies of Montgomery had determined not to recognize her, and that she had been tabooed from society. Mrs. May grew wrathful and warned Mrs. Maroney to beware how she conducted herself toward Mr. May.
Mrs. Maroney rose proudly from her chair, and giving Mrs. May a look that made her tremble, said:
"Mr. Maroney is as thoroughly a gentleman as Mr. May or any one in Montgomery, and he is capable of protecting himself and me."
She then flounced out of the house and returned to the hotel.
She remained in her room all day, but on the following morning went to the office of her husband's counsel, where she remained some time, and then returned to the hotel.
Porter was summoned to her room, and on going up she asked him if McGibony was around. Porter said he presumed he was at the Court House. Mrs. Maroney then said:
"I would like to see him! My poor husband is in trouble and I need the assistance of all his friends, not but that he will eventually prove himself innocent and make the company pay him heavy damages for their outrageous persecution! but he is, at present, in the hands of the enemy. If he were only in the South, it would be very different. Here he would have many kind friends to assist him; there he has not one who will turn a finger to help him. Mr. Maroney and I are aware of the scandal that has been spread about us, but we will soon put our timid friends to the blush. They think it will be hard for Maroney to fight a wealthy corporation like the Adams Express, and, instead of helping him, seem inclined to join the stronger party. With them 'might makes right,' and when Maroney gains the day, how they will come crawling back to congratulate him and say, 'We always felt that you were innocent.' O Mr. Porter, it is a shame. Why is Maroney held a prisoner in the North, when he should be tried before a jury of his fellow Southerners? What will not money do in this country? But I will show the Adams Express that they are not dealing with a weak, timid woman. I have just been to see my husband's counsel and have made arrangements to get a requisition from the Governor of Alabama on the Governor of New York to have my husband brought here. I want McGibony to go North and bring him down. Of course he would not attempt to escape, but it will be necessary to keep up the form of having him in the charge of an officer, and I think McGibony the proper man to send. If McGibony will not go I shall have to ask you, Mr. Porter, to execute the commission."
Porter, not having any orders how to act, said: "I will think the matter over, and have no doubt but that McGibony will be well pleased to go. There is only one difficulty, and that is, he may not have the necessary cash."
"That need not deter him," she replied, eagerly. "I have plenty of money, and will gladly pay him all he asks."
"I will find him and bring him to your room," said Porter, as he walked away.
He went down stairs and immediately telegraphed to Bangs, in cipher, informing him of all he had learned, and asking for instructions in regard to acting as Mrs. Maroney's agent in bringing Maroney to Montgomery.
Bangs held a consultation with the General Superintendent. The reasons for Mrs. Maroney's trip South were now plain, and it was necessary for the company's counsel at Montgomery to give the matter immediate attention. The General Superintendent telegraphed to Watts, Judd & Jackson of Mrs. Maroney's intended coup d'etat, and ordered them to take the necessary steps to checkmate her, while Bangs ordered Porter to avoid acting as Mrs. Maroney's agent.
In the meantime Porter found McGibony, and conducted him to Mrs. Maroney's room. He learned that Charlie May and Patterson had come up during his absence. Mrs. Maroney made her desire known to McGibony, and he at once accepted the commission. She thanked him, and remarked that she hoped to have all in readiness in a few days.
Charlie May was very attentive to her, and she seemed to thoroughly appreciate him, although his wife had treated her so cavalierly the day before.
After dismissing the rest of the party she had a long, private conversation with Patterson. In an hour Patterson came down and went to a livery stable where "Yankee Mary" was known to be kept, and soon after Mrs. Maroney had an interview with the proprietor of the livery-stable. Porter had become one of the clique, and found that Maroney had a large interest in the stable. "Yankee Mary" was Maroney's own property, and his business with the livery-stables in Chattanooga and Nashville was to examine and buy horses for his stables in Montgomery. In a couple of days Maroney's interest in the stable was disposed of to Patterson, and the money paid over to Mrs. Maroney. "Yankee Mary" was not sold, and still remained the property of Maroney.
All these transactions Porter duly reported to Bangs, and Bangs to the Vice-President. They decided to secure "Yankee Mary" for the company, and Watts, Judd & Jackson were instructed to attach her. This they did, and she changed hands, being afterwards cared for in the stables of the Express Company.
Flora was much neglected, as Mrs. Maroney devoted all her time to business. She was continually out in the company of Charlie May, Patterson, the livery-stable keeper, Porter, or McGibony.
At last it was announced by her counsel that the "die was cast," and the requisition refused; so McGibony was spared the trouble of going North. The Governor of Alabama came to the conclusion that he could not ask the Governor of New York to deliver up a man who was a prisoner of the United States government, charged with feloniously holding money, until judgment was rendered against him. Mrs. Maroney found she could do nothing in Montgomery, so she packed up and, with Flora, started for Atlanta. Porter had Roch at the depot, and as soon as she started, she was again under the care of the Dutchman. At Atlanta she put up at the Atlanta House, while Roch took quarters in a low boarding-house. He watched closely, but was careful not to be seen, or to excite suspicion. Mrs. Maroney and Flora remained in the hotel, not coming down, for twenty-four hours. She was, no doubt arranging something, but what, was a mystery.
What she did will be eventually disclosed. The first notice Roch had of her movements, was when she came out of the hotel with Flora, and was driven to the depot. He had just time to get to his boarding-house, pay his bill, seize his satchel, and get upon the train as it moved off. Mrs. Maroney acted much as her husband did when he left Chattanooga so suddenly. "They are as alike as two peas," thought Roch; "both are secret in all their movements, and make no confidants."
But the eye of the detective never sleeps, and Maroney and his wife were always outwitted. While they greatly exulted over their shrewdness, the detective, whom they thought they had bewildered, was quietly gazing at them from the rear window of the "nigger car."
Roch found that Mrs. Maroney had bought a ticket to Augusta, Ga.; but before reaching that city, she suddenly left the train at Union Point. There was a train in waiting, which she immediately took, and went to Athens. Roch knew nothing about the country they were passing through, and was following blindly wherever she led. They had not gone far on their new route when Athens was announced. Roch saw Mrs. Maroney getting Flora and herself in readiness to leave the train. When the cars stopped at the station Flora and she got out, stepped into an omnibus, and were taken to the Lanier House. Roch followed, and when they entered the hotel, went to a restaurant and got some refreshments.
Athens was a thriving inland town. After Roch had finished his meal he strolled around, and finally arrived in front of the Lanier House. Puffing away at his pipe, he took a seat on the verandah. Here he mused for some time, apparently half asleep, when he was aroused by the clattering of hoofs and the rumbling of wheels, and looking up the street he saw a stage approaching. It drew up in front of the hotel, and a knot of people gathered around it. While the horses were being changed, the driver rushed into the bar-room to take a drink. Roch listlessly looked at the hurry and bustle, but suddenly sprang to his feet, and almost dropped his inseparable companion—his pipe—from his mouth, for whom should he see escorted from the hotel, and assisted into the stage, by the landlord, with many a bow and flourish, but Mrs. Maroney and Flora? Her baggage was not brought down, so that he was certain she would return. He had no time to think over the best plan to pursue, but determined to accompany her at all hazards.
The driver came out, mounted his seat and Roch got up beside him. It must be admitted that he was badly off for an excuse to account for his movements, as he knew nothing of the country, and did not know where the stage was going. The driver was a long, lank Southerner, burned as brown as a berry by the sun. He always had a huge "chaw" of tobacco stowed away in the side of his left cheek, and, as he drove along, would deposit its juice with unerring aim on any object that attracted his attention. He was very talkative, and at once entered into conversation with Roch. "Wal stranger, whar yar bound?" was his first salutation.
Roch looked at him in a bewildered way, and then said, "Nichts verstehe!"
"Whar are yar gwine? Are yar a through passenger, or whar are yar gwine?"
"Vel, I vish to see de country. I vil go mit you till I see von ceety vot I likes, und den I vil get out mit it!"
"Oh!" said the driver, in a patronizing tone, "yar parspectin', are yar?" And so they kept up a conversation, from which Roch gleaned that the stage was bound for Anderson's Court House, S. C. Whenever the driver would ask a question he did not like to answer, he would say, "nichts verstehe," and so tided over all his difficulties. The passengers, one lady and three gentlemen besides Mrs. Maroney and Flora, amused themselves in various ways as they drove along. The gentlemen smoked and conversed, and the other lady seemed very agreeable; but Mrs. Maroney did not say a word to any one but Flora. Roch as he occasionally glanced over his shoulder at her, observed that she seemed to be suffering from much care and anxiety.
Eight miles out from Athens the driver stopped to change his horses, and Roch took advantage of this circumstance to get a little familiar with him. He found this an easy matter. A few drinks and some cigars to smoke on the road—which he treated him to—put him in such a good humor that he declared, as they drove off, that it was a pity his German friend was not a white man. Roch wondered if all the negroes spoke German, but said nothing.
They drove along through a rich agricultural country until they arrived at Danielsville, about sixteen miles from Athens. Here Mrs. Maroney touched the driver and asked him if he knew where Mrs. Maroney lived. Oh! thought Roch, now I see her object in coming here. The driver knew the place well, and drove up to a handsome mansion, evidently the dwelling of a wealthy planter.
Mrs. Maroney and Flora left the coach and walked up through a beautifully laid out garden to the house, a two story frame, with wide verandahs all around it, and buried in a mass of foliage. She was met at the door by a lady, who kissed both her and Flora, and, relieving her of the satchel, conducted them into the house.
Roch in his broken way told the driver that he liked the appearance of the town so much that he thought he would stop over. They drove up to the tavern and Roch asked the driver in to have a drink with him. As they went into the bar-room they met the clerk, and Roch politely asked him to join them. He informed the driver that he might go back with him in a day or two. The driver did not pay much attention to what he said, as all he really cared for was the drink. After the stage left, Roch entered into conversation with the clerk, and, under pretense of settling in the town, made enquiries about the owners of several places he passed on the road. Finally he asked who the handsome residence on the hill belonged to. "That is Mr. Maroney's place. He is one of the 'solid' men of the town; worth a great deal of money; has some niggers, and is held in high esteem by the community, as he is a perfect gentleman."
In the evening he dropped into a saloon, where he formed the acquaintance of several old saloon-loafers, who were perfectly familiar with everybody's business but their own, and from them gathered much useful information of the surrounding country, and had the clerk's opinion of Mr. Maroney fully endorsed.
Roch was up early in the morning and strolling around. He met an old negro who informed him that the stage for Athens would be along in three hours. He sauntered carelessly to Mr. Maroney's, and watched the house from a safe position, but, as the blinds were closed, could see no signs of preparation within. He therefore returned to the tavern, with the determination of keeping a watch on the stage. He had waited about an hour, when a gentleman walked up the steps to the stage office, which was in the tavern. He heard the clerk say, "Good morning, Mr. Maroney," which immediately put him on the alert.
"Good morning," responded Mr. Maroney. "I want to secure three seats in the stage for Athens; want them this morning." Securing his tickets, he went home, leaving Roch once more at his ease, as he now knew exactly what move to make. When the stage drove up, he called in the driver, stood treat, and again took a seat beside him. The clerk told the driver to call at Mr. Maroney's for some passengers, and they started off. Mr. Maroney, Mrs. Maroney and Flora were at the gate when they drove up, and all three entered the stage and went to Athens. At Athens they stopped a short time at the Lanier House; sent their baggage down to the depot, and took the train on the Washington Branch Railroad, which connects with the main line at Union Point. Mr. Maroney bid them good-bye, and returned to the Lanier House. The train consisted of only one car, and Roch had to take a seat in the same car with Mrs. Maroney, but he went in behind her, and took a seat in the rear of the car, so that he remained unnoticed.
Mrs. Maroney was very restless, and after they took the through train at Union Point, would carefully scan the features of all the well-dressed men who entered the car. She seemed to suspect every one around her, and acted in a most peculiar manner. In a short time they reached Augusta, Ga., where Mrs. Maroney and Flora left the train and put up at the principal hotel. It was late when they arrived, so that they immediately took supper and retired. Roch found a room in a restaurant, and after his supper strolled through the hotel, but discovered nothing, as Mrs. Maroney and Flora remained quiet in their room.
The following afternoon Mrs. Maroney and Flora left the hotel, accompanied by a gentleman, and once more started for the North. The gentleman accompanied them to Wilmington, N. C. During the whole of the journey, Mrs. Maroney acted, metaphorically, as if sitting on thorns. She did not seem at all pleased at the attention paid her by the gentleman. When he would ask her a question she would glance at him with a startled frightened look, and answer him very abruptly. She seemed much relieved when he bade them good-bye. Roch was sitting in the rear of the second-class car and could keep a strict watch on her movements. Not a person got on or off the train whom she did not carefully observe. Two or three times during the night she fell into a restless sleep, but always started up with a wild look of agony in her face. Day or night she seemed to have no peace, and by the time they reached Philadelphia she had become so haggard and worn as to appear fully ten years older than when she started.
Roch telegraphed to Bangs from Baltimore, informing him of the time he would arrive in Philadelphia, and Green and Rivers were at the station to relieve him—Green to "shadow" Mrs. Maroney and Rivers to see what disposition would be made of her baggage, and if he found it transferred to Jenkintown to follow it and be on hand there when Mrs. Maroney arrived. Roch went to the office and reported to Bangs. He said that he had never seen so strange a woman; she had acted on the whole journey as if troubled with a guilty conscience. He felt confident she had something concealed, but could take no steps in the matter until he was absolutely certain, beyond a doubt, that his suspicions were correct. My orders were clear on this point—never make a decisive move unless you are positive you are right. If you are watching a person, and know he has something concealed, arrest him and search his person; otherwise, no matter how strong your suspicions, do not act upon them, as a single misstep of this sort may lose the case, and is certain to put the parties on their guard, and in a few minutes to overthrow the labor of months.
When Mrs. Maroney left the cars at the corner of Prime and Broad streets, she accidentally ran across De Forest, who was in the city on some business of his own.
"Oh! I am so glad to meet you," exclaimed Mrs. Maroney.
"And I am delighted to hear you say so," replied De Forest.
The poor fellow had missed her sadly. She had parted from him in anger, and he felt cut to the quick by her cold treatment. He had at first determined to blot her memory from his heart, and for this purpose turned his attention to Miss Johnson, and tried to get up the same tender feeling for her with which Mrs. Maroney had inspired him, but he found it impossible. He missed Mrs. Maroney's black flashing eye, one moment filled with tenderness, the next sparkling with laughter. Then Mrs. Maroney had a freedom of manners that placed him at once at his ease, while Miss Johnson was rather prudish, quite sarcastic, and somehow he felt that he always made a fool of himself in her presence. Besides, Miss Johnson was marriageable, and much as De Forest loved the sex, he loved his freedom more. His morals were on a par with those of Sheridan's son, who wittily asked his father, just after he had been lecturing him, and advising him to take a wife, "But, father, whose wife shall I take?" Day after day passed wearily to him; Jenkintown without Mrs. Maroney was a dreary waste. He felt that "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," so when Mrs. Maroney greeted him so heartily he was overjoyed.
"Have you been far South?" he asked.
"Yes, indeed? Flora and I have not had our clothes off for five days, and we are completely exhausted; what a fright I must look!"
"You look perfectly charming! at least to me you do," fervently answered De Forest. "Let me have your baggage transferred to the North Pennsylvania Railroad. In that way you can send it to Jenkintown without any trouble. You and Flora honor me with your company to Mitchell's, where we will have some refreshments, and then I will drive you home in my buggy."
After a little persuasion Mrs. Maroney consented to the arrangement, and De Forest, once more himself, got their baggage checked to Jenkintown, and calling a hackman, as he had left his own team in the stable, they were driven to Mitchell's. Green followed them up and watched them from the steps of Independence Hall, while Rivers mounted the baggage-wagon and was driven to the North Pennsylvania station, and in less than an hour was in Jenkintown. De Forest ordered a substantial meal at Mitchell's, and when they had finished it, ordered his team and drove gaily out of the city, closely wedged in between Mrs. Maroney and Flora.
When he went to get his team he hurriedly reported to the Vice-President that he had Mrs. Maroney at Mitchell's, and that her former coolness had vanished. As they drove up to Cox's, Mrs. Maroney was much pleased to meet Madam Imbert and Miss Johnson. The ladies bowed, and Mrs. Maroney requested the Madam to stop a moment, as she had something to tell her. Madam Imbert told Miss Johnson to walk on home, while she went to Cox's, and was warmly embraced by Mrs. Maroney. How De Forest envied her! De Forest drove up to the tavern with his team, and the rest of the party went into the house, where they were cordially welcomed by Mrs. Cox.
Mrs. Maroney said she was tired almost to death, but wanted a few moments' conversation with the Madam before she changed her clothing. "Madam Imbert," she said, "you don't know how happy I am to meet you. I have just come from the South, where all my husband's friends are. He is now in deep trouble, and is held a prisoner in New York, at the instigation of the Adams Express Company, who charge him with having robbed them of some fifty thousand dollars. They charge him with committing this robbery in Montgomery, but hold him in New York. I went South for the purpose of getting a requisition for his immediate return to Montgomery. When I got there I was much surprised to find that nearly all his influential friends had taken the part of the company, and I now return almost crazed, without being able to get the necessary papers, and my poor husband must languish in jail, I don't know how long."
"Mrs. Maroney, I can sympathize with you thoroughly. When my husband was prosperous we had hosts of friends—friends whom I thought would always be true to us; but the moment he got into trouble they were gone, and the only friend I now have is the abundance of money he left me."
"In this respect I cannot complain," replied Mrs. Maroney, "as my husband gave me money enough to support me a lifetime; but it is so hard to be separated from him! I am fortunate in having found a friend like you, Madam Imbert, and I trust we may spend many hours together. I must write a letter to my husband to let him know I am again in the North."
"I will take it down to the postoffice for you," said Madam Imbert.
"Oh, no, I thank you, I will not put you to the trouble; Josh. is going down to Stemples's, and he will post it for me."
Madam Imbert could not well stay longer as Mrs. Maroney seemed very tired. So she bade her good-bye, Mrs. Maroney promising to call on her the next day.
She was not satisfied with what she had accomplished, and feared that Mrs. Maroney had some secret arrangement under way. As she walked musingly along, she met Rivers in a place where no one appeared in sight.
"Rivers, I wish you would keep a sharp lookout on Cox's to-night. I think they are up to something, but what, I can't find out. Will you?"
"Certainly," replied Rivers; "I am pretty well tired out, but I can stand it for a week, if necessary."
"There is another thing which ought to be attended to," said Madam Imbert. "Mrs. Maroney is writing a letter to her husband; I think it is an important one. Don't you think you could manage to get possession of it? She is going to send it to Stemples's by Josh., so you might get him drunk and then gain possession of it."
"Leave that to me. I think I can work it all right," said Rivers, as they separated, no one being aware of their interview.
Rivers went to Stemples's, and calling up every one in the bar-room, asked them to have a drink. Barclay and Horton were there, and as they swallowed their liquor, looked at each other and winked. Horton whispered: "Rivers is a little 'sprung' to-day."
"D——d tight, in my opinion," replied Barclay.
In a few moments Josh. came in, and in a very important tone asked for Stemples.
"Stemple sout! Hellow, Josh., that you?" said Rivers, slapping him on the shoulder. "I've taken a leetle too much bitters to-day, but I'm bound to have another horn before I go home. Come and have something?"
"Where is Stemples?" reiterated Cox.
"Oh, he's up stairs. Come and have a drink?"
Josh. willingly assented, and with Barclay and Horton they went up to the bar. Rivers seized the whisky-bottle as the barkeeper handed it down, and filled his glass to the brim. Josh., Horton, and Barclay took moderate quantities of the liquor. "Drink hearty, boys," said Rivers, "I am going to have a good horn to go to bed on."
Josh. looked closely at him, and then turned and winked knowingly to Barclay and Horton. The moment he turned, Rivers changed glasses with him, emptied out nearly all the liquor that Cox had put into his glass, and filled it with water.
"Here, boys, drink hearty! Ain't you going to drink up?"
Thus admonished, all four raised their glasses and drained them at a draft. Josh. swallowed down the brimming glass of pure whisky without a wink, and it must be admitted that, to his credit as a toper, he never noticed the difference. They had two or three drinks on about the same basis before Stemples came down.
Josh. was standing with the letter in his hand ready to give it to him when he came in. When Stemples came in Rivers snatched the letter from Josh.'s hand and said:
"Here, Stemples, is a letter for you!" and handed it to him.
Cox was in a condition not to mind trifles, and scarcely knew whether he did or did not give the letter to Stemples. So long as he had it, that was all he wanted.
Rivers, quick as a flash, had read the direction on the letter: "Nathan Maroney, Eldridge Street Jail, New York."
Stemples took the letter and placed it carelessly in a pigeon-hole, behind a small, railed-off place just at the end of the bar. Josh. started home with Barclay and Horton. Rivers accompanied them a short distance and then returned to Stemples's. He looked through the windows and saw that the bar-room was completely deserted. He peered around and found that both Stemples and the barkeeper were in the stable harnessing up the horses, bent on going to a ball at a neighboring town. He glanced around in all directions until he was sure there was no fear of detection, and then stealthily entered the bar-room. He noiselessly crossed the floor, went behind the railing, pulled the much desired letter from the pigeon-hole and, with his treasure, returned safely to the street without detection.
He returned to his boarding-house, procured a lamp and went directly to his room. He then dexterously opened the letter in such a manner that no trace was left to show that it had been tampered with, and tremblingly proceeded to read it, filled with the hope that the mystery would be solved by its contents. He read as follows:
"MY DEAR HUSBAND:—I know it will pain you to learn that a notice of our marriage has been published in Montgomery. It has caused a great many of our old friends to turn away from us, among others Mrs. May, who was the first one to inform me, and who grossly insulted me and fairly ordered me out of her house. Who could have spread the news? I think the only true friend you now have in Montgomery is Mr. Porter. Patterson swindled me in the bargain for the livery stable, and Charlie May is, you know, as variable as the weather in the North; but Mr. Porter did me many kind turns without seeking to make anything out of me. Flora and I arrived in Jenkintown this afternoon thoroughly tired out. I could not get the requisition. I will write fully to-morrow or the next day.
"I have all safe in the trunk. Left ——— at hotel in Athens. I afterward found it convenient to alter my bustle and put paper into it and strips of old rags. It set well, but I was tired when I got home with it.
"Your loving wife."
Rivers scribbled off a copy of the letter and then sealed it up again. He walked back to Stemples's and found a party in the wagon waiting for the barkeeper to close up and go to the ball with them. Rivers, still pretending to be drunk, staggered up to the door of the bar-room, which was just about to be closed, and walked in. There was no one present but the barkeeper; the people in the wagon were yelling to him to hurry up.
"Give me a drink," said Rivers.
"You have had enough for one night, it seems to me," remarked the barkeeper.
"No," said Rivers, "just give me one drink and I'll go!"
As the barkeeper turned to take down the bottle, Rivers flipped the letter, which he had in his hand, over towards the pigeon-hole; it just missed its mark and fell on the floor.
"What's that?" exclaimed the barkeeper, turning hastily around, "a rat?"
"No, a mouse, I guess!" said Rivers.
"I declare, if that mouse didn't knock a letter out of the pigeon-hole!" remarked the barkeeper as he picked it up and put it in its place. "Hurry up, Rivers, I want to go!"
Rivers swallowed his drink and went off well pleased with his success.
His work was not done yet, as Madam Imbert had requested him to keep a watch on Cox's house. He walked along in the direction of Cox's, and felt almost oppressed by the perfect stillness of the night. It was not broken even by the barking of watch-dogs. The whole place seemed wrapped in slumber. When he reached the house, he walked carefully around for about an hour, when a light in the second story—the only one he had seen—was extinguished. He then crawled up close to the house, where he could hear every movement within; but all he heard was the shrill voice of Mrs. Cox, occasionally relieved by snorts from Cox, and he concluded that all that was transpiring at Cox's was a severe curtain lecture, brought about through his instrumentality. At two A. M. he returned to his boarding-house, wrote out his report for Bangs, enclosing the copy of Mrs. Maroney's letter, and retired after an exciting day's work.
On the following day Mrs. Maroney called on Madam Imbert, and together they strolled through the pleasure grounds. Each narrated her sorrows, and each wanted the support and friendship of the other.
Madam Imbert's story we will let pass. Mrs. Maroney dwelt on her husband's hardships, and her conversation was largely a repetition of what she had said the day before. She spoke of her husband as a persecuted man, and said: "Wait till his trial is over and he is vindicated! Then the Adams Express will pay for this. The Vice-President has made the affair almost a personal one, but when Nat. is liberated the Vice-President will get his deserts. When he falls, mortally wounded with a ball from my husband's pistol, he will discover that Nathan Maroney is not to be trifled with. In the South we have a few friends left, and Mr. McGibony, a detective, is one of them. I think I can trust him. He was to have come North to escort my husband to Montgomery, if the Governor had granted the requisition; but he would not, and Maroney will hear of my failure to-day, as I wrote to him last evening. De Forest is a useful friend, and I think him also a very handsome man. I left Montgomery, feeling very unhappy, and was obliged to go to Athens and Danielsville. I was so exhausted that I had to stop a day at Augusta to rest. I had some valuables concealed on my person, and they were so heavy as to greatly tire me. At Augusta I was forced to alter my arrangements for carrying them, and arrived in Philadelphia completely worn out. I can assure you it was with feelings of the greatest pleasure that I met De Forest. He very kindly took charge of my baggage, and brought Flora and me out in his buggy. I am so glad to be here once more."
As both ladies were tired, they walked over to some benches placed in a summer house, and took seats. Miss Johnson and Flora had been with them, but strolled off.
Mrs. Maroney kept up the conversation, on unimportant topics, for some time, and then suddenly turned to Madam Imbert and said: "You must have had to conceal property at times! Where did you hide it?"
Madam Imbert felt that now the trying moment for her had arrived. She knew that Mrs. Maroney had the stolen money in her possession, and that if she could only prevail on her to again conceal the money on her person, she could seize and search her; but Mrs. Maroney had said she could not carry it around, and so was obliged to change its hiding place. If she endeavored to prevail on her to secrete it on her person, she might suspect her motives, and hide it where it would be hard to find, so she answered in an indifferent tone; "Oh, yes, I have often hidden valuables! Sometimes I have placed them in the cellar, and at other times, waiting until all was quiet, I have stolen out into the garden, at a late hour of the night, and secreted them."
Mrs. Maroney looked her square in the eyes, but she did not alter a muscle under the scrutiny. "Your advice is good," she said, in a musing tone.
Madam Imbert would gladly have offered to assist her, but did not, at the time, feel safe in offering her services. She determined to act as quickly as possible, and to try and discover where she would secrete the money, as, from her actions, it was evident it was not yet hidden.
As they sat talking Madam Imbert pretended to be taken with a sudden pain in the neighborhood of her heart. She was so sick that Mrs. Maroney had to assist her to Stemples's. She explained to Mrs. Maroney that she was subject to heart disease, and was frequently taken in a like manner. When they got to the tavern she requested Mrs. Maroney to send Miss Johnson to her, which she did, and then walked slowly homeward.
In about three-quarters of an hour Miss Johnson called at Cox's, and reported that the Madam was much better, and was sleeping soundly. She had become lonely, and had started out to get Flora and take a walk. As soon as she entered the sitting room at Cox's, on her return, she found no one there but the children. In a moment Mrs. Cox came up stairs and joined her. She looked quite flurried, and seemed not to be particularly pleased at Miss Johnson's presence.
Miss Johnson had just made known her desire for Flora's company, when Rivers (whom Madam Imbert had seen and instructed to find out what Josh. was doing,) came in, in his usual rollicking way, and asked Mrs. Cox where Josh. was.
"He is out in the garden at work," said Mrs. Cox.
At almost the same moment Josh. yelled up from the cellar: "That you, Rivers? I'll join you at Stemples's, by-and-by."
It was immediately plain to Miss Johnson and Rivers that something was going on in the cellar which they did not want outsiders to know about. Miss Johnson remained with the children about half an hour, when Josh. and Mrs. Maroney came up from the cellar, perspiring freely, and looking as though they had been hard at work. Josh. started out to keep his appointment, evidently longing for a drink, and Miss Johnson, after a short conversation with Mrs. Maroney, went out with Flora. She did not remain long away, soon bringing Flora home, and then proceeding to the hotel to report to Madam Imbert. Rivers had already reported, and Madam Imbert was confident they were secreting the money in the cellar, so she determined to report to Bangs at once.
In the afternoon she had so far recovered as to be able to go to Philadelphia to consult her physician. At least she so informed Mrs. Maroney. Before going she walked over to see if Mrs. Maroney would not accompany her, but found her tired and weary, and in no humor for a ride. She therefore returned to Stemples's, hired his team and drove into the city alone. She reported to Bangs, and got back in time for supper. In the evening she called on Mrs. Maroney and had with her a long conversation.
What, with Rivers and De Forest, and Madam Imbert and Miss Johnson, very little happened at Cox's that was not seen and reported to Bangs.
Mrs. Maroney called the property she wished to conceal her own, but we concluded that it was the stolen money. For four days all went quietly in Jenkintown; Mrs. Maroney made no allusions to her property, and passed the greater portion of the day either with Madam Imbert or with De Forest.
On the fifth day she received a letter from her husband requesting her to come to New York, and to bring a good Philadelphia lawyer with her. She made known to Madam Imbert, and De Forest, the contents of the letter. De Forest found that he wanted to go to the city in the morning, and made arrangements to accompany her with his buggy. At her earnest request Madam Imbert accompanied them. They drove to Mitchell's, had some refreshments, and then separated.
Green, of course, was at Mitchell's when they arrived, prepared to follow Mrs. Maroney. Madam Imbert went to the Merchants's Hotel and reported to Bangs, while De Forest reported to the Vice-President. Here were two persons acting in the same cause, and yet De Forest was profoundly ignorant of Madam Imbert's true character.
Mrs. Maroney proceeded to a lawyer's office in Walnut street. Green saw the name on the door, and knew that it was the office of a prominent advocate. I will not mention his name, as it is immaterial. She remained in the office for over an hour, and then returned to Mitchell's, where the party had agreed to rendezvous. After dinner they drove back to Jenkintown.
The following morning the rain poured in torrents, but Mrs. Maroney took the early train and went to the city, "shadowed" by Rivers. At Philadelphia he turned her over to the watchful care of Green. In Camden she was joined by her lawyer, and on arriving in New York went directly with him to the Eldridge street jail.
All had gone well with White and Maroney. They had grown a little more friendly, though White was very unsocial, and seemed to prefer to keep by himself. Maroney had got Shanks to do several favors for him, and was very thankful for his kindness. Shanks was busily employed in carrying letters to White's lawyers, and bringing answers. The reader has already been informed with regard to the character of those communications.
White and Maroney were engaged in a social game of euchre when Mrs. Maroney and her lawyer arrived. Maroney did not have a very great regard for his wife, but any one, at such a time, would be welcome. He greeted her warmly, shook hands with the lawyer, and requested him to be seated while he held a private conversation with his wife. He drew her to one side, and they had a long, quiet conversation. In about an hour he called his lawyer over, and they consulted together for over two hours.
White was miserably situated. He could see all that went on, even to the movement of their lips as they conversed, but could not hear a word.
As soon as the interview was over Mrs. Maroney left the jail—the lawyer remaining behind—went to Jersey City, and took the train to Philadelphia.
Green telegraphed Bangs that she was returning, and he had Rivers at Camden to meet the train and relieve Green.
She arrived in Philadelphia too late for the Jenkintown train, but hired a buggy at a livery stable, and had a boy drive her out and bring the horse back.
Rivers was looking around for a conveyance, when a gardener whom he knew, and who lived a few miles beyond Jenkintown, drove along. "Going out to Jenkintown?" he asked.
"Yes," replied the gardener.
"Give me a ride?"
"Of course; jump in." And he was soon being rattled over the pavement in the springless lumber-wagon. He tried to keep up a conversation, but the words were all jostled out of his mouth.
The weather had cleared up, and he had a delightful drive out to Jenkintown. He stopped the gardener twice on the road and treated him to whisky and cigars, and they arrived shortly after Mrs. Maroney. "There must be something up," thought he, "or she would not be in such a hurry to get home; what can it be?"
In Eldridge street jail, one day was nearly a repetition of another. White acted always the same, and said very little to any one except to Shanks, whom he always drew to one side when he wished to converse with him.
Maroney conversed with White a good deal, and was disappointed on finding that he could not play chess. White would occasionally join in a game of cards, but kept separate from the rest of the prisoners as much as possible. He had paid his footing, five dollars, the fee required to gain admission to "the order" as the prisoners call it. He found the "order" to be narrowed down to drinkables and smokables for all the prisoners initiated. Maroney had joined before, and said to White, "I don't think much of it. These people care for nothing but drinking and eating, while I have something else to think about."
By degrees Maroney conversed more and more with White; sometimes he would forget and talk loudly. White would look up and say, "Hush! walls have ears sometimes, don't talk so loud." At other times he would say, "Maroney, I am not a talking man; I keep my own counsel, and have discovered that the worst thing a man can do is to be noisy." Maroney would try and mollify him by saying, "Oh, pshaw! I didn't say any thing in particular."
"You can't tell who the spies are here," White would reply, "do you see those prisoners? well, how do you know but that some of them are spies? I would not trust one of them. I have a big fight under way myself; I know the men who are opposing me will take every advantage, and I propose to keep quiet and wait."
Maroney would remark, "But no one heard?"
"Hush," White would whisper, "how many times must I tell you that walls may have ears?"
In time he had Maroney afraid almost of his own shadow.
When White wanted to tell Shanks any thing, he would take him by the arm and draw him to one side; his lips would be seen to move, but not a word could be heard.
One morning Maroney said, "White, I would like to have a boy like yours to attend to my business; he is a good boy, never talks loud, and I could make him useful in many ways."
"Yes," replied White, dryly, "Shanks is a good boy, and minds what I say. Suppose they should bring him on the stand to prove I said a certain thing, Shanks would be a bad witness, because he never hears any thing I don't want him to."
"I see he is shrewd, and I like him for that," said Maroney.
The days passed slowly away, White always attending to his own business, which seemed very important. One day Maroney said to White, "I'm tired, let's take a turn in the hall?" They made several trips, conversing on general topics, when Maroney lowered his voice and said:
"White, couldn't you and I get out of this jail?"
"I have not thought of it, have you?"
"Yes," answered Maroney, eagerly; "all we need is two keys. If we were to get an impression of the lock Shanks could have them made, couldn't he?"
"Yes," replied White, "you can get almost any thing made in New York if you have the money with which to pay for it. But if we made the attempt and failed, what would be the consequences? We should be put down and not allowed out of our cells, and I should be debarred from seeing Shanks; so suppose we think it over, and watch the habits of the jailors."
Every day Maroney broached the subject, but White always had some objections to offer, and Maroney finally abandoned the project in disgust. There is no doubt but that Eldridge street jail at the time could have been easily opened.
Little by little Maroney sought to place more confidence in White, but found his advances always repelled. White would say, "Maroney, let every man keep his own secrets, I have all I can do to attend to my own affairs. My lawyer has been to see me and my prospects, as he presents them, are not very flattering. Shanks says they are likely to get the better of me if I am not careful. I feel so irritable that I can scarcely bear with any one." Maroney was more than ever desirous of talking with him, but White said: "I don't want to talk; let every man paddle his own canoe. If I were out of trouble, it would be a different thing, but my lawyer at present gives me a black lookout."
Shanks came in and White drew him to one side. They had a long talk and then White paced restlessly up and down the hall.
"What's the matter, White? have you bad news?" enquired Maroney.
"Yes, I am deeply in the mire, but let me alone and I'll wriggle myself out."
I now determined to strike a blow at Maroney. Some idea of its power may be gained by imagining how a prisoner would feel upon receiving the news that, while he is languishing in prison, his faithless wife is receiving the unlawful attentions of a young gallant, and that everything indicates that they are about to leave for parts unknown, intending to take all his money and leave him in the lurch. This was exactly the rod I had in pickle for Maroney. I applied it through the following letter:
"Nathan Maroney, Eldridge Street Jail, New York:
"Ha! ha! ha! * * * * Your wife and the fellow with the long mustache and whiskers are having a glorious time, driving around in his buggy.
"You have heard of Sanford? He loves you well. He is the one who moves the automaton with the whiskers and long mustache, and gives your wife a lover in Jenkintown.
"You should feel happy, and so do I. The garden at night; honeyed words; the parting kiss! She loves him well! I know you are happy!
"Good-bye! * * * * REVENGE!"
Having written the document, I had it mailed from Jenkintown, through the assistance of friend Rivers.
At Jenkintown all was going smoothly. De Forest was more loving than ever, and Madam Imbert found it almost impossible to have a private conversation with Mrs. Maroney, as she seemed always with him. When De Forest came to Philadelphia I had it suggested to him that it would be advisable to get Mrs. Maroney to walk or drive out with him in the evening. He immediately acted on the suggestion, and before long could be found almost every evening with her.
Mrs. Maroney did not again allude to her valuables, and evidently felt perfectly easy in regard to them, considering that she had them safely secreted. One day, while Mrs. Maroney was in the cellar, Madam Imbert called. Mrs. Cox met her and said:
"Sister is in the cellar; I will call her up."
"Never mind," remarked the Madam, "I'll just run down to her," and stepped towards the cellar door.
Mrs. Cox quickly interposed and said:
"Oh! no; I will call her!"
This little incident showed Madam Imbert that something was going on which they did not want her to know.
Mrs. Maroney soon came up, said she was delighted to see her, and did not look at all confused.
Rivers, Cox, Horton and Barclay had formed themselves into a quartette club and were nearly always together.
Rivers's arm had not healed as yet, and he still wore it in a sling. Cox and he were on the best of terms, and the Jenkintowners regarded him, as well as the other detectives, as permanent residents.
De Forest was happy beyond expression, and Mrs. Maroney seemed equally so. She wrote letters daily to her husband and often spoke of Madam Imbert and how deeply she felt for her, bowed down with care and alone in the world. She very seldom alluded to De Forest and never spoke of his being her constant companion.
While all was passing so pleasantly in Jenkintown, a terrible scene was being enacted in Eldridge street jail. I had not posted White as to my intention of sending the anonymous letter to Maroney, as I wished to find what effect Maroney's conduct would have on him. The day after Rivers had posted the letter, Shanks brought it to Maroney when he came with the morning's mail. Besides my letter there was also one from Mrs. Maroney. Maroney looked at the letters and opened the one from his wife first. He read it, a pleased smile passing over his face, and then laid it down and picked up my letter. He scanned the envelope carefully and then broke the seal. White was watching him and wondered why he examined the letter so closely. As he read, White was astonished to see a look of deep anguish settle on his face. He seemed to be sinking from some terrible blow. He recovered himself, read the letter over and over again, then crushed it in his hand and threw it on the floor.
He sprang to his feet and walked rapidly up and down the hall; but returned and picked up the letter before the wily White could manage to secure it. White wondered what it was that troubled Maroney. He whispered to Shanks:
"What the d——l is the matter with Maroney? He has received bad news. I should like, in some way, to find out what it is. The old man will be wondering what is in that note, and when I report, will blame me for not finding out."
Maroney appeared almost crazed. He forced the letter into his pocket and went into his cell without a word; but his face was a terrible index of what was passing in his mind.
After a little, White and Shanks walked by his cell and saw him lying on the bed, with his face hidden in the clothes. He did not come out for over an hour; but when he did, he seemed perfectly calm. He was very pale, and it was astonishing to see the change wrought in him in so short a time.
White met him as he came out, but did not appear to notice any difference in him.
"Here, Maroney, have a cigar; they are a new brand. Shanks is a superior judge of cigars. I think these are the best I have yet had, and I believe I will get a box; I can get them for eleven dollars, and they are as good as those they retail at twenty cents a piece."
Maroney held out his hand mechanically and took one. He put it into his mouth, and without lighting it, commenced to chew it.
White, in one of his reports to me, says: "A man often shows his desperation by his desire to get more nicotine than usual." Maroney did not converse with White, and only said he wanted to write. He sat down and wrote a note, but immediately tore it up. He wrote and tore up several in this way, but finally wrote one to suit him. White quietly told Shanks that when Maroney gave him the letter he was writing, he must be sure and see its contents. Of course Shanks always obeyed orders, and never neglected anything his uncle told him to do, even if it was to forget something that had happened. In this way he was extremely useful. It was getting late, and the jailer had told him two or three times that he must go, but he did not take his departure until Maroney had sealed the letter and handed it to him.
Maroney was in a terrible condition, and White found that it would be impossible to get anything out of him that night, as the whole affair was too fresh in his mind; so he got some brandy he had in his cell, and asked him to take a drink. Maroney eagerly swallowed a brimming glassfull, and took four or five drinks in rapid succession. He seemed to suffer terrible anguish, and his whole frame trembled like a leaf. In a few minutes he retired to his cell, evidently determined to seek oblivion in sleep.
We will now follow Shanks to his hotel, where he is engaged in opening Maroney's letter. Although the letter was very securely sealed, he accomplished the task without much difficulty, and read as follows:
"MADAM: I have received a strange letter. What does it mean? Are you playing false to me? Who is this man you have with you? where does he come from? Are you such a fool as not to know he is a tool of the Adams, and that you are acting with him? I cannot be with you. If I had my liberty I would hurry to your side, snatch you from this villain, and plunge my knife so deep into him that he would never know he had received a blow!!! Why are you so foolish? Do you love me? You have often said you did. You know I have done all in my power to make you happy, and have placed entire confidence in you. Why have you never told me about this man? Listen to me, and love me as before, and all will go well. Tell me all, 'and tell me it is not so bad as it is told to me!' Spurn this scoundrel, and have confidence in me forever!!!" NAT.
Shanks hurriedly copied this letter, and mailed it after making another copy, which he forwarded to me at the same time. In the morning he gave White a copy of the letter, which revealed to him the cause of Maroney's anguish.
Maroney came to White in the morning, and found him moody, and not inclined to talk. Still he clung to him as his only hope. It was a strange fascination which White had acquired over Maroney. Maroney appeared to feel better, although he was still very pale, and seemed to be comforted by White's presence, although he did not say a word about his trouble.
We will now make a trip which Maroney would like to make, and return to Jenkintown.
Maroney's letter arrived by the five P. M. mail, at Jenkintown, the day following the one on which Shanks mailed it. In the morning Mrs. Maroney had spent some time with Madam Imbert, and then had gone for a drive with De Forest. They went to Manayunk, had a fish dinner washed down with a bottle of champagne, and drove back as happy and free from care as two children. Mrs. Maroney left the buggy at Cox's at half-past four, and found Madam Imbert waiting for her. The Madam noticed that she was a little exhilarated. After they had conversed for some time she asked Mrs. Maroney out for a walk, and they strolled leisurely down to the station. The train from Philadelphia had just passed through, and Mrs. Maroney said: "Let us walk up to Stemples's and see if any letters have come for us."
When they reached Stemples's, Mrs. Maroney went in and received a letter. Madam Imbert was not so fortunate. "Oh!" laughed Mrs. Maroney, "I have seen the time, when I was single, that I would receive half a dozen letters a day; but this is more valuable than them all, as it is from my husband. Heigh ho! I wonder what my darling Nat. has to say." At the same time she broke the seal, and then proceeded to read the letter.
Madam Imbert walked a little way behind her, as was her habit. She was a very tall, commanding woman, and made this her habit so that she could glance at anything that Mrs. Maroney might read as they walked along. It was a part of her business, and so she was not to be blamed for it. Mrs. Maroney flushed at the first word she read, but as she went on her color heightened, until she was red as a coal of fire. "Why," she muttered, "Nat., you're a d——d fool!" When angered she always used language she had acquired in her former life.
Madam Imbert heard her, and was anxious to see the contents of the letter, but could only catch a word here and there as she looked over Mrs. Maroney's shoulder.
Mrs. Maroney glanced over the letter hurriedly, and then read it again. She muttered to herself, and the Madam hoped she was going to tell her what it was that caused her hard words; but she did not, and soon folded the letter up and put it away. As they neared Cox's she said: "Please excuse me; I feel unwell, and fear I have been too much in the sun to-day."
At this moment De Forest walked out of Josh.'s. "Mrs. Maroney," said he, "will you come to the garden this evening?"
Madam Imbert turned to leave.
Mrs. Maroney looked him full in the face with flashing eyes, clenched her little hand, and in a voice hoarse from passion, exclaimed: "What do you want here, you scoundrel?"
If a thunderbolt had fallen at his feet, De Forest could not have been more astonished; he was struck speechless; his powers of articulation were gone. She said not one word more, but stalked into the house and closed the door with a bang that made him jump.
Madam Imbert wended her way to the tavern, but De Forest stood for fully two minutes, seemingly deprived of the power of motion. He then darted eagerly toward the door, determined to have an explanation, but was met by Josh., who said: "You have done something that has raised the d——l in Mrs. Maroney, and she will play the deuce with you if you don't clear out. If you try to speak to her, she will pistol you, sure!"
"But what have I done?" asked De Forest. "It is only an hour since I left her, and we were then on the best of terms. I have always treated her well!"
"Come, come!" said Josh., "don't stand talking here. People will see we are having a fuss." And he took De Forest by the arm and led him toward Stemples's.
Madam Imbert had met Rivers on her way, and sent him to find out how affairs were progressing. He arrived at this moment. "Hello," said he to Josh., "I was just coming to see you."
"Yes! You have come at the wrong time. Mrs. Maroney is as mad as blazes, and would have shot De Forest if it had not been for me. I can't tell what for, but, by the Eternal, she would have done it!"
De Forest was all in a maze. He could not imagine what he had done to cause the woman he loved to become so excited as to desire to kill him.
They all three went to the hotel, and De Forest, although generally not a drinking man, called them all up and treated. The fun of the whole thing was that De Forest had not the slightest idea what it was that had caused the trouble. Only an hour before she was by his side in the buggy, and they were so happy and so loving! She had been cooing like a turtle dove, and now, "Oh, wondrous change," she wished to shoot him. He could not remember having uttered a single word that would wound the most sensitive nature.
After tea, Madam Imbert walked down to Cox's, first seeing Rivers and directing him to keep a close guard on the house that night, and especially to watch the cellar-window, so as to know if anything took place in the cellar. On arriving at Cox's she was shown into Mrs. Maroney's room. Mrs. Maroney was in bed, but did not have her clothes off. She had not been crying, but fairly quivered with suppressed excitement. She rose and closed the door, and then burst out with, "Why, Madam Imbert, have you ever heard of so foolish a man as my husband? Who knows where De Forest comes from? Do you?"
"No," answered the Madam; "he was here when I came. Don't you know?"
"No. All I know is that I became acquainted with him here, when I first came, and I found him so serviceable that I kept up the acquaintance; But," she broke out in a wild, excited manner, "D—n him! I'll put a ball through him if he dares to injure me."
"Keep cool, keep cool! What does it matter? You are excited; it is a bad time to talk," urged Madam Imbert.
"But I must talk: I shall suffocate if I don't. Madam Imbert, I must tell you all."
"No! You must not talk now. Calm yourself! You must keep cool! Think of your poor husband languishing in prison, and remember that any false move of yours may prove to his disadvantage."
"But what makes him charge me with receiving improper attentions from De Forest? I know I have sometimes been foolish with him, but he is soft and I have moulded him to my purpose. He has been my errand-boy, nothing more; and now my husband thinks me untrue to him, when I would gladly die for him, if it would help him. It is too hard to bear, too hard!!"
Madam Imbert had had the forethought to bring a bottle of brandy with her, so she advised: "Don't make things worse than they are; you had better say no more until morning. Here, have a little brandy; I saw you were nervous, and so brought a bottle with me; take some, and then go to bed. After a good sound sleep you will be able to see your way much clearer than now."
"Oh, thank you," said Mrs. Maroney, as she eagerly seized the glass and gulped down a large quantity.
Madam Imbert started to leave.
"Please don't go yet; I must tell you all," pleaded Mrs. Maroney.
"Wait till to-morrow," said Madam Imbert, "it is a bad time to talk."
"Madam Imbert, you are now my only friend, and I would like to have your opinion as to who it is that is writing these letters about me to my husband. If I knew the dirty dog, I would put a ball through him. I am not fairly treated. I am Maroney's wife, and he should not believe such slanders against me. As long as I live I will do all I can for him."
"Mrs. Maroney," said Madam Imbert, getting up, "I must not listen to you; I will go."
"Please don't! Who can it be that is writing these reports from Jenkintown?" again enquired Mrs. Maroney.
"That is a point upon which it is hard for me to enlighten you," replied the Madam; "it might be Barclay or some of Josh.'s friends. Josh. is a good clever fellow, for a brother-in-law, but I would not trust him too much; he is a little inclined to talk, and Barclay may have drawn something from him and written to your husband; I know De Forest don't like him."
"I will see Josh. at once, and find out about this Barclay," said Mrs. Maroney.
"You had better wait till morning," said Madam Imbert, as she rose to leave the room; "I must go to bed, and you had better follow my example."
Mrs. Maroney began to show the effects of the brandy she had been drinking, but she took Madam Imbert's arm and went to the door with her. It was now ten o'clock, but she requested the Madam to take a turn in the garden with her. They had hardly taken two steps before Mrs. Maroney stumbled over a man concealed at the side of the house. It was Rivers, but he was up and off before the frightened ladies had a chance to see him. Madam Imbert screamed lustily, although she well knew who it was.
"D——n him," said Mrs. Maroney, "that's that De Forest; I will kill him, sure! What was he doing here?"
Madam Imbert remarked that it was either he or Barclay.
"I know what he is looking after," said Mrs. Maroney; "I see through the whole thing! De Forest is a tool of the Vice-President; he thinks he has got my secrets, but I'll be after him yet." Her voice was hoarse and dry, and plainly showed the effects of the brandy. Madam Imbert walked out of the garden and went to the tavern, while Mrs. Maroney went into the house.
Rivers, when he was disturbed in his watching of the cellar window, rushed straight to Stemples's, where he found Barclay, Horton and Cox. "How do you do, boys?" said he, "come and have a drink; I have just come in from seeing my girl; she is a good one, and I think will make me happy; had a long walk, though; over two miles, and I think I deserve a glass."