Josh. was telling about Mrs. Maroney's quarrel. Rivers heard him patiently through, and they had two or three drinks, when Mrs. Cox stalked into the room. All the women in Jenkintown seemed on the rampage, at least all those we are dealing with.
"Josh., you lazy, good for nothing fellow, I have been looking all over the village for you!"
"Why, you ought to know you could find me here," said Josh.
"Come home at once; sister wants you to watch the house to-night! some one has been lurking around there, and she wants you to find out who it is."
"Well," said Josh., carelessly, "I'll come."
Rivers now spoke up: "I am not very busy just now, and I will watch with you."
"Will you?" said Mrs. Cox, in a pleased tone; "would be much obliged to you if you would; Josh. has been drinking so much that I can't place much reliance on him."
"Certainly," said Rivers, and the trio started for the scene of action.
Mrs. Maroney was in bed when they arrived, but she hastily rose and came to the door in her night dress.
"Now, Josh.," she commanded, "I want you to keep a close watch, and if De Forest, or any one else comes by the cellar-window, just you think they are coming to rob your house, and fire! Here is my revolver."
"I will take care of that," said Rivers, "I am going to stay up and watch with Josh."
"Oh, thank you! Josh., you had better let Mr. Rivers have the revolver."
She went in, and Josh. turned the revolver over to Rivers. They then secreted themselves where they could see any one coming into the yard. In less than an hour Josh. was snoring. At three in the morning Rivers roused him up, got him into the house, and then, thoroughly tired out, started for home.
In the morning Jenkintown enjoyed the calm that always follows the storm. Madam Imbert called on Mrs. Maroney, and found her suffering from a severe headache. She said she feared she had taken too much champagne the day before, and believed that De Forest had attempted to get her drunk. She could not imagine why he watched the house. She was bound to have nothing more to do with him, as she was certain he was a tool of the Express Company. "And yet," she said, "I thought he was a man above that sort of business! I thought he would disdain to sell himself for such a purpose."
Madam Imbert advised her to be patient, and to be careful not to do De Forest an injustice by judging him wrongfully. "You don't know," she remarked, "but that he really loves you, and was only trying to see if you were receiving other company." They conversed for some time on the subject, and Madam Imbert finally found that Mrs. Maroney was very much inclined to take her view of the subject. She said she really thought De Forest loved her, and perhaps she had been too hasty with him. It was Madam Imbert's best plan to take this course, as it would show what a disinterested friend she was. She wanted to keep watch on Cox's house, but in such a manner as not to excite suspicion.
Mrs. Maroney said she would write to Nat. and explain the matter, but said she would like to find out who had written to her husband. Madam Imbert and she cogitated over the subject for some time, but could not decide upon any particular person. Finally Mrs. Maroney concluded she would take a nap, as she thought she would feel much brighter afterwards. She said she would write to her husband the first thing after dinner, and asked the Madam to call a little later and take a walk with her.
De Forest remained in the hotel all the morning. He did not call on Mrs. Maroney, and vainly puzzled his brain to determine the cause of her excitement. He came into the bar-room, where he found Rivers, as serene as ever, and willing to console any one. In a few minutes Josh., Horton and Barclay arrived. The posse talked over the trouble of the preceding night, and De Forest hoped that, as Josh. had come from the scene of action, he would be able to enlighten him as to the cause of Mrs. Maroney's strange conduct. But Cox was as much at a loss to account for her passion as he. Said he: "All I know is that she is a regular tartar, and no mistake! Whew! Didn't she rave though?"
The Vice-President and I received the reports in Philadelphia, and had a quiet laugh over them. All was working to suit us.
In the afternoon Madam Imbert walked out with Mrs. Maroney, who had just finished her letter to her husband. As they walked along she said, "I told my husband that I knew nothing about the man with the long mustache further than that he was living in Jenkintown before I left the South; that when I first arrived here he did several kind things for me, and had driven me into Philadelphia a few times when I could not get the train, but that you, Madam Imbert, had always accompanied me. I spoke of you as a perfect lady, and as being a true friend of mine, and that you often cautioned me against talking too much. I said that if it was De Forest he alluded to, I was perfectly safe in his company. I asked him if he thought it likely that I, whose interests were identical with his, would be likely to prove untrue to him, and told him he might rest perfectly assured that I would do nothing without his knowledge and consent."
They walked to Stemples's and posted the letter. On the way they met De Forest, but Mrs. Maroney took no notice of him. After mailing the letter, they strolled through the pleasure grounds for some time. At last they separated, each taking their respective way home.
At the tavern Madam Imbert was met by De Forest, who requested a private interview. She readily consented, and, after tea, met him in the sitting-room. De Forest related his sorrowful story, and asked her if she knew what had caused Mrs. Maroney to treat him so harshly.
She said, "these things will happen once in a while; it is part of a woman's nature to take sudden and unaccountable freaks; but all will be right by-and-by." She quoted Scott's beautiful lines:
"O Woman! in our hours of ease Uncertain, coy and hard to please, And variable as the shade By the light quivering aspen made: When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering Angel thou—"
De Forest fervently hoped that, as she had brought "pain and anguish" to his brow, she would now become his "ministering angel," and went off somewhat comforted. Madam Imbert saw Mrs. Maroney in the evening and told her of the interview with De Forest. This made her feel quite happy, and she even remarked: "I think I have been too hard on the poor fellow."
White and Maroney were together when Mrs. Maroney's letter arrived. Maroney read it carefully through and then went to his cell. In the afternoon, White observed him writing and directed Shanks to open the letter when he received it. Shanks did so and found it was to his wife.
He wrote that he was happy to hear that she was still true to him, and to find that he had been deceived. He felt assured that the blow must have been aimed by some of his enemies. If he were at liberty he would find the man, but as he was not he would have to wait. He directed her to endeavor to find out who had sent the letter. As she assured him she would do nothing without his approval, he was contented.
When I received a copy of his letter, I was convinced that he was trying to make the best of a bad bargain. He could not be spared from Eldridge street jail just at that time and had to trust his wife whether he would or not.
White and he lived quietly together. He told White that he was confined at the instigation of the Adams Express, who accused him of stealing fifty thousand dollars from them.
"But, of course," said he, "I am innocent!"
Still, as I have before mentioned, he was anxious to break jail—an unusual inclination for an innocent man.
About this time he happened to read in the papers an account of a robbery in Tennessee, in which a description of the stolen money and bills was given. As he and White were walking in the hall, he said to White:
"White, I wonder if it would not be a good move to try some game in my case? Of course, I am innocent! I think the messenger, Chase, the guilty party, and I want to arrange some plan to throw suspicion on him or some one else; but (in an amusing tone) there is no one else. Chase received the money from me and put it into the pouch! Still, I can't prove this, as there were no witnesses. It will be my oath against his, and as the company have taken his part, he will have the best of it. It is a strange affair. Chase was at the counter checking off the packages as I put them in the pouch. He now says that he did not see all the packages, as they went in so quickly that he had all he could do to check them off. Strange, indeed! If I were checking off packages of such large amounts I think I should be likely to look at them, don't you? I wish in some way to prove Chase dishonest. At present it is even between us, but the company support him and leave me in the lurch."
"Yes," said White, "it is just about as you say, an even thing between you; but the company have undoubtedly sided with Chase because you have the most money, and they think they can recover the amount from you or from your friends! But I don't see how you can clear yourself. If Chase only swears he did not receive the money, it will go hard with you."
White thought that now Maroney would propose to him to get Shanks to have some duplicate keys of the company's pouch made; but apparently he did not yet feel fully certain that he could trust White. He broached the subject several times, but finally dropped it altogether.
A few days after, Maroney had another talk with White and treated him with much more confidence than before. White said little, and was a good man to talk to. Maroney made no admissions, but all his expressions and manners showed guilt. White at least did not accept them as showing his innocence. He always pointed to Chase as the guilty party. Maroney frequently brought up his troubles as a topic of conversation with White; but White was professedly so employed with his own business that he said but little. All that Maroney said to him seemed to go in at one ear and out at the other. When he made a remark it was a casual one and had no bearing on the subject. This caused Maroney to talk still more, devising plans for throwing suspicion on Chase. White casually said:
"What sort of a man is Chase? A smart, shrewd fellow who would pick up a money package if he saw it lying handy, and dispose of it?"
"No," replied Maroney, slowly weighing every word. "I don't think he would. He is a pretty fair man; but the company have no right to make him a witness against me!"
"Who are his friends?" enquired White.
"His father lives in Georgia; he is a whole-souled old planter; has a good many slaves; but his property is much encumbered. Chase is a good fellow after all!"
"By-the-by," asked White, "does he ever go to see the fancy girls?"
"Yes, he does, occasionally," answered Maroney.
"Would it not be a good plan to take four or five thousand dollars and get the girls to stuff it into his pants pocket; then get him drunk, and as he started away have some detective arrest him?"
"Yes," answered Maroney, "it might be done, and Gus McGibony is the man to do it. He is a good friend of mine. If I were only out, I might do something. White, your idea is a good one, you are a splendid contriver; but I must find some one to carry out the plan. I have friends in Montgomery, and I think Charlie May would help me. No, he is too much under the influence of his wife! Patterson would help me some; but I think Porter is the best man for me!"
"Porter? who is he?"
"He is the clerk of the Exchange Hotel," said Maroney.
"He would be a good man for you if you can trust him."
"I know I can do that! he would do anything in the world for me."
"He is just the man to be familiar with the girls. Clerks at hotels always are. Girls must often stop at the hotel, and he might arrange to get Chase into a room with one of them, and then the rest could be easily accomplished. Does Chase board at the Exchange?"
"Yes," answered Maroney. "White, you're a genius! I have a good mind to write to Porter at once and lay your plan before him."
White looked at him in astonishment. "Are you crazy?" said he; "would you trust such matters on paper? I never do."
"You are right again," exclaimed Maroney.
They talked the affair over for several days, the trouble being to get a proper person to act as a go-between to arrange matters with Porter. Maroney asked White why he could not trust Shanks.
"You could; but the trouble is he has never been in the South."
"That would make but little difference."
"No, now I think of it, I don't know as it would. He would only have to carry the messages, and Shanks always obeys orders."
"Well, I will think it over," remarked Maroney; and the matter dropped, he evidently fearing that Shanks would get the money and clear out.
One day he said: "White, I wonder if the Express Company would not settle the matter with me? I am not guilty of the theft, but things look blue for me. I have some money, and I think I will make a proposition to them."
"You could not do a more foolish thing; they would at once conclude that you were certainly guilty, and make you suffer for it," argued White.
White kept me informed of all that went on, and I had instructed him that we would make no compromise. The company did not care so much for the money, as of making an example of the guilty party. That would show the other employes what would be their fate if they were caught in similar peculations.
About this time Maroney's brother came to New York, from Danielsville. He was a man of good standing, well-meaning, and honest in his intentions. Maroney had looked anxiously for his coming, as he supposed his brother would be able to effect his release on bail. He knew that his brother alone could not make the bail-bond good, as one hundred thousand dollars is a large sum to be raised, but supposed that by his influence he might get others to sign with him.
I placed "shadows" on his brother's track, and they, with White on the inside, and Shanks on the outside, kept me fully informed of what he was intending to do. He appeared to feel very bad at finding his brother in jail, and evinced a desire to do all he could for him. He had a long interview with Maroney and his lawyer, but everything appeared against him. Maroney's brother had no property in New York, and the only way he could raise the necessary bail was by giving a mortgage on his property as security to some man in New York, and have him go on the bond.
The matter was well canvassed between them, but finally, like all the other plans devised to effect his release, was abandoned as impracticable. The brother did not like to procure bail in this way, for if he did, and Maroney should run away, the Adams Express would prosecute the bondsmen, who in turn would foreclose the mortgage, and in all likelihood become the owners of his property. He would do a great deal for his brother, but felt that this was asking too much. His duty to his family would not permit him to run so great a risk, and he therefore returned home without accomplishing the object of his visit.
So far, all my schemes had proved successful.
White had weakened Maroney's confidence in his friends. I wanted him to see and feel that all those whom he considered his friends before the jail door closed upon him, were so no longer. One by one he saw them abandon him to his fate, till he had no one left on whom to rely, but White. His brother had come and gone without accomplishing anything. He feared that even his wife was untrue to him, and that she, instead of proving a safe guardian for his property, might at any moment leave with De Forest and the money. His wife had often spoken of a Madam Imbert, but he had never seen her, and knew not whether she was to be trusted. From his wife's correspondence, he was disposed to think favorably of her, and several times was on the point of sending word to his wife to pay him a visit and bring Madam Imbert with her. But what good would it do? After all, it was better to trust White.
One day White turned to Maroney, after writing several letters and holding a long interview with Shanks, and said: "Maroney, I think I can procure bail. My lawyers have been working hard in my behalf, and one of them went to St. Louis to see my prosecutors. He found they would do nothing unless they got all their money back. Of course I could not give them that," said he with a wink, "as I haven't it; and so my lawyer was unable to do anything for me. Shanks, however, has just been in, and he has not been idle during the five days he has been absent. He has made arrangements with a party to go my bail, provided I will advance a considerable sum as security. Nothing is needed now but security, and I think I can manage it. I can give them some money, and they will then manage to get me out on straw bail. I can then loaf around town, enjoying myself, and if I cannot compromise the matter, or if I think that the trial will go against me, I can run away. In this way I shall lose my security, and my bondsmen will have to fight the bond; but still," said he, with a chuckle, the keen Yankee showing out, "but still I shall not do so badly, after all, as I shall have about twenty thousand dollars left to begin business with in a new place."
Maroney was more than ever impressed with his ability, and began to think that White was now his only true friend, and the best man to help him out of his difficulty. He had now been in jail several months, and it was time to get matters fixed up. Why could he not trust White to help him? He was a good contriver, and apparently could be trusted. Still it would not do to be too certain, so he would quietly feel his way along. He gradually broached the subject to White by saying, "White, I feel very bad at the idea of your leaving me; after you go, all my friends will be away from me. I might rely on Porter's help, or perhaps on Patterson's. McGibony is a good fellow, and would willingly help me, but I can't trust him too far, as he could be easily pumped. Moreover, the great trouble is, that they are all down South. I can not take my wife from Jenkintown, and yet I feel as though the Adams Express were watching her. What must I do? You are a keen fellow; can't you help me when you get out? I have some money of my own, and I would gladly pay you for your trouble."
"Well," said White, "I shall have all I can do to attend to my own business for the first four or five days I am out, but after that I might help you. I don't know as I shall be able to do you any good, but if I make an effort, we must have a clear understanding that my connection with the matter must never be known. If I wish to communicate with you I will send Shanks, who will be at once admitted to see you as an old friend. If I were you, I would not talk to any of your New York friends about it. They don't seem to care much for you, and very seldom come to see you. Your lawyer is not doing much for you, and it would be just as well not to let him into the secret either. Above all, you must not let your wife or Madam Imbert know any thing about it. I have had much trouble once or twice through women, and have determined never again to trust them. It is utterly impossible for a woman to keep a secret. She may love you to distraction, but confide a secret to her and she is never satisfied till she divulges it." Maroney eagerly listened to all White had to say, and then replied: "White, depend upon it, you are the right man for me! If you will only figure for me as well as you have done for yourself, you will have me out of jail in a very short time."
"What do you want me to undertake?"
"The first thing is to carry out the plan you proposed the other day—of placing the money on Chase's person. I will make the blow more telling by getting you to have a key made similar to the pouch-key, and putting it into his pocket at the same time. I have a fine drawing of the key and you can easily have it made. I know Chase is the guilty party, and this move will exonerate me and bring the proper person to justice. I am sorry for Chase, but he can't expect me to suffer for his crime. I will furnish you the necessary money to put into his pocket, and give you a letter to Gus. McGibony, who will arrest Chase at the proper moment."
"That's easily arranged," said White, "and McGibony need not know any thing about the dodge. I shall need him only to make the arrest at the moment when the girl gives me the wink. The worst of the thing is, we shall be compelled to have a woman in the case any way; but I am acquainted with a splendid looking girl here, who may, perhaps, keep her mouth shut. I will send her to Montgomery, get her into the Exchange Hotel, and she will soon manage to draw Chase into her room. When he goes in I will get McGibony and have him arrested and searched as soon as he gets to his own room."
"Capital! capital!!" said Maroney, jumping up and walking across the hall, rubbing his hands with glee. "White, if you succeed in this I will pay you well for it."
"What kind of money was it the company lost?" asked White.
"Oh! of course I don't know; I never saw it!" quickly answered Maroney, at the same time looking into White's face with an expression in his eye which showed that he wished to read his inmost thoughts. White took no notice of this look, but went on with apparent unconcern. "Well, one of the first things we must do is to find out what kind of money was stolen from the Express Company, procure bills of the same kind, and when they are found on Chase, he is gone, and his conviction is certain."
"Yes! yes!" muttered Maroney, as the thought flashed through his mind, "can he really suspect me of having stolen the money?" "Yes, it would be a good plan. You might find out what banks the company received the money from and get some of their bills! It is a good thing to look after, any way."
Maroney was not fully prepared to trust White, although he would eventually have to do it. If he had been scanned by a close observer, there would have been discovered in his mind a doubt of White's fealty, caused by the home-thrust he gave when he asked about the money.
At Jenkintown all was well. Mrs. Maroney had made up with De Forest and his present happiness was so great that he had entirely forgotten his past sorrow. He was very fond of Flora and enjoyed walking with her, especially when her mother was along. Madam Imbert sometimes drove into Philadelphia with Mrs. Maroney to do shopping, and De Forest was always their coachman. Mrs. Maroney was loyal to a promise she had made her husband, and never went out driving with De Forest unaccompanied by Madam Imbert.
De Forest had only one seat to his buggy, and it was rather irksome to be conveying two ladies around all the time. He had but little room, seated between them, and as the weather was warm, he was often very uncomfortable. He was tall, and his knees were jammed closely against the dash-board; but he bore all the inconvenience manfully.
It was always their custom to drive to Mitchell's when they went to the city. The ladies would alight here, while De Forest would stable his horses. At dinner time they would meet again and drive home. One day, while in the city, Madam Imbert said to Mrs. Maroney:
"Wait here a few minutes for me, I want to get some money changed."
She left Mrs. Maroney at Mitchell's and walked to Third street. Here she went into a bank and drew five hundred dollars I had left there for her and came out. She then walked up Third street and went into the office of Miller Bros., brokers, where she had the money changed into Eastern funds.
Mrs. Maroney was smart. She had followed closely after Madam Imbert and acted the part of a "shadow." As the latter came out of the brokers' office and approached the corner of Chestnut street, Mrs. Maroney met her.
"I am glad to meet you," said she; "I am on my way to Second street to get some goods. Did you get your money changed?"
Madam Imbert was prepared.
"Yes," said she, "but I did not have much. I have the most of my money in a safe place. At the Third street bank, they told me they did not have any Eastern funds and looked very queerly at me, so I went to the brokers' office and they finally changed it. A person has to be cautious, as it is sometimes very difficult to succeed. People ask questions at times that it is impossible for one to answer. You have never had to do so much in this way as I have! have you?"
"No!" replied Mrs. Maroney, coloring deeply; "but I suppose I shall have to learn! I will tell you a secret of mine some time. You may be of great use to me, will you help me if you can?"
"Yes," said Madam Imbert, recalling her poor husband languishing in confinement. "Your husband is like mine, both are in prison. I feel strongly drawn toward you and will do all I can for you. Oh! why can't I succeed in getting my darling free!"
They had reached the dry-goods store and went in to make their purchases.
I was desirous of impressing upon Mrs. Maroney the difficulties in the way of changing money, and my plan was successful beyond my expectations. She saw the trouble Madam Imbert had at the bank and at the brokers, and learned that bankers and brokers were liable to ask very pointed questions when changing money. If she had any idea of changing her stolen money she might be frightened out of it, and prefer to rely for assistance on Madam Imbert, who seemed an experienced hand.
After they had made their purchases the ladies returned to Mitchell's and were driven home by De Forest.
Madam Imbert spent the evening with Mrs. Maroney, but nothing of interest transpired. A day or two after, as they were seated in the garden, Mrs. Maroney took Madam Imbert partially into her confidence and gave her a sketch of her life, which, it must be confessed, as narrated by her, made her appear very pure and spotless. She said that Maroney met her a heart-broken widow, and that she married him only to prevent him from committing suicide, so desperately smitten was he; that they came to Montgomery, where Maroney was appointed agent of the Adams Express—a very lucrative position—and then continued:
"Maroney had a good deal of money of his own, but did not talk much about it, in fact kept it a secret from every one but me. No one is obliged to state what he is worth. He was a very kind-hearted man and fairly idolized my little Flora. He was making arrangements to buy a plantation and a lot of slaves; had made money buying and selling horses, and owned a large interest in a livery stable in Montgomery. On a trip he made to the North he purchased a fast horse named "Yankee Mary," and used to take me out for a drive every day. Nat. is one of the best men that ever lived, but he is a little inclined to be careless. We were as happy and contented as could be, when—oh! unfortunate day for us!—the Adams Express was robbed and my husband was accused of the theft. He was arrested in Montgomery, but liberated on small bail. Soon afterward I came North on a visit, and when he came to bring me home he was arrested in New York and thrown into prison. I immediately went South, sold all his property and secreted the money about me, so that the Adams Express would not get hold of it. I have now the money secreted here; but there have been a great many small burglaries committed around here, and I am in constant dread of its being stolen. I don't dare leave Jenkintown for a night, and fervently wish my husband were out of jail to take care of it. What do you do with your money, Madam Imbert?"
"I take care of it in various ways. Sometimes I carry large amounts concealed on my person; but the last time I was away I placed the most of it in a safe place."
"I wish I knew of a safe place. If my husband were only out, he would soon find one," remarked Mrs. Maroney.
"What are his prospects for getting out?" asked the Madam.
"Well, I don't know, indeed; he is sometimes hopeful, sometimes in despair; he has been writing me lately of a friend of his named White, who was imprisoned a day or two after him. White has managed to make arrangements to effect his own release on bail, and when he gets out, has promised to assist Nat."
"If White managed to get himself out, I should think him just the man to assist your husband," said Madam Imbert.
"Nat. thinks so too; but he probably will not decide on any plan until White gets out, when they together may do something."
A day or two after this long conversation, Mrs. Maroney again alluded to the robberies taking place in Jenkintown, and expressed much anxiety for the safety of her treasure.
Madam Imbert informed her that she expected a friend of hers to come in a day or two to exchange some money for her. She had to have some to send to her husband's lawyer, who was making every effort to effect his release. "If your money is bulky, from being in bills of small denominations, he might exchange it for you and give you large bills, which you could easily carry with you. I have transacted a good deal of business with him, and have always found him careful and honest. If you wish, I will introduce you to him."
Mrs. Maroney was always very suspicious, and her fears were somewhat aroused by the proposition. "What sort of a man is he?" she inquired.
"I know nothing further of him than what I have told you; he has always acted honestly with me."
"Could you not manage to have the money exchanged for me without my being known in the transaction?" asked Mrs. Maroney.
"Yes, I could, but it would be better for you to see him."
"Oh, no; there is no necessity of his knowing me. You can introduce me as a friend, if you like, but get the money changed as if it were your own, and pay him well for it."
"Just as you please," answered the Madam.
Mrs. Maroney wished in this way to compromise Madam Imbert, and get her into the same boat with Maroney and her. I was doing everything possible to bring out the money, and was able to protect my detectives. I had placed tempting bait for both Maroney and his wife, and they were nibbling strongly. My anglers were experts, and would soon hook their fish, and after playing them carefully would land them securely.
Mrs. Maroney's confidence in Madam Imbert increased daily, until finally she said to her: "Madam Imbert, you would do me a great favor if you would take charge of some money packages I have. You could put them in a safe place, and let me have small amounts now and then, as I needed them. When my husband gets out we can use the money; but now we do not need it. The Adams Express might find out I have money, and they might try to get possession of it. It is not theirs, but they would make trouble for me if they could."
"No," replied the Madam, "that I could not do. I don't want to be bothered with other people's money. I have enough trouble with my own. If I should take yours, I should never have any rest, fearing it might be stolen; and if it should be, I could never forgive myself. No, it is better for you to take care of it. I will advise you all I can, but cannot take the responsibility of protecting your property."
Mrs. Maroney wrote to her husband and asked his advice. She informed him that she had followed Madam Imbert and had discovered her exchanging money, thus proving that she was telling the truth; and now she knew she could trust her. She spoke of the Madam's refusal to take charge of the money, but said she had agreed to get it exchanged, and asked him what she had better do.
Maroney talked the affair over with White, and asked his opinion as to the best course to pursue. "She may do very well," said he, "but I don't know as I would trust her. You never saw her. She may be a first-rate woman, or she may be the opposite. If I were in your place I should wish to see her before I trusted her. It would be well to have your wife bring her to the jail to see you. Some women are smart, and she may be. As a general thing women are very good as playthings, but trusting them is an entirely different matter."
Maroney carefully considered the matter, and finally wrote to his wife, directing her to induce Madam Imbert to accompany her to Eldridge street jail, as he wanted to see her and judge of her character before trusting her too far.
On receipt of this letter, Mrs. Maroney called on Madam Imbert, said she was going to New York to see her husband, and asked the Madam to accompany her. She said they would have a pleasant trip, and return home the same evening.
De Forest came up at this moment, and interrupted the conversation.
"Good morning, ladies," said he gaily, "I have come to ask you to take a fish-dinner with me at Manayunk."
Madam Imbert declined the invitation, but Mrs. Maroney concluded to go, and started off with the happy De Forest. Madam Imbert returned to Stemples's, hired his team, and drove into the city. She reported to me, and asked for instructions about going to New York with Mrs. Maroney. I told her to go; gave her full instructions, and then had an interview with the Vice-President. I told him that all was working well, and received his congratulations. Everything seemed auspicious, and pointed to speedy success. It was true that a good deal of money was being spent, but there was no other way to carry the matter to a successful termination.
Madam Imbert returned to Jenkintown in time for supper, and, after a hearty meal, called at Cox's. She found no one at home but Mrs. Cox and the children. Mrs. Cox said her sister had not returned from her ride, and she feared that she must have met with some accident. Madam Imbert conversed with her until between eight and nine, when Josh. and Rivers came in.
Mrs. Cox said, "Josh., Mrs. Maroney has not reached home yet. I fear she has met with some accident."
"Hasn't she? Well, I'll go and hunt her up. Come along, Rivers."
"Josh., you good for nothing fellow. You must wait here; don't you know you should not leave the house unguarded at this time?"
"Oh!" thought Madam Imbert, "danger in leaving the house, eh! So there are two more in the secret,—Josh. and his wife!"
Josh. said he would only step down the road, and would soon return.
Nine o'clock came, but no Mrs. Maroney or De Forest. Madam Imbert did not know what to make of it, and began to think something unusual was under way. She arose to leave, but Mrs. Cox said: "Please don't leave me alone. Josh. will soon be back. Won't you stay down and watch the house, while I put the children to bed? Flora is asleep, and I am lonesome. I do wish that shiftless fellow would come home."
"I am very tired," remarked Madam Imbert, preparing to leave, "and am afraid the tavern will be closed, as it is getting late; but I will see if I can find Josh., and send him home."
"If you don't find him, please come back," pleaded Mrs. Cox.
"Well, I'll do that," said she, going out. She walked to Stemples's, and without going into the bar-room, where she knew she would find Josh., went to her room and instructed Miss Johnson to find Rivers and tell him to keep Josh. for an hour. She then returned to Cox's.
Miss Johnson found that Rivers was with Josh., Barclay and Horton, in the bar-room. She walked by the door, and, unobserved by the others, gave Rivers a signal to come out. He slipped out, and as he passed her she said: "Rivers, keep Cox for an hour," and in a second he was back calling for more drinks, and getting off jokes which brought down roars of laughter.
Mrs. Cox was very much pleased when Madam Imbert returned, and started up stairs to put the children to bed. There was not a moment to lose. As soon as they left the room Madam Imbert rushed to the outer door and listened. She was satisfied. No one was coming, and so, grasping a lamp, she went down into the cellar. Her quick eye took in every thing at a glance, but she could discover nothing out of the way. The floor was a common earthen one, but no signs of recent digging were to be seen. She pitched in, and for a few moments worked like a Trojan; she removed and replaced all the barrels, crocks, dishes, everything under which articles might possibly be concealed, but found nothing. She again searched carefully over the floor, and in the centre of the cellar saw slight signs of where the ground might have been lately dug up, and the soil carefully replaced. She knelt down to examine it more carefully, when she heard the rumbling of wheels. She sprang to her feet and rushed up stairs. She was none too soon, as she was hardly seated before Mrs. Maroney came in. She was greatly surprised to see Madam Imbert, and exclaimed: "What! you here? It is rather late for you to be out, is it not?" Madam Imbert saw at once that she was slightly intoxicated. She replied:
"Yes indeed it is! I found your sister all alone, and she begged me to stay until she got the children in bed."
Mrs. Cox came in at this moment, looking very angry. "Where have you been all this time? You ought to know better than to leave me all alone. Josh. has gone out with Rivers, and I believe they must be drinking. I am angry with Rivers. Josh. is getting to drink more than ever since he came here. It is too bad in you to stay away so long! I had to beg Madam Imbert to stay with me, and Flora has just gone to bed crying for her ma!"
"Madam Imbert, I am very sorry I have been the cause of your late stay," said Mrs. Maroney. Then, pointing to some dirt on the Madam's dress—which had come from the cellar—she exclaimed: "What's that on your dress?"
Madam Imbert looked carelessly at it, and said: "Why, I thought I had brushed that all off! When I was out looking for Josh. I stumbled and gave my knee a terrible wrench." Then glancing at the clock, she said: "Why, how late it is! Miss Johnson will think that I am lost. Good night!"
"No, don't go yet; have a little brandy? It will do you good, as the air is quite chilling. Do you know that De Forest is a very fine fellow? I have a much higher opinion of him than ever before." She got the brandy and partially filled a tumbler with it. Madam Imbert just touched the liquor with her lips, and then passed it back to Mrs. Maroney, who drained the glass at a single draught.
"You are doing wrong," remarked the Madam; "you should remember your promise to your husband."
"Well, I shall not be going to-morrow. I shall suffer for this by having a severe head-ache. Was any one with you, down here, while sister was putting the children to bed?" asked Mrs. Maroney, looking full into Madam Imbert's face, but she saw nothing suspicious there. "No," answered Madam Imbert, as innocently as a lamb.
The two ladies walked out of the house together, and Mrs. Maroney accompanied the Madam a short distance up the street, when they met Josh. and Rivers. Mrs. Maroney went home with Josh., and Madam Imbert told Rivers to keep watch on Cox's house, as something was in the wind. Rivers informed her she would have to hurry back to the town, as Stemples would soon close up for the night. Rivers passed slowly around the house. He knew that Josh. had taken enough to make him sleep well, and that Mrs. Maroney was in about the same condition, so that Mrs. Cox was the only one he had to fear. After a while he crawled close up to the cellar window. He heard an animated conversation going on inside, but could not distinguish the words. Some one closed a door with a bang, and all sound ceased. He looked up and noticed a light pouring through a narrow window, which he knew lighted a closet opening off from the sitting-room. He climbed up to it and saw, what was to him at least, an amusing scene. Josh., his wife, and Mrs. Maroney, were seated in the room. Mrs. Maroney looked as though in a violent passion, and plainly showed that she had been drinking. Josh. was making desperate efforts to look and act perfectly sober, but in spite of his efforts he would occasionally give a loud hiccough, while Mrs. Cox sat bolt upright in her chair, looking in sober disgust on both of them. Rivers, in his new position, could see and hear all that was going on. Mrs. Maroney was talking in an excited manner.
"What brought that Madam Imbert here to-night? I am suspicious of that woman. She is very smart, and I saw dirt on her dress. It seems plain to me that she has been in the cellar, and down on her knees. What made you go up stairs and leave her here all alone?"
"You have confidence in her, but you have been drinking, and that makes you suspicious," replied Mrs. Cox.
"How dare you talk to me in this way?" yelled Mrs. Maroney. "I know my business! You know why I am living here, and supporting you and your worthless, good for nothing vagabond of a husband. He could never earn a living for himself, to say nothing of taking care of a family. All I want you to do is to obey me and keep your mouths shut, and I will pay you well for it; Josh. is always drunk and blabbing about."
Josh. attempted to say something.
"Hold your tongue, you fool! you are so drunk now you don't know what you are doing!"
"Why," said Cox, "I did take a drop too much, but I don't believe I have taken half so much as you!"
In a second Mrs. Maroney grasped a pitcher and smashed it over Josh.'s skull! Mrs. Cox sprang to assist her husband. For a moment there was a lively time, and the prospects were good for a regular scene, but quiet was soon restored, and Josh., muttering, went off to bed.
"I must go into the cellar the first thing in the morning," said Mrs. Maroney. "Don't look at me in that way; my faculties are all clear. No one must go into it until I come down, as I want it to remain just as it is. I am suspicious of that Madam Imbert. There was no necessity of her being here so late, or of your leaving her alone, you fool! Be sure, now, not to let any one go down!" Mrs. Maroney then took a lamp and started for her room. Rivers listened for some time, and finding all quiet, went up to Stemples's.
He saw a light in Madam Imbert's room, and after listening around, and finding no one stirring, he went quietly under her window and threw some dirt against the panes. The light in the room was instantly turned down. Soon afterward, the window was noiselessly raised, and Madam Imbert poked her head out. "Who's there?" she asked, in a low tone.
"Rivers," he replied; "like to see you; important."
"Wait," said she; "I will be with you at the front door directly."
She was acquainted with all the modes of egress, and threading her way through the darkness, soon stood with Rivers in front of the house. He reported all that had taken place.
Madam Imbert said: "I think it is all right, but still I may be mistaken, and we must be sure. Can't you find some way to get into the cellar? There is a small window, about two feet by thirteen inches, which you might remove, and gain access in that way. It will be light at four o'clock; it is now twelve, and every one at Cox's will be sound asleep at that time. You can then slip in, and if I have disarranged anything, put it to rights. Be sure not to get caught!"
"I will certainly do it," said Rivers, as he started to return to Cox's.
During his absence some one had set loose a dog that Cox owned. It was a miserable cur, but was long-winded, like its master, and possessed of good barking qualities. Rivers got well concealed, but the dog was after him—bark, bark, bark; he tried all he could to quiet him, but could not. Soon a neighboring dog commenced to howl; then another, and another, until all the dogs in the village had joined in a grand chorus. He did not know what to do. He was concealed by the side of a fence, but did not dare strike the dog, which kept a few paces from him, barking incessantly. Mrs. Maroney heard the noise, and opening her window, said; "Sic, sic; good fellow, sic."
Rivers jumped up and got the dog to follow him until he reached a field some distance from the house, when, with a well-directed throw he stunned him with a large stone, and soon stamped all life out of him. He then took the "melancholy remains," placed them at Barclay's door, and returned to Cox's, where he found all quiet. He returned to his old position and remained until day began to dawn.
At dawn he crawled to the window, easily removed it, and slipped into the cellar. He examined everything carefully, found some marks on the floor where barrels had been removed, and in less than half an hour had obliterated all traces of Madam Imbert's operations. He then crawled out, replaced the window, and quietly returned to his boarding-house. He had made arrangements by which he could always let himself in or out at any hour of the night. The family he boarded with thought he was somewhat of a "rake," but as he always paid his bills promptly, liked him for a boarder.
In the morning Madam Imbert was on the lookout, and between nine and ten Rivers came along. He reported that he had replaced everything in the cellar, and described how he had killed Josh.'s dog and left his remains at Barclay's.
Madam Imbert strolled down to Cox's, and met Mrs. Maroney at the door. She was more polite than usual, having made an examination of the cellar and found her suspicions baseless. Soon Josh. and Rivers made their appearance. Rivers remarked that he had heard a strange dog barking the night before, and got up to find out what was going on, but could discover nothing.
"Yes," said Mrs. Maroney, "that was Josh.'s dog. A man was lurking around here before I went to bed, so I let the dog out. In a short time I heard it after some one, and opened my window and set it on. You see, Josh., how necessary it is for you to keep sober. If you had been up you might have shot that scoundrel. This morning I saw his footprints distinctly impressed in the walks."
"Well," said Josh., "if my dog got hold of him, he made a hole in his leg, I'll bet. I know he is a good dog."
"Yes, I think he is," said Rivers, as he and Josh. strolled over toward Barclay's.
Barclay met them on the way. "Josh.," says he, "that dog of mine is a splendid animal, by George! You ought to have heard him bark last night. A strange dog came around my place; my dog tackled him, and 'oh, Moses,' how they fit! It ended by my dog's killing his antagonist. Come and see how he chawed him up!"
He led the way to where the dead carcass lay. As soon as they came in sight of it Josh. dashed forward, and raising the dead animal by its caudal appendage, angrily exclaimed: "That's my dog! You must be the man who was lurking around my house last night! You had better go down and explain to Mrs. Maroney what you were doing around there."
"What do you suppose I could be doing at your house?" asked Barclay, much perplexed. "Why, I was not out of my house once last night."
"I tell you," said Josh., "Mrs. Maroney will walk into you when she finds this out. You ought to have seen her last night. She smashed a pitcher over my head, and I believe she would have killed me, if my wife had not pitched into her. Of course I could not strike back, as she is a woman."
Rivers invited them up to Stemples's, and in less than an hour Cox and he had impressed upon Barclay the necessity of his seeing Mrs. Maroney and explaining to her that he had not been lurking around the night before.
They started off together, and arrived at Josh.'s residence just as Madam Imbert and Mrs. Maroney were coming out. Barclay immediately went up to her and assured her that he had not been loafing around the night before.
"Who said you had?" said Mrs. Maroney, now fully convinced that it was he. "Who said you had?" and she opened upon him with a perfect tirade of abuse.
Madam Imbert took her by the arm and drew her to one side. "Mrs. Maroney, don't take any notice of that man. He is a fool, and your best plan is to let him severely alone. Some people may be wiser than others, and will begin to suspect that something is wrong if you go on so. You know the old saying: 'Walls have ears?'"
"You are right, you seem to be always right," said Mrs. Maroney, and she let the matter drop.
The two women left Barclay perfectly dumbfounded and walked over to the garden. Mrs. Maroney said she was going to New York in the morning to see her husband, and begged the Madam to accompany her. Madam Imbert agreed to go, saying that she had some purchases to make. They concluded to hire Stemples's team in the morning and drive into Philadelphia, put it up at some livery stable, go to New York, visit Maroney, return to Philadelphia, and drive home in the evening.
Nothing of importance took place the day they visited New York. Green knew of their intended trip and "shadowed" them to New York and back. All he had to report was that nothing had transpired worthy of mention. It is quite as important to find that nothing takes place as to note what actually occurs, for thus the case is cleared of all uncertainty. The "shadow" reports truthfully of all things just as he finds them.
The women, on their arrival in New York, went directly to Eldridge street jail and Mrs. Maroney introduced Madam Imbert to her husband. She then had a long private conversation with him and afterwards re-joined Madam Imbert. The three had a pleasant chat, Maroney acting in all respects the part of a perfect gentleman. His face showed deep anxiety, but he talked very cheerfully and told Madam Imbert that he hoped soon to have the pleasure of meeting her at Jenkintown. He assured her that he would soon be free and would then take vengeance on his enemies.
He said he intended to go to Texas and buy a ranche. The Rio Grande country just suited him, and he expatiated at length on the beauty of the country and the salubrity of its climate.
After a few hours passed in social converse they parted. Mrs. Maroney went to visit a friend on Thirty-first street and Madam Imbert to do her shopping. They agreed to meet at the Jersey City ferry at four o'clock.
Green followed Mrs. Maroney. She visited her friend, stopped some time and then met Madam Imbert at the appointed place and time.
On the road to Philadelphia Mrs. Maroney spoke of her husband and said he was very much pleased with the Madam, and thought her a very fine-looking, intelligent woman, in fact just the person to help them; but he was about to carry out a plan which he knew would be successful. White was soon going to be released on bail and would then arrange everything for him. In the meantime, she was to wait quietly and do nothing, as he would shortly be with her.
On getting into Philadelphia they ordered their team and drove out to Jenkintown. The same day White came to Maroney and said:
"Congratulate me, old fellow. Shanks has just brought me some letters from my attorneys and I find that all has gone well. My affairs are in a much better condition, and now, after a long and irksome confinement, I am about to be liberated on bail. In two or three days, or by the end of this week, at farthest, I shall be at liberty."
"I am delighted to hear of your good fortune," answered Maroney in a hearty tone. "You must not forget me when you are out, but as soon as you can arrange your own affairs, turn your attention to mine. I am anxious to see the plan to entrap Chase at once set in operation. Won't it be a good joke when McGibony nabs him and finds the money on his person? Ha! ha! ha! what will the Adams Express say then? They will feel rather sore over their pet, I reckon."
He laughed over the idea for some time, while a fiendish expression of joy settled on his face.
"I'll attend to it as soon as possible," said White; "but you see I have no money of my own that I can use at the present time. I would gladly advance you the necessary amount if I could, but all my available cash will have to go as security to my bondsmen. I believe you a thorough good fellow, and will cheerfully do all in my power for you."
"I don't wish you to advance the money for me. I know you would if you could; but you and I are about in the same fix. We have plenty of funds, but can't use them at present. I believe I shall be able to raise the money in some way before long. If the job works well with Chase I shall be completely vindicated. Another thing, the suit against me will soon come up, and my counsel says that I am sure to win it. I shall be the only witness on the part of the defendant and shall have to swear that I never took any of the money. This will be the truth, as a cent of money never came wrongfully into my possession. It is a good thing they did not know I had an interest in the livery stable, or they would surely have seized that."
"I have a good lawyer," said White, "he has carried me through successfully, and as soon as possible after I get out I will help you."
The next day Bangs disguised himself and called at the jail as White's counsel. He had a long talk with him in his cell and then walked briskly out in the manner of a lawyer with a large practice, whose moments are precious; but lawyers have one object, while he had another. Bangs wished to avoid the scrutiny of the prisoners, as there might be some of them who knew him.
White came smilingly up to Maroney after Bangs left and said:
"My case is surely arranged, and I am off to-morrow."
"Are you, indeed?" exclaimed Maroney. "I am delighted to hear it;" but his voice sank. It seemed as if he wanted White out, so that he could help him, but was afraid to trust him. He turned and walked away, came back, and again congratulated White. White assured him that he was going in the morning. "So soon?" remarked Maroney; "well, I am happy to find you are. I don't want to see any man kept in jail. My own case will soon come up, and after I am cleared here, the trial in Montgomery will be a perfect farce. I shall write to my wife and tell her how well you have succeeded. Isn't it strange, White, that I have taken such a liking to you? You are the right man for me. There is not a soul in this jail but you whom I would trust." He walked into his cell and wrote a letter to his wife. Several times he came out and conversed with White. He seemed to have something on his mind which he wished to disclose, but lacked the courage to do so. He finally backed down entirely, and concluded to wait. He played several games of cards with White and the other prisoners, and then conversed with Shanks, who came to remove some of White's baggage. He found that White had taken a room on Bleeker street, and the moving of his effects showed how near at hand was the moment of his departure.
The next day was an eventful one, and clearly proved the soundness of my theory. After breakfast Maroney took White's arm, and walked around the hall several times with him, his manner plainly showing that he was very much embarrassed. He finally drew him into a quiet corner opposite to where the prisoners were congregated playing cards and amusing themselves in various ways. "White," said Maroney, "I am going to entrust to you my secret. I feel that I can trust you; I know I can. I have watched you closely, and find that you are true as steel. Now listen: I have invited you to take hold of my matters, and in order to give you a clear understanding of my case, it becomes necessary for me to divulge to you what at present is known only to my wife and myself. It is useless for me to ask, but still I wish you to give me your solemn promise to keep my secret inviolate."
"Oh, yes, I'll do that," said White, "but I have got a good deal of business of my own to attend to, and if you think you can't trust me, you had better keep it to yourself."
"No, no, nothing of the kind! I know I can trust you!" said Maroney, "and you have given the promise. Now, White, who do you think stole the fifty thousand dollars?"
"I am sure I don't know," replied White.
"Well, I did! I stole it from the company, and have been able to keep it so far. If you will assist me, I shall continue to do so. Would you have stolen it if you had been in my place?"
"Certainly," exclaimed White; "do you think I am a fool? I shall make a big pile in my operation."
"Then," said Maroney, "if we only join our forces, we shall make some one howl."
Neither spoke for some minutes. White acted as if the matter was a common, every-day occurrence; but he thought: "He has broken the ice; I shall soon hear it all."
Maroney was the first to break the silence. He said: "I first stole ten thousand dollars, which was brought to my office on Sunday, by the messenger from Atlanta. This package was intended for a party in Columbus, Ga. It had been missent, and forwarded by mistake to Atlanta, instead of to Macon, and from Atlanta to me in Montgomery. My duty was, on receipt of the package, to immediately telegraph to Atlanta of its arrival, and to send it off by the train that left that evening for Columbus. I had no right to the package, and should have immediately re-billed it and sent it off. I was certain that no one knew that it had been missent. It had evidently found its way into the pouch through a mistake, as it was not marked on the way-bill, or its presence known to the messenger. I never thought I should be guilty of theft till the time; but the moment I saw the package it flashed into my mind that if I took it I would never be detected. The temptation was too strong to be withstood. I yielded to it, and without any one's seeing me, dropped the package under the counter. The messenger did not see it, and as his way-bill checked up all right, soon left the office. I watched my chance and put the packet of money into my coat-pocket and went home.
"You see, White, that was my first offense, and I felt rather frightened. I felt sorry that I had yielded to the temptation, but could not part with the money, it seemed so completely to have infatuated me. I took it home and hid it, but did not tell my wife a word about it. In a short time despatches were sent all around to the different agents to find, if possible, where the package was. I received several of them, but reported that I had not seen or heard anything of it. I was so assured of the impossibility of my detection that I had lost all the fears that at first assailed me, and was as cool as a cucumber.
"The General Superintendent came around with several detectives, but they could not find the money. I was tried in many ways, but I never flinched, and they finally had to give the matter up.
"In a short time I asked for leave of absence to make a visit to the North. It was granted me, and I started off, with the ten thousand dollars in my possession. I soon found that I was followed by a detective, and I led him a wild-goose chase until I reached Richmond, Va., where I gave him the slip, and he never knew where I went. I did the same in the forty-thousand-dollar case. I gave them all the slip at Chattanooga."
"No matter about that," said White; "if you are going to give me a statement, give me a clear one, and not jumble everything together."
"Well, I gave the detective the slip at Richmond, and went to Winnsboro, S. C. There I passed myself off as a cotton buyer, but had great difficulty in making a purchase, as Robert Agnew, a prominent cotton-broker, held all the cotton in the neighborhood, and did not care to sell as he expected a rise in price every day. After some dickering I induced him to sell me seven thousand five hundred dollars' worth, which I paid for with the stolen funds of the company.
"I had the cotton shipped to R. G. Barnard, Charleston, S. C., to be sold, proceeds to be remitted to me, in Montgomery. The cotton was sold and the amount forwarded to me in two drafts on New York, one of which I had cashed in that city, and the other in Montgomery. I lost quite a sum by my speculation, as cotton did not rise, but fell. I was perfectly contented to stand the loss, as the stolen money was exchanged. I bought "Yankee Mary" with the two thousand five hundred dollars remaining, and returned to Montgomery, after having successfully disposed of all the stolen money.
"On my return I found everything quiet, and went on with my duties as usual; but one day the Superintendent came to me and said the company had concluded to change agents, and that I had better resign. I did so at once, saying that I was just about going into business on my own account. I must say that when I met the General Superintendent I did not like his looks, as he seemed to suspect me. He made many enquiries as to how I got my money, but was unable to ascertain anything.
"The Superintendent of the Southern Division asked me to take charge of the office until my successor arrived, and I willingly consented. The Superintendent had much suavity of manner, and it was hard for me to tell whether he considered me guilty or not. I rather thought he suspected me. When I found that my time with the company was to be so short I determined to make a good haul, as I knew I could never get a situation in the business again, for the Adams Express was the only express company in the South. I began to look around to see how I could best accomplish my purpose. I studied the character of the different messengers, and thought Chase the best man to operate upon. I determined to wait until I had a good heavy run out, and then put my plan in operation. Chase was a good, clever fellow, but careless. I tried him in several ways, and found that he could be "gulled" more easily than any of the other messengers. I could not do anything on the runs in, as the messengers checked the packages over to me, but on the runs out I checked over to them, and, with a careless man like Chase, it would be the simplest thing in the world to call off packages, and, as he checked them off, for me to drop them behind the counter instead of into the pouch."
On the twenty-seventh of January I had a very heavy run in, and among numerous other packages were four that attracted my attention; one for Charleston, S. C., for two thousand five hundred dollars, and three for Augusta, Geo., for thirty thousand, five thousand and two thousand five hundred dollars respectively. Chase was going out in the morning, and then was the time to act. I got an old trunk that was lying in the office, and packed it full of different articles, among other things four boxes of cigars. Early in the morning I was up and down at the office. Chase soon came in, drew his safe over to the counter, and began to check off the packages marked on the way-bill, as I called them off and placed them in the pouch. If he had obeyed the rule of the company he would have taken each package in his hand and placed it in the pouch, but he carelessly allowed me to call off the amounts and place the packages in the pouch. In this way, as he stood outside of the counter, I was enabled to call off all the packages on the way-bill, but dropped the four containing the forty thousand dollars under the counter amongst a lot of waste paper I had placed there for the purpose. The way-bill checked off all right; Chase said "O. K.," so I locked the pouch, handed it to him, and he locked it up in his safe. He then went to breakfast, leaving me alone in the office. I immediately picked up the packages, distributed their contents into four piles of equal size, removed the cigars from the boxes, and placed a pile of money in each. I then filled the space above the money with cigars, nailed down the lid of the boxes, placed them in the trunk, tied it up and directed it to W. A. Jackson, Galveston, Texas. There was a wagon loading at the door. I had the box immediately placed on it, and within an hour of the time I had taken the money it was on its way down the Alabama river, for Mobile. The boat started down the river at the same time that Chase left for Atlanta. That is what I call sharp work. No one but me knew of the loss of the packages.
"Chase was in his car, perfectly at ease, but when he reached Atlanta he was destined to receive a shock he would not soon forget. As soon as he arrived there the loss was discovered, and the Assistant Superintendent of the Southern Division, who happened to be in the Atlanta office, immediately telegraphed to me for an explanation. I did not take the trouble of answering the despatch, and he came on to Montgomery that night to investigate. All I had to say was that I had checked the money over to Chase, and they would have to look to him for an explanation. Telegrams came thick and fast, but I was nerved up to pass through anything, and left them unnoticed.
"When Chase returned to Montgomery he was greatly excited and appeared much more guilty than I. The Assistant Superintendent was in the office when he arrived. I received the pouch from Chase, checked off the way-bill, found the packages all right, and throwing down the pouch, placed the packages in the vault. I then returned and picked up the pouch as if to look into it. I had my knife open, but concealed in my coat sleeve. As I raised the pouch to look into it, I slipped the knife into my hand and in a second cut two slits in the pouch and threw the knife back up my sleeve. I immediately said to Mr. Hall, who stood directly in front of me, 'Why, it's cut! How the messenger could carry the pouch around, cut in this manner, and not discover it, is astonishing!'
"The Assistant Superintendent examined the pouch and found it cut, as I had stated. This was a great point in my favor, and the Assistant Superintendent was at once convinced that I was innocent of any participation in the robbery. No one suspected me after this until the Vice-President and General Superintendent came. They looked at the pouch, and one of them said, 'I understand this,' and they had the pouch taken care of. This was the first thing that seemed to create suspicion in the General Superintendent's mind. He had me arrested, but could not prove any thing against me. My friends all stood by me, and I had to do an immense amount of drinking. My wife one day asked me about the robbery; I at first denied any knowledge of it, but she is smart and does not easily give up. She kept at me and I finally concluded that the best way to keep her still was to tell her all. So I owned up to her, and then gave her some money and started her for the North. It is hard for me to keep any thing entirely to myself, and especially hard to keep any thing from my wife.
"I remained in Montgomery, but was not at all lonely, as I always had a squad of friends around me. In fact I never knew before that I had so many. I knew that the trunk was safe, but felt at times a little apprehensive that some one might open it. Its contents were amply sufficient to pay all charges on it in case it should never be claimed.
"After my arrest, I was taken before Justice Holtzclaw. At the preliminary examination I was held in forty thousand dollars bail, but at the final examination the company presented so weak a case that I think I ought to have been discharged at once. The justice thought differently, but reduced my bail to four thousand dollars, in which amount I was bound over to appear for trial before the circuit court. I easily procured bail, and was soon at liberty. I remained in Montgomery after my release, keeping a sharp look out for detectives, as I felt sure the company would have plenty of them on my track, but I could not discover any. It was hard to believe they had none employed, as on the ten thousand dollar case they had a small regiment of them; but none were to be seen in Montgomery, and I concluded they must be looking for the money in another direction. I had a slight mistrust of McGibony, but soon proved to my entire satisfaction that he was not employed in the case. Every thing went on smoothly, and I could discover nothing suspicious going on around me. I at length determined to make an excursion to several of the large Southern cities, to ascertain, if possible, whether I would be followed. Before leaving, I wrote to the agent of Jones's Express, at Galveston, assuming the name of W. A. Jackson, and directed him to send my trunk to Natchez. I started out on my trip and visited Atlanta, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis. I scanned the passengers who came on board or left the trains, all the guests who 'put up' at the various hotels where I stopped on my journey, but could not discover a sign of a detective. By the time that I got to Memphis I knew I was not followed, and so took the steamer 'John Walsh,' intending to get off at Natchez, gain possession of my trunk, which must have reached there, and go on down the river to New Orleans. When I reached Natchez, I enquired of the agent of Jones's Express whether he had a trunk for W. A. Jackson, shipped from Galveston, Texas. He examined his book and said that he had not received such a trunk, but that possibly it had been sent and detained in the New Orleans office. I was now in a quandary; I was afraid to go to New Orleans and ask for the trunk, as I knew the Adams and Jones's Express occupied the same office in that city. Could it be possible that the company had suspicions of the trunk and were holding it as a bait to draw me out? No! it was not possible! Still, I did not care to go to the office and ask for the trunk, as some one would be sure to know me, and my claiming a trunk as W. A. Jackson would be proof positive to them that something was wrong about it. They would seize and search it, and then my guilt would be apparent. I finally determined to go to New Orleans, put up at the City Hotel, and then carelessly drop into the office of the company and see if I could discover the trunk lying around. I did so, and on coming into the office was immediately recognized by the employes, some of whom were glad to see me. I did not stay long; glanced around, saw the trunk was not there, and returned to the hotel.
"I wanted to find whether the trunk had gone on to Natchez, so I wrote a note, asking whether a trunk directed to W. A. Jackson, Natchez, was in their possession or had been forwarded to its destination, and signed it W. A. Jackson. I then walked out of the hotel, limping as if so lame as to be scarcely able to walk, and met a colored boy standing on the corner. I hired him to take the note to the office for me and bring back the answer. He soon returned with a note which politely informed me that the trunk had been sent to Natchez. I immediately returned to Natchez, found the trunk, signed the receipt, paid the charges and left for Mobile via New Orleans, and I tell you I was more than pleased when I arrived there with my trunk.
"When I reached Montgomery a bevy of my friends came down to see me. Porter, one of my best friends—a splendid fellow—was amongst them, and as he was clerk of the hotel I had him order my baggage up. He had a carriage for me and we drove to Patterson's, and then went over to the hotel. In the morning I had him bring the old trunk into my room. I opened it before them all, carelessly took a few cigars from each of the boxes and gave to them to try. In this way their suspicions in regard to the old trunk, if they had any, were entirely dispelled.
"Mrs. Maroney was still in New York. I remained for some time in Montgomery, still suspecting that some one was on my track, but could find nothing to confirm my suspicions. It was getting time for me to make some preparation for my defense. I had formed a plan to overthrow the testimony of the company by having a key made to fit their pouch, introducing it at the trial and proving that outsiders might have keys as well as the agents. I was desirous of having the key made at once. It could not be made in Montgomery or at New Orleans, for, though there were plenty of locksmiths, their work was not fine enough to suit me; so I concluded to go to New York and have one made.
"I had some business to transact with my wife also, and wrote to her to meet me at a certain date in Philadelphia. I came North, met my wife in Philadelphia, where we stopped a day or two, and then started for New York. As I stepped ashore from the ferry-boat I was arrested. Never before in my life was I so dumbfounded. I can't tell you how they knew the time I would arrive. The detectives in Philadelphia must have been after me while I was there, and when I left for here they must have telegraphed, and thus secured my arrest. They brought me here and I told my wife to come and see me in the morning. I was too confused to say anything and my brain was in a maze. I never dreamed of the possibility of arrest in New York. I might have been prepared for it in Montgomery, but did not think it possible that anything of the kind could happen here. My wife spoke to me on the subject, but I was unable to do or say anything. I make it a rule, when I am confused and can't collect my thoughts, to say nothing until I am calm, when I plan what I had better do.
"In the morning I decided that it was necessary for my wife to go to Montgomery and bring the money North with her. I was in jail and might need the money to procure bail, which I would like to do now. Then, there was danger in leaving the money where it was secreted—in the old trunk in the garret—as Floyd might want to clear the garret out, and I had several times seen him sell unclaimed baggage. My old trunk might be sold for a trifle and some one take it home and find it contained a treasure.
"As soon as she could, Mrs. Maroney went to Montgomery for the money. I had informed her where it was concealed, and told her to get it and bring it North.
"The money was rather bulky, as although there were some large bills, there were a great many fives, tens, twenties and a few one hundred dollar notes. The whole of it made a large pile, but my wife proved a good hand. She fooled them all, and concealed the money in her bustle. It was a troublesome weight to travel with, and she was obliged to stop at Augusta, Ga., to rest herself. She also spent a day with my brother at Danielsville, who promised to come and see me. He came, and, as you know, accomplished nothing.
"My wife has now got the money concealed in the cellar of Josh. Cox's house. Cox is her brother-in-law, and from what she tells me of him is a good-natured fellow, but pretty shrewd. Mrs. Cox is very smart. They never leave the house entirely alone, one or the other of them always keeping watch.
"That Madam Imbert is said by my wife to be a fine woman. I was much pleased with her when she came here the other day. Mrs. Maroney managed well with her and discovered that her husband is imprisoned in Missouri. She also followed her in Philadelphia and found her changing money. My wife is smart, she suddenly confronted her and the Madam admitted all. A man comes to see her who exchanges money for her. My wife was about arranging with her to have the express money exchanged, but you are going out and I prefer to entrust my affairs to you. You see, White, I know I can trust you. There is only one thing that troubles me about Jenkintown: A fellow named De Forest is stopping there and is quite attentive to my wife. I think he is an agent of the Adams Express; but from what my wife says, she is smart enough for him and can rope him in long before he can her.
"Now I have told you all, and hope you will act in the matter just as your judgment dictates. The fact of the matter is, your knowledge of the North is so great that you can act much better than I."
"Yes," said White, "I understand the ropes well, and you may depend upon it I will handle them as well as I know how. I think that as soon as I get clear myself—which may take four, five, or six days—and have settled up with my lawyers—I don't like those fellows, but sometimes you can't get along without them—I think I will try and get a key to the pouch made; I can do so easily. Then I will go to Montgomery and see Chase, study his movements on the cars and at the hotels. I can at the same time arrange to get the girl, whom I intend to bring from here, into the Exchange, and as soon as possible get her acquainted with Chase. But see here, don't you think it best to get some of the stolen money to use in this case?"
"Certainly," said Maroney, "My wife will give you all the money you need. I will give you a letter to her."
"No," said White, "I don't want to have anything to do with women. Your wife may be perfectly true to you, but if I come in I doubt very much whether she takes any interest in me, unless it be to thwart my plans."
"Why not?" asked Maroney. "My wife should know and take an interest in all my affairs. She will do all in her power for us, and she is so shrewd that she will be able to help us very much."
"Well," said White, "that may be all true enough, but women are sure to get strange notions. I don't like to deal with them; women seem naturally suspicious. I don't want to treat your wife with injustice, but at the same time if she has a finger in the pie, ten to one she will suspect me of trying to get the whole pile and intending to clear out with it."
"Don't you believe that for a moment," replied Maroney. "She knows I have entire confidence in you, and that will be enough for her. You need have no fears that she will interfere in the matter in any way. I trust you, and my word is law to her. I would prefer to have you take all the money; you can then select what you want for Chase, and try and work off the balance in small amounts. This will be a delicate operation, as the banks very likely marked some of the bills before they shipped them."
"Yes, there are a great many obstacles to be overcome in changing the money, but I think I can manage to work it off in some way."
"White, I will write a letter to my wife which will pave your way to gaining her implicit confidence."
"How will you do that?" asked White.
"I will write to her informing her that you are coming, and that you will identify yourself by presenting a letter from me."
"Yes, but suppose she won't give up the money? I could not go back again, as some of the detectives might suspect me and take me into custody."
"Oh, nothing of the sort will happen. I will write you a letter that will surely get the money; come, we will see what we can do." And they sat down at a table, where Maroney began to write.
In a short time he finished a letter, and read it to White. He wrote:
"MY DEAREST WIFE: I have confided all to Mr. White. He will be liberated to-day or to-morrow. He has some business to attend to, which will detain him four or five days, when he will call on you in the guise of a book-peddler. Now, I say to you, trust implicitly in him! I have trusted him with my secret. He will take care of all. Give him everything you have in the packages. Take no writing from him, whatever. He requires something to work off on Chase, and wants to use some of the stuff I got in Montgomery. When he succeeds in this, Chase will be in my place. Then he will begin to exchange all I have; afterwards all will be easy. When I am at liberty, we can enjoy it in safety. I feel perfectly safe, and confident. Now, dearest, as I have before said, trust him implicitly, and all will be right.
Yours forever, NAT."
White approved of the letter. Maroney, therefore, sealed it up, directed it, and gave it to Shanks, who was in the jail, to post. Of course the dutiful young man would not fail to do so.
He then wrote the following letter of introduction and handed it to White:
"MY DEAREST WIFE: This is the book-peddler. You will want to buy books from him. Buy what you want. Give him the packages for me. He is honest. All is well.
White scanned its contents, and said: "I suppose this is sufficient, but the question still remains: will she obey it? I will do the best I can, but I have little faith in women."
"Oh, now!" said Maroney, "don't make me feel down-hearted. I have done the best I can, and I know she will obey me."
"Very well," replied White, "I will go as soon as possible—in a week, more or less; as soon as I can possibly arrange my own affairs. On my arrival in Jenkintown I will write to you at once and let you know how I am received."
"Agreed; I have trusted you, and my wife must trust you."
Shanks had several commissions to attend to. He first came to my room in the hotel and handed me Maroney's letter to his wife. I opened and read the letter, and exclaimed. "Now the battle is ours! Victory is almost within our grasp." I saw the Vice-President and read the letter to him. He was highly delighted and said he could now see the wisdom of all my manoeuvres.
The following day White was released from his long confinement. It must be admitted that his duties were extremely arduous, but such is often the fate of a detective. I have sometimes had my men in prison for a longer time than this, and they have often failed to accomplish any thing, being obliged to give up without discovering what they were looking for. White remained in New York attending to his own business after his release. He called once or twice on Maroney to show that he had not forgotten him, and to assure him that he would soon get a pouch-key made. This was easily accomplished, as all he had to do was to go the Express Office, get a key, file it up a little to make it look bright and new, and show it to Maroney as an earnest of his intentions in regard to Chase.
We will now leave the parties in New York and return to Jenkintown. Very little had taken place here and the various parties in whom we have an interest were conducting themselves much as usual. Mrs. Maroney and Madam Imbert went to Philadelphia on the same day that White was liberated. They spent most of the day in the city and came out on the cars in the evening. De Forest met them and drove them to Stemples's in his buggy. After tea Madam Imbert went down to Cox's and strolled up to the post office with Mrs. Maroney. Mrs. Maroney received a letter which she opened. She said it was from Nat. She began to read it as they walked along. As she read, Madam Imbert noticed that all color left her face, and she became white as wax. She folded up the letter and leaned heavily on the Madam's arm for support.
"What's the matter? are you sick?" she anxiously enquired.
"No; but I have received so strange a letter; walk along with me; I am very weak; I will tell you its contents in a few minutes."
She did not go in the direction of Cox's, but led the way to the garden. Here the two women took seats. She read the letter over again and then handed it to Madam Imbert. "Read it," she said. The Madam did so. Neither spoke for some time. "What do you think of it?" she at length asked. "I think it a little strange, but at the same time have no doubt but that it is all right. Your husband is of course the best judge in this matter, and must have good reasons for taking the step. He has full confidence in White; has been locked up with him for several months; has seen him day and night, and doubtless has thoroughly studied his character. White is almost like his wife, and he knows what he is doing when he consents to trust him so far."
Mrs. Maroney was rapidly getting better and said, angrily, "No, I will never give him the money in this way! it is all nonsense! 'What do I know about White?' This is asking too much of me! Why did he not write and consult me on the subject? He simply says, 'White is out of jail now; give him the money!' and gives me no chance to speak on the subject. Suppose White gets the money; how do I know but that he will run away with it and leave us to suffer without getting any of the benefit? Madam Imbert I must tell you all: you see that in this letter Nat. does not mention money, but he means money. As you are now the only one I can trust, I will talk plainly to you. My husband took the forty thousand dollars from the Express Company, and also ten thousand dollars previously. Now all is out! When he was thrown into prison in New York he sent me for the money which he had concealed in Montgomery, and I brought it here, and have it hidden in Josh.'s cellar. Now what am I to do? If I give it to this man White, I shall probably never see it again; in fact I am sure I never shall."
"You are mistaken, I think," said Madam Imbert; "have confidence!"
"Confidence! It would be my best plan to run away myself!"—she was going on still further, but Madam Imbert stopped her.
"Don't say any thing more at present, my dear Mrs. Maroney. You are too excited to talk calmly; let the matter rest until morning."
They dropped the subject for the time, and as Mrs. Maroney expressed a desire for a little brandy to calm her nerves, went down to Cox's. Mrs. Maroney offered some brandy to the Madam, which she politely declined to take, but this did not in the least abash her, for she gulped down enough to stagger an old toper. Josh. was not at home, and so very little was said.
Mrs. Cox asked her if she had received a letter from Nat.
"Yes," she answered in a snappish tone, and said no more.
Madam Imbert had accomplished all she desired for that day, and so left Mrs. Maroney to herself. In the morning Mrs. Maroney sent Flora to her, with a request that she would accompany her to Philadelphia. Madam Imbert sent word that she would be happy to go and would come to Cox's immediately.
De Forest met Flora and commenced playing with her.
"I must go right home," said she, "as ma is going to Philadelphia and sent me with a message to Madam Imbert, asking her to go too. She said she would, and is coming down to the house, so I must hurry home."
"What a fool I am," thought De Forest, "I would rather have her go with me."
So he went to Cox's with Flora to offer his services. Mrs. Maroney appeared troubled and excited. He knew that he never made progress with her when she was in a moody state, so he timidly said that he was going to Philadelphia and asked her to go along. She said, "No!" very harshly, and he immediately vanished.
She started out and met Madam Imbert on the way down.
"Come back with me, I want to hire Stemples's team," she said.
Stemples soon had his team ready for them, and they started.
"I didn't want any one with me but you, Madam Imbert, as I am much troubled and need your advice. I want to consult a lawyer, but don't know how to go about it. There is a lawyer in Philadelphia, a good man, in fact the same one my husband had at New York for consultation, and I think I shall ask his advice."
"I would not do it, if I were in your place," advised Madam Imbert. "If a lawyer once gets hold of the facts, he is much more likely to get all the money than White."
"That is the trouble. Last night after you left, Josh. came in and we talked the matter over. You know Josh. and the opinion I have of him, but with all his faults he is shrewd. His wife and he held the same opinion: that it would never do to trust White with the money, and Josh. was in favor of changing its hiding place. I did not tell them that I had told you all, but I intend to do so. I informed them that I was going to the city to consult a lawyer, but they were both against me, and now you are opposed to me and I don't know what to do, or what I am doing. I am almost crazy!"
They drove up to a tavern on the way and she took some brandy, which seemed to give her more courage.
When they reached the city Madam Imbert wished to report to Bangs, but found it almost impossible to get away from Mrs. Maroney, who had concluded not to ask the advice of a lawyer. They went into Mitchell's and Madam Imbert managed to get away a few moments and reported to Bangs.
She had not been with him ten minutes before Rivers, who was shadowing Mrs. Maroney, came in and reported that she seemed very uneasy and had been out on the street several times, glancing anxiously around. Madam Imbert at once hurried back to Mitchell's.
"Where were you?" demanded Mrs. Maroney. "I am suspicious of you all!"
Madam Imbert drew herself up with an air of offended dignity which spoke more than words.
"I am sorry I have offended you!" said Mrs. Maroney quickly. "Please forgive me! I am so nervous that for a time I mistrusted even you and thought you had gone for a policeman or a detective; let's have dinner and go."
When they were on the return journey, Mrs. Maroney said:
"I feel much better on the road with you alone than when in the city. I want to talk continually, and you are the only one to whom I dare talk. However excited or miserable I may feel, companionship with you always makes me feel happy and contented."
At the various taverns they passed on the road Mrs. Maroney always stopped and invoked the aid of stimulants to cheer her up. She suddenly turned to Madam Imbert and asked:
"Would you be willing to run away with me? We could go down into Louisiana, where we are not known, buy a small place in some out of the way town and live secluded for four or five years, until our existence was forgotten, and then make our appearance once more in the fashionable world, with plenty of money to maintain our position; or we might go to New York and from there to England and the continent."
"Yes, we could do all that if we had the money," said the Madam; "but you forget that at this time we cannot use it."
"You have plenty of money of your own and you might let me stop with you for three or four years, as by that time we could use the express' money without any risk."
"Yes, I would gladly keep you for years if that is all you want."
"When do you expect the man who exchanges your money? Could you not get him here at once? Then we could go."
"I could write to him," replied the Madam, "and he would come at once, provided my letter reached him, but sometimes I have to wait two or three months after writing for him before he makes his appearance. He travels a good deal, and comes to the place where he has his letters directed only once in a while. He is a strange man, but very honest. I will write to him to-night, if you say so, so that we can soon hear from him and get him here."