"Why, how do you do, gentlemen?" he asked. "Won't you walk in for a few minutes? I havn't seen you since your illness, Mr. Drysdale; won't you come in and rest a while?"
On hearing McGregor's salutation, Drysdale started as if stung, and trembled violently. He had been walking along with his eyes down, so that he had not seen Mr. McGregor until spoken to.
"No, thank you," he replied; "I think I won't have time—that is, I promised my wife to come back soon. You must excuse me this time."
He hurried on with a nervous gesture of courtesy, and he did not recover his calmness until some minutes afterward. Andrews accompanied him to his home, and on the way they agreed to go to Drysdale's plantation for a short visit on the following Monday. Having settled upon the time for starting and returning, Andrews declined an invitation to dine with Drysdale that evening, and they separated. Andrews dropped into Breed's shop on his way back to the hotel, and there he found young Green, the man who had made his book-case. They talked together only a few minutes, and Andrews then went to his room, where he stayed the remainder of the day.
On Monday, Andrews and Drysdale rode off to the plantation at daylight, and the latter's spirits seemed to lighten rapidly after leaving the immediate vicinity of Atkinson. In the afternoon, Andrews took his gun and wandered off into the woods, but he did not seem very desirous of shooting anything, for he soon took a position whence he commanded a full view of the house. In about half an hour, Drysdale came out and walked slowly toward a small cluster of trees, about five hundred yards from the house. Here, he leaned against a tree, and paused to look around in every direction; then he began to stride with a measured step in a straight line. When he stopped, he began to examine the ground carefully for some minutes, and finally, he seemed satisfied with his inspection, and returned to the house.
During the remainder of their stay at the plantation, Andrews and Drysdale were constantly together, and the latter seemed to find the greatest pleasure in the former's society. He frequently recurred to the subject of ghosts and spooks, and always closed by discussing the character of the apparition he had seen on the roadside. There was no doubt that it had made a deep impression upon him, for he never tired of talking about it. Andrews laughed at him, ridiculed his vivid imagination, cross-questioned him, and reasoned with him upon the absurdity of his hallucination, but all to no effect; Drysdale maintained in the most dogged manner, that he had seen a ghost.
On Friday, they were to return to Atkinson, and in the morning Andrews rode over to make a short visit to a neighbor. He was so hospitably entertained, however, that he did not get away until after two o'clock, and it was nearly three before they started on their homeward ride. As before, it was growing dusky, when they reached the banks of Rocky Creek, and Drysdale was in a state of high nervous excitement.
On reaching the spot where Drysdale had seen the ghost before, he kept close at Andrews' side, and endeavored to appear unconcerned. Suddenly, he grasped Andrews by the arm with a faint groan, and said:
"Andrews, look! look! for God's sake, tell me, don't you see it?"
As he spoke, he pointed toward the same ghastly object which he had seen before. There, right under his eyes, passed the image of the murdered George Gordon.
"There, I was afraid you would have the same folly again," said Andrews, soothingly, as if anxious to attract his attention away from his ghostly friend. "What the devil is the matter with you?"
"Tell me, tell me, Andrews," gasped Drysdale, in such terror that his parched throat and quivering lips could hardly pronounce the words; "can't you see that horrible man close to the fence, walking toward the creek?"
"I tell you, my dear fellow," replied Andrews, earnestly, "that you are laboring under a most unpleasant hallucination. There is absolutely no person, or any moving object in sight, except you and me."
At this moment, the sound of approaching hoof-beats could be plainly heard, and Drysdale turned his head to look back in the direction whence they came. On looking for the ghost again, it was nowhere to be seen.
"Andrews, it is gone—the earth has swallowed it up," he said.
He would have fallen from his horse, if Andrews had not caught him around the waist, and just as he did so, Mr. Breed and Mr. O'Fallon, the station agent, rode up, one on each side of them.
"What's the matter with Mr. Drysdale?" asked O'Fallon.
"Didn't you see it? Tell me—did the ghost pass you?" Drysdale queried eagerly, turning toward the new comers.
"What are you talking about? What do you mean by 'the ghost?'" asked Mr. Breed, in great wonderment.
"The ghost, I say—did neither of you see a horrible figure pass out of sight suddenly, toward the creek yonder?"
"I saw nothing, Mr. Drysdale," said O'Fallon; "did you, Breed?"
"Well, I don't know what Mr. Drysdale means by a ghost," said Breed, deliberately; "but I think I did see something down there. I couldn't say what it looked like. Why do you call it a ghost, Mr. Drysdale?"
"Because I have seen it twice close to me, and Mr. Andrews has not been able to see it at all," replied Drysdale with great difficulty. "I began to think it must have been imagination on my part, but now, that you have seen it, I know that it was a ghost."
Drysdale was so helpless, that it was necessary for one gentleman to ride on each side of him to hold him in his saddle. On arriving at his place, they helped him into the house, and left him in charge of his wife. He immediately went to bed, and during the night, he suffered a great deal. Mrs. Potter heard him groaning, tossing, and muttering until nearly daylight.
The story of the ghost was soon freely circulated by O'Fallon and Breed, though they could not describe the apparition at all. Still, it created quite an excitement, and the results were not very beneficial to the neighborhood, for the reason that no negro could be induced to pass along that part of the road after dark; indeed, there were a great many educated white people who would not ride past the spot alone on a dark night.
Drysdale was confined to his room for several days, during which time he received no visitors except Andrews. It was curious to observe what a strong preference he showed for his new-found friend.
Just at this time I decided to re-visit Atkinson myself, and on my arrival there I had a long interview with Messrs. Ballantine, McGregor, and Gordon. I explained to them all the steps I had taken, and they learned to their great astonishment that Mr. Andrews, Mrs. Potter, and Mr. Green were my detectives. The ghost was Green, whose resemblance to young Gordon was a great aid in carrying out the scheme. Mrs. Potter had voluntarily fallen from her horse in order to get herself carried into Drysdale's house, and it was she who sprinkled the blood over Drysdale's clothing and down the walk. After settling all our plans, I returned to the hotel, where I was easily able to obtain a private interview with Mr. Andrews and Mr. Green.
I gave full instructions to Andrews, and he informed Mrs. Potter of my wishes, at the same time conveying to her another large bottle of blood.
About one o'clock that night Mrs. Potter rose, quietly dressed herself, and stealthily left the house. She walked to the nearest point on the creek and began to drop blood from her bottle. She spilled small portions of it all the way back to the house, up the front walk, in the hall, and finally, slipping into Drysdale's room, she scattered the crimson drops on his pillow. She then retired to bed.
When she awoke in the morning, she found Mrs. Drysdale in a very uneasy state of mind. She said that her husband had again been attacked by bleeding at the nose, and that he was quite weak from the loss of blood. Mrs. Potter deeply sympathized with Mrs. Drysdale, but she could assist her only by kind and consoling words.
The family had hardly finished their breakfast when a number of the neighbors came in in a high state of excitement. They said that blood had been discovered on the grass near where the ghost had been seen, and that quite a crowd had gathered around it. They had found other blood-marks at intervals along the road, and on following the direction in which they traveled, it was found that they led straight to Drysdale's house. The question now arose, did the wounded person go from the house to the creek, or vice versa. Drysdale was terribly excited on learning of the discovery, and he was soon in a species of delirium. It was known that he was quite sick, so that the neighbors soon withdrew. Many thought that the blood was that of a burglar or negro sneak-thief, who might have gone to Drysdale's house to steal, but who had been frightened off before he had secured any plunder. The blood might have been from an old hurt. Others, more superstitiously inclined, believed that the ghost was in some way responsible for the blood. No one was able to solve the mystery, however, and it added to the terror with which the ghost story had inspired the negroes.
Drysdale was now confined to his bed, and he would see no one except his wife and Andrews. He insisted that he was not sick, but only run down by overwork, and so refused to have a doctor. Andrews' influence over him was greater than that of any one else, and it was plain that the latter had completely secured his confidence. As I now felt convinced that Drysdale would surely confess in a short time, I returned to Chicago, leaving the whole charge of the operation with Andrews.
A few nights later Mrs. Potter was troubled with the tooth-ache, and she lay awake most of the night. Suddenly she heard footsteps in Drysdale's room, and then she saw Drysdale pass her window on the veranda. He was dressed in slippers and night-dress, and his actions were so strange that she determined to follow him. Hastily putting on some dark clothes, she hurried cautiously after him. The night was clear with no moon, and she was able to distinguish his white figure at a considerable distance. He walked rapidly to the creek and followed its windings a short distance; then he paused a few minutes, as if reflecting. This enabled Mrs. Potter to hide herself near by in some undergrowth, whence she could watch him more carefully. To her great astonishment, she saw him walk into the creek at a shallow spot, and begin wading up against the current. Very soon he stopped and leaned over with his hands in the water, as if he were feeling for something. In a few minutes he came out of the stream, on the opposite side from that on which he had entered, and took a path to a footbridge leading across the creek toward his house. As soon as she saw that he was on his way back, she hastened home as rapidly as possible, arriving there only a few seconds before him.
The next morning, Drysdale appeared at the breakfast table for the first time, in several days. He remarked that he felt much better, but he said nothing of his midnight walk, nor did his wife, as she had slept in a separate room; however, she was probably ignorant of it.
Neither Mrs. Potter, nor Mr. Andrews could imagine what Drysdale's object was in making his pilgrimage to the creek at that time of night, especially as he had always shown the greatest aversion to that vicinity, ever since he had first seen the ghost. I was equally puzzled when I was informed of his freak, but I determined to make use of the incident, in case he should do the same thing again. I therefore instructed Andrews to have Green watch the house every night, dressed in his apparition suit. He was then to "shadow" Drysdale, when the latter went out, and if a favorable opportunity should present itself, he was to appear before him in full view in the role of the ghost.
By this time, Drysdale had recovered sufficiently, to attend to his office duties, but he always seemed anxious to have Andrews with him. Andrews had talked very encouragingly to him, showed a good deal of sympathy, and thus, they had became quite confidential friends. He, therefore, assured Drysdale that he should be happy to give him as much of his company, as possible, if it would afford Drysdale any pleasure.
"You are very kind, Mr. Andrews," said Drysdale; "you may think it strange, but I feel a sense of relief, when I am with you, especially lately. I wonder if I shall ever be better," he mused plaintively.
"Why, certainly; we hope for your speedy recovery," said Andrews, cheerfully. "You let trivial matters prey on your mind, and you must stop it, for your health will not stand it."
"Well, I shall try," responded Drysdale feebly.
One evening, Mrs. Drysdale was sitting at Mrs. Potter's side, waiting for her husband's return. By this time, Mrs. Potter was able to sit up, and even to move about the room somewhat.
"My husband is failing in health, I fear," said Mrs. Drysdale.
"I am afraid so, too," replied Mrs. Potter, "and I feel sorry to think that I am a burden upon you at the same time; but, I hope to be well soon, and then I will help you take care of him."
"You have been no burden, whatever, Mrs. Potter; on the contrary, your company has been a great comfort to me. But, I was thinking, that if my husband would try a change of air and life, it would be a great help to him. I should miss him sadly, but I would make any sacrifice to see him restored to health."
At the tea table Mrs. Drysdale said:
"I was just speaking to Mrs. Potter about your health, Aleck, and I thought that if you would go away for a time, the change of scenery, and habits of life, would be very advantageous. Why don't you go down to New Orleans with Mr. Andrews? He is always talking of going there, but he is too lazy to start. You could both enjoy yourselves very much, and I know it would do you good. You would return as healthy and happy as you always used to be."
"I have been thinking of going there, or to some other place," said Drysdale, "but I can't leave just now. I think a trip would do me good, and as soon as I feel able to do so, I will get Andrews to go with me."
Nothing of interest occurred for several days. Green kept a close watch every night, but Drysdale did not appear. Andrews got Drysdale to go out hunting with him twice, but each time, Drysdale succeeded in arriving at home before dark. Green had kept up his vigils for over a week, and he began to think there was no use in them. One night, however, as he lay behind a bush, watching the house, he was suddenly aware of a white figure gliding noiselessly by him. Forewarned, though he was, the ghostly stillness with which it moved, gave him quite a severe fright, before he recollected that it was Drysdale. He immediately followed the figure and noted his every movement. In the same way, as he had done at first, he now proceeded, and after walking up the stream a short distance, he reached down, felt for something at the bottom, and then came out. As he slowly walked home, he passed within a few feet of Green, who made a considerable noise to attract his attention; but, Drysdale passed straight on, looking neither to the right nor left, and Green was unable to play ghost for the lack of an audience.
Green's account was the exact counterpart of Mrs. Potter's, and I was puzzled to account for this new move. As I sat in my office, in Chicago, with Green's report before me, the idea flashed into my mind, that possibly some of the stolen money was hidden at the bottom of the creek. Recollecting the gold pieces, which had been found on the banks of the creek, I surmised that the remainder of the gold was buried somewhere in the bed of the stream. I had no doubt of the eventual recovery of all the money, and so I decided to let that matter rest until I had complete evidence of Drysdale's guilt.
A few days after the midnight walk, Drysdale invited Andrews to make another visit to the plantation, saying,
"My overseer sends me word that he needs a great many things, and I think I had better go out to see what is wanted, myself. I would like to have you go with me, for, to tell the truth, I am almost afraid to go alone."
"I shall be very glad, indeed, to go; when shall we start?"
"Let us start Monday, and return Friday, as before," replied Drysdale.
"Very well," said Andrews. "I shall be ready on time."
At the first opportunity, Andrews informed Green of their intended visit, and told him that in order to insure the success of their plan, it would be best for him to ride out to the plantation, also, on Wednesday or Thursday. He could thus be on hand in his ghostly capacity whenever wanted. Green promised to be at a certain spot, near the plantation, on Wednesday afternoon, to receive instructions from Andrews, and all their arrangements were then completed.
Andrews took breakfast with Drysdale before starting, Monday morning, and at table, Mrs. Drysdale said:
"Aleck, Mrs. Potter is so far recovered, that I guess we shall drive out to the plantation on Wednesday or Thursday, and spend a day or two with you."
"That will be delightful," replied Drysdale, "and we shall look for you with great pleasure."
"Well, if the ladies are coming at that time, I hope they will bring our mail, for I expect an important letter," said Andrews.
"Oh, certainly," said Mrs. Drysdale; "and, if anything should prevent us from coming, I will send your letters by a servant."
Andrews had written to me of the intended visit to the plantation, and he was anxious to receive any instructions I might send, before he returned to town.
The two gentlemen mounted their horses and cantered off. Drysdale appeared in better spirits than at any time for several weeks, and by the time they reached the plantation, he was quite gay and cheerful. He had a great deal to attend to, and Andrews gave him very considerable assistance. They were kept quite constantly busy until Wednesday noon, when Mrs. Drysdale and Mrs. Potter arrived in a carriage, bringing the mail. As Andrews had expected, there was a letter for him, in which I instructed him to have Green appear to Drysdale, in the small grove of trees, where he had acted so queerly during their last visit. From Drysdale's manner in this grove, I had concluded that some of the money was buried there, and I therefore, considered it a good place for the ghost to appear.
On reading my letter, Andrews remarked that he should be obliged to go to Atkinson, to send a telegram, as his letter required an immediate answer, but that he should return the same evening. This, of course, was only an excuse to get away to meet Green, and so his horse was brought up at once, and he rode away. Green was punctual at the rendezvous, and Andrews gave him full instructions; he was to remain in sight of the house, on the side near the little grove of trees, until an opportunity should occur to appear before Drysdale. Andrews then took a long ride over the country, so as to delay his return to the plantation until after dark. During the evening, Mrs. Potter told him that Drysdale had visited the little grove that afternoon, but she was, of course, unable to follow him.
The next evening, after supper, Andrews proposed taking a short walk, and they all started out together. By chance, they took the direction of the little grove, previously mentioned, and they were all in fine spirits. Mrs. Potter, however, was obliged to walk very slowly, owing to her injured knee, and Mrs. Drysdale kept her company; the two gentlemen were, therefore, some distance in the advance, when they reached the edge of the grove. Drysdale had been unusually cheerful until then, but as they entered the shadow, he began to lose his gayety, as if something disagreeable had been suggested to him. It was now approaching twilight, and he turned toward Andrews half pettishly, and said:
"Don't go into that dismal place; let us stay out in the open walk. I never like to go into such——"
The words died on his tongue, and he nearly fell down from fright. There, crossing their path in the sombre shades of the grove, was that terrible spectre with its ghastly face, measured step, and clotted hair. It passed into the deep recesses of the grove, while Drysdale watched it like a condemned criminal. As it moved out of sight, he fell to the ground like a dead man, and Andrews called for help. Mrs. Drysdale hurried up in great alarm, and took her husband's head in her lap, while Mrs. Potter chafed his hands and held her vinaigrette to his nostrils. Mr. Andrews quickly called some negroes from the house, and they carried their unconscious master to his room. He was soon restored to his senses, but he was in a pitiable condition. The least sound made him start like a person in the delirium tremens, and he muttered to himself constantly. Finally he caught Andrews by the hand and said:
"Andrews, didn't you see that horrible ghost?"
"No, indeed; I saw no ghost," replied Andrews. "Did either of you see it?" he continued, turning to the ladies.
They both answered negatively.
"If there really had been such a thing we certainly should have seen it," said Mrs. Potter.
"Well, I know that I saw it, and it is terrible to think that I should be the only one to whom this thing appears," said Drysdale.
Andrews handed him a drink of brandy, which revived his strength a great deal, and he again began to talk about the ghost.
"I can't understand, Andrews, why you didn't see it," he said; "it passed within fifty feet of us, and it was truly terrible."
"It is certainly very strange," replied Andrews. "Here are three persons that did not see it, yet you insist that you did. What did it look like? You have never yet described it to me."
Drysdale made no reply, but a look of renewed dread came over his face, and he reached for more brandy, which was given him.
"It surely must be some disease of the brain," said Mrs. Drysdale, tearfully, "for he frequently imagines that he sees strange sights, and I am afraid to think what will happen. If he would only go to some watering-place, and put himself under the care of a reliable physician, he would soon get better."
"The doctors can do me no good, my dear," he said controlling himself by a great effort; "do not be alarmed, but let me go to sleep for a while and I shall be better."
Mr. Andrews and Mrs. Potter left the room in a few minutes, as Mr. Drysdale evidently wished to be left alone. They had ample opportunity for consultation, and they decided that Green had better stay near by all night, to watch the house and the grove.
"If that is to be done," said Mrs. Potter, "I will go and put up a lunch which you can take to him, since if he is to remain out there all night, he will not be able to get anything to eat, and you know that a hungry ghost cannot do as well as one which is well fed."
She soon prepared a large lunch, and added to it a small bottle of wine, which she gave to Andrews. He immediately hastened out to the grove, and found Green at a point where they had agreed to meet. He gave the food to Green, and told him to keep a close watch on the house all night; in case of anything occurring he was to tap on the window of Andrews' room, which was on the ground floor. Andrews then returned to the house, leaving Green to eat his lunch, drink his wine and keep watch.
The night was damp and warm, and the insects were particularly active, so that Green's duty was none of the pleasantest. The hours slipped wearily by until after midnight, when he saw a white figure emerge from the house and approach the little grove. He hastily gained an open spot where, in the bright starlight, he could be plainly seen, and, as Drysdale advanced, he slowly paced toward him. To Green's astonishment, Drysdale passed within two feet of him without noticing his presence in any way; they passed so close to each other that Green was forced to step to one side, yet Drysdale walked slowly on until he reached the grove. Here he walked around a moment or two and then returned to the house. Green immediately tapped on Andrews' window and related what had occurred. There being no new developments, Green returned to the wood where he had picketed his horse, and then rode back to Atkinson.
Friday morning Drysdale appeared at breakfast and tried to appear natural and at ease. He spoke of his peculiar hallucination, but his remarks were simply repetitions of those he had frequently made before. Andrews again requested him to describe the appearance of the spectre, but Drysdale seemed averse to continuing the conversation on that subject, and so it was dropped.
Immediately after dinner they started for Atkinson, the gentlemen on horseback, and the ladies in the carriage. As Andrews could offer no plausible excuse for detaining them, Mrs. Potter was obliged to try what she could do. By making two calls on acquaintances living along the road, she was enabled to keep back their arrival much later than Drysdale liked, though not late enough for her purpose. It was too early to have Green appear, as there were so many people traveling on the road that he might be seen by others and the trick exposed.
It was quite evident that Drysdale was in a miserable condition. He was sure that he had seen the ghost of George Gordon, and he was in a state of momentary dread and suspense. He had entertained thoughts of leaving the place, but he dared not. Like Eugene Aram, he pictured himself as continually haunted by the spirit of his victim, and he feared lest others should see it, and accuse him of the murder. His health failed rapidly; his form was emaciated, his cheeks hollow, his eyes haggard and sunken. It was clearly only a question of time how soon he confessed or went insane.
Green continued his night watches about the house, and again one night Drysdale passed out to the creek and acted as before. This time, however, he had his clothes on, and as he passed Green at arms length, it seemed almost incredible that he should have failed to see him. Green took particular pains to identify the exact spot where Drysdale had searched in the water, and he marked it carefully by placing a stone on each side of the bank opposite where Drysdale had stopped.
The following night Mrs. Potter got up and went into Drysdale's room, where he was sleeping alone. She then dropped some blood on his pillow, on the floor, and around the bed. Then passing out, she left the trail as before from the house toward Rocky Creek. Drysdale was horrified early next morning when he saw the blood-stains. He groaned piteously as he walked about the room, and then followed the spots out to the front gate. On seeing that they continued beyond this, he came back with a most dejected and helpless look. Mrs. Potter saw him go into his room, and, by looking through the keyhole of the connecting door, she was enabled to see that he was engaged in washing out the spots on the floor and bed clothes. He did not appear at the breakfast table, but his wife told Mrs. Potter that he had had another severe attack of bleeding during the night, and that he was very weak in consequence.
During the forenoon Mrs. Potter went in to see Mr. Drysdale, whom she found in great distress physically and mentally. He was anxious to see Mr. Andrews, and his wife sent a message to the hotel at once. In about an hour Andrews came in.
"I am sorry to find you feeling so bad this morning," he said. "You were looking quite well last evening. What is the trouble? Wouldn't you like me to go for a doctor?"
"No, thank you; I shall get along better without physic," replied Drysdale. "I was feeling unusually well last evening, but I had a severe attack of bleeding last night, and I am very weak."
"Is there anything I can do for you?" asked Andrews.
"Well, yes; there are some papers in my office that should be sent to Captain Rowland, a planter in the west end of the county, and as it is important that they should be delivered soon, I should be greatly obliged if you would get them and send them off."
"Certainly, certainly," said Andrews; "where shall I find them?"
"They are in the left-hand pigeon-hole of my upright desk, in the office, and you can send them by Dan. Marston, who lives near the court-house; he is very faithful and trustworthy. Any one can tell you where to find him."
"Oh, I know Dan.," said Andrews, "he has done several errands for me. Where are your keys?"
"They are on the bureau, yonder; but, Andrews, I wish you would come back after you have sent the papers. I always feel better when I hear you talking; when I am alone I keep thinking about that spirit, and I tell you it is terrible. You will come back, won't you?"
"Oh, certainly, I shall be glad to keep you company while you are under the weather."
When Andrews started off with the keys, a sudden thought flashed into his mind, and he first went to his room, where he obtained some blood, of which he had quite a supply. He then went to Drysdale's private office and dropped some blood on the desk, chairs and floor, and also on the wrapper of Captain Rowland's papers. He was well known to the deputy clerk, and so no one questioned his right to go to Drysdale's desk. On leaving the private office, he locked the door, and hurried back to Drysdale's house with the papers. He entered Drysdale's room in an excited manner, and said:
"Why, Drysdale, you must have been bleeding at the office, for there is blood on your chairs, desk, and on these papers; look there!"
As he spoke, he held out the package with its dull crimson stain. The shock was too much for Drysdale, and he fainted away instantly. It was sometime before he revived, but finally, he was able to talk again.
"Please take the wrapper off those papers," he said feebly, "and put them into another. They are copies of papers in a law case now in court, and I would not like them to go out in that condition."
Andrews agreed to fix them all neat and clean before sending them, and he then went out to attend to it. On his way down town, he met Mr. McGregor, to whom he related what he had done, and its effect.
"Mr. McGregor," he continued, "I think it would be a good idea to sprinkle some blood in the bank, on the floor, and on the desk, where young Gordon used to stand; also, to put some blood and hair on the canceling hammer. Do this in the evening, and arrange to have some one enter the bank with you in the morning; then, the story will be circulated until Drysdale will hear it, and it may have a powerful effect upon him. I think Mr. Pinkerton would approve the plan, if he were here."
Mr. McGregor thought favorably of the suggestion, and he agreed to act upon it, as soon as possible. Andrews then went back to Drysdale's office, wiped up the blood spots, and put Captain Rowland's papers into a new wrapper. Having sent them off, he returned and passed the afternoon with Drysdale.
The latter was in a terrible condition; he seemed like a man suffering from hydrophobia, so sensitive were his nerves, and so depressed was his mind. His thoughts could turn in only one direction, and that was toward remorse and fear.
"'Tis guilt alone, Like brain sick frenzy in its feverish mood. Fills the light air with visionary terrors And shapeless forms of fear."
Through advices from Andrews, I was aware that things were approaching a crisis, and I therefore, went immediately to Atkinson, in order to be ready for any emergency. I arrived there the very morning chosen by Mr. McGregor, to carry out his project of sprinkling blood at the bank. He had arranged, by apparent accident, to have two planters enter the bank with him, and in fact, it happened that four gentlemen were present at ten o'clock when he opened the bank. They all entered together, and when Mr. McGregor had taken down the blinds, he went inside the bank railing. As he did so, he uttered a sudden exclamation, which caused the others to follow.
"What can this mean!" he said, in an excited tone.
The other gentlemen gathered around the ghastly scene and examined the blood, which lay in a pool on the floor, and in spots on the furniture and wall. The canceling hammer, stained with blood, and clotted with hair, lay close by, and every one was reminded of the appearance of the place, the morning after George Gordon's murder.
"What can have happened?" asked old Mr. Gordon, who had just entered. "Surely, no one was murdered here last night."
"Ah! I fear it is done by poor George's spirit!" exclaimed O'Fallon, who was a very superstitious man. "This looks just as it did that fatal morning, except that the body is not here. His spirit must be uneasy at the failure to discover his murderer."
By this time, Flanders and several others, had entered the bank, and the appearance of things there, was soon circulated throughout the town. The excitement about the murder, was revived in all its original importance, and many were the speculations about the mysterious affair.
Drysdale felt rather strong that morning, and about noon, he walked down to his gate. While there, some of his neighbors passed on their way to their homes, and they were all anxious to tell him about the new sensation at the bank. On hearing the news, Drysdale dragged himself into the house and went to bed. There he lay, groaning and sobbing piteously, and when Andrews called in the afternoon, he was so helpless that Andrews insisted on calling a physician. In a short time he returned with Dr. Sprague, who examined the patient, and prescribed for him. Dr. Sprague said that Drysdale would speedily recover with a proper amount of rest and sleep. Wakefulness and nervous irritation seemed to be the trouble with him, and the doctor told Andrews that he had prescribed morphine. He said that there was nothing serious to fear unless fever should set in, and if any symptoms should show themselves it would be necessary to call him immediately.
Upon leaving Drysdale, Andrews came to me to report. I had arranged with Mr. McGregor, to pay a visit to the creek that night, to search the spot which had been visited so often by Drysdale. I therefore sent Andrews back to offer to remain with Drysdale during the night. This arrangement pleased Drysdale very much, and he was quite touched by Andrews' kindness. I also instructed Green to watch Drysdale's house, so as to be ready to appear before Drysdale, in case the latter left his house. He was to cross and re-cross Drysdale's path, until Drysdale should take notice of him, while Andrews was to be at hand immediately, pretending that he had fallen asleep during his watch, and on waking up suddenly and finding Drysdale gone, had come out in search of him.
I told Mr. Bannatine and Mr. McGregor, to bring a wheelbarrow, pick-axe, and large shovel with them, since we should probably need the two latter to dig up the gold, while the wheelbarrow would be handy to carry it home. Everything was provided for in advance, and I felt confident of the success of our expedition.
The night was clear and bright, and everything was favorable for our work. At twelve o'clock, we met as previously agreed, and hastened to the banks of Rocky Creek, at the spot which Green had pointed out to me that day. On reaching the designated place, I threw off my coat and waded into the creek. I soon found a large flat stone, which I removed to one side. I was just beginning to dig under it, when Green hurried up and told me that Drysdale had left the house, and that he was only a short distance behind. We quickly hid ourselves in the underbrush, and in a few moments Drysdale appeared. Green passed him back and forth, several times, but Drysdale paid no attention to him whatever. Suddenly the thought flashed upon me, that he was walking in his sleep, and I soon saw that such was the case. All of his midnight promenades were now accounted for, and it was not strange that he had not noticed Green. So great was the man's anxiety and nervous dread of discovery, that he could not rest in quiet, and he was forced to visit the spot where his blood-stained treasure was concealed, even in his hours of repose.
He now waded into the creek, as before, but he remained a much longer time than usual, as he was unable to find the large flat stone in its accustomed spot. Finally, he discovered where I had thrown it, and he immediately replaced it in the very hole whence I had taken it. He then returned to the house, and went to bed.
I again removed the stone, and while Mr. McGregor handled the pick-axe, I plied the shovel vigorously. In a very few minutes, we struck a piece of wood which gave back a hollow sound. This encouraged us to renewed activity, and we were richly rewarded by unearthing a large cheese-box, whose weight gave ample proof of the value of its contents. Having replaced the flat stone where we first found it, we put the box on the wheelbarrow, and took turns in wheeling it to the bank, where we soon broke it open and discovered, as we had expected, that it was full of gold coin in rouleaux. The counting of this large sum of money was rather tedious, but it was finally accomplished satisfactorily, and the result showed that only eighty dollars were missing.
The officers of the bank were in high glee, and they asked me whether I had any hope of recovering the paper money.
"If I am not mistaken," I replied, "I shall find the paper money also, within twenty-four hours. I shall go to Drysdale's plantation to-morrow night, and shall search the ground in that group of trees of which you have already heard so much. I think we shall find there all the paper money."
The next day, Drysdale and Andrews remained together constantly; indeed, Drysdale did not seem willing to let Andrews leave his sight for a moment. He was perfectly helpless and inert. In the evening, I met my companions of the night previous, and we drove out to Drysdale's plantation, taking along the necessary tools. We secured our horses in the grove, and then Green led the way toward the spot where Drysdale had examined the ground. On making a close examination with our dark lanterns, we discovered a piece of sod which had evidently been taken up, for the edges had not yet joined with the surrounding turf. We quickly pulled it up and began to dig beneath it; as before, our search was rewarded after a few minutes of labor. At the depth of two feet, we came upon a large candle-box, which we carefully dug up and placed in one of our buggies. There was apparently, nothing more concealed in this spot, and so we replaced the earth, packed it down, and put the piece of sod back into its place. We then returned to Atkinson, where we arrived just before daylight. The bank officers immediately opened the box, and counted the paper money contained therein; it was found to agree exactly, with the sum stolen from the bank. The packages of bills were replaced in the box, which was then locked up in the vault.
I sent instructions by Andrews to Mrs. Potter to again make use of the blood about Drysdale's house, and I also ordered Green to keep watch during the night. The next morning Andrews reported that Drysdale's terror on discovering the blood had been greater than he had ever shown before, and that he was fast breaking down. I therefore held a consultation with the bank officers.
"Now, gentlemen," I said, "we have recovered the money, and we have sufficient evidence to convict the murderer. I think it is time to arrest him; don't you?"
To tell the truth, I was in no easy frame of mind myself. I was morally sure of Drysdale's guilt, but I had no legal evidence which was sufficient to convict him in case he should maintain his innocence. Moreover I had assumed a terrible responsibility in taking such extreme measures with him, for there was danger that he might go insane without confessing his guilt, and in that case my position would have been really dangerous. I should have been accused of driving him crazy with no proper justification for my actions, and the result might have been most disastrous to me. The fact that I, an unknown man from the North, had driven a high-toned Southern gentleman insane, would have been sufficient to hang me by the summary process of lynch law.
The fact that part of the money had been found on his plantation, would be only circumstantial evidence, since another man might have buried it there as well as Drysdale. His visits to the spots where the money was concealed, were not conclusive of guilt, since he was a somnambulist, and in his sleep-walking he was not responsible for his actions. Mrs. Potter suggested to me that he might have been sleep-walking the night of the murder, and (while in that condition,) he might have followed the murderer to the spot where the gold was hidden; it would then be nothing strange that he should go to the same spot in his subsequent night-wanderings.
It will thus be easily understood that during the remainder of my connection with the case, I was in a highly wrought up frame of mind. Indeed, when I came to make the arrest, it would have been hard to tell whether Drysdale or I was the more excited. In reply to my question, Mr. Bannatine instructed me to take whatever course I saw fit, as they were all perfectly satisfied with my management of the affair. I learned from Andrews that Drysdale would visit his office that afternoon, as there were some important matters requiring his attention. Drysdale had told Andrews that he intended to put the office in the charge of a deputy for a time, so as to enable him to go off to New Orleans on a visit of several weeks, and he desired that Andrews should accompany him. He little thought that the toils were closing around him so rapidly, and that he should never start on his projected excursion.
Having decided to arrest him immediately, I went to the office of an old friend of Mr. Bannatine, a lawyer, who drew up the necessary affidavit upon which I proposed to apply for a warrant. I then called upon the sheriff, and asked him to go before a justice of the peace with me, while I swore to an affidavit for a warrant which I wished him to execute.
"What is the warrant for?" asked the sheriff, as he walked along with me.
"It is quite an important case," I replied, "and I have had the affidavits drawn up by Mr. Wood, the lawyer, and you will see the charge in a few minutes."
"All right," said the sheriff; "let us go to Squire Baker's."
Fortunately we found the justice alone, and having stated that I wished to obtain a warrant, I handed him the affidavit which I had had prepared. He carefully adjusted his glasses and began to read the paper, but in a moment or two he gave a sudden start and dropped the document, in utter amazement. He looked at me keenly and said:
"Do you mean to accuse Mr. Drysdale of murdering George Gordon?"
At this the sheriff was equally astonished, and he said:
"Oh! nonsense; it can't be possible. Why, do you know, my dear sir, that he is one of the finest gentlemen, and one of the most honorable men in Atkinson? Surely you are joking."
"No, I am not joking at all," I replied. "I knew, of course, that you would be greatly surprised and shocked, but the proofs are too clear to admit of any doubt. The matter has been carefully examined by Mr. Bannatine, Mr. Gordon, and Mr. McGregor, and it is at their request that I have come to get a warrant. However, I can soon convince you of his guilt."
"Well, well, it is almost incredible," said Squire Baker, "but if Mr. Bannatine and Mr. McGregor are convinced, I presume there must be strong grounds for suspicion, for they are both very careful men. I certainly hope, however, that it may prove to have been a mistake, and that Mr. Drysdale will be able to show his innocence."
I then made oath to the facts, and the warrant was issued. The sheriff asked me when he should make the arrest, and I told him that Drysdale was then at his office, and he must be taken at once. We accordingly, went straight to his office, where we found him with Andrews. As the sheriff entered, Drysdale said:
"How do you do, Mr. Ringwood? Take a chair."
"No, I thank you, Mr. Drysdale," said the sheriff in a sympathetic tone; "the fact is, I am here on a very unpleasant duty, and I cannot stay long. I have a warrant for your arrest, Mr. Drysdale."
"Warrant for me! what for?" exclaimed Drysdale, huskily.
"It is for the murder of George Gordon," replied the sheriff.
"Who charges me? I——"
Drysdale could only shriek the above, ere he fell back into a chair almost lifeless. In a few minutes, he recovered somewhat, and the sheriff said:
"Mr. Pinkerton here, has made an affidavit to the charge, and he seems to be acquainted with the grounds for accusing you; suppose you walk down to the bank with us."
Drysdale gazed at me steadily for a moment, and then said:
"Let me look at the warrant."
He was trembling like an aspen leaf, while he was reading it, and when he had finished, he expressed a willingness to go with us, if Andrews would go too. It was now after banking hours, and the bank was closed, but the officers admitted us. After the door had been closed, I turned to Drysdale and said:
"I have the unpleasant duty, Mr. Drysdale, of charging you with the murder of George Gordon, in this bank; have you any denial to make?"
This was the signal to Green, and as I finished speaking, he passed from behind the desk, where he had been seated, across the spot where Gordon's body had fallen. He was made up exactly like Gordon, as on previous occasions, and though he was in sight only a second, it was enough. Drysdale gave a shriek, and fell lifeless, as the apparent ghost disappeared in the vault. It was done so quickly, that even the sheriff was puzzled to determine what the apparition was. Restoratives were applied, and Drysdale soon revived.
"Great God!" he exclaimed. "Where is George Gordon? I am sure he was here. Did you see him, Andrews?"
No one answered, and seeing that we were all looking at him in amazement, he sprang to his feet, exclaiming:
"I deny the charge you have made against me; it is false in every particular."
"Then, Mr. Drysdale," said I, "you will probably deny that you buried the gold, which was taken from this bank, in the bed of Rocky Creek. Here it is," I added, uncovering the box, which had been placed near by.
He said nothing, but hung his head, and drew a long breath.
"Will you also deny that you buried the paper money in a grove near your house, on your plantation?" I continued, showing him the candle box.
He still said nothing, and I made a motion to Andrews to have Green ready for a re-appearance. Then I went on speaking.
"This money has all been identified as that which was stolen from the bank; it was found as I have stated. I also have here a partly burned note of yours, which you used to light the fire in the grate. I have examined these fragments of buttons, and I find that they are exactly like those on the coat which you brought home from New Orleans just before the murder; they were found in the grate yonder, where you burned your coat, but there is enough left of them to identify them. But if you are not satisfied with this evidence, that we can prove you are guilty, I will even call upon the murdered man himself, to testify against you."
As I spoke, Green slowly glided out toward us, with his white, set face, and bloody hair. Drysdale covered his face with his hands, dropped into a chair and shrieked:
"Oh! my God! I am guilty! I am guilty!" and he sank back, but did not faint.
Green instantly retired, whence he came, and Drysdale continued speaking, as if he obtained relief by confessing his crime.
"Yes, I am guilty, and I have suffered the tortures of the damned since that frightful night. I do not know what made me do it, but I have never known a moment's peace since then. My mind has been occupied with that money constantly, and even in my sleep I would dream about it. Oh! it is terrible!"
"Have you ever gone to look for it at night, Mr. Drysdale?" I asked, as I wished to know whether he was aware of his somnambulism.
"Oh, no; I would not dare to go near it, but it has haunted me always."
"How did you come to murder George?" I asked.
"I can't tell," he replied, in a choking voice; "it all occurred like a dream."
"What motive did you have? You surely could have got money without resorting to robbery, much less murder."
"No, I could not. People think I am wealthy, but the fact is I lost a great deal of money in speculating when I went to New Orleans, a few months before the murder, and although I have a good deal of property, I had no ready money, and I could not work my plantation properly for want of it. I had purchased seven slaves from a man in New Orleans, and I could not pay for them. He was pressing me for the money, about twelve hundred dollars, and I came down to the bank to get the money from George. I had only three hundred dollars in bank, and so I gave my note for the remainder. While George was counting out the money, I was taken with a sort of insanity, and I struck him with a large hammer which happened to be at hand. Then I carried off the money and buried it, since which time I have never touched it. It has been a curse to me. This is all I have to say now."
I turned to Mr. Bannatine and said:
"I have now done all that I can do in this matter, I think."
"Yes, you have completed your task, and the law must now take its course," he replied. "Mr. Ringwood, you had better take charge of Mr. Drysdale."
Drysdale rose from his chair, wearily, and said:
"I am glad the end has come at last. This affair has been killing me by inches, and I am glad I have confessed."
The sheriff then touched him on the shoulder and said that he must go.
"Yes, I am ready," he replied, "but please let me speak a few words privately, to Mr. Andrews; I want to send a message to my wife," he added, with a sob.
He and Andrews then stepped into the small private office, and Andrews closed the door behind him.
"Andrews, my friend," said Drysdale, convulsively, "I beg you to break this news to my poor wife. God help her and the children. Tell her that I feel better for having confessed, and whatever happens she must keep up her courage. Now, my dear friend, good bye. Tell the sheriff to come here and take me to jail."
He wrung Andrews' hand warmly as the latter stepped to the door, but before the latter had reached us, we heard the ringing report of a pistol shot. We made a simultaneous rush for the little room, but we were too late. There, quivering on the floor, with a bullet in his brain, lay the murderer of George Gordon. The crime and the avengement had occurred in the same building, only a few feet separating the spot where the two bodies had fallen. The somnambulist had walked on earth for the last time.
THE MURDERER AND THE FORTUNE TELLER.
One sultry day in the summer of 185-, I arrived in Chicago, from a tour I had been making through the Southern States. I had attended to a portion of the accumulated business which I found awaiting me, when a gentleman entered the outer office and asked one of my clerks whether he could see me immediately on some very important business. Mr. Howard saw by the gentleman's appearance, that the matter must be one of great consequence, and, therefore, ushered the visitor into my private office, without asking any questions.
"Mr. Pinkerton, I believe?" said the gentleman, as he advanced toward me.
"Yes, sir," I replied; "what can I do for you?"
He took a letter from his pocket and handed it to me. I motioned him to be seated, while I read the letter. I found it to be from my old friend Chapman, a lawyer in New Haven, Connecticut, introducing the bearer, Captain J. N. Sumner. The letter stated that Captain Sumner was a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, near which place he owned a farm. He had a moderate fortune, and he was a most estimable man. Mr. Chapman had known him for many years, during which time he had always borne himself in an upright, straightforward manner, free from all reproach. Lately, however, he had become involved in some very serious difficulties in the West, and Mr. Chapman had advised him to see me, and obtain my assistance in extricating himself from his troubles. Mr. Chapman concluded by saying, that he was confident, that, if any one could aid the Captain, I was the best person to consult.
I had not seen Mr. Chapman for some years, the last time having been while I was attending to some business in which he was interested. He was especially noted as a criminal lawyer being employed quite as often for the prosecution, as for the defense. We were the best of friends, and had cracked many a joke at each other's expense. He did not mention the nature of the Captain's troubles in his letters, leaving that for the Captain to do himself.
While I was reading the letter, I was aware that the Captain was observing me closely, as if desirous of reading my very thoughts. When I had finished, I said:
"Captain Sumner, I am glad to meet you. Any one bearing a letter from my old friend Chapman, is welcome."
As I spoke, I looked straight at him, and took in his whole appearance.
He was apparently, about fifty years of age, but was very well preserved, not a streak of gray being visible in his dark, curly hair. He was slightly above the middle height, and his frame was proportionally powerful, his limbs being well knit, and muscular. His clear, hazel eyes looked frankly out beneath heavy, straight eyebrows, while his large Roman nose and massive chin, gave his face great firmness and determination. His teeth were white and regular, and his smile was unusually sweet and expressive. His face was much tanned from long exposure to the weather, and his hands were large and hard. He was dressed in a quiet, neat suit of gray cloth, well fitting but easy, and there was nothing loud or in bad taste about him. His only articles of jewelry were a gold watch and chain, and a seal ring with a peculiar, plain stone, worn on the little finger of his left hand. I gazed steadily at him for about two minutes, which is about as long a time as I need to obtain a correct opinion of a man's character. I was very favorably impressed by his appearance, and I prepared to hear his story with more interest than I should have had, if he had been a less honest, reliable looking man.
He opened the conversation, while I was still looking straight into his face.
"Mr. Pinkerton," he said, "I have heard a great deal about you from various sources, and I little thought that I should ever require your services; but, lately, while consulting Mr. Chapman relative to a possible flaw in the title to my farm, I also laid before him some other troubles which he acknowledged were so serious as to require the advice and assistance of some one with a training and experience somewhat different from his. He urged me so strongly to state my case to you, and obtain your aid, that I have finally decided to follow his advice, and here I am."
"When did you arrive?" I inquired.
"About a week ago. I looked around for a time to see if my difficulties had diminished,——"(and he passed his hand nervously through his hair, drawing a long breath)—"but I found they had increased, if anything. Mr. Pinkerton, when I retired from the sea and settled down on my farm, I thought my cares and vexations were over, and that I could find in the peace and tranquility of country life, a rich reward for the hardships I had endured while earning enough to retire on. My father, also, was a sailor many years, and, after passing the best part of his life at sea, in like manner, he was able to live his last twenty years in peace and content upon his farm; there I was reared, until I was old enough to go to sea. I have followed his example; but, instead of enjoying the peace he did, I find that my serious troubles are only just beginning. If I were at sea, I should have no fears, for there I am perfectly at home. No matter how the wind might blow, or the seas roll, I always brought my ship through in safety. I could read the signs of the weather, and could detect the approach of danger from the elements. I knew my enemies were there, and that was half the battle. Here, on land, I find it so different; my worst enemies come to me with the smiles and greetings of friends; they express the tenderest wishes for my welfare, and shower upon me the tokens of their affection; then, having fairly won my confidence, they turn upon me when I least expect it, and stab me cruelly. I am a plain, blunt man—often irritable and unjust, I know—still, I never flinch from danger when I can see it; but, the very nature of my bringing up has rendered me unfit to cope with the wiles and subtleties of my fellow man. You, Mr. Pinkerton, it is said, have the power to see direct to the hearts of men through the shams and artifices by which they seek to hide their true characters, and you are the only man who can assist me. Oh, I wish I were back on the sea, far away from all my troubles. I should care but little if I never returned."
He spoke in a low voice, but the tone was clear until the last, when his words were very pathetic. As he closed, his head dropped forward, and he sat gazing fixedly at his ring in an attitude of mournful retrospection.
"Perhaps you had better wait awhile before telling me your story," I suggested.
"Yes," he replied, looking at his watch, "it is now five o'clock, so I will defer making my statement until to-morrow; though I should prefer to make it now, if I had time. The story is a long one, and I shall have to take a considerable portion of your valuable time in telling it. Will you please to name the hour when I can meet you to-morrow, to give you all the facts in the case?"
I had already become interested in the Captain, and, after thinking for a moment how I could best arrange my other business so as to grant him the necessary time, I told him to come at nine o'clock next morning. He said he would be punctual in keeping the appointment; then stepping forward, he took my hand and said, in a very impressive way, "Mr. Pinkerton, I shall meet you if I am alive. I am not afraid of death; I have met it scores of times, face to face, and have never flinched from it; but now I must take care of myself. If I don't come, just look for me at my boarding house."
I glanced quickly at him, but could see nothing wrong about his mind. His eyes were clear and natural; his whole appearance showed him to be a plain, blunt seaman, little disposed to invent imaginary dangers. Still, there was in his manner, a deep melancholy which showed me that it was not any natural disease that he dreaded, and which caused me to exclaim:
"Why, Captain, you fear death by violence, do you not?"
"Yes," he replied; "but I cannot enter into details at present. I shall try to save myself and meet you to-morrow morning, but if I do not come, please send my body to Connecticut, to be interred near the rest of my family."
He then said good-day and went out, leaving me to speculate upon his peculiar behavior, and to wonder what were the dangers which surrounded him. I was so much pleased with his frank, manly simplicity that I was determined to give him all the assistance in my power.
At nine o'clock the next morning, Captain Sumner walked into my private office, and I immediately locked the door to avoid interruption. I noticed that he was apparently much more contented than he had been the evening previous; but I said nothing, preferring to have him tell his story in his own way. He began immediately, without wasting time in preliminaries:
"Mr. Pinkerton, I know that you are always busy, and that time is money to you; hence, I shall be as brief as possible. In order to begin right, I must go slightly into my family history. My father owned a farm near Springfield, Massachusetts, where my mother brought up the family while he was away at sea. He was as fine a seaman as ever trod a deck, and became Captain in one of the regular lines of East India packet companies while I was a mere child. I had one brother who died very young, leaving me the only boy of the family. I had two sisters, however, Lucy and Annie. My father took me to sea with him when I was quite a boy, and he put me through such a thorough course of seamanship and navigation that, by the time he was ready to resign his captaincy and retire to his farm, I was promoted to the position of first mate in the same line. This was in 1836.
"About this time my mother died, and my sisters took charge of the domestic affairs of the farm. My older sister, Lucy, now Mrs. W. R. Lucas, was twenty-two years old. She was a girl of great firmness of character, and she has since proved herself the best of wives, being very domestic and fond of home pleasures. Annie, my younger sister, was eighteen years of age, and she was then my special pride and delight; as, indeed, she has been all her life. She was tall and slender, but well proportioned and graceful. Her features were regular and expressive, and her complexion was very delicate; yet it has retained its freshness until now, instead of fading, as is the case with most clear, soft complexions. She was then, and is still, a beautiful woman. She was very vivacious and witty, was fond of society, and cared less for domestic pursuits than to have a gay time in a large company. She was petted and indulged a great deal, being the youngest and a beauty, so that she was not often called upon to practice self-denial. It is probably partly due to this lack of restraint during her early years that she never has had the strength of character and devotion to good principles as Lucy."
Here the Captain sighed heavily, and stopped speaking for a minute or two. I handed him a glass of ice-water, which he drank mechanically. He then continued:
"As I before stated, I became first mate when my father retired. The company was a wealthy one, owning a number of ships, so that the chances for promotion were very good. My most intimate friend was a young man named Henry Thayer. We had long been ship-mates together, and had passed through a school of navigation at the same time. He was a thorough seaman, a careful, considerate officer, and a true friend. He was a general favorite on account of his cheerful disposition, and we soon became like brothers. Whenever we returned from a voyage, I would bring Henry out to the farm to spend a few days, and, about the time of my promotion, I found that he had become warmly attached to Annie. At every opportunity, he would run down to see her, and in every foreign port we entered, he would be sure to buy some rare and curious present for her. His affection was reciprocated by Annie, and one day, after I had made two or three short voyages as first mate, I returned to the farm and found Annie wearing an engagement ring. I laughingly asked her when it was to come off, and she replied, with many blushes, that they were to be married on Henry's return from his next voyage. I knew that Annie was very fond of gentlemen's society, so I advised her to try to overcome her taste for dress and company; since, when she was married, her husband would be away from home a great deal, and then it would not look well for her to receive much attention in his absence. She seemed to acknowledge the force of my remarks, and said that she should do all in her power to make Henry happy.
"On returning to New York, I found that Henry had been just appointed first mate, and that I had pleased the company so well that they wished me to take command of a new ship which they were building. I gladly accepted the command, and as the ship was not ready for sea, I returned to the farm, where I spent two months. I was somewhat annoyed at Annie's conduct occasionally, as she received, and apparently enjoyed, the attention of several stylish young men, more than was befitting a girl who was engaged to be married. I frequently ran down to New York to oversee the rigging of the new ship, so that I did not know much about her acquaintances; but once, on my return, I saw a beautiful amethyst ring on Annie's finger.
"'Where did you get that ring, Annie?' I asked.
"She laughed gaily and said:
"'Oh! it isn't mine; a gentleman loaned it to me to wear a few days.'
"My impression was, however, that it had been given to her, and I feared she was forgetting Henry; so I said:
"'That is a strange way of acting, Annie. You are engaged to Henry, and you ought to know that it is a wrong and an insult to him for you to receive a present from another young man. If Henry knew of this, it would make trouble.'
"She recognized the truth of what I had said, but she was determined not to acknowledge that she had done wrong; so she flew into a passion and said, as sneeringly as possible;
"'Oh! so you are left here to watch me, are you? Well, then, just report to him that I can get a better husband than he is, any day. I am not going to shut myself up, like a nun in a convent, for any man.'
"I told her that I had no desire to act the part of a tale-bearer, but that I spoke only for her good; her conscience must tell her that she was doing wrong. I concluded by asking her to stay more at home, and thus prepare for a more domestic life. I did not see the ring after this, but Annie was very distant in her manner toward me; her actions showed as plainly as if she had spoken, that she considered me in the light of an unreasonable guardian, who wished to deprive her of all enjoyment. Her giddiness and perverseness caused me much trouble, and I greatly feared she would become reckless after my departure. She was my favorite sister, however, and no matter how she might treat me, I could never lose my love for her.
"The first voyage in my new ship, was a very long one, and, on my return, I found that there had been many changes in my absence. Henry and Annie had been married for sometime, and Henry was then away at sea. As my father had died shortly after the marriage, Annie was living alone in New York, where I called upon her. She was pleasantly situated, and seemed to have everything that could be wished. Lucy was also married, and was living in Morristown, New Jersey. The old homestead had been sold at my father's death, the proceeds being divided between my sisters. A few thousand dollars were left to me, which I deposited in bank with my savings.
"On my return from another long voyage, I was delighted to find Henry at home with Annie, and they seemed more devoted to each other than ever. After this, I saw Henry but twice—once in Singapore, and once in Calcutta. He was then as much in love with Annie, as when he first married her, and he said that she made him perfectly happy. The last time I met him, he had just been notified that he should be given the command of a fine ship on his return to New York; consequently he was in high spirits.
"When I next arrived in New York harbor, I made it my first duty to call on Annie. Much to my surprise, I found that she was teaching music in Brooklyn, at a very high salary. Her musical education had been very thorough, so that she was perfectly competent; but I could not see the necessity for her to teach. She had had one child, but it had died in infancy, and she was living in a fashionable boarding house. I called in the evening, intending to ask her to accompany me for a walk, but she was surrounded by a brilliant company, among whom were several gentlemen, and all were paying her great attention. She was very stylishly dressed, and, to my great disgust, she seemed to be coquetting with several of her admirers. When I was announced, she led me into the library, as if anxious that the company in the parlor should not know that a hard-fisted, weather-beaten sailor like me, was her brother. Still, she spoke very kindly, and seemed glad to see me. She excused herself from going to walk with me on the ground that she had an engagement to accompany the rest of the party to the theatre; but she said that if I would call some other evening, she would gladly go. I was somewhat puzzled by her surroundings and manners, and I determined to have a quiet talk with her as soon as possible.
"The next day, I went to Boston on very important business, and, on my return, I found Annie plunged into all the gayety and dissipation of New York fashionable life. She certainly presented a very elegant and stylish appearance; yet, my heart ached as I looked at her. How much joy it would have given me to have found her in a quiet little home waiting anxiously for Henry's return.
"I talked with her for sometime about her affairs, and urged her to lead a more quiet life; but she insisted that Henry approved of her present way of living; of course, I could say nothing further.
"'Henry is not as unreasonable as you are,' she would say. 'He knew how lonely I would be while he was gone, and, therefore, he told me not to mope and pine, but to get into good society, and try to be cheerful and happy.'
"Still, I had an undefined feeling that Annie was in danger, and I wrote to Lucy about her, asking Lucy to induce her to break away from the gay life she was leading. Soon afterward, I went to sea again, and, during my absence, Henry was given command of one of the finest ships in the line. Two years passed quickly away, but, as I was engaged during that time in making short voyages to the West Indies and back, I frequently saw Annie in New York. She seemed to grow more and more estranged from me, however, and her conduct caused me great anxiety. I had seen some things in her deportment, which, though not absolutely wrong, were, to my mind, far from proper; besides, she showed a carelessness of appearances not at all becoming a married woman.
"My next series of voyages were very long, and I was able to see Annie only once or twice in several years. She was now thirty-two years old, and was unusually and strikingly handsome. About this time, I returned from a long cruise, and found Annie still teaching music in Brooklyn. She dressed as elegantly as ever, and seemed very complacent and contented. I invited her to take a walk with me, and we went out toward one of the small city parks. As she swept along beside me, her features all animation, and her eyes sparkling with health and pleasure, I thought I had never before seen any one so beautiful. I did not wonder that Henry was so proud of her, or that he should indulge her so much. We strolled about in the park for a time, and then seated ourselves in a quiet spot.
"'How long is it since you have heard from Henry?' I asked.
"'Why, don't you know that we had a quarrel several months ago?' she answered, with an effort, her face turning very red.
"'Annie, do you mean that you and Henry have separated?' I asked, very much shocked at such news.
"'Yes; that is what I mean. Henry became so strict and unjust with me that I complained to him of his treatment. One word brought on another, until at last he flew into a violent passion and left me.'
"On hearing Annie relate, in such a cool, off-hand manner, how she had driven away one of the best husbands that ever lived, I was perfectly thunderstruck. I had feared that something of the kind might happen, but now that it had really come to pass, I hardly knew what to do or say.
"'Is it possible, Annie!' I said. 'Where did he go?'
"'I don't know,' she replied; 'he left his ship and went off.'
"'But they know at the office where he went, don't they?' I asked.
"'No; he left his ship at short notice. The company tried to keep him, but he would not stay; and, finally, he went off without telling any one where he was going,' answered Annie, beginning to cry.
"It seemed to me that she was crying more to avert my displeasure than because she missed Henry; but she was my favorite sister, and I still loved her. Hence, though I deeply regretted and condemned her actions, I could not find it in my heart to characterize her conduct as it deserved.
"'Annie, are you not entirely to blame for this? Remember how many times I have cautioned you against the course you were pursuing. Tell me what led to your separation,' I asked, finally.
"At first she refused to say anything; but, at length, I drew out that reports had reached Henry's ears that she was in the habit of accepting a great deal of attention from a certain gentleman, and that he accompanied her to the theatre very frequently.
"'But,' she said, 'there was nothing wrong in that.'
"Then, on several occasions, Henry asked her to attend the theatre with him; but it so happened that she had a severe headache each time. This made Henry jealous, and he asked her, tauntingly, why she never had a headache when a certain gentleman called. This sneer led to mutual recriminations and bitter language on both sides, until Henry went away in a towering rage.
"I could see the whole trouble. Henry loved her passionately, and her conduct had driven him away in despair. I determined to search for him everywhere, in the hope of bringing them again together, and effecting a reconciliation.
"The day before I sailed on my next voyage, I saw a beautiful diamond ring on Annie's finger.
"'Annie,' I asked, sorrowfully, 'whose ring is that?'
"'Why, mine, of course,' she replied; 'have you never seen it before?'
"'You must have plenty of money to be able to buy such valuable jewelry as that,' I said. 'I think you show very bad taste to display it at this time, when you know that your folly has driven your husband from you,' I added, angrily.
"She hung her head in silence, as if really ashamed, and I went away feeling almost guilty for having spoken so harshly to her.
"My next voyage was to the East Indies, and I made inquiries about Henry at every port, besides 'speaking' every vessel I met at sea, but no one could tell me anything about him. It became evident that he had not only left the service of the company, but that he had disappeared from all the localities where he was known.
"On my return to New York, I hurried over to see Annie early in the evening. She was dressed for the opera, and was evidently expecting some one. She was quite surprised to see me, but she threw herself into my arms and kissed me very affectionately, as she inquired whether I had heard any news of her dear Henry. When I told her of my poor success, she pretended to feel very sorry, though she did not apparently allow her sorrow to interfere with her enjoyment.
"'Well, Annie,' I said, 'you are dressed to go out somewhere, aren't you? Tell me all about it.'
"'Yes,' she replied, 'I intended going to the opera with Mr. Pattmore, but if you do not wish me to go, I will remain at home. You must stay to meet him; he is one of the most perfect gentlemen I have ever met. He belongs in Massachusetts, but he now owns a large hotel in Greenville, Ohio. Mrs. Pattmore and I are such good friends, and all the children think the world of me. I have been out to visit them in Greenville twice, and they made my stay so pleasant that I always speak of their house as my home. Mr. Pattmore is in town on business, and I received a note from him this morning asking me to go to the opera.'
"Mr. Pattmore came in just then, and we were introduced to each other. He was a well-built man of about forty-five years of age, with very agreeable, easy manners. His hair and mustache were jet black, and his features were rather pleasing. His eyes were large and black, but restless and snaky; I noticed that he never looked straight into my face when speaking to me. He was dressed in the height of the prevailing fashion, and he showed a good deal of jewelry. They both pressed me to accompany them to the opera, but as I was not appropriately dressed, I declined politely, and they went without me.
"I had previously learned at the office of the company, that they had not heard anything of Henry, so I sorrowfully returned aboard my ship, almost decided to give up a sea-faring life. I was then fifty years of age, and I thought of buying a farm, where I could settle down at my ease. I knew that Annie was in a dangerous position for a handsome woman—left alone with no one to advise or restrain her—and I wished to take her with me, so as to remove her from temptation. I therefore, wrote to Lucy, asking her opinion, and requesting her to advise Annie to give up her present mode of life.
"Lucy wrote a long letter in reply: she said that she very much feared there was something wrong between Annie and Pattmore; when Annie was staying at Greenville, Lucy had written twice, asking her to come to Morristown, where Lucy lived; Annie had promised to do so, but she had never come. Pattmore, Lucy said, was a prominent politician in Greenville, and he was looking forward to the nomination for congressman. Mrs. Pattmore was a very good woman, of fine appearance and agreeable manners; she was very domestic in her tastes and she delighted in taking care of her home and children. There were three children living, the eldest son being about twenty-one years old, and the other two being quite young. Mr. Pattmore's hotel was very well kept and popular, and he was supposed to be wealthy.
"Lucy's letter added greatly to the anxiety which I felt about Annie, and I was very desirous of resigning my command immediately, in order to settle down on a farm with her, and thus remove her from the temptations of a gay city. I felt sure that nothing more would be necessary than a retired, quiet life for a few months, to prepare her to give Henry a joyful and affectionate welcome on his return. Circumstances, however, made it impossible for me to give up my ship at that time, and, at the earnest request of the directors of the company (in which I had invested a considerable portion of my savings) I consented to make one or two more cruises. Accordingly, I sailed for the East Indies for the last time, and made a very speedy and prosperous voyage. I continued my inquiries for Henry Thayer, but was unable to obtain any tidings of him. On my return, I called to see Annie, and found her occupying her old position as music teacher in Brooklyn. She said that Mrs. Pattmore had urged her so strongly to visit them that she had accepted the invitation twice during my absence.
"I had hardly reached New York, before I was hurried away again; my ship was hastily loaded with a cargo for Rio Janeiro, and I again sailed in command. The trip was a speculative venture, which resulted very profitably, and, on my return, I asked to be relieved from further service. I was then fifty-three years of age, and I needed rest. The company treated me very handsomely, and I sold my shares at a high valuation. Having settled my affairs with the company, I hurried off to see Annie; but I was surprised to find that she had moved to Greenville, where she was teaching music to Mr. Pattmore's younger children.
"I had bought a farm near Springfield, Massachusetts, sometime previous, and, learning that there was some slight inaccuracy in the deed, I went to New Haven to consult a lawyer—your friend, Mr. Chapman—relative to the title. While there, I wrote to Annie, asking her to come and live on the farm with me. She immediately replied that she was under an engagement as teacher for six months, and that she could not leave Greenville until the end of that time. She said that Lucy had asked her to pay a visit to Morristown, but that she had been obliged to decline the invitation for the same reason. In conclusion, Annie begged me to visit her in Greenville.
"As soon, therefore, as I had settled my business affairs, I went to Greenville to stay a few days. Annie seemed very glad to see me, and appeared to be in excellent health. I repeated my proposal, that she should come to keep house for me on my farm, and she seemed favorably disposed toward the arrangement, though she asked time to think about it. I told her that at my death, I should leave her all my property, and that, meantime, she should have everything she wished. I also tried to talk to her about Henry, but she refused to say much, and seemed desirous to believe that he was dead.
"I found that she had very little to do as a teacher, the children being too young to study; but she was much attached to Greenville, as, to use her own words, 'there were so many fashionable people there.' She used to go out driving with Mr. and Mrs. Pattmore, and sometimes with Mr. Pattmore alone, often going as far as fifteen or twenty miles into the country. I did not at all like the way she was acting, and I determined to use every effort to induce her to return to Massachusetts with me. This visit, Mr. Pinkerton, took place about two months ago.
"After remaining in Greenville a few days, I went to visit Lucy in Morristown. We had a long talk together about Annie, and finally, Lucy confided to me that she feared that Annie was enceinte.
"'Good heavens, Lucy! that is impossible!' I exclaimed. 'Our family has never had such a disgrace cast upon it before; it has always maintained its purity. No, no; it can't be possible.'
"'I am not sure of it,' said Lucy; 'but I know there is something wrong with her, and I greatly fear that she is a ruined woman.'
"I hardly knew what to say or do, the mere suspicion was such a terrible blow."
Here the Captain became greatly affected; the perspiration started on his forehead in large beads, and he often made long pauses, as he continued. His emotion would sometimes entirely overcome him, so that he could not speak.
"Well," he went on, "Lucy wrote to Annie, and back came the answer fully confirming the horrid suspicion. Annie freely confessed that she was enceinte, and that Pattmore was the father of her unborn child. She said that she and Pattmore dearly loved each other, and that she could not bear the thought of separating from him.
"My first impulse was to curse her and never see her again; but my old love for her could not be set aside, and pity soon took the place of anger. I could see that Pattmore had thrown a spell around her by his fascinating manners, and she was completely under his influence. I determined to save her from exposure and disgrace, if possible, and, therefore, started for Greenville immediately. I had intended to speak to Annie in a severe and indignant tone, but she rushed to meet me with such a glad little cry that my anger melted away, and tears sprang unbidden to my eyes.
"'Oh! Annie! Annie!' I exclaimed, 'what have you done! How has this man acquired such a terrible power over you as to make you forget your marriage vows and live a life of infamy with him? Have you no stings of conscience? Think how our sainted mother would feel if she could see her little Annie in the power of a heartless libertine. Return with me at once, and I will forget everything. In the seclusion of my farm, you need not fear the fiery tongue of scandal, and I will be a father to your child.'
"She stood with downcast eyes while I was speaking, but when I had finished she began a vehement defense of her conduct, in the course of which she repeated all the usual arguments of those who wish to ease their consciences when on the downward path.
"Mr. Pattmore, she said, was a perfect gentleman; he loved her, and she returned his affection; it was true, unhappily, that they were both married, but nature had intended them for each other, and she preferred to obey the laws of nature to those of society; Mrs. Pattmore was a very fine woman, but she could not make her husband happy.
"The doctrine of free-love was fully endorsed by Annie, who had learned it all by heart, and she advanced the most extraordinary theories in justification of her conduct.
"For years, she said, she had held the first place in Pattmore's heart, and he had lavished his money upon her freely; the diamond ring I had seen, the rich dresses she had worn, a valuable necklace, and many other articles of jewelry were among the gifts he had showered upon her; they loved each other as husband and wife and as soon as Mrs. Pattmore should die, Mr. Pattmore would make Annie his legal wife.
"I saw that she was completely infatuated, but I endeavored to show her how false her reasoning was, and to what wicked conclusions it would lead. I asked if she had forgotten Henry, who was liable to return at any moment; she could not marry until she obtained a divorce. Besides, the fact that they were looking forward to, and wishing for Mrs. Pattmore's death, was almost equivalent to committing murder, since to desire any person's death was morally as bad as to murder that person.
"We had a long conversation, and finally Annie agreed to join me in Springfield in a short time. I therefore returned to the farm and prepared to settle down. I received no reply to several letters which I wrote to Annie, but at last she sent me a short note saying that she had changed her mind, and that she should stay in Greenville. I immediately replied that I would not permit her to remain there any longer, and I then went to consult Mr. Chapman about the matter. He acknowledged that he could do nothing, as Annie was her own mistress; but he advised me to see you, Mr. Pinkerton, and obtain your advice and assistance. As it was a very delicate matter, affecting the honor of my family, I did not like to speak about it to a third party, as I feared that the story might be made known publicly, and Annie's reputation would then be ruined. I therefore told him that I should not consult you if I could possibly avoid doing so.
"While I was inwardly debating what was best to be done, I received a note from Annie, asking me to come to her, as she feared that something serious was about to happen. I went at once to Greenville, and found that she had decided to remove the evidence of her guilt by performing an abortion. I tried hard to dissuade her from a step which might result in her own death, but she was resolute in her determination not to wait for the child's natural birth. She said that if I would stay with her until she recovered, she would return to Springfield with me and never see Pattmore again. She spoke very feelingly about Henry, and she seemed so deeply and truly penitent that I was finally won over to her wishes, and I agreed to stay with her until she had an operation performed. I determined to take her to stay with Lucy, at Morristown, at first, and she accordingly prepared to leave Greenville.
"She had a long private interview with Pattmore before leaving, and when she came out I saw she had been shedding bitter tears. As I stepped to the office desk to pay my bill, I saw Pattmore in the clerk's room back of the office, and he, too, seemed very much dejected. I could hardly keep my hands off his throat when I recollected his villainy; but I curbed my temper by a great effort, as I knew that a personal encounter between us would only publish my sister's shame to the world. On our arrival in Morristown, Lucy and I had a long talk with Annie, which was far from satisfactory to me, as I saw that she was still infatuated with Pattmore.
"I thought best to go some distance away from the places where we were known during Annie's trial, and I therefore brought her to Chicago. Here I obtained board in a very respectable family, where there were only a few other boarders. Annie did not show her condition in her appearance at all, and no one could possibly have suspected her. I found a physician named Enfield, who was a noted operator in such cases, and Annie at once placed herself under his treatment.
"I knew that I was about to assist in committing a great crime, yet I felt that I must shield Annie at all hazards, and so I yielded to her wishes in the matter. Enfield was an expert in such matters, and, in a short time, he brought Annie through in safety. She was recovering fast, when one day, on entering her room, I found Pattmore there. I went out instantly, as I was afraid to trust myself in the same room with him; but, when he had gone away, I besought Annie never again to admit him to her presence. She would make no promises, and finally, she fell back in a swoon. On recovering, she said that she would die if she could not see Pattmore, and I was obliged to drop the subject until she should become stronger. Pattmore remained in town two days, and she insisted on having him with her a great deal of the time.
"I fear that you will consider me very weak and foolish for permitting this; but I have never been able to refuse Annie anything. I knew, moreover, that, in such a case, harsh measures would only add fuel to the flame, and so I continued to humor her, trusting, that in time, she would gradually recover her normal condition, and see the folly of her conduct.
"Pattmore told her, during his visit, that he was in great hopes of receiving the democratic nomination to Congress; and, as the democratic party had a large majority in that district, the nomination would be equivalent to an election. He also said that his wife was in failing health, and that she seemed to grow weaker every day. I could see by Annie's manner, when she told me this, that she hoped to be Pattmore's partner in enjoying the gay life of the National Capital, though she did not say so directly.