"One day, she brought up the subject of wills, and said that she thought every one owning property, ought to make a will. She said that otherwise a man's property, in case of sudden death, might be eaten up by the lawyers and court officials. I admitted the justness of her remarks, and told her that I should follow her suggestion. I was obliged to go East on business for a few days at this time, and, on the way, I left a letter and package with Pattmore, which Annie had asked me to deliver. While in New Haven, I employed Mr. Chapman to draw up my will. Lucy had asked me to leave all my property to Annie, as she had enough for herself and children, while Annie had no one to look to for an honest support, except myself; accordingly, I made my will in that way.
"On my return to Chicago, I hurried to our boarding house to see Annie, and, to my intense disgust, I found Pattmore with her. The sight of him fondling my poor sister, was too much for me: and, although I succeeded in restraining myself from doing him any personal violence, I used the most severe language possible in characterizing his villainy, and in expressing my contempt for him. I concluded, by telling him that the affair must end then and there; that he must never address my sister again, or attempt to see her; and that if he dared to disregard my demand, he must take the consequences. They both hung their heads guiltily, while I was speaking, and when I closed, Pattmore quitted the room without a word. I found that he left town the same day.
"I also went out of the house immediately, being too excited to talk calmly to Annie; but I returned after supper, and reasoned with her as gently as possible on the impropriety and wickedness of her conduct. She seemed to feel very sorry, and was so penitent that my hopes of saving her, rose considerably. She promised, with tears in her eyes, to overcome her unholy love for Pattmore, and never to see him again. I noticed, however, that when I spoke of my efforts to obtain tidings of Henry, she was very indifferent; but she promised to return to Springfield with me as soon as she was able to travel, and matters began to look more cheerful for the future.
"A day or two after, she received a letter from Pattmore, saying that his wife was seriously ill, and that the physicians considered her life in danger.
"'What is the matter with her?' I asked.
"'I don't know,' she replied; 'Mr. Pattmore does not state what is her disease.'
"I then spoke very harshly about Pattmore, and said that he, above all other men, was hateful to me, because he had ruined her. She replied in his defense, and, as our conversation seemed likely to become bitter, I walked out to allow time for both our tempers to cool off. On my return, I found that Annie had gone out for the first time, since her illness, but she soon came in, saying that she had taken a short walk for exercise. She had regained her good humor, and seemed more like herself than she had for sometime. She again brought up the subject of wills, and I told her that I had made my will while I was in New Haven. She asked me about it, and I told her that I had made her my sole legatee, and that she would be in comfortable circumstances when I died. She seemed very much pleased at this, and said I was a dear good brother; but she hoped it might be a long time before she should become heiress to my property.
"'Who knows?' she said, laughing; 'perhaps I may die first.'
"'That is possible,' I said, 'but not probable. In the course of nature, I ought to die many years before you; and sailors are proverbially short-lived.'
"'Oh, nonsense!' she replied, 'you are so salted and tanned that you will last fifty years yet.'
"She then skipped gaily into the next room and brought out a bottle of ale, to reward me, as she said, for being good. She poured out a glass for each of us, and we drank to each other's good health. In about half an hour I became very sick; I vomited and retched terribly, while my bowels seemed to be on fire. The weather was very warm, and I attributed my illness to some fruit I had eaten, which the ale had disagreed with. I suffered agony all night, but toward morning I became quieter and the pain gradually left me.
"At daylight I casually glanced at my ring, and I was surprised to see that the stone had turned to a creamy white—a sure sign that my life was in danger. You will call me foolish and superstitious, I know, but I cannot help it. A belief in the virtues of this ring is a part of my very nature, and it has always been an unerring guide to me. This ring invariably predicts my good or bad fortune." And so speaking, the Captain held the ring out for me to see it.
I looked him straight in the face, expecting to see some signs of insanity, or at least monomania, in his eyes, but there were none. He was evidently perfectly rational, and this belief was apparently as natural to him as a belief in a hereafter, or in any other religious doctrine, is to other people. After a short pause, as I glanced at the ring, he continued:
"Now, you can see nothing strange in that stone, Mr. Pinkerton, but I can. From its appearance I can obtain warning of approaching good or bad fortune. Away out at sea, when a storm is coming, the stone turns black; when enemies are near me it turns the color of blood; and when I am in danger of death, it becomes a creamy white.
"My father once saved the life of a Sepoy soldier, and, as a mark of gratitude, the latter presented my father with three rings of wonderful powers. The Sepoy said that he had obtained them from a Hindoo hermit, far out in the jungle. I have long tried to find other rings possessing the same qualities, but have never succeeded. One of these rings was buried with my mother, one with my father, and I have the third."
I looked at the ring carefully, but could see nothing remarkable about it. The stone was an opal, set in a heavy gold band, peculiarly chased; but, aside from the popular superstition with regard to opals, there was nothing which would lead me to suppose that it possessed any exceptional powers.
"When I saw you last," continued the Captain, "I meant to have asked you to have this ring buried with me, in case I died; but I was afraid you would consider the request too foolish. I wished it buried with me because I did not wish Annie to have it."
"But why do you think Annie would take it?" I asked.
"Because I know she wants it," replied Captain Sumner. "She thinks that it would enable her to make Pattmore love her always, and so she wishes to own it. Now, I think Pattmore is a villain, and I wish to separate her from him and destroy his influence over her. Therefore I do not wish her to get the ring, since its possession will induce her to continue her connection with that man."
I confess that I did not know what to make of the Captain. If he was insane, he certainly had the most impenetrable mask over his insanity that I had ever seen. His eyes were so bright, clear and honest, that the most experienced physiognomist in the world would have failed to observe the slightest trace of cunning, or want of a balanced mind in their expression. During the progress of his story he had continually held his ring where he could see it, and several times had raised it to the light, in a contemplative sort of way, as if he drew some satisfaction from its appearance. He bowed his head in his hands as he ceased speaking, and some moments elapsed before he looked up, though when he did so he was perfectly calm.
"Captain, did you find the ring of any practical value at sea?" I asked.
"Yes; often it has apprised me of a coming storm in time to prepare for it. I have thus passed in safety through many sudden gales of the approach of which I have been warned only just in time to save my ship. My men always had perfect confidence in my ability to weather the heaviest gale."
"Well, Captain, if you should give that ring to me, would it be equally prophetic in my hands?" I asked.
"But I will not give it to you nor any one else; nor will I part with it, even in death if I can help it," replied the Captain. "The Sepoy told my father, that he must never allow the rings to go out of his family, as they would then lose their powers. I know that the fancy seems strange to you, and, no doubt, you think I am not exactly sane; but I have proved the power of the ring so often, that I know its virtues, and believe in them. I may be able to satisfy you of its value by a practical demonstration yet."
I saw that he was not insane, but terribly superstitious, so I made no further remarks about the ring. He drew his chair closer toward me, and said in a low, painful whisper:
"Mr. Pinkerton, I have positive knowledge that Annie has attempted to poison me three times. She put poison in that ale; she afterwards gave me some in a cup of coffee; and, the third time, it was administered so secretly, that I do not know when I took it. The first time, I recovered because the dose was too large, and I vomited up the poison so soon that it had not time to act. The second time, I took only a sip of the coffee, and found that it tasted bitter, so I threw it away, though the little I had taken distressed me exceedingly. The third time, I nearly died, and it was only by the prompt attendance of a physician that I was saved. He said it was a metal poison which probably came off from a copper kettle in which some fruit had been cooked. Neither he, nor any one else, ever suspected that I had been poisoned intentionally. When I recovered, I accused Annie of trying to poison me; she denied it vehemently at first, but I said to her:
"'Annie, the ring tells me that I have an enemy near me, and you must be that enemy.'
"I spoke as if positive of her guilt, and, as she is a firm believer in the ring, she finally burst into tears and confessed having given me poison at three different times. On her knees, she begged my forgiveness, and thanked God that my life had been spared. She was so broken down by the thought of her unnatural and wicked purpose, that I feared that she would have a relapse into sickness. She seemed so wholly contrite, that I thought she would never undertake such a terrible crime again, and I freely forgave her."
I looked at the Captain in perfect amazement, hardly able to credit my own senses.
"Can it be possible," I asked, "that your sister admitted that she had tried to poison you?"
"Yes," replied the Captain; "and she said that Pattmore had encouraged her to put me out of the way. He had told her that he would marry her when his wife, (who was now dying) was dead; that I was bitterly opposed to him, and would never consent to their marriage; that if she would poison me, they would be married and go to California to live; and, therefore, that it would be well for her to poison me before Mrs. Pattmore died."
"What!" I exclaimed, "is Mrs. Pattmore dying? What is her disease?"
"I do not know," replied the Captain; "but I fear that she, also, has been poisoned."
"How long is it since you had this talk with Annie?" I inquired.
"About three days ago, and she has been sick abed with excitement and remorse ever since. She says that she expects to hear of Mrs. Pattmore's death at any time, and she is sure that Pattmore has poisoned her. Mr. Chapman told me, when I last saw him, Mr. Pinkerton, that you were the only person who could help me; and so I have come to you to save Mrs. Pattmore and my sister. I feel that Mr. Chapman was right, Mr. Pinkerton, and I beg you to give me your assistance—I will pay you liberally."
When the Captain had finished his almost incredible story, I hardly knew what to make of it. It was impossible to doubt his word; yet it seemed almost equally hard to believe that his sister could have tried to murder him. Pattmore's intention of killing his wife in order to marry Annie, was another piece of cold-blooded villainy which was almost past belief. The question frequently came into my mind: Are all the parties in their right minds? After I had thought about the matter in silence a few minutes, I said:
"Well, Captain Sumner, yours is certainly a strange case, and I cannot give you any answer until I have had time for reflection. Return in three hours and I will then tell you my decision. I will help you if I possibly can do so."
He rose to go, but stopped a moment as he reached the door, and said, with the utmost simplicity and confidence:
"I know you can help me if you will do so, and no one else can."
After he had gone, I sent a man to the Captain's boarding house with instructions to learn all he could about the boarders. He reported that, among others, there was a Captain Sumner boarding there with his sister, Mrs. Annie Thayer. My detective also learned many things about the Captain and his sister which corroborated the account given by the Captain. Having satisfied myself that the Captain's story was true—in part at least—I sat down to reflect upon the strange medley which he had told me.
Mrs. Thayer had, undoubtedly, committed a serious crime against her husband, besides making the attempt on her brother's life; but I could not have her punished, for her brother's object was to save her from the ruin in which her downward course would probably end. Pattmore, however, was a dangerous man, and it would be necessary to proceed with caution in handling him. He seemed to be a villain at heart, and it was probable that he only sought Mrs. Thayer's society in order to gratify his sensual passions. Perhaps the Captain's suspicion, that Mrs. Pattmore's illness was caused by poison administered by her husband, was correct; if so, it would be necessary to act at once, before she should become his victim. It was barely possible that he might intend to get a divorce from his wife and then marry Annie; but I did not consider this supposition a very probable one. He wished to be elected to Congress, and he would not dare to give such an opportunity for scandal as would ensue if he attempted that course. No; poison had been his reliance in one case, and he would not scruple to make use of it again. Mrs. Thayer was probably well informed as to all his plans, but, evidently, she would not willingly divulge anything prejudicial to her lover. Her brother was clearly unable to compel her to confess anything, or he would not have applied to me. Moreover he could refuse her nothing, and he would certainly object to any attempt to force her to give evidence against her will. He admitted that she was weak, vain and thoughtless; that she had been false to her husband; and that Pattmore had completely bewitched her; yet the Captain resolutely stood between her and harm.
She could tell all of Pattmore's secrets if she were so disposed, and it would be easier to get information out of her than out of him; the question was—how shall I go about it?
I reflected that she was very superstitious, as shown by her belief in the Captain's ring; it occurred to me that I might take advantage of that trait of her character to draw her secrets out. Why could I not introduce a fortune-teller to her, and thus learn all I wished to know? The idea seemed to me to be admirably adapted to the necessities of the case. I sketched out, in my mind, a skeleton plan of operations about as follows:
I should entrust the case to one of my female detectives; she would be posted upon all the points of Mrs. Thayer's history; she would be required to learn enough of astrology, clairvoyance and mesmerism, to pass for one of the genuine tribe; the plan would be so arranged that Mrs. Thayer would voluntarily consult this fortune-teller, who would soon gain a complete ascendency over her superstitious nature by revealing to her all her past life; finally Mrs. Thayer could be brought to tell all she knew of Pattmore as a means of aiding the sibyl to read her future.
This plan seemed to me the most feasible of any, and I therefore decided to adopt it in working up the case against Pattmore. After all, he would be the one against whom my efforts would be directed, Mrs. Thayer being only an unconscious instrument in bringing him to justice. In case it could be shown that he had actually attempted to murder his wife, I was determined that he should not escape the swift vengeance of the law.
Just as I had concluded my deliberations, the Captain hurried into my office, the perspiration standing in great beads on his forehead.
"Mr. Pinkerton, I fear we are too late!" he exclaimed in a husky voice. "Annie has just received a telegram from Mr. Pattmore, saying that his wife is dead."
"Dead!" I repeated. "Is it possible! When did she die?"
"To-day," he replied.
"It will be an easy matter to discover the cause of her death," I said, after a moment's pause. "We must have a post mortem examination held."
"That may be possible," replied the Captain; "but you must recollect that Pattmore has a great many friends in Greenville; that, in fact, he is a prominent candidate for the Democratic Congressional nomination; and, even if he were supposed to be guilty, the party would make a strong fight to protect him, as they could not afford to have him exposed."
"Is it possible that he has so much influence as that?" I asked.
"Oh, yes," said the Captain; "he is a brilliant speaker, and a very agreeable man socially, so that he makes many friends. He is such a wily scoundrel that I fear we shall have great difficulty in tracing any crime directly to him. I do not care whether he is convicted or not, provided I can rescue Annie from his clutches. He has apparently cast a spell over her, and she is wholly controlled by him."
"If that is the fact, we must use strategy, and undermine his plot with a deeper one. I will accept a retainer from you, Captain, and then we will proceed to work up the case."
The financial part of the arrangement having been adjusted, I gave the Captain some advice as to what he should do. I told him that he must place implicit confidence in me, and not try to interfere in any manner with my plans. If he could not do this, I should withdraw at once. He must come in to see me often and keep me well informed; but he must not expect me to tell him about my plans, any further than I should see fit. I should try to show Pattmore's villainous character to Annie, and if I could gather sufficient evidence that he had poisoned his wife, I should bring him to justice. I then told the Captain that he ought to have a quarrel with Annie, at the end of which he should burn his will in her presence, and leave her; on going out, he should tell her that he intended immediately to deposit his ready money in bank, and make a will wholly in favor of Lucy. This would prevent Annie from again attempting his life, as she would have nothing to gain by his death.
The Captain was satisfied to accept my conditions, and he said that he had full confidence in my ability. All that he desired was to save Annie from the power of Pattmore, and from the ruin which would inevitably result from their further intercourse. He then went home to have his quarrel with his sister.
I determined to send a detective named Miller, to Greenville, to obtain board at the Pattmore House, and, if possible, to become intimate with the proprietor. This part of my plan would require prompt action, as Pattmore might succeed in removing all evidences of his guilt. I therefore, sent for Mr. Miller, and went over all the facts of the case with him, giving him full instructions as to his duties. He was to hail from Bangor, Maine, and to represent that he wished to start in the lumber business in Greenville, if the prospects were good. I told him to post himself thoroughly upon the qualities and prices of all kinds of lumber, lath, shingles, etc., and to read up the local history of Bangor. To make matters easier for him, I gave him a letter of introduction to a lumber dealer in Greenville, with whom I was well acquainted. The next day, Miller was ready, and he took passage to Buffalo by steamer, going thence to Greenville by rail. He then took a room at the Pattmore House, and soon became acquainted with the proprietor.
The same day that I gave Miller his instructions, I sent for Miss Seaton, one of the detectives in the female department, and ordered her to make arrangements to take board in the same house with Captain Sumner and Mrs. Thayer. Miss Seaton was a brunette, about twenty-seven years of age; she was of agreeable appearance and pleasing manners; she had been a school teacher, and was a good judge of human nature. Mrs. Warne, the superintendent of the female department, said that Miss Seaton was very sharp, and that nothing could escape her piercing black eye. She was to cultivate Mrs. Thayer's acquaintance, and endeavor to win her confidence. This would probably be a difficult task; but I told Miss Seaton to be patient and discreet, and not to be discouraged, if she should not be immediately successful. By pretending to be in poor health, she could obtain Mrs. Thayer's sympathy, and their progress toward intimacy would be accelerated. Miss Seaton immediately moved to the City Hotel, whence she set out to look for a boarding place. By a curious coincidence, she could not satisfy herself until she came to the house where Mrs. Thayer was boarding on the North side. There she found a pleasant room adjoining Mrs. Thayer's, and it suited her exactly. That evening at supper, she was introduced to her fellow boarders, of whom there were only three besides the Captain and his sister.
The employment of female detectives has been the subject of some adverse criticism by persons who think that women should not engage in such a dangerous calling. It has been claimed that the work is unwomanly; that it is only performed by abandoned women; and that no respectable woman who becomes a detective can remain virtuous. To these theories, which I regret to say are quite prevalent, I enter a positive denial. My experience of twenty years with lady operatives is worth something, and I have no hesitation in saying that the profession of a detective, for a lady possessing the requisite characteristics, is as useful and honorable employment as can be found in any walk of life.
Previous to the early part of 1855, I had never regularly employed any female detectives; nor were women engaged in that capacity in any part of the Union. My first experience with them was due to Mrs. Kate Warne, an intelligent, brilliant, and accomplished lady. She offered her services to me in the early spring of that year, and, in spite of the novelty of her proposition, I determined to give her a trial. She soon showed such tact, readiness of resource, ability to read character, intuitive perception of motives, and rare discretion, that I created a female department in the agency, and made Mrs. Warne the superintendent thereof.
The work of my female detectives is generally light. Zeal and discretion are the principal requisites, though conscientious devotion to duty, and rigid obedience to orders, are also essential. They are expected to win the confidence of those from whom information is desired, and to lose no opportunity of encouraging them to talk about themselves.
With regard to the moral influence of their duties, I say boldly that it is in no respect different from that of any other position where women are thrown upon their own resources. It is an unfortunate fact in our social system, that no single woman or widow, dependent upon herself for support, can escape a loss of caste and position by working in the great field of business where she comes in competition and contact with men; but, aside from this general prejudice, there is nothing in the detective's duties to make her profession less respectable and honorable than there is in the duties of a lady cashier, book-keeper, copyist, or clerk. The detective's temptations are no greater than those of any of the foregoing who mingle with men in their daily business; while, on the other hand, the safeguards of their virtue are much more numerous, since all the detectives of my agency know that their conduct is under constant surveillance.
There are instances of frequent occurrence where great criminals are successful in hiding all traces of their guilt so effectually as to make their conviction impossible without the aid of the female detective. Most of these men have wives or mistresses in whom they confide to a great extent. The testimony of these women, then, become the sole means by which to convict the criminals, and their testimony can be obtained in only one way—a female detective makes their acquaintance, wins their confidence, and draws out the story of the crime. Such an instance is given in "The Expressman and the Detective," hitherto published.
I have in my employ several ladies of unquestionable purity of life, who are also among the most successful operators on my whole force. I take pleasure in offering this tribute to their ability, and their spotless characters.
The next day the Captain called to see me, and said that, according to my advice, he had quarreled with Annie about Pattmore, and had worked himself into a great rage. Finally, he had torn up and burned his will, saying that he should immediately make another, leaving everything to Lucy.
"So far, so good," said I; "she now will have no motive for poisoning you, so you can rest in peace."
The Captain stated further that he had deposited in bank a few hundred dollars which he had brought with him, so that he felt comparatively safe for the present.
That evening Miss Seaton reported that Mrs. Thayer had left the house shortly after the Captain. Miss Seaton had followed her to the post-office, where Mrs. Thayer had deposited a letter, and had received another at the ladies' window. She had immediately torn it open, read it hastily, and crumpled it in her hand, while slowly walking home. I was very anxious to know to whom she had written, and also who had written to her. I immediately wrote to Miller to watch Pattmore's mail, and to learn whether there were any letters in it from Chicago. If so, I wished him to obtain a view of the handwriting, and, if possible, to get possession of the letters themselves long enough to take copies of them.
The next morning Captain Sumner came in again, but he had nothing to report.
"Does Annie write much?" I asked.
"No, very little," he replied.
"Does she correspond with Lucy?"
"Sometimes, but not regularly."
"Did she not write a letter two days ago?" I inquired.
"No," answered the Captain; "but why do you ask?"
"Oh! for no particular reason; however I wish you would write to Lucy and inquire whether she has received a letter from Annie lately; also whether she has written to Annie."
"Certainly, I will do so now," said the Captain, and, he straightway sat down to write to Lucy.
In a few days, the Captain received a letter from Lucy stating that no letters had passed between her and Annie for over a month. This made it certain that Lucy was not Annie's correspondent.
Miller sent in a report about the same time, saying that he had become slightly acquainted with Pattmore, who was deeply mourning the death of his wife. Even the mere mention of her name was sufficient to draw tears to his eyes, and her loss had so severely affected him that his friends were afraid he would never be the same man that he had been during her life.
Miller had expressed an intention of opening an office in Greenville, and Pattmore had given him some valuable advice and information relative to the lumber market in the interior. Since getting my letter, Miller had noticed that Pattmore had received four letters from Chicago. Miller said that he had not been able to obtain possession of these letters, but he should make a great effort to capture those which might come in the future. He had taken pains to cultivate the friendship of the clerk of the hotel, and he was on such good terms with him as to find it convenient to pass a great deal of time in the office. He had noticed that when the clerk received the mail, all of Pattmore's letters were put into a particular box behind the desk, and he hoped to be able to secure some of them.
I had devoted a large amount of thought to this singular case, and I finally decided that I would go to Greenville in person. I determined to see the coroner and find out what kind of a man he was. If possible, I should induce him to have Mrs. Pattmore's body exhumed and an inquest held upon it.
I had previously written to Mr. Chapman to obtain further information about the Captain and his family, and had mentioned his superstitious belief in the ring. I said that I was not afraid of losing money, as the Captain offered me more than my usual scale of prices; but the Captain's story and his great superstition led me to think that he was a "wee bit daft," and that there was insanity in the family.
Mr. Chapman replied that he had known the Captain's father and mother intimately, but there had been no sign of insanity in any of their actions. They had been, however, firm believers in their rings, and had had the rings which they had worn buried with them. They had been clear-headed, religious people, and it was surprising that they should have had such a superstitious faith in the power of those opal rings. The Captain had always been an honorable, straight-forward man, but he and his sister were even more superstitious than any of the others.
"Well," I thought, on reading Mr. Chapman's letter, "the whole family are a strange medley; but I think I can turn their superstitious credulity to good account, in any efforts to learn whether Pattmore poisoned his wife."
As soon as possible, I started for Greenville, to see the coroner; on my arrival, I was so fortunate as to meet Mr. Wells, an old friend, who had formerly been sheriff of the county. He offered to introduce me to his successor, Mr. Tomlinson, who had once been his deputy. Mr. Wells was quite wealthy, and had retired from business. Mr. Tomlinson was an honest, hard working carpenter, who was thoroughly reliable and zealous. Neither of these gentlemen, however, had the shrewdness nor the experience necessary to detect criminals of the character and ability of Pattmore. They were perfectly competent to attend to the small thieves and swindlers of the district, but they were wholly ignorant and unsuspicious of the means by which daring and skillful villains carry out their plans and hide the evidences of their crimes.
They knew Mr. Pattmore well, as he had resided in Greenville for seven years. They stated that he was a scheming politician who could not be depended upon, and that he was trying to get the Democratic Nomination for congressman. Probably, he would not succeed, but he was spending money freely, and he would, therefore, be apt to get some good office. He was not wealthy, but he kept his hotel well, and did a large business. Mr. Wells thought that he used all his money as fast as he made it, either in trying to get votes, or in some other way outside of his business. His wife had been generally esteemed by a large circle of acquaintances.
I told Mr. Tomlinson that I should like to see the coroner, and have him investigate the causes of Mrs. Pattmore's death.
"Oh! that will be easy," he replied, "as I know Van Valkenburgh, the coroner, very well, and we are on good terms. He is a warm friend of Pattmore,—in fact, they are boon companions. He spends most of his time in idling about the Pattmore House, and only yesterday, they went driving together."
"I am sorry to hear that," said I; "for he will not wish to do anything to injure his friend. How can I get an inquest called?"
"I don't know," said Mr. Tomlinson.
"Suppose that I should make an affidavit under an assumed name and hand it to you, could you not serve it on the coroner as a complaint which required his attention?" I asked.
"No; that would not do, as it would involve me in difficulty," replied the sheriff; "but if I should hear people talking about the death of Mrs. Pattmore, and hinting at foul play, it would be my duty to lay the matter before the coroner. Then he, as a friend of Pattmore, could not do otherwise than order an inquest."
I determined to act on this suggestion, and I therefore telegraphed to Mr. Bangs, my General Superintendent, directing him to send two of my detectives, Mr. Green and Mr. Knox, to meet me at the Clarendon House in Greenville. They left Chicago by the next train, and when they arrived in Greenville, I instructed them to go into the office of the hotel and begin a conversation about Mrs. Pattmore's death; having told them what I wished them to say, I sent them in. I had previously arranged that Mr. Tomlinson should be present. Accordingly, they took seats in the main hall in front of the clerk's desk, near which there was a large group of guests and citizens, and began to talk in loud tones.
"Well," said Knox, "there are more cases of death by poisoning than you would suppose. Now, there was a case in this town, only a short time ago, in which I think that poison was used."
"Oh! you mean Mrs. Pattmore," said Green. "Yes, that was a very suspicious affair. Was anything done about it?"
"No," replied Knox; "but every one, who knows anything about the circumstances of her death, believes that she was poisoned."
My men were soon surrounded by an excited crowd, all of whom were anxious to know the grounds upon which their suspicions were based. They replied in vague terms and insinuations, as if they knew a great deal more than they would tell. The news that Mr. Pattmore was suspected of having poisoned his wife, was soon buzzed all through the Clarendon House; and, as soon as the excitement had become general, my men slipped away and joined me in my room.
Sheriff Tomlinson was immediately appealed to by many citizens to require the coroner to investigate the matter, and he finally went to the coroner's office, accompanied by quite a crowd. When the coroner was informed of the reports in circulation, he became quite indignant.
"What! Pattmore poison his wife!" he exclaimed. "Why, he fairly doted on her, and, since her death, he can hardly assuage his grief. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word, and his character ought to be a sufficient protection against so gross a slander. This is a contemptible invention of his political opponents. I will soon vindicate him, however. I shall have Mrs. Pattmore's body exhumed, and shall call an inquest. Then, if any one has any charges to make, there will be an opportunity for them to come forward. I will not consent to see a friend of mine so vilely slandered."
Coroner Van Valkenburgh immediately wrote an order to have Mrs. Pattmore's body disinterred, and, also, a call for an inquest the following day. He had become very indignant at the idea of connecting his friend, Pattmore, with such a hideous crime: he, therefore, hurried over to tell Pattmore of the rumors, and of the prompt measures he had taken to prove their falsity. He drew Pattmore into a private room and told him all that he had heard and done. He expected that Pattmore would thank him heartily for his friendly action; but, instead, Pattmore's face turned very white, and he asked who it was that had spread the rumors. The coroner said that the sheriff and several prominent citizens had called upon him to investigate the rumors that were circulating at the hotels and on the street. Pattmore became very much excited when he heard this, and paced up and down in a nervous, irritable manner.
"Well," said Van Valkenburgh, "I will have the body exhumed to-morrow, and when we have disproved the calumny, this scheme of your enemies will do you more good than harm."
"Yes," said Pattmore; "but my love for my wife is far above all other considerations. It is shocking to think that her body must be torn from the grave to refute the vile slanders of my political opponents. I do not know what course you usually pursue in such cases, but I would not, for the world, have her remains exposed to the gaze of a cruel, heartless crowd of strangers."
Mr. Pattmore's feelings quite overcame him, at the thought of such desecration, and he wept.
"I'll take care of that," said the sympathizing coroner; "I will have Dr. Forsythe make the examination, and his testimony will be sufficient for the jury."
"Well, I shall be satisfied with any arrangements you may make," said Pattmore. "I hope a good jury will be summoned; I do not wish my wife's body to be examined by a lot of curiosity seekers."
"Your wishes shall be attended to," replied the coroner. "I know who are your friends and I will summon no one else to sit on the jury."
"Van Valkenburgh," exclaimed Pattmore, seizing the coroner's hand, "I am your friend for life!"
He then led the way to the bar-room and invited the coroner to drink.
Miller was standing in the bar-room as the coroner and Pattmore passed, and noticing a haggard, pallid expression on the latter's face, he stepped up and said:
"Why, what's the matter Pattmore? Has anything gone wrong with you?"
"No, Mr. Miller, nothing very serious. Some of my enemies have started a story that I am responsible for my wife's death; but, of course, there is not a word of truth in it. The coroner has taken the matter in charge, and his verdict will soon set at rest these scandalous lies. There is nothing too sacred for these political harpies and ghouls: they literally have dragged the loved dead from the grave in the hope of injuring my reputation. Well, time will show my innocence."
So saying, Pattmore pressed Miller's hand warmly, as if overcome with emotion, and passed into the office. Mr. Green and Mr. Knox were watching him, and when he went up stairs, he was followed by Knox, who saw him go into his room. Knox immediately came down stairs and passed across the street to a corner where I had agreed to wait for him. Having heard his report I said:
"Mr. Knox, you are a stranger here, so you had better go back to see what Pattmore is doing. You can stumble into his room, as if you had mistaken it for your own. Be quick!" I added, as he started, "for we must keep watch of him every minute until the inquest has been held."
"Knox rushed into the hotel, ran up stairs and hastily entered Pattmore's room, where he found Pattmore writing a letter.
"Oh! I beg pardon," said Knox, "I have mistaken the room," and so saying, he withdrew and returned to me.
"So he is writing a letter, is he?" said I. "We must learn the contents of that letter, and I have not a minute to lose. Knox, find Green and Miller and bring them over here at once. Thank goodness, it is getting so dark that we shall not be noticed."
Knox was off like a shot, and in a very few minutes all my men were with me.
"Green," I said, "go to your hotel, pay your bill, and proceed to the Pattmore House. When you register your name, you must hail the clerk as an old acquaintance. This will be an easy matter, as hotel clerks are known by hundreds of people. Miller, you must be in the office at the same time, and you must both remain there until Pattmore puts his letter in the mail-box. Then, Green you must ask the clerk out to take a drink, and while you are gone, Miller must get possession of the letter. When you have secured it, come over to the Globe Hotel, where I am stopping."
Green hurried off to the Clarendon House to get his carpet-bag, and Miller returned to the Pattmore House. I also sent Knox to watch Pattmore, and to follow him wherever he might go, until he retired for the night.
Soon after Miller reached the office, Pattmore came down stairs with a letter, which Miller carefully scrutinized, so as to be able to recognize it among a group of others.
"Has the mail for the West closed yet?" asked Pattmore.
"No," replied the clerk, "there is still about an hour to spare."
Pattmore then dropped his letter into the mail-box and went out. At this moment Green stepped up to the desk, registered his name, and asked for a room. As the clerk was attending to his room and baggage, Green looked intently at him, as if trying to recall his name. Then, stepping forward, he said, cordially:
"Why, how are you? When did you come here? Let me see; the last time I saw you was at a hotel in Buffalo, wasn't it?"
This was a lucky guess, for the clerk replied:
"Havn't you seen me since then? Why, I left there over a year ago."
"Well, I'm right glad to see you again," said Green; "step into the bar-room and take a 'smile' with me."
"I can't very well leave the office just now," said the clerk.
"Oh, yes you can," said Green; "your friend there will look after the office for a few minutes; come along."
"Wait here until I come back, will you?" the clerk asked Miller, as he went off with Green.
As soon as the clerk had left the office, Miller quietly extracted Pattmore's letter from the box. He had marked its appearance so well that he only needed one glance to identify it and he secured it so quickly that none of the crowd outside the desk noticed any movement on his part. In a few minutes the clerk returned to the desk, and Miller lounged out into the bar-room, whence he hurried over to meet me at the Globe Hotel. He there gave me the letter, which was addressed:
"Mrs. Annie Thayer, "Chicago, "Illinois."
I carefully opened it by a simple process, which did not leave any evidence that the envelope had been tampered with. The letter began: "My own dear Annie," and the writer went on to caution Mrs. Thayer that she must not be alarmed at the news he was about to tell her. He said that some of his enemies had started a report that he had poisoned his late wife. He had no doubt that the Whig newspapers would spread and magnify these reports; still, he had no fears that they would be of any permanent injury to him, since his friend, coroner Van Valkenburgh, had agreed to hold an inquest, and there would be no difficulty in proving his innocence. He begged her to excuse the haste and brevity of the note, as he only had time to dash off a few lines to assure her that all was well, and to warn her not to become alarmed at anything she might see in the newspapers. The letter was signed: "Ever your loving and devoted husband,
"Well, this is certainly strange," I meditated. "Her 'devoted husband,' eh? How can that be? He has had no opportunity to marry her since his wife died; hence, unless he committed bigamy, this title of 'husband' is only assumed in anticipation; yet Mrs. Thayer is, undoubtedly, beautiful and winning, and she may have induced him to ease her conscience by a form of marriage, even while his legal wife still lived. I must look into this more closely on my return to Chicago."
I then re-sealed the letter and gave it back to Mr. Miller, with instructions to return to the hotel and keep a general watch on all that went on. He was not to mail the letter until early the next morning. As Miller went out Knox came in.
"Well, Knox, what news?" I asked.
"Mr. Pattmore has gone away in a hack," replied Knox, breathlessly.
"What direction did he take?"
"He drove off at a rapid rate toward the southern part of the town, and I could not keep up, nor get on behind. I took the number of the hack, though," answered Knox.
"That was right," I remarked, as Knox paused to get his breath.
"It was number fifty-two, and the driver seemed to be an Irishman. He looked like a genial, half-grown, young fellow, and I do not think I shall have any difficulty in pumping him when he returns, as I know where his stand is."
"Right again," I exclaimed. "Now you had better wait around there until the hack returns; then get into conversation with the driver, and ask him to take a drink in the nearest saloon; while you are talking with him, you can easily learn where Pattmore went."
It was ten o'clock when Knox left me, and, as I was greatly fatigued, I went to bed immediately. Shortly after midnight, Knox again awoke me.
"What news?" I asked, starting up. "Did you succeed in learning anything from the hackman?"
"Yes," replied Knox; "he returned a little before eleven o'clock, and I asked him whether he knew where there were any young ladies I could visit. He said that he knew several places. I then asked him to take a drink while we talked about it. I said, I judged, from his appearance, that he was just the young fellow who could take me where I wanted to go; that I was crossing the street to employ him in the early part of the evening, when he was taken by another gentleman, who probably went to the same kind of a place that I wanted to find. This had confirmed my opinion of the hackman, so I had decided to await his return. 'By the way,' I added, 'was I right about that gentleman?' The driver laughed loudly, and said that that was Mr. Pattmore, and that he did not go to such places. He went on to say that Mr. Pattmore's wife had been dead only a few days, and he supposed that Mr. Pattmore had gone out to pay the grave-digger, since his visit had been made to that individual at the graveyard gate."
"Did the boy say whether Pattmore saw the grave-digger?" I asked.
"Yes," continued Knox; "I pumped out all that the young fellow knew. The grave-digger lives in a little shanty close by the graveyard, and, on arriving there, Pattmore called the fellow to one side, and conversed with him in a low tone for some time. He then paid him some money, entered the hack, and told the boy to drive straight back to the Pattmore House, where Pattmore discharged the hackman. I drew this information out of the boy very easily, without appearing to take any special interest in the story. I then told him to drive me to some quiet house where I could meet some young ladies. He took me to a place near here, and I paid him off immediately, saying that I should spend the night there. As soon as he was out of sight, I came straight here, without going into the house at all."
"By Jove!" I exclaimed, "we shall have some rough work to-night, and we must be quick, too. Go over to the Pattmore House, find out from the register what room Green is in, and wake him up as soon as possible. Tell him to come here, being careful that no one notices him, and to be sure to bring his pistols. You have yours, have you not, Mr. Knox?"
"Yes; do you expect to need them?"
"It is quite possible, as we shall have some risky work to-night. I will meet you outside, and you must tell Green to prepare for a march. Luckily we are all good walkers."
Knox hurried away, and, in a short time, both of my detectives joined me in the street. We then hired a hack and drove to within half a mile of the graveyard, where I paid off the hackman, and we entered the grounds of a residence, standing some distance back from the road. My object in entering these grounds, was to make the hackman believe we were stopping there; otherwise, his curiosity would have been excited as to my reasons for going into the country at that hour of the night. As soon as the hack was out of sight, we returned to the highway, and, after a brisk walk, we reached the graveyard.
The resting places of the dead are localities which I do not much care to visit in the night. In the day time it is different; there is a holy calm about a cemetery then which impresses me with a feeling of rest, and I can really enjoy an hour or two in quiet contemplation of the monuments and humble head-stones of a large burial ground. But in the night, even the least superstitious person in the world will be awed by the solemnity pervading our cities of the dead, and will quicken his pace as the wind rustles mournfully through the shrubbery. I never should care to go into a grave-yard at night, as a matter of choice; but business is business, and must be transacted, no matter how unpleasant the surroundings may be.
The first difficulty I encountered on entering the Greenville cemetery, was, that I did not know where Mrs. Pattmore's grave was located. We therefore separated to the distance of about one hundred yards, and advanced through the underbrush across the grounds. We arranged, before starting, to meet at a certain tall tree, which stood up against the sky in the dim starlight. Green had gone only a few rods when he came upon three men. Their smoky lantern threw a ghastly light upon their work, and they were so busily engaged in digging that they did not notice him. He quickly withdrew and hurried after me. It was some time after he overtook me before we could find Knox, but we finally met and returned to the place where the body-snatchers were at work. It was evident that they were professionals, for they had worked so rapidly as to have nearly succeeded in getting the coffin out of the grave.
A thrill of horror even now goes through me as I think of that night; the white tomb-stones stood forth among the foliage, by which they were surrounded, like sheeted ghosts, and the waving leaves gave them the appearance of weird shapes in fantastic motion. The light of the lantern feebly glimmered in one direction, and the body-snatchers flitted about like restless ghouls preparing for a horrible banquet. We approached as quietly as possible, and, on emerging from the cover of a copse of hazel bushes, we made a general rush forward. The ghouls were too quick for us, however, and they ran away at a break-neck speed which we did not dare to imitate. They had the great advantage of knowing every foot of the ground, while we were continually obliged to dodge around some obstruction. First, Knox stumbled headlong over a low grave, and then I became entangled in some trailing vines. As I regained my feet, I saw Green rising from an encounter with a chain which had tripped him, and we simultaneously abandoned the chase. It was clearly useless to follow them further, but we fired at them with our revolvers in the hope of frightening them into a surrender. One of them instantly stopped, returned our fire, and then continued his flight. This satisfied me that they were old hands at the business of grave-robbing, and that they were not to be scared by long-range pistol practice. After watching for a couple of hours, I returned with my men to the city, being convinced that the body-snatchers would not make another attempt to rob the grave. As I walked back, I tried to account, in my own mind, for this new move of Pattmore. I could not see the advantage to be gained by the removal of Mrs. Pattmore's body, and I retired to rest with that problem still unsolved.
Being greatly fatigued, it was eight o'clock next morning before I awoke. While I was at breakfast Mr. Miller came in, but he had nothing to report, except that Pattmore seemed greatly troubled, and looked very haggard. I ordered Miller to watch Pattmore closely, and to engage him in conversation as much as possible. I then went in search of Sheriff Tomlinson, whom I soon found. Believing him to be a thoroughly trustworthy man, I related to him all that had occurred the night before. He was much astonished at my story, and said that he was sorry I had not asked him to accompany me, as he knew the graveyard well. If the body-snatchers had been caught, they might have been able to give very important testimony at the inquest. Pattmore might have been held to appear before the grand jury on their testimony alone.
"Yes," I replied; "no one regrets their escape more than I do; but I am almost equally annoyed by the fact that I cannot reach a satisfactory conclusion as to Pattmore's motive in having his wife's body carried off. Of course, if the coroner's men should have found the body gone, every one would suspect Pattmore of having had it removed. However, I propose to solve the mystery in some way. By the way, Mr. Tomlinson, when do you expect the body to arrive?"
"It will be here by eleven o'clock, and the men having it in charge, will take it directly to Coroner Van Valkenburgh's office."
"I suppose he will impanel a jury," I remarked.
"Certainly," the sheriff replied; "and it would be well for you to be present to watch the proceedings. Pattmore must be made to face the music in some way."
Accordingly, I watched the coroner's office until I saw the hearse arrive, and, when the coffin was carried in, I followed it. The coroner's assistants reported that some body-snatchers had been at work, and had attempted to steal Mrs. Pattmore's body, having succeeded in getting the coffin nearly out of the grave; but they had evidently been interrupted, as they had left all their tools behind, and had not tried to open the coffin. They had been more successful in another case, however; the body of a woman had been taken from a grave in the Potter's Field, (which was devoted to paupers, etc.) and had been carried to a spot near Mrs. Pattmore's grave. The supposition was that the robbers, wishing to procure female subjects for dissection, had chosen those two graves as containing the bodies of persons who had most recently died.
On hearing this story, I saw through the trick at a glance. The sheriff was in the office, and I beckoned to him to join me outside.
"Mr. Tomlinson," I said. "I wish you to send a man to the graveyard to learn the name of the other woman, whose body was found; get a description of her age, height, size, and general appearance, as I feel sure that Pattmore's intention was, to substitute her body for that of his wife."
"By Jupiter! that's so!" exclaimed Mr. Tomlinson; "but I should never have thought of that. I will attend to your request myself, while you can remain here to watch the proceedings before the coroner. I will go to the cemetery and make a thorough investigation. It is my duty to become acquainted with all the facts in the case," and he started off, accompanied by Mr. Green, whom I sent with him.
In a short time, Pattmore walked into the office and sat down. He wore a martyr-like expression, and, though he controlled his feelings sufficiently to appear outwardly calm, I could see that, inwardly, he was racked with fear and nervousness.
The coroner hastily impaneled a jury, consisting wholly of Pattmore's personal and political friends. The coffin was then opened, as a matter of form, and the jury merely looked at the rapidly decaying corpse. Pattmore refused to look at the body, on the ground that he did not wish to mar the sweet memories of his beloved wife's features, which he had seen only in the flush of life and beauty, even by a glance at her merely mortal remains in their present condition.
Dr. Forsythe testified that he had attended the late Mrs. Pattmore in her last illness, and that dysentery was the cause of her death. He was corroborated by another physician who had been in consultation with Dr. Forsythe during the last day or two of the patient's life. As no other witnesses were called, the jury immediately returned a verdict that Mrs. Pattmore's death had resulted from natural causes; namely, dysentery.
I was watching Pattmore closely during the interval before the verdict was delivered, and I saw plainly that, in spite of the farcical character of the inquest, he was in a state of nervous dread lest something unforeseen should occur to reveal his criminality. When the verdict was read, an expression of relief and triumph came into his face, and he received the congratulations of his friends like a man who had just escaped a great danger. I had too little evidence to warrant me in showing my hand at that time, by accusing him in person; nevertheless, I was satisfied of his guilt, and I decided to use other means to bring him to justice.
In about an hour, Sheriff Tomlinson returned from the graveyard, with Mr. Wells and Mr. Green. They had made notes of the condition in which they had found Mrs. Pattmore's grave, and they had written out a full description of the other corpse found near by. The body was that of a woman of about the same size, age, and general appearance as Mrs. Pattmore.
I had heard of an eminent physician in Greenville, named Dr. Stuart. On inquiring for him, Mr. Tomlinson took me to the doctor's office and introduced me. He was a man of great ability, and he had a high reputation throughout the West as a scientific analytical chemist.
I at once laid the facts in the Pattmore case before him, and said that I wished him to analyze carefully the contents of the stomach and bowels of the late Mrs. Pattmore, in order to determine whether she had been poisoned. I said that it was a difficult case to undertake, owing to Pattmore's political influence; but I felt sure that a thorough investigation would establish his guilt beyond question.
The Doctor replied that, under most circumstances, he should hardly feel inclined to comply with such a request, since he had no right to make such an analysis, unless he had the consent of the relatives of the deceased; or, upon the coroner's order. Still, he had a natural desire for fair play, and the facts which I had presented to him seemed to point toward the possibility that a foul crime had been committed; hence, he would perform the analysis, provided that his action should never be made known to any one, until he should be called upon to testify in court. Of course, if no trace of poison should be found, the theory of death by that means would have to be abandoned, and his connection with the affair need never be disclosed.
"I have never met you before, Mr. Pinkerton," concluded Dr. Stuart, "but your reputation is well known to me, and I feel sure that you would not have made this request unless there were strong reasons for such action. I have full confidence in you, and I will give you all the aid in my power. Where is Mrs. Pattmore's body now?"
"It is in the coroner's office," I replied, "and it will be taken back to the grave in about an hour."
"Well, Mr. Pinkerton, can't you obtain possession of it in some way? I shall only want it for a short time."
"That is what puzzles me," I replied; "I am afraid Pattmore will follow the body to the grave."
"Then, if he should do so, can't you get two men who know how to handle a shovel quickly, to disinter it a second time?" asked the Doctor.
"Yes; I will take two of my own men," I said; "I can trust them more than any one else."
"Oh, nonsense!" exclaimed the Doctor, laughing, "you can do better than that. You had better offer the regular grave-diggers ten dollars to leave the body a short time in your possession before burying it; or, if Pattmore should insist upon seeing it buried, they can easily disinter it for you, and it will take me only a short time to remove the intestines. I shall then seal them up for the present, as I am too busy to make the analysis just now; but when I shall have finished my present work, I will take up this case. You can depend upon hearing from me at the earliest possible moment."
It was then arranged that Mr. Wells and sheriff Tomlinson should be present to witness the removal of the bowels from Mrs. Pattmore's body; the sheriff further decided to give an official order for the analysis, so as to protect Dr. Stuart in case of any accident. If any signs of poison were found, the Doctor's charges would be paid by the county; otherwise I should be responsible for the amount. I then went out to see the grave-diggers, and used such convincing arguments that they willingly agreed to disinter the body. My arguments were brief, but cogent, and were presented to them about in the following way:
"Mr. Grave-digger, you look like a man of discretion, who knows how to open his hands and shut his mouth. I wish to obtain the body of the late Mrs. Pattmore for a short time. I will give you several excellent reasons why you will be willing to let me have it. In the first place, I will give you twenty-five dollars for the job; secondly,——"
"Wa-al, I guess you needn't go any furder," drawled the grave-digger, with a knowing wink; "twenty-five o' them reasons are enough for me; so just tell me where you want the body, and I'll see that it's forthcoming."
I have always found that half the argument may be dispensed with if the matter is only presented in the proper light.
In accordance with the agreement, therefore, the body was again taken from the grave in the presence of Mr. Wells, Sheriff Tomlinson, Dr. Stuart, my detectives, and myself; the necessary parts were removed by the Doctor, and the body was re-buried; finally, the Doctor placed the portions which had been removed in a jar of alcohol, and it was then sealed up to await the Doctor's analysis.
Of one thing I felt certain; and that was, that the regular grave-diggers and the body-snatchers of the night before were the same persons; hence, I feared that they might give Pattmore information of our proceedings. I communicated my opinion to the Sheriff, and suggested that a slight hint from him might induce the men to keep silence for their own protection. Accordingly he spoke to them about the occurrence of the previous night, and said that for the present he did not intend to make any investigation to learn who were the body-snatchers on that occasion.
"But," he added, significantly, "if I ever discover that Mr. Pattmore, or any one else, has been informed of this action which I have just taken, I shall consider it my duty as Sheriff, to bring to punishment immediately the men who attempted to rob this grave last night—and I don't think I shall have any trouble in finding them."
While returning to the city, I impressed upon Sheriff Tomlinson the necessity of procuring all the evidence that could be reached relative to Mrs. Pattmore's death. I asked him particularly to find the nurses who attended her, and to learn all that they could tell about the symptoms of the patient; the kind and amount of medicines administered; the effect of the doses; and, in general, all the particulars of Mrs. Pattmore's illness and death. The Sheriff promised to do all in his power, and Mr. Wells also agreed to give his assistance in bringing out the whole truth.
On arriving at the Globe Hotel I met Miller, who gave me a copy of a letter which Pattmore had written to Mrs. Thayer, as soon as the coroner's jury had given their verdict. The letter contained a brief account of the inquest and the finding of the jury. It said that she could understand his feelings of great relief that all had turned out so well for him. The letter was signed, as in the former case, "Your loving husband."
Mr. Miller said that Pattmore's manner had wholly changed since the close of the inquest; before he had been morose and irritable; now he was all vivacity and good spirits. One of his first acts, after the verdict had been given, was to write the above-mentioned letter, which Miller had secured as before. Having taken a copy of it, Miller had mailed it in the general post-office.
"You have done very well, Mr. Miller," I said, "and I wish you to remain here to watch Pattmore's movements and intercept his letters. I shall return to Chicago to-night, and you must inform me by telegraph if Pattmore leaves here."
Having completed all my arrangements, I returned to Chicago, taking Knox and Green with me.
My first action, on reaching my office, was to send for Mrs. Kate Warne, the Superintendent of the Female Department of my force. She made a full report of all the work in her charge during my absence, and brought up among other cases, that of Captain Sumner.
"Miss Seaton," said Mrs. Warne, "reports that she has progressed somewhat toward an intimacy with Mrs. Thayer, but that she has learned very little except by observation. Mrs. Thayer seems to be greatly troubled at times, but she is very reserved, and does not appear anxious to make any one her confidant. She goes to the post-office regularly twice a day, but she rarely goes anywhere else. Once she went to a druggist's store, but, being unable to get what she wanted, she entered another one and purchased a small package."
"Has Miss Seaton been able to examine any of Mrs. Thayer's trunks or bureau drawers?" I asked.
"Only once," replied Mrs. Warne; "she succeeded in getting into one of her trunks, and there found an immense quantity of letters signed 'Alonzo Pattmore,' some of them dating back several years."
"Were they long, sentimental and—in short, were they to be classed under the head of love letters?" I asked, with a smile.
"Yes; Miss Seaton so reports them."
"Well," I said, "let her continue to watch Mrs. Thayer, and to seek to win the latter's confidence. By the way, what kind of books does Mrs. Thayer read?"
"Oh! anything that is romantic."
"Then, tell Miss Seaton to get 'Eugene Aram' and read it. She can make such allusions to it as will make Mrs. Thayer wish to read it too. The effect of the story on her mind will, perhaps, prepare her for the train of thoughts which I wish to excite in her."
"Oh! that reminds me," said Mrs. Warne, "Mrs. Thayer complains that she sleeps very poorly, and dreams a great deal. She has been wondering whether she talks in her sleep."
At this moment, one of my clerks entered and said that Captain Sumner wished to see me. I immediately sent word that he could come into my private office; at the same time, I requested Mrs. Warne to step into the next room for a few minutes, as I should need her, as soon as the Captain had gone. When the Captain entered, I was busily engaged in examining some papers, and I greeted him as if he were an old friend whom I had not seen for months.
"Why, how are you, Captain Sumner?" I said, shaking his hand, warmly. "I am delighted to see you."
"I'm pretty well," he replied; "but have you heard the news?"
"No; what news?"
"Read that," he said, handing me the Greenville Advocate, and pointing to an account of the inquest on Mrs. Pattmore's body.
The paper contained a full report of the coroner's proceedings, and an editorial on the subject. The editor spoke in the highest terms of Pattmore, and congratulated him on his triumphant vindication. I read all that the Advocate contained relative to the case, and then remarked:
"I wonder who started that investigation."
"I can't imagine," replied the Captain; "though, as the paper says, the story might have been originated by his enemies, for mere political effect."
"Yes; that is possible," I replied; "but there was no use in attempting anything of that kind. The result must have strengthened him, even among his opponents."
"I am afraid so, too," said the Captain. "We shall have a hard time in obtaining any proofs of his guilt, now that he is so popular."
I saw that the Captain did not suspect that I had been connected, in any way, with the Greenville inquest; I therefore, changed the subject.
"Well, it will all come out right, if you have patience. How is Mrs. Thayer?"
"Not at all well," he replied; "she is very restless, and she complains of being nervous; besides, she is more reserved with me than ever. Don't you think I had better try to induce her to go home with me? I should feel more comfortable if she were on the farm in Connecticut, as she would then be out of Pattmore's power. Sometimes I think there is no use in trying to reform her; for, she seems so infatuated with that man that I only wonder she has not run away with him before now. I know that she will marry him at the first opportunity."
"We must prevent that," I replied; "for the present, I think she had better remain here."
I then asked the Captain to excuse me a moment, and, stepping into the next room, I called my stenographer to the door; by leaving the door ajar, the conversation between the Captain and myself could be easily heard in the next room. The short-hand writer, therefore, was able to take down everything that was said. Returning to the Captain, I commenced a friendly chat, in the course of which, I led him on to talk about his family. I especially desired to draw out the particulars of Annie's history, and the honest old gentleman talked so freely that I obtained a very full account of all that he knew about her. In the conversation which we had about his own affairs, the Captain gave me the following story to account for the fact that he was an old bachelor:
"It seems somewhat strange," he said, "that I am unmarried, as I have always been a great admirer of the fair sex; but, the fact is, I had one strong affection, and that has lasted me all my life. The last time I was with her, she promised to be my wife, and we pledged ourselves to be eternally faithful to each other. I sailed for Singapore the next day, and, on my return, I was to lead her to the altar. I felt that I had secured a prize far beyond my merits, for she seemed to be superior to me in every way. The days dragged along slowly and wearily, while on the voyage; but, at length, we returned to New York. I immediately hurried up from the landing-place, all impatient to see my sweetheart. As I passed up the dock, I met an old acquaintance.
"'Where away so fast?' he asked, as he stopped me.
"'I am going to see Miss Curtis,' I replied.
"'Why, she married a rich banker, six months ago,' he said.
"'Oh! did she?' I exclaimed; 'I am glad she was so fortunate.'
"Then I returned aboard ship, feeling completely crushed. Since that time I have never paid attention to any other woman, for I can never forget her. Once afterward I met her on Broadway, on her way to her carriage. She nodded carelessly, with a 'How d'ye do, John?' and was quickly whirled away out of my sight. I have never heard from her since then.
"After the Captain had told me everything about Annie and himself that he could recollect, I asked him to excuse me, pleading an important engagement at that hour. As soon as he had gone, I requested my stenographer to write out his notes in long hand as quickly as possible, and I returned to consult with my female superintendent.
"Mrs. Warne," I said, "we shall have a difficult task in working upon Mrs. Thayer; she seems to be very reticent and wary. I have decided to attack the superstitious side of her nature, which seems to be her weakest point; and, in order to do so successfully, I shall need your services. How do you think you would succeed as a fortune-teller?"
"A fortune-teller!" she exclaimed, laughingly; "that is certainly a new role; however, I think I might learn to take the part after a few lessons."
"Yes," I replied, "the tricks of the trade are easily learned. Here is a book which explains all the secrets of the profession. It is called 'The Mysteries of Magic and the Wonders of Astrology; by Dr. Roback.' You can take it to read at your leisure; but, after all, the costume and make-up are the principal things necessary. You will be obliged to trust largely to your own judgment and tact in working upon Mrs. Thayer's feelings. I suppose she has some vague ideas about astrology, etc., but I have no doubt of your ability to mystify her thoroughly. One thing is certain, Mrs. Warne, that we must have a fortune-teller of our own, and I do not know of any one so competent as yourself. I will rent an office for you near by, and the duties will interfere very little with your other work."
"I will undertake it," she said, decidedly, after a moment's thought; "I will make it a success, too, if you will give me my own way about it."
"All right," I answered; "success is all that I require."
Mrs. Warne then withdrew to make her preparations.
In a day or two I received a letter from Miller. He said that the talk over the inquest was gradually subsiding; that there were some few persons who were not fully satisfied with the manner of conducting the inquiry, but that the general effect had been favorable to Pattmore; that the latter had began to drink a great deal, though not enough to become intoxicated; that he, (Miller,) had been taken into Pattmore's confidence to a considerable extent; and that the latter had expressed an intention of going to Cincinnati to make a visit. In conclusion, he said that Pattmore was doing his utmost to appear cheerful, but that he looked very haggard, and seemed to be in great trouble.
Miss Seaton reported to Mrs. Warne the same day, that she was becoming more intimate with Mrs. Thayer, though the latter manifested no desire to take any one into her confidence. The day previous Mrs. Thayer had gone to the post-office, where she had received a letter, as usual. She had torn it open, as if very anxious to learn the news it contained for her, and had then crumpled it nervously in her hand, after reading it.
Miss Seaton also described a scene which had taken place that morning. Mrs. Thayer was in her room about eleven o'clock; soon afterward Miss Seaton went to the door and knocked. No answer being given, she went in quietly, intending to surprise Mrs. Thayer. She found the latter deeply absorbed in telling her own fortune with a pack of cards. Miss Seaton laughed pleasantly, and said:
"So you were telling your fortune, were you? Well, how did it come out?"
Mrs. Thayer looked somewhat confused at first, but she gathered up the cards mechanically, and said:
"I don't know how to tell my fortune; do you?"
"Yes, indeed, I used to be a splendid fortune-teller," replied Miss Seaton. "Let me try to tell your fortune."
She then shuffled the cards, dealt them in three piles, and turned up the last card, which happened to be the queen of hearts.
"Now let us see what your fortune has been, what it is, and what it will be," said Miss Seaton. "You are represented by the queen of hearts; this pile contains your past; that one your present; and the third your future."
So saying, she turned up the top card of each pile. By an odd coincidence the present and future were both clubs, the past being a diamond.
Miss Seaton said, gravely:
"Your past has been pleasant, but your future is unpromising."
"Yes, it is always so," replied Mrs. Thayer, despondently.
Then, as Miss Seaton was about to go on, Mrs. Thayer threw all the cards into a heap, saying:
"No, I don't want to hear any more; I shall have the same luck throughout; clubs always come to me."
"Have you always had such bad fortune?" asked Miss Seaton.
"Oh! no; only a few years ago, I used to be as happy as a bird; sorrow was unknown to me, and one enjoyment seemed to pass away only to be succeeded by another. Now I have nothing but trouble all the time."
"Your lot seems hard," remarked Miss Seaton, in a sympathizing tone; "probably you feel worse since your husband has been dead."
"Dead!" exclaimed Mrs. Thayer, springing up; then, recovering her presence of mind, she sat down, muttering: "yes, yes, of course, he's dead."
"What do you mean?" said Miss Seaton. "Is it long since he died?"
"I do not feel well to-day; and I shall not try to read my fortune again when I am so nervous," replied Mrs. Thayer, evading Miss Seaton's question.
Seeing that Mrs. Thayer wished to change the subject, Miss Seaton did not press her further. The two ladies remained together until dinner time, and Miss Seaton read a portion of "Eugene Aram" aloud. Mrs. Thayer became deeply interested in the book, and borrowed it to read.
Next morning I received a telegram from Miller, briefly stating that Pattmore had left Greenville. His destination was Chicago, though he had given out that he was going to Cincinnati.
I knew that he could not arrive that day, as the railroad connections were not promptly made at that time; but I instructed Mr. Knox and Mr. Green to be prepared to "shadow" him, on his arrival at the depot the next morning, and to keep upon his track constantly, while he remained in Chicago. I also sent word to Miss Seaton to make some pretense for calling upon Mrs. Thayer early in the forenoon, and to remain with her as long as possible. I knew that Pattmore would communicate with Mrs. Thayer immediately on his arrival, and my object was, to have some one to witness their meeting.
On entering my office early the next day, I was surprised to find Captain Sumner awaiting me, in a great state of excitement.
"That man has come here again, Mr. Pinkerton," he broke out, impetuously. "He came before breakfast and went straight to Annie's room. I called her to the door and expostulated with her, until she agreed to send him away as soon as possible. I then came here directly to inform you."
"Quite right, Captain," I replied; "there is nothing like taking prompt action in such cases. You can return to the house now, and trust to me for the rest."
"But I'm afraid she will run away with that villain," said the Captain.
"Of course, we must prevent that," I replied; "I shall have a plan prepared, in case they attempt to run away together; but, I do not think Pattmore is quite ready yet for such a step. Keep your spirits up, Captain, and don't borrow trouble."
"I have all confidence in you, Mr. Pinkerton," he said as he went out; "but I shall be much happier when I am back on my farm."
According to instructions, Miss Seaton called on Mrs. Thayer, though she did not gain admittance to her room. When Mrs. Thayer opened the door, Miss Seaton saw that she had been crying, and that she was evidently much disturbed. She asked Miss Seaton to excuse her, as she had company from the East.
About noon Pattmore returned to his hotel, as the Captain would not permit him to dine at the boarding house. As Mrs. Thayer did not come down to dinner, Miss Seaton again visited her, and found her dressing to go out. She asked Miss Seaton to remain until she was dressed, but said that she was going out driving in the afternoon and to the theatre in the evening. In a short time, the Captain came in, and Miss Seaton retired. The Captain asked Mrs. Thayer what she meant by breaking her promises not to see Pattmore again.
She replied that Pattmore was a man she could not help loving; that she had tried her best to overcome her passion, but in vain; and that she could not break off the connection so abruptly, but that she would endeavor to do so gradually in the future. Then she kissed the Captain, saying that she was never so happy in her life, and that she was going out driving with Pattmore that afternoon. The Captain remonstrated with her without effect, and, seeing that he could not move her from her purpose he came straight to my office to report.
Pattmore came again in the afternoon and took Mrs. Thayer out driving. She looked superb as she went off, having recovered entirely from her illness. She was in a perfect flutter of happiness and excitement, which gave her a brilliant color, and added to the brightness of her eyes. She was agitated by conflicting influences; on one side, was her brother, determined to separate her from her lover, and justly blaming her course; on the other, was Pattmore, claiming her love, and urging her to abandon her brother's protection.
They were gone about three hours, and, on their return, they seemed very complacent and much less excited than when they set out. In the evening, they went to the theatre together, being "shadowed" by Mr. Knox. He took a seat close behind them, in order to listen to their conversation; but he overheard nothing of any consequence.
Captain Sumner had a long talk with his sister next morning, in relation to their return to Connecticut. He begged her to go immediately, and thus escape from Pattmore's influence; but she opposed his wish, on the ground that she was too weak to make the journey. He then lost his temper, and replied that she was strong enough to go around to places of amusement with Pattmore, and it was very strange that she could not travel slowly home. This show of anger on the Captain's part, caused her to commence crying, as she knew that he could not resist so powerful an appeal to his sympathy. The result equalled her anticipations. The Captain soon lost all his irritation and began to console her, as if she were a spoilt child; finally, she induced him to go driving with them that afternoon. The Captain told me afterward, that Pattmore behaved with great propriety during the drive, and that they did not seem to be so much in love with each other as he had supposed. I smiled inwardly at the old sailor's simplicity; for I noticed that they had gone out in an open barouche, (instead of a close carriage, such as they had used the day before,) and they had remained away only one hour, instead of three.
On their return from the drive, Pattmore and Annie went to Mrs. Thayer's sitting room, and the Captain went down town. At four o'clock, Miss Seaton knocked at Mrs. Thayer's door; but, receiving no answer, she tried to enter quietly. She found that the door was locked on the inside, however, and she was, therefore, obliged to withdraw to her own room to watch. It was six o'clock before Pattmore came out, having been nearly three hours in Mrs. Thayer's room with the door locked.
Mr. Knox "shadowed" Pattmore on his departure from the boarding house, and saw him take the nine o'clock train for Greenville. I immediately notified Mr. Miller by telegraph, directing him to renew his intimacy with Pattmore, and to remain in Greenville until further orders.
Mr. Miller was not idle during the time that Pattmore was away. His first action was to learn who were the nurses attending Mrs. Pattmore in her last illness. One of them had left the city, but the other, being an old resident of Greenville, was soon found. She was quite an elderly woman, with no family except one daughter. The latter was a seamstress, and Mr. Miller soon made her acquaintance by employing her to make some shirts for him. He kept up friendly relations with them by taking both mother and daughter out riding occasionally in the summer evenings; and in various ways he ingratiated himself into the old lady's confidence. It was not long before he was able to draw out all the particulars of Mrs. Pattmore's illness.
He learned that when she first became seriously sick, Mr. Pattmore began to show a very tender solicitude for her health.
He even insisted upon preparing her medicine and giving it to her himself. Mrs. Pattmore, however, did not seem to appreciate his watchful care, for she told the nurse that she did not like to take her medicine from her husband; she also asked very particularly whether the medicine which she took was that which the doctor prescribed.
Mrs. Reed, the nurse, said that she did not like the effects of the medicine at all. It was put up in small yellow papers, and when Mrs. Pattmore took a dose of it she was always taken with violent vomiting; her bowels and stomach would become very hot, and the pain would be so severe as to cause her to scream terribly. Then Mr. Pattmore would give her a dose of another kind of medicine, which would soon relieve the patient and cause her to fall into a deep sleep.
When Dr. Forsythe called, Mrs. Pattmore always informed him very carefully about the effect of the medicine, but he treated it as a case of common occurrence, and said that those symptoms invariably accompanied an attack of dysentery. After the Doctor had gone, Mr. Pattmore would return to the room with the same medicine, and his wife would exclaim:
"Oh! has the Doctor ordered that horrid medicine again? I cannot stand it long. Oh! what shall I do?"
Then her husband would tell her that it pained him almost as much as herself to see her suffer so, and that he would willingly take it himself if he could thereby save her from pain; but she must recollect that she was very dangerously sick, and that a failure to obey the Doctor's instructions might prove fatal to her. Mrs. Pattmore would be too feeble to protest long, and she would take the medicine; the same symptoms as before would then result, and each day she seemed to grow weaker and weaker.
The day of Mrs. Pattmore's death the Doctor was unable to call; hence only Mr. Pattmore and Mrs. Reed were present when she died. Pattmore spoke very endearingly to his wife and tried to caress her, but she pushed him away, gave him one long, reproachful look, and fell back dead. Pattmore professed to be overcome with grief, and tears flowed down his cheeks, as he requested Mrs. Reed to arrange for the funeral, and to spare no expense. He stopped at the door as he was leaving the room and said:
"By the way, Mrs. Reed, if any one inquires about it, you can say that dysentery was the cause of my beloved wife's death."
Miller said that there was little doubt that Mrs. Reed suspected foul play in connection with Mrs. Pattmore's death; but she was a very discreet woman, and would not spread any story which she could not prove. It was only by very skillful management that he had been able to induce her to talk upon the subject at all. She knew that Pattmore was very popular, and that she would be speedily silenced if she attempted to suggest anything against his character; hence she preferred to keep her suspicions to herself.
On receiving this report from Miller, I sent him instructions to continue his acquaintance with Mrs. Reed, and to keep a close watch upon her movements, for it was possible that she, too, might be induced to go away. As she would be an important witness, it would be necessary not to lose sight of her. At the end of the week I received another report from Miller, stating that Pattmore had called a select meeting of his political supporters in the district, and had laid the plans for an energetic effort to obtain the Congressional nomination. Miller had been taken into their confidence, and he was working hard to secure the election of Pattmore delegates to the approaching convention. This gave him ample opportunity to become intimate with Pattmore, and he felt sure that the latter would not take any important steps without consulting him.
I was much pleased to hear this news, as it showed me that Pattmore was no longer in fear of detection; moreover, it satisfied me that politics would detain him in Greenville for some time, and there would be no immediate danger of his marriage with Mrs. Thayer. Having a prospect that he would not return to Chicago to interfere with my plan for some weeks, I decided to proceed with my attack on Mrs. Thayer's credulity and superstition. In the afternoon, therefore, I sent for Mrs. Warne, and asked whether she had secured rooms in which to play the part of a fortune-teller.
"Yes," she replied, "I have rented three rooms on Clark street, which are just suited for the purpose. There are two entrances, so that you can slip in at any time without being seen by my visitors."