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Title: From Boniface to Bank Burglar - The Price of Persecution
Author: White, George M., Bliss, (Alias) George
Language: English
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[Illustration: George Miles White]



  FROM BONIFACE TO
  BANK BURGLAR

  OR

  THE PRICE OF PERSECUTION


  HOW A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS MAN, THROUGH
  THE MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE, BECAME
  A NOTORIOUS BANK LOOTER


  BY
  GEORGE M. WHITE
  ALIAS GEORGE BLISS


  BELLOWS FALLS, VT.
  TRUAX PRINTING COMPANY
  1905



  COPYRIGHT, 1905,
  BY B. F. SLEEPER, WESTMINSTER, VT.


  Norwood Press
  J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
  Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



PREFACE


While paying the penalty of a last misdeed, I resolved that no more of
life’s precious years should be spent in sowing to the wind and that
my life’s sun should not set in eternal night; and I have been able to
keep my resolution. In the awful moments of lonesomeness in the prison
cell, I conceived the idea of publishing my life history in so far as
I could make it interesting to the financial world and general public.
Many hours of solitude, while others slept, I devoted to rummaging
through the past in search of facts, dating them from the innocent days
of my young manhood and resurrecting them from period to period, until
I succeeded in compiling a life history which, I sincerely trust, will
prove not only a helper to those who have the care of great sums of
money devolving upon them, but will also be accepted by those tempted
to depart from the path of rectitude as a warning not to be lightly
regarded.

I have endeavored to be accurate in my treatment of each part of this
history, and if there shall be discovered an error here and there,
kindly, dear reader, attribute it to a lapse of memory. I kept no
record of events, for in leading the life of a transgressor it is not
conducive to safety; so I have been forced to depend solely upon my
memory, which, as it dwelt on the past, soon became alive again with
old scenes. Acts long forgotten returned to me clothed as they were
more than twoscore years ago, and I found myself living over the bright
days, the dark days, the days of wealth, and the days of poverty. I
started to write a small book, but facts crowded upon me until I have
been enabled to issue a volume of no mean proportions.

                    G. M. WHITE.



CONTENTS


                             PART I

  CHAPTER                                             PAGE
      I.  MY HOTEL DAYS                                  1

     II.  THE WALPOLE BANK BURGLARY                      9

    III.  ONE SHERIFF I KNEW                            17

     IV.  THE UNEQUAL FIGHT                             22

      V.  HANGING OF THE MILLSTONE                      31

     VI.  PERSECUTION                                   56


                            PART II

      I.  SIDETRACKED                                   73

     II.  VISITED BY THE WHITECAPS                      83

    III.  THE CADIZ BANK LOOT                           96

     IV.  AN EXPENSIVE CHICKEN                         109

      V.  A ROCK CLEFT FOR ME                          130

     VI.  ’TWAS A SWEET BABE                           156

    VII.  POLICE SHIELD NOT WORN FOR HEALTH            165

   VIII.  SHERIFF SMITH’S BRIBE--THE LITTLE JOKER      185

     IX.  BREVOORT STABLES                             207

      X.  I CORRUPT A BANK CLERK                       215

     XI.  A COLOSSAL BANK BURGLING ENTERPRISE          232

    XII.  JUGGLING WITH DEATH                          244

   XIII.  CAPTAIN JOHN YOUNG’S GRAB                    272

    XIV.  PLOTTING AGAINST YOUNG                       286

     XV.  MY PATENT SAFETY SWITCH AND JIM IRVING       303

    XVI.  HARD WORK UNDER GREAT DIFFICULTIES           319

   XVII.  MARK MAKES PI OF LOCK TUMBLERS               337

  XVIII.  DISPOSITION OF OCEAN BANK LOOT               341

    XIX.  A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH                       356

     XX.  TALL JIM MOVES FROM COLUMBUS PRISON          368

    XXI.  JIM BURNS AND HIS CONGRESSMAN PAL            380

   XXII.  WILLIAM HATCH, ESQUIRE, DAY WATCHMAN         403

  XXIII.  THE PLOT THAT FAILED                         421

   XXIV.  THE PERFIDY OF CAPTAIN JIM IRVING            440

    XXV.  SOME DETECTIVES I FOUND USEFUL               463

   XXVI.  THE MICROBE “CALLOUSITIS”                    480



FROM BONIFACE TO BANK BURGLAR



PART I



CHAPTER I

MY HOTEL DAYS


“Here I am back again, Ellis, my dear boy!” I said to my clerk in the
Central House, as comfortable and inviting a country hostelry as the
average man of travel would want to make an occasional visit to, if I
do say it myself.

“Glad of it, Mr. White,” returned Ellis Merrill, as he reciprocated my
hearty hand-grasp. He had been with me in the hotel business for some
time, and I rather fancied him. And he was a most trustworthy young man
too.

I glanced at the register on the desk, as any hotel proprietor is apt
to do after several days’ absence.

“Ah,” remarked I, as my eyes fell on two names--“Wyckoff and Cummings.
They came yesterday. Are they together?”

“Yes, Mr. White; and they seemed to be mighty well stocked with cash.
Up to date they’ve been very prompt in paying their bills; in fact,
have paid for everything in advance.”

I glanced over a file of business papers. Then I said: “It seems
they’ve hired one of our best teams for three days, paid for it, and
will return to-morrow. That’s good business, Ellis.”

“Right you are, sir.”

I gossiped more about my guests,--as to what business they might be
engaged in, and the like.

“Mr. Wyckoff told me that he’s a United States deputy marshal. As to
his companion, he didn’t say anything,” said Merrill. “I allowed him to
have about the best team we had in the stable, on the representation
that he was a government official.”

This was in the spring of 1864, when there was much reason to believe
that the war between the North and South over the negro was drawing
to a close. I was a resident of Stoneham, Massachusetts, and, after a
fashion, felt pretty well satisfied with myself and surroundings. I
was the owner of a hotel, a large livery with a fine stock of horses
and vehicles, besides a grocery business in which I employed several
clerks, and a goodly interest in Towle & Seavy’s wine house at 21
Congress Street, Boston. Also, I had a few parcels of real estate in
Stoneham, which were increasing in value. In these days of colossal
fortunes, the total of my worldly possessions then would be of no
account; but I, the holder of thirty thousand dollars and a happy home,
surrounded by a happier family, my father and mother still living, and
I barely thirty, with the spirits of youth, felt, as I have just said,
pretty well satisfied with my life and the world generally.

I had just returned from a delightful visit to my paternal home in
Vermont, to find this United States deputy marshal and his friend,
James Cummings, guests at my hotel. I must confess to having a feeling
of curiosity as to what they looked like, which may have been a trifle
effeminate in me; so I was not sorry when, the next day, this Mr.
Wyckoff, unaccompanied by his friend, drove up to the hotel. Aside
from curiosity, I had the excusable characteristic, usually found in
public-house proprietors, of wanting to cater to patrons with full
purses and a disposition to spend money freely. Naturally, I greeted
Wyckoff effusively and made him a welcome guest. He seemed to be of a
good sort; a bright, stirring young fellow, with a pleasing address
and a ready flow of language. I was very much interested in his
conversation on war topics, his knowledge, it seemed to me, being based
on a wide experience. He appeared to be well versed in the financial
opportunities of the war, particularly as to army contracts,--how they
were obtained and the large amount of money that was being made out of
them.

Wyckoff was not the first marshal to stop at my hotel, for in those
tumultuous times they popped up frequently in search of deserters from
the army. I confess to taking a great liking to him, and when in a few
hours he left the hotel, saying he must go on farther, I felt genuine
regret, in which there was not mingled an avaricious thought.

“I hope you’ll stop here whenever you come down this way,” I said to
him at parting.

“I certainly shall,” was his reply; “and I’m quite likely to be
along soon, too. I liked the team I had, and all of your hotel
accommodations. If I do come, I shall need another team no doubt, and I
hope you’ll let me have your best.”

“That you shall, Mr. Wyckoff. The best service of my house and stable
shall be yours.”

The next I saw of him was in September, when he put up with me again.
He engaged one of my best spans and was away three days. Later in the
same month he was my guest, and, hiring another outfit, was gone three
or four days. In October I saw him, but in a most unexpected manner, as
shall be related in due time.

Affairs prospered with me in the usual happy channel, and day by day
saw me adding a few dollars to my little fortune. I saw no speck,
portentous of trouble, on life’s horizon, nor did I discover anything
that foretold disaster. My business was firmly established and my
credit was of the highest order. For my honesty I was respected, and as
for wisdom, I was supposed to possess as much, if not more, than the
average resident of my town. On an occasion I had been a postmaster,
with all the honor that office of the United States government confers
upon one living outside of the great cities. As I have said, life
was flowing like a placid river, when, one day, James Cummings, the
companion of Marshal Wyckoff, registered at the Central House. Now I
did not like this man from the first, though he seemed a good enough
fellow and talked freely of his affairs and his home in Rochester, New
York, where there was a big fruit-tree nursery, of which he said he was
an agent. I had not met him on his first visit, and it was not until I
had seen the register and asked who the stranger in the bar-room was,
that I knew Marshal Wyckoff’s friend.

Presently Merrill told me Cummings wanted a team to make a hurried
journey to Keene, New Hampshire, something like a hundred miles
distant. I objected to sending my horses on a trip like that; but
Cummings insisted that he must meet Wyckoff at Keene the following
night, as they had a very important matter to transact there.

“I have certain business interests to look after in Lowell and Nashua,”
declared Cummings, “and I can’t get through in time to make railroad
connections to Keene.”

I said it was not possible to accommodate him, that my time was
occupied sixteen hours out of twenty-four, and that I hadn’t a man in
the stable who knew the way to Keene. If a team was furnished, Cummings
was told, I would have to go along with it, and that I didn’t feel like
doing, as the trip would require too much of my time. But he insisted
that it was of the utmost importance to him and Wyckoff that he get to
Keene. Having in mind that Wyckoff was such a good fellow, and desiring
very much to be of service to him, though I couldn’t see my way clear
to spare the time, I told Cummings that I would undertake the journey,
provided I was paid twenty-five dollars a day and my expenses. I really
hoped that I had fixed a figure that would not be accepted, for the
regular charge was nearly one-half less. But to my astonishment, he
took me up. Indeed, I have reason to believe, having learned more of
Cummings, that I could have had double the amount I asked, for he
snapped me up in a breath.

Early the next day we started with one of my finest double turnouts.
The roads were heavy with mud, yet the trip to Lowell was accomplished
in excellent season. There Cummings had me drive him to the American
House, where I waited for him nearly an hour. He told me he had called
on a man who put him on the track of a very important matter, but
he was careful not to tell me what his business was. The time was
passing in an uninteresting way, to my mind, and I would have been
glad enough to listen to any sort of drivel. Somewhere about noon
we reached Nashua and put up at the Indian Head Hotel. Cummings had
another engagement, which left me alone for more than an hour. He
seemed a little excited on returning, but said nothing, other than
that he was getting through with his business in fine shape, and we
would reach Keene in time to see Wyckoff according to their agreement.
After a needed bite to eat, we resumed our journey, and got to Keene
about eight o’clock, just as darkness had well come down. Cummings
congratulated me on the quick trip we had made, as I let him down at
the Cheshire House, after which I put up at Harrington’s Eagle Hotel,
having known the genial-faced proprietor since my early boyhood days.
While I was at supper, a tap on the shoulder caused me to look up.
Beside me stood Marshal Wyckoff. Before I had time to speak he took a
seat opposite me, and remarked with a smile, “I caught you napping!”
Then he added: “Cummings has received word from his business house in
Rochester to start back at once, and he must leave on the first train.
Indeed, he has already gone.”

I said something commonplace at this, and then Wyckoff went on, “I’ve
got a matter of importance to look up at Claremont, about forty-five
miles from here, and I’d like you to drive me there to-morrow.”

I knew that the distance would be too much for my horses, so I said
that I’d take him there if he’d hire a rig in Keene. This was agreeable
to him, and on the following morning we got an early start, I having
engaged a team from Layton Martin’s stables, and arrived at Claremont
about midday. At Wyckoff’s request we drove to a hotel, where I
remained while he went to transact the business for which he came. We
were off for Keene not long after one o’clock, and passing through
Surrey about supper-time, I drove Marshal Wyckoff to the residence of a
kinsman of mine, where we pulled up and had a hearty meal. My companion
made a great impression on my relatives, who urged him with much
earnestness to visit them if ever he chanced to be in the neighborhood
again. Resuming our way, we reached Keene not long after nightfall. The
following day, with my team, we went to Concord, Massachusetts, where
the marshal got a train for Boston--or so he told me. I started for
Stoneham, with the better part of a hundred dollars in my pocket, which
had been paid me for my services. On the way I thought not a little of
Marshal Wyckoff. Never had I come in contact with a man so active in
business affairs, yet so affable, considerate, and generous. Withal,
he was a most jolly companion, and I say once more that I felt great
regret at parting with him. It was foolish of me, no doubt, but I have
to record the fact. When we next met, seven months had intervened.



CHAPTER II

THE WALPOLE BANK BURGLARY


B. F. Aldrich was the cashier of the Walpole Savings-bank, and the
bank was in his general merchandise store. Thus it can be readily
understood that the village of Walpole wasn’t much from the viewpoint
of map-makers, though its residents were not a little proud of their
abiding-place.

These facts being known, it will not be difficult to imagine the
consternation of the Walpole people, when one morning, just prior to
Thanksgiving Day in 1864, they got out of bed to find that their only
bank had been robbed of nearly half a hundred thousand dollars. At
first it was doubted; but not long delayed was the confirmation, and it
came with all the thunder that such events create in small villages.
Soon, scared and white-faced men, women, and children, depositors
and bank officials, crowded to Aldrich’s store. I will not deal with
the clamoring ones who thought their savings of years, perhaps, were
gone forever. My object is more to tell how the robbery became known
and in what manner the burglars were apprehended. I have it from an
eye-witness that Cashier Aldrich was in a state bordering on frenzy at
times, and at others seemed to be on the verge of a collapse. The keys
found dangling in the store door were his, and had been undoubtedly
left there to hide the identity of the real perpetrators of the crime.
Any one with reason would not deny that, and Aldrich realized his awful
position only too well.

He told the bank officials that the store door was strongly secured,
when he left, late the previous night; but upon waking the next
morning, he missed the keys from his trousers pocket, the trousers
being found on the floor in the hall. He could not believe that any
one had been in the house during the night, for not a soul had heard
a sound. He could not make himself believe that he’d been so careless
as to leave the keys in the store door, but to be certain, no time was
lost in making an investigation.

All his worst fears were confirmed. The keys were dangling in the lock,
the safe had been opened with a key, and papers were scattered over the
floor. Every dollar of the cash and bonds had been taken. The bank was
ruined, and great was the excitement in Walpole for many days.

The town constables and the sheriff of the county looked wise for
several weeks, but got no trace of the burglars. The depositors of the
bank were wroth at this, and declared that some action that would
bring results must be taken. Herbert T. Bellows, one of the largest
of these, led the movement. He was powerful in social and political
life, and more able to lose his interest in the bank than almost any
one else. He said that good detective work would be sure to result
in the recovery of some of the property. So he went to New York City
for detectives. Bellows was determined that his wealth should not be
taken from him without his putting forth a great effort to recover
it. The New York police force sent Timothy Golden and James Kelso,
two of the ablest sleuths of which it could boast, and placed them
at his disposal. They hadn’t been at work long when it was concluded
that the robbery had not been committed without the assistance of some
one familiar with the routine of Aldrich’s store. The directors were
told that the cashier’s story of the loss of the keys was exceedingly
flimsy, and that it looked very much as though he knew more about the
robbery than he cared to tell.

“We admit that it is a delicate matter,” said Detective Golden,
with great decision, “but unless your cashier can offer a better
explanation, you’d better direct us to arrest him.”

The directors repelled this conclusion with the greatest vigor.
Cashier Aldrich, they declared, had not been unfaithful to his trust.
They said they’d stake their reputations and lives, if necessary,
on it. However, Golden and Kelso believed he was guilty, and pushed
their investigation on that line. Their persistence in this belief,
after many weeks, began to weaken the confidence of some of the bank
officials, and it was only a matter of a very few days, when he would
have been arrested, that an unexpected clew turned up. It served to
change the tide of suspicion from Aldrich, who eventually came from
under the cloud, with his character undefiled. It was like giving him a
new life. For many weeks he’d borne the torture--that mental agony that
must come to the innocent man suspected of a crime by those who had
once believed him to be honest beyond question.

At the verge of casting Aldrich in jail the detectives were suddenly
called back to New York. It was long past the time when a tangible clew
was expected from that quarter, but at last one of the government bonds
taken from the Walpole Bank had turned up in the United States Treasury
at Washington. It had been purchased from a man named Cummings, by
a reputable business man of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Armed with this
information, the detectives interviewed the Scranton man, who told
them he understood that Cummings was an agent for a fruit-tree nursery
at Rochester, New York, and that he was said to be a friend of a Dr.
Hollister at Providence, a hamlet on the outskirts of Scranton. Golden
and Kelso went to Providence, though they didn’t believe that Cummings
would be the real game they were after. However, if he proved to be a
link in the chain that would lead them to the “looters” of the Walpole
Bank, they would be satisfied. Arriving in Providence, Dr. Hollister
was found, but Cummings wasn’t there. The doctor at once became a
mystery in the case. While insisting that Cummings was merely one of
his patients, his information was so unsatisfactory, and so evidently
reluctant was he to assist the detectives, that they began to suspect
him of knowing more about the Walpole burglary than he cared to tell.

The result was that Dr. Hollister was arrested, and extradited to
New Hampshire as quickly as the law would allow. It proved to be a
fruitless piece of work of the detectives and undoubtedly a most
unpleasant experience for the doctor. They could only prove that
Cummings had been his patient, which was less than nothing. An early
hearing resulted in the prisoner’s discharge from custody and his
return to Pennsylvania. As for Golden and Kelso, they were deeply
chagrined, to say the least. They felt happy indeed, when, finally, no
serious financial loss through a criminal libel suit came of the arrest.

But the tireless energy they’d put in the case was at last rewarded.
Cummings was located in New York City. Thither they returned, but
arrived one day too late, for the bird had flown. However, as Golden
was talking to the housekeeper, his eyes fell on a sensational weekly
story paper lying on a table, which bore the name of Cummings,--and
he gained the information from the housekeeper that the paper had
been changed to another address. As she apparently knew little or
nothing about Cummings, the detectives went to the office of the story
paper. There they found that the paper was being sent to “M. Shinburn,
Saratoga, New York.” This was a mighty small clew to follow. At their
wits’ end, however, the detectives decided to make the trip. Possibly
they might find Cummings there.

It was not difficult to find “M. Shinburn.” The gossips in Saratoga
believed him to be a wealthy business man who had recently located
there and who had purchased a large farm on the outskirts of the
village, where he lived with a brother, whose name, they had heard, was
Frank. The few who had made his acquaintance found him to be of a most
affable sort. Indeed, they declared that he had come from the South
or West, and had bought the farm about a month previous. Just when he
first put in an appearance at Saratoga they could not tell, however.

As the days wore on, many little characteristics in Shinburn made the
detectives believe that he was not all he professed to be. They felt
certain that it would be a wise move to arrest him; yet there was
the Dr. Hollister _fiasco_ still fresh in their minds, and to make
another mistake was something not to be relished. At last, driven to
desperation by circumstances, Golden told Kelso that the risk must be
taken; and it was--but I will allow the former to relate, in his own
way, what came of it.

“We were at our last ditch,” said he, “when we decided to take him in.
It was a big risk,--much like a plunge in the dark,--but we determined
to do it. The favorable opportunity came one night right after the
theatre. Kelso and I waited on the outside, and when Shinburn came to
the street, we pinched him. Now, mind you, it was just speculation.
Well, he put up the stiffest kind of a kick, but we would not let up
on him until every pocket had been turned inside out and every scrap
of paper examined. We found on him five coupons cut from bonds, and
two railroad bonds, all stolen from the Walpole Bank. Of course that
settled it for keeps. We locked him up, and then, armed with only
our nerve, we searched his house, his brother Frank putting up a big
holler, and found files, skeleton keys, wax impressions, and other
burglars’ tools. Among the keys we discovered was a duplicate that
would open the outer vault door of the Ashuilot Bank at Keene.”

I have it from Golden that Cashier Faulkner of the Ashuilot was about
unnerved when shown how easily the key opened the vault door. He
realized how narrow had been his escape from an experience like that
of Cashier Aldrich. The detectives told him there was no doubt that
the Ashuilot would have been robbed as soon as the excitement of the
Walpole case had died out.

Shinburn was taken to New Hampshire and locked under a strong guard in
the jail at Keene. Meanwhile the detectives took up the trail after
James Cummings, which led them to Philadelphia, where he was arrested
a few days later. In his possession were something more than five
thousand dollars in currency, undoubtedly the result of the bond sale.
He was extradited to New Hampshire and lodged in the same jail with
Shinburn. District Attorney Lane was handed the money by Golden and
Kelso.



CHAPTER III

ONE SHERIFF I KNEW


“Good afternoon, George!”

“How do you do? Upon my word, sheriff, but you’re the last man I
expected to see in Stoneham to-day. How’s business in Fitchburg?” Such
was my response to Sheriff Butterick, who, with a young man, very
sprucely dressed, had called at my hotel. It was a delightful afternoon
on the second day of June in 1865.

“Shake hands with Mr. Golden--Mr. Tim Golden!” said the sheriff,
introducing his companion, and a warm hand-clasp followed. I told the
sheriff that I was pleased to meet any friend of his in all seasons. I
laughed loudly when Mr. Golden said:--

“I suppose you don’t know you’re under arrest, Mr. White?”

“Why, certainly I do,” was my answer, being perfectly willing to carry
on the joke. “What’s the charge? Chicken-roost theft, bank robbery, or
high-handed murder?”

I turned to Sheriff Butterick, and a laugh died on my lips. I’d caught
a peculiar light in his eyes, and it sobered me up in a moment. I
looked again at Mr. Golden. A silver shield of some sort was on his
vest, and he was holding his coat back that I might read an inscription
on it. “New York City Detective Bureau” was what I saw.

“I’m Tim Golden, one of the New York detective force,” said he. “I’m
here with the sheriff to get you for that Walpole Savings-bank job.”

“Bank job?” I repeated, failing to catch his meaning.

“Yes, the Walpole bank burglary.”

I had begun to feel a little upset. The worst I could think of was,
that by the barest possibility I had made a business mistake and that
a lawsuit was confronting me. At the mention of a bank burglary I felt
that little worriment vanish, and bursting into a laugh, I cried:
“Come, come! you can’t persist in that joke, sheriff, for it won’t
work. Try another, old fellow.”

Detective Golden’s next words frightened me, for I realized that he was
in earnest.

“This is serious, Mr. White. You’re wanted in New Hampshire for that
Walpole bank burglary, and there is no dodging it.”

“Burglary! Why, man, my business affairs occupy me from sixteen to
twenty hours a day, and I’ve been at it every day.”

“Can’t help that,” said Golden.

“But I can.” I felt my anger rising rapidly.

“You had time enough to be much in the company of Mark Shinburn,” said
the detective, looking at me, his eyes half closed. There was a harsh
appearance about his face I failed to like when he did that.

“And who’s Shinburn?” I asked. “Never have I heard of such a name.”

“You were with him a lot last fall.”

“It’s a mistake--a big mistake!” I insisted angrily.

“But you have heard of Wyckoff?” insinuatingly inquired Detective
Golden. I started. Any one else as innocent as I would have done the
same. I had actually forgotten Wyckoff; yes, I had been with him last
fall when he made the trip to Claremont and Concord.

“True, I have heard of Wyckoff, a deputy marshal who stopped at my
hotel and hired my teams, and I did drive him from Keene to Claremont
and to Concord,” said I. “But what of it? Is that bank burglary?”

“It seems to be of no use, Mr. White,” put in the sheriff, “for that
Wyckoff you were trundling about the country is Mark Shinburn, now
under arrest at Keene. I confess the whole thing is a puzzle to me, but
Golden, here, says you’re mixed up in the case somehow, and you’ll have
to come up to Keene with us.”

“But it is an outrage,” cried I, following up the outburst with an
argument much too long for the occasion, for it profited me nothing.
Not a word I could say would in any way straighten out the tangle. In
short, I was under arrest. Detective Golden asked me if I would go with
him to New Hampshire without extradition formalities.

“Of course I’ll go, if I must go at all; but, being innocent of this
mess, I hate to be treated in such an ignominious manner. It is not the
result I dread, for an innocent man can’t be proved guilty in this age.
Yes, I’m ready to go with you now.”

And I went on to my fate--a fate I could not have foreseen. What a trip
it was--one I never shall forget. We arrived at Keene, a lively though
old-fashioned town, and the county-seat of Cheshire County, and I was,
for the first time in my life, behind prison bars.

After all the years since that tremendous affliction, the like of
which turns black hair to gray and the smooth brow into furrows, I
can’t bring myself to a calm retrospection of the scenes in which I
was powerless in the strong hands of my unscrupulous enemies. But in
all the blackness that memory still brings up to me, I have one bright
remembrance of the faithfulness of my relatives and close friends, who,
thank God, believed me innocent then, and do to this day.

While awaiting the action of the law and consulting frequently with my
lawyers, I had ample time to learn the inside story of the Walpole
bank robbery, of which I had no knowledge, save what I heard from
neighbors and the newspapers. I had no pecuniary interest in the bank;
therefore, when the arrest came, I had forgotten that a crime of that
sort had been committed. Many of its details were told me later, by
Detective Golden, and such as he didn’t know were supplied me by
others, among whom were my legal advisers.



CHAPTER IV

THE UNEQUAL FIGHT


May no other man realize what I suffered in the weeks of confinement in
the jail at Keene.

Innocent of the crime of burglary, a man who had always stood up boldly
among his fellow-men, looking all squarely in the eye, to be thus
ignominiously, horribly entangled in the meshes of the law was to set
upon him the torments of hell. I doubt, if there be a corner set apart,
in the infernal region, in which certain condemned ones must meditate
forever over their evil deeds, whether their mental agony will be a
tittle of the writhing anguish that besieged my soul, until I was left
a wreck of my former self.

Ay, the torture I endured--an indescribable, lingering horror--can in
no manner be compared with the most excruciating physical distress that
mortal may bear and survive, except to demonstrate, by comparison, the
insignificance of the latter. So far apart are they, that they stand as
the East from the West, the remotest Past from the remotest Future.

I was at times far removed from a calm contemplation of my position,
and on more than one occasion wondered if my brain would retain its
normal reasoning. Once I feared that I would go stark mad, with the
wild rush of a thousand fancies, pursuing each other through my brain,
like so many little green-eyed imps. Oh, it was horrible. And there
came moments when I cursed man and God, and raved that man was a
misnomer for all that was devilish and that God was only a myth. Again,
and I was being sifted, as it were, through a sieve of the finest mesh,
that part of me left in the sieve being transformed into all that was
vile, and my pulverized self passing through, all the good in me, being
blown to the four winds of heaven. No doubt that this was a fantasy,
yet as I lay in my cold cell I was so vividly impressed that it seemed
a hideous reality.

Following such an affliction, there would come calmer moments, in
which I was able to contemplate my condition, in much the same manner
as a hardened criminal. When this mood possessed me, I had an awful,
haunting dread of what the future might hold to rule my after days.
But, as the time passed, and I had frequent consultations with my
attorney; talked of the associations I had had with the man Wyckoff,
whom I had come to know as Mark Shinburn; discussed my arrest at
Stoneham, when I believed, at first, that I was the victim of a joke;
and went over the various stages of my case, I began, at intervals, to
be somewhat philosophical.

It was a hard matter to realize, that I, an innocent man, was actually
under arrest and locked in the same jail with professional criminals,
and accused, jointly with them, of burglary. Yet more difficult was it
to believe that this man Shinburn was Wyckoff, the United States deputy
marshal and guest at my hotel. Though he was identically the same
smooth, affable gentleman in jail that I had met and travelled with the
year before, I found it almost impossible at times to believe that he
was a criminal--which I knew from the accumulating evidence. Day after
day I came in contact with him, talked with him, discussed the evidence
for and against him, and heard him confess to being sorry that his acts
had involved me. I had liked Wyckoff the deputy marshal, and I liked
none the less Mark Shinburn, though he was the means of my undoing.

My attorney, A. V. Lynde, with whom I had done no little real-estate
business, often visited me in jail, and we discussed the points that
were held by the prosecution to be positive proof of my guilt. There
was my journeying about the country with Shinburn and Cummings, while
they were, at the same time, plotting to rob the Walpole Bank, and
many other points that were brought against me, but of a still more
circumstantial nature. All these matters were laid before me, and I
could well understand how some people might honestly believe me guilty.

As I lay in jail, I did not know that the avarice of a stockholder
of the Walpole Bank would lead him to persecute me almost beyond
measure. I did not think that he would, with good reason to believe me
guiltless, use his influence to set one of the real criminals free, and
set the law upon me, in order that he might recover the loss he had
sustained through the robbery. I did not know that he would continue
his persecution until every dollar of my wealth was stripped from me,
and I was left at the mercy of my friends to defend my innocence. But
so it was.

While I lay in jail, asking day by day for a hearing, the coils of
injustice were being tightened about me. The prosecution did not show
its hand by any too quick action. It was only when the process of
the law must be carried out that there was no longer secrecy kept by
those who held my fate in their hands. I had asked for an immediate
hearing on the day of my arrest, but it had been denied me. One would
have thought that a man who had borne a good reputation in a community
bordering on the very jail that held him, would have been given more
consideration than a professed criminal. It was not so. The earliest
opportunity given me to be heard was four weeks after my arrest. Then I
was afforded only a chance to plead not guilty to the charge, for the
district attorney, F. F. Lane, asked for an adjournment for two weeks
and was given it. What conspiracy was hatched during those two weeks, I
shall allow the facts to tell in their undeniable way.

The jail was one, for strength, that modern builders might copy with
profit to governments. It was of granite walls, two feet thick, with
double-barred windows and ponderous doors, well secured with massive
locks. The main floor of the jail proper was used for small fry thieves
and petty offenders, but the second floor contained three cells which
were used for the safe keeping of those charged with murder and felony.
Shinburn, Cummings, and I occupied these cells. The two end ones were
light, but that in the middle was on the order of a dungeon. My cell
was large, and two windows opened from it to the street.

One morning, shortly after the adjourned hearing, I missed Cummings.
No meals were brought to him that day, and when I could speak to the
jailer’s wife, she told me that he had been set free. At the first
opportunity I communicated with Shinburn, whose cell was the farthest
from mine. He said that Cummings had been let out of the back door
of the jail, so to speak, after relinquishing all claim to the five
thousand dollars he had when Detective Golden arrested him.

“Although the district attorney knew that Jim sold the bond to the
Scranton man, it was not possible to prove that the cash found on him
was received from the sale,” said Shinburn; “and when Jim said he’d let
up on the dust in case there was no conviction, Lane let him go. What’s
more, Jim’s railroad fare was paid to Rochester.”

Galling to me were these facts, if facts they were; and I had no reason
to doubt Shinburn in view of the positive information that Cummings was
no longer a prisoner. What a turn of fate was it, indeed, that wrought
out the freedom of a guilty man and left me, the innocent one, still in
jail! Was it any wonder that I groaned aloud and wondered whether there
was a God?

I now recall with what rapidity my case was called after the district
attorney had gotten Cummings out of the way. It was put forward with
all the vigor that I had clamored for six weeks prior, and excuses were
made that the delay was caused by the difficulty in framing the case.
As the time for the hearing drew near, I had a feeling that I was in
deadly peril, though Mr. Lynde assured me that there was no doubt that
I would not be held for the grand jury.

At last the day of the hearing before the magistrate came, and Shinburn
and I were taken into court. Mr. Lynde represented me, while Don H.
Woodward, a bright young attorney, had been retained by Shinburn. The
latter’s brother Frank, of Saratoga, had come East to look after his
interests. At times I had hopes that I would be free at the close of
the hearing, and again I would be despondent. I knew that I ought not
to be where I was, and it did seem to me that no circumstances ought to
be convincing enough to long imprison an innocent man. The discharge of
Cummings, by what means I never quite knew, created a grave doubt in
me; besides, I hadn’t much faith in the wisdom of the magistrate at the
hearing.

Mr. Lynde made a good representation for me, and so did Woodward for
Shinburn. In taking up my case, Mr. Lynde asked for a separate hearing
on my behalf, on the ground that the facts in the charge were vastly
different from those Shinburn must meet. This, District Attorney Lane
opposed with all his legal power and personal influence. All the
pleading that my attorney or I could do fell on unsympathetic ears,
apparently. My plea, as an innocent man, for the administration of
common, humane justice, was as futile as was Mr. Lynde’s. It was ruled
that Shinburn, the guilty, and White, the innocent, must be examined
together. And we were. The facts were against him, and I, with him for
a millstone about my neck, as it were, was held to await the action of
the grand jury. Shinburn, being guilty of the crime charged, had hoped
to escape, and it seemed to me that I had a right to.

Thus was I doomed to stand in the same prisoners’ dock with him, my
case tightly fastened to his with legal thongs,--the innocent and
the guilty to stand or fall together! What an unequal fight, what an
injustice, was dealt me!

In my declining years I often wonder, if there be a Supreme Ruler,--and
I believe there is,--whether, on the Judgment Day, there’ll not be an
awful reckoning for those who were so unjustly against me in my vain
battle to establish my innocence.

Realizing how matters were going, I asked Mr. Lynde to retain the
services of Mr. Woodward, and as I bade him good-night at the jail,
we’d decided to call to our aid also, ex-Judge Cushion and John M. Way,
both of whom I knew very well. The bail in my case was fixed at fifteen
thousand dollars, and in Shinburn’s, five thousand more. I hoped to be
out into the world again, before many hours, no matter what the future
held for me beyond the grand jury. As I meditated over the release of
Cummings and the action of the magistrate, I actually would not have
been surprised if Shinburn had been discharged, while I, alone, was
held to an accounting.

While I had lain in jail, Herbert Bellows began a suit in tort in
Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and, attaching my property, sacrificed
it at a forced sale. Though the trial of the suit was never had, I
was stripped of my property and left financially helpless, save for
the loyalty of my friends. Notwithstanding this lack of means, these
friends, not a few of them my creditors, came to my assistance, and
I was admitted to bail. In the meantime the grand jury handed down a
joint indictment against Shinburn and myself, and the case was placed
on the calendar of the October term of the Cheshire County Court.



CHAPTER V

HANGING OF THE MILLSTONE


It was toward the middle of October that Shinburn and I were brought
to trial, in the meantime the grand jury having presented indictments
against us, but that didn’t seem to affect me greatly, for the reason
that I was becoming more hopeful every day. Having been admitted to
bail and afforded an opportunity to be among my friends once more, the
despondency which attacked me in jail had given way to a feeling of
almost certainty that I would be declared not guilty. My attorneys,
the day before the trial, having examined all of our witnesses, from
Stoneham and Boston, were even more sanguine than I. John M. Way told
me that the prosecution could no more convict me than it could walk on
air. In fact, he said there wasn’t “a peg to hang a hat on.” And as to
Shinburn, though he had not been able to get bail, his counsel said
there would be no trouble in proving an alibi for him. If Shinburn,
who, I had no doubt, was guilty, could hope to escape, how much more
reason was there for me to expect a verdict of acquittal.

The trial day came, but our case was not called until long after noon.
A big crowd was in the court-room, as widespread interest had been
caused by the predicament which I was in. There were hundreds of people
present from several counties, a great many of whom could not obtain
admittance, owing to the lack of room.

I sat with my counsel, while Shinburn was seated twenty feet away, with
his. My attorneys had planned to make a great fight for a separate
trial, and had come to court primed with material to wage the battle.
While District Attorney Lane, who I knew was as persistent as ever to
convict me, was trying to get a jury, I had an opportunity to look
about me. Herbert T. Bellows was there to press the charge against us,
and as I looked in his face, I could see that he had no sympathy for
me. Two women and a man, sitting not far from Shinburn, were pointed
out to me as Mrs. and Miss Kimball and Frank Shinburn. The former,
mother and daughter, and the latter, Shinburn’s brother from Saratoga,
had come to testify to an alibi for him. The women, I was told, had
dined in a Boston hotel with him, at the time of the burglary. Another
friend, whose name was said to be William Matthews, of New York City,
sat near Shinburn and was present to testify that the latter was in
Boston at the time of the burglary; and again, in testimony as to
character, would swear that he knew the prisoner in New York, as a
respectable Wall Street broker.

There were many of my friends present, which included my Boston
business partners, Charles Meriam, a broker who had done no little
business for me, and my friends and my employees from Stoneham. Besides
these, I saw, what was dearer than all, my relatives, sitting there
to say by their acts that they believed me innocent, though the whole
world should be against me.

Disregarding the district attorney’s anxiety to get a jury together,
we registered a plea of not guilty to the crime of burglary, and Judge
Cushion, addressing Judge Doe, the ruler of the court, asked for a
separate trial of the indictment against me.

“We do not, your honor, dispute the law,” said he, “but we wish to
plead for a deep consideration of the merits of the case. It has
been set forth that the prisoner Shinburn and my client, Mr. White,
must, under the construction of the statutes of this state, be tried
together, because the acts alleged to have been committed by one are
linked with the acts committed by the other, as charged, and that this
is the best procedure, in order to best serve the interests of the
state, to the end that the law shall be vindicated and those punished
who committed the Walpole bank burglary.

“Now, your honor, there is no man who stands firmer than I for the
elevation of the moral and legal standards. I would see men walk
in the best paths of citizenship, and I would have the people look
upon the law as something too pure and unsullied to be lightly held,
instead of being obeyed for fear of the consequences. I would have the
law respected because it is right, and not because there is a penalty
if it is violated. But in the case of the prisoners before the court
to-day, there is a distinct difference. In Shinburn we have a man about
whom there is nothing known in this community. He may be guilty of
the charge of burglary or he may not. So far as I know, he is falsely
accused. But, as to George White, my client, many of you here know, and
I know, that until this damnable accusation was brought against him he
was untouched by the shadow of suspicion.

“There are, no doubt, many in this court-room to-day who have known him
as child and man, and who know him to be all that a well-bred youth and
man should be. Born almost on this very soil, he has been educated,
instructed in business affairs, and by his diligence and unusual energy
has won the respect of all who have personally known him, and such
as have not been fortunate enough to have an intimate acquaintance
with him have respected him for the fine business reputation that his
efforts have won. From one pursuit to another he went on, only to
become more and more successful, and until the day that this awful
charge was laid at his door, no man had dared to breathe a vile word
against his splendid character. I doubt if he had an enemy in the world
the day of his arrest, and, as far as I know, he has none to-day.

“But a robbery was committed in Walpole; a bank was unlocked with the
cashier’s keys, and several thousands of dollars were appropriated.
Presently we find that two men, accused of that crime, have been
apprehended. In the course of an investigation by the authorities,
it was developed that these men, one alleging himself to be a United
States deputy marshal, had hired, at various times, horses and
carriages from the livery stable owned by my client, Mr. White, and
that on an occasion he drove them to the points they desired, as he had
been engaged to do. Having acted as their servant, and having been well
paid for it, Mr. White returned to the pursuit of his business, and was
in entire ignorance of the fact that the two men he had thus served
were, at the very time, plotting to rob the Walpole Savings-bank, as is
charged in the indictment.

“Now I claim, your honor, that in Mr. White, an innocent citizen, a
reputable business man, whose character is above the awful imputation
against him, we have an unusual case; and that this court of justice,
in view of the fact that all men are entitled to every privilege
whereby they may establish their innocence, is bound to respect those
rights.

“In Mr. White we have a man known to the community in which he is to
be tried. In the moral court he has been on trial before his fellow-men
all his life, and the verdict has been handed down, that he has done
well. We find that the magistrate who held him for the grand jury
declared that he must stand trial, side by side, with a man who is
an entire stranger in the community; and why? Because, your honor,
this man saw fit to hire horses and vehicles from him! One of the men
who went to Mr. White’s stable and engaged a carriage, and who was
apprehended and charged with the Walpole bank burglary, has been set
free. Why is it that the man Cummings, about whom we know nothing,
is given a clean bill of health, while my client here, Mr. White,
whose life has been an open book, is held to prove his innocence? If
the prisoner Shinburn, who, with Cummings, hired vehicles from Mr.
White, is guilty, why is not the man Cummings brought before the bar
to answer? Instead of that, your honor, the district attorney has
arraigned one of the accused and permitted the other to go, and my
client, Mr. White, seems to have been brought in to fill up the vacancy.

“But of the man Shinburn I know nothing. It is alleged, however, that
bonds were found in his possession, the same the property of the
Walpole Bank, and it is also charged that he was seen in Keene shortly
before the burglary. As I have stated, I know nothing of this, but I do
know that the evidence, such as it is, is entirely different from that
alleged against my client. I do know that he had nothing to do with
stolen bonds, that none were found in his possession, that he had no
guilty knowledge that he had been driving criminals about the country,
and that, in view of these facts, he is entitled to a separate trial
from that given the other prisoner at the bar.

“And now, your honor, in the name of common justice, in the name of
humanity, I ask, ay, demand, that Mr. George White, the honorable
business man of Stoneham, be given a fair opportunity to prove his
innocence of this infamous allegation the district attorney has made
against him. And, your honor, the way to accord him that right which
the constitution bestows on him, in my opinion, is to give him a
separate trial. In the name of justice I demand that right.”

Judge Cushion’s plea made a profound impression, it seemed to me, on
every one in the court-room; not excluding Judge Doe and the district
attorney. There was an intense feeling within me that I would be
accorded the privilege for which my counsel had spoken. Judge Doe
looked at the district attorney as if to say, “I’ll hear you now,” and
Mr. Lane arose and began his short opposition, in a cold, hard voice.

“We have a case against two men,” said he, “and they are before the
court--Mark Shinburn and George White. The Walpole Savings-bank
burglary was committed by two men, and we are prepared to show by
competent testimony that the prisoners at the bar are guilty of the
crime with which they are charged. They are jointly indicted, are
jointly guilty, and they, according to the law of this state, must be
tried together.

“The prisoner White was a poor farmer but a few years ago. It is not
possible that he could have honestly accumulated the wealth he now
possesses. Where did he get it? He was seen driving about the country
with the prisoner Shinburn at the time the plot to rob the Walpole Bank
was being concocted. These are the plain facts which the state will
prove. There can be no legal decision rendered by the court which will
accord the prisoner White a separate trial. I will quote the law.”

District Attorney Lane then read at length from the criminal law of the
state, and sat down.

Don H. Woodward, as I have said, was a young attorney, and never
had had an opportunity to show his powers. Undoubtedly fired by the
injustice which had been meted out to me, he pressed into the fight
with an energy that even surprised himself. He spoke of the unfairness
of the law that precluded a separate trial for the prisoners, and
then proceeded to bitterly arraign the district attorney. Seldom
has a prosecutor been compelled to listen to a flaying such as was
administered him by this dashing young lawyer. His words were fearless,
and at times he charged the district attorney with being influenced by
ulterior motives.

“A man was arrested in Saratoga, your honor,” said he, “a business
man, a broker. That man is the prisoner, Mr. Mark Shinburn. Bonds were
found on him by the police. Two weeks later a man known to the district
attorney as James Cummings was apprehended and held in the jail with
Shinburn by Mr. Lane. The first knowledge of the whereabouts of the
property taken from the Walpole Bank was obtained through the sale of
one of the government bonds, and the man who sold the bond was James
Cummings. When the detectives arrested him, they found more than five
thousand dollars in his possession, the result of the sale of one or
more of the stolen bonds. This man Cummings placed bonds in the keeping
of my client, Mr. Shinburn, to be sold in the open market. The result
of doing a legitimate business for a man who has turned out to be a
‘looter’ of the Walpole Bank, is that my client is before this court
accused of the crime of burglary.

“Now, your honor, I wish to show, in plain words, that mighty queer
proceedings have been going on since the arrest of this man Cummings,
and particularly since a third prisoner, Mr. George White, was brought
into the case. The district attorney has placed himself, through
certain acts, mighty near where a foul cesspool of conspiracy can be
scented. Whether he has readied that condition of his own volition,
or whether the powerful political influence of a stockholder of the
Walpole Bank has forced him into it, I am not in the position to say.
But I do charge that there has come into this case an element that
should bring to the cheeks of all honest men the blush of shame.

“Why, your honor, the district attorney brings into this court two men,
one a respectable business man and broker of Saratoga, New York, and
the other an honorable gentleman known to this community for nearly all
his life, and charges them with an infamous crime. He has come here to
ask a jury to convict them and your honor to pass sentences that shall
put them in state prison, to their everlasting disgrace, the loss of
their citizenship, the loss of their fair reputations, and what is
more, the district attorney would further tear the bosoms of loving
mothers and fathers already grievously afflicted with sorrow. All
this District Attorney Lane would do, in face of the fact that he has
allowed James Cummings, the actual Walpole burglar, the Walpole stolen
bond seller, to go entirely free of prosecution. He dare not deny it,
your honor. And why has he done this? Ask Herbert T. Bellows, sitting
in this court-room, and perhaps he can tell you and the others why
this unheard-of thing has been done. Will Mr. Bellows speak out? No,
sir--not he! Neither will the district attorney.

“Why, your honor, the very money found on Cummings was from the sale of
one or more of the Walpole bonds. When Detective Golden arrested him,
this money was confiscated and turned over to District Attorney Lane.
While it may not be proved that it was the fruit of the bond-selling,
it can be proved that Cummings sold the stolen bonds. My client, Mr.
Shinburn, sold no bonds, neither did Mr. White; but Cummings did. Why
was Cummings allowed to slip out of the back door of the jail, your
honor? Will the district attorney tell us? What has become of the five
thousand and more dollars? Was that money the price of the release of
the ‘looter’ of the Walpole Bank? If so, who prompted District Attorney
Lane to accept the price, if he did?

“Again, your honor, I wish to call your attention to the fact that the
defendants, through their counsel, made persistent efforts to get an
early hearing, but it was denied them at the instigation of District
Attorney Lane. For six long weeks their pleas were disregarded, and in
the meanwhile the district attorney made a dicker with Cummings, the
Walpole bank burglar, and in that bargain this Cummings turned over to
Mr. Lane more than five thousand dollars. Then the enterprising burglar
was set at liberty, to continue his preying upon the public, it being
done in a star chamber proceeding, and supplied with money to pay his
railroad fare to Rochester, New York. I state all this, your honor,
with a view of opening your eyes to what is going on in this case, and
with the hope that the prisoners, so infamously charged, may be given
the benefit of this warning.

“All of this looks very plain to me, sir. Cummings was arrested with
a large amount of cash in his possession, and some one wanted it, and
he was willing to give it up, provided he was set free. Two men, it is
alleged, your honor, robbed the Walpole Bank. Mr. Shinburn was arrested
and would do for one prisoner; but if Cummings were given his liberty,
who would take his place? That was the question. Where was the second
victim to come from? Ah, a thought strikes some one! A certain hotel
keeper and liveryman in Stoneham let teams, according to the district
attorney, to a man resembling Mr. Shinburn, one of the defendants here.
Excellent! Grand idea! The liveryman was arrested, and was none other
than Mr. George White, the other defendant here. The men behind this
case got detectives from New York to journey to Stoneham and drag into
this awful mess this respectable business man; and we find him in court
before your honor to-day, the second victim, standing in the shoes
which Cummings should fill. Is not this an infamous state of affairs,
your honor? I charge that the district attorney set James Cummings
free. I charge that Cummings did not take the five thousand dollars
with him, and that the district attorney paid for the railway ticket
that took him to Rochester. If ever there was a case of compounding a
felony, then this is one. In view of all these facts, your honor, I say
that the prisoners at the bar should be granted separate trials.”

Judge Doe had listened to this impassioned speech with much interest,
apparently, but without any delay decided that Shinburn and I must be
tried together. Asking for a moment in which to consult, Judge Cushion,
and Mr. Woodward and the others of Shinburn’s and my counsel drew
aside and earnestly discussed the attitude of the court and district
attorney. My counsel believed me to be innocent and Shinburn guilty,
yet in view of the ultimatum that both must be tried at once, it was
a question whether there could be found a way to further fight for
separate trials, or, bowing submissively to the ruling, proceed to
establish a joint defence in which the innocent and guilty must stand
or fall together.

“It’s sink or swim, gentlemen!” Judge Cushion told the others at the
termination of the conference; and they returned to the tables.

Well, when court adjourned that afternoon, a jury to try us had been
chosen, Sumner Warren being its foreman, and the preliminaries had been
accomplished so that the prosecution was ready to call its witnesses
the first thing the next morning. As for my feelings, they had
undergone a great change since the convening of the court. All the fear
that possessed me after the hearing at which I was denied a separate
chance to prove my innocence, was upon me again. The hopefulness of
the morning had resolved into the gloom of night. I must fight my way
through the great cloud that beset me, handicapped by the case of a
man I had no reason to doubt was guilty of the crime with which he
stood accused. Linked with a criminal, I must prove my innocence or be
convicted a felon.

My lawyers said there was no reason for me to feel despondent; that we
would win despite all that was pitted against us; that there wasn’t any
evidence upon which the jury could possibly base a verdict of guilty,
though they might be ever so prejudiced. As to the jury being a fair
and well-disposed body of men, Judge Cushion said he had no doubt of
that. I took all this as poor comfort, however, and in my hotel that
night there was precious little sleep for me. After a long, weary
vigil, the dawn came, and with it the nerve-distracting trial, which
lasted ten days.

I shall not go into the details of the testimony. Herbert Bellows
was a witness, testifying to the ownership of the bonds found in
Shinburn’s pockets; and another witness declared that Shinburn was a
man he’d seen riding in a rig, between Walpole and Keene, early in the
morning following the burglary, and upon being asked to identify the
other man with Shinburn, said I looked very much like him. Detectives
Golden and Kelso swore to the facts surrounding Shinburn’s arrest,
and to the search in the Saratoga farm-house where burglars’ tools
were discovered. Other witnesses told how I let horses and carriages
to Shinburn, and drove him to Claremont and Keene, and that I had
engaged a turnout from Layton Martin’s stables to do so. All of
which I had done; but was it not horrible to sit and listen to the
criminal construction placed upon these innocent acts? to listen to
the motive attributed to me? And still other witnesses swore that
I had accumulated a fortune in two years, that was impossible of
accomplishment through honest means, and that being the case, I must
have gotten the money somewhere, and why not from the Walpole Bank?
At times I writhed under these damning words, and it was with the
utmost difficulty that I was restrained, time and time and again, from
springing to my feet and crying out that they who talked thus were
liars. Glad I am that my friends made me hold my peace!

At last the prosecution rested and the defence called its witnesses.
Frank Shinburn told the jury that his brother was a broker and that
James Cummings placed the bonds in Mark’s hands for sale. Shinburn’s
sister corroborated him. On cross-examination this testimony was
shaken, particularly that of the brother. Mrs. Kimball and her
daughter testified that they dined with Shinburn and Billy Matthews
at the Revere House in Boston at the very time District Attorney Lane
alleged he was in Keene plotting the burglary. These women were honest
in giving this testimony, but a subsequent examination of the hotel
register showed that the dinner took place the day after the robbery.
William Matthews swore that Shinburn was a broker who did much business
in Wall Street, New York City, and that he had often sold bonds for
him, and that he’d dined with the prisoner and the two women in the
Revere House, Boston, as had been testified to.

My witnesses from Boston testified to the business which took me to
that city every day, from ten o’clock in the morning until evening.
The time for every day in the week prior and after the burglary was
accounted for. One of my partners in the Boston firm of Towle & Seavy
told of the manner in which I had accumulated wealth. Several bank
officials testified to the dates on checks which showed where I was
at vital moments,--the moments when I was supposed to be actually
engaged in robbing the Walpole Bank. A number of witnesses testified
to various business ventures in which I was engaged with John M. Way
and several other reputable business men, and how many checks passed
in this business; and Charles Meriam, a broker of Boston, swore to
the sums of money that he received and invested for us, all of which
made a perfect accounting of the prodigious wealth which the district
attorney had conjured up against me. A. V. Lynde went on the stand
and told of my real-estate transactions with him; how I had bought
tracts of land from him and how I had dealt at all times honorably.
My clerks, Ellis Merrill and Fred Benson, told in detail of my strict
attention to business; of how I got up every week day at five o’clock
in the morning, attended to my business in Stoneham, and leaving that
in charge of my employees, went to Boston to look after my business
interests there. After finishing in Boston I would return to Stoneham
to look after things at the close of the day. In fact, all of my
time was well accounted for, making a complete alibi. Ellis Merrill
testified to the fact that he had been the first to meet Wyckoff and
Cummings at the Central House; that I was away when they came, and that
he let a team to them of which I knew nothing until my return from
Vermont. All these witnesses testified to my splendid business and
social reputation, my honesty, veracity, and integrity. Fully twenty
witnesses, all intimate friends, took oath on my behalf, to combat the
testimony of a few witnesses, none of whom could swear positively to a
point against me, except that I drove about the country a man who, they
swore, was Shinburn.

Shinburn was not wanted by his counsel to take the witness stand; but
I impatiently awaited my time to tell what I could, in the minutest
detail, of my movements that could in any way be dragged, even by
conspiracy, into the case. At last Judge Cushion called my name, and I
arose to testify. District Attorney Lane was on his feet in an instant,
protesting loudly that I had no right to witness for myself, that it
was contrary to the New Hampshire laws; and he quickly quoted from the
statutes.

Judge Cushion answered back in clarion tones, that, law or no law, I
must be given an opportunity to explain many circumstances; that the
law of God and common sense entitled me to every opportunity to prove
my innocence. He declared that I could easily explain away all the
ugly suspicion that attached to me through my association with the
bogus United States deputy marshal. But it was a fruitless argument for
me. Judge Doe decided that I could not testify on my own behalf, and
in this manner another thong was added to those already binding the
millstone to my neck. The remainder of the trial was a vague dream to
me. Judge Cushion made a masterly plea for the defence, and Assistant
District Attorney Wheeler, the brightest legal brain then attached to
Mr. Lane’s office, wove a web of evidence about Shinburn and spoke of
my suspicious acquaintance with the man Wyckoff. I know the judge
wept as he pleaded my case, and I know that Lawyer Wheeler was bitter
in his arraignment of Shinburn. Standing out prominently in my memory,
however, are the words he chose in closing his “summing up” for the
prosecution. They were directed to the witness William Matthews.

“And this is the sort of a witness they bring from the reeking hells
of New York to be a witness in a New Hampshire court of justice,” he
cried, pointing to Matthews. I thought it was a terrible thing to hear
said of a man, and wondered why this friend of Shinburn’s did not
measure the assistant district attorney’s length on the floor, in front
of the very eyes of the judge and jury.

Judge Doe charged the jurors to consider well the facts in the
testimony, and told them what was evidence and what was not. It was a
hard, merciless review of the case, and I shivered with apprehension.
It struck me like a chill wind from a damp, mouldy cavern. The jury
retired, and when it was evident that they would not bring in a
verdict that day, I was taken to a cell to await the morning. Oh, the
uncertainty, the horror of it all!

As I was conducted to the court-room the next day, it did not take long
to tell what the verdict was; for I could read the dreaded news in the
face of Sumner Warren, the foreman, as he and the other jurymen filed
to their seats. I felt faint with the strain.

“Guilty!” I heard Sumner Warren say, in response to the clerk’s solemn
question.

“Guilty!” I groaned to myself. “Was ever there such injustice?”

“Bad enough, but I’m glad it’s no worse, George,” said my good friend
and attorney, Mr. Lynde. “We’ll have you free--a disagreement is as
good as an acquittal, in this case.”

“How? what? why?” I stammered, all but dazed.

“Shinburn has been convicted, but the jury has disagreed in your case!”
said he. “That’s why they were out all night. Six of them believe you
are not guilty.”

“Thank God!” I breathed. “Then six of them believe that I could not
be guilty of the awful crime charged to me. But how in God’s name can
_any_ of them believe it?”

I could not see all the hope that my attorneys seemed to derive
from the situation. I wanted to be entirely free from the horrible
accusation. Six men, under oath to render a verdict according to the
evidence, had determined that I was guilty, though I was innocent.
I was half condemned, and to me that meant a stigma would ever be
hovering about my reputation, and some one always would believe
that I was not the good man I claimed to be. Judge Cushion freely
expressed the opinion that there would never be another trial; that I
would be admitted to a nominal bail, if not allowed to go on my own
recognizance, and that in due time the indictment would be dismissed.
Despite the depression that the verdict had left upon me, I went to the
jail that morning with a faint hope.

Later in the day Shinburn was sentenced to ten years at hard labor
in the Concord state prison. He took the judge’s words with an
indifference which I couldn’t understand. In fact, a little later,
in his cell, I saw him making eyes at a pretty woman who lived in a
house across the street, just back of the jail. She was married, and
seemed to enjoy very much the many sly flirtations she had had with
him from her windows. I thought that she was better off attending to
her husband’s affairs than wasting her smiles on a man convicted of
burglary. But then, there was never a gauge that would truly measure
the taste of women. Some of them do most unaccountable things where a
man is concerned.

At the first opportunity Shinburn told me that he was really sorry I’d
got into trouble at all, but congratulated me on the prospect of my
getting entirely free of the charge. He seemed to entertain the same
idea with my counsel as to the outcome of my case, and expressed the
wish that he’d been as fortunate as I.

During the day I had a long consultation with Judge Cushion and my
faithful attorneys, who said that they would get Judge Doe to fix a
bail for me at the earliest possible moment. I urged them to do so, as
I wanted to get away from the terrible haunting thoughts that besieged
me. I said that prison bars were not conducive to pleasant thoughts.

At about five o’clock that day I saw Shinburn, coat and hat on, come
out of his cell. He had unlocked his door, as I could plainly see, with
a key that looked very much like a piece of heavy tin. He relocked
it, motioning me to keep silent, and slipped behind the grated door
through which the jailer and his wife were expected to appear, almost
any minute, from the corridor into the cell room. I waited. Almost
immediately the couple came in and passed over toward his cell; why
he was not discovered with only the grated door between him and the
jailer, I can’t understand. The instant the way was clear he slipped
from behind the door and, waving his hand to me, disappeared. In an
instant the visitors to Shinburn’s cell found it empty, and then there
was excitement enough for all hands in the jail.

The next morning I heard how Shinburn fared as far as those engaged
in pursuing him would tell. Upon passing from my view he had hastened
downstairs, and through the apartments of Jailer Wilder, threw up a
window sash in the parlor, and jumped into the yard. Getting into the
street, he encountered Under-sheriff Davis, who chanced to be passing
the jail. Dodging him, Shinburn started eastward out of the village
toward the woods. The under-sheriff, recovering from his surprise,
began yelling like a madman, and started in pursuit, followed by a
crowd of shouting villagers. Soon there was a mob after him, but not
one of them was armed, and it was supposed that Shinburn was no better
off.

For three-quarters of a mile the fugitive kept ahead of his pursuers,
and by that time he had reached the woods, in front of which was a tall
fence. Climbing over it, he coolly seated himself on a log and waited
for his enemies to come near. When they had, he drew his revolver and,
covering them, said sudden death was awaiting any one who attempted to
cross over the fence. Not one dared to disobey him.

In the meantime Jailer Wilder, arming himself, followed on after the
first party. When Shinburn saw reënforcements approaching, he got up
from the log, and, smiling cheerfully, said, “Now you see me and now
you don’t!” At this he turned and plunged into the woods and was lost
to view. He left his overcoat behind, for it had retarded his escape.

For several hours, according to the story I was told, the woods were
searched, but Shinburn was not found. Later I heard there was a
wholesome dread of the pistol he carried, and that none of the party
was too venturesome. Jailer Wilder was at loss to know where Shinburn
got a key to his cell door and where he had obtained a revolver. I was
asked more than once, but of a truth I knew nothing of the plan of
escape. It was as much a surprise to me as it was to the sheriff.

High-sheriff George Holbrook made an investigation which resulted in
putting upon the jailer the suspicion that he conspired in Shinburn’s
escape. Subsequently Wilder was removed from office, and the stigma of
it he carried with him to his grave. But be it recorded here, that he
was innocent beyond all doubt. In later years I had it from Shinburn’s
own lips, that the unfortunate jailer was blameless; and that his
descendants may know it, even at this tardy day, is why I have been
thus earnest and painstaking in recording the fact.

[Illustration: Maximilian Shinburn]



CHAPTER VI

PERSECUTION


I awoke the next morning, with a start, from a night of interrupted
slumber. The closing hours of the trial and the escape of Shinburn had
command of my brain till it was a relief to open my eyes and become
conscious of my surroundings. As I thought of Shinburn away from the
horror of the jail, I will not attempt to deny that I had a sense of
gladness for him. I had seen considerable of this man in jail, and I
had to confess to myself that he possessed the rare faculty of winning
the friendship of almost any one. He had won mine as the fictitious
deputy marshal, and knowing him at length as the bank burglar, I could
not do else but like him. His whole-souled, generous nature shone
through his criminal craft, until at times I found myself wondering
if he really were a felon,--wondering if I were not in a dream. When
this mood was dissolved, and I realized that he was a criminal of
exceptional cunning,--all he’d been proved at the trial,--I asked
myself what it was that had sent him on to the commission of crime.
At times, when I would hear his soft, gracious voice, look in his
kindly blue eyes, and admire his genial smile, it was not difficult to
fancy him standing in a pulpit, preaching the word of God. But I am
digressing too much.

These thoughts gave way to the more important matter of getting bail.
Now that the jury had disagreed, my counsel applied for my release,
believing that only nominal bail would be required; but imagine their
astonishment when Judge Doe announced he’d increased it to twenty
thousand dollars. This was as outrageous as it was unexpected, in
view of the issue of the trial. Had I not been declared innocent,
practically, by some of the jurymen? Was not their action sufficient in
itself to warrant the authorities, on the moral ground, if on no other,
in giving me the benefit of the doubt, so far as bail was concerned?
My counsel were up and doing, unsparing of words in protesting against
the injustice, proceeding almost to the point of offending Judge Doe.
And my loyal friends again came to the rescue. Speedily setting about,
they subscribed the new bail, and in a few days my release was once
more applied for. To our consternation this sum was declared to be
insufficient, and when an explanation was demanded of Judge Doe, he
answered by increasing the bond to forty thousand dollars.

“And if that is offered,” he declared coldly, “I’ll make it eighty
thousand dollars!”

Here was persecution absolute. His decision was a flat refusal
to accord the right guaranteed me by the constitution,--the right
of admission to bail, charged as I was with a felony only. A
constitutional guaranty had been swept away like so much waste
paper. My trial had been a travesty on justice, and then to crown
that, I was being persecuted, was hopelessly bound in the toils of a
relentless, powerful enemy, it seemed. I must remain in jail to await
another trial--bear the agony longer--helpless, because a certain
influential man had schemed to drag my wealth from me to reimburse
himself and others. As to getting my wealth, that, indeed, had been
accomplished. My business had been seized and sold, and I was penniless
and dependent. What more did they want? Would the human vultures not
be satisfied until my body had been thrust in a prison cell and kept
there for years--until torture had devoured it? Was there, I cried out
to God, no limit to the persecution of an innocent man? Where was that
boasted justice, that love and that piety of the Puritans? Had mammon
ridden roughshod over and crushed out those high ideals of old New
Hampshire? I found no answer, not even an echo of my words from the
four bleak walls of my prison-house.

As the weeks wore on and there was no relief, the evil that persisted
in forcing itself upon me, from time to time, and which I had as often
conquered, came back again with still greater force. Made reckless
to the danger point by the power of my wrongs, I fostered the evil
thoughts until they were almost my ruling passion. I swore one day I
would no longer willingly submit to such inhuman treatment; that I
would be a law unto myself, and that I would accept the consequences,
be what they might.

The dreary autumn days had merged into winter when the decision to
break out of jail became an accepted thought. Day and night I meditated
over a plot that would make freedom from my cell certain. My friends,
aroused over the injustice heaped upon me, were only too willing, at
last, to lend their aid. All the tools, clothing, and money needed
would be forthcoming at the proper time, and I believed that God would
forgive any one who would brave a violation of the law to succor an
unfortunate one like me.

At last I completed a plan, and when February came I had secreted in
my cell the saws, files, and other implements necessary to cut my way
to freedom. In the cell with me at that time was a young burglar named
Woods, whom I did not much trust, but felt obliged to include in my
plans. He, naturally, was willing, and from then on we labored together
in one common interest.

It looked like a hopeless job at the beginning, barred and triple
barred as the cell window was. There were two sets of inner iron bars
in trellis work, and attached to the set nearest to the window sash
by four iron rods in sockets was yet an outer trellis. The only way
to get through this network of bars was to cut an opening in the two
inner trellises, large enough to admit the passage of our bodies, and
sever the inner ends of the four rods supporting the outer trellis.
This done, the outside trellis could be pried off, when it would drop
in the jail yard. But all this necessitated sawing twenty-seven square
inches of iron--a tremendous undertaking, as can be readily understood.
However, I was determined to succeed, even to the surmounting of
greater difficulties.

I decided that the sawing must be done in the daytime, else the
rasping of the saw would attract the attention of some one in the
jail. Besides, Sheriff Aldrich, who had succeeded Jailer Wilder after
Shinburn’s escape, slept in an apartment on the floor below, and not
any too far away for our purpose. By daylight we could work fairly
well by dodging people passing in front of the jail and those who
occasionally came in the corridor leading to the cell. From the inside
was where we must expect the most interference. Believing that I could
best throw off suspicion, in case any one came near while we were busy,
I had Woods do the sawing. The points most pregnable were pointed out,
and we began. At once it became a most difficult and tedious job. The
weather was frigid, and when we weren’t shivering with apprehension
lest we be discovered, we were being badly nipped by Jack Frost. Very
frequently people passed in the road, or Jailer Aldrich came in the
corridor, or there was danger of our work attracting the attention of
some one of the prisoners below. There were days when we accomplished
scarcely anything, owing to the almost incessant interference; while
on other days we made hopeful advancement. Finally, after two weeks
of work and worry, we had cut, all but the shreds, an aperture in
the inner trellises, sufficiently large, we believed, through which
we could crawl. The shreds we would cut the afternoon before we
made the exit. The four bars holding the outside trellis had been
similarly treated. Then, having been provided with what we needed
to make the journey, we set the following midnight as the hour for
our surreptitious exit. The next evening, after supper, we finished
the opening in the bars and prepared for the vital moment. We had a
stout piece of wood in the cell to use as a lever for prying off the
outside trellis, and at midnight, all being ready, I proceeded. Despite
my greatest effort, the lever would not move the trellis, and when
Woods added his weight, there was no better success. I was shocked
and disappointed. It seemed that we had not sawed near enough to the
severing point, so far as the four rods supporting the outer trellis
were concerned. I had feared that the thing would fall off before we
were ready and spoil our escape. The stick seemed too short to furnish
the leverage needed. I looked about for something better, feeling
satisfied I wouldn’t find it in the cell. Suddenly it flashed across
me that I could use a part of the iron bedstead, and I cut off one of
its legs, and we went at the work again like madmen, as time was fast
leaving us in a sore predicament. Even the new lever didn’t avail us
anything further than to show me that we had made the opening in the
inner trellises too small. We were confronting a critical situation
indeed.

It would soon be daylight, and the jailer would call with our morning
meal; and if the aperture in the grating was not filled, we could not
expect anything but discovery.

“What can we do, White?” asked young Woods, pale-faced. It was bad
enough, he thought, to be in jail for burglary without facing a charge
of attempting to escape from it.

I recalled we had cosmetic. Perhaps the iron-work could be kept in
place with it until we could get something better. I put the patches of
grating back in their places and filled the crevices with the cosmetic.
It didn’t seem to me they would stay in. Any vibration, I thought,
might tumble them out.

“It’s the best we can do, Woods,” I said, not cheerfully; “and as to
that lame bed, we’ll have to be mighty careful it doesn’t betray us.
We’ll see that it is carefully made,--no one can do that job so well
this morning as one of us.”

“I’ll be the chambermaid,” Woods said, with a laugh that had a false
ring in it.

“By cracky, how my back hurts!” I said, with a groan, as I doubled
forward and hobbled about the cell. “I never had such a peculiar pain
in my life.”

“Must have caught it from the open window,” suggested the young man.
“Hope it won’t make you sick. Better get a porous plaster from Aldrich.
Mother allers uses ’em.”

“The ordinary kind won’t cure my pain, lad,” I answered, with a laugh
and straightening up; “I’ve got to have some pitch--the real pine.
Nothing else will relieve me.”

Woods looked mystified.

“Wait,” said I.

When Jailer Aldrich brought in breakfast, he was sorry to see me in
such “rheumatiz” distress, and I had little difficulty in inducing him
to fetch me a quantity of pitch with which to make a “home-made” porous
plaster. It was to be differently applied than he dreamed. It was not
difficult to obtain the pitch, because Aldrich usually supplied the
prisoners with any necessities.

With it I patched up the grating so that it would stand inspection at
long distance, though a casual examination close by would have meant
instant exposure. However, that day we began to make the opening in
the inner trellises five inches larger. On the third day we received
a fright that caused me to tremble for an hour afterward and wonder
how it all turned out so well for us. High-sheriff George Holbrook
and two visitors came unexpectedly upon us, despite my precaution. It
was with great difficulty that we assumed our normal conditions. Any
other time I would have been glad to see them, but now it was simply,
it seemed to me, like playing tag with discovery. Holbrook must not be
allowed to get near the window or all would be over. I never was too
much of a talker. I had often declared I would never make a book agent
or an insurance solicitor, but how I did chatter away at them. I said
anything, nothing, talked of all subjects I could think of, until it
seemed I must have driven them away in disgust. Indeed, they were about
to depart when the sheriff moved toward the window.

“Holbrook!” I cried, in sheer desperation. “Here--see this!” and
caught up a law book Don Woodward, one of my counsel, had loaned me. I
don’t know what I said or read and I don’t care, for it did the trick.
Holbrook and the visitors a moment or two later had gone. Woods was
near the window, trembling. I sat down and wiped the clammy sweat from
my brow. My heart was beating sluggishly; and for a few minutes my
vision was dazed and I could see naught but dancing sparks like little
stars. I came mighty close to swooning.

“We’ve got to get out of this to-night, Woods,” I said, on recovering.
“It won’t do to spend another day here under these conditions.”

And we went to work again and at dark had finished the sawing,
practically. Five minutes more of that kind of work would suffice.

Clothed, a rope of blankets ready, and in every way fitted for our
journey, we waited for midnight. I well remember the weather--severely
cold and plenty of snow on the ground. We were to race for the
farm-house of Woods’s father, two miles out of Keene. There, without
Mr. Woods’s permission, we were to get a horse and sleigh.

At last the hour came, and with the bed leg for a lever I pried at the
outer trellis. Thank goodness, this time it moved, and I shoved it
outward, expecting it to fall to the ground. Fate was with us--instead,
one of the shreds of iron tenaciously hung fast and answered as a
hinge. The two hundred and fifty pounds of iron swung back almost
noiselessly against the masonry and remained there. Had it fallen, the
crash, notwithstanding the snow, might have aroused Jailer Aldrich,
sleeping not far away. The rest of the journey to _terra firma_ was
not difficult. With blankets tied end to end, we let ourselves down
to the ground, and, scaling the stone wall, quit the jail at one
o’clock in the morning. We found it pretty hard plodding through the
snow. Getting to Woods’s barn, we stealthily as possible hitched up
the horse, but not without some trouble with the family watch-dog.
However, Woods succeeded in quieting him, and, getting off with no
further discovery, we were soon driving at a fast pace through Surrey,
past Walpole, and toward Bellows Falls. When near the bridge over the
Connecticut River we passed a noisy sleighing party, among whom I
recognized, by his voice, Sheriff Stebbins of Charlestown, Sullivan
County. We kept our heads well down in our coats and felt glad when
we’d got by without being discovered. Several years after that I saw
Sheriff Stebbins at Charlestown under rather peculiar circumstances.

We encountered nothing unpleasant in the six miles drive from Bellows
Falls to Saxton’s River, where lived a fine old uncle of mine. He and
my aunt had a comfortable place on the outskirts of the village, and
although they knew we were fugitives, they made us welcome. My aunt
prepared a nice breakfast while I sent Woods to the village with his
father’s rig, instructing him to leave it there to be returned and
gave him money to pay for the hire of another. He came back, and after
breakfast we resumed our journey toward Londonderry. It was my plan to
drive over the Green Mountains into New York State, and, getting rid
of the team, to strike out for a large city, probably New York. Woods
had a cousin in Londonderry, where he said we could get some food for
ourselves and fodder for the horse, after which the next point to be
made would be Salem, just over the Vermont border in New York. This
we did to a dot. I, being ready to continue the journey from Salem by
rail, directed Woods to drive the team from there eastward twelve miles
to a village, where he was to put it in charge of the stage driver who
journeyed regularly to Saxton’s River. Thus the liveryman would get
back his property in the good condition we found it. Woods was to make
Troy or any other place he saw fit.

By rail from Salem to Troy, thence to New York, was a matter of only
a few hours, and as I whirled along I had ample time to meditate over
my lot; but the more I thought of what I had gone through, the more I
seemed to be forced down to by-paths into which I had never dreamt of
setting foot. After a time I compelled myself by sheer force to think
of other things--what I would do, whether I would go farther west
or remain in New York, and whether it would be wise to immediately
ask for employment in some big dry-goods store there. I knew I could
do passably well as a clerk in that line, for the experience in my
father’s store and in my own later would stand me in hand.

At Albany I managed to get a newspaper, but saw nothing in it about
my escape. A few hours later I was in New York. It was a dreary day,
but after all there was a sense of freedom about me. I was no longer
in a grewsome cell at Keene. I was away from those months of horror.
Reflecting over what I had done, I felt certain that a reward would be
offered for my capture. In plain terms I realized that I was a fugitive
from justice. As the word “justice” came to me I seemed to fill up with
hatred. What a travesty my experience had proved the word to be. I
shuddered at the possession of such thoughts, for hitherto I had been
a firm believer in the righteous adjustment of all things; had been a
sincere believer in the law. Again I stifled these ugly feelings that
surged up within me.

Starting out for lodgings, I soon found them and sat down to lay out my
plans. Again despite all my best efforts to the contrary, the terrible
experiences dating from the second day of June would come to the fore,
and I seemed to hear evil voices urging me to forsake all that was
good and plunge into the swift-flowing current of vice. But, as on
other occasions when I’d battled with evil, I could see the faces of my
father and mother looming up in this train of thought, like a shaft of
silver light athwart a threatening cloud, and I could hear, it seemed,
the earnest solicitation of my loyal friends to be courageous though
the worst come, and that they would stand by me until the last. When
these good thoughts gained the ascendency, again I resolved to profit
by it, and straightway set about to seek honest employment in which I
could make a fresh start, endeavor to fight down my persecutors, and
rebuild my fortune.

I found a clerkship in A. T. Stewart & Company’s retail dry-goods house
after some effort, and though the wage was small and the prospects of
an advancement were not encouraging, I began once more to take on a
little hope. I succeeded in communicating with my friends at home in
good time, but obtained precious little encouraging information. A
reward of a thousand dollars had been posted throughout the country for
my apprehension, and it was with a feeling that only a man can know
who has experienced woes like mine that I read the description of the
desperate bank burglar, George White, and of his midnight escape from
jail along with another burglar.

The first knowledge in the jail of our escape came from a citizen
passing just at daylight. He saw the rope of blankets hanging from
the open window, and, rushing excitedly into the jail, woke up Jailer
Aldrich with the cry, “Better look after your boarders--there’s a
blanket hanging out of the jail windows.” Poor Aldrich, I was afterward
told, rushed about as though bereft of his reason.

Another piece of unpleasant news was the row made by the liveryman of
Saxton’s River. It seems that Woods had disregarded my instructions
as to the team we hired from there, and, instead of paying for it
with the money I gave him, had it charged against me. Besides that
he had driven to Troy, got intoxicated, and while attempting to sell
the outfit was arrested and taken back to Keene. The liveryman,
ascertaining who had engaged the team, lodged a complaint against me,
and in the minds of some people I had become a horse thief as well
as a bank burglar. Eventually the liveryman recovered his turnout
unharmed. Later, though, through my brother, I paid him one hundred and
twenty-five dollars to escape an indictment for horse stealing. Woods’s
love for liquor and disregard of my instructions was the means of
casting further odium on me.

I had been in Stewart’s nearly three weeks when I learned that
Shinburn had been recaptured and sent to Concord prison to complete
his sentence. I was sorry to hear this. Indeed, I felt despondent for
several days over the mishap to that criminal, regardless of my effort
to shake off the almost unaccountable feeling. I hadn’t succeeded when
a development forcibly turned my attention into another channel. My
hopes, which had grown wonderfully since my employment, were suddenly
dissipated like a morning mist before an August sun. One morning a
man whom I had known intimately in Boston--indeed, considered to be
a trusted friend--came to the store. He was as much surprised at the
meeting as I was frightened. There was no opportunity to evade him,
so I made the best attempt I could to be unconcerned, and declared
my delight at seeing him. We shook hands heartily and talked over my
predicament, not forgetting to speak of the reward that was offered for
my return to New Hampshire. He expressed sympathy for me and bemoaned
the fact that I had been dealt with so unjustly, and held me blameless
for escaping from my enemies. We were about to say adieu when I asked
him if he would mention anything of our meeting when he returned to
Boston.

“On my honor, no!” he answered with a ring in his voice which sounded
true and friendly.

“I hope not,” said I, gratefully, “for I’ve been pretty badly handled,
and I’m trying hard to get myself together again. If they find I’m
here, it’ll be all day with me.”

And so we parted, but in my heart there came a heaviness, a sense
of depression that I couldn’t shake off, try as I would. I had a
premonition that this friend, regardless of his protestations, would
be sadly tempted by the reward. I felt that he would argue that I
would sooner or later be captured, and that there was no reason why
he shouldn’t get the benefit of the thousand dollars. In the scales,
his friendship on one side and avarice on the other, I believed that
the former would prove the lighter weight. Indeed, I was so deeply
impressed with impending danger that I resigned that day, drew five
dollars due me, and left the store forever. It was well that I
acted thus promptly, for not many hours subsequently the police were
searching for me. My friend’s faithfulness had been of the kind that
wouldn’t stand the test. In the balance, weighed against his love for
money, his friendship for me had proved many ounces too light.

Verily, I was being persecuted to the end.



PART II



CHAPTER I

SIDETRACKED


Hunted out of honest employment, I found myself very much in the
position of the pursued rabbit; therefore I was compelled to seek the
first cover that presented itself. I had been robbed of every dollar
of my hard-earned fortune. A fugitive from justice, there was a reward
proclaimed abroad for my arrest, though I was an innocent man. All this
was awful to realize, the bitterness of it eating still deeper into my
soul. What would the end be?

Anxious to begin life afresh, I had sought a strange city and under a
new name had attempted to do it, but fate was horribly, relentlessly
cruel. What would I do? where could I turn? I had only five dollars
in the world, and that wouldn’t carry me far. Alas, I was not unlike
the hunted rabbit. I had been the victim of a cruel game of life. It
was a most critical period at which I had arrived. The fatal line must
soon be crossed. Good and evil would fight out their battle. In the
jail at Keene I had been besieged by thoughts that made me shudder,
but the evil that battered my soul now was as the blackness of hell in
comparison. Bitterness was rapidly eating into my worst nature; the
tender words of a fond father and the sweet prayers of a loving mother
were fast becoming far-off sounds in my dulled ears. Recollections of
the sort that sear consciences came to the fore, uppermost being the
words I had heard from the lips of an old conductor of the Fitchburg
railway, not far from my home. I had often been with him on his trips
and talked with him, for he was well known to me in my youthful days.
How well I remembered the words. They burn in my brain even to-day, as
well they should, for they played a strong part in the influence which
sent me on to a life of reaching out for that which was not lawfully
mine.

“See that fine property?” this conductor said to me one day, as he
pointed out a big country residence; and when I nodded assent, he
added, “Well, I’ve got a first mortgage on that.” Presently he said,
with a meaning I could not misunderstand, “We conductors have the name
of knocking down fares, so we may as well have the game.”

Twice on the trip he made that remark. For several years the meaning
of the words “name” and “game” lay dormant in my mind, but how freshly
it came back to me in the moment of my standing balanced between
the narrow path of rectitude and the broad road of crime. Homeless,
desolate, hunted like a real criminal, a reward hanging over my head,
made a good soil in which the seeds of evil deeds might take quick
root. To whom in this extremity might I turn? I asked this question of
myself many times, and the only reply was the echo of my own words.
There was a Boston man in the city with whom I was well acquainted,
and who knew my side of the case thoroughly, and whose sympathy I had.
I must have some money, therefore I appealed to him, and he loaned me
twenty dollars. This, with five I had, constituted my cash capital. The
remainder of it was my brain, and it shall be seen to what purpose I
put it, ere many days passed.

There was another man in New York I knew--Shinburn’s friend Matthews;
Billy, he called him. I remembered that his address was 681 Broadway,
so I determined to look him up. Knowing Shinburn, I ought not to have
been surprised at anything in Matthews, but I was actually dumfounded
when I learned that 681 Broadway was a notorious gambling house kept by
one Harvey Young, and that Matthews was a faro dealer there. Young’s
place was at that time an attractive resort for the younglings of New
York’s rich men, thousands of whose dollars passed over the green cloth
every night. I now knew why Mr. Wheeler, the assistant prosecutor, in
summing up at the Keene trial, had pointed out Matthews and asked the
court in scornful tones to look upon the sort of man “they bring from
the reeking hells of New York to be a witness in a New Hampshire court
of justice.” Undoubtedly the New York detectives had known that much of
Matthews and had told it to Mr. Wheeler.

But I had reached and passed the fatal line now, and it seemed to me
that I wasn’t sorry to learn what this man Matthews was,--an employee
in a gambling den. Even if he were a criminal like Shinburn, I felt
that I didn’t care. When I rang the bell, a man who looked like a
servant answered it, and to my inquiry said Matthews wasn’t in, but
would be that night. I said I would come again, and did several hours
later. I had only met Matthews speaking with Shinburn in the jail at
Keene, altogether perhaps a half-dozen times. He was a dapper, earnest
little fellow, and seemed in all ways a better man than I imagined a
gambler could be. I was greeted heartily by him, and he told me that my
escape wasn’t news, an account of it having been in the newspapers. My
face must have been a delineator of my determination to do something
desperate, for he asked me if he could assist me in any way. I told him
he might, and that there could be none too much haste to suit me.

“You see the fix I am in by accommodating your friend Shinburn, whom I
believed to be a government official,” I said with great feeling. “I
had a clerkship here, but have been forced to resign it, that I may
keep clear of arrest. Here I am, practically on my knees; and, frankly,
I don’t know what to do. Can you help me on my feet again?” I knew what
was in my mind to do, for I was desperate, and I awaited his answer
with anxiety.

“What can I do?” he asked; “you certainly are in a peculiar fix.”

“I’ve got to get out and hustle,” exclaimed I, while trembling in every
joint.

“What do you mean?”

I meant to say steal, but my tongue couldn’t, seemingly, utter the
word. Swallowing hard, I asked him to put me in with some of Shinburn’s
friends; and thus was forged the first link in the chain that was
to fasten me to a criminal career for many years. A few days later
Matthews introduced me to George Wilson, a partner of Mark Shinburn.
He took me to Wilson’s rooms at 303 Bleecker Street, where there was
assembled the first gang of safe burglars I ever set eyes on.

Wilson was forming a prospecting party which was going West in search
of banks whose vaults could be cleaned of cash and salable bonds and
securities. With him were Big Bill, another of Shinburn’s partners
hailing from Canada; Eddie Hughes, _alias_ Miles; and John Utley, a
partner of the latter. The trio last named had just returned from a
failure to crack a bank at Schuylerville, New York. Surprised in their
work by a constable, they would have been arrested had this country
official possessed the nerve to tackle them. Finding himself pitted
against three big, husky fellows, he retired for reënforcements; but
while he was thus engaged, the quarry reached Saratoga, boarded a
train, alighted at Troy, and thus clouding the trail, managed to arrive
safely in New York.

In the proposed party was another of the crooked fraternity, whom
Wilson described as Tall Jim, he making the fifth one--and a mighty
fine sort of a fellow he proved to be. Then I was mentioned as the
sixth and last member. The introduction of my name precipitated a row,
perhaps through the fact that I was a stranger, not only to the party,
but to the art of bank “burgling.” However, George Wilson had proposed
me for membership, which was sufficient to squelch all the objectors,
with the exception of Jack Utley, who seemed to take a dislike to me
from the start.

“What does this man know about robbing banks?” growled he. “You’d see
his heels showing their color at the first bark of one of them Western
dogs.”

I half believe that Wilson would have listened to Utley’s protests,
which were many, had it not been for Matthews, who put up a strong
argument on my behalf. However, Wilson soon settled the matter by
announcing that I must be considered in, whereupon Utley ceased his
objections. But he did a lot of grumbling on the side, and I could see
that he would not, of his own volition, do me a favor in the future,
should I need one even more than at the moment.

All being ready in a few days for the launching of the enterprise,
we started out. It was in the middle of April, 1866, and spring had
opened up in excellent style as if for our convenience. Big Bill, Eddie
Hughes, Tall Jim, and I went to Pittsburg, where we were to begin
prospecting for loot. When the first bank selected to fall under our
attack had been settled upon, Wilson and Jack Utley were to be notified
by telegraph, to follow on immediately with the necessary tools.

No man can tell what my feelings were, when at last I found myself
pushing out into the world of crime, hitherto unknown to me, unless he
were placed identically where I was. There were moments when I was at
the point of abandoning the short road of contemplated crime, which
would soon lead me into the absolutely broad road of crime committed.
In such moments as these, retrospection would bring up before me the
green hills of Vermont, the far-away old homestead I loved so well, the
dear old folks at home; the happy days in Stoneham, with its prosperous
years, when I could walk forth in God’s free air and be respected and
honored by those who knew me, and no hand was raised against me.

All these bright remembrances would come up to me, with powerful
influences for good; but when the real present crowded in, and crushed
back those dreamlike days, I had to ask where I could go, if I cut
away from the men with whom I had cast my lot. Nowhere among those I
had known; for was I not a man with a price on my head? I could not
return to the Vermont hills and the old place and dwell openly with my
dear old folks, nor even in secret be near them; for not then would
I be safe from the clutches of the law. Nor could I wend my way back
to the later home of my prosperity; for there the same hand, the same
hard injustice of the law, would close in on me. No! I was an outlaw,
not daring to clasp hands with any one save those of the outlawed men
with whom I was now associated. One by one the influences for good
were counted and laid away. What could I do--I, an innocent man with
the scales of justice weighing against me. And one by one I buried the
thoughts of those things, which were no longer to be my stepping-stones
along life’s journey, as far as I could tell, and passed on to what the
unsolved future held in reserve for me. Come what might, I would accept
the gauntlet thrown down to me by a cruel fate.

I put up at the Scott House in Pittsburg. When Big Bill, Eddie Hughes,
and Tall Jim concluded to spread out and canvass the surrounding
country, they assigned me to look over a small bank in Allegheny
City, near by. We were to meet again in five days, at my hotel. I felt
that a considerable responsibility had been placed on my shoulders for
one so young in the business, therefore I determined to try my best
and disprove, if the chance came my way, what Jack Utley had said of
me. Somewhat to my disappointment, the bank I inspected proved to be
an impracticable undertaking, so the experienced ones said on their
return, and I had to wait for another opportunity to show what sort of
an inspector of lootable banks I was. When all the reports were in,
that of Tall Jim’s seemed to be the most alluring, so it was voted to
make a strike at his bank, which was in Wellsburg, a small town in
Brooks County, West Virginia, several miles below Steubenville, on the
left bank of the Ohio River.

The next day Wilson and Utley, having been notified, joined us, fully
prepared for business, whereupon we started by rail to Steubenville,
leaving there on foot early in the evening. We followed the railroad
track until we reached a point about opposite Wellsburg. Here a boat
was borrowed without a consultation with its owner, and in this way we
rowed across to the other shore, where we set it adrift. When within
three-quarters of a mile of the village, we camped in a piece of woods,
thick enough to make a good hiding-place. Being the greenhorn of the
party, I was detailed the “chief cook and bottle-washer” of our feeding
department, and immediately upon getting into camp I was sent hustling
for provender. I made for the village in the fresh hours of the morning
and foraged for food, and later prepared our first meal in camp. During
the daylight hours Tall Jim and Eddie Hughes took a turn in town to
investigate, and when they returned, which was near evening, all hands
excepting the cook went away again. They were absent several hours, and
when they came back I had prepared a breakfast for them, consisting of
cold ham, sardines, bread, and hot coffee.

There was nothing the matter with the appetites of the lads, unless
they could be called devouring. Though I had provided a goodly
quantity, one meal made a sad inroad on my larder. When the inner
man of my associates had been somewhat satisfied, all but the cook
stretched themselves out for a sleep. I, not unwilling to do my part,
stood at picket duty until they awoke, late in the afternoon, when I
managed to get another meal together. I cannot refrain from saying that
furnishing food to my comrades was much like shovelling coal into the
mouth of a mine, as far as satisfying them was concerned. Never in my
hotel days had I come across such hungry two-legged animals. But enough
of this, and to the other and more important subject.



CHAPTER II

VISITED BY THE WHITECAPS


Eddie Hughes was to be the leader in the crack at the Wellsburg Bank,
and soon he, with suggestions from others, laid out the plan. I took
no part except that of the snubbed one at the hands of the snubber,
Jack Utley, who lost no opportunity to exercise that much-relished
self-constituted right. I don’t know but that I enjoyed it as much as
he, for the time had come when I disliked him so much that his snubs
were more acceptable to me than would have been his praise.

The bank which we were to break was a single story affair of stone,
constructed with the strength of an arsenal. Evidently the bank
officials had had some experience with guerilla attacks during the
Civil War, just closed, for the building was fortified much like a
stronghold and seemed fit to resist any attack, like a miniature
Gibraltar. There was a great door of oak, heavily ironed on the inside,
while the windows were strongly protected by iron shutters. Besides
this resistance, the bank had a robust night watchman whose appearance
indicated that he would not sneak in a corner and hide in case of a
meeting with some one anxious to get at the funds he was guarding.

Tall Jim said there were two ways of getting in the bank--with a
gatling gun being one, and the other an adroit manipulation of a
certain amount of duplicity applied to a night watchman.

“There’s a gas-house not far from the bank in charge of a one-armed
watchman,” explained Jim, “and he’s a warm friend of the bank watchman.
This I know, for I kept my eye on them a long time last night. I think
we can use the one-armed fellow to a good purpose; in other words, work
the sympathetic dodge on the other fellow.”

Jim was confident that the gas-house man could be captured without any
trouble.

“We can run him up to the bank door, and then--”

“Well,” grumbled Jack Utley, “and then what?”

“As I said,” continued Tall Jim, disregarding the interruption, “we
have no gatling gun, so we’ll have to use this one-armed man, he being
the next best weapon to force a way into the bank.”

As no better means were offered, his plan was accepted, and immediate
preparations were made to begin the work at ten that night. We broke
camp and moved to the outskirts of the village, hardly half a dozen
minutes’ walk from the bank, and close by the river. Tall Jim and Big
Bill went after a skiff which they had rounded up previously, but much
time was wasted in getting the oars, the owner having taken great pains
to stow them away against just such a quest as ours. This means for our
escape being provided, we were ready for the start, and hoping for the
best for us, which of course would be the worst for the people of the
town.

It was what the poetic fellows would call a beautiful night. The moon,
big and full, was impudently bright, I thought, for such an undertaking
as we had on foot; in which thought I was not alone. But the hour had
come when we must strike, as our funds were getting low and food was
far from plenty, and as to stealing it, the experienced ones of the
party would not do that, such a thing being far below their trade.
It got to be half an hour of midnight, when, with our shirts on the
outside of our coats and white masks on our faces and feet thrust
in rubbers, we, a constituted band of whitecaps, descended upon the
one-armed night watchman. Hughes, Jim, and Big Bill got him without a
struggle, before he knew what was on foot. I trow he was more than half
frightened out of his wits as his eyes lit on the grotesque-looking
figures we presented. The poor maimed one was told that the whitecaps
had him, and that death would be his, handed him on anything but a
golden platter, if our slightest command was disobeyed; while on the
other hand obedience would merit his release without harm, presently.

We presented a queer spectacle indeed in the moonlight, as with the
watchman in the fore, we started for the bank. Hughes and Tall Jim
had him in durance, Big Bill trailed next, while Wilson, Jack Utley,
and I formed the tail end of the procession. I shall never forget
the ludicrous picture the poor one-armed fellow presented, with his
face white as chalk and his teeth chattering like a fast-working
sewing-machine needle. He was like so much putty in the hands of his
supposed white-capped subjectors.

In the meantime I was reminded that I had to run back to our
rendezvous, the moment the bank watchman was secured, after the burglar
tools, which it was thought not wise to bring on the scene too early
in the game. All we had brought with us was a pair of stout handcuffs,
which were in the possession of Jack Utley, ready to be snapped on the
bank watchman.

As our one-armed assistant must be instructed in the enforced rôle
planned for him, Tall Jim undertook the task, being better able to
perform it, he being a handy man with language of the forceful kind.
Under the penalty of death the one-armed watchman was told that he
must boldly walk up to the bank door, taking no pains to step lightly,
while two of our men tiptoed beside him, giving the impression to the
watchman inside that no more than one person was at the door. Then he
was to rap and ask for admittance. What was told the tool, to be used
as a bait to induce the bank watchman to open the door, I will leave
for the important moment. If the first attempt failed, it was agreed
that some sort of a game would be played, with the whitecap dodge much
in evidence.

It was getting to be, as each moment passed, a mighty interesting
experience, and I felt fading from me much of the reluctance which
from time to time came to the fore and seemed to warn me away from
the path I was pursuing, if indeed it had not all gone. I could feel
myself really enjoying the situation; a sort of fascination for the
work seemed to have taken hold of me. This same attraction, I must
relate, ruled my doings the whole of my criminal career, overshadowing
any desire for amassing wealth; for I can truly say that a longing for
riches never drove me to the commission of crime, and to the breaking
of the laws of my country which I loved.

As I recollect the scene of the night, it was better entertainment than
many a stage performance I have since witnessed. At the right moment
the gas-house watchman, purposely, under the direction of his captors,
walked heavily up the bank steps, while Tall Jim and Hughes, treading
softly, gave the impression that there was no one with him. The
remainder of the party hovered near, but kept well within the shadows
of the bank building. When the signal was given, the one-armed man
thumped vigorously on the oaken door and called loudly: “Bill, Bill!
oh, Bill! I’ve mashed my hand--it’s bleeding bad--let me in!”

There was no response, and Hughes ordered him to rap again, which he
did, in a most earnest fashion. I was afraid that some one sleeping in
a near-by store might be awakened. If the bank watchman couldn’t hear
the pounding, he must be a sound sleeper indeed. Our very pliable tool
thumped against the great door again, this time with the result that a
voice from within shouted out, “Who’s there?”

“Me, Bill!” answered our one-armed man, in compliance with his
promise. “I’ve jammed my hand bad.” Again there was a long silence,
so it seemed to me; nothing but silence. I could hear my heart throb
with excitement, as loudly, I imagined, as the thumping made by the
watchman. Prodded again by Hughes, he rapped once more, and for the
third time we listened for an answer, but none came. The watchman
called again: “Bill, don’t you hear me? I’ve smashed my hand and I’m
bleeding to death. For heaven’s sake open the door!”

“Oh, go to thunder!” came in a roar from within; a most sympathetic
response, indeed, to a man in imminent danger of bleeding to death, and
the men friendly too, as Tall Jim had informed us.

There was a wait of fully three minutes, which seemed like as many
hours to me, but not another sound came from inside the bank. Tall Jim
agreed with Hughes that the jig was over, so we retreated cautiously.
We didn’t know, but felt inclined to believe, that the bank watchman
had seen our approach, and thinking that we really were whitecaps,
or perhaps guessing more accurately as to our mission, had remained
discreetly inside his stronghold, quite satisfied that his one-armed
friend would not bleed to death. I have since concluded that we were
mighty lucky that some cold lead did not find a lodgment in the carcass
of one or more of us.

The game being over, even before it had begun, we marched the gas-house
man to where he had been picked up, and proceeded to dispose of him in
a way to insure our safe departure. We certainly had no blame to put
on him, for had he been one of us of his own free will, he couldn’t
have done better. As a tool, he responded to our bidding with the same
directness that a needle responds to the magnet. But for our safety he
must be made to believe that we were actually a band of whitecaps, and
not a lot of hungry bank looters. Tall Jim was the spokesman:--

“See here, one-armed chap,” said he, in a threatening voice, “our faces
are covered, and you don’t know us, though some of us do you. More of
us have seen the man in yonder bank, and he’s the feller we’re after.
We’ll show him what happens to a man trotting around with another
man’s wife, before morning.”

The old man was trembling with apprehension; not over the bank
watchman’s doings, as alleged, but for fear of what we might do with
him. He managed to gasp out, “I--I--never heard Bill wuz after wimmen;
I--I think ye must be mistaken, sirs.”

“But we know, and that’s enough!” Tall Jim hissed the words much like
a stage villain; and I laughed to myself, though I’d have felt better
could I have roared freely, there was so much earnestness in the poor
fellow’s voice.

“Oh, it don’t seem possible, sirs, it don’t,” he said tremblingly.

“He’s been tracing around with the wife of one of my friends here, I
tell you, old man; and what’s more, she’s in the bank with him this
moment.”

“I didn’t see her go in, sir; and if a wooman did go there, sir, I
couldn’t help it, sir.”

“Well, I did,” insisted Tall Jim, with affected fierceness. “I saw my
friend’s wife go in that bank, early in the evening, and she’s been
there ever since. Now, sir, there’s going to be a little rail-riding
done before sunrise, and at the end of the journey there’ll be found a
big smoking kettle of tar and a fine fat tick of soft geese feathers;
and when we’re through, there’ll be a new sort of a bird in this
community, and we’re going to make it out of your friend the watchman.
We’ll soon be in the bank, so don’t have any doubt about it.”

“Oh, gentlemen, let me go!” pleaded the poor fellow, at this harangue
from Jim. “I h’ain’t been runnin’ ’round with wimmin, and if I had, I
h’ain’t got a place t’ take ’em, except this gas-house; and what wooman
would come here?”

“We believe you,” replied Tall Jim; “and the only way to prevent two
birds, like I’ve described to you, being made, and the last bird is
likely to be a dead one, is for you to point your face toward that
gas-house door, and going inside, stay there till daylight. Then, when
you think of what you’ve heard and seen to-night, just call it all a
dream, and be sure to forget the dream so you can’t tell it to any one.
What’s your answer, old man?”

“My answer, sir, my answer, sir--yes--yes, sir, I promise you all,
everything, sir,” cried the bewildered man. I was glad that he was soon
to be out of his trouble.

“Well, then, you’re free, and there’s the door,” said Jim, giving the
fellow a shove that sent him hurtling toward the gas-house; “and don’t
dare to come out till sunrise, and then don’t be in too much of a hurry
about it. In with you!”

Though at times I was filled up to the bursting point with laughter
over the ridiculousness of the scene, it seemed a trifle hard to thus
treat the poor fellow, maimed as he was; but I presumed our safety
depended somewhat upon the close tongue this man kept, at least for a
few hours. But as I saw his dark form stagger into the doorway, I was
not sorry. Then we lost no time in getting to the skiff and putting
ourselves on the other side of the river, where we set out on foot
toward Steubenville. Some of the party, particularly Jack Utley, did
a lot of grumbling over the dismal failure of our first bank-breaking
venture.

Before reaching Steubenville, we decided to camp in a squatty wood
through which we had come on our journey out, it seeming to offer a
fair hiding-place. At daylight I went to the village and got some
provisions. After breakfast the gang went to sleep, while I did picket
duty again. About ten o’clock in the morning Tall Jim and Hughes made a
trip to Steubenville and canvassed it, but returned shortly, reporting
their failure to find any bank there worth tackling. When the question
of funds came up, some one suggested taking an inventory, which was
done, with the result that our combined capital was a little less
than ten dollars. This showed all hands that something must be done
forthwith to replenish our treasury; for with the furnishing of each
meal the situation was growing worse. I had in mind what my task would
be, presently, in the way of supplying food for these gullets, and with
little or no cash to do it. It made me faint-hearted to think of it.

With a determination to take immediate action, Tall Jim’s list of banks
was consulted earnestly, the outcome being the selection of a rich
little bank at Cadiz, Ohio. As we were to lose no time, it was decided
that enough of our funds must be used to take us by rail to Cadiz
Junction; but from there, for different reasons, it was deemed best,
as a precautionary measure, to walk the remainder of the way, some ten
miles. Arriving at the junction, we found that Cadiz was at the other
end of a spur extending from the main line of the road. When within a
safe camping distance, we selected a spot in a dense part of a wood and
waited for daylight. Then I set before the hungry ones the remainder
of my hard-pressed larder, and that stowed away, all hands, including
the cook, fell into a sleep, the need of which I badly felt. Eddie
Hughes and Tall Jim awoke about ten o’clock and went to Cadiz. They
spent a good part of the morning there prospecting, but on returning
I could see a “promised land” sort of a look on their faces; and when
Hughes said, “We’ll soon have plenty of money,” I really had a feeling
of satisfaction steal over me, which I didn’t think myself capable of
possessing under such circumstances; at least not yet. With this news,
the gang’s appetites seemed to wax greater; and I, therefore, was
compelled to make a trip to town after such a supply of food as I could
obtain with my limited pocket-book. I presented myself in camp, pretty
soon, with some bacon, a fair quantity of bread, and none too much
coffee; but, do my best, I couldn’t make the meal fit the increasing
desires of my hungry ones. Whether it was the country air that urged on
these appetites to greater accomplishments, or the rapidly decreasing
funds with which to renew the larder, made me misjudge these demands, I
will not attempt to determine. However, I took hope from Tall Jim and
Hughes, and continued to do my best, uncomplainingly. At dark, George
Wilson and I remained in camp, while the others walked to Cadiz for
further observations, all returning by two in the morning. Tall Jim
and Hughes were very much elated over the second visit, but I didn’t
hear much of the reason for it then. At dawn I prepared a mighty
meagre meal, after which there was more sleeping until two o’clock in
the afternoon. Then I was given something to do, which was more to
my taste than being chief cook of the gang, though it was no sort of
a job a first-class bank burglar would delight in doing. It was to
inspect a hand-car shanty near the railway about a mile this side of
Cadiz, and to ascertain if it were kept locked, and, in fact, make
preparations for a quick escape by rail to Cadiz Junction. I returned
in good season, fully satisfying my associates with the report I made
them. Before dark I dished out the last round of food, much limited
in quantity, which having been eaten, there was a general hustling to
get ready for the job, it being decided to do it that night. I would
say at this point that it was Saturday, and further, that I did not put
another morsel of food in my mouth, save two raw eggs and a nibble at a
chicken’s drumstick, until two o’clock in the morning of the following
Thursday. While this fast was at its height I had the roughest
experience of all my eventful life.



CHAPTER III

THE CADIZ BANK LOOT


We were to be ready at ten o’clock that night to begin our work, and
the hour having come upon us almost too soon, there was not a little
hurrying to the various points at which each man had his part to
perform. I, having been assigned to the car shanty, proceeded there,
my purpose being to break through the lock and have the car ready to
be pushed on to the track the moment my companions came to me. I was
cautioned to make no mistake; not to be misled, by any one else walking
on the track, into the belief that my time had come to act, and thus
spoil the scheme for our escape. It is needless to say that I quite
realized my inexperience; nevertheless I, with rising spirits, assured
all hands, more for Jack Utley’s ears than any one else, that I would
perform my part well, and that I was no fool. I think my self-assurance
rather pleased George Wilson, for he smiled toward me in an approving
way.

It was dark that night, so I picked my steps to the railway cautiously,
while the others started for Cadiz, which was the last I saw of them
for four hours. Arriving at the car shanty, I soon had nothing to do
but wrestle with my own thoughts, for I was absolutely alone, with
nothing to divert me for two hours at least. It was so much different
from being in the company of one or more of the gang. Then I was either
busy at some menial work for them, or asleep, and had no time for my
thoughts to run riot. Now I began to feel the lack of that assurance of
which I had so recently boasted. Away from Utley’s sneers and jeering
words, I felt none of that antagonism which usually ruled me. Instead
of it, the past came back--first my wrongs, then my younger days,
when life was like a dream; and I thought that, no matter what had
befallen me, no matter how much injustice had been served out to me,
I should have stood up against it, and proclaimed to the very last my
innocence; and, that availing me naught, to have suffered martyrdom,
as others much better than I had suffered. How I was tortured with
these reflections as the moments dragged by! Once I did resolve, that,
getting safely back to New York and well out of the life I was now
leading, I would renounce my companions forever, and make another and
more persistent effort to travel in a better path. While reason remains
with me I will never forget the mental racking that I endured as those
four long hours crawled on.

The part I had to do had been well performed, so far as I could
proceed, and it was, I imagined, not far from two o’clock when it
seemed to me I heard the distant beating of feet coming from the
direction of Cadiz. The wind was blowing rather heavily toward the
village, now and then, one gust stronger than another, so my ears may
have been attuned to its fitfulness, and I had really heard no more
than that. But listening intently for the least indication of the
approach of my companions, I could detect no repetition of the tread
of feet. At the moment, however, I caught the tones of a distant bell
striking out two o’clock. Four hours had passed and not a sign of
them--my associates. I thought of the word “associates.” They were mine
in crime of a truth, for already I was, if nothing more, criminally
implicated before the fact. If at the moment the bank had actually been
robbed, then I was one of a band of bank robbers, with my part in the
enterprise, though small, as fully played, and I was equally guilty.
With this phase of the situation so clearly before me, I turned to
another, and perhaps more important one. Where were these associates?
Had they come to grief; fallen into the hands of the law, and would
I not be sought for as their accomplice in the crime? Perhaps the
authorities had been warned that a lot of safe burglars were waiting in
the neighborhood of Cadiz for game, the _fiasco_ in the West Virginian
village having been the means of spreading the information. All sorts
of unreasonable and strange things flashed through my confused brain.
Nor will I state that I was not, for a moment, on the very verge of
forsaking my post, and, putting forth my best speed, placing between
me and the present situation all the distance I was able to before the
coming of dawn. While this impulse was with me, my ears again caught
the sounds of fast-moving feet, just as I had heard them a few minutes
before. I listened yet more intently, if that were possible. Yes, I
could hear more than one person running toward me, though I could not
see a form fifteen feet away. I reasoned that no one, save those for
whom I was waiting, would be abroad in that manner and at that hour,
so I took the chance, and, with all the strength I had, the hand-car,
which stood in the doorway of the shanty, was shoved down to the track.
The rough hemlock planking cracked and creaked and splintered as the
iron wheels ground across them, and I was on the point of lifting the
car to the rails, or rather attempting to, when a man rushed up to
me, almost breathless, and threw a satchel on the car. I had made no
mistake, for it was Eddie Hughes. A glance at the bag showed me that it
was bulging with its contents, and I knew right away that the Cadiz job
had been successful. Tall Jim, Big Bill, Wilson, and Jack Utley came
up, in this order, a few minutes later, blowing like steam-engines.
The latter was so shy of breath that for once in his life he could
not grumble. No time was lost in catching vagrant breath and less in
talk, so in a jiffy the car was lifted to the track, and off we went as
fast as the crank could be turned. My blood, which had been seemingly
at a low ebb, began to flow hotly with the excitement, and soon the
depressed spirits which had so greatly tormented me were left far
behind with the old car shanty. In reality I was now the pal of crooks,
actually had taken part in a bank robbery, and, for the first time in
my life, was fleeing from a burglary of which I was guilty. In fact, I
began to feel that it was better to have the “game” with the “name,”
than otherwise. If any one condemn me for this, I pray it may be put
down to an intoxication of the moment and not to a callous heart. These
brain flittings gave way to thoughts of the propulsion of our “bumpous”
vehicle, for in shifts of four we did our best, two men at each handle.
When one pair showed signs of weariness, they were relieved by two
fresh men, and so we six, in turn, kept at the work. In this manner, at
least two pairs of fairly fresh arms were at the handles all the time.
Notwithstanding our energetic efforts, the rails being rough and sadly
out of repair, we made far from the speed we desired; so the first
streak of dawn was flashing in the east when we got to Cadiz Junction,
which was only ten miles on our race to safety. But, shifting the car
to the main line, we pushed on eastward toward Steubenville, for about
two miles. Here we put on brakes and paused for a consultation, all
hands agreeing it was getting almost too light for further use of the
car, and besides, we didn’t have any idea of the schedule of trains
on that line. At any moment we might meet a locomotive, which, to say
the least, would cause us great concern in getting out of its way, if,
indeed, nothing worse resulted.

We didn’t stop long to consider any question, time being too precious,
but while five of us were discussing these subjects, Tall Jim had tried
unsuccessfully to destroy any telegraphic communication that might,
uninterrupted, aid in our capture. Not being equipped with the right
sort of tools, he was compelled to give up the task, having severed
only a few of the wires. He had climbed telegraph poles and done all
sorts of stunts, but could not sever all the wires; therefore he might
as well have spared his efforts. But, for a fact, he did his best, and
I praised him for it.

By this time we had concluded that we might go on a little farther; at
least until we heard a train approaching. As we might get separated at
any moment and each of us have to work out his own problem of escape,
Hughes handed us five hundred dollars a man, with the understanding
that we keep together, if possible, until a safe hiding-place was
found, where we could remain until nightfall. In the temporary refuge a
plan of escape could be calmly discussed and the final division of the
spoils made.

We hadn’t been on the fresh start long when it was discovered that
we were just ahead of the running time of a passenger train. Tall
Jim chanced to recall that it was due at Steubenville a minute or so
before or after five A.M. As near as Jim could tell, it was possible
to run the car to the village before the train reached there, in which
event we could board it and sooner get away from the neighborhood.
Nevertheless there was the chance that we would not make Steubenville
in season, therefore I declared that I would not endanger, not only my
neck by a possible collision with a wildcat engine or the passenger
train, but my freedom as well, by proceeding on an uncertainty. I
argued that it had been a useless task to break a bank successfully and
then throw away the spoils through a reckless disregard of caution.

“I agree with the young feller,” put in Tall Jim, “and I’ll not go
another foot on this car.”

That settled it, for Wilson and Hughes fell into our way of thinking
also; and for the first time I scored one against Jack Utley, though
at the moment it did not enter my head. We had been moving at a fair
rate of speed while this talk was going on, and had rounded several
sharp curves, blind to what we were to meet beyond them, when my strong
protest bore fruit. The car was stopped and dumped over the bank with a
“heave ho”; whereupon I came to the fore again, which must have seemed
very much the upstart in me, and proposed what next we’d better do.

“Boys,” said I, “we’d find it to our advantage not to quit the railroad
here, for the bank is nothing but mellow ground. We must not leave a
trail. Let our pursuers believe that we have kept to the rails. I know
we can find a grassy bank near, and over it we can get to the fields
without leaving any footprints.”

I have no doubt that my advice would have been taken, had it not been
for Utley, who would not, this time, pause for an argument.

“What’s the odds,” he roared, as he trotted down the soft bank,
his shoes sinking into the mellow earth, half-ankle deep. I loudly
entreated the others not to follow him.

“The hand-car will be missed,” I cried, so vexed that I felt the hot
tears burning in my eyes; “it will be known, right away, that we took
it. And what then? If the people of the bank have any gumption, they’ll
have a special engine, with the sheriff on board, after us in no time.
I’m surprised that we are not under arrest already.”

“Tush,” yelled Utley, who stood at the foot of the incline, “are you
fools going to stand and listen to that kid? Come on out of this. Are
you looking for trouble?”

I still held the attention of the boys, they feeling that my words were
worth considering. I urged them to prevail with Utley, whom I knew had
much influence with most of them, owing to his skill as a safe-breaking
expert.

“Boys,” I insisted, with all the earnestness I could master, “it
will mean our undoing to follow Utley. See! he’s already in that
fresh-ploughed field. What better guide do we want to leave for those
after us to follow?”

“Are you fools still listening to that green kid?” Utley shouted. “Come
on, I say. He chatters like a parrot. Less talk and more get-away is my
plan. Never mind how.”

It was useless for me to protest further now. I was overruled. The
party stalked down the soft bank and on after Utley, who piloted them
for some distance through the sinking earth, which left a fine trail
after us. I turned to look at it, more to satisfy my wounded feelings,
I guess, than anything else. It was so apparent to me that our escape
was in jeopardy, that I, after taking in the full significance of the
danger, determined to make another appeal. If that was of no avail,
why, I would quit the party and shift for myself, regardless of the
division of the money.

“Stop for a moment, lads,” said I, “and listen to me before I leave
you. Most of you have been good to me and took me in when I didn’t know
where to turn, but I’m not going to jail with my eyes wide open, and
I hate to see you do it. As for me, I’m going to cut to that nearest
field to the right of us, and get to grass. The field we’re in leads to
the woods; so does that pasture lot.”

At this emphatic stand, a halt was called by Tall Jim, with the result
that all but Utley came to my way of thinking, and followed my lead
to the pasture; and he too, after much swearing, seeing he was in the
minority, trailed along. But the mischief had been done, as I have
remarked. After reaching the grass, where our course could not be
traced to a certainty, we made for the woods, which, to my regret,
proved to be a shallow ravine, with trees, none too thickly placed for
our purpose, on either side. I announced that this was no spot for us
to dally in a minute; but Jack Utley went up in opposition again, and
producing a weapon in the shape of a luscious-looking apple pie, as an
argument with which to beat the others into his way of thinking, sat
down at the bottom of the ravine, close by a brook, and began to devour
a part of it. This was too much for the others, even Tall Jim, and they
sat down and joined in the pie-eating.

“In the name of common sense, lads, are you all crazy?” I exclaimed
angrily. “Will you invite trouble? Mark my words, the constables will
be on our track in less than an hour. Will you plan for days, win, and
then throw all overboard for the lack of a little reason?”

They would not heed me, even in earnest as I was, but, with appetites
more than keen, continued to greedily munch pie. I would have done the
same thing had I not fully realized the danger, being hungry enough;
but I ventured one more plea: “Let’s get out of this trap, boys, and
find a thick woods, no matter how far we have to go. This place will be
the first to be searched, seeing that we have made a beaten path almost
to it. If we are discovered, where, I put it up to you, will we find
cover? There’s nothing but open country on both sides of us now.”

With his big, cavernous mouth--though all together he was a
good-looking chap, priding himself much on being a ladies’ man--filled
to overflowing with pie, Utley managed to say: “Blather all you want
to, greeny; we’re going to stay right here till night comes. We’re not
fools enough to steer out into the open country by daylight, and you
might as well smoke up.”

If it would have availed me anything, I might have still argued; but
as everything indicated to the contrary, I stopped here, though I felt
that a real outpouring of hot anger upon the whole lot of them would
have lifted a great pressure from my mind. Up to the moment of getting
the money the lads had used excellent judgment, but since then all but
Tall Jim had seemed to lack even the brains of an idiot. And as for
Jim, I saw that a big appetite had suddenly clouded his intellect.

“Stay here if you like,” I said, as calmly as I was able; “stay here
and lose all you’ve gained, but do it at your own risk, and don’t
think, when it is too late, that you’ve not been warned. As for me, I’m
going to strike for safety.”

Thus firing my last warning gun, I left them at their pie-eating, and
began a search for a hiding-place suited to my own ideas. After much
diligent scouring over several acres of land, about an eighth of a mile
farther down the ravine, and a little from it, I found a shelving ledge
below which was a sort of cave, where I believed a dozen men could stow
themselves away by a little squeezing. Though not much of a cave to my
mind, it seemed to be a place that might not be discovered, though a
right good search of the neighborhood was made. Its mouth was pretty
well hidden in all directions by a scrubby growth of bushes, though any
one in hiding in it could without much trouble see the ravine and hear
any one approaching from that quarter. So, returning, I, with renewed
arguments and armed with the possibilities of my discovery, induced the
lads, including the pig-headed Utley, to occupy the new refuge, they in
the meantime having taken my advice not to leave the slightest trace
of our course from the ravine. Having accomplished this, I experienced
a grim satisfaction I could not conceal from Utley. I felt confident
that I had warded off, in a measure, the danger which he had brought
upon us by his headstrong plunging down the railroad bank and in the
ploughed field.

I had been deceived as to the space in the cave, for I must tell it,
that I may be truthful on all points, that when all hands were inside,
and well out of the casual view of any one of the expected searching
party, there was scarcely an inch left in which to move or change one’s
position. But it was, at all events, a real hiding-place.

It may appear rather of the dime-novel order, but in chronicling this
most thrilling experience of my life I must tell that we had not been
in our retreat more than an hour when we were set a-tremble by hearing
voices in the ravine. When they were near enough to be distinguished,
we heard sufficient to make us know who the disturbers were and what
they were after. Our feelings can be imagined as we, remaining almost
breathless, listened to the shouts and heard the searchers beating into
every nook and corner of the ravine. And as the moments passed we could
hear them getting nearer and nearer. Presently the pursuers were not
more than a dozen feet away.



CHAPTER IV

AN EXPENSIVE CHICKEN


At midnight the first telling stroke in the attack on the Cadiz Bank
was made when Eddie Hughes, with a pair of nippers, “turned off” the
key in the front door of the cashier’s house. With him were Big Bill,
Jack Utley, and Tall Jim. On the outside of the house was George
Wilson, standing on guard, ready to send a warning if danger were
approaching from that quarter.

“You remain here in the front hall,” said Hughes to the trio, as he
vanished in the still greater darkness, his only guide being the
occasional flash of a bull’s-eye. He found the cashier’s sleeping room
without much trouble. On a chair at the bedside was the cashier’s
trousers, and in the bed lay their owner and his wife. Both were
sleeping soundly. Hughes decided that the bank keys he wanted were
either in the clothing or under the cashier’s pillow. If under the
pillow, so much the more hazardous the undertaking. He flashed his
light on the sleepers’ faces to make certain all was right. The keys
were found in the trousers, and Hughes had them in hand, when,
evidently disturbed by the instant glimmering of the light, the cashier
awoke. It was a critical moment, and Hughes, knowing it, was prepared.
Instantly, and probably before the victim was fully aware of the true
situation, he felt strong hands about his throat and his face forced in
the bedclothing. The noise of the struggle roused the wife, who cried
out to know what was the matter. It was a terrifying position for her,
to be thus awakened from a sound sleep and in the dark, to hear strange
noises and get no reply to her call. Immediately she became quiet, and
from all accounts I believe she fainted from fright.

In the meantime, the men in the hall, being on the alert, heard the cry
and hastened to the assistance of Hughes. Tall Jim threw a light for
an instant on the scene, and Big Bill helped to subdue the cashier.
Realizing at last his predicament, the latter ceased to resist, and,
cowed by the threat of violence to him and his wife, promised implicit
obedience. Then they were securely bound hand and foot, and left lying
in bed, with Wilson, who had been called in, to remain on guard.

Having secured the keys, Hughes and his associates hastened to the
bank. While they were away, Wilson kept stern guard over his captives,
telling them that if they kept quiet, they would not be harmed.
Ninety-nine persons out of a hundred would have done just as this
cashier did, under the circumstances. Knowing my associates as I
afterward found them, it was well for the cashier and his wife that
they obeyed the instructions to the letter. They were a desperate lot
in a pinch.

In the meanwhile, Hughes led the way to the bank, where they made
a cautious survey of the surroundings, and finding them favorable,
proceeded to make the final strike for the loot. The watchman, who had
been under surveillance the night before, had shown every indication
of being a faithful employee, so it was necessary to make certain just
where he was. This was accomplished by peeping through a window which
did not face the street. The watchman was sitting behind the counter
with his back to the door, and, in the dim light not far from him, he
seemed to be awake.

The importance of making a clean job of overcoming this bar to the
vault was not lost to Hughes, so it was decided that the unlocking of
the bank door must be done so quietly that at least one of our party
would be up to the counter before the watchman knew of his presence.
So, with this in mind, Hughes worked the nippers on the key in the
front door lock. It turned without a click under the deft handling
of the expert, and the door was swung open far enough for Hughes to
peep in. The watchman sat motionless. At the silent signal, all but
Tall Jim sprang over the counter only a step from the door, and
were on top of the victim ere he could make an outcry, or for that
matter knew what was amiss. It took less than a minute to stuff a
rag in his mouth, blindfold him, and bind him securely to his chair.
Hughes stood on guard while Utley and Big Bill went at the vault lock.
The keys did their work, and it was the matter of but a few minutes
to transfer the cash and bonds to a satchel there for the purpose.
Besides this, the lads tied up a big bag of silver coin, weighing
much more than the average man would care to carry a great distance,
even travelling at his leisure. It was a question, considering the
anticipated flight for safety, whether it were wise to burden the
party with the coin; but Jack Utley said they’d better take it along,
and so it was decided. Ready to quit the bank, the doors were left
as they were found, and a quickstep was taken back to the cashier’s
house after Wilson. They found everything satisfactory there, and
with a parting warning to the cashier that one of the party would
remain on guard outside of the house, hurried away as rapidly as they
could, being much hampered by the bag of silver. When all hands became
convinced that the load was much like a millstone about their necks,
Hughes threw it over a barnyard fence, somewhere on the outskirts
of the village. Notwithstanding, this tossing away of so much money
was done with many qualms of regret, and I, upon hearing of it, in a
measure could understand the feelings of my associates. No doubt some
early-rising farm lad that day made big, round eyes when he espied the
prize. Subsequent information has not enlightened me as to whether the
bag of coin ever found its way back to the Cadiz Bank. Unhampered by
money,--so strange would be the term without the explanation,--the lads
now made a dash for the hand-car shanty, Hughes, being fleet of foot,
leading with the precious black bag of treasure tightly gripped.

       *       *       *       *       *

There being no one in the house besides the cashier and his wife, no
relief came to them till their negro serving-woman, who slept at home,
reported for duty at five A.M. On going to the pantry, its tumbled
condition led her to suspect something was amiss. A moment later and
she had discovered her master and mistress in their wretched plight and
released them. But for Jack Utley’s pantry thieving, in which he, among
other things, carried off two pies, they would have remained prisoners
some time longer. As soon as possible the cashier was at the bank,
where he found the poor night watchman in his unpleasant situation.
Severing the bonds, he demanded to know how it all had happened,
not forgetting to berate the poor fellow for being overcome by the
robbers. No doubt the cashier had forgotten his own helplessness in
his vain search for something soothing for his mind, fully realizing
that he and the other officials of the bank had a grave situation to
face. He lost little time, however, in this sort of meditation, but,
ascertaining in a general way what the loss was, alarmed the constables
and sent a fleet-footed messenger to the house of the sheriff, some
distance away. Then he went to the bank president’s residence, knocked
him out of bed, and, pale-faced, told him briefly what had happened,
after which there was a consultation as to what steps must be taken to
capture the burglars and recover the property. At the earliest moment
telegrams were sent to the near-by cities and railway stations, asking
that all suspicious men be detained, with the hope that such a drag-net
would bag the game.

About this time the section men found their car shanty broken open and
empty. They had not heard of the bank robbery, but on complaining of
their loss to the authorities, the latter at once saw a clew that might
put them on the track of the bank looters. There was only one way that
the hand-car could be run, and that was toward Cadiz Junction, ten
miles away. Those for whom they sought had at least three hours the
start, they argued, so the problem which confronted them was to reduce
that advantage, and the only thing to accomplish it was a locomotive.
That was hired and steamed up in the shortest possible time, and when
it was ready to move, a posse of constables, several deputy sheriffs,
and still others not vested with official authority, all armed for any
encounter, was at hand, and, piling aboard, the pursuit soon began.

A close watch was kept on both sides of the track with the hope of soon
finding the hand-car. It was not believed that the burglars would do
other than make a break for the more open country. The question was
how far they would go by rail before branching off into the wooded
land, which was not inconsiderable in that particular neighborhood. Not
coming across the car at Cadiz Junction, the pursuers learned, a little
beyond there to the eastward, that one had been seen going in that
direction, so, putting on all steam, they sped toward Steubenville.
Presently the overturned car was sighted, and the party got down to
reconnoitre; whereupon they found many footprints, which lay like
a beaten path from the railroad side, across the fence and into a
ploughed field.

Satisfied that the game for which they sought was not far off, as the
marks in the soft earth were still fresh, the pursuers examined their
weapons, and, quitting the track, bent to the trail. They lost it upon
reaching the field of grass, but, sighting a ridge of trees, decided
that there was the point to which their game would steer. Reaching the
woods, they began to make a thorough search, presently coming across
footprints alongside a brook, besides some crumbs, which they made out
to be bread. Here, they declared, the men they wanted had breakfasted.
The footmarks led to a stone a few feet up the ravine. There they
ended, to the confusion of the posse, which then began to make a search
of any hiding-place they could find. For hours they kept at it, many
times giving up their task, and as many times going at it again.

       *       *       *       *       *

“That was a d--d narrow call!” whispered Tall Jim to me, as we, almost
breathless, listened to the tramping of receding feet.

“I don’t know how they came to overlook us,” I returned softly, as I
rubbed the cold drops of sweat from my forehead. I was trembling like a
leaf in a strong wind.

There we were, packed in the cave I had so fortunately found, like so
many figs in a box. A moment before several of our pursuers had been
standing on the rocky ledge above us, talking in our very ears. Not
more than ten feet away, we heard them declaring their belief that we
were hiding in that very neighborhood; that we had had no opportunity
to get away, for if that were the case some of the farmers thereabouts
would have seen us. Twice before this some of the posse had been on the
same shelving rock and discussed us without stint, for the most part
their talk being far from complimentary to us; yet on one occasion I
heard a man speak as to our sagacity in so skilfully keeping clear of
their most diligent “search and scouring of every nook and corner,” as
he described it. From the moment we heard the approach of our enemy,
when they beat into every hole and seam of the ravine in a vain search
there; from the moment they discovered the crumbs of pie that Jack
Utley introduced in the ravine, which caused the posse to declare that
the trail was getting hot,--we lay in our hole in the ground, with a
few scrub trees or bushes between us and discovery, wondering what
the outcome would be. When I say “we,” I mean all but Eddie Hughes
and George Wilson. They appeared to be so exhausted for want of sleep
that they would slide off into a snoring match that I could only break
off by the frequent use of a pin. At the time the pursuers made the
second visit to the rock over us, I vow that I jabbed it into Wilson’s
leg a score of times, to suppress a rising, insistent snore, and then
the pain was so great that it awoke him enough to induce a bad humor.
He was about to rip out an oath, which I smothered at its birth by
pressing my hand hard over his mouth and whispering in his ear. Then he
awoke to the danger we were in. Between caring for these sleepers and
wondering how long it would be before we would be marched to jail, if
we escaped with our lives, I passed a most uncomfortable day, to say
the least. It was well toward the fading of the afternoon when the
enemy paid us a final visit; and when an hour had worn by and nothing
more was heard of them, we began to take hope. Tall Jim had remarked
many times in that hour upon the narrow margin that had lain between us
and discovery.

“We owe it to you, George!” he said to me half a dozen times. “That
ravine was a mighty hot place soon after we left it.”

I said nothing to these reminders of my sound judgment, but I felt
a sense of satisfaction, as no doubt any one would, under similar
circumstances.

Finally the shades of night began to come down, and with them we
crawled from our cramped quarters, and having scanned the immediate
neighborhood as best we could in the twilight, found our way to the
brook in the ravine, where we treated ourselves to a good wash and
quenched our thirst, using our hands for cups. Feeling somewhat better,
but subject to very serious clamorings for food, we started for the
Ohio River, hoping to follow it until we reached Wheeling. We had not
gone far when I became convinced that we were moving in the wrong
direction, and so informed the lads. Jack Utley, still smarting over
the morning’s experience, insisted that we were on the right course. He
was so positive, while I, though convinced in my own mind, would not
declare so to a certainty, that the boys would not say nay to him. So,
snubbing me and insisting upon calling me an upstart, Utley continued
his leadership. About midnight, or thereabouts, we came to a small
stream of water, which we were forced to wade, with the result that we
had a good wetting added to our discomfort, the water coming well up to
our waists. Reaching the other side, to my astonishment Utley, who was
still in the lead, started up-stream.

“Now, see here, lads,” said I, savagely, “we are all wrong as to our
course.” I added, “Do you want to make the Ohio River?”

“Certainly,” replied Tall Jim.

“Well,” I went on, “this stream empties into the Ohio, and you’ll never
find it by going up hill.”

“You have a cheek to tell me what course to take,” put in Utley,
angrily, adding a curse by way of emphasis. Turning to Wilson, he
asked, “Are you going to stick with me, or are you for that interloper?”

With this thrust at me, he resumed the course up-stream, the others
following meekly; and I, hardly knowing what to do under the
conditions, trailed on, but doing some pretty tall thinking. After
what seemed about half an hour, Tall Jim called on Utley to halt and
declared he thought I was right. This brought forth an argument from
the obstructionist, and considerable time was wasted in high words,
but to my relief it resulted in our course being reversed. Retracing
our steps, we continued alongside the stream, and as we pushed on the
moon showed its face, in some respects to our advantage, in others
not so much so. In the first place, it made travelling, which had been
difficult, easier, the darkness often causing us to pitch headlong into
pitfalls, and, on the other hand, the better light made a much surer
mark of us, should we chance upon our enemies. As it was not within our
power to control the queen o’ the night, we tramped on, taking a great
chance of losing our liberty. Finally I decided to brave the bulldozing
tactics of Jack Utley, and, addressing my words to George Wilson,
though in a way to all, I said, “It’s sheer folly to expose ourselves
like this!”

But Wilson cautioned me to refrain from expressing my views a few
minutes longer, which I did, though feeling that we were walking into
the lion’s mouth. It was somewhat near two o’clock when we came to a
pike road, running parallel with the stream, and upon pursuing it for a
short distance, we came up to a small village. The lads were inclined
to pass through it, but then I would not be kept quiet.

“I’ll not go a step farther,” was my decision. “Here we are, in a light
fit to read a newspaper, taking this tremendous chance. I’ll not do it
longer.”

Addressing myself to Wilson, I continued: “You must know that the whole
country has heard of the robbery by this time, and here we are, six
of us, wandering through a strange land, half the time not knowing
where we are going. It’s simply a case of breaking in jail, instead of
keeping out of it.”

Again Wilson urged me to stick to him and the gang, and to show a
disposition to be ruled by the majority, whatever my private opinions
might be.

“Now, George,” I went on, “if there is anything coming to me, I’ll meet
you in New York and get it.”

Still he, in a most kindly way, urged me to keep along with them,
declaring it would not be for much longer. As I owed considerable to
him for admitting me to the gang, and as he had always treated me in
the most cordial manner, I consented to go on with them for a short
time. In the meantime, I will say that we didn’t pass through the heart
of the village!

I think we had gone about two miles farther when we sighted the
Ohio River. There we paused for a moment, to realize what we had
accomplished. It came back forcibly that we had passed over a very
eventful Sunday and a night of travel into Monday, and had, in fact,
been on the move or the anxious seat for more than twenty-four hours.
Indeed, much had happened since we made that precipitous flight from
the Cadiz car shanty. I shall never forget it.

Having our course well in hand now, we soon came up to the railroad,
which would take us direct to Wheeling. As we plodded along the ties,
we had less to think about our bearings, and consequently more time
to lend an ear to the yearnings of our stomachs. We were much in need
of food to sustain our strength, for there was no telling what we
yet had to encounter. Jack Utley was particularly hungry; or if not
more so than the rest of us, he was less philosophical about it, for
he presently insisted that he must appease the inner man at any risk
whatsoever.

“I’ll tackle the first hen-roost I spot,” said he, emphatically.

“Better starve the stomach a little, than bar the whole body,” spoke
up Tall Jim, with an observable emphasis on the word “bar,” which I
interpreted to mean jail. Thus thinking, I nudged Jim, by whose side I
was walking.

Just then we came abreast of a barnyard, upon spying which Utley
started on a sharp trot toward it. I had a vision of dogs, flying men,
and clews thick enough to capture a regiment. I presume it would have
been fully as well if I had kept my own counsel, but here was a man not
only endangering his own neck, but putting me in the same fix with him.

“Jack Utley, you fool!” I cried to him as loudly as I dared, “don’t you
dare to do it. What’s hunger alongside of our liberty?”

All I heard was a smothered reply, the tenor of which I could guess
without hitting wide of the mark, and he went on his way, while we
continued on ours, hearing no sound for upward of three minutes. Then
there came to us a loud squawking of a chicken, which was quickly
stifled, only to be succeeded by a chorus of similar squawks, the
difference in them being their tones, some tenor, others of a lower
scale of voice, the whole making a most discordant and disheartening
din to our ears. I seemed to see ourselves in a pretty mess. There lay
the farm-house, plain in the moonlight, and just in the rear was the
barn. Two minutes later Utley came rushing up behind us with a big fowl
stuffed under his coat, but a dead one, he having wrung its neck.

The curses we flung at him from all sides were like so much water on a
duck’s back, his only retort being something about his stomach,--that
it had to be considered once in a while. I feared the worst would come
of this experience, and so remarked to the whole lot of them. As we
went on I thought I heard the slam of a door, and, halting the lads for
an instant, listened intently, but heard nothing more like it.

After hurrying forward for two miles or more, a deep cut was
encountered, through which the track went, curving somewhat to the
left where the bank on either side was the highest. Notwithstanding
the bright moonlight, there was plenty of shadow at this curve, and
not knowing what the darkness might conceal from us, we halted while
Hughes went to investigate. He returned in a few minutes, and we could
tell by his manner that he had something interesting to relate.

“What do you think,” said he, in beginning, “I found at the other end
of the cut? There was a shanty with several straw bunks in it. I did
the soft-foot and found there wasn’t any one inside, but there had
been, for the straw was yet warm from the duffers that had lain in it.
A little beyond the shanty, sitting against a pile of ties, I saw two
men, smoking pipes, because I could see the fire of the tobacco. On the
way back I tripped my foot against something, and, by--, if it wasn’t a
rope stretched across the track. It was lucky for me that I hit it just
as I did, else there would have been a row.”

Immediately I saw in this rope a trap that had been laid for us. It was
expected that any one hurrying along that way would stumble over the
rope and thus give an alarm. Evidently the men hanging about the shanty
were officers of the law, waiting for us, but as it was getting very
late they had given up the idea of seeing us that night. I was about to
say this to Hughes, but he continued: “It was well for us that the moon
was up and we thought best to investigate that cut. It was a trap dead
set for us, boys, you can bet your very last cent.”

“Right you are, Eddie,” said Big Bill, who seldom said anything. It was
a pretty important matter that brought an unnecessary word from him.

There was nothing to be done but to make a wide _détour_, which we
did, returning to the railroad about half a mile below the shanty.
Continuing this route until half daylight, we concluded to leave the
track and strike off into the country and camp there for the day. We
had gone a mile, or such a matter, when we came up to a strip of woods
in which was a deserted hut.

“Here’s where I eat chicken,” said Utley, as soon as he set eyes on the
place. “I don’t stir from here, cops or no cops, till my belly stops
grumbling. Do you all hear?”

I waited for one of the others to protest against building a fire, but
no word came, so I spoke up, though much against my will: “For heaven’s
sake, Utley, don’t attempt to roast your chicken here. It’s daylight
now, and smoke can be seen for miles. It’ll betray us, as sure as
hades.”

“Now, youngster, stop your confounded blathering,” was his reply. “I’ll
tell you once for all, my belly isn’t going hungry when chicken’s
around.”

And, true to his threat, he started a fire, which sent up a cloud of
smoke, and after half an hour he passed around portions of the fowl,
which, though not well enough cooked, was most grateful eating. I was
too hungry to refuse a drumstick when George Wilson handed me one,
and I confess that I ate it greedily, not having had a morsel to eat
for fully thirty-six hours. I had disdainfully declined to partake of
Utley’s pie in the ravine away back.

“Now that you’ve made a smoke, Jack,” said I, “let’s move our camp to
another clump of woods I see about a mile farther on, before the fire
of another sort comes on the heels of your smoke.”

My persuasion was potent, and presently we were located in a sort of
hollow on a wooded side-hill. At the base of the hill was a thick
undergrowth, and beyond that was a brook in a meadow. We had a splendid
vantage, from which we could see any one approaching from the lowland.
But our rear faced the railroad, and at the top of the hill was an open
ploughed field. As to danger coming from over the hill at the rear,
most of us thought that it wouldn’t reach us that way.

The time had now come when the treasure satchel was to be opened and
the division made. Eddie Hughes was master of the treasury, and as such
divided the cash and bonds into six equal parts. This was interesting
to me, for I wasn’t sure that I would be reckoned in a share and share
alike, but would be put off with a few hundred dollars. The total
amount of the haul was a few hundreds more than two hundred and fifty
thousand dollars, consequently I was given forty-two thousand for my
share, seven thousand of which was in paper money.

Strange things have happened in my life of turmoil, but no incident
has impressed me in so peculiar a manner as when my eyes fell on the
first twenty-dollar bill handed me by Hughes. I read on the face of
the bill the name of “C. L. Beals, Cashier,” and when I saw after
this signature, “First National Bank of Winchendon, Massachusetts,” I
knew that the author of that signature was a man with whom I had done
thousands of dollars’ worth of business, had sold him carload upon
carload of grain and other merchandise. It seemed as though there must
be some hidden significance in that strip of paper money, belonging
away up in New England, coming into my possession as a part of the
proceeds of the first bank burglary in which I had engaged. There I sat
on the side-hill on Ohio soil and looked long on this reminder of my
own native hills far away.

Presently George Wilson asked me if I were magnetized by the money
god, which aroused me from my revery. I said nothing of what had so
engrossed me, deeming it too sacred for discussion. I carefully wrapped
my treasure in a piece of brown paper which Hughes gave me, and put
it in my pocket. All but Wilson did likewise. He scratched away some
dead leaves from under a log and hid his share there. It was in a small
satchel. He said that he wouldn’t lose it in case we were surprised by
the constables.

In thinking over my treasure I could not but feel some satisfaction in
possessing it, though I had committed a crime. But a week before I had
left New York with only a few dollars, five of which I could actually
claim as my own. Here I was, the owner of more than forty thousand
dollars. I felt myself growing so satisfied with having this money,
gained through crime, that I tried to crush the feeling. It seemed
impossible. There was some compensation, at least, in having the “name”
and the “game.” Hitherto I had had the “name” and some one else had the
game. In the former case I had been dealt out rare injustice, in which
I had lost my hard-earned competence, but now, though I had the name of
being a thief, yet I also had the “game,” and that several thousands
of dollars more than I had ever possessed. But on the heels of these
reflections, some of which were far from soothing, I was presently
drawn to the fact that I was not yet out of the woods, possibly my
revery being interrupted by hearing Big Bill tell what his plans would
be when he got back to New York.

“Better not count your chickens before they’re hatched,” was my
comment, in a tone of warning, yet withal said good-naturedly.

Jack Utley, who had been discussing Big Bill’s plans, seized upon the
opportunity to take another thrust at me. Said he: “You’re always
conjuring up bugaboos. How the devil is it possible for the cops to
trail us here in these woods?”

“Squawking fowls and smoking fires, Jack Utley,” I retorted, being
unable to refrain from poking back at him. He shrugged his broad
shoulders, smothered an oath, and went back to the air-castle building
with Bill. After they had tired of that pastime, they and the others
spread themselves out on the ground and prepared to sleep. Before
Wilson dropped off he and I had agreed to leave the party at nightfall
and strike out on our own hook. I told him that he might rest easy;
that I would stay on guard, as I feared that we would not get out of
our troubles so easily as some of us thought.

The day wore on slowly enough, as I watched the declining sun or
kept my ears trained for any suspicious sounds and my eyes alert for
anything that might indicate the approach of the enemy. I longed for
twilight, when Wilson and I would leave the gang.



CHAPTER V

A ROCK CLEFT FOR ME


Jack Utley’s persistent disregard of all caution worried me much. As
I thought of his chicken-stealing episode and of the fire he insisted
upon having in the old hut, it occurred to me that we might even at the
moment be under the surveillance of some of our enemies. Seeing the
smoke in the distance, they might have suspected that we were the cause
of it, and, circling to our rear, come over the hill and rush down on
us. I determined to keep a close watch on all sides.

I was gazing up the hill, a little to the right of our camp, somewhere
about four o’clock, when I detected the sound of fast-approaching feet.
Instantly my heart was set beating at a furious rate. Scenting danger,
I hurriedly roused the lads, telling them what I had heard, and warning
them to get ready for flight. Even as I finished a horseman came in
view, but from his position I wasn’t certain that he’d seen us. We all
crouched low, and were beginning to feel that all was well, when he
wheeled about and planted his horse on the hillside only a few rods
below us and a little to the left. Immediately he yelled:--

“Come on with the guns, boys. Here they are, like woodchucks in their
holes.”

This shout was responded to by half a dozen farmers on foot, most of
them armed with either a shotgun or a pistol. Down they came upon
us, firing and yelling at the same time. Their deliberation told me
better than words that they had a perfect knowledge of what the game
was they were after. And what was worse, they showed unmistakably that
they would get us, even if they had to fight to the end. My fears,
therefore, that we would be traced had not been groundless, after all.
Jack Utley’s foolhardiness was reaping its penalty, and we all must
suffer.

At the first shout of the horseman below, who seemed not to be armed,
we dashed down the hill, diagonally away from him. He made no move to
intercept us. As a matter of fact, he was in range of his comrades’
guns and did not dare to get too near us, around whom the small shot
and some bullets were flying thick as hail. George Wilson and I kept
together as best we could, but presently I heard him groan, and a side
glance showed me that his left arm was hanging limp at his side. One of
my fingers was stinging from the glance of a shot, which, however, left
no wound.

“Follow me, George,” I shouted, as I ran toward a thick wall of
undergrowth, and he came on. I reached the bushes, followed, as I
supposed, by Wilson, and, making as wide a path as I could for him,
pushed on, never looking behind, though I lost my hat and had my face
sadly scratched with the sharp twigs. Presently I was conscious that
more than Wilson were after me, and, not knowing who they might be, I
redoubled my speed, and, avoiding the fate of the hapless wife of Lot
as told in Holy Writ, did not look behind, but bounded over a wide
brook and dashed across a meadow, leaving those following some distance
to the rear in a few minutes. Then I paused to catch my wind, and saw,
to my surprise, Jack Utley and Big Bill coming as fast as they could
in my direction, but George Wilson was nowhere to be seen. I was much
disappointed over this, and felt that I ought to have paid more heed to
him, wounded as he was, though I remembered what the lads had said once
about the sort of chivalry I had in mind: that the misfortune of one
man was not sufficient reason for his mate or mates to risk capture to
go to his relief; for, as they put it, one man in jail and the others
out with money could do more to aid him than a thousand men in jail
with him.

When my associates came up we resumed our flight, wondering the while
what had become of the other half of the party, and how it was that
none of our pursuers was in sight. We decided that they had gone after
the lads who had fled in another direction, and in the mix-up we had
got away. Our best means of escape seemed to be up a road which led
past a farm-house. As we ran, a woman, near whom were several children,
all gazing at us, called out that three of the robbers had turned into
the left fork of the road a few rods ahead of us. We realized right
away that the woman believed us to be some of the pursuers, instead of
the pursued, and it was thought best for our safety to let her retain
that opinion.

As we turned into the right fork, which seemed to be only a narrow path
through thick woods, the woman shouted to us, “They went the other
way.” Utley called back that two of the pursuing party had already gone
that road, and that it would be better if we took the right fork. Thus
assuring the good woman, we broke into a smart pace and soon left her
behind a turn in the road. Our route was little travelled, winding here
and there, but averaging to the right, occasionally through a sparse
wood and sometimes across a rocky chasm, and finally into a ravine, at
the end of which, a considerable distance over a valley, could be seen
a hill of no mean height. After hastening on for ten minutes, it became
evident to me that my companions were beginning to feel that dangerous
sort of security which I so dreaded.

“Let’s foot it as fast as we can for that hill ahead,” I said, pointing
it out, “and having climbed to the other side, we can double back on
our pursuers, and come pretty near the point from which we were driven.”

To my satisfaction there was no balking at this, and, starting with
renewed vigor and speed, we had been going perhaps five minutes when I
saw, with much concern, that Big Bill was handicapping us not a little.
His upward of two hundred pounds of flesh and bone were retarding him
mightily.

“Come, come, Bill!” I called back to him; “for goodness’ sake, run.
We’ll never get clear of this gang.”

“I can’t, I’m tuckered,” he gasped; “you fellers had better go on, if
you’re in a hurry.”

At that moment I spied what appeared to be a deserted coal mine, only
a little distance from the road. Stopping, I pointed it out to my
associates and suggested that it was our only chance, since Bill was
unable to keep up the pace.

“We’ll get in that, wade or swim through the water, as it may be,” I
explained, “and perhaps we can hide from the enemy till night comes;
then we can go on again.”

Utley objected to this, in the meantime eying the pool of water, which
looked more like liquid mud than anything else, with great concern. I
vow it seemed to me that he was fearful of soiling his soft hands or
ruffling his collar; and such a time it was, indeed, to have so great
an admiration for himself!

“Very well,” I replied to his objections, “I’m going in that hole,
and you and Bill can trot as you will.” And leave them I did without
another word. They continued on up the ravine, while I picked my way to
the opening in the mine. I found it, as I have said, full of water that
had the appearance of clay. The light shone back through the opening
for thirty feet. An ordinary sized man could not stand erect, reckoning
from the surface of the water to the roof. I could see fully fifty feet
in this hole as I grew more accustomed to the interior, and I believed
I saw a rocky shelf, easily accessible above the water. Immediately
beyond it all appeared to be darkness. As I regarded it, there seemed
to be only one way to reach that sweet refuge before me, and that was
by getting through the mudpool.

Hiding my treasure under some leaves where there seemed to be no danger
of it being disturbed, and taking a careful note of the location, I
held my pistol in one hand over my head and stepped in the little mud
lake, so to speak, expecting that I would have to swim to the rock. I
found, much to my relief, in the beginning at least, that the water was
not more than shoulder high, and gave promise of being no deeper as I
advanced. Again and again, with the utmost difficulty, I kept my feet
from fastening into the heavy bottom. Presently I felt myself sinking
into a still more dangerous bed of some yielding substance, from which
it seemed almost an impossibility to withdraw my feet. I was alarmed.
If this continued, I knew what it meant to me--death by drowning at the
very least, and perhaps worse: slow starvation, with death longed for
at the end, unless some one came to hear my cries, and released me from
a horrible imprisonment.

With hope all but gone, I made one more effort, which must have been
the strength of madness, and succeeded in getting a half-dozen feet
farther on, where there seemed to be firmer bottom. A cold perspiration
like that I have heard visits the dying was on my brow and I was
trembling like an aspen. It was well for me that I had reached a
more secure footing. Looking about, I saw the rock for which I had
started, and much nearer than I had believed it to be. How beautiful it
looked, covered as it was with clay wash and amid its damp, unsightly
surroundings. As I rested for a moment my mind was filled with the old
song I had so often, in younger days, heard my father and mother sing;
that hymn familiar in every part of the globe:--

    “Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
     Let me hide myself in Thee.”

For the first time in my life I caught the real spirit of what they
must feel who, fully realizing their helplessness in the depths of sin,
suddenly know that in the Saviour, emblemized in the Rock of Ages, they
have found their eternal refuge.

I say I believe that they must feel as I did, when, exhausted,
staggering, and on the verge of falling down in the mudpool, I finally
dragged myself up the incline to the rock, that precious rock, and
fell upon its sustaining bosom. I could not have gone a foot farther,
for the battle with the treacherous mud bottom had shorn me of all the
strength and nerve I possessed. In a moment I would have sunk into the
death trap which seemingly yawned for me.

I lay on the rocky shelf for fully five minutes, perhaps longer, ere I
could find strength to draw my body entirely from the water. Then, with
my clothing hanging like so much lead to my weak frame, and shivering
with the chill of the atmosphere until my teeth were chattering, I
painfully crawled farther back on the precious support, wondering if,
after all my wrong-doing, it had not been cleft for me.

For fully half an hour I had no wish or inclination to stir. It was yet
daylight when I finally got myself together, and then for the first
time I had leisure to notice my bedraggled appearance. I was a sight
to behold, being veneered with a sort of clay wash that rendered me,
I’ll warrant, to one fifty feet away, not unlike my surroundings. I was
a man of clay, but not of the pure quality, for I found my clothing
underneath, after a little vigorous rubbing. So would appear the baser
metal through the wash of fine gold, after similar treatment. The only
anxiety I felt now was the possibility that the enemy would discover
the mine. They might know in the beginning, what I had learned after a
terrible experience, that it was an undeveloped coal mine, and, too,
they might have a better way of investigating it. I could only hope
that they would feel certain no living being would have the temerity to
exploit it.

Presently the murmur of voices, which grew more distinct each moment,
reached me, and, steadying my nerves as well as I could, I watched and
waited for developments. They came quickly, for a crowd of men, armed
with muskets and shotguns, passed along the road in my view, and with
them were my two associates, Big Bill and Jack Utley. It was easy to
note that the latter were prisoners. In the momentary glance I had
at them there was no doubt of their identity, and I heartily wished
they had come along with me, though not long before I had felt truly
gratified for their leave-taking. Many times had Utley’s pig-headedness
gotten us into trouble, from which some of us managed to pull the party
through; but his last perversity had been the undoing of himself and
Big Bill. I had feared all along that he would get us all lodged behind
prison bars.

But it was fast growing dark, and I had no more time for this sort of
meditation; so, crawling along the side of the rock until I reached
the water, I stepped in, and keeping well up against the sloping wall
of the mine entrance, I managed to get out of my hiding-place with a
minimum of difficulty, as compared with my distressing experience in
getting in it. Out in the free air once more, I soon possessed myself
of the treasure under the leaves, and, proceeding cautiously, soon made
my way back to the fork of the road near the farm-house. Here I sat in
a shadow and carefully went over the situation.

I wondered whether or not George Wilson, poor fellow, had escaped,
handicapped as he was, and whether Tall Jim and Eddie Hughes had done
as they declared they would do, before surrendering. I shuddered. If
I had dared, I think I would have prayed that no murder be committed
in this affair. The thought of it made a cold chill thread my spine.
At that moment I resolved that never, should I continue the life I had
entered, would I kill a fellow-man, even though my life be taken as the
penalty. And I have kept my word to the letter.

My thoughts returning to Wilson, I recalled that he had not had an
opportunity to get his treasure satchel from under the log, when the
enemy came upon us. I wondered if the searching party had found it, and
counted the cost to venture back to camp and find out. Having become
accustomed to danger, I determined to recover the treasure, believing
it to be well worth the risk,--not for myself, however, but for Wilson.
I thought it only just to save him his treasure, if I could do so
without getting my neck in too much danger. He would better have it
than many another man who might find it. And there was the chance that
it would never be found and that eventually the elements would destroy
what could be of great benefit to even me.

Accordingly I started, skirting the woods so as to approach our late
camp at the rear, in about the same manner the enemy had taken us by
surprise. I proceeded with great caution, not forgetting that I might
be entrapped. When I had gained a point nearly abreast the log, I
struck my foot against a stone. It was well rounded and weighed fully
thirty pounds. It occurred to me that this stone could be used as a
decoy should any one be scheming to entrap me. Sent rolling down the
hill, if some of the enemy were about, they would be quite likely to
pursue the stone, while I would get the bag and flee in the opposite
direction. I believed the scheme worth trying, and accordingly sent the
stone crashing down the hill. Great heaven! It seemed to me that it was
urged on by some unseen master hand. Down, down it rolled, bounded,
and crashed through dried leaves and twigs, bushes, and against
tree-trunks. With the first noise from the stone there came the sound
of many feet close by, and I sped off with all my might across the
field as though a thousand imps were at my heels. I never ran so in my
life, not when I was a farm lad away up in old New Hampshire. Indeed,
I did not stop until I had placed a mile between me and the ill-fated
woods. That our pursuers had discovered the bag of cash and were in
waiting for some one of our party to return and get it was beyond
question. I would not venture near the place again for all the money
the Cadiz bank vault could hold.

Resting for a few minutes, I listened for any indication that I had
been followed, and finding none, started out on a bold plan to walk
my way back to Steubenville in the very teeth of the enemy. The very
daring of the thing, I believed, would see me safe on my way to New
York. So determined, I struck out, as near as I could tell, on a direct
route to the railroad leading to Wheeling, which we had abandoned at
daybreak.

It was not much like the night before when Utley stole the chicken.
Then there was a part moon, unclouded, while now there was a sort of
haze that made walking rather uncertain. I picked my steps slowly,
pausing now and then to listen for anything that might be construed
into a signal of danger. I gave the railway cut where the rope had been
stretched a wide berth, and, coming back to the track again, continued
at a rapid pace until the first streaks of dawn began to warn me that
I must soon get under cover for the day. In crossing a bridge through
which a turnpike ran under the railroad, I found at the back of one of
the stone abutments what seemed to be an excellent hiding-place for my
treasure. Carefully putting the cash and bonds far down in an opening,
and placing stones over the top, I made as I hoped, a safe depository,
until I could reach New York, and, fixing myself up, return and get the
proceeds of my first bank loot. But again a tremor of remorse came over
me at the thought of the way this treasure had come into my possession.
I drowned it quickly, however, and seeing a brook not far off, drank
freely to quench a terrible thirst, filled my water flask, and began to
search for a hiding-place.

The first barn I visited had no hay in which I could stow myself, nor
had the second, though there I discovered a couple of hen’s eggs,
much to my delight, yet wishing that I had come across a dozen.
Carefully I put them away, and going to the next barn, was doomed to
disappointment, finding no haymow in which I dared to hide. But it was
growing so light that I must not go on farther, courting discovery,
so I crawled under the barn through a hole in the flooring, and,
squeezing myself along, I presently got to within ten feet of one of
the under-pinning walls, where there was scarcely room enough for me
to move my body. Setting to work with my bare hands, I dug, with much
difficulty, a hole in the ground that would permit me to sit upright
with some sort of comfort. The damp, sour earth I had removed was
formed into a sort of breastworks, facing the direction from which I
had come, while toward the wall the space between the flooring was so
narrow that I feared no detection from that source. Thus intrenched, I
realized for the first time that my fingers were torn and bleeding, not
being accustomed to playing the part of a spade. But I bore the pain
without a murmur, believing that, if I escaped capture, I must work out
my salvation with much privation and no end of hardship.

That I was in for a hard day I had no doubt. In a welcome haymow I
could have buried myself and caught a few minutes of needed sleep, but
here I did not dare to contemplate it; besides it was so damp that I
feared to catch a chill that would be the death of me. I must keep my
circulation up as best I could. I had forgotten the eggs, which I had
guarded from damage during all the worming journey to my retreat, and
soon I was taking the first nourishment to pass my lips since the bite
of chicken about twenty-four hours previous. I ate them as slowly as
I could, seemingly in an attempt to stave off the moment when I would
not have anything else to eat. The burning thirst I had had for several
hours was increasing, but I sipped from my flask in a most sparing
manner, hoping to make my water supply last until I could replenish it.

It was not long after I had settled myself down to a long wait that I
heard voices not far off, and presently two boys, probably not more
than eight or ten years old, were passing the barn. I detected the
sniffing of a dog at the under-pinning wall and then a furious barking
and the rapid pawing of feet. Evidently the dog had scented the fresh
earth I had turned up and took it to mean that there was game not far
off. It made me apprehensive. I wished that such a beast as a dog
never had been created. Everything but a calm facing of the situation
possessed me. While my thoughts were running amuck, the boys had been
drawn into a discussion by their dog. I think that this resulted in
calming my nerves. One boy, the younger one I judged by his voice,
declared that Major had scented a woodchuck, and that they must help
him find it.

“Naw!” contradicted the other; “don’t ye know, foolish, that woodchucks
don’t keep under barns?”

“They might, you funny!” argued the little fellow. “Let’s see? Sick
’im, Maje! sick ’im!”

The pattering of paws I had heard was renewed with great energy,
interspersed with growls and plentiful yelps of impatience.

“Aw, come on!” called out the big boy; “they ain’t nothin’t heyar! I
tell ye no woodchucks stay under barns; it’s rats!”

This display of wisdom and emphatic decision put an end to the little
fellow’s case, and much to my relief Major was dragged away from the
wall. But it wasn’t the end of my troubles from that source entirely,
for three times during the day the pestiferous dog renewed the attack
on my peace of mind, each time being called off by his masters. Between
these visits I was seized with an intense desire to sleep, but, as
I have said, did not feel it safe to humor my brain. It seemed to me
about like attempting to commit suicide. Twice I discovered myself
drowsing away, and fearing to trust my will again, I fished a pin
from my clothing and prepared to jab myself the instant I felt the
drowsy desire mastering me. Afterward I found many little wounds in my
arms and legs which at first I could not account for, but tardily was
reminded of the manner in which I had applied that pin.

As night came on I began to feel less fearful, having an idea that
discovery under these conditions would not necessarily mean capture,
for I could run for it and evade any pursuit in the darkness. Having as
a youth spent many days on the farm, I felt at home in the fields and
hills; and now I possessed the confidence in myself, that with half a
chance I could outwit those who were, no doubt, on every side, anxious
to capture me. At last evening came, and I crawled out into the world
again, so to speak. The word “crawled” expresses to a dot just what I
did do; for not only while getting from under the barn, but after I
got outside, I was so cramped that walking was impossible for several
minutes. It was as though my locomotion had been suspended by rust.
Presently I managed to rise to my feet, and, finding a brook behind the
barn, quenched my thirst, washed myself, and refilled my flask.

Feeling very much refreshed, I headed for the railroad track and, with
my eyes and ears open, arrived at the outskirts of Steubenville in
the vicinity of one o’clock in the morning of Wednesday, having been
tramping and dodging my enemies nearly seventy-two hours. Avoiding the
principal streets, I gained the other side of the town, where I took
time to decide whether I would go on foot to Pittsburg, sixty-five
miles away, or seek out a barn, and, lying low until night, board an
east-bound train at Steubenville and make the journey by rail. I chose
the latter course and then set out to find a suitable hiding-place,
daybreak being fast on my heels before I had accomplished it. The best
I could do was a small barn in which there was less than a thousand
pounds of hay in a loft about a man’s height above the floor of a cow
stable. With my water flask full, but no food to nourish my body, my
stomach painfully distressing me for want of it, I burrowed under the
hay, and with but a few feet between me and the stable, and no more
than four feet of covering above me, I fixed myself as comfortably
as I could for the day. All together it bade fair to be a much more
acceptable stopping-place than the last one.

Soon after the sun rose--that I could tell by the appearance of things
below me--some one came to the stable. It was the farmer or one of
his men, I reckoned, but a man I knew it to be, by the unintelligible
mumbling he kept up, a habit very frequently possessed by men when
alone, though unconscious of it. As I lay perhaps less than a foot at
times from the man’s head, I could hear and sometimes see every move
he made; and when he was on the stool at the side of the cow, I could
hear the see-sawing “swirr” of the milk streaming down in the pail, and
I heartily wished I had a big panful of the rich life-giving fluid in
my almost famished stomach. For the moment I was carried back to my old
farm home and its happy days, when I had milk in plenty to drink, but
had not the appetite for it that possessed me as I lay in the hay-loft.

While the farmer was in the stable I did not dare to stir, the hay
being thick with seed and a fine substance that would shower below
through the open floor at the slightest movement I made. Having
finished his morning chores, the man left, and I had the barn to myself
until about noon, as near as I could judge, when I was aroused from a
sort of a doze by the voices of three young girls. They had come to
hunt eggs, I heard them say, and right away I wondered if it would take
them up in my hay-loft. How they did chatter; I thought the music of
their happy voices was about the sweetest I had listened to in many
days. I lay still, for the time being, forgetful of my surroundings,
just feasting my ears, when suddenly my enjoyment was turned into
apprehension; for the dear little girls had taken it into their heads
to transfer the scene of their egg-hunting from the lower part of the
barn to the hay-loft.

Sure enough, the next minute they came scrambling up on the hay, and
finding none of the article of which they were in search, began to
romp, tumble, chase each other, roll over and over, and in many other
ways disport themselves in the hay over me, until the seed and dust
well-nigh filled my ear that was uppermost and found a way into my
clothing, while my nostrils were choked so that breathing was rendered
most difficult. But that was not the worst of it, for I was suddenly
seized with an almost ungovernable desire to sneeze. I trembled at
what the consequences might be, were I to give way to this very
natural rebellion of my much imposed upon nose. I speak of it now in
an attempted vein of humor, but then it was a serious predicament in
which I was placed. A real healthy, atmosphere-tearing sneeze might
mean my undoing, after having come safely through many dangers to a
point where I was beginning to believe that I would outwit my enemies.
Once I choked back a spasm that caused my ears to snap and my eyes to
bulge from their sockets. I could not possibly withstand another attack
like that, I felt sure. I was in a desperate situation, when the girls,
suddenly becoming weary of their romp, climbed down from the loft and
ran laughing from the barn. I’ll warrant they hadn’t gone twenty
paces, when I emitted a tornado of a sneeze that shook me from top to
toe. What it would have done for me I fully realized upon hearing the
stamping of hoofs among the startled cows below me. For a few minutes
I lay quaking with dread, but after a little I was glad that I and the
dumb brutes underneath were the only witnesses as to that sneeze. After
the possibility of danger was passed, I couldn’t feel otherwise than
gratified over the action of nature, which had relieved me of the awful
tickling in my nostrils, and left in its stead the delicious sensation
of clear respiration.

The afternoon wore on without my nerves receiving further shocks,
as I continued in my nest of hay. The farmer came in and did his
milking, which told me that it was nearly sunset; and after I heard
the slamming of doors I concluded that it was about time for me to
begin my next move on the road toward New York and freedom from the
dread of momentary arrest. I was dull for want of sleep, and half ill
with the constant gnawing in my food-craving stomach, but I knew that
I must press on; so, leaving my nest, I cautiously let myself out of a
rear door of the barn, and, hunting up a brook near by, washed myself
hurriedly, put more water in my flask, and started through the barnyard
to the road. Suddenly my heart was set to throbbing violently by coming
close up to a man standing near a fence. It was no doubt the farmer
who owned the place. It was too late to retrace my steps, so, putting
on a bold front, I said “Good evening” and passed on. He may have
answered, that I don’t know; but he did eye me curiously, as he had a
perfect right to do, under the circumstances. I haven’t the least doubt
that a man, a stranger in fact, walking hatless in a fellow’s premises
about dark, is an occurrence not quite of the common order. It was
gratifying to me to know that night had set in enough to hide from him
the clay-washed clothing I wore and the abundance of hayseed and dust
that did anything but adorn my hair.

After this experience my haste to get a hat was augmented very much,
and, stopping at the first laborer’s shanty I came across, I bought
one not worth more than five cents, though I handed him a script
half-dollar. Indeed, I did not begrudge the money, for had he said ten
dollars he would have been welcome to the amount, and even double that.
To divert any suspicion that the fellow might have on seeing me without
a hat, I glibly told him that I had lost it in crossing the railroad
bridge, having come in contact with a heavy gust of wind, such was my
confounded luck. Then bidding him a pleasant adieu, I cut a switch from
a convenient bush and attempted, with not much success, to whip some
of the clay-wash from my clothing. On finishing I still cut a sorry
figure. Next I hunted up a small store, where I purchased a collar,
comb and brush, and a stiff whisk broom. Again I found a secluded spot
in a side street, where I worked my broom right vigorously. This time
I had the satisfaction of making my clothes somewhat presentable. No
Pullman car conductor ever worked his whisk broom as I worked mine in
the effort to find real cloth through the veneering of mud. I’ve seen
one of those negroes do more hustling after dust in a minute, when he
knew there was none, with a big tip in sight, than any other class of
servants under the sun. The dust he found wouldn’t have been much under
a microscope, but in my case I trow it would have heaped up a tea-cup.
With a clean collar and my hair combed and brushed as best I could, the
sky having been the roof of my toilet room, I was ready to invest a
little more money, so, seeking out another store, I fitted a becoming
hat to my seeded locks and was helped into a topcoat good enough to
keep it company. After this I began to have that feeling which the dude
possesses, and, to better fit the rôle, I sought a barber-shop, where
I asked to have my bristled face shaved, but declined the sympathetic
barber’s invitation to have my hair “cut or trimmed.” Of all the men
with “an eye to business,” I think the barber can discount the whole
lot, in making one really believe that he hasn’t the slightest designs
on money. He seems to think that his customer has arrived at the brink
of committing the unpardonable sin if he doesn’t have his hair cut,
and before the argument is finished, I’ll wager a hen’s egg against
a prize hennery that the deluded one will accept his barber as a
veritable oracle; and the most curious phase of all this is that the
knight of the scissors has, through familiarity with the rôle, come to
believe it himself. But I venture to say that he is nearly always round
when the money is handed out. But, back to my barber.

It almost brought tears to my eyes to resist the mute appeal in
his,--those eyes that were even more eloquently solicitous of my
welfare than his lips. But for personal reasons I had to pain him,
and presently I was stretched out in a chair and had my own way about
it. Goodness knows this barber may not be justly accused by me of
sparing his labor, for as I sat with my eyes closed most of the time,
his hands appeared to move rapidly enough, but I vow they were not so
active as was his voluble tongue. When he was not bombarding me, he was
exchanging words with a pair of loungers in the shop, who, like some
women, must gossip about something to pass the time away. I expected
to hear the Cadiz bank affair discussed, though I thought it must have
reached a stage of staleness by that time. Yet, when I heard the barber
broach the subject, a slight tremor, despite an effort to control
myself, went over me.

“Bright youngster that Dever,” he remarked to the loungers. I listened
intently.

“Yes? Who?” queried one of them.

“Jim Dever’s boy, down on the Wheeling road. You know, I s’pose, he wuz
the one that put the deputies on to the robbers. No? Well, he was up
that night, an’ it bein’ moonlight he sees a man at the hencoop, an’
it turned out sure ’nough to be one of ’em. He got in his pants in a
jiffy, followed th’ feller, and pretty soon he sees two deputies an’
tells ’em that he thinks th’ robbers are round. Th’ deputies get up to
snuff, and next day a gang of the boys swoops down on ’em.”

“Got ’em all, I s’pose,” interposed one of the loungers.

“Four of ’em,” answered the barber. “Two got away. They wuz six all
told. When th’ deputies went at ’em, three scooted up a wood road in
th’ ravine up there. Th’ boys cut round and got two of ’em. One got
away, but they know pretty much what he looks like, an’ he is bound to
be jugged in a day or two. They may get th’ other feller too. I don’t
know ’bout it, ’cause them deputies are boastin’ cusses.”

“Heard thet a bareheaded man wuz seen snoopin’ about a barn four or
five mile below here yesterday,” drawled a man whom I had not noticed.
He was sitting in the rear of the shop. I started so visibly that the
barber inquired of me, very solicitously, as to whether or not the
razor was keen enough. I said it pulled a little, whereupon he stropped
it noisily. In the meantime I had a moment in which to steady my
nerves and get a peep from under my eyebrows at the new speaker. I felt
reassured then, for he didn’t have the appearance of being any too
quick-witted. Nevertheless I had been seen by some one in my tramping.
I knew that I must be cautious.

As I listened to the whole story, recounted and discussed, I thought
of the pig-headed Utley and of how my words had come true, even to the
deputies finally locating us by the smoke at the old shanty in the
woods. I was glad that, if any of us must be arrested, he had come
in for his share of the harvest of his making. I may as well add,
right here, that his stubbornness cost four of our party the combined
sentence to prison of fifty-four years. It was a costly chicken indeed.

My thoughts were interrupted at this point by the barber asking me to
have my head shampooed. To my reply in the negative, he insisted that
my scalp would be ruined, it being covered with dust, and that my hair,
too, was full of hayseed and ought to be cleaned. I explained that I’d
been baling hay for a couple of days, that I really ought to have my
head washed, but that I’d come in the next day, when I had more time.
I spent no more minutes there than necessary, after the half-hour
edifying conversation I was compelled to hear. Getting out, I went to
the opposite side of the street, and, securing a convenient doorway
for a shadow, remained there ten minutes, intently watching the barber
shop. To my relief I saw nothing that made me think any one there
suspected me of being one of the Cadiz bank burglars.



CHAPTER VI

’TWAS A SWEET BABE


To get out of town I determined to do at the first opportunity, and
by railroad too. I looked up the best hotel I could find on short
notice and consulted a time-table. A train was due eastward in forty
minutes. It would be a bold move to get out of town thus, but I vowed
I’d attempt it. I was certain that one man, or indeed two travelling
together, would be objects of suspicion, so I went to the reading-room
and waited an opportunity to strike an acquaintance with at least
three men who would leave the hotel and walk to the depot together.
My efforts in that direction were unfruitful as far as getting into
conversation with those I desired to. However, while waiting the
unexpected to turn up, I glanced at a newspaper, in which was a long
article, with big head-lines, about the bank loot. According to a
statement by the authorities, there was no possibility of the two men
still at liberty getting away from that section of the country. They
were certain to be arrested. One part of the story which interested me
not a little was the sequel of the exciting experience I had had the
night I returned to get George Wilson’s treasure satchel. It seemed
that a scheme had been laid by the enemy to capture the remainder of
us by using the satchel as a bait. In searching our camp they found
Wilson’s money and bonds under the log. It was their opinion that
men who dared so much to rob the bank would not abandon nearly half
a hundred thousand dollars without an effort to regain it, so it was
schemed to place a guard in hiding close by the satchel and wait, if
necessary, a week. In the meantime, if the fugitives were not arrested
elsewhere, one or both of them might visit the camp, when they felt
convinced that the enemy had given up the search and had of course
overlooked the money. It appears that I had approached the spot so
cautiously that none of the watchers had heard me, nor could they see
me easily, the night, as it will be remembered, being not over light.
I laughed to myself, and was on the point of bursting into a roar at
what I read next, when I subdued the inclination in time. When I, so
fortunately as it now appeared, tumbled the stone down the hillside,
the enemy were lured into the belief, as I hoped they would be, that
one or more of their game had come to the scene; and it was in their
mind, that the satchel had been secured and was being carried off,
and that the trap had been discovered. The tearing of the stone on
its way downhill through the leaves and bushes was taken to mean the
fleeing of more than one burglar, and after the stone went the deluded
deputies. For more than an hour they beat about the woods and then
scattered in different directions, to remain on watch for the game
should they start from cover before morning. The newspaper told with
great simplicity how the astute burglars had fooled the deputies, and
gloated over the fact that the treasure satchel had been found and of
my futile attempt to get it. Fortunate indeed was the rolling downhill
of that stone. To me it was a lucky-stone of the right sort. I was
mighty near jail that night.

My attention was drawn from the paper at this point by the announcement
that the east-bound train was due. Immediately a porter appeared with
several men, guests of the hotel, and passed out into the street. I
felt sure that here was my opportunity. I allowed the party to get a
short distance ahead. To my satisfaction two men, behind whom walked
the porter, formed one group. The situation could not have been more
to my liking,--excepting the assurance that I was safely out of my
troubles. I walked up to the porter and opened a conversation.

“You started for the train sooner than I expected,” I said, slipping
a half-dollar piece in his palm. He had never set eyes on me until
that minute. Seeing I had struck the right gait by means of the tip, I
continued: “Your house is giving much better service now than when I
was here last year. I’m very much pleased with it indeed.”

Before we had gone a quarter of the way to the depot, I had
accomplished what I started out to do--placing myself on the basis of
a long-standing acquaintanceship with the porter, so far as outward
appearances were concerned. The tip was an excellent lubricant for his
tongue, too, the rattling of which would have tortured me unmercifully
under other conditions. I wanted it to run at its speediest notch
on this occasion, and it did wonders. No opportunity on my part was
neglected to keep it in motion. In the meantime we were falling behind
the two guests, and that we might get closer I forged on a mite; enough
to make the porter step a little faster. I wanted it to appear that
I was the third member of this group of departing guests. On getting
to the platform of the depot I felt like congratulating myself on the
splendid manner in which my ruse had worked. It was well for me, I
think, that I had thus planned, for about the first person my eyes met
was a deputy sheriff, who was joined by another almost immediately
after my arrival. I needed no one to tell me they were officers of the
law, their actions plainly indicating the country sheriff. But I didn’t
hesitate. Keeping as near to the porter and his group as I safely
could, I bought a ticket for Pittsburg, and when it was not wise to
stay too near them I walked in the shadows at the end of the platform.
It was a season of great anxiety to me, which was only removed when the
train came in on time. Casting a last sly glance in the direction of
the deputies, noting that they were peering closely at this and that
person, I boarded the first coach, and when the depot was left behind
began to feel that I was really out of the lion’s jaws. I was soon
rapidly going from the scenes of my ugly experiences, by means far more
satisfactory than walking railroad ties.

My next anxiety was over the detectives at the depot in Pittsburg. They
were in the employ of the railroad, and had been pointed out to me by
Eddie Hughes when we were there before the start for the Cadiz robbery.
I was obliged to change cars there, and would have to wait an hour for
the train on the connecting road. The newspaper I had read at the hotel
recited the offering of a reward for the capture of the two burglars
yet at large, and I felt that the railroad sleuths might be on the
watch for a man about my size. Feeling apprehensive, I knew, would not
assist me a whit; therefore, upon arriving at Pittsburg about half-past
one in the morning, I immediately ascertained the exact leaving time
of my next train and hurried from the depot. Happily for me, not a
detective was in sight, and feeling glad of it, I went in search of a
restaurant, finding one, fortunately, two blocks away.

With the knowledge that I was at last nearing food and an opportunity
to possess it, came a most distressing pain in my stomach. It seized
me with so great a force that I was almost compelled to cry out. Only
the thought that I might have to be sent to a hospital, which would,
perhaps, lead to my apprehension, kept me from succumbing. Grinding my
teeth to buoy up my courage, I went in the restaurant and ordered a
portion of whiskey and swallowed it at a breath. I followed that with
another. While I was meditating over what I would eat, the stimulant
began to have a beneficial effect. My body was strengthened and nerves
soothed. Sensibly, I ordered poached eggs, ate a little bread with them
and drank generously of coffee. By the time I had finished my first
meal in one hundred and four hours, it behooved me to get back to the
depot, which I did, not long before the train arrived.

A railroad detective was there, but he seemed to pay no attention
to me, being more interested in pickpockets than in bank looters, I
guessed after slyly looking him over. I climbed in the second coach
the moment the train came in, but as I did so I observed that he went
in the first. It occurred to me that he would pass through the whole
train, scrutinizing the passengers. My imagination made it easy for me
to believe that he was, after all, looking for any one answering the
description of the Cadiz burglars. I began looking for some sort of
an aid in the way of diverting his attention from me, should he pass
through my car. I had provided myself with a ticket to Altoona, not
deeming it wise to get a through ticket to New York, and it occurred
to me that it might be wisdom on my part to postpone my journey until
another train. But fate played a trump card for me in saving the only
vacant sitting in the car, and that was beside a very pretty young
woman who was holding on her lap about the cutest two-year-old cherub
my eyes ever dwelt on. The mother, for so she proved to be, was well
dressed, and had an exceedingly refined face. I considered it fortunate
that I could sit beside her in the predicament I believed myself in.
She graciously permitted me to occupy the seat, whereupon I immediately
put on my best deportment, and much to my satisfaction we were in a
quiet conversation when the detective walked through the car, paying
not the slightest attention to me. Perhaps my precaution was not at
all necessary, but I will not believe until this day that it was not
a wise action on my part. I have travelled many thousands of miles on
railroads, since that long-ago day, and, as I think of it now, that was
one of a very few occasions when I sought out a woman for a companion
on a train.

I soon learned that she was going to Harrisburg, that her husband was
a dry-goods merchant there, and that she’d been away visiting and
was anxious to get back, which accounted for her travelling at that
unseemly hour.

It was not at all to my liking to be untruthful to so sweet a woman,
but I was forced to for self-preservation. I told her that I was a
salesman for A. T. Stewart and Company of New York, and was on the
way to Philadelphia on business. I wondered if her husband bought
his goods in the New York market, and when she said no and added
that he believed that Philadelphia was the better place to trade, I
good-naturedly disagreed with her, winding up by telling her that she’d
better advise Mr. Harrisburg to investigate the New York market, and
the prices of A. T. Stewart and Company in particular. She smiled at
what she believed to be my warm recommendation of the firm employing
me. We were chatting on the most familiar terms when we reached
Altoona, whereat I politely requested her to join me at a meal in the
Logan House. She accepted the invitation, and I, in as calm a manner
as possible, lifted the child, sleeping, like an angel in all its
innocence, thus relieving my matronly companion, and escorted her to
the dining room. After eating a hasty meal, for which the dear little
woman insisted upon paying her share, and I as insistently declining to
let her, I purchased a ticket for Philadelphia, and we got on the train
again. The child was awake by this time, and on much of the journey
to Harrisburg I fondled, danced, kissed, and, I must declare, came to
love that dear parcel of sweet babyhood. I will not open my soul enough
to tell all the twinges of remorse that seized upon me as I pressed
the smooth, rosy cheeks to my lips, time and time and again, while the
mother, God bless her, looked proudly, innocently on, happy that even
a stranger could be won by her babe. I bade these companions farewell
at Harrisburg and never saw them more. While serving me as a shield to
ward off the minions of the law, I shall ever regret that circumstances
were so ordered that I was compelled to tell base lies to so goodly a
woman as she seemed to be, and I have no doubt was. Though many years
have passed since then, that babe’s innocent face and merry prattle
still live in my memory.

I got to the Quaker City at four o’clock in the afternoon without
any happening worth mentioning, and, purchasing a complete change of
clothing, including underwear, went to the Girard House, where I bathed
my body, supped like a prince, and laid myself wearily in a soft bed,
it being the first one in ten never-to-be-forgotten days, and slept,
dreamlessly, until very late the next morning. That afternoon I was
back in New York.



CHAPTER VII

POLICE SHIELD NOT WORN FOR HEALTH


“I was wondering whether you were one of the bunch captured,” remarked
Billy Matthews, whom I went to see at 681 Broadway, the same day I
arrived back in New York. I related, in all its details, the story
of the gang’s exploits, from the moment we left Steubenville, not
forgetting our abortive attempt on the West Virginia bank, how we had
been surprised by the deputies, nor neglecting to tell how I used, on
the train, in self-defence, the little woman and her sweet babe.

“The newspapers printed a pretty full account of the robbery,” Billy
went on, “and I guessed, from the description of the prisoners, that
you had managed to keep out of the pinch, and I knew that Eddie Hughes
had. That fellow’s a hard one to catch when he keeps away from dope,
and he hadn’t been using it for some time when he left here with you.
If ever he comes to grief, it will be the poison that’ll do it.”

How prophetic these words were I shall relate in another volume. We
talked considerably about Hughes, conjecturing as to whether he would
come back to New York, Billy finally expressing the opinion that he was
too wise, owing to the feeling of the police toward him. Hughes had not
“squared up” the last “trick,” and now he possessed too much money.

The remainder of the week I occupied in preparing myself for another
journey to Steubenville, but under vastly different circumstances.
When, early in the following week, I found myself there, stopping at
another hotel, the observer would have seen what appeared to be a
highly respectable business man, attired in the newest cut of cloth,
and wearing a shining beaver. It may have been unwise to thus clothe
myself, some of my critics will possibly aver, having in mind the
gentleman burglar of to-day and the mission that took me there the
second time; but in those days that slick, smooth knight of the jimmy
we hear so much about now was unknown except in sensational novels in
yellow covers. The authorities who were after me would not be looking
for any one but the hard-up, trampish-looking individual I was when the
Cadiz bank was looted.

I told the clerk that I was going out for a walk, and to have my room
ready with all the necessaries for an extended stay at the hotel, when,
late in the afternoon of the day I arrived at Steubenville, I went in
quest of my treasure hidden in the railroad stone wall. I walked much
faster and easier than when I came up the track a few days before,
a hunted man. As I expected, I found the cash and bonds where I had
left them, but I must admit being a little irritated on discovering
that rats had taken a liking to some of the greenbacks and had eaten
holes in them. It happened that the bills were of small denominations,
consequently the loss was not so great as it would have been had the
pesky things attacked the other side of the package. I went back to
the hotel with a snug little fortune in my inside pocket, and without
any fear of detection. I passed the barber shop where I encountered
that sympathetic artist of the comb and brush, but not needing a
shampoo, and for obvious reasons not wishing to renew our acquaintance,
carefully avoided a too close scrutiny from that direction. By midnight
I had my satchel repacked, the treasure hidden at the bottom, and,
leaving a call at the desk for the first train in the morning, with
the regret that I had been suddenly summoned away, turned in for a
sound sleep. In a trifle more than twenty-four hours I found myself
in the metropolis once more, bestirring myself on behalf of my
associates in limbo. I knew of no crook to help me but Billy Matthews,
my associations with the class taking in but eight men, so I appealed
to him for a letter to another friend of Mark Shinburn’s, who proved
to be Johnny Ryan of Buffalo. Before starting west on my mission, I
gave Matthews six one-thousand-dollar five-twenty government bonds to
market for me.

I found Ryan an affable fellow and quite willing to use his good
offices on behalf of my jailed associates, for he had been in many
a bank job with them. He sought out an all-round crook, whom he
introduced to me as Asa King, and together we began to form a plan.
Many ways were suggested, but the simplest one was adopted. It was that
King immediately proceed to Cadiz, with plenty of money, and play the
part of a drunkard to the extent of getting locked in the jail with my
comrades. With them, it would then be no insurmountable task to devise
a plan to break out of jail. Ryan, King, and I went to Pittsburg, King
going on to Cadiz. Having known him only a few hours, I was in no
position to guess how well he would play the part of a sot. I hoped
that he would not make too much of an effort, whereby the game might be
spoiled. When I was in Pittsburg, prior to our bank-looting expedition,
I, being short of money, had taken a most disgraceful departure from
the Scott House. I had left an overcoat there; it had a bad rip in the
skirt, to which my attention had been called by Jack Utley. The more
I examined into the character of the man, the more I became convinced
that he would betray his comrades upon being assured of any leniency by
the authorities. It occurred to me that he would be likely to remember
my coat and make it a telling instrument in his description of me, and
thus believing, I very much wanted to put any such advantage out of the
way. So I asked Ryan to pay the board bill and get the coat. He did so,
and I felt better satisfied. Having agreed to meet King at Wheeling,
we proceeded there, and two days later he came to us with a long face
and a much longer tale of failure. I learned from him something about
swift-winged justice as it was practised in Ohio. The day King got to
Cadiz, Tall Jim, Big Bill, and Utley were on their way to the state
prison at Columbus. Jack Utley, the serpent, had obtained a shorter
sentence by pleading guilty after having betrayed us, while Jim and
Big Bill, hopelessly in the toils of the law, also pleaded guilty and
received a fourteen-year sentence each. George Wilson, poor fellow, was
still in the hospital, and awaited the same fate. Nothing could be done
for him, King said, and we returned east. At Buffalo I paid Ryan and
King for their assistance and went to New York, only to meet a train of
stirring events.

       *       *       *       *       *

“What’s up, Billy?” I inquired cheerily, upon meeting Matthews the next
morning after my return; “have you been playing hookey from school and
got caught at it?” His face was as long as a search-warrant and twice
as grim. Somehow I expected a piece of unwelcome news, but my recent
escape from a very hot trail had made me a little philosophical.

“That would be easy,” he said, smiling sickly, and passed a joke
about his schooldays when the paternal hand had more than once sought
unerringly a certain region near the equator, in what many households
have often designated a “warming-the-jacket” bee. Then he added: “The
devil’s to pay. I’ve had bad luck trying to sell your bonds.”

“Been playing Dexter at long odds, and had the wrong end of the game,
eh?” I asked, taking the matter as calmly as I could, at the same
time throwing a little horse-racing chaff at him. He disregarded the
pleasantry.

“I hate like the devil to tell you, George, but the bonds--they’re
gone, and I can’t produce you the money in place of ’em.”

“Well?” I interrogated as cheerfully as I could under the circumstances.

“The coppers have ’em!”

“The devil you say!” I was vulgar without thinking. “You were pinched?”

“That’s just it,” admitted Matthews, and I pitied him, for there was
that about the little fellow that made me feel, almost know, he was
dealing squarely with me, gambler though he was. However, I did not
let him in my secret on that score yet, and said, a trifle coldly: “I
thought you were a shrewd man. Many of the boys have trusted bonds in
your hands for the market.”

He actually was suffering after I made this slighting remark, and I was
forced to relent.

“Don’t take me too seriously, old fellow,” said I, “and tell me all
about it. If there’s a muddle, we must get out of it some way. It’s a
mighty scarce hole that’ll let a man in that won’t let him out if he
tries hard to get out.”

“There’s no use chopping matters, George,” he said; “I trusted a man
too much, and I’m in deep, that’s all.”

Then Billy told me how he had taken a man with him to dispose of the
bonds, a Bill Brockway, whom I didn’t know, and that they went to
a broker’s office in Wall Street. Brockway, whom he thought to be
“right,” proved to be all wrong by betraying him to a pair of Central
Office detectives. Recollecting Tim Golden, of the Detective Bureau at
300 Mulberry Street, I expressed a curiosity to know the identity of
the detectives in this case.

“Jack McCord and George Radford,” explained Billy. I had never heard of
them, which was not at all strange because of my short life in New York.

“Brockway and I were arrested,” continued Billy, “and the detectives
took the bonds.”

“But you got out of jail, I see,” was my comment.

“We weren’t taken to Police Headquarters. They kept the bonds and
turned us loose on a promise. McCord and Radford have a habit of doing
business that way with us fellers.”

“On a promise?” I inquired.

“Yes, the cops said we could go if I’d produce the man who gave me the
bonds to sell. Of course Brockway, curse the traitor, was in the game
with them.”

“And you agreed to produce me?” I asked.

“Yes, of course. What else could I do.”

I myself did not know, but I asked Billy if he told the detectives that
I gave him the bonds. The little fellow cast a look at me that was full
of contempt, and at the same time I could see that he was hurt by the
mere suggestion that he would play the part of a “squealer.” For fully
two minutes neither of us spoke a word, but I was giving the subject a
serious consideration.

“We’ll charge the bonds to profit and loss,” said I, in conclusion.

“No use doing that,” he declared; “you’ve got to see the cops and
divide with them.”

I could calmly say I would charge the bonds to the loss column, but
to divide money, that had been obtained through the looting of a
bank vault, with officers of the law, sworn to protect the lives and
property of the people, seemed to me to be too base a proposition
for consideration. I had been driven to crime through injustice of
the basest sort, had connived in the robbery of a bank through sheer
desperation, the result of persecution, but I had not yet, it seemed
to me, sunk so low as to divide ill-gotten money with an officer in the
employment of the people,--the act, as it seemed to me, placing me with
him in the same category of the traitor. Up to that time I had had no
acquaintance with the New York detectives. I explained my thoughts to
Billy. It caused him to smile.

“But why should I do this?” I asked; “they don’t know me from a Chinese
idol.”

“But they will know you, George. You seem to forget that Tim Golden’s
in this town, and a thousand-dollar reward is hanging over your head.
And there’s Jim Kelso too--both of them are fly cops and know you.”

I confessed that this recollection was not refreshing. My fortunate
escape from Ohio had made me think lightly of any chance of being found
in this big city and carted back to New Hampshire.

“And,” continued Matthews, “Detective McCord pulls a long stroke with
Jim Kelso, who’s bound to be superintendent of police one of these
days. If you stay in New York, they’re sure to get you sooner or later.”

“Still, I don’t see why I should go to the front if I let the bonds
slip; the cops have ’em, and that ought to be enough.”

“Now don’t presume for a minute that they’ll let you walk the streets
of New York without staking them,” Billy exclaimed, his impatience
thoroughly aroused by my obstinacy. “But of course you don’t know, for
you’re a greenhorn; but I know it, and d--d well too.”

“Then you honestly mean that I must pay these traitorous policemen to
live unmolested in this town? I can’t remain in hiding here and take my
chance of keeping out of their hands?” I asked.

“That’s it, and nothing else, White. If you stay here, the small-fry
thieves who play the stool-pigeon for the police will put the
information up to headquarters before you realize it, and into Mulberry
Street you’ll go unless you settle.”

“Ah, that’s the game, is it?” I said angrily.

“Yes, and you’ll learn to your better knowledge that the cops don’t
wear the shield for their health; besides, their appetites are too
hardy after dollars to let you run loose. They can pick you up to-day
and within two weeks divide that one-thousand-dollar reward.”

“Well, Billy, we seem to be in a fix, and I’ll go and see these
detectives, but not on my own account. For myself I wouldn’t do it.
It grinds me to soil my hands in a deal with such rascals. But for
you I will yield; you shall not be arrested on my account. I haven’t
forgotten that it was you who aided me when I didn’t know what to do.
Arrange a meeting with these detectives, and I’ll see them.”

“Good,” replied Matthews, with a relief that was very noticeable; “I
was hard pressed by McCord and Radford. They’ve been after me for four
days. I was told that if I didn’t produce you to-day, they’d take me to
Police Headquarters, and they meant it.”

A meeting was arranged for five o’clock that afternoon, and Detective
Kelso was to be there with McCord and Radford. It occurred to me that I
might, through the little acquaintance with Kelso, who was associated
with Tim Golden in the Walpole Bank investigation, adjust the present
muddle more to my satisfaction. I was fast getting an interesting
knowledge of the inside affairs of the New York Detective Bureau. So I
earnestly hoped he would be one of the party.

I was at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-ninth Street, close to the entrance of
Central Park, the meeting-place agreed upon, with great promptness,
but I found the three detectives already in waiting. Jim Kelso had
not forgotten our New England acquaintance, and greatly surprised
me by the enthusiasm he displayed. I understood later that it was a
characteristic of his to meet those friendly to him in this fashion,
even on a shorter acquaintance, when there was a financial deal in
prospect.

“Well, George,” said he, shaking my hand vigorously, “I’m glad to know
you succeeded in giving those New Hampshire people the go-by.”

Then he introduced me to Jack McCord and George Radford, claiming them
to be his very intimate friends, with whom I would be sure to have the
most pleasant relations.

“They’re all right,” he said effusively, “and you’ll find them so.” He
paused a moment, and then added, with a smile, “I understand we’ve got
some bonds to sell you.”

“To sell me?” I echoed his words in the form of a question. “To sell me
bonds?”

“Yes,” smiled Kelso. I understood him then, but I confess that I
didn’t like his peculiar grin that time, and in subsequent years this
impression never changed. There wasn’t much, if any, warmth in it. It
always seemed to me that it was a smile like actors study for use on
the stage. I laughed when I understood him to mean that he had some
bonds to sell to me. I thought it was my play to exhibit a little nerve
in dealing with these traitors, which was a most unpleasant experience
the first time, so I asked Kelso why McCord and Radford hadn’t hung on
to Billy Matthews when they had him under arrest. He showed his teeth
in a most disagreeable way, and seemed to be on the point of saying
something ugly. Presently he spoke:--

“There’s no good beating about the bush, George,” he explained, “for
we know where the bonds came from, and we also know that you are one
of the six men in the Ohio job. Now let’s come to the point, and it
is this, pure and simple--we want our rake-off. As a matter of fact,
we’re glad the Ohio fellers didn’t get you. Do you understand?”

I saw there was little profit to me in palavering with these crooks,
who were sworn to serve law and justice, so I told them that we’d
better get to business and that the open street was no sort of a place
to transact it. They admitted that officers of the precinct in which
we were might at any moment interrupt us. I called a carriage, and
at their suggestion we drove to Stetson’s Hotel in Central Park, the
proprieter being a brother-in-law of Radford. Comfortably seated in a
private room, with whiskey served on the table before us, I said:--

“Gentlemen, let’s come down to business. What do you want for the six
bonds?”

“Not a cent less than six thousand!” was what came from Detective
McCord, sharp and quick, now that the negotiation was really on.

“And you’ll not get that much from me!” was my answer, just as quickly
and just as firmly. “The bonds will have to be disposed of at a ‘fence’
price, and considering that my share will not, all together, be more
than forty thousand dollars, I’ll pay you four thousand for the bonds
and no more.”

Detective McCord did a lot of sparring, Radford jumping in occasionally
with a sharp, mean thrust. Kelso kept out of the argument until he
seemed to think it was time to smooth over matters. To me Radford’s
manner was most irritating. I was not lacking in pluck, and once,
had it been diplomacy, I would have lent him my fist. At length the
sparring was interrupted by him. Said he:--

“I guess, Jack, we may as well keep the bonds and give this man
twenty-four hours to sneak out of town. If we find him then, why, he
can’t complain. We’ve wasted too much time on him already.” Kelso knew
Radford had gone too far, and said so.

I was firm, and none of his insinuations could move me. I believed
that these traitorous policemen who would plot with crooks--actually
be willing to take money from the enemy of the commonwealth--must not
have everything their own way. They saw I was determined, and, avarice
winning over all else, Jack McCord said:--

“Well, George says his share is only forty thousand dollars, and it may
be less than that, so I think we’d better accept his offer.”

And it was settled at this figure, whereupon we set the following night
as the time of the next meeting, and the place at the Fifth Avenue
entrance to the Washington parade ground, down-town. I was ready to
leave them at this, promising to be there at eight o’clock sharp. Now
that we had come to an agreement, I wondered if our meeting in the
park to make the exchange of money and bonds would go through, or
whether these blackmailers and crime protectionists, after further
consideration, would not, in their grasping after ill-gotten gain,
make a still further demand upon me. Despite the bold front I had put
on, I realized how hopelessly I was in their power, should they choose
to see duty before selfish, criminal desire.

“By the way,” said I, at the moment of parting, addressing my remarks
to Jim Kelso, “as the bond matter seems to be about settled, the next
important thing I’m interested in is my status in this city. You know,
as well as I, Kelso, that the New Hampshire authorities never had a
case against me, and the truth being told, I am absolutely innocent of
the charge. Isn’t it so?”

“It’s true, George, and I must acknowledge that you had a rough deal
down-east for an innocent man.” I watched McCord and Radford for the
effect this admission would have on them, but they gave no indication
that I could see.

“That being the case,” I went on to Kelso, “I ask you and these men,
believing as you must that I didn’t get a fair deal, not to molest
me, and if any one comes to this city after the reward, to keep me
informed. Is it a bargain?”

“Don’t bother yourself about a country sheriff,” said Kelso, assuming
the responsibility of the whole party, “for it’ll be a very cold day if
them down-easters catch you in this town when you have us at your back;
but of course we can’t do this--”

“Say no more, gentlemen,” said I, interrupting him, and speaking to
them all; “it’s not necessary. I shall rely on this assurance, and I’m
not asking you to work for charity’s sake.”

With that I handed each one of them two hundred dollars, and, bidding
them good night, went down town, feeling that I had invested six
hundred dollars not unwisely from my viewpoint. The next evening I met
Jack McCord and Radford at the parade ground and paid the former four
thousand dollars in large bills and received in exchange my bonds, and
was really glad to get them back at the price. As I was leaving them,
McCord asked me if I objected to telling him the name of the man in the
Cadiz Bank job who escaped with me.

“Most assuredly I do,” was my prompt reply, and I took no pains to
repress the indignation I felt at the mere suggestion of betraying
Hughes. “Do you think I’m a squealer too?”

“We don’t want to send him to prison!” hastily explained Radford. “All
we want is our usual percentage.”

“Well,” said I, the hot blood stinging my cheeks, “I’ll let you fellows
know that I’m no Bill Brockway; and if you find the man you’re after,
it will be on the level so far as I’m concerned.”

I said this in a manner that left no doubt in their minds as to my
sincerity. I also let them know that Brockway’s squealing propensities
were well known to me. I had begun to learn a great deal of the crook’s
life in a very short time, it seemed to me.

“That was a fine hand you played against Billy Matthews,” I went on.
“If you’re going to deal with crooks, I’d advise you to be on the
square, and you’ll succeed better.” At this George Radford looked at me
peculiarly, as though he thought that I knew more than I was telling.
Jack McCord, in an attempt to put himself in as level an attitude as
possible, but failing, said:--

“We fellers have to get at things the best way we can, and, as you must
know, we’re not in the police business for our health.”

Swallowing my disgust, and feeling that I, even I, a bank burglar, was
contaminating myself in the same atmosphere with these treacherous
rascals, I said good night and hurried away, glad to get rid of them.
But I saw them again, and sooner than I had hoped, for I never wanted
to look on their faces after that night. But this feeling wore off in
time.

Billy Matthews sought me out a week later, and said, with considerable
earnestness, that I must meet Jack McCord, who had news for me of the
utmost importance; that I must meet him at the Metropolitan Hotel, and
if he wasn’t there, to wait until he came. Not daring to disregard this
word, which amounted to a command, I went to the hotel, where McCord
appeared a few minutes later. Calling me aside, he whispered, “You’re a
very lucky man, White, and you’ll realize before we get through that
it is a Godsend you came to know us fellers.”

“Why?” I asked; “what’s in the wind? Some one from New Hampshire here?”

“No; but a crook in that Ohio Bank job has squealed on you, and there’s
a Cadiz sheriff in town with a complete description of you and Eddie
Hughes, who escaped with you.”

This was startling though not unexpected news, as I knew that Utley had
no love for me. No doubt he had tried to get further clemency in prison
by squealing on Hughes and me. I asked McCord if there was anything
further he could tell.

“Yes; Utley told the sheriff that the man with Hughes was called
George, but the last name he did not know. He described an overcoat
‘George’ wore that was left in the Scott House in Pittsburg.”

At this I smiled, and McCord wondering why, I told him.

“Again you were in luck,” he went on, “for the next day after the
coat was called for by your friend, a Cadiz sheriff was at the hotel
inquiring for an overcoat with a peculiar-shaped tear in the skirt.”

“It certainly looks as if the trail were getting hot,” said I, not a
little worried. “Where is this sheriff?”

“I don’t know, but Radford has an appointment with him this afternoon.”

“Has he asked you to find me?”

“Not in so many words, but he said we ought to know if there was a
crook in town answering the description given by Utley.”

“And what did you tell him?”

“That there wasn’t a man in this city answering such a description, but
that I recognized in Utley’s man a well-known Western crook.”

McCord said he would go with Radford to see the Cadiz sheriff about
four o’clock in the afternoon, and that the trio were to hunt up
Utley’s trunk. When that was accomplished the sheriff would be gotten
out of town not later than the same evening. I was to meet McCord at
the Metropolitan the following morning to learn the result. I was
there, and to say that I wasn’t worried would be far from the truth.

“Well, it worked like a windmill,” laughed McCord. “Where we blew he
went. By the last gust of wind we gave him he was wafted to the depot
in Jersey, and must be pretty near to Ohio by this time.”

I didn’t doubt McCord’s word, though I had no further proof,
consequently I felt much weight lifted from my mind. When he, having
in mind the protection money that I’d paid him, said, “You now can see
what our services to you people are,” I agreed with him and that an
emergency of this kind fully attested to the accuracy of his statement.

“And now,” said McCord, “when Eddie Hughes comes to town, you’d better
advise him to see us.”

“Very well,” I promised, “since you have learned he was my companion,
why, I’ll send him to you if he shows up.”

But Eddie didn’t return to New York for two years. In the meantime I
heard how he escaped the day we were surprised on the hillside. He had
in a most fortunate way run across a small hollow in a thicket where
the dried leaves had piled up as though they had been waiting there for
the purpose they served. Getting into this refuge, surrounded by the
underbrush, Hughes covered himself with leaves and lay there for hours.
The searching party actually tramped over him while beating through
the thicket, but passed him by. Under the cover of darkness he stole
away with his treasure. When he finally appeared in New York the Cadiz
Bank robbery and his connection with it had become swallowed up in the
swirl of more stirring events, the affairs of the grafting police and
civilians having reached a most prosperous period.



CHAPTER VIII

SHERIFF SMITH’S BRIBE--THE LITTLE JOKER


Mark Shinburn, under remarkable circumstances, escaped from Concord
prison, after his sudden leave-taking of the jail at Keene the day he
was convicted, and his recapture and final incarceration. The prison
bars at Concord held him only a few months, when his old partner in
crime, John Ryan of Buffalo, and Laurie Palmer, another crook, began
work on a plan to break him out of durance vile.

The manner of Shinburn’s escape is soon told. He was a man who did not
make many friends, but those that he had were friends indeed. One of
these was Matthews. Billy used to give his mother all his winnings from
the gambling house, so, eventually, he had quite a tidy sum.

One day in November, 1866, he took five thousand dollars of this sum
and started for New Hampshire. There he met one of the high officials
of Concord prison, and had a long talk with him. Some days later, as
Shinburn’s company was marching past the gate which gave ingress and
egress for teams to and from the prison yard, Shinburn dropped from
the line, pulled off a part of the gate that had previously been sawed
nearly in two, and jumped into a rig that was standing conveniently
outside of the gate.

The driver of the rig whipped up his team and was away at a fast gait
before the prison officials realized what had happened. When soon the
guards discovered what was occurring, they fired several shots, but the
team kept right on moving and was soon out of sight in the gathering
gloom. The drive was continued, with various stops for refreshments and
sleep, to Providence, Rhode Island, where Shinburn took a train and
landed safely in New York.

Matthews also returned to Gotham, but had five thousand dollars less
than when he went away.

Once in New York, Shinburn, being under the protecting wing of my ring
of police officials, and given money by me, was safe from capture.
Pursuit of offenders and escaped prisoners was not so persistent or
so well conducted in those days as it is now, when the telegraph, the
telephone, the camera, and the Bertillon system of measurements make it
all but impossible for one to avoid detection and capture.

If I were warden of a prison now, and an inmate thereof escaped, I
should not give myself the least worriment. I would know that, if he
again resorted to crime, I would be as sure to get him as the night is
to follow the day. If he lived an honest life after his escape, he
might avoid capture; and it would be far better for society that he
should. An honest man does not belong in prison, no matter what may
have been his past life.

At the time of Shinburn’s escape, the only means for recapture were a
search of the surrounding country and the sending of a description of
the escaped man to the police of various cities--a description that
would fit many people and often did not at all fit the one for whom it
was intended. Instead of a Bertillon system of measurements, by which
it is practically impossible to be mistaken, there was then only the
old plan of visual identification. This always gave a fine opportunity
for the Great Identifier, who constantly looked for a chance to get in
his deadly work.

“I’m scheming to make a strike through Western New York and Ontario,
Canada,” Shinburn said to me a few weeks later, “but I’m short of the
‘ready’ just now, having been in retirement for some time, as you know;
so, if you’ll back the game, I can’t see how we can lose.”

“I’m with you, Mark, provided there is a chance of making good. You’ve
been in the business long enough to know best what to do, so here’s
along with you.”

John Ryan and Laurie Palmer were counted in the venture, and the
prospect of a rich haul seemed exceedingly bright. The banks that were
secured entirely by key locks Shinburn was to tackle, and those being
guarded in part, or wholly, by combination locks were to be attacked
by Ryan, who had a fine kit of tools for that sort of work. We went to
Buffalo, where Shinburn and Palmer called on a gambler friend. Ryan
put up with a man acquaintance, while I went to a hotel. Making the
Bison City our headquarters, we struck out in different directions in
search of “lootable” banks, our main object being to find those using
key locks. It was like convicting an egotist of his own conceit to
find this class of bank, so we gave it up. About this time a friend of
Shinburn’s, whom he introduced as Mr. Ellis, a counterfeiter, suggested
that a bank at Brockport, seventeen miles west of Rochester, would be
a comparatively easy piece of loot, owing to the habits of the police
guard of the village, which consisted of a lone night watchman. Ellis
said this watchman invariably went off duty at eleven o’clock at night.
As to the vault of the bank, he declared it could be robbed, despite
the combination lock used on it and its heavy steel work in general, by
tunnelling from the top. Shinburn and Ryan decided to attempt the job,
agreeing to pay Ellis ten per cent of the treasure obtained.

A postponement was necessary the first night we went at the job,
because there happened to be a dance in the village, which in some
manner or other induced the night watchman to remain on duty
longer,--in fact, until three o’clock in the morning. Several evenings
later we journeyed there again, and it was a night to be remembered,
because of the great snow-storm and high winds that came with it. It
was a hummer--of the blizzard class. In many respects, though, it was
just our sort of weather, the kind that keeps people indoors. Scarcely
a dog was in the streets after eleven o’clock.

A few minutes after midnight, leaving Palmer on the outside as a
guard, Shinburn, Ryan, and I broke in the bank through the front door
and were soon examining the vault. We had decided to try wedges on
the vault door, so Ryan went to work. He had finely drawn untempered
steel ones, which were driven in the seam between the front edge of
the door and the jamb. For two hours we labored with these wedges, but
the best we could possibly do was to force an opening about half an
inch wide, which was insufficient to admit of throwing back the lock
bolt. When a space wide enough to do this was about made, the wedges
would rebound. Unable to release the bolt, we abandoned the job, being
hopeless of accomplishing it in that manner, and leaving behind us
plenty of evidence of our failure. The vault front was sadly defaced,
but defiantly impregnable, so far as we were concerned that night, with
the means at hand.

We went out in the storm, very much disappointed. Locating a hand-car,
we started by rail for Rochester, but the snow being too heavy on the
track, we ditched the car, and walking to the first village, hired
a team and drove there. The remainder of the journey to Buffalo was
accomplished by train.

My experience at Brockport and similar knowledge I had previously
obtained through the work of a Jack Hartley and his mob of would-be
safe-breakers at Carbondale, Pennsylvania, convinced me that success in
our line could only be attained by forcing open vaults by means vastly
different than any of those employed by either Ryan or Hartley or
burglars of their class.

“Putting up cash to break banks with tools Ryan has,” I said to
Shinburn, “is simply dumping it in the sea. As for me, I’m out of it.”

This broke the combination, so far as Ryan and Palmer were concerned,
the former remaining in Buffalo and the latter returning to New York.

Shinburn and I determined to make for the metropolis also, but he
recalled a tip from a friend at home, that there was a bank at Corning,
New York, which might be relieved of its cash. Shinburn’s friend was of
the opinion that the vault was secured by a key lock. So we concluded
to stop off there and investigate, but, doing so, Mark discovered that
the work entailed was not worth the risk. At two o’clock in the morning
we were in the Erie Railroad depot waiting for a New York train, when
a most unexpected thing happened. A mob of men and boys, led by a pair
of constables, ran in the depot, one of them a big-looking fellow,
yelling at the top of his voice, “Here they are!” The other constable
rushed at Shinburn, crying, “We want you men; surrender!”

The big lout who made the first outcry sprang at me, but slunk back in
a corner when I covered him with my pistol. Taking advantage of his
cowardice, I ran for the door, and had nearly succeeded in getting
out, when Shinburn, his pistol failing to work, was overcome. The mob,
turning their attention to me, were just in time to block my way, and
instantly I was mixed in with them. The cowardly wretch who had slunk
back when I was unhampered, now took advantage of my predicament, and
jumping on me, began pounding my face as though it were an anvil and
his fists were sledges. I did the best I could against so many, but
fell back, and as I did so the brute tried to bite my nose. Throwing
my head away from him, his teeth met on my lower lip. I made a cry
of surrender, but, despite this, he continued to bite at me like a
cur, until I was so wounded that I would carry a scar to the grave. I
presume I would have been mangled more had not the others dragged him
from me. In the midst of a howling mob, we were haled to a lockup and
thrown behind bars. Of course we believed we’d been discovered as the
Brockport attempted looters and were in for it from that source. We
were considerably relieved, for a short time, upon learning the true
cause of our arrest. It appeared that a produce merchant in Addison,
an adjoining town, had been robbed the preceding night of twenty-eight
hundred dollars. Two men had entered his store about nine o’clock,
and, felling him unconscious on the floor, appropriated the cash
and some valuable papers. Incidentally the burglars carried away a
railroad ticket good on some Western road. Of course we knew we weren’t
guilty of the job and felt easy on that score. What did trouble us
was the possibility that we might be recognized as fugitives from New
Hampshire. The Corning authorities notified the Addison constable of
our detention and asked that the merchant be brought over to identify
us as the burglars who assaulted him. He was too ill, was the word that
came back, and in consequence of it we were taken to him.

We cut desperate figures in the eyes of the countrymen as we, loaded
down with irons, were carted through the farming districts. The
merchant, upon looking at us through bandages which about covered all
but his eyes, said Shinburn didn’t look like either of the men who
attacked him, but I greatly resembled one of them. As I looked at the
man I wondered that he didn’t say I looked like both of them. This
identification played the mischief, however, for we were held for the
grand jury and transferred to the county jail at Bath in the charge of
Sheriff Smith.

The small affair we had had in the depot at Corning with the constables
was so magnified in the county papers that it soon became talked of
as a shooting affray that would rival a Texan bandit fight. It was
the sort of a sensation we feared would bring trouble down on us,
and it did; for a day or two after our arrest Detective Bob Watts of
Buffalo appeared in Bath and told Sheriff Smith he wanted to look us
over. He recognized Shinburn, having seen him a few years prior in
Buffalo, but didn’t mention the fact nor intimate that he had an eye on
the reward for his capture. Hurrying to Buffalo, he swore out a fake
warrant for burglary, and, rushing back to Bath, flashed the document
on the sheriff, claiming us as his prisoners, alleging also that his
claim took precedence over the Addison affair. We knew too well what
this meant for us, without being told,--that we were in for it unless
we could outwit him. New Hampshire would be our next destination if
Watts had his way. That it was getting to be mighty serious there was
no doubt. It was in our minds to break out of jail, but there didn’t
appear to be any one we could reach with the slightest inclination to
take a bribe. Finally I resolved I would not be deprived of my liberty
again on a charge of which I was not guilty. Once was enough! Having
carefully gone over every detail of the situation, it seemed to me that
I saw a glimmer of hope in the bogus warrant of Detective Watts. If
he could get a fake warrant in Buffalo, why couldn’t I get one in New
York? I determined to try, and acted with great promptness by sending
a messenger to the big city for such a document and for the sinews
of war. Getting the latter in a few days, I retained Lawyer Rumsey
of Bath, who afterwards was elevated to the Supreme Court bench. I
told him what I had done, and that he mustn’t hesitate at any expense
in our defence; and incidentally I expressed myself forcibly to the
effect that the Addison robbery ought to be thoroughly sifted; that
from what I had been able to gather the merchant complainant owed about
everybody in his town, and it occurred to me that he might have plotted
to escape his creditors. Further, that he had received, just prior to
the robbery, twenty-eight hundred dollars for produce which he had
shipped away, and for which he hadn’t yet paid the shipping bills. I
said it all looked exceedingly suspicious, and I urged Mr. Rumsey to
investigate the case on this line vigorously. The grand jury had been
sitting several days when the bit of pasteboard which the merchant
described as a railroad ticket, and alleged to have been taken by the
burglars, began to play a surprising part. My counsel had advised the
railroad company to be on the lookout for it, as there was grave
reason to doubt that a robbery had been committed. Presently there came
gratifying results, but too late to help us.

In the meantime affairs had been looking bluer and bluer. At the rising
of the jury our fate would be known. The last day of the sitting came,
and with it came Frank Houghtaling, chief clerk of City Judge Russell
of New York, with a warrant for our arrest charging about everything on
the calendar but murder. He served the paper on Sheriff Smith, alleging
that it must take precedence over the Addison robbery or any claim put
in by Detective Watts of Buffalo.

“I’ll take the prisoners back with me or know the reason why,” he said
to the sheriff. “We know these men, and they are as desperate a pair of
rascals as ever belonged behind prison bars. New York wants them and
must have them. We can put them away to a certainty, while you fellows
may not have a case against them here or in Buffalo. If they go at
large, why, the blame will be on your heads. So you see the strength of
my claim.”

It was the duty of the sheriff to determine which warrant would take
precedence. I was in doubt as to the outcome, but Mr. Rumsey said
Sheriff Smith would, as a favor to him, recognize the New York warrant.

We were waiting for the grand jury, along about one o’clock, when the
sheriff called me aside and said, “I have no further claim on you, but
there are two warrants for you boys, one from Buffalo and the other
from New York.”

I asked him which one he would recognize.

“As Detective Watts’s was first placed in my hands, I suppose I must
give him the preference. He is in town now and has asked me to turn you
fellers over to him so he can get away on this evening’s train.”

“Why this, sheriff?” I asked, trembling over the turn of affairs.
“Lawyer Rumsey assured me you would, as a favor to him, give the New
York warrant the preference.”

He put up a bluff at this and said, “Let me say that I’m running the
sheriff’s office of this county, and not Lawyer Rumsey.”

It was perfectly plain to me that he was fishing for money and that
Detective Watts had made some kind of a cash offer, otherwise he
would not have intimated to me that he’d ignore Mr. Rumsey’s request;
he would have stated straight from the shoulder what he would do. I
realized that prompt action must be had, or in the last deal of the
cards Shinburn and I would be swamped with trumps.

“Sheriff,” I said, taking the bull by the horns, “I want you to come to
some agreement with us. To Mr. Rumsey you said you’d turn us over to
the New York officer, who really has a right to us. We believe, too,
that we can get justice in that quarter, while from Buffalo we’ll get
none. You see we are innocent of the Addison affair; were arrested and
thrown in your jail without good reason, and it’s up to you to help us
out. I’ll make it an object to you, sheriff, to turn us over to the New
York officer.”

I watched him for any indication of wounded dignity, but, on the
contrary, I had my first impression confirmed. He would take money, I
felt certain, if given enough. I drove the nail still farther home,
and, as a clincher, produced a corpulent roll of greenbacks and fondled
it. His greedy little eyes gazed on it as though they would pierce the
very inside of the bills, to know how much I held.

“That’s the kind, sheriff,” I went on; “let’s get down to hard-pan.
What’s the price? What’s it worth? Watts isn’t a flea-bite to me.”

The sheriff fidgeted about considerably, but soon, to my satisfaction,
was putting up a strong argument as to what his services were worth.
Indeed, he seemed to be as accomplished in this line as were some of my
New York detective friends. Finally he flat-footedly came out and said
he’d accept a thousand dollars. I sent for Lawyer Rumsey and told him
of the deal. He called me apart and said I needn’t pay the money, for
things would come out all right without it. In fact, he expressed the
conviction that it would be a needless expenditure of money. So thought
Shinburn. Whether or not they were correct I do not know, but I have
always entertained a doubt of it. I wasn’t going to take the chance
of making an enforced trip to New Hampshire. I declared I’d pay the
bribe. It was to be given the sheriff when we were ready to start for
the depot, and while Mr. Rumsey had gone to attend to the details of
our release. I began to feel, as also did Shinburn, that it was looking
very much like New York. About eight o’clock in the evening Sheriff
Smith summoned us to his office, in charge of a turnkey. My lawyer was
there, and from the atmosphere of the place I got the impression that
something unusual, and perhaps not to our liking, was about to occur. I
hoped that the sheriff hadn’t reconsidered the agreement, after a talk
with Watts. My mind was soon settled as to what was in the air.

“Detective Watts is on a rampage,” began the sheriff, quietly, “and
says he’s bound to get you fellers, if he has to use force. He
evidently means what he says, for he’s got two more officers with him.
By hook or crook, he swears that he’ll take you back to Buffalo with
him to-night.”

“Well, sheriff,” I inquired nervously, not being able to draw anything
satisfactory from his words or manner up to this point, “what else have
you to say?” I verily believe he enjoyed the uncertainty I felt.

“If I turn you over to the New York officer here, Watts may attempt to
take you away. At the depot he may put up the plea that his warrant
antedates the one from New York.”

“Well, go on, sheriff,” I urged, getting more unnerved; “out with
it--what will you do?”

“This,” he replied, closing his lips firmly. “I suggest that I heavily
iron you men, hand and foot, and take you as far as Corning, where I’ll
turn you over to your New York man, unless you think that it would be
better for me to continue farther.”

I felt a thrill of relief flash through me. I had been completely
mystified, and I guess Shinburn was in no different frame of mind.
Seeing that we were not to be trumped out of sight in the last shuffle
of the cards, I was in a joyous mood instantly.

“You couldn’t have thought of anything better, sheriff,” I grinned, not
forgetting to pat him approvingly on the back. Then we got down to the
business that was much more pleasing to him than voluble praise--the
payment of the money we’d agreed upon. It was by far the strongest
argument I could have put up to him. It was more potent than a plea for
justice, and much more so than friendship, in obtaining our escape from
the clutches of the Buffalo police.

I handed Lawyer Rumsey a well-swelled fee, and slyly put in the
sheriff’s palm one thousand dollars in bills, which he crammed out
of sight, and gave orders for our irons to be brought in and put on.
For once we were glad to wear the things. In a few minutes, looking
very much like a pair of Western bandits, we were marched through the
village to the depot, followed by a crowd of curious men and boys.
Sheriff Smith, so far as the outsiders were concerned, thought us to be
about as desperate a couple as ever came under his control, for he had
two stalwart deputies with him, both of whom clung to us like unpaid
gas bills.

Detective Watts and his reënforcements and a big crowd were at the
depot ahead of us. Watts was angry clear through; verily, he looked as
if he would bite a tenpenny nail in pieces. Shinburn and I gave him
a glad smile, which he repaid with an angry glare. We got aboard the
train, the sheriff and one deputy at our heels. Watts and his men came
in the same car, and we were soon at Corning, where we had to wait
for a connecting train. In the meantime Sheriff Smith invited us to a
substantial meal with plenty of wine. When the latter was served, Smith
toasted us, remarking upon the pleasure it gave him to set before us a
sample of good country wine.

Of course I said something pleasant to the cunning fellow, but I must
confess that there came regretful meditation over the thousand I’d
paid him, a part of which was being spent in the wine I was sampling.
I consoled myself with the thought that liberty has its price, whether
purchased on the battle-field or close by the prison bars.

While we were dining, a Buffalo train pulled in and out again, taking
with it Bob Watts, the disconsolate one, and his followers. He
realized at last that the game was played; that he’d held the right
bower, forgetful of the fact that sometimes there is a joker in the
pack. Our train came along presently, and Sheriff Smith handed Frank
Houghtaling the New York warrant, and we were off. The handcuffs were
on our wrists and the shackles on our ankles as we clanked along to
seats selected for us by Houghtaling. Naturally we attracted much
attention and comment and drew not a few questions from the passengers.
An extremely inquisitive man wasn’t satisfied until he had asked Frank
to tell him what crime was charged against us.

“A very serious offence,” solemnly proclaimed our captor. “Indeed, sir,
they are accused of a very grave crime.”

“My sakes! What?” he questioned, in a voice that sounded hollow. “You
don’t mean murder?”

Houghtaling nodded his head in the affirmative, and looked extremely
wise.

While we, in a measure, enjoyed the situation, having the knowledge
that we were out of a predicament which held great danger for us, still
the irons were not to our liking, even under the conditions; so we
asked Frank if it wasn’t about time to liberate us.

“Wait until we’ve passed the next station,” he advised.

Half an hour later the irons were removed and stowed away in
Houghtaling’s satchel. The handcuffs he brought with him, but the
shackles belonged to Sheriff Smith. We were to send them to him by
express. A little later Shinburn and I were strolling about the car,
and once we visited the smoker. Of course this brought a lot of
questions from the passengers, the most curious ones wanting to know
what it all meant. To see a pair of desperate murderers thus roaming
at will, seemed, to a few timid ones, like flying in the face of
Providence. At last Houghtaling set these meddlesome people at rest by
saying: “I received a telegram at the last station, informing me that
I’d arrested the wrong men, and that I must at once release them. While
I believe them to be guilty, I must obey my superiors. However, I am
going to keep an eye on them.”

We reached New York in fine spirits, and Houghtaling immediately
arraigned us before Judge Russell in the latter’s private office.
Peter Mitchell, subsequently a civil justice, represented us, and upon
his statement to the judge that the warrant upon which we had been
apprehended, though charging many grave offences, really had no basis
for issue except that growing out of an ordinary family quarrel, we
were released on a nominal bail. The worst that could befall us under
this action was a civil trial. But we knew that the case was as good as
ended.

Detective Bob Watts, with his fake warrant, had been defeated. He might
now whistle for his reward from New Hampshire.

But our trip was not without its disappointment in another direction,
for Shinburn and I had a disagreement. He still insisted that it was
unnecessary to have paid Sheriff Smith the thousand-dollar bribe,
averring, testily, that it was money thrown away, and exhibited a
disinclination to shoulder his share of it. The end of it was a
decision to part company. I believed then, and I do to this day, that
we would have been turned over to Detective Watts had I trusted to
Lawyer Rumsey. I feel morally certain, too, that he overestimated his
power with the cunning sheriff.

In the meantime Mark and I made precious little money. I was convinced
that the crude methods used by the burglar craft, to master bank
vaults, were too antiquated to compete with the great improvement which
had been made in the construction of vaults and combination locks. In
my brief experience I had become thoroughly disgusted with the lack of
success in robbing banks, for fully ninety-nine per cent of failures
had been recorded in my mental bookkeeping. This I had good reason to
know, for hadn’t I supplied much of the funds which were behind these
ventures? I determined that no longer would I have anything to do
with the sort of bank robbery that necessitated lugging about three
hundred pounds of burglars’ tools. I believed there was some other and
more effective method of getting at the millions in vaults whose locks
must be mastered. No doubt, if the newspapers of that period had woven
the romance about the burglar that we read of to-day when one of the
profession exhibits exceptional genius, I would have been dubbed the
“Ethical Burglar,” for I began a diligent, systematic study into the
theoretical and practical aspects of the subject of bank looting. To do
this, I purchased combination locks from all the leading manufacturers
and plunged into the intricacies of their mechanism, and at the end of
many months of almost constant investigation I felt satisfied that I
had not thus applied myself in vain. I could pick every lock, work out
every known train of numbers, and had mastered the finest system in the
use of high explosives; and, what was of far greater importance than
all, I had evolved a tiny instrument scarcely more formidable than a
finely tempered piece of very small steel wire. But the possibilities
of this invention were greater than I knew, for it worked wonders
before the end of its usefulness came. It did away with cumbersome
burglars’ tools and made the necessity for the use of explosives of
rare occurrence. In fact, it made safe robbing an easier proposition
than it ever had been and ever will be again.

When once an entrance to a banking office was obtained, I reduced the
art of getting combination numbers to a matter of little concern, by
the use of this precious device. All I had to do was to take off the
dial knob of a lock, adjust the wire on the inside surface of the dial,
and replace the knob; returning later to the bank. The lock in the
meantime having been used by the bank people to open the vault or safe,
I had only to remove the knob and examine the marks made by the wire,
and I had the combination numbers. All that remained between me and the
right combination was to figure out the order in which the numbers were
used, and that was not difficult.

Another advantage that came to me through this schooling, was the
rare accomplishment of being able to watch the unlocking of a vault
door, though ten feet away from it, and, with scarcely a failure,
obtain the combination numbers. Rarely, indeed, would I require more
than one sitting. Thus I mastered the combination locks. Having this
control over them, and with the use of the little steel wire, which I
christened the “Little Joker,” I went into the safe-robbing business
with unlimited energy. The result of my long toil and the expenditure
of several hundreds of dollars, proved to be a veritable bonanza.

I was much amazed, when next I heard from Mark Shinburn, to learn that
he had been as thoroughly disgusted as I with the old-fashioned mode
of breaking bank vaults and had set about to devise better means. His
efforts, like mine, had opened up greater opportunities. Presently I
tapped on the rock as with a magic wand, and out came a golden stream.



CHAPTER IX

BREVOORT STABLES


In the fall of 1866 my old Boston friend Charles Meriam sold out his
business at that place, and, with the proceeds, some fifty-four hundred
dollars, set out for the West to grow up with the country. On his way
he stopped over a few days with me. I tried to discourage him, and, not
being successful, finally said, in a joke:--

“Well, Charlie, when you go broke, come back to me, and I will start
you in business again.”

Charlie set out for the West with visions of future wealth before him.
One afternoon in the next August I returned to my apartments and found
him there, waiting for me. I was delighted to see him, but could not
help noticing that he did not present a very prosperous appearance.
He had very little to say of his Western experience, but asked many
questions about business prospects in New York City.

I soon saw that in following Horace Greeley’s advice he had met with
the same fate that so often befell others who acted upon the suggestion
that this worthy gentleman was always so free with.

After we had dined, and while we were alone together, Meriam pulled out
a five-cent piece, saying:--

“That’s all that’s left of my fifty-four hundred dollars.”

He then went on and told me a hard luck story about buying a
half-interest in a business and subsequently finding the stock
mortgaged, so that his capital was swept away. In order to get back to
New York he had had to pawn his trunk.

As I have before stated, Meriam was my friend; consequently it was up
to me to help him to a new start. I know Russell Sage would not look at
it in this way--but that’s wherein I differ from Uncle Russell. I told
Meriam not to worry, that fortunately I was pretty well heeled, and
that we would join forces in a livery business somewhere in the city, I
to furnish the capital and he to run the concern. This verbal agreement
continued between us for sixteen years without a single disagreement.
It would doubtless have continued longer but that it was broken by
Meriam’s death in 1884.

At the time Meriam and I made our verbal agreement to go into business
together, a Mr. Westcott, founder of the Westcott Express Company,
was transferring baggage for the New York Central Railroad, but had
no passenger service. We obtained from him the right to conduct a
passenger transfer under his name, and at once started with eight
horses and two Concord coaches, each of the latter bearing the
inscription, “Westcott’s Transfer Coach.”

This venture proved so lucrative that, within a few months, Mr.
Westcott decided to run it himself, and made us an offer for our stock,
etc. As our agreement was verbal only, and for no specific term, we had
perforce to sell to him.

In February, 1869, we bought from A. R. Matthews the stock and business
of the Brevoort Stables, 114 Clinton Place, for a cash consideration
of twenty thousand dollars, I furnishing the money; and the title was
taken in my wife’s name. In fact, I gave it to her, though Meriam
received one-half the profits, and it was always conducted under the
name of “Meriam’s Brevoort Stables.”

Until the advent of the London cheap cabs this business netted over
twelve thousand dollars per year. During my business career in New York
I was known as George Miles, the latter being my middle name; but in
the world of crooks I was known as Bliss and by other names. While in
the livery business, I must add here, I had a sort of blind brokerage
office in Broad Street, which was of service to me in more than one way.

The stable, as well as the hotel, was on land leased from the Sailors’
Snug Harbor Association, to which it belonged, and at the time we hired
it Messrs. Clark and Wait, then proprietors of the Brevoort House,
owned the lease of the stable also. We hired from them under a verbal
agreement, and, during the fifteen years or more that we were their
tenants we never had a single dispute, and our original agreement stood
during the whole of that time.

When, on the death of his father, Charlie Wait came into control of
the hotel, he got the aldermanic bee in his bonnet. In furtherance of
his ambition, he made a political deal which embraced the letting of
our stable to a certain politician. Consequently we were obliged to
vacate and also to sell our stock at a great sacrifice. At this time
Meriam was dead and I was finishing a twelve-year term of imprisonment
in Vermont, where I had been since 1876, for the robbery of the Barre
Bank. Consequently my wife was conducting the business with the aid of
a manager, and she could not cope with Wait’s political aides.

When I had been sent to prison, I had been robbed of nearly every
dollar I had by the New York police and was stone broke. Therefore this
livery business was my wife’s sole dependence for her livelihood; and
when deprived of it she was left in a bad way. On my release, in 1888,
we were practically without a dollar--thanks to Charlie Wait. But he
was no better off, having lost his whole fortune, including a one-third
interest in the Windsor Hotel in Fifth Avenue.

Meanwhile, during our separation, Shinburn had not fared much better
than I. He pulled off one good trick, got arrested for it, and
escaped. This trick was the robbery of the Lehigh and Susquehanna
Navigation Company at Whitehaven, Pennsylvania. A few days after our
arrival in New York from the Steuben County jail, Shinburn went to
Scranton. Here two sporting men of that city put him on to the safe in
question, which on one night in each month contained a large sum of
money with which to pay the employees of the company. Shinburn obtained
wax impressions of the keys to the safe and had duplicates made.

On the night when the pay money was supposed to be in the office
Shinburn entered the building and unlocked the safe. For some reason
the expected amount of money was not there, the safe containing at the
time only six thousand dollars. Shinburn decided not to take it, but to
wait until the full amount was on hand. Therefore, replacing the six
thousand dollars, he relocked the safe and left. The next month, on
the day that the large sum of money was again supposed to be on hand,
he returned, opened the safe, and found thirty thousand dollars. This
he took, thus getting twenty-four thousand dollars as a reward for his
patience.

He and one of the sporting men had driven over from Scranton in a rig
that had been hired from a livery in that city. After looting the safe,
they returned to Scranton by the same means, and would doubtless have
escaped detection but for one of those mysterious happenings which
seem to lie in the wake of the evil-doer to bring about his downfall.

The night of the loot was rainy, and the roads were muddy. When the
robbery was discovered, fresh wagon and horse tracks were found leading
to and from the village. The tracks showed a broken shoe on one of the
horse’s feet. These tracks were traced to Scranton, where a search of
the livery stables discovered the horse with the broken shoe.

This led to the arrest of the two sporting men, one of whom had hired
the rig. One of these gentlemen squealed, implicating Shinburn, who,
some weeks later, was arrested and taken to Wilkesbarre. Here, pending
a hearing of the case, he was kept at a hotel in charge of a special
deputy sheriff, who, on retiring to bed at night, handcuffed himself
and Shinburn together.

Shinburn saw that he was caught dead to rights, and that, unless he
could escape, he had a term of imprisonment before him. He therefore
broached the subject of escape to his jailer, and finally induced him
to consent to permit his prisoner to pick the handcuff lock and get
away.

For this Shinburn agreed to give his jailer two thousand dollars. He
did not have this amount with him, but, by convincing the deputy that
he had nothing to lose, the latter was induced to take Shinburn’s
promise of payment. Therefore, about midnight, while the deputy was
snoring like a trooper, Shinburn picked the lock of the cuff on his own
wrist with a common pen which had been bent to serve the purpose.

There was another guard in an adjoining room, with an open door
between. Therefore Shinburn quietly gathered up his own clothes, taking
also his jailer’s overcoat and gun, and slipped out into the hall and
there dressed himself. He then dropped to the ground from a window,
walked to Pittston, boarded a gravity railroad coal car, and rode to
Waymart. From here he was driven to Great Bend on the Erie Railroad,
where he boarded a train and landed safely in New York.

And now comes the sequel, which proves that crooks of a certain grade
are as careful of their promises as are the most honored business
men. Shinburn did not find it convenient to pay the promised two
thousand dollars until July, 1869. Then he sought to reach his whilom
jailer, but learned that he had left Wilkesbarre. All inquiries as to
where he had gone failed to locate him. Thereupon Shinburn inserted
a personal in the _New York Herald_, so worded that the person for
whom it was intended, and he alone, would understand it. After weeks
of advertising, the man was heard from. He came on to New York at
Shinburn’s expense, where he was paid the promised two thousand
dollars.

I was present when he received this money, and I can tell you he was a
happy man. He said:--

“It’s lucky that I did not get this money when you escaped. If I had,
it would all be gone with the rest of my money. I lost everything I had
in a deal I went into, and have been dead broke ever since. This money
will start me to going again.”

I wish I could say that with that money he built up an enormous
fortune; but as a matter of fact I never heard of him after he left us,
so do not know what finally became of him.



CHAPTER X

I CORRUPT A BANK CLERK


“Who’s that pale-looking chap at the first table to the left?” asked
Chelsea George, one of Jack Hartley’s coterie of misfit burglars. His
remark was addressed to a faro dealer at his side.

“The feller that’s just cashin’ in his last case?” whispered the dealer.

“Yes--he’s got the look of a farmer not long used to city ways and
clothes,” said Chelsea George.

“You’re half right, sir; he’s a bank clerk. He came from Montreal way
not long ’go,” volunteered the faro dealer. “But he’s a good thing
here, though he was a greeny for sure when he first come in. He’s
buckin’ in the game fast, sir, these days. Got the gamblin’ fever very
much alive in ’im.”

“Can’t have much cash if he’s only a bank clerk,” remarked Chelsea
George with a sniff.

“Not much to back his game, but he’s a sticker for keeps.”

“Is it possible?” ejaculated Chelsea, as though surprised. “Tell us
more about him.”

“Yes, do; he seems a queer chap, doncher know,” put in a companion of
Chelsea. Up to this juncture he had been a quiet listener.

“I’m not sure but he might prove an interesting acquaintance,” said
Chelsea George, turning to the speaker with a peculiar light in his
eyes. The third of the group was English George, a pal of Chelsea and a
crook of no higher class. They dressed loudly and posed as fast young
gentlemen from Britain, with plenty of cash to spend. The faro dealer
believed them to be of this class, though had he known them to be what
they were, it would have made no difference to him. Occasionally they
bucked the tiger.

It was in John Morrissey’s gilded gambling den in West Twenty-fourth
Street, New York City, that the above conversation took place.
Morrissey was at the zenith of his career, and, though a gambler, he
was known to be a friend of the deserving poor. This is not said,
however, with a view of putting my stamp of approval on gambling, for
my advice to young men is to keep away from the Gilded Palace of the
Green Cloth. My warning isn’t backed by personal experience, either. Of
a truth I can say that I ever steered clear of the gaming-table.

It was late in the fall of 1867 that Morrissey’s place was first
visited by the two Georges, who hung about the tables for the most
part of the time in search of information which they could turn to an
account in their profession. Not infrequently words were dropped by the
wealthy habitués of the den that led to the robbery of a bank or other
well-stocked safe.

John Taylor, the young bank clerk being discussed by the Englishmen
and the faro dealer, was fast approaching the real danger point in his
gambling experience. His fascination for the pool-room and race-track
had opened a straight road to Morrissey’s, and at the moment of our
introduction to him he had played in the last cent of his salary drawn
from the Ocean National Bank that very day. His face was pale but for a
patch of deep crimson in the centre of each cheek. He was about to move
from the table when the faro dealer and the two Georges approached him.

“Hard luck, Mr. Taylor?” asked the dealer.

“The worst I could possibly have,” said the young man, gnawing at his
feverish lips. A few words of the commonplace sort ensued, and then the
dealer, having adroitly brought it about, introduced the Englishmen.
Presently Taylor and the two Georges were alone at a table, drinking,
the former not having the slightest knowledge that the motive for
seeking the introduction was an ulterior one. As innocent was the faro
dealer.

“We were watching your play,” explained Chelsea after a little, “and
although we don’t know much about the game, we concluded that your
system was a good one if pushed to the limit. It’s new, isn’t it, Mr.
Taylor?”

As a matter of fact, Taylor had played no so-called system, and at the
moment was thinking of nothing but that he had lost upon plunging his
all. Until then he had been winning. Like thousands of other fools who
gamble, he believed his luck had come to stay until he could regain all
he’d lost in other days. He placed his pile of winnings and his week’s
salary on one card. In an instant he saw it all vanish.

“I haven’t any system,” he answered Chelsea, nervously pulling at his
slim black mustache, “but one thing I know well--I’m cleaned out!”

“Pardon me, old chap!” Chelsea George said, placing his hand on
Taylor’s shoulder in an affectionate manner, “but I was once in a fix
like yours, and not so long ago either. I wasn’t sorry when a friend
like Mr. Wales here came along.”

English George smiled benignly at this, and Chelsea continued: “He
loaned me a few hundred, and they came just in season. Now if I could
be of any service to you, I’d consider it in the light of a favor to
me.”

If Chelsea expected Taylor would resent the offer of a loan, he had
overestimated the man, at least in the case in hand; for all men in the
mad rush eventually reach the rash limit of their financial means, and
Taylor had run the gamut! He had to meet an obligation that night, and
it was this fact that made him play for a high stake. Exposure, indeed,
was close on his heels. If his creditors did as they threatened to do,
he would soon be looking for another position. He saw in Chelsea’s loan
a straw to which he might cling, consequently when two new one hundred
dollar bills were thrust into his hand, it closed on them, though
tremblingly. The fine sense of honor drilled into him at home by his
stately Canadian father had given him a stab, for the moment. He knew
he had accepted the money with scarcely a hope of returning it! But
family pride went down before the crush of circumstances.

“I shan’t forget you!” he said to Chelsea George, swallowing hard;
“I’ll be here next Saturday night at nine, and, well--”

“My dear old chap, don’t mention it! Mr. Wales and I dine at the
Sinclair House to-morrow evening at eight. We’d like to have you join
us. We’re just looking about town and taking in the sights, you know.
In the meantime don’t worry about this trifling, blasted loan.”

English George, too, warmly pressed Taylor to accept their hospitality.
He promised, and so the Georges and the young bank clerk parted.

“The young feller’s up against it, and is good for a stunt,” said
English, resuming his natural self.

“He’ll be useful!” was Chelsea’s short answer.

The young bank clerk had come to New York bright, innocent, and
ambitious. His gilt-edged references procured him a responsible
position in a leading down-town wholesale mercantile house, and from
there he soon went to a clerkship in the Ocean Bank. There appeared
to be the material in him out of which the successful banker is made,
so his promotion was rapid and his salary grew proportionately. It is
not my purpose to be misleading; therefore, when I say his salary was
increased, I do not mean that it was what it should have been. There is
no doubt, to my way of thinking, that his compensation was too small
when compared with his ability. Indeed, I believe that a more generous
recognition of his talents would have been better for him and his
employers.

Taylor was on hand promptly to dine with the two Georges, who were
lavish in their supply of wines. It was a mellow trio, indeed, that
were about to separate at midnight, John Taylor feeling particularly
flushed with his frequent libations.

“I’ve got a scheme, Taylor, old fellow, and you can make a good
commission in it!” Chelsea was saying, as he puffed a ring of cigar
smoke over his head, and blew another ring quickly after, and through
it.

“Heap sight better ’n faro at Morrissey’s,” put in English, with a
laugh; “in fact, my boy, it’s a dead sure thing!”

John Taylor drained a glass of champagne and said his companions talked
as though they were Jay Goulds and Jim Fisks.

“What is the deal, anyway?” he added. “If there’s money around, the
devil knows I need it! Unless things take a lightning change soon, I’ll
have to,” and he lurched unsteadily to his feet.

Chelsea gently pushed the young man back in his chair, and filled the
wine-glasses once more. Then he said:--

“I’ve got five thousand dollars’ worth of United States five-twenty
bonds I want to sell, Mr. Taylor, and I think you can do it for me!
I’d do it myself, only I got ’em in a queer way, old chap, and I want
to get rid of ’em on the cautious. They’ll sell easy, and there’s
twenty-five per cent in the deal for you.”

“And you know the Wall Street game a long sight better ’n my friend,”
put in English.

“I know something about the game in the Street,” said Taylor, with a
contemptuous shrug of his shoulders. “I might negotiate the bonds if I
could see my way clear!”

“Here, fill ’em up again, Mr. Wales!” said Chelsea George, and once
more the trio drained their glasses. But the game had been played.
Chelsea had brought the bonds with him, and Taylor carried them home.
The next day he sold them, and that night he met the two Georges.
When he left them, twelve hundred dollars were in his pocket. It
occurred to him that there must have been something illegal about the
transaction, but to him, then, it made no difference. He must have
money. Now that he had it, he was seized with a spirit of exultation.
Two-thirds of the snug sum in his pocket would pay off the old scores.
These done away with, he would start anew. And, too, the ease with
which he had made the money fascinated him. He began to wonder whether
or not he would have another opportunity. If the bonds had come into
the possession of the Englishmen by fraud, he didn’t know it, so why
should he care; he was not supposed to inquire where they came from.
He had offered them to a broker of a fine business reputation, and no
questions had been asked. Of course the bonds were all right!

As a matter of fact, they had been stolen, and were what is known in
the crook parlance as “crooked.” English George met Taylor a few days
later, and told him what the bonds were, but did not tell him where
they came from. The young clerk, in a measure, was now in the power of
the men, whose true character he began to realize; but his craving for
money, and their reasoning that he would not fall into the hands of the
police, led him to further venture into “crooked bond” selling. Several
more deals, of more or less size, were put through without a hitch, and
“easy money,” as he termed it, came in his way. But, as is usually the
case, it went out as fast, Morrissey’s getting the most of it. There
came a time when he was again out of funds, and the Englishmen had no
bonds to be negotiated. In this emergency, the evil in Taylor, once
aroused, asserted itself with a power not easily resisted. Mad for the
want of that which would supply his craving for gambling, the young
bank clerk was at the point where he would not stop at anything, short
of a great peril that could be seen.

About one year later, Taylor, in a talk with Chelsea George, said, with
a laugh that left his listener in no doubt as to his meaning, “What if
a box of securities were left in a position in our bank to be carried
off without detection?”

Chelsea eyed Taylor in astonishment. He thought there had been a mighty
rapid transition from selling “crooked bonds” to putting up a job to
rob a bank.

“I don’t think I understand you,” said Chelsea.

“I could tell you of such a box and from where it may be taken,” said
Taylor. “That seems pretty plain language to me.”

“Well, yes, I should say so; and I could see such a box if there was
enough of the useful in it to make it worth the while,” answered the
Englishman. “How much would there be in it for me?”

“It won’t have less than a hundred thousand dollars’ worth of United
States government bonds,” said Taylor.

Chelsea asked where they were kept so handily.

“In the paying teller’s window, during business hours.”

“They might as well be in the vault,” declared Chelsea.

“On the contrary,” quickly explained Taylor, “the box is left by itself
in a most careless manner. It would be very easy for you and English
to carry it off, when business is at its height, say at three in the
afternoon.”

“We might play the business man gag,” mused Chelsea.

“What’s that?” inquired the bank clerk, seemingly catching at the
Englishman’s meaning.

“We might call at the bank some afternoon, and English might take the
box while I talked to the president.”

“That’s it--just the thing!” cried Taylor; “I didn’t know just how it
could be done, but was sure you could find some way.”

“How many clerks are there in the banking office?” asked Chelsea.

“Never mind them,” replied Taylor, confidently; “I’ll see they’re kept
busy.”

After the young clerk had made thus clear the possibility of success,
Chelsea agreed with him that they might make a good “touch.” So English
George was consulted, and the plans laid for an immediate attempt. As
suggested by Taylor, the closing hour of business was selected in which
to make the “lift.” The president’s room was just off the office and
not many steps from the paying teller’s desk. The box of securities
nearly always lay at the teller’s elbow.

The day following the completion of the arrangements, a well-dressed
Englishman was admitted to the office of President Martin. Almost
immediately behind him came another man, apparently the companion of
the first. The first caller introduced himself to the president, saying
he was anxious to obtain information about money exchange, and that
he’d been recommended to Mr. Martin by the agent of the steamship line
by which he’d just landed in New York. The president was delighted to
meet the strange Englishman, and heartily welcomed him to America,
adding, “I shall be pleased to be of service to you.”

They conversed in this manner for fifteen minutes. Apparently the
Englishman had not noticed the second caller, who, upon entering the
office, had remained at a distance. President Martin had wondered,
while they were talking, why his visitor hadn’t introduced his
fellow-traveller. Perhaps, though, the other was only a servant. At
any rate President Martin was soon so engrossed with the pleasing
Englishman’s humorous story of a ship passenger’s experience that the
presence of the other slipped his mind.

Presently the second caller walked out in the banking office and stood
idly there for several minutes. John Taylor saw him, knew him, and at
once took the cue. The stranger saw that Taylor called the clerks over
to his desk and was amusing them in some manner. The paying teller
was attending to a long line of bank customers before his window. At
his elbow, as Taylor had said, there lay a tin box. The stranger edged
along in that direction and reached over, with a quick movement, to
possess it. As he did so his elbow struck hard against a high stool.
He tried spasmodically to catch it, but failed. Crash it went to the
floor, and every eye was directed toward him, and every eye saw a
flying figure dash into President Martin’s office, and, climbing to
the window-sill, disappear, before the two occupants of the room,
apparently, realized what had happened. Chelsea George, at Mr. Martin’s
side, gritted his teeth and suppressed an oath when he saw English
George go through the window empty-handed.

The banking office was in an uproar in an instant. President Martin
demanded what was the trouble. Clerk Taylor explained that he’d seen
a gentleman standing in the office a moment before the crash, but
supposed he was a friend of the president’s.

“I thought the man was with you,” exclaimed President Martin to Chelsea
George.

“My dear fellow, no!” expostulated Chelsea; “a man came in behind me,
but I thought he was your friend. It must have been a thief. Did he
steal anything?” President Martin in the excitement hadn’t thought of
that. He was assured that everything was intact.

“How fortunate, my dear fellow,” said Chelsea; “that you’ve lost
nothing. Those rascally blacklegs are so bold! Oh, we have them in
London, even worse than you have them here, don’t you know.”

With this comforting blather for President Martin, and “Many thanks,
my dear fellow, for your kindness,” Chelsea George bowed himself out
of the banking office and was soon in Fulton Street, cursing English
George, and his stupidity, in all the varied forms of blasphemy he
could command.

In the meantime, English George might be a bungler and deserve all the
cursing that Chelsea could deliver, but as to his fleetness, there
could not be a question. When he disappeared from the window, it was to
land ten feet below on the sidewalk in Fulton Street, making good his
escape by way of the old horse-car tunnel through the block to Vesey
Street at College Place.

It was not until after Chelsea had left the bank, and the police
reported, half an hour later, that the thief had escaped, that
the guilty bank clerk began to feel safe. When the crash of the
bookkeeper’s stool came, Taylor thought there would be certain exposure
for him. That night he saw the two Georges and said something far from
complimentary to English.

I have related the details of this attempt to “lift” the box of
securities, to demonstrate in what state of mind I found John Taylor,
for it was in listening to Chelsea George berating English that I,
like a flash, conceived the plot to loot the Ocean Bank. Naturally my
trained mind told me that a bank clerk who was so anxious and willing
to participate in the stealing of one hundred thousand dollars would be
quite likely to fall a victim to a bribe which would make possible a
game worth striving for.

“You can get next to him in a bond-selling deal,” advised Chelsea; “but
I don’t know whether he’d turn to a bank job again after the bungle of
English.”

“It won’t do me any harm to know him,” said I. “I’m sure that a
man who’ll stand for a deal such as you’ve described won’t stop at
anything. So, if you’ll put me up to him, I’ll make a try.”

“No try, no game, George, true enough!”

“Yes,” added I; “and when you meet this Taylor, tell him you know of a
man who’s got a few thousands of paper fit for the market. I’ll bait
him with ’crooked bonds’ as a stepping-stone to a bigger thing.”

Well, briefly, I went to the Sinclair House a few evenings later and
met John Taylor, the appointment having been arranged by English
George. I measured the young man’s caliber immediately, and felt
satisfied that he’d be a good investment; in other words, would be the
sort of stuff out of which I could make a “right” bank clerk. In order
that I might become better acquainted with him at once, I placed three
thousand dollars’ worth of bonds in his care for the market. He made
a good sale, and I paid him fifteen per cent for his pains. Finding
that he was a safe one to deal with, in fact, a man who wouldn’t get
a “swelled head” over success, I gave him other opportunities to sell
bonds, and finally I came down to the more important subject.

I must confess that I was considerably astonished over the readiness
with which he met my proposition. It was more than halfway; indeed, he
was overanxious to barter his honor and integrity in any reasonable
scheme in which there was an ordinary element of safety and a money
return commensurate with the risk that would be taken. I will quote his
own words as correctly as I can: “I am anxious to make a stake large
enough to admit of resigning my position in the Ocean Bank and go West,
where I can start in business for myself.”

Having reached such a plain understanding, it was not long before
Taylor proposed a second attempt to steal the little tin box of
securities which the Englishmen failed to get.

“As a matter of fact,” Taylor told me, “the securities are daily left
in the same lax manner they were before that lunkhead of an Englishman
fell over the chair.”

“One would think the Ocean Bank folks would be more cautious after so
close a call,” I suggested.

“True; but they’re not. I think the box could be carried away easily
if the right sort of a man went after it,” said Taylor, with great
conviction. But I had my mind set on bigger results, and so I reminded
him of our talk about tackling larger game, though at the time I had
not hinted, in any way, what I expected him to do. I hadn’t told him I
had my eye on the Ocean Bank.

“Why not get in the vault of your bank?” said I, and intently watched
his face for the effect. I staggered him! His face, usually pale,
fairly blanched at the mention of the proposition. Presently he gasped,
“It’s a physical impossibility!”

“By no means,” declared I, smiling at my flat contradiction. Still
Taylor was sceptical.

“I don’t believe it! You can’t open it! It’s a bang-up burglar-proof
vault, and so much so, by the eternal, that many of our wisest
customers leave their strong boxes in it,” he cried.

“Nevertheless,” I persisted, benignly disregarding his earnestness,
“the combination lock can be picked, and I can do it! Once inside the
vault, the rest is only a question of time and perseverance!”

When I had talked to him much in this vein, he began to lose some of
his confidence in the burglar-proof qualities of the vault and became
more susceptible to suggestions. With this change of front, and at my
request, he gave me a detailed description of the vault, its doors,
and of the safes inside. Then he enlightened me as to the business
methods of the bank, and, in fact, placed me in full possession, as
he then knew them, of such data as would make clear to me what plans
would have to be devised to get inside the vault. He wasn’t able, at
the moment, to tell me all I wanted to know of the bank’s combination
locks, but this he furnished me later, to my entire satisfaction. As
a further incentive for Taylor to continue his investigation, I was
unstinted in my praise of the work he had thus far done.



CHAPTER XI

A COLOSSAL BANK BURGLING ENTERPRISE


The Ocean National Bank occupied the first floor of the building on the
southeast corner of Fulton and Greenwich streets. Fulton Street at this
point has quite a downward slope running westerly, and, therefore, the
first floor of the building in question was much higher from the ground
at the corner than at its easterly end. The entrance to the bank, which
was at the corner, was reached by a flight of stone steps, while the
entrance to the offices above, being at the other Fulton Street end
of the building, was nearly on the street level. It will be well to
bear these facts in mind, the better to understand the meetings of the
policeman and the janitor as hereinafter related.

Underneath the bank was a basement much below the surface at the back
end, but nearly upon the street level at the Greenwich Street front.
This basement was divided into offices reached by flights of steps
leading down from both streets.

It might be said, in passing, that this is the same building which in
later years was occupied by Charles J. Hartmann and his industrial
insurance company. This company, in the late ’80’s, was closed up
by the Superintendent of Insurance, who found twelve dollars cash
on hand and over forty-three thousand dollars of liabilities. Mr.
Hartmann, from his connection with this company, received considerable
undesirable notoriety, resulting, among other things, in a suit for
libel against a newspaper. The jury in that case awarded Hartmann
a verdict of five thousand dollars, which was finally paid; though
not until the case had been carried to the Court of Appeals and
the newspaper beaten at every turn and being administered scathing
denunciations from the bench.

As before stated, the bank occupied the first floor of this building.
The counters of the tellers and the desks of the bookkeepers were
in the front, or Greenwich Street, end; the private office of the
president was at the rear end, with windows fronting on Fulton Street.
The corner of the building at the intersection of the two streets was
rounded, as was also the flight of steps leading up to the bank. This
made an entrance conspicuous, as it could be seen from a long distance
away both on Fulton and Greenwich streets. Therefore it would seem that
it would be a most desperate, if not a hopeless, undertaking to attempt
to gain entrance to the bank vault, or, if successful, to get away with
its contents, without being discovered.

But to the bank burglar the greater the risk, the greater the desire
to “beat” it. For he who continues in the ranks of professional
burglars does so as much for the excitement of the game as for the
desire for pelf. Though, of course, the larger the loot, the larger
the satisfaction. It is the same feeling as that which animates the
hunter of the lion, tiger, and elephant. The only difference is in the
direction of the energy.

The Ocean Bank at this time was one of the large institutions,
financially, in New York City, and that, of course, means in the
United States. It was situated close to the Washington markets, then
the centre for all produce that came to or was dealt in in the city.
And the district for the wholesale dealers and jobbers of all kinds of
merchandise was then in the near neighborhood. Furthermore the bank was
a depository for United States Government funds. Thus it is but natural
that one should suppose that the strong vault of this bank always
contained a large sum in cash and convertible securities--a sum much
greater than the proverbial king’s ransom.

The lock on the vault was a three-tumbler combination made by Briggs
and Huntington of Rochester, New York, and was at that time one of
the most secure of its kind, and was practically, if not absolutely,
non-pickable except by one in possession of the combination.

There was, however, the same fatal weakness as in Lillie’s. If, between
its locking and unlocking, one could obtain access to it long enough
to insert the “Little Joker,” heretofore explained, a register of the
numbers of the combination could be obtained. I learned from Taylor
that there was an inside door to the vault, the keys to which, when not
in use, were kept in a secret place in the bank; and that, also, within
the vault the paying and receiving tellers had each a separate safe,
the key to which each teller carried on his person.

In proportion as the obstacles increased, so did my zeal to overcome
them; and I told Taylor that I was determined to make the attempt
unless I became convinced of its utter futility. Many questions that
I would ask about the vault and the bank management Taylor could not
answer offhand, but would require time to observe and report upon them
later. Thus it was that I obtained the name of the maker of the lock
and its style, the manner of the disposition of the keys, and the
conduct of the officials. For, from lack of experience, Taylor had not,
until prompted by me, observed many things which it is essential for
one in my line of business to know--things which it is necessary to
be informed about before undertaking a job, and which assistance from
the inside saves from long, weary weeks of spying and prying to learn.
Taylor also ascertained the secret receptacle of the keys to the vault,
and tried, by watching, to catch the combination of the inner vault
door’s lock as it was being manipulated. In this, however, he made no
progress.

Finally I decided that the only way to accomplish our purpose was to
go about it systematically, and spend money, time, and other means
sufficient to insure complete success. And then began months of
planning and scheming which I hoped would bring ultimately a rich
reward.

Having determined that strenuous measures were necessary to gain our
end, I at once set about their employment. I had seen from the first
that it would be next to impossible to force the outer vault doors by
means of explosives without bringing detection upon us before we could
accomplish more; and that, therefore, our only hope for success lay in
obtaining the combination to the lock.

I learned of Taylor that, from his desk in the bank, he could see the
combination when it was being operated; but that he could not get near
enough to see the marks on the dial without creating suspicion. I
was pretty nearly at my wits’ end, when, as a last resort, I finally
determined to try the power of initiation. The scheme that came to my
mind was mighty visionary, but the thought of millions nerved me to try
every expedient. And, as Taylor was particularly bright, I thought that
my plan had more than a fighting chance.

Thus it was that one day I boarded a train at the New York Central
depot and on the following morning found myself in the city of
Rochester. I registered at the Brackett House, and, after cleaning off
the dust of travel and supplying the wants of the inner man, I made
my way to the office of Messrs. Briggs and Huntington. I introduced
myself to Mr. Briggs as W. D. Harrington, of the banking house of
J. C. Harrington and Co., Scranton, Pennsylvania. I happened to know
that there was no such concern in Scranton, and I trusted to luck that
Mr. Briggs did not possess a like knowledge. He did not, and I was,
therefore, free to enlarge upon a mythical vault to my heart’s content.

I told Mr. Briggs that the combination lock to our vault doors worked
badly, was constantly giving trouble, and that we had decided to
replace it with a new one, and to get the best in the market; that we
had heard their locks highly spoken of, and, as I was on my way to
Buffalo on business, I had stopped off to see what his firm could do
for us.

Mr. Briggs, doubtless with an eye to business, began to ask questions
about our vault. My general knowledge of such affairs enabled me to
answer him satisfactorily. I told him that it was built of brick, lined
with stone, and that it had Lillie doors. He said that while vaults of
that kind were possibly fireproof, they were far from being safe from
burglars. He claimed that Lillie’s work was a back number, and showed
me a Lillie safe that had been robbed by drilling. “Let us put you in
a steel-lined vault, and some of our latest make of chilled steel
doors,” suggested Mr. Briggs; “then you will have a vault that you can
feel is really burglar-proof.”

I thought of our unsuccessful attempt on the Brockport Bank and felt
that Mr. Briggs had some justification for his confidence. And I could
not but speculate as to whether his confidence would remain unshaken
after the ultimate ending of the scheme in behalf of which I was now
visiting him. I venture to say that it did not.

Parrying as best I could Mr. Briggs’s proposition,--for I did not know
just the dimensions of that Scranton vault, and really did not wish
it lined just then,--and it not being a vault, but a lock, that I was
after, I asked to be shown their different styles of locks. There was
none just exactly like that on the Ocean Bank vault; but there was one
which varied only slightly. I asked Mr. Briggs if he could not make
certain changes in it. He said he could, but that the lock would not
then be so good, as the things I wished altered were improvements on
their old style of lock. I insisted, however, upon the changes; and
he said that it would take about two days to make them. I told him to
go ahead and make the changes, and I would take the lock. He offered
to send it by express to Scranton, but I replied that my business in
Buffalo would be finished by the time the lock was ready, and that I
would stop for it on my way home.

I have often wondered since that Briggs did not become suspicious at
my display of knowledge of locks, and my desire for a special pattern,
especially as that pattern was palpably not as good as the one he was
asked to alter. Doubtless he did wonder, but he probably put it down to
the contrariness of a man who, having set his mind on one thing, cannot
be turned therefrom by the most convincing arguments. For how could he
surmise the purpose to which that lock was intended to be put?

The beating of combinations had not then become the success that it
afterward attained, when safe-makers had continually to exercise their
ingenuity to keep ahead of the safe-breakers. Then the safe-makers
took extreme precautions to prevent the obtaining of knowledge of the
mechanism of their locks. And many good stories could be told about
how crooks circumvented these precautions, and how, by reason thereof,
Troy, New York, and Akron, Ohio, became centres for bank burglars.

However, Mr. Briggs exhibited no suspicion, and promised to have the
lock ready on the afternoon of the following day. To minimize all
risks, I went to Buffalo and stayed over night at the Mansion House,
returning to Rochester the next afternoon. Going at once to the office
of Mr. Briggs, I found the lock ready for me. A careful examination
showed it to be what I had come for. Therefore it was boxed, I paid
the bill of two hundred dollars, and that night I was on my way back
to New York City with my purchase, which was safe in my apartments the
next morning.

The following night, in response to my request, Taylor came to my
room, and I took the lock apart and explained its mechanism to him.
I went over the details until he fully understood their workings.
Then, putting the lock together, I went to one side of the room while
Taylor went to the other, and I began working the dial knob; Taylor was
watching my hands to discover through their movements, if he could, the
points at which I stopped and the number of revolutions the dial made.
It was tedious work, but we kept at it night after night, while, in the
daytime, Taylor, having made it a point to be always on hand before the
vault was opened, would watch the process of unlocking its doors. He
had a quick eye and was very apt, and, after some weeks of practice and
watching, he felt sure that he had the combination that would open the
doors of the vault.

We tried upon our lock until I was convinced that he was right, and
then I began to feel that our project was in a fair way to succeed. And
a few days later, to make sure of his convictions, Taylor stayed after
hours at the bank on an excuse that he was behind on his books. There
being no one around but the janitor, Taylor put his belief to the test
and found--failure.

When I met Taylor that night, he told me the result of his attempt,
and that he felt sure he had the first two numbers right and that the
last number, which he had decided to be one hundred and twenty-three,
must be the one he had wrong. Of course we felt a little blue, but
we agreed that if he had the first two numbers right, the last would
not be long in coming. It was finally arranged that Taylor should
stay after hours the next day, and that he should send the janitor on
an errand that would keep him away fifteen or twenty minutes; that I
should be where I could watch the bank, and when the janitor left I
should enter and see what I could do.

This plan was carried out. As soon as the janitor had gone, I entered
the bank; the door was locked against intrusion, and I went to work at
the combination, when, lo! the handle turned, the bolts shot back, and
the doors opened. Taylor had the combination pat except the last stop,
which was on no number, but just a little to one side of one hundred
and twenty-three. No wonder he did not get it exactly, but it was great
work to get it as near as he did.

When our success was apparent we did not fall into one another’s arms
and weep tears of joy. No. I closed the doors and made my exit; and
Taylor, a few moments later, closed his books and did likewise. We met
at the Astor House, and I think we may be pardoned if we indulged in a
cold bottle, or even two.

Up to this time there had been no discussion of terms between Taylor
and myself. He had ever been somewhat sceptical as to our success, and
I had borne all the expense of the venture. Now, however, he became
imbued with some of my faith in the scheme, and an agreement was made
between us as to the percentage he should receive of whatever should
be obtained in the loot, though this was a good deal like counting
chickens before they were hatched.

Until we had secured the combination to the vault of the Ocean Bank,
Taylor and I had worked in secret, no one else having the least idea
of what we were doing, or that we had aught in contemplation. Now,
however, it became necessary for me to find assistants in the work of
getting into the bank. In this, Taylor, of course, could not help me.
Burglary was not in his line, and except that he would keep me posted
on the doings inside of the bank, all the work in future must be done
by other hands than his.

The difficulties to be overcome and the immensity of the haul we should
make, if successful, rendered it imperative that the very best men in
the profession should be engaged. At this time alleged burglars were
numerous, but most of them were more fit for breaking into a jail than
a safe, and very few could be depended on for a job requiring nice
work. No loud-mouthed, Jack Hartley crowd of grafters, with their
wagon loads of English pattern-made tools, would fill the bill.

Since my separation from Shinburn after our adventure at Bath, I had
not been able to find a single person whom I considered capable of
helping me in any deal. Now, however, I must have some one, as I could
not do this alone. I could think of no one else whom I would be willing
to call in, so I determined to try to patch up matters with him.
Through a mutual friend I sent word to him that I had a big undertaking
under way that promised large returns, and that it would please me
greatly if he would join me in the venture.

Shinburn met my advances in the spirit of friendliness and we soon came
together. I shall never forget his remark when we met. “George,” said
he, “I guess we were both a little too much set in our ways. I am only
too glad to get into a job with you, and if we pull together we ought
to be able to beat the safe-makers.”

This renewal of our former partnership, in the last days of 1868,
continued until the winter of 1870, during which time many profitable
tricks were brought off, some of which are related in this work. Taking
Shinburn to my rooms, I explained my scheme, told him what had been
accomplished, and he became fully as enthusiastic over the prospect as
I was; and we at once set to work to complete the job.



CHAPTER XII

JUGGLING WITH DEATH


“Curses on it, George; my key won’t lock it!” groaned Mark Shinburn, as
he turned, twisted, and in every way tried to move the bolt of the key
lock in the door of the big steel vault.

“Don’t give it up, Mark,” I whispered encouragingly, and he manipulated
the key again, until, cold night as it was, the perspiration stood like
tiny bubbles on his face. I could see it with the aid of the candle
which threw a dim light in the banking office.

“No use, George,” he burst out again, presently, throwing himself flat
on the floor; “it won’t work, and the trick can’t be done to-night;
we’ll have to try it another time!”

“But we’ve got one of the money safes,” said I, by way of
encouragement, as I swung open the steel door of a safe in the vault,
disclosing many packages of money, mostly in large bills and not a
small quantity of gold and silver. “Your key worked on this one to a
nicety.”

“Yes, curse it!” Shinburn mumbled; “it seems I got one to fit, but this
one will not,” and he contemptuously tossed a key on the floor at my
feet. “We might get along well enough under these conditions if I could
relock the vault door, but I can’t. The duplicate key will unlock it,
but will not, try as I may, lock it again. As it is, the vault door
can’t be left as we found it, and we’re in a pretty mess.”

“It unlocked it easily enough,” I commented, as I took the key from his
hand, and, thrusting it home in the vault door lock, attempted to turn
the bolt at lock again. In vain--I could not.

“I’m losing my cunning,” went on Shinburn as I was working; “here I’ve
made three keys, and only one will do the trick for which I shaped it.”

I looked at my watch, for a new thought had come to me. I said, “Lock
the money safe, Mark, and let’s get out of this, for the night clerk
who sleeps in the bank will be here in ten minutes.”

“I’ll do it, but what about the d--d vault door? We can’t lock that,
and to leave it open means the certain discovery that some one’s been
tampering with the vault. We’ve come a long way from New York to make a
failure.”

“We can’t leave it any way but unlocked,” I said; “and, as a matter of
fact, knowing the habits of cashiers as I do, I’ll wager that nothing
will be thought of the door being found unlocked. The cashier will
think he has been careless, and you can be certain that he won’t
squeal on himself. In the meantime, we’ll make the keys fit. Don’t
forget the safe key you threw on the floor.”

Shinburn continued to sit on the floor like a child in a pout.

“Come, Mark, come!” I spoke harshly and almost aloud, impatient over
his tardiness and seeming indifference to our danger. “We’re taking a
long chance remaining here like this.”

“Blast the luck!” he growled again, “to think we’ve got to miss
this fine opportunity of getting away with that swag.” Never in all
my experience with Shinburn, this master crook, had I seen him so
confoundedly obstinate and so much disturbed. He was an icicle, as a
rule--nothing stirred him. Tonight he was disgusted clean through.

“There, that safe is locked,” he said at length, as, springing from the
floor, he threw the money safe door to, and turned the key home. Two or
three small fortunes were shut from our view. “And that one,” he added,
“will be open the next time we come, if we do, or I’ve lost all my
cunning.”

“Hold your tongue, Mark,” I said, “and come with me.” How often I had
been obliged to urge discretion upon him, for he was ever running
risks. As we came out of the vault I closed the great steel door,
and once more tried to throw home the bolt. It was useless to try.
Shinburn seemed to look at me sarcastically, as though he would tell me
there was no hope of locking the door if he couldn’t do it. Leaving
everything as we found it, we left the bank by the rear door. Scarcely
had we done so when the night clerk let himself in by the front door.

It was the first work done on the inside of a St. Catharines bank in
Ontario, Canada, the vault of which, we had been informed, held a
treasure worth the miles we had come to possess it.

The prize seemed to be within our reach, when the failure of the
duplicate keys to work brought irritating delay. The cash in one of
the safes might have been carried off that night, but it would have
been flatly unwise, from our viewpoint, to leave behind thousands which
might easily be gotten. To rob one safe would mean discovery of the
fact the next morning, and there would end all possibility of getting
the contents of the other safe. Both, with properly made keys, could be
looted with one visit to the vault.

One of those apparently insignificant oversights on the part of bank
officials was the foundation upon which I constructed the plan to rob
this bank, and I would direct the attention of the banking world to
the incident with all the force I possess. While the method of bank
protection of the present period is vastly different from then, it may
be that there will be a lesson, after all, found in this history.

It was Jim Griffin, a crook with a reputation, who suggested the
robbery. He lived in St. Catharines. A young man who kept company with
an Irish serving-girl dropped a remark in Jim’s hearing. The girl was
in the employ of the cashier of the bank. Naturally she talked of his
affairs, and among other things mentioned the bank keys, which “nearly
every night lay on the mantel-piece in the dining room.” As I have
said, Jim Griffin heard this girl’s sweetheart speak of the incident,
and within two days Jim was in New York, looking for some one to loot
the bank. Through a mutual friend I was introduced to him.

“That seems like a fine chance to get a few wax impressions,” was my
comment.

“Yes,” rejoined Griffin, with a satisfied smile, “I thought the
opportunity too inviting to give it the go-by.”

“Right; if bank cashiers will let servant-girls have opportunities
to talk about bank keys lying about the house, I don’t know why we
shouldn’t profit by it,” I said. “Shall I interest Mark Shinburn in
this?” Griffin assented.

Two days later I was in St. Catharines, and when I had returned to New
York had succeeded in making the acquaintance of the sweetheart of
the cashier’s serving-girl and had with me the wax impressions of the
vault door key and the keys of the two money safes inside. From these
impressions I had Shinburn make duplicates.

Several days after this my associates and I were ready to begin the
job, and in fact I have already told with what difficulties we had
to contend. Our inability to relock the vault door, owing to the
misfitting of the key, should have put an end to our hopes of robbing
the vault, but, as I anticipated, the cashier, finding the vault door
unlocked, believed he had been very careless, and no harm having been
done, as he thought, no report of the fact was made to his superiors.
Thus was our way paved with opportunity for the next attempt.

Early in the evening, about two weeks later, found us again in the bank
and at our work. Two of the keys answered to the turn, but the inside
safe key, which had bothered us before, still was out of fit. I decided
to delay no more, and that explosives must be used on that safe, though
it would require much longer than we’d planned, and there was the added
danger that we would not be able to get through in time to catch the
through train we expected to use as a safe “get-away.” Missing the
train, we would be in the position of not having provided a team. All
that could be done was to hope for the best. A fleet pair of horses and
a light sleigh, with a dash, we hoped, would land us safely at Niagara
Falls, seventeen miles away. The serious end of this proposition would
be the little time we’d have to procure a team.

But we got at the work. The holes were drilled in the safe and the
“energy” applied; and a most satisfactory “blow” was the result. I had
never seen a better job. We unlocked the other money safe, and soon
had the cash and bonds crammed into a large travelling bag provided
for the purpose, all being accomplished as expeditiously as we could.
Even then it was fast nearing the time for the night clerk to put
in an appearance. We did not dare to remain long enough to put the
banking office in shape. Indeed, the vault had to be left open, lest
we be caught red-handed. The rear door of the bank had scarcely closed
behind us ere the clerk went in the front entrance. To be accurate,
we hadn’t gone two blocks when he was hot-footing it to the nearest
police station. Instead of a leisurely “get-away,” we found ourselves
forced up against the race for liberty, in a fierce snow-storm of the
blizzard class. One thing in our favor was the fact that we knew of a
hotel where we might get a team, and there we went. Luckily, what we
wanted was found, and soon we were off for American soil and safety. It
was a situation that required plenty of pluck. The snow was deep, and
travelling was no joke to either man or beast. A ride in a temperature
such as that night had, and in a gale of wind clouded with flour-dust
snow, had nothing to recommend itself to any one; but that was what
we had to face or something worse. The poor dumb brutes were much of
the time in a perspiration, from the lashing we gave them, but it was
either that for them or capture for us, so we were relentless. I verily
believe they never fully recovered from the strain of that night. After
the drive, the like of which I do not wish to experience again, we
arrived at Niagara Falls about three o’clock in the morning. Putting up
the team and paying to have it sent back to St. Catharines, we started
for the old suspension bridge. That was the only way across the river,
the new one not being open for travel, so we had ascertained on our way
to St. Catharines.

A careful reconnoitre of the bridge entrance showed us that an alarm
had been sent abroad, for a guard of police was waiting in the
neighborhood to arrest suspicious characters. Had my original plan
succeeded, we would have had none of this,--we would have been in the
United States before the robbery was discovered. But that fact cut no
figure in the present dilemma. To the American side we must get, and
mighty soon, or we would find ourselves in a Canadian trap. The old
suspension bridge, beyond doubt, was not a safe passage for us. It
occurred to me that it might be worth while to examine the new bridge;
perhaps we could pick our way across it. No one had made the attempt
save a few workmen accustomed to that sort of climbing, as monkeys are
used to gambolling in tree-tops. Verily workers on suspension bridges
and the like, it seemed to me, were never quite at home unless they
were dangling at the end of a wire many feet above water or _terra
firma_.

We approached the entrance cautiously, and, fortunately, were soon
convinced that there wasn’t a police guard in that neighborhood.
Undoubtedly they believed that no sane man would attempt to travel
the new bridge under the most favorable weather conditions, and
certainly not on such a night as we confronted it. But escape we must,
and somehow I determined we would. With this feeling we began an
investigation. The wind was howling, and at intervals filled almost
to suffocation with clouds of powdery snow that fairly beat its
way through our clothing. It had rained the day before, a freezing
temperature following, and every inch of the bridge work was covered
with a veneering of ice, much of it as smooth as glass, rendering
foothold extremely uncertain. The night, or rather the morning, for
it was going on four o’clock, was dark, there being no moon above the
storm. What little light there was to pierce the darkness came from the
snow. As for the bridge, the wind swept it clean, as well it might, for
at times we kept our feet with great difficulty when a powerful gust
came upon us unawares.

It seemed that we were to have less trouble than anticipated, for
we’d traversed something like three hundred feet toward the centre,
with a well-laid flooring for our feet, and were pressing on farther,
cheerfully, before we suddenly had these hopes toppled. I, being in
the lead, came mighty near stepping through an opening down into the
Niagara River. As I contemplate the experience at this late day, a
chill runs through me. I had come to the end of the planking, where
the workmen had ceased their labors, possibly on account of the storm
in the afternoon. Beyond this, as far as I could discern, was a narrow
path of planks laid end to end over the iron girders. The first plank
was not more than a dozen inches in width. Further on, it was purely
a matter of guessing as to what we would encounter. I got on my knees
and felt of the plank. It proved to be what I expected--covered with
ice. The only way we could get over it, with any degree of safety,
would be to crawl on our hands and knees. The next thing in my mind
was, whether or not we could, in the face of the gale, hold to the
planking. More nerve-racking still was the uncertainty of what lay
farther on in the darkness. I wondered if, and hoped that, the workmen
on the American end of the bridge had laid more flooring, perhaps a
great deal more, than we had found on this side. If that were the case,
the skeleton which lay between us and the flooring on the other side
might not be such a menace to our safety as it seemed. All this was
mere conjecture, I said to Mark, and the only way to know what was
before us was to proceed. It were better, I said, to make an attempt
with the possibility of getting across than to remain on this side and
fall into the hands of the police. While it has required considerable
time to tell all this, it really happened in a very few minutes.
Perhaps five minutes after we were face to face with the danger we had
determined what to do.

“It’s like juggling with death,” said Shinburn, coolly, when I asked
him if we would better make the attempt to cross on the planking.

“Yes,” I admitted, “it’s a lottery--one chance in many if we get over
in safety; but in that bag you have there is a quarter of a million
dollars, for which we came to Canada. If we remain on this side of the
river much longer, we’re bound to get mixed up with the law, and the
cash will go whence it came, perhaps, and we’ll have plenty of time to
think it all over in the queen’s prison. Ahead we may meet death, but
that I don’t believe, for I haven’t got that feeling--that premonition
that sometimes tells a fellow what evil is coming to him. We’ve got to
crawl on the planks, that’s the only way I can see to safety. If you
can stand it, why, I can.”

I had in mind an experience in the Alps several years before, while
touring Europe, and it occurred to me that it might be of some use to
follow some of the tactics adopted by my Alpine guide. He carried a
long rope, and when my party came to a particularly perilous pathway,
alongside a gorge thousands of feet deep, he tied the rope to each of
us, so that we appeared like so many knots in it, one a dozen feet,
perhaps, from the other. It was hardly possible that one would fall and
drag all down with him. If one of the party lost his footing, the worst
that could happen to him would be a bad fright from dangling between
the sky and the almost bottomless gorge, it all ending in being dragged
to safety again.

“I believe that we can find some rope, and in some such way help
ourselves out of this predicament,” I said, in making a further
explanation of my plan. “There must be rope about the stables in the
village. Now, what say you to the idea?”

“Anything to get out of this beastly cold,” Mark answered. “To get out
of this I’d go to ----”

“Never mind where, Mark,” I laughed, despite the gravity of our
situation.

“Well, I’m an iceberg and no mistake, George; and I want to go anywhere
to find a place that will thaw things.”

We hustled among several stables in the neighborhood, and soon had two
clothes-lines and three pairs of horse reins. Then back to the bridge
we went, where in a few minutes we’d rigged up a cable that seemed
strong enough to withstand the strain to which we would put it. I said
I’d make the first attempt to cross, so tied one end of the cable to
a bridge stay and the other around my body close under the arms. The
cable was about seventy feet in length, long enough, I reckoned, to
let me get to the other side of the skeleton work. If the cable was
exhausted before I got over, then I would have to return. That was the
alternative. When ready to start, I fastened the treasure satchel to
Mark’s back, and told him to remain at the cable stay, and do the best
he could for me, in case I slipped from the planks and fell through
the skeleton work. If he could pull me to the bridge again, why, all
right; if not, well--I shivered at the prospect of dangling in the air
hundreds of feet above the dark river.

“If I should fall through, Mark,” I said to him, “and you can’t get me
back, just cut the rope. I guess that will end me. Anyway, it will be
better than being suspended in the air and freezing to death.”

“Don’t talk like a fool!” he said, in a sort of shivering voice, I
thought; “if you think it so serious as that, you shouldn’t start.”

“Well, in case anything should happen, Mark, old boy, I’ll say good-by.”

With that I stepped on the plank and, bending to my knees, began my
journey over the slippery planking, with the storm raging about me.
Far below was the roaring river I could hear but not see. Suddenly it
occurred to me that I had not agreed with Mark on a code of signals.
I dared not turn round, so cried out to him, that if I got over all
right, I would pull the cable three times. In that case he was to
fasten the cable about him and return to me a similar indication of his
readiness for the journey. Then I would fasten the cable to a stay at
my end of the bridge, and notify him by the same signal to come over. I
called back another good-by, which he answered. The wind swept through
the thousands of strings of the great skeleton bridge, rendering wild,
weird music, it seemed to me; and at times, as I struggled along the
treacherous planks, I imagined that the wires were of a prodigious
harp, designed to give forth melancholy and discouragement, and that
ten thousand demons were at the strings in a mad struggle to achieve my
undoing. Again, so mournful was the sweep of the wind, that I could, in
my terrible position, fancy my ears laden with the weight of my funeral
song. I wished with all my heart that it would cease, that I might
better work out my exemption from death, but it persisted in beating
on, occasionally threatening to dislodge me by a sudden and more
terrifying evidence of its unlimited energy.

I had been creeping along inch by inch, and it seemed to me that I must
have been on the way an hour, before I had covered a score of feet,
when I paused to catch my breath, which had been almost driven from my
body by a fierce shock of wind. And, too, I was compelled to clutch
at the planking with all the strength left me, that I might not be
hurled below as far as my cable would permit. When the wind relented, I
called out to Mark, but no response came, the sound of my voice, in all
probability, having been drowned ere it got ten feet away. I resumed
the struggle and had traversed a dozen feet more, when a gust struck
me and one hand slipped from the plank. Down I went with a crash that
nearly cracked my head on the ice, and I must have gone below, had not
my right hand come in contact with a girder, fortunately close by, when
I met with the mishap. With this aid I was able to balance myself and
regain my place on the plank. I was trembling with fright, and I knew
that my forehead, notwithstanding the cold, was wet with perspiration.
It was fortunate I was near a girder when this piece of ill-luck came.
The girders, as near as I could guess, were five feet apart. Had I
been midway of two, I dare not think of what would have been my fate.
Without these supports, from time to time, I am certain that I would
have been unable to keep to the path.

Perhaps I’d crawled fifty feet when I came to the end of a plank, and,
feeling further ahead and to the right and to the left, I could put my
hand on no support save an iron girder at my right side. It was about
eight inches wide, and no doubt extended to the edge of the bridge. To
the right I thought I saw another plank, but to reach it I must crawl
along the narrow, ice-covered beam. I had barely saved myself from
disaster on the planking; how I’d fare on the iron, still narrower,
I did not know. Ahead, as I became more accustomed to the darkness,
I made out the next girder, but it was too far away. I must creep to
the plank at my right or go back to Shinburn. Try as I might, I could
find no other solution. My predicament can easily be understood, if
any one doubts this history, by an attempt on hands and knees, in
broad daylight, to crawl fifty feet along a board twelve inches wide,
at an elevation of several hundreds of feet, and coming to the end of
that narrow path, turn squarely, and, still on the hands and knees,
creep along an eight-inch wide ice-covered iron beam. If this journey
will not put the nerves to the test, then I’m no judge of human nature
and endurance. But the full force of my danger can only be realized,
when the course I have outlined has been gone over in such a night as
I have described, with its howling winds and blinding snow clouds. A
person who can accomplish the task without the trouble I felt must be a
practised athlete or a monkey with a ringed tail.

I came mighty near slipping from the girder the moment I put my knee
to it. The wind seemed to come with a sort of broadside force. What
saved me I don’t know. At the end of the girder I found a plank, and
the solution of my troubles, in part. This plank was not so heavy as
the others and had not been so thoroughly frozen to the iron that a
strong gust of wind could not sweep it toward the right side of the
bridge, one end more than the other. In this manner had my straight
passage along the planking been interrupted. I crawled on the plank,
finding it very unsteady, owing to the way it rested on the girders. I
crept along, and thus I bore to the left, where, after going sixteen
feet, I came to the resumption of the straight and narrow path, which I
hoped would lead me to the end of my perilous route; that is, I thought
so, but to my disappointment I was confronted with another stretch
of ice-covered iron to be struggled over. However, it proved to be
only eight feet from plank to plank, and I succeeded in spanning it
without a mishap. But my hands and feet were aching with the cold. If
I had dared, I would have sat astride the plank and slapped my hands
together, but time was so precious and the moments must seem so endless
to Mark, that I would not. So, pressing on, I gained ten more feet, and
felt encouraged. Then I found myself on a terribly slippery and much
narrower piece of planking, which evidently had been used as a filler
in the pathway. In my anxiety to get along, I did not discover it until
I’d taken an insecure hold. Suddenly my hand slipped off, and, sheering
to one side, I toppled over. Catching at the planking with both hands,
I found myself hanging under the planking instead of shooting down
to the cable’s end. Vainly for a minute I tried to fetch my feet up
around the plank. Struggling with all my might, it seemed impossible
under the conditions, as I was almost stiff from the cold and weakened
by the terrible strain upon me. As my feet swung back and forth in an
effort to get a momentum that would assist me, they struck against
the girder I’d crossed just before I fell. Here was a simple solution
of my nerve-taxing plight. I wondered if another man, Mark Shinburn,
for instance, would have been so bewildered as not to think sooner of
using the girder as a means of getting back to the planking. I always
believed, without wishing to appear egotistical, that I possessed at
least the ordinary common sense allotted to man. In this case I seem
to have been very short-sighted. Perhaps--ay, I must believe that
the awful test to which my mind and body had been subjected, and the
fearful roar of the wind and the swirling of the snow, confused me.

I inched my hands along the plank till I got to the girder, and then
I pulled myself to the path again. I will not dwell upon the great
effort I had to put forth, nor go into detail as to my exhausted state
when at last I was comparatively safe again. When I had crawled twelve
feet more on the planking, I came to the solid bridge flooring, and
with a glad feeling scrambled from my knees. Had I dared, I would
have prayed. Pounding the palms of my hands together for a minute,
a warm sensation of a freer circulation gave me renewed life, and
then I signalled back to Mark that he might know I was safe, and that
he’d better get ready to follow me. Unloosing the cable, I soon had
the arrangements for his safety completed, had received his sign of
readiness, and had notified him to proceed. I knew pretty well that he
would have to surmount about every difficulty I had, and perhaps more,
and I hoped he would succeed as well. One thing I was certain of, and
that was, he would be handicapped more than I. I could have brought
the treasure bag with me, but why should I? I might lose my life and
he might be saved. If I took the bag with me and my life were lost, he
would be deprived of his share of the money, for it would have gone
down with me into the river finally. Now that I had accomplished the
perilous task, it was more than probable that he would fare no worse.

I kept my hands on the cable constantly, that I might be ready for any
emergency. Now and then I detected a trembling that told me of his
coming. After perhaps three minutes had passed, I began drawing in
the cable, and from the slack I coiled on the flooring it was easy to
tell that Shinburn was making progress. I wondered whether he’d be as
successful as I, upon arriving at the break in his narrow way. Suddenly
the cable became taut, and my heart went a-thumping until I felt a
choking sensation. Almost immediately the tension was relaxed, and I
knew Mark was still safe, though no doubt he had met with something
unpleasant. I drew in more slack, presently, but with the utmost
caution, fearful that I might, in some manner, impede his progress. I
believed I could tell by the cable when he crawled over the icy iron
sill, as I had done, and then obliquely, back to the straight way
again. I measured the cable as a woman measures cloth, from elbow to
nose, and found, as near as I could tell in that manner, that about
two-thirds of the entire length was at my feet. That my comrade was
getting near to the end of his tortuous journey there was no doubt.
True enough, for, with the wind bearing the sounds my way, I could hear
the crackling of ice on the planks.

“Mark, Mark, lad!” cried I, and waited intently for a response.
It came in a sort of gasp, as though the speaker were almost
exhausted,--“‘Right, George, ‘right!”

That the poor fellow was about done for I felt certain.

“Courage, Mark; it’s almost over, lad,” I shouted, hoping that my words
would reach him, despite the wrong direction of the wind. The many
anxious moments were torture to me, but they were soon to end. Five
minutes later I saw him emerge from the darkness and the storm, and,
forgetful of my own danger, I reached far out, and, catching hold of
him, was his guide to safety. He could not have lasted many minutes
more. He trembled as though stricken with ague. I beat his body with my
hands and dragged him about until he must have thought I was inhuman,
but I felt that I must make his blood flow faster. Presently he grew
stronger and was able to speak in a whisper:--

“Jail for mine, George, if the other chance is the sort of wire-walking
I’ve just done.”

“To the winds with what we’ve passed through, Mark,” I cried joyously;
“for what’s it all to us now that we’re safe? Come, lad, it will be of
the easiest sort to get over the remainder of the bridge now;” and,
unstrapping the treasure satchel, I relieved him of this burden, and
pushing my arm through his, supported him toward the American side.
Soon we came to the gate, on the other side of which was a watchman’s
shanty. Climbing the gate, I bade him wait while I investigated the
premises to see whether any one was inside. The watchman was there, but
fast asleep, and snoring so that I could hear him above the rushing of
the wind. There was no danger from him--that was certain.

While Mark lingered near the bridge with the treasure, I went after
a livery team, with which to drive to the home of a Mr. Webster,
according to the story I would tell the driver. Our dear Mr. Webster
would live somewhere in the country, perhaps ten miles from Niagara
Falls. I found the team without difficulty, and, driving after Mark, we
were soon on our journey. As I have intimated, we told the driver that
it was too rough weather for us to make the long trip to our friend’s
place; and as it was best to make as direct a course as possible, in
order to facilitate the business that had taken us to that part of the
country, he’d better put about in the direction of Tonawanda. Afterward
I learned that this ruse saved us from arrest, and we were glad of the
forethought.

On the suburbs of Tonawanda I discharged the team, and we walked to the
Buffalo side of the village, where we engaged another team. As before,
we started for some fictitious friend’s house in the country, but after
getting a mile or so out of the village, headed for Buffalo. Arriving
there, we discharged that team and went to the house of a friend, where
we fairly revelled in a hot breakfast; which by the way we very much
needed.

About eleven o’clock in the morning we induced our host to make a
little investigation of the police situation for us. He returned after
an hour with the none too encouraging news that two men who were
believed to be the St. Catharines looters had been traced to Buffalo.
Much against my judgment, about two o’clock in the afternoon, with a
small bag of cash, the other having been left, with most of the loot,
with our friend, Shinburn and I set out for the Erie Railway depot to
get a New York train. We had been on the street only a few minutes when
I began to reason with him, and to point out the danger of exposing
ourselves in so public a place as the Buffalo depot.

“Mark,” I said, “when the superintendent of a railway issues orders as
to the running time of trains, he never fails to say to his employees,
‘When you’re in doubt as to the right of way, be sure to take the
course you know is safe.’ Now, it’s dollars to doughnuts that the
depot is being well watched. I suggest that we about face and drive to
another town, much smaller than this, and get a train there.”

Well, we did so, and shortly after dark were in Angola. Putting our
team in the stable, we went to the hotel, which was near the depot,
put our cash bag carelessly under the counter, and went in to supper.
On coming out a few minutes later, I saw that our baggage had been
disturbed, as though some one had been examining it. Not far away stood
two men in a deep conversation. They frequently, though slyly, cast
their eyes in our direction. We calmly smoked our cigars and waited
developments. In the meantime I felt for my pistol, to have it handy,
not knowing what sort of a fight there might be any minute. Of a truth,
we weren’t going to surrender at the first cry of wolf. One of the men
presently walked up to me and said, in a most affable manner, “That’s
a fine team you have in the stable.”

“Yes,” I answered, in a hard, cold tone, and as repelling as I could
make it. My iceberg reply seemed to shut off any further conversation
from that quarter, my inquisitor retiring in much confusion and no
doubt mystified. He certainly had met with little success on his first
fishing excursion.

I had arranged for a friend to come over by rail from Buffalo that
night to take the team back, and a few minutes before the train was due
I stepped to the clerk’s desk and told him of it. In doing so I saw
one of the men whom I believed to be detectives walk toward me. His
partner, a moment before, had left the room. Shinburn was sitting a few
feet away, keeping an eye on the treasure bag. The detective hadn’t
reached the desk when I’d told the clerk what I wanted to. However,
it was a ripe moment in which I might add confusion to the trail, so,
waiting until he got close enough to me, I said, at the same time
handing the clerk the business card of a well-known Chicago house,
“Give us commercial rates, if you please.” Getting the bill, I paid it
and turned away. The detective’s partner came in the room just then,
and, drawing him aside, took a telegram from his pocket. Both examined
it critically. I would have given a good-sized greenback to know what
they were reading. I hadn’t a bit of doubt that Mark and I were the
interesting subjects of it.

Presently it was time for the train, and with Mark carrying the bag
we went to the depot, the detectives following close on our heels.
They began to worry me not a little. When I bought two tickets for
Cleveland, the sleuth who had shadowed me to the desk was again at my
side and heard what I called for and saw what was given me. If I had
any doubt as to the identity of the men, it was all removed by this
time. A moment later the detectives had wired to some point,--Chicago,
I believed, and possibly Cleveland. Probably the former had been asked
to wire as to whether the big business house I had mentioned employed
drummers answering our descriptions, and police of the latter had,
undoubtedly, been asked to watch for our arrival there. Beyond a doubt
the country was well aroused over the St. Catharines burglary.

Now, for a fact, the game was getting to be exceedingly fast, and
really I didn’t know what to do, and Shinburn had left it all to me.
It seemed that the best thing was to put on a bold front and trust to
Fate. I hoped I had made no blunder.

True to his agreement, our Buffalo friend came in on the train, but we
paid no attention to him, keeping our eyes better engaged in watching
the doings of the detectives. They selected a seat in the car where we
were, but at the opposite end. It was evident that they had determined
to become better acquainted with us. On the train I was in a calmer
mood and better able to think, with the result that I’d settled upon
a plan to prevent the enemy ever setting eyes on us again after the
arrival in Cleveland. Alighting from the car with all the dignity at
our command, we walked up to a hackman, and waited until it was certain
that the detectives were near enough to hear what would be said.

“Here, driver, put us at the Metropolitan Hotel, as soon as you can get
there,” I commanded loudly, and followed this up by springing in the
hack, Shinburn following. In an instant we were gone from the view of
the sleuths, who of course made haste to follow us in another carriage.
Thank the stars, we were too quick for them. Safe from immediate
danger, we bought another bag, and, transferring the cash to it, left
nothing in the old one except a few pieces of soiled linen. Then
Shinburn was driven to the house of a friend in Euclid Avenue, where
I left him with the treasure. We agreed to meet in about half an hour
near the Cleveland, Pittsburg, and Rochester Railway depot. I went to
the Metropolitan Hotel with the old bag, expecting I’d have to dodge
the detectives. It seemed to me that I must go there in order to throw
the hack driver off our game. However, it turned out as I hoped. The
detectives had been there, but, failing to find us, at once realized we
had played a game on them. Off they had gone to search other hotels.
I engaged a room, and after taking my bag there and waiting a few
minutes, I came down and told the clerk that I’d be back directly if
any one called for me. It was about six A.M.

“I’m going to a drug store not far away,” I said; “so be sure and tell
my friend, if he calls, that I’ll return soon.”

In a few minutes I was with Mark, and we were walking the C. P. and R.
railroad ties until the second station was reached, where we awaited a
train for Pittsburg. From there we had an uninterrupted journey to New
York City.

Of course my Police Headquarters friends soon got wind of our presence
in town, and the usual “squaring” had to be made. I ascertained through
them that the brace of sleuths who worried us at Angola and Cleveland
were from Chicago, and that we would have been arrested had it not been
for my commercial traveller dodge at the hotel. As I thought, they had
wired to Chicago and Cleveland. Word came from the former place that
no such drummers as described were in the employ of that house. This
information was wired to the detectives at Cleveland, but too late to
do us any harm. They found the hackman after a while and an interview
with him told them a plain story. I understood that they felt about
as ruffled as detectives must feel when big game has easily slipped
through their fingers. They waited a long time for me to return from
the drug store. Precious little but a collar was found in the satchel
in my room. I laughed as I heard this story, and remarked that the boys
were entitled to it and our discarded linen.

“Mark,” I said, a few days later, having recalled the experiences we
had had that night on the suspension bridge, “what made the cable get
taut suddenly when you were about halfway on your plank-crawl?”

“Oh, not much of anything,” he carelessly replied; “I just slipped a
bit off the plank, but managed to hold on with my hands.”

“Was the plank narrower than the others and rounded up with ice?” I
questioned, curious to know if he had encountered the treacherous place
I had, with the same result.

“You’ve described it to a dot,” replied Mark; “but it happened that I
could reach a girder with my feet, and that, with a little bracing, got
me to the top again. I thought I was going to give you a job of hauling
in the cable with a bait attached that had blamed little life in it.”

“Fancy you dangling at the end of that cable of leather and rope with
a few hundreds of thousands strapped to your back,” I said, with a
sorry attempt at a joke. Shinburn smiled, but he was thinking of his
experience, I doubt not. Subsequently I made a daylight trip to the
suspension bridge. How we succeeded in getting over the skeleton
section that eventful night has ever been a mystery to me. I marvel
that I survived to tell of it.



CHAPTER XIII

CAPTAIN JOHN YOUNG’S GRAB


The “Little Joker” won for Mark Shinburn, me, and our associates the
contents of the vault of the New Windsor Bank of Westminster, Carroll
County, Maryland, while the Ocean Bank enterprise was hatching. All
of the combinations were mastered in five nightly sittings. I had
arranged the details, such as purchasing a team for a safe “get-away,”
and mapping a route for Shinburn, who was to do the work on the vault.
While he was at it I went to Buffalo for the treasure of the St.
Catharines robbery, made ten days previously. As will be recalled,
Shinburn and I, in making our escape, left it with a friend in the
Bison City.

Mark picked the lock on the front door of the New Windsor Bank, and our
little steel invention soon told the tale of the combination numbers
of the vault and inside safes, so that the bank people one morning
discovered nearly three hundred thousand dollars gone from their funds,
which was about all they had boasted of. Considerable of the loot was
in government bonds, as good as gold almost, and better handling for us
in a sharp “get-away.” I will not occupy too much space in relating
how Shinburn, with his aids Eddie Hughes and Gus Fisher, got off
without a hitch, the only clew left of them being the team, abandoned
on the outskirts of Baltimore.

When seating themselves in the train, Shinburn placed the gripsack,
with its two hundred and eighty-one thousand dollar contents, to be
exact, in the rack above his seat and gave the valuable bag no more
attention. This carelessness came mighty near knocking the profits out
of their previous day’s work. Eddie Hughes had chosen a seat nearer the
front of the car than that occupied by Shinburn, and when the train
stopped at Gray’s Ferry, which was the changing place for Philadelphia,
he, Eddie, saw a young man pass him with a satchel that looked the
counterpart of Shinburn’s. Hastily looking round, he saw that the
satchel was missing from the rack over Shinburn’s head. Making a rush,
he caught the young man on the platform. Grasping the satchel, he
exclaimed, “What are you doing with my bag?”

The young man released his hold on the bag and with one bound landed on
the station platform and set off on a sprint that would do credit even
to Barney Wefers. Needless to say that Eddie did not run after him, nor
even yell “Stop thief!” But he did take that bag and hold it in his lap
for the rest of the trip.

Suffice it to say, that I had been back in New York about twenty-four
hours when Shinburn put in an appearance, with his satchel crammed full
of cash and securities. We kept the loot in the background for six
weeks, when we concluded it was about time to begin negotiating the
bonds. Upon making an inventory, I found we had got hold of one hundred
and sixty-five thousand dollars’ worth of first-class securities
and fifty-three thousand dollars in Union Pacific Railway bonds. In
attempting to sell the securities, something happened which I, with
regret, must relate.

Shinburn and a friend with much Wall Street business experience
undertook to make the sale. They finally struck a deal with the reputed
lobbyist, in Washington, District of Columbia, and Albany, New York,
General Francis P. Spinola. Being told squarely the character of the
securities, he insisted it was all right, as long as there was a good
“rake-off” in the deal for him. Without much delay Spinola placed the
securities in the hands of a certain broker, who was at the time a
very familiar figure in Wall Street. The general represented to him
that they were the assets of a large estate being closed up by an
administrator, and it seemed as though we were about to realize the
cash when a halt was called by the broker making a deeper inquiry as
to how the securities came into General Spinola’s possession. When no
proof of a satisfactory character was furnished, he declared the deal
off. He was one of the honest men then in Wall Street, which can boast
of none too many in these days, and couldn’t at the period of which
I write. Of course this was a set-back, but General Spinola said he
would persevere, and did, with what result we shall see. He was like
all lobbyists, who, upon realizing that there is likely to be no money
in one end of a deal, are mighty sure to jump to the other. Once let
a lobbyist get a scent of money, and his nose is to the trail, never
to be lifted. He cannot be dragged away. Realizing that suspicion had
fallen upon him, and that there was the possibility that he might be
connected with the sale of “crooked” bonds, Spinola flipflopped and
covered his tracks by giving information to Superintendent of Police
John A. Kennedy. Hurrying to Police Headquarters, he got an interview
with the superintendent.

“Kennedy,” said he, “I’m on the track of securities and bonds stolen
from the New Windsor Bank in Maryland.”

“Indeed!” ejaculated the superintendent, and he called in his chief of
detectives, John Young.

“General Spinola has something to say to you, captain,” said Kennedy,
“and there must be a quick action in the case!”

“Very well, sir,” Captain Young answered, and at once entered into a
long conference with Spinola, who told him all he had gained from
us in confidence. The result was the baiting of a trap to catch the
Maryland looters. They at once opened a fake brokerage office at 71
Broadway, and Spinola made sure that this information reached us in
furtherance of their purpose. It proved to be alluring enough, for one
day Shinburn and our sales agent walked into the office like flies into
a spider’s web. I well recall the day. It was eleven o’clock in the
morning, and spot cash had been promised. General Spinola was there and
greeted Shinburn warmly, not forgetting to keep a greedy eye on the
money bag the latter carried.

“Ah, you have them--the securities?” he questioned, with a laugh. Mark
slowly removed his hat and placed it on the counter, but drew the
satchel quickly from the reach of Spinola’s eager grasp.

“One moment, general! Not quite yet! You’ll pardon me, but how are we
to know you have the money to satisfy us?”

“As though a living man or the spirits of the dead could doubt me!”
exclaimed Spinola, drawing his stature up to its height and throwing
his chest out and his head back, in emphasis of his “square” dealing.

“You’ll pardon me, my dear general,” spoke Shinburn, in a voice that
would be envied by a parson; “but here are the securities, and I’ll
feel obliged if you’ll do me the honor,” and he laid the package of
securities on the counter, but not an inch away from his fingers.

“There’s no question as to my part of the deal being fulfilled,” said
Spinola, as he threw open the door of a safe and disclosed to view what
he said was a million dollars in bills.

“Good,” declared Shinburn; “the sooner we close up the sale, the
better!”

“And that’s what I think, too,” cried Spinola, as he hurled the door
shut with a bang loud enough to be heard in the hallway. And it was
heard, for in the main door appeared Detective James Irving. Shinburn
gave one glance at Spinola, who stood motionless, and then crammed
the securities in the satchel. He knew that a trap had been set;
the question was--how to get out of it. He would care for himself
and the sales agent must do likewise. Darting toward a window that
opened into the hall, he threw up the sash. Another man appeared in
the window--Detective George Edsel. He was trapped to a certainty,
and, knowing it, surrendered, as the sales agent had already done.
The detectives closed in on him, the securities were taken, and in a
moment the prisoners were handcuffed and face to face with Chief Young.
The latter had come in from the hallway after the arrests were made.
With one hundred sixty-five thousand dollars’ worth of securities thus
captured, Captain Young drove his prisoners to Police Headquarters,
smuggled them in by the basement door on the Mott Street side, and
gave strict orders that no information was to be given the reporters.

The New York Detective Bureau at that time was under the command of a
captain whose power was as great as his conscience would permit him to
use it, in any direction. He was to all intents and purposes a power
within himself, and seldom received orders from his superiors; unless
it were in exceptional cases, where politics played an important part.
In that event everything had to bow to the inevitable.

Now, I do not hesitate in saying that Chief of Detectives John Young
was as “crooked as a ram’s horn,” which fact was well known, in and out
of the department. He took his “rake-off” greedily, from pickpocket
mobs and other small-fry thieves, with the same assurance that an
honest man receives his wages from an honest employer. Though this was
common information among his official associates, many of whom were
as firmly established in the saddle for graft as he, John Young was
not of the sort they would trust. He was quite likely to fail them in
an important settlement. So far as the profession was concerned, we
had retained some of the headquarters associates of Chief Young, in
our effort to obtain something for nothing, and when he couldn’t be
trusted, they told us it was because he had not been “seen.” That the
word “seen” may not be misunderstood, I will explain that crooks had
to divide with him. However, Johnny had two confidants in Detectives
Irving and Edsel, both of whom trusted him, as much as any man dared
to, and stood by him pretty well, though the former had more than
once rebelled. Another official with whom he associated to a certain
degree was Colonel Hiram C. Whiteley, the powerful head of the United
States Secret Service. When Young needed bogus money to stuff Spinola’s
safe in the blind brokerage office, he went to Whiteley, who supplied
counterfeit money. It was a pile of this kind of bills that Shinburn
was shown by Spinola and which lured the victim, blindly, into the
trap. As I think of John Young now, it is with a feeling of wonderment
that he would have soiled his hands with spurious money, so eager was
he to get his clutches on the real kind. No doubt he withstood the
ordeal in the belief that it would lead to the bona-fide currency of
Uncle Sam. I recall that Johnny’s eyes ever had a covetous glint in
them when there was a “rake-off” in sight. Another streak in the color
of John Young was his anxiety to keep out of harm’s way. When the trap
was laid to catch Mark and our sales agent, he was mighty careful not
to make a mark of himself, but sent his men in the brokerage office to
face any danger there might be, and waited on the outside, behind the
door, until he was sure it was safe to enter. I have ever held this act
against him. I cannot say that either Irving or Edsel was possessed of
a yellow streak.

Locked in a cell in the basement of headquarters, the prisoners felt
somewhat disconsolate--not over the fact that they would find a cell up
the Hudson River at Sing Sing, for that was not probable. Cash would
be forthcoming, from me or some one else, and their freedom would be
bought, they felt assured. It was the fact that the bonds were in the
hands of Young that worried them. That was tantamount to our never
seeing them again. Mark knew also that he would be secreted from his
friends, as long as Young could do it, pending negotiations with the
New Windsor Bank officials. If Young could make a deal with them, Mark
knew that all other considerations would be side-tracked. The promises
to the profession and friendships for his associates would count as
nothing, weighed against Johnny’s desire to line his pocket with gold.
Mark could only hope that some of our friends would hear of his arrest
and take the word to me.

In the meantime Chief Young had again cautioned his confidants as to
maintaining great secrecy, assuring them that he had a plan maturing
which would fetch them in a few dollars.

“No one is to see the prisoners,” he commanded; “and, understand, I
mean their counsel shall not get to them.”

Now, had Chief Young been actuated by an earnest desire to do honest
work for the people, or assist the bank officials, instead of fishing
for gold to fill his pocket and that of General Spinola, he would have
notified, as the next move in the case, the Westminster police of the
arrests and of the fact that a large part of the stolen property had
been recovered. I say that would have been the natural course for an
honest official to pursue, but did he do that? Not John Young--he
couldn’t see his duty in that light. Instead, he suddenly disappeared
from headquarters. No one seemed to know where he had gone. In Mulberry
Street it was guessed he’d hurried to the state capitol at Albany, to
obtain extradition papers. This, however, was a mere conjecture. Two
days later the mystery was cleared to a certain extent. Honest people
were astonished, but those on the inside thought it quite the usual
thing in John Young.

Upon leaving Police Headquarters, Young had travelled by the fastest
trains to Maryland, and at the earliest moment was in Westminster,
advising the New Windsor Bank officials that he’d captured, by his
prowess, two of their bank’s looters, recovered a large part of the
securities, and would soon have the railroad bonds. Naturally the
bank officials were much relieved at the news; in fact were thrown
into an ecstatic state, some of these directors, in their exuberance,
being almost on the point of weeping out their tense feelings on the
broad breast of the honest John Young. And their joy was not relegated
to gloom when he assured them that he would have recovered the cash
had not the robbers spent it. The bank, he said, must stand up nobly
under this loss, and could afford to under the circumstances. They
were fortunate, indeed, that the burglars selected New York City for a
refuge, and that the astute chief of detectives was there to exercise
his ingenuity. The bank officials wrung his hands and patted him on the
shoulders. Such an officer of the law had never been known; his reward
should be commensurate with the service he had rendered. They looked
upon him as a veritable prophet, even their Moses, come to lead them,
providentially, out of a vast wilderness of banking troubles; which in
other words meant that they had been saved from going down deep into
their personal pockets to reimburse their customers and stockholders.

Not many hours after Chief John’s advent in the New Windsor Bank, the
halo began to fade from him. He looked a trifle less like the Moses
he had appeared to be, the change being the result of Johnny’s broad
hint at what he termed a “requisite reward” for his services. The
bankers saw that he was no “cheap John” Young, and that his idea of a
recompense was vastly in excess of what they had in mind to pay their
deliverer from the wilderness of lost securities, railroad bonds, and
ready cash. However unexpected this was to the honest Marylanders,
it would not have caused any rustling among the consciences of his
confidants at home. They knew John’s game, for some of them had
hopelessly been in it. The board of directors, still regarding him as
worthy of a good reward, and buoyed up by his atmospheric promises that
he would recover the Union Pacific bonds beyond doubt, voted him twenty
thousand dollars. Thus the object of Young’s visit to Westminster
having been accomplished, he made more glowing promises to serve the
Marylanders, hoped that the reward would be forthcoming soon, and
hastened back to New York.

“Fetch the prisoners to my office,” was his instant command upon
arriving at the Mulberry Street office, and forthwith Mark Shinburn and
our sales agent were brought upstairs by Irving and Edsel.

There was in vogue in those days what was styled the “third degree,”
but it didn’t mean more than a threat to really enforce the law.
Subsequently, I am credibly informed, confessions were obtained from
prisoners by the application of physical torture. When that system
prevailed at 300 Mulberry Street the police were not so linked by
crooked dealing with the criminal classes, therefore it is not my
intention to discuss these immaterial things. What Captain Young wanted
was the information Shinburn could give him of the Union Pacific bonds,
and he was bound to obtain it if bulldozing would accomplish his
end. However, he went about it in a cunning manner, and when Shinburn
and his companion were arraigned, the atmosphere of the detective
office seemed to be pregnant with peace and harmony. In his softest
tones, Young intimated to Mark that it would best serve all concerned
if the bonds were quietly turned over to him; that self-preservation
was the vital fact to be first considered by all men; that it would
be much better for Mark if he produced the bonds, even though it
involved faithlessness to a confederate. To all this and more Shinburn
maintained a calm demeanor.

“You’ll have to see my counsel, captain,” was his reply, pleasantly
but firmly said. Finding his suave manner had no effect, Young shifted
his attack, and became what he could be in an emergency,--a miserable
oppressor of those under his power.

“Shinburn,” he said coldly, “you owe ten years to the state of New
Hampshire for that Walpole Bank robbery, and I can send you there at
the tap of this bell,” and he placed one of his forefingers on the
silver button. Mark smiled at what was no news to him, though he felt
anything but happy under the circumstances.

“Quite true, captain, but what are you going to do about it?” he asked.

“I could better tell if I knew where the Union Pacific bonds were,”
Young answered. He was stern and insinuating at the same time.
Shinburn hesitated a moment before proceeding, not because he didn’t
know what he would eventually say and do, but liberty was a sweet
thing, after all, and Young had hinted at releasing him if the bonds
were forthcoming.

“See our counsel, cap,” he said. It irritated Young greatly.

“Produce the bonds, Shinburn,” said Young, in a low, angry tone he
tried hard to command, “and I’ll let you men leave here to go where you
will. I think you know that stranger things than this have happened.”

“Have a talk with our counsel,” was Shinburn’s stereotyped reply, and,
repeated, it seemed to fire the captain to a pitch of rashness.

“I tell you,” he cried, “if you’ll put that fifty-three thousand dollar
batch of Union Pacifics in my hands before the Maryland police reach
here, I promise you and your whole gang freedom.” Young waited for
Shinburn’s answer. If his proposition was declined, the captain saw his
twenty thousand dollar reward dwindling.

“No use talking about it,” said Shinburn; “you’ll have to see our
attorneys.”

Captain Johnny was white with anger and disappointment. He roared out
an order that the prisoners be taken down to their cells, and they
were, and none too gently.



CHAPTER XIV

PLOTTING AGAINST YOUNG


When Captain Young left Police Headquarters for Maryland, it was
whispered that he’d gone to Albany. This rumor was confused with
another, to the effect that he’d been called South. The conflicting
stories served to make anxious my good friends in the Detective Bureau,
who were bound to give me the best possible information. Detective
Phil. Farley was among the first to hear of the arrest of Shinburn and
our agent, and he hurried to me with the facts, including the different
stories of Young’s sudden disappearance from headquarters. I was at
my Brevoort Stables at 114 Clinton Place, now on the city map as West
Eighth Street, when Farley came. To say that I was excited over the
news would be only half the truth. I knew what sort of a man Captain
John Young was, and that he’d ride roughshod over police associate or
crook, in furthering his selfish pursuit after gain. In my mind there
was no question that he had gone to Albany after requisition papers and
would attempt to play a game of great account to himself. In accordance
with this I sent a messenger to look up ex-Judge Stuart, one of my
retained counsel. Word came back that he was out of town and would not
return until late in the evening. This was disheartening, but as the
judge was a shrewd student of the law and had a good understanding of
the rights of the prisoners in our case, there wasn’t anything else to
do but await his arrival.

It was late in the night when he put in an appearance, but his coming
was the signal for a grand hustling. The judge, upon being acquainted
with the facts as they came to me, said that Young was undoubtedly in a
great hurry to get the prisoners out of town and into the hands of the
Maryland officers, and that, if he succeeded, we would have a hard time
in fighting the game.

“So,” said the judge, “we must get a writ to stay him, and to do that
we must tumble some obliging judge out of bed, no matter what the hour
may be.” I suggested Judge McCunn, my next-door neighbor, ever an
accommodating legal gentleman when a writ was desired on short notice.

“Just the man,” agreed ex-Judge Stuart, “and we’d better get to him
without delay.” I thought so, too.

Judge McCunn was soon found, comfortably reposing in his bed, but
was turned out and enlightened as to what we wanted. With much
good-natured talk about the audacity of some people hammering at a
decent, law-abiding man’s house long after midnight, he issued a writ
of habeas corpus as strong as the law would allow, and we were soon
ready for the next move. In the meantime a letter to Governor Hoffman
at Albany had been given us by Thurlow Weed, another most accommodating
gentleman to those in distress. This letter was in the form of a
command, so to speak, that the governor hear our side of the case, in
the event that the New York police should ask for requisition papers
for Shinburn and our sales agent. Now that we had the material with
which to go to the capital, the next thing was how to get there, for it
was learned that the first train in the morning left too late for us.

“What can be done?” I asked of the judge.

“One thing--get a special train,” was his answer. And a special
train we chartered. Not long after two o’clock in the morning, T. P.
Somerville, a law partner of the judge, was aboard the special,
and, in extraordinarily quick time for those days, was knocking at
Governor Hoffman’s door. He, much to his relief, was informed that
no requisition papers had been applied for, and that, as a matter of
fact, no one from the New York police force had been at the executive
mansion or communicated with the governor in any way. However, Thurlow
Weed’s letter was what we wanted to fix things with the governor, who
effusively promised that requisition papers would not be issued unless
ex-Judge Stuart was afforded an opportunity to present our side of the
case. And we had a right to be heard, legally, for Mr. Somerville had
proof to show the executive that one of the prisoners was in New York
when the New Windsor Bank was robbed. So far we had been successful.

There was another trick that Captain John Young was capable of playing,
and against which we must play winning cards. Prisoners had been
known to be shanghaied out of the state,--practically kidnapped from
the protection of the law,--by him. The formalities of requisition
proceedings had been disregarded as so much useless red tape made to
adorn law books. Young wasn’t the offender in the instance I will cite.
It was Captain John Jourdan.

Eddie McGuire, _alias_ Fairy, Rory Simms, and Dave Bartlett “turned
off” the Bowdoinham Bank, of Maine, in June, 1866, and got something
like eighty thousand dollars in cash and United States five-twenty
bonds. Bartlett hired the team used in the “get-away.” They buried the
loot in a wood, and in the wagon drove forty miles to Portland, where,
scattering, the looters went by rail to New York.

Prior to this the gang had robbed Cooper’s silverware manufacturing
establishment in Waverly Place in New York City, and sold the silver
to a “fence” kept by one Morrison. For some reason, the latter tipped
off Captain Jourdan, who arrested McGuire and the others at the corner
of Hudson and King streets. Fairy pleaded poverty to the captain, and
having turned over to him what silver they had taken, all hands were
released. But there was a string on them. Jourdan forced a promise that
there would be a division made the very first “trick” the gang “turned
off.” Later they did the Maine “trick.” Having given the job a chance
to cool down, Fairy McGuire went to Maine and dug up the treasure, and
he and Bartlett asked me to sell the bonds. I bought them outright,
and, as was my custom, paid the police the usual percentage, which
amounted to forty-two hundred dollars. At the same time I told them
that there was more “rake-off” due them, declining, however, to mention
any names.

“When they get ready, no doubt you’ll hear from them,” I said
reassuringly. Perhaps a week or more had gone by, during which time I
presumed the lads had paid the police the remainder of the “rake-off,”
but it turned out not to be so. Detective Radford came to me with a tip.

“Fairy McGuire and his pals will be pinched to-morrow by Captain
Jourdan,” said he, “and you’d better tell them so. The old man was
promised a ‘rake-off’ on the next job after the silver racket, and
nothing has been doing. You see he knows who did the Bowdoinham
‘trick,’ for a sheriff was down here with the description of the man
that hired the team for the ‘get-away,’ and it fits Dave Bartlett.
Jourdan wouldn’t have known it, only in riding in a Fifth Avenue stage
the other day he saw McGuire, Simms, and Bartlett in the same stage.
They were loaded down with diamonds and heavy gold watch-chains. Worse
than all, they never looked at the old man. He got thinking of what had
been done in the crooked line to buy all this stuff, and the Bowdoinham
job flashes across him. Then came the description of Bartlett from the
Maine sheriff. That settled it. So the gang will be pinched to-morrow
evening.”

I recollected what McGuire had told me about the meeting with Captain
Jourdan in the stage, and at the time I had protested loudly against
the boys’ wearing the diamonds and watches.

“It’s only asking for trouble,” I said, “and what’s the use?”

“Oh, to hell with the cops,” was the separate reply from the trio. I
said no more, but hoped they would be wise. I might have left them to
a big surprise, but after Radford had gone I hastened to McGuire’s
place in Bleecker Street and told him what I had heard, adding that
they would better get out of town on the instant. They laughed at
my warning. The following evening at eight o’clock Captain Jourdan
arrested them, and the next morning soon after daylight he personally
took them to the outskirts of the city and, boarding a train, lodged
them in a Maine jail. Thus were “Fairy” McGuire, Rory Simms, and Dave
Bartlett shanghaied out of New York State by Captain Jourdan, in utter
defiance of the requisition laws.

Knowing what the police had done, I determined that Captain Young
would not have the opportunity to thus take Mark Shinburn and our
sales agent to Maryland, and ex-Judge Stuart said he would assist
me. He procured a writ that would forestall any illegal procedure of
the sort that might be attempted, and had it served on the Police
Commissioners at headquarters. Meanwhile we kept a diligent watch on
the gamesters in Mulberry Street. About the time Mr. Somerville got
back from Albany with good news from that quarter, Captain Young turned
up and with him the news of where he had been. Close on the heels of
these developments, the officials of the New Windsor Bank and their
attorneys, accompanied by Detective Pierson, of Smith, Pierson, and
West’s Agency, of Baltimore, arrived in town. Pierson was a very clever
sleuth and a trusted friend of our advisers at Police Headquarters. He
promptly received a tip from our friends, and therewith ignored Captain
Young. In an exceedingly short time he was in an earnest conversation
with the attorneys of the bank officials, advising them as to the most
efficacious means of recovering the Union Pacific bonds. Pierson had
no difficulty in demonstrating the fiction of John Young’s wonderful
tale of his capture of the bank looters, and immediately there was some
figuring with a view of scaling down his promised reward. Also it was
presently shown to them how the bonds could be returned without the
fabricator’s assistance. They were thoroughly disgusted with the mode
of procedure, and admitted that they had been well duped by Young’s
representations.

The result of Pierson’s mediation was an interview between the bank’s
attorneys and ex-Judge Stuart. Two days later we decided to return the
fifty-three thousand dollars’ worth of Union Pacifics in return for
the recipients’ promise not to prosecute Shinburn and our sales agent.
Captain Young had his reward scaled down to seventeen thousand five
hundred dollars, but felt that he must turn the prisoners over to the
Maryland authorities. He had his reward in hand, and if General Spinola
received any part of it, the information never reached me. Knowing John
Young as I did, I believe the general whistled long and loud ere he got
a finger on the “rake-off.”

These matters being “squared” and the Marylanders ready to start for
home, Captain Young turned the prisoners over to Detective Pierson,
it being lawful in this instance to do so, provided both parties
were agreed. Meanwhile I was apprised of the leaving time of the
Pennsylvania Railroad train that was to take the party to Maryland,
and accordingly the ferry-boat that left the New York slip for the
five o’clock P.M. train, bearing the party, also had me aboard with a
closed carriage and ready for a part I would play. At the landing of
the boat I drove my team to a convenient place close to the ferry-house
and waited. Detective Pierson, with the prisoners handcuffed, and
accompanied by the bankers and lawyers, went to the train in waiting
and boarded it. The time was then ripe for action.

“I’m going to call a halt here, gentlemen,” said Shinburn, “and there’s
mighty little time to waste before this train goes.”

Detective Pierson tried to look solemn, as did the bankers and their
attorneys, and then asked the reason for the protest.

“Simply this--we’re not going with you,” declared Mark.

“Oh, yes, you will; there’s no use crying about it. Sit down!”
commanded Pierson. This made a fine by-play for the passengers.

“I’ll make an outcry,” exclaimed Shinburn, “unless you can show me your
authority.”

Detective Pierson exhibited his shield. Shinburn laughed derisively.
“Where’s your warrant? That’s what I want to see.”

Pierson fished a warrant out of his pocket and held it to Shinburn’s
nose. He thrust it away contemptuously.

“The devil!” he cried; “that’s nothing but a Maryland warrant, and it
doesn’t go in the state of New Jersey. Come, the game is up; take off
these irons, quick!”

“It’s a fact, gentlemen,” said Pierson, turning to the bankers and
attorneys, “that we haven’t anything more than the Maryland warrant.
These men refuse to go with us without requisition papers from the
state of New Jersey. In fact, the prisoners as such in New York are
here no longer prisoners.”

“Call an officer of the Jersey City force,” put in one of the bank’s
attorneys.

“Good day, gentlemen,” said Shinburn, walking swiftly from the car,
followed by the sales agent; “you’ve made a mistake this time.”

No one offered to follow them and of course no one wanted to. Outside
I was waiting with the carriage. In hopped the pair, and at a gallop
we were driven on the ferry-boat. It was the one that brought us
over. Upon it we landed again on the New York shore. In the meantime
I unlocked the irons from the wrists of my companions with a key I
had provided. Within an hour from the time the lads got out of John
Young’s hands, they were back in New York streets, free to go where
they pleased. To them the New Windsor Bank robbery was to pass into the
realm of “has been.” But the outcome of the projected trip of Shinburn
and the sales agent, with the superficial booking for their confinement
in a Maryland prison, was to create a laugh. They were free, and the
bankers had gone home with the one hundred and sixty-five thousand
dollars’ worth of securities that Captain Young had turned over to them
in return for his reward, besides the Union Pacific bonds. With the
possibility of getting nothing out of the two hundred and eighty-one
thousand dollar loot, and returning to Westminster with two hundred
and eighteen thousand dollars, the bankers could well count themselves
lucky. We had to be satisfied with sixty-three thousand dollars, less
the “rake-off” that must be paid to our Police Headquarters friends.

It was a week after the matter had been settled that we decided to
“square” with Mulberry Street, and I advised that Mark had better make
arrangements to meet either Detective McCord or Detective Radford. Mark
hadn’t done this sort of work, leaving it for me to do.

“Try your hand, Mark,” I said, and he did. It was, however, the first
and last time while we worked together. Mark made an appointment
to meet Radford at Chris Connor’s place in Fourteenth Street, near
Broadway, at eight o’clock in the evening, and went there in a cab. He
turned over to Radford sixty-three hundred dollars, the ten per cent
we agreed to give the police. It was in bills, wrapped in brown paper.
Radford put it in his pocket. There was wine bought to celebrate the
settlement, with the result that, nine o’clock coming, Radford had
added not a little to a comfortable “jag” he had acquired before the
meeting. Mark found the detective troublesome and once or twice the
latter was on the point of a quarrel. And, too, he accused Mark of
putting up a job to get him off the force. Of course this was a fancy
of his drink-crazed brain, and, more to protect him than anything else,
Mark suggested that they drive to the Metropolitan Hotel to see Jack
McCord. This seemed to suit Radford. They got in the cab and were soon
whirling down Broadway. At Ninth Street, Radford turned to Mark and,
saying something incoherent, tore the package of money from his pocket
and threw it out of the window. The cab was stopped and Mark ran back
more than a block in search of the money. He heard Radford shout back
in a thick way, “You can’t put up a job on me.” Fortunately Mark’s
activity resulted in recovering the money, though a moment later he
would have been too late. A telegraph messenger boy running across
Broadway had struck the package with his foot and was about to run off
with the prize when Mark snatched it. Hurrying back, no one was there
but cabby, Radford having disappeared through Ninth Street. Mark drove
to his rooms in West Twenty-sixth Street, where he dismissed the cab.
The next day Jack McCord sent for me and with great concern said, “Do
you think Mark would put up a job on me and Radford?”

“What!” I cried, “do you think we’re crazy? Why?”

“Radford came to me last night, declaring Mark had given him money, but
he didn’t know what became of it.”

“I haven’t seen Mark,” said I, “but I’ll guarantee he’s all right.”

“So I’ve believed,” said McCord, “but it’s queer somehow. Perhaps,” he
added, “it’s the result of one of Radford’s drunks. He’s gone, and I’ll
wait until he turns up. In the meantime will you see Shinburn?”

I promised I would, and, accordingly, a few minutes later, Mark had
heard from me Jack McCord’s story. At that he hauled the money from his
pocket and tossed it at me. I looked the surprise I felt.

“I thought you’d settled with Radford?” I said.

“So I did, but the fool threw the dust out of the cab window, and while
I went back after it, he vanished.” Then Mark told me, in detail, all
that happened. It was all made very clear to me. I left him saying I
would make an appointment for him with McCord at the Washington Parade
Ground at the lower end of Fifth Avenue, that evening. Mark was there
and paid McCord the money, who in no gentle language scored Radford for
his drunken escapade.

“You can give me the credit of saving the dust for the duffer,” said
Mark to me subsequently, “for I had to run back nearly two blocks, and
then got it by only a hair.”

But I must return to Captain Young. He had pocketed the seventeen
thousand five hundred dollars, the outcome of his secret trip to
Westminster, and was in a way congratulating himself. Had he not
given his two prisoners, so cleverly captured, over to the Maryland
authorities? Had he not done a great piece of detective work? None
better, the public would think, upon hearing of it, done up with the
right sort of glamour. There was one way to put that touch on, so he
called in the Police Headquarters reporters, who had offices across
Mulberry Street. To them he related the story of his astuteness in
getting a “line” on the looters, adding everything that he could
conjure up to make a glowing yarn, in which he was the central figure.
The newspapers told at great length of the desperate encounter he and
his sleuths had had with the prisoners, who had to be taken at the
pistol point.

“I turned the prisoners over to the Baltimore authorities,” the
newspapers quoted him as saying, “heavily ironed, and they started
south with a clear case against them. They couldn’t escape from long
terms in prison, with the evidence against them.”

It was not until several months later that the dear public awoke to the
cold fact that Chief of Detectives Young’s great capture and brace of
prisoners, which started for Maryland, only reached the Pennsylvania
Railroad depot in Jersey City.

If Young had hugged the belief that he should get away with the reward,
without making a division with Detectives Jim Irving and George Edsel,
he soon came to a truer realization of the situation. Now, they had
made the arrests, for, as I have truly told, Captain Young boldly
stood in the hallway outside of Spinola’s fake brokerage office, safe
from harm, while his tools did the work. Naturally they wanted a fair
part of the reward, though Captain John entertained very different
views on the subject. When Irving and Edsel made their demands, he
firmly defined his position. After many long and heated arguments over
the spoils, not unlike those occurring among crooks, Young consented
to a generous division of his reward. How would the boys like five
hundred each? That certainly was munificent on his part. There was
more argument, in which the language used was not of the choicest, and
finally George Edsel, realizing, like Bobby Bright, that it was now
or never, accepted five hundred and held his peace. Not so with Jim
Irving--made of sterner stuff. Besides, he was financially hungry. Not
a cent would he take, and away he went, vowing he would get even with
so fine a specimen of the swine as John Young.

The police at headquarters whom we regarded as our friends were
known to us as the Bank Ring. This coterie of unfaithful policemen in
the Detective Bureau had long hated Young because of his uncertainty
in handling spoils, because he could not be depended upon to make a
“divvy.” If the opportunity came along in which he could put all in his
pocket, he never failed to do it. The Ring had long wanted to get rid
of him. When Irving told me, with much anger, how he had been treated,
steps were immediately taken to cut off Young’s police career. And when
the change was made, we determined to get a “right” commander at the
head of the Detective Bureau. Accordingly political and other kinds of
wires soon began to hum. And Irving was instructed what his part was to
be.

“Hold out for an even third of the Maryland reward,” I told him, “and
don’t, for anything that is offered you, come down from that position.”

Irving couldn’t see the wisdom of this advice, but was told to go it
blind and wait for the outcome. And he did. It was not for long either;
within forty-eight hours Captain Young was commanded by the Police
Commissioners to divide the reward equally between his associates and
himself. At last the grasping one found himself confronting a strong
game,--a game that was more difficult to play at successfully than had
been the one he had tackled in Maryland. It was put up to him firmly by
the Police Commissioners, that he must divide the seventeen thousand
five hundred dollars, or hand in his shield and resign from the force.

What he did do was just like John Young--he refused to part with
a cent. It was more than he would get in a year’s “rake-off” from
his different mob of grafters, so he clung to the whole reward,
relinquished his shield, packed his grip, and turned his back forever
on 300 Mulberry Street, in the year 1869, and became plain John Young.



CHAPTER XV

MY PATENT SAFETY SWITCH AND JIM IRVING


I would not have the impression go abroad that I believed the New
York Police Department, as a whole, or even its detective force, at
the period of which I have written, were in league with professional
criminals. Quite the reverse. Though the force had a great many
patrolmen, plenty of commanding officers, and the Detective Bureau had
its Bank Ring, which had for its backing high ranking officers in the
department and tremendous political influences on the outside, all of
whom conspired with the great and small fry thieves, nevertheless I
aver that there were many, many patrolmen, commanding officers, and
detectives, who ever put their honor away above dishonesty, often to
their official undoing. I might mention a number of instances in which
the honest policeman discovered the path of rectitude a mighty tortuous
one to travel, while on the contrary the dishonest one seemed to be
travelling a broad road to wealth and flowery ease. In the former case,
the copper would have to patrol in the outlying districts in midwinter,
with a diligent roundsman constantly on hand to see that the task was
not shirked, as a penance for being honest, while the grafting copper
would be detailed to some easy berth, where his time would be spent
in the waiting room of a hotel or in the banking district, in which
opportunities for stock speculation or connivance with thieves were
thicker than London fog. One class of duty was designated “Goatville,”
the other “Snap.”

It is my purpose to devote a few pages of this chronicle to the
exploitation of what I am pleased to term department politics. At the
period in question--when William M. Tweed bossed New York--this sort
of politics was rampant in every branch of the city government, and in
none was it so conspicuous as in the Police Department. From time to
time it has been told how the craft of the Under World used the police
to advantage in the mad rush of getting something for nothing. Whatever
I have said, or whatever I shall say, may be taken as truth. Coming as
it does to me after many years of divers experiences, I may depart from
some of the minute truths because of a lapse of memory, but I assure my
friends that the main facts are too plainly and too indelibly impressed
upon me to be forgotten while I breathe. In the corrupt bargaining
between the police and the crooks, whatever assistance my associates
and I obtained was well paid for. If the craft did not “settle” with
those who permitted them to rob and go free, it may as well be flatly
stated that one of two courses was pursued. There was the choice: the
penitentiary or Sing Sing prison without “squaring things,” or “settle”
and walk about New York with the freedom of the honest, law-abiding
citizen. But freedom was well paid for--many palms had to be “greased.”

When I came to New York, the partnership of the police with
professional criminals was of the go as you please sort. The fat,
thin, great, small, long, and short hand of the copper was held out
from all sides,--in Mulberry Street, in the police court, on post.
Everywhere protection was being paid for indiscriminately. If one
copper got more from one crook than from another, it was quite likely
to create jealousy, and be certain that the crook got the worst end
of the argument. In this way police protection, always dearly bought,
was ineffective. As a matter of fact, this state of affairs became
exceedingly distasteful to the members of the Under World, and strong
pulls, after several years of hardship, were sought to bring about a
change. Great politicians were appealed to, and by the right kind of
persuasion were forced to take a favorable view of the argument of the
craft.

The long waited for change was brought about by the greed of Captain
John Young, chief of the Detective Bureau, of whose double dealing I
have written in another part of this history. Mark Shinburn and I had
looted the New Windsor Bank in Maryland, and when the covetous coppers
all about Young didn’t get their “rake-off” there was trouble. The
police grafters falling out, thieves began to get their dues--in other
words, the protection for which they paid. With Captain Young out of
the Detective Bureau and out of the force, the time had come for the
Under World to strike. The iron made hot to whiteness must be beaten
into shape, into a switch, into a patent safety switch--something
that would guide us from the crooked road of uncertainty to the broad
thoroughfare of perfect exemption from lawful punishment for all
kinds of crime. So I began looking about for the safety switch. It
was suggested that James Irving, the detective who declined to accept
Captain Young’s paltry offer of five hundred as his share in the New
Windsor Bank reward, would make a first-class man to succeed to the
chieftancy of the Detective Bureau, so I put out a few feelers. My
experience with Irving had been most satisfactory, and so far as I was
able to gather, he’d dealt squarely with all of the high-class members
of my craft. Besides being fearless, he was a handsome chap, with a
splendid front to show on Broadway or in Wall Street, and in a question
of suspicious dealing with crooks wouldn’t be easily suspected of the
offence. It occurred to me that the Detective Bureau plum would be just
the thing for Jim, and at the earliest chance I met him at the Parker
House in Broadway at Thirty-third Street. I told him he would make a
fine figure on the Broadway corners of the Tenderloin, that he could
associate with gamblers without it being suspected that he was doing
other than obtaining information about them for official purposes, and
that he could make Wall Street his frequent resort, where he could deal
in bucket shops, which he ought to prosecute; and in fact, he could be
a whole lot as the head of the Bureau.

Irving was anxious to get the place, but didn’t see how it could be
done, as there were many others with far better chances. I told him to
be patient and lie low.

The question that was uppermost in police circles after John Young’s
hasty exit was, who would be his successor. Many loud-mouthed
politicians, hungry for preferment and crammed full of arguments for
their respective candidates, besieged Police Headquarters and made the
life of the several Police Commissioners a veritable hive of misery.
The latter, who were ruled by politicians most of the time,--the
ward-heeler species,--usually disciplined, transferred, assigned, and
promoted members of the force, at the behest of these threatening,
browbeating fellows. Several days passed and the commissioners hadn’t
selected a head for the Bureau, and, so far as the importuning ones
could fathom, were not anywhere near doing so. But that was no secret
to me. I had gone to Boss Tweed, and told him what I wanted, and that
affairs had gotten to a state where a scandal would be raised if there
wasn’t an attempt to concentrate the graft from crooks in a coterie
of policemen, from which protection could be gotten without a string
to it. I told him that some of the Under World were being goaded to
desperation by the insistent demand of the police for protection money,
and who, after getting it, play the traitor.

“Mr. Tweed,” I said firmly, “some of these fellows will squeal to one
of the societies at Sam Tilden’s heels, and there is likely to be a
storm about your ears that’ll not be relished. It may mean worse than
that.”

“Well, Miles,” said he, “what can I do? You know I don’t interfere with
the affairs of the Police Commissioners unless it’s vitally necessary.”

“It seems to me that you ought to for once, Mr. Tweed,” I said. “Put
Detective Jim Irving at the head of the Detective Bureau, and you’ll
switch the whole business to safety. If not, I can’t say what will
happen.”

“That means making him a captain?” said Tweed.

“That’s it,” I answered; “and he’ll fill the bill in every way.”

“Well, good day, Miles,” said the Boss; “I’ll see what can be done.”

I knew what that meant.

With the captaincy hanging in the tree ready to be plucked, I went
to my friends at Police Headquarters and told them practically what
I’d said to Tweed, and they agreed with me. Having gotten both ends
of the game working, I rested for the outcome, and it wasn’t long
before I had the pleasure of congratulating Captain James Irving. And
in this manner was formed the first real Bank Ring and satisfactory
combine between members of the police force at headquarters and certain
precincts, with the Under World, in which money was to be paid for
protection--the thieves to rob right and left and be allowed to sell
bonds and securities unmolested, upon the payment of a ten per cent
“rake-off.” All the friction which had hitherto annoyed, not only the
members of my profession, but the policemen who were inclined to be on
the “square” with us, disappeared. In this connection I am referring to
high-class men, such as bank burglars, bank sneaks, and big forgers and
the like. The small-fry thief was, naturally, for some time after that,
paying his “bit” to the coppers on post; but these fellows soon got to
squealing on us, and we had them sent up the beautiful Hudson River,
thirty miles, where Sing Sing was their home for such a time as they
could be taught better ways.

The Bank Ring, or the patent safety switch, as you please, soon getting
into excellent working condition, its members began to realize what
they’d lost in the great Lord bond robbery, the Star Insurance Company
and the Royal Insurance Company “tricks,” all of which would have
paid them a fine “rake-off,” but of which they had been deprived by
the methods of Captain Young. Besides these big “tricks,” there were
many others, not quite so important, but a mighty good investment
of government service, in vice-protecting stocks. But the bitterest
medicine of all was the recent New Windsor Bank loot. It pinched the
Bank Ring, even to recall the profits lost to them in that “trick.”

Of those who were the bone and sinew of the combine, and known to me
personally, and who were for the most part on the “level” with me, I
must mention Captain John Jourdan of the Sixth Precinct, afterward
Superintendent of Police, who was frequently spoken of as “The Little
Man”; Detective John McCord, Detective James J. Kelso, subsequently
Superintendent of Police, Detective George Radford, Detective Thomas
Davidson, Detective Joseph Seymour, and Patrolman Michael Conners. I
had many personal dealings with these men and, as I have said, they
usually acted the part they took in good faith. Captain Jourdan was
an officer with an excellent record in the line of duty, though he
did stand high in the friendship of Boss Tweed and held an important
place in the counsels of the Bank Ring. He and Jack McCord were,
practically, the ruling power of the Ring. When Langdon W. Moore
_alias_ Charlie Adams was captured on a Jersey farm along the Delaware
River, it was Captain Jourdan who did it. Moore had robbed the Concord,
Massachusetts, National and Savings Banks, and had hidden three hundred
thousand dollars’ worth of securities under the flooring of one of
his stables. In a midnight search of the farm it was Jourdan who
discovered the securities and returned them to the bank. Again, when
the notorious Fairy McGuire and his gang of crooks were apprehended for
the Bowdoinham Bank robbery in Maine, was it not Captain Jourdan who
furnished the evidence that sent all hands to prison? Not only had he
obtained power in this sort of police work, but, being the protégé of
Bill Tweed, he could command almost anything he wanted. This influence
he acquired through the masterful work he had done for Tweed in the
famous Sixth Precinct,--the station house of which was on Franklin
Street,--in the way of manipulating votes on election day. All together
Captain Jourdan was a mighty handy man to know.

As to Jack McCord, who “pulled” a wonderful stroke with the captain, he
was an astute copper without question--astute in the art of diverting
gold from its legitimate channels into the private conduit leading to
the fat pocket of the Bank Ring. I have been told that he made more
arrests during his long career as a policeman than any other member
of the force at that period. It was with much boastfulness that I
once heard him declare in this fashion: “I never sent but one man to
prison, and then it was the fool’s own fault and not mine. I told him
to stand trial, but he pleaded guilty.”

It is safe to estimate that McCord’s arrests were made purely and
simply for a “shake-down”; indeed, I was told that at least ninety-nine
per cent of them were. He was, let me say, an adept in discovering
grafters of the Under World; in fact showed advanced qualities in this
pursuit. Naturally, new crooks put in an appearance frequently, and it
wasn’t long before Jack learned of it, and then it was his job to see
whether or not something was doing. I have a vivid recollection of his
mode of procedure, and will attempt to demonstrate it as well as I am
able. His headquarters were at the Metropolitan Hotel in Broadway, just
below Houston Street, near Niblo’s Garden, a theatre famous in its day.
A grafter would be told he’d better call on McCord at the hotel, and
then came the meeting. The grafter had to examine a business card, as a
starter.

“Have a card,” Jack would say; “I’m McCord, the Central Office
detective.” I recall his bluff style, for it amused me.

“Glad to know you,” the crook would answer, whether he was or not, and
they would shake hands--just for business, you know.

“And my office hours on week days are from seven P.M. to ten P.M., at
this hotel. Don’t forget the address,” continued the detective.

“I hope I won’t,” the crook would reply, with a smile, not lost on
McCord.

“Of course you won’t forget my address,” repeated Jack, “I wouldn’t, if
I were you. I may be of much service, you know!”

In this manner he made himself acquainted with the new grafters,
and they believed in him, and many of them never regretted the
understanding. If a crook failed to keep his promise, why, McCord was
merciless; no less so was Captain Jourdan. Both were counted as good
friends and bad enemies. In another chapter I’ve referred to these
police officials in a manner to bear out what I say. To me Jim Irving
was as “square” as any crooked copper could be, though I will have
shown, before I complete this history, wherein he displayed a trait of
which I deemed him happily lacking.

With the patent safety switch working splendidly, the crooked
fraternity knew just what to expect from 300 Mulberry Street; knew
that it was, “walk up to the captain’s office and square it--get out
of town and stay out for a while, or run the risk of being railroaded
to Sing Sing prison.” It was a marvel. It gave the inventors and the
promoters the master-key of the situation. Its intricate details
earned golden gain for the Ring and prosperity for the Under World
fraternity. The safety switch was unlimited in its power, it seemed.
With it a subservient Police Board assisted in keeping the per cent
of “rake-off” regulated, and policemen favorable to our pocket-lining
were promoted at its bidding. It did heroic service for many years, and
brought in Standard Oil profits, was proof against honest investigators
who tried hard to break through and put its inventors and promoters in
jeopardy, and was practically the only Ring to pull out of the breakers
so disastrously contrived by Samuel J. Tilden, New York State’s
famous governor and corrupt-ring smasher, and his fellow-reformers.
The Bank Ring was indeed fortunate in escaping the dire consequences
of Mr. Tilden’s efforts to clean out the cesspool of corruption then
underlying the government of New York City.

Those were palmy days, those days of the safety switch, when men
without visible means of support flourished about town like green
bay trees, and certain police officials of 300 Mulberry Street with
“pulls” kept fast horses and elaborate carriages, and dined and wined
themselves and friends at Delmonico’s, and sported diamonds in their
shirt-fronts the size of English walnuts. How well I remember them!
It was all possible while the Under World fraternity was feeding
on the public and the police grafters were taking percentages from
them--the larceny thief and the bank burglar. The legitimate income of
these officials was a mere drop in the ocean in comparison with their
private, illegitimate income,--that ever-flowing golden stream, let
in at the back door of 300 Mulberry Street; that golden stream flowing
from the army of crooks operating in this country from New York Bay to
the Golden Gate, from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, not considering
a fat goose occasionally plucked from a foreign shore.

To show to what extent Captain Irving would carry out his part of
the contract with the Under World men I will mention a personal
recollection of the apprehension of Roberts and Gleason for the
colossal Wall Street bond forgeries in the summer of 1873. Nearly a
million dollars was involved in this job. The story not only came to
me from Irving, but I also had it from the lips of Henry C. Allen, the
assistant district attorney who had charge of the case. Captain Irving
had been asked to arrest the forgers, who were said to be in New York.
And what was the result? For three weeks he fed taffy to the district
attorney’s office,--one day saying the fugitives had been seen in New
Orleans, a few days later that they had been traced to Portland on the
Pacific coast; and ere two weeks had passed, clews had been picked up
in about every large city on the map of the United States. While this
sop was being given the district attorney, Roberts and Gleason were in
the city, comfortably living at their homes, or visiting their usual
haunts under the very noses of Captain Irving and his sleuths, who, of
course, didn’t want to find them. One of the men, to my knowledge, was
in a house not more than a stone’s throw from Twenty-first Street and
Seventh Avenue. But that is going more into detail than is necessary.
Of course, Assistant District Attorney Allen became, not only weary,
but disgusted, over this delay, and, half suspecting the reason for
Irving’s inactivity, employed a few Pinkerton detectives. In the
meantime Irving was unconscious of Mr. Allen’s activity. For once the
doings of the agency detectives failed to reach him, and he continued
to make an occasional report to the district attorney’s office. One day
he came in and said: “I’ve located Roberts and Gleason. I think they’re
on the way to Europe. Guess I’ll be able to stop ’em on the arrival of
the ship on the other side.”

“Don’t distress yourself, captain,” said the assistant district
attorney, quietly. There was something in Mr. Allen’s manner that
caused the chief of detectives to cast a searching look at him.

“And why?” asked Irving.

“Because it will be useless,” continued Mr. Allen, with an attempt to
suppress a smile; “Roberts and Gleason have been under arrest in this
city for twelve hours.”

“Oh,” blurted Irving, while his face flushed a deep red and then paled.
I had it from Mr. Allen that the detective chief fairly ran from the
office, and didn’t put in an appearance there for many days. Hitherto
he had been a frequent visitor.

I have given a bird’s-eye view, so to speak, of the Bank Ring or my
patent safety switch, along with which I introduced Captain Irving.
To relate all my personal experiences with the Ring would be too
exhausting, not only to my patient reader, but to myself. It flourished
until Thomas Byrnes became the head of the Detective Bureau, with the
rank of Inspector of Police, when a complete transformation of affairs
took place. Byrnes grasped the headquarters situation with a mighty
grip and administered a crushing blow to the patent safety switch. A
member of the Bank Ring said to me one day, while discussing old times,
“Inspector Byrnes keeps close tabs on us men these days. A few months
ago I took a hundred dollar bill from Walter Brown, a pickpocket, and
within forty-eight hours Byrnes called me in his office and said, ‘Two
days ago you took a hundred from Brown, didn’t you?’ There was no use
denying it, and I owned the corn--I just had to, you know. I knew I
was up against it. Well, he looked at me, and said, without roaring at
me as he does sometimes, ‘Turn that money in the Pension Fund, and if
anything like this happens again, I’ll ask for your shield.’”

It was with this kind of force that Byrnes began his reorganization of
the Detective Bureau. Whether in later years he stood true to those
principles, I do not know. Never in my days, when he was in charge of
the Detective Bureau, did I have knowledge that he was other than
honest. I heard rumors of Wall Street deals, but whether they were
true or not, I can’t say. He had some very influential friends in the
financial district, and I have no doubt they gave him many a hint as to
the lay of the market.

In thus briefly touching upon a period in my life when I depended upon
the police to abet my vigilance in the game of obtaining something for
nothing, I trust I haven’t caused any one a pang of pain or regret.
And so I pause for a while. In a subsequent volume I will, perhaps, go
deeper into my experiences with crooks and their relations with the
police.



CHAPTER XVI

HARD WORK UNDER GREAT DIFFICULTIES


The day following our reconciliation, Shinburn and I went down to look
over the Ocean Bank and its surroundings. It was most essential that we
should know the habits of the policemen on the beats around and near
the bank, and the comings and goings of the janitor and other occupants
of the neighborhood, as well as of the general public, day and night.
Therefore it was decided to obtain quarters from which all this could
be watched, and a front room on the second floor of the building on
Fulton Street, opposite the bank, was hired. From this room two men
kept constant watch from January until the time for the trick to be
pulled off. Through these men we learned the habits and manners of all
who frequented that locality.

Here is one of the results of our watch-tower: About three months
after we had been at work we became alarmed at the suspicious actions
of a man who constantly hovered around the bank corner. Thinking
that he might be a “plain clothes man,”--that is, a detective not
in uniform,--I reported the circumstance to Detective Jack McCord,
who had the matter investigated, and ascertained that the man was a
“look-out” for a near-by gambling game.

Shinburn and I agreed, on the first inspection of the bank building,
that, because of the exposed entrance to the bank, and the constant
stream of passers-by, which, owing to the near-by ferries and markets,
never ceased day or night, it would not do to try to get into the bank
by way of the door, and that ingress must be made from above or below.
We discussed the advisability of having a room directly over the vault,
but decided that, by reason of the massive masonry which we would have
to cut through, it would be much more practicable to go through the
floor, provided that, in the basement under the president’s room, a
room could be secured.

This was finally accomplished, though it took three months of planning,
to bring it about.

At the time of our first visit to the bank the whole basement was
occupied by one concern. Through Taylor we learned that the lease
would shortly expire, and that the tenants, who hired from the bank,
had given notice that they would not renew it. In this, Fortune seemed
to favor us; but, as the space was very large, we deemed it advisable
not to apply for a lease of the whole place, for we could make no
show of a legitimate business that would warrant the occupancy of so
extensive quarters, and that an attempt to do so would probably lead
the bank people to suspect our real purpose. Therefore, even at the
risk of losing the chance altogether, we determined not to apply for
the place just then, trusting to the hope that some one might apply
for the part fronting Greenwich Street, leaving the coveted room under
the president’s office, with the entrance on Fulton Street, to us; and
relying on Taylor’s ability to keep us posted regarding offers to lease
that the bank might receive.

Thus matters remained at a standstill, so far as entering the vault
was concerned, for some three months, or until about the middle of
March. Then an applicant appeared in the person of one William O’Kell.
Taylor at once informed us of the application. On investigation we
learned that O’Kell was a money broker on upper Broadway, where he had
an office less than one-half as large as the basement under the bank.
We, therefore, deemed it safe to let him acquire the lease, trusting to
be able to hire from him the part we desired. Scarcely had Mr. O’Kell
moved into his new quarters than he was approached by a man calling
himself Kohler, who represented himself as being an insurance broker,
and stated that he wished to hire the rear part of the basement. Mr.
O’Kell was only too willing to sub-let. As Kohler was Shinburn’s
brother-in-law, we were soon in possession of the long-desired field
of action. At this time we notified the Bank Ring--the police--of our
enterprise, and arranged for the necessary protection.

And so we drew nearer and nearer to the coveted goal. But let it not
be thought that all was plain sailing from then on. Far from it! for,
though we were now directly under the president’s office, yet we were
also right beside the steps that led to the offices and the janitor’s
living apartments. Two police beats met at the bank corner, and here
the policemen on those beats would meet and idly swing their clubs
while they gossiped by the half-hour. Then the Fulton Street officer
would wander to the janitor’s entrance, where nearly every evening the
janitor and his wife would sit until after ten o’clock. Here another
conversation would take place.

Of course at such times it would be impossible to do any pounding; and
at no time would it do to allow the least amount of light to shine
through the windows. To obviate this latter difficulty, we hung thick
blankets over the windows, which so covered them that not the least
particle of light could get through. At the same time these blankets
served to deaden the noise.

Owing to the other burglaries which had been undertaken while
waiting to hire the basement office,--and chiefly to the Westminster
affair,--we did not get down to the Ocean Bank business until well
along in May. From observations we had made we decided that it would
be best to complete the job on a Saturday night, as this would, if
necessary, give us two nights and one day, and May 23 was fixed upon.

We had had a special set of tools made by an expert, and on May 22
these, together with my explosives and a hydraulic jack, were stored in
Kohler’s office. All the locks to this office had been changed by its
new tenant, and everything was in readiness to begin the attack on the
ceiling the next night.

Saturday I gave orders to have a coach ready, with the team in harness,
at my stable, and to be kept so all night in case of any emergency
call. And we warned our lieutenants in the room opposite the bank to
be continually on the alert. At five o’clock in the afternoon Shinburn
and I were in the office with the doors locked, shutters closed, and
blankets up, waiting for the janitor to finish his work in the bank and
retire to his quarters.

But the janitor did not retire until after ten o’clock; and, in the
meantime, we sat in the office, not daring to make any noise lest we
be detected by those sitting on the steps without. It was very tedious
watching, and it tried our patience to the utmost; but at last we heard
the welcome sound of the closing and locking of the door which led to
the upper floors, and we immediately prepared for action.

It had been decided to cut up through the bank floor at a place between
the dead wall at the Fulton Street end of the building and the front of
the president’s desk. This plan was adopted because, in case we should
get through the floor and yet not be able to complete the job the same
night, the carpet could be replaced over the hole at that point with
the least likelihood of its detection.

This spot was very near the Fulton Street side, and, therefore, great
care had to be exercised lest the noise of our operations should be
heard outside. Consequently, while one did the cutting the other kept
his ear glued to a joint in the window shutter, with a string in hand,
one end of which was tied to the other’s wrist.

When the plastering of the ceiling was removed, we expected to find
an open space between the girders of the floor above. But, instead,
we found the space filled with rubble set in cement--a solid mass
fourteen inches thick. Here was a dilemma. We had come prepared with
tools to cut wood and steel only, and had no implements with which to
dig through this obstruction. There was nothing else to do but put off
further operations for a week, and, in the meantime, get the necessary
tools.

Then a new difficulty presented itself. There was the hole in the
plastering, which, with a bank overhead, would appear a very suspicious
circumstance to even the most casual observer. It must be hidden. We
used up all the mucilage in the office in plastering paper over it, but
still it was only too apparent. We could do no more that night, so we
watched our opportunity and got away unobserved.

Early Monday morning we scoured the furniture stores to find some
article that would be tall enough to cover the break. At last we found,
in a second-hand shop in Canal Street, a solid mahogany wardrobe which
would serve our purpose. With very little dickering with the Jew owner
we bought it and had it hauled to Kohler’s office, where we placed it
under the break.

With the aid of books and boxes the wardrobe served its purpose
admirably,--and also formed a first-class receptacle for our tools.

On the Friday following our enforced stoppage, as previously related,
we had obtained the necessary tools for digging through the cement, and
they were safely deposited in Kohler’s office. We had also arranged
for heavily padding the floor beneath the hole so as to catch any
debris that might fall, and we were ready to continue the work on the
following night. But at this point Taylor informed us that arrangements
had been made to have the bank’s quarters painted and decorated, the
work to be done on Sundays and after banking hours on week days, and
that the start was to be made the next day. This, of course, knocked
our plans on the head for the time being, and naturally was a sore
disappointment to us, as well as a source of great danger.

Our work had now reached that stage where the utmost caution was
necessary--the least slip might bring suspicion upon us. If some one
were to spy the break in the ceiling or doubt the legitimacy of
Kohler’s insurance business, all would be up with us. Then, too, we had
before us the continual fear that the combination of the bank’s vault
lock would be changed, necessitating more long, weary weeks of waiting
until Taylor should be able to secure the new numbers.

However, these were the risks of the business, and we were perforce
obliged to lie low until the coast was clear. At last, on Friday, June
5, Taylor informed us that the painters would not work the following
night or Sunday. This was welcome news, and we decided to use the time
of their idleness in putting in our work. Our preparations were already
made, and, except to order the coach to be in readiness, and notifying
the lookouts across the street to keep a sharp watch, there was nothing
to do but await the appointed hour.

At five o’clock Saturday evening Shinburn and myself were again locked
in Kohler’s office with everything in readiness to get to work just as
soon as the coast was clear. But, as on other occasions, the janitor
and his wife sat on the steps and the patrolman loitered around till
nearly eleven o’clock.

At last, the coast being clear, we began work. We had removed quite a
portion of the obstructing masonry, when clang! bang! whiz! a section
of the fire department was upon us. A fire had broken out in the near
neighborhood. One of the hydrants was near the bank corner. An engine
was attached to it, and pumped away until three o’clock in the morning,
while a crowd of people stood about, many leaning against the railing
right in front of us.

This, of course, precluded our doing any work until too late to be able
to complete the job that night. Therefore, when quiet again reigned
outside, we slipped out and sought our beds. We did not deem it wise to
try to get back into the office that Sunday evening, so we decided to
wait until the next favorable Saturday.

Three weeks passed, and the painters held the premises; but on June
27 they again took a vacation. Taylor having duly apprised us of this
beforehand, we once more prepared for work. So much of the tunnelling
had already been done that, given half a chance, we had every hope of
finishing the trick this time.

Experience had taught me that, notwithstanding our strong police
protection, it was always best to have an anchor to windward in case
of capture, in the shape of a good round sum to use as a basis for
negotiations for liberty. This anchor, of course, had to be in the form
of part of the loot, otherwise no dicker could be made. One cannot
dicker with a bank for immunity from prosecution when that bank has
lost nothing. Therefore, we devised a scheme to make sure of the anchor
in case we were caught.

Kohler had a key to the old lock on the door between his office and
that of O’Kell. Thus, while after the change of locks O’Kell could not
come into our quarters, we could still go into his. From the south side
of O’Kell’s office was a toilet room that had a small window fronting
on Greenwich Street. Our keys gave us access to this. We arranged that
one of our lookouts should make periodical trips past this window, and,
should he see a certain sign, he should continue a block or two, and
then, returning, come close to the window and stoop as if picking up
something. By this time we would have entered the vault and secured
a box containing a sealed package, of which Taylor had informed
us, supposed to contain one hundred thousand dollars in government
bonds. This package I was to hand to the lookout as he stooped, and
he was then to take it at once to my rooms and then follow the other
instructions which I had given him.

It had been further arranged that, on his way to my rooms with the
precious package, the lookout man was to stop at my stable and notify
my coachman, who had orders to drive at once to Cortlandt Street ferry
and there await further instructions.

The night was excessively warm, and the janitor, with a crowd of
neighbors, sat on the steps until after eleven o’clock, while Shinburn
and I, stripped to our underclothes, sweltered in the close air of the
office. At last, the chatter above having ceased, the chatterers having
sought their apartments, and the patrolman being away, we pulled out
the wardrobe and went to work with a will.

Nothing happened to deter us except the momentary passage of some
pedestrian, and by two o’clock we had cleared away all the masonry,
leaving the wood floor bare. Through this we cut, taking care not to
injure the carpet above. A hole being cut in the floor, we pushed up
the carpet and in a twinkling we were in the president’s office. The
iron shutters on the bank windows hid us from view from the outside and
we had a clear road to the vault.

But what if the combination had been changed! I rushed to the door,
twirled the dial plate, and--the door was open. To get the keys of
the inner doors from their secret resting-place was but the work of a
moment, and then we were inside of the vault. There, exposed to our
view, were various boxes containing the securities of the bank and of
many of its customers who used this as a place of deposit for their
valuables.

Taylor had told me where in the vault to find the box containing the
sealed package. This box I at once broke open, took the package, and
went to the toilet room off O’Kell’s office. In order to save time, the
signal that I had arranged for the lookout man was made to work by a
cord. One end of this cord was attached to the signal, the other end I
carried with me as we went to the vault.

As soon as the vault was opened, I pulled the cord. As luck would have
it, the signal was displaced just before the lookout passed, so that
when I reached the window I had but a few moments to wait before he was
back, and that part of the scheme was completed. Meanwhile, Shinburn
had so fixed the lock of the front doors to the bank that it could not
be opened without a locksmith, and we were free from fear of intrusion
from that direction; at least until we should have time to relock the
vault and get below.

From the toilet room I returned to Kohler’s office and proceeded to
pass the tools up through the hole to Shinburn. This was no small
undertaking, for the shutters of the bank had holes near the top which
precluded our having a light in the president’s room. I had had to
work the combination by the light of a cigar, and some of the tools
were pretty heavy, the hydraulic jack alone weighing one hundred and
twenty-five pounds.

All of the tools were wrapped in cloth to prevent clashing; yet it was
ticklish business, lest they should strike against something and so
make noise enough to be heard outside. At last they were all up without
mishap, and I followed. Our next act after getting the tools into the
vault was to close the doors and strike a light.

We then went to the various boxes and sorted their contents, taking
such securities as were negotiable and putting them in a satchel. We
found much jewelry, but did not take any. That was not our graft, and,
besides, we felt that we would have a full load with the money and
bonds. As we inspected them, we placed the boxes at the far end of the
vault and when through with the last one we turned our attention to the
tellers’ safes.

We commenced with the receiving teller’s safe, cutting a small opening
directly over the lock bolts to enable their being pushed back. But
the cutting, or drilling, of steel by hand is very slow and hard work,
and it was not until eleven o’clock in the morning that the bolts were
sprung and the doors of the safe opened. The contents of this safe
were gone over and all that were negotiable were put in the satchel
containing the other valuables, and the satchel let down into Kohler’s
office, so that we might be sure of that much were we disturbed in our
further work.

We then began upon the paying teller’s safe, which was much stronger
and more difficult than the other. We tried our wedges, endeavoring
to force them in with the jack, for we had worked so long and so hard
without any nourishment that we were too fagged out for hard drilling.
But the quarters were too close to work the jack, and we were forced to
resume drilling.

When about halfway through the door, we were obliged to desist through
sheer exhaustion. We therefore closed and locked the vault’s outer
doors, repaired the front door lock, and crawled down into our office.
In going down I pulled the president’s chair over the hole, put down
the carpet as best I could, and replaced the section of the floor we
had cut out; this we braced from below so that it could not give way if
trodden upon.

We then took the satchel, the contents of which, now, were worth about
a million and a half, and, watching our opportunity, slipped out into
the street and made our way with our precious burden to Cortlandt
Street ferry, where we found my carriage. Getting in, we started
up-town, trusting to our outlook in the room opposite the bank to
notify us if anything happened.

On arriving at my rooms, Shinburn and I washed off the grime, donned
clean clothing throughout, and, leaving the satchel in a safe place,
went out to recruit our wasted strength with a square meal. After
satisfying the inner man, we paid a visit to Detective Jack McCord at
his house in Amity Street, and told him what we had accomplished.

About seven o’clock in the evening we were driven back to the Astor
House; from there we walked to the room where the lookout was. He
reported that no one had entered the bank since our departure, but we
could see the janitor and his wife sitting on the steps opposite.
Feeling that they would remain there several hours, Shinburn and I
returned to the Astor House, secured two rooms, and, giving orders to
be called promptly at one o’clock, proceeded to get a much-needed rest.

The clerk forgot to call us until nearly two o’clock, when we hastened
into our clothes and made for the bank. Here we were again delayed,
and it was not until nearly three o’clock that we were able to get an
opportunity to slip into our office unobserved. Lighting a cigar, I
crawled up through the tunnel, followed by Shinburn. By cigar light I
worked the combination, while Shinburn again put the front door lock
out of kilter, and we were soon in the vault.

An inspection of the work that had yet to be done on the paying
teller’s safe convinced us that we could not succeed by drilling in the
short time left at our disposal, and that we must employ other means.
Consequently we decided to call the fire department to our assistance.
So I slipped across the street to the lookout, and told him to go, in
about twenty minutes, to the window in the toilet room, watch for the
signal, and as soon as he saw it to turn in a fire alarm. Then I went
back to the bank, fortunately not having to wait my chance. Shinburn
and I at once set to work with wedges and copper hammers to make a seam
between the jamb and the door of the safe so that we could insert
explosive. Finally everything was ready, the charge was connected with
a battery which Shinburn held outside the vault, and the vault doors
closed. I pulled the signal string and then we waited. By and by we
heard the rumble and gongs of the fire carts; and just as an engine
swept by the bank, Shinburn turned the switch, the charge went off, and
as we returned to the vault, we found the safe door lying on the floor.
We made short work of gathering the contents of the safe, which we
crammed into the teller’s trunk kept there.

As we left the vault, I dropped a package containing two hundred
thousand dollars in gold notes among the debris, where it was found
later by the bank officials. This seeming carelessness on my part, and
of which the daily press made much, picturing the chagrin the looters
would feel when they learned of what they had left, was the fulfilment
of a promise I had made to Taylor. He did not wish the bank to be
forced into insolvency, and had insisted that this amount should be
left in order to enable the bank to meet its clearing house obligations
on the morning succeeding the robbery.

So, while it went against the grain to leave so much good money, as
well as to have the reputation for such carelessness, yet I kept my
word, and the bank met all its obligations that day.

We lowered the trunk through the tunnel and went down ourselves,
having relocked the vault and taken the other steps to obliterate all
signs of our mode of ingress. Shinburn remained in Kohler’s office, on
guard over the trunk, while I went to the ferry where my carriage was
to be.

When I reached the ferry-house, no carriage was to be seen. Minutes
passed and still I waited in the greatest apprehension. It was nearly
time for the bank janitor to come down, and my fears were wrought up to
the highest pitch. I had about concluded to go back and chance taking
the loot away by hand when the team came up. It had been delayed by the
jam caused by the alarm of fire we had sent in.

With a great load lifted from my mind I jumped into the carriage and
away we started. We drove to opposite the office door. I then went in
and found Shinburn about as much wrought up as I had been. He told me
that the janitor had already come down, and was, even then, in O’Kells
office. This shows the nerve of the man. He could sit quietly in that
office, awaiting my return, while the janitor might at any moment
detect the robbery and give the alarm. Shinburn was certainly a very
nervy man.

The presence of the janitor in the next office necessitated careful
management on our part if we would get away undetected. We could
hear him moving round in cleaning up the room. We got everything in
readiness, and, when from the sound we judged that the janitor was
where he could not see us as we left, slipped out quickly. The driver
started the team and away we went, undetected, with the cashier’s trunk
full of plunder.

We went directly to my apartments, sending the team back to the stable.
Once in my rooms, we opened the trunk and counted its contents. The
total amount of the two hauls was two million seven hundred and fifty
thousand dollars, made up as follows:--

  Cash                                $125,000
  Cash left as per agreement           200,000
  U. S. government bonds             1,475,000
  Miscellaneous bonds, salable         100,000
  Miscellaneous bonds, unsalable       850,000
                                    ----------
      Total                         $2,750,000

Thus was accomplished the greatest bank robbery on record, so far as
the amount stolen was concerned. To preserve its existence, the bank,
contrary to the usual method in such cases, gave out its loss as much
_less_ than the actual amount. I believe it stated the amount stolen to
be about two million dollars. This would be about right--taking out the
miscellaneous bonds not salable.



CHAPTER XVII

MARK MAKES PI OF LOCK TUMBLERS


Too many irons in the fire spoiled an opportunity to add a few thousand
dollars to our cash capital. This occurred in that busy year, 1869.
Mark Shinburn and I got word of a bank at Lambertville, New Jersey,
that seemed to hold out golden inducements, so he went to make the
strike, while I remained in New York to keep an eye on more important
matters, but ready to answer his summons for the final attack.

The failure was, I believe, unique in every sense of the word. Neither
before nor after did anything like it fall to our lot.

Shinburn said that if I would have a double team for a “get-away” he’d
do the inside work. I did my part forthwith. The plan was to get the
combination numbers of the first vault door one evening, and the next
enter the bank as soon as business was over and the doors locked.
Getting the “dust,” it appeared, would be thus accomplished without
much effort, and relocking the vault door, leaving nothing in sight to
indicate our visit, we would be four or five hours on our way to New
York before the discovery of the robbery.

Our planning would have been carried out to a dot had not a piece of
gross carelessness on the part of the bank’s cashier occurred. In
closing the vault he left the second door to it unlocked. When Shinburn
got through the first door, he found the one leading right up to the
very safes unfastened. This seemed to be an unexpected piece of good
luck. As a matter of fact, Shinburn was able to place our “Little
Joker” on the dial of the inside safe, and thereby accomplished in one
sitting what might have required two or more. He got the combination
to the second door of the vault, obtaining it by means of a steel
wire, which he inserted in the rim of the tumbler, thus pushing back
the spring that held the combination numbers in position, but in
getting them Shinburn “pied” the tumblers, as the printer would term
it, which necessitated resetting them. Having the original numbers
and being pressed for time, he did it hurriedly and left the bank.
Everything seemed to be working toward the certain looting of the bank
the following evening. Mark had been on the way a few minutes when it
occurred to him that he had possibly made an error in computing the
numbers of the pied combination. In some manner he believed he’d set
the last tumbler at thirty-five instead of thirty-six. It was too late,
if that were the case, to remedy it, so there was nothing to do but to
wait and hope for the best. If the mistake had been made, there would
be plenty evidence of it when the cashier attempted to unlock the
vault in the morning.

Well, Shinburn did hear from it. The inner door could not be opened,
try as the cashier would. A great mystery seemed to confront the bank
people. What had happened to the combination? It had worked well
hitherto. It did not occur to them that some one had been tampering
with the lock. Unable to open the vault, the Lillie Lock Company was
telegraphed to forthwith send on an expert to make an examination. In
the meantime, the bank’s cash being locked up, not much business was
done. The expert came, and, after working several hours, solved the
mystery.

“Burglars,” he said, with a snap, as he held up to the bank people’s
astonished gaze our “Little Joker.” “I found it on the dial of the
money safe. Your bank would have been ‘touched’ within a few hours.
Some one bungled the lock on the second vault door and that gave the
snap away.”

The amazement of the bankers was taken for doubt by the expert, so he
went on to a further explanation.

“We’ve long suspected something of this kind, but could never get our
hands on it. Through this discovery we’ve done a great service to the
banking people of the country. Any number of banks have been robbed by
the mere opening of the vaults and safes with combination numbers, all
of which were supposed to be kept secret; only known to one or two
officials or employees of a bank. This is a great discovery.”

And the expert was right. If it so happen that these pages meet the
eyes of any one using these locks with the same dials to-day, he will
at once realize how utterly worthless they are as a safeguard against
the real professional burglar. I know positively that the “Little
Joker” was the cause of many alterations in the Lillie locks, and its
loss to me greatly interfered with my hitherto easy access to bank
vaults and kept not a little funds away from me.

Having been defeated by no one but himself, Mark reported to me, and
feeling much chagrined over the failure of our “on-the-side” job, he
returned to New York and we continued our scheming for the millions in
the Ocean Bank.

Mark had played a lone hand and lost. I was sorry, and of course he
felt badly enough over his bungling, so nothing was said. None of us is
infallible.



CHAPTER XVIII

DISPOSITION OF OCEAN BANK LOOT


I have no doubt that my readers will readily believe that shortly after
the opening of the Ocean Bank vault on the morning after our departure
there was a considerable stir in the financial world, especially that
part of it located at the corner of Fulton and Greenwich streets.

The two hundred thousand dollars that we left on the vault floor
enabled the bank to meet its engagements at the clearing house that
day; the police closed the bank’s doors early in the day, thus
preventing a run; and the bank did not fail. That is, it did not fail
then.

On that Sunday afternoon, after we had removed a million and a half
from the vault, and paid a visit to Jack McCord’s house as related in
the last chapter, he went out of his house on that day, breaking his
custom in this respect. He hunted up the other members of the Ring, and
notified them all, including Captain Irving, to be at headquarters by
nine o’clock the next morning without fail.

At that hour one of my coaches with my finest team stood in Crosby
Street near Houston. My best driver held the ribbons over them. In
due time came the notice to headquarters of the robbery of the bank.
Captain Irving and Detectives McCord and Kelso thereupon hastened to
the corner of Crosby and Houston streets and boarded my coach. The
horses were started at their best gait, and the detectives were soon at
the scene of the loot.

By this time the robbery had become generally known in the vicinity
of the bank. The bank’s offices were filled with a mob of shouting
depositors and owners of boxes, who were clamoring for their money and
valuables. Irving turned them all out and locked the doors and then
began to question the bank officials. You will readily imagine that the
information which he derived from this questioning was of great benefit
to him--it told him so much that he did not know.

The detectives listened to the officials’ stories, looked wise,
consulted, and then determined that the job was the work of a Western
gang of burglars, which it had long been rumored was coming East.
Irving said that guards would at once be placed at all ferries and
railroad stations, and assured the bank people that it would be but a
day before the robbers would be bagged and the loot returned.

The confident manner of the detectives reassured the bank officials,
who began to feel that things were not so bad as they had at first
appeared. Irving then attended to the returning of the safe deposit
boxes to their owners in the crowd out in the street. The reception of
one of these boxes was generally followed by wails of sorrow, long and
deep. Then, after cautioning the bank officials to give nothing to the
press, but to refer all reporters to headquarters, the detectives left,
to place the cordon about the city.

And, to blind the press and the police officials not in the know, this
cordon was placed, and many a policeman watched a ferry-house or a
railroad station for mythical Western crooks. Yes, the members of the
Bank Ring put in their share of this kind of watching, too, though they
knew at all times where to find the looters. Indeed, I had a long talk
with Jim Kelso while he was stationed at the Harlem depot to catch the
robbers.

On the afternoon of the same day that they had visited the looted bank,
Irving, Kelso, and McCord met Shinburn and myself at Stetson’s in
Central Park. Here we had a wine dinner, and Irving then narrated to
us the happenings at the bank that morning. Of course, Shinburn and I
expressed the wish that the police might capture that bad Western gang.
But the detectives were more particularly interested in the amount they
were to get out of the robbery.

Shinburn and I had gone through the stuff we had taken, and found that
the precious sealed package, of which Taylor had told us, contained
non-negotiable paper, upon which a customer of the bank had borrowed
capital. No doubt the customer would have been pleased had the
package never been heard of again. We had made a tabulated statement
and, taking it with us, showed it to our table companions. It ran as
follows:--

  Cash taken away                               $125,000
  Cash left in bank vault                        200,000
  U. S. government bonds--then above par       1,475,000
  Miscellaneous bonds, marketable                100,000
  Western R. R. bonds, unsalable                 850,000
                                              ----------
      Total                                   $2,750,000

In running over the list, McCord exclaimed: “Cash left in bank vault,
two hundred thousand dollars! What in hell do you mean by that?”

“We left that amount there,” I replied.

The detectives looked at me in wide-eyed astonishment. “Were you
crazy?” asked Kelso.

“No; just keeping a promise,” I replied. “It is nothing that interests
you people. But it’s funny that the bank folks didn’t tell you about
it.”

“Well, they didn’t,” said Irving.

This worried me, for I feared that the package had not been found and
that we had left it to no purpose. How this could have happened I could
not understand, as I had seen Taylor that morning, and told him just
where I had left it, and did not believe Taylor would hold it out.
However, it was found and used for the purpose intended. I learned
this from the papers next morning as well as from Taylor, later. How
the press got the news, I don’t know; but they got it.

Two or three days after the robbery we were told that there was a
possibility that the bank might call in the services of the Pinkertons,
who a few years before had established their New York branch. The Bank
Ring also had some fear of this; and Irving was insistent in his demand
that such a thing should not be done, as it would interfere with the
plans laid by the police. And so it would have done, but not in the
manner that the bank officials were led to suppose. If the Pinkertons
were to get into the case, Shinburn and I felt that it would be better
to have none of the proceeds of the robbery where they could be traced
to us. Therefore we discussed what would be the best disposition to
make of it--it was still in my rooms, all except the cash, which had
been banked. Finally, we agreed to go to Peekskill and bury the stuff
in a safe place.

In pursuance of this plan we got large fruit-jars and filled them with
bonds, etc., crowding them down as tightly as we could. We placed the
jars in tin cans and sealed them up. With a part of these jars we went
to Peekskill by train, hired a livery rig, and drove out about two
miles northeast of the town. Here, in a wood, near an old mill, we
buried the cans we had brought. The next day we took the rest of the
cans to Staten Island and buried them in the woods then standing back
of what is now known as St. George.

The weeks went by, and the Bank Ring succeeded in preventing the
employment of the Pinkertons. One day I went down to Staten Island and
drove up to where our plant was. Right over the spot where our cans
lay buried was a tramp, stretched out, fast asleep. I left at once,
but in great trepidation. The next day I returned and dug down to the
treasure. It was all there, safe and sound. As everything seemed to
be safe so far as the Pinkertons were concerned, I took up the cans,
placed them in my wagon, and carried them back to town, where I put
them in our box in the Safe Deposit Company’s vaults.

A few days after this a terrific storm swept over the lower Hudson
valley, uprooting trees, throwing down buildings, and washing away
hillsides. Shinburn and I feared that the rain might have washed bare
our plant at Peekskill. Therefore we visited the plant and found it
undisturbed; but we dug the cans up and took them back to New York,
and put their contents in the deposit vault along with the rest. This
burying of the treasure proved to have been an unnecessary precaution;
but if the Pinkertons had been put to work on the job, this burial
would no doubt have saved us from being caught with the goods on us.

However, we were never molested, nor was suspicion ever directed to
Shinburn or myself on account of this robbery, great as it was. For
weeks the press of the country teemed with items about it. Many and
wild were the speculations as to who were the robbers, whence they had
come and whither they had gone. But the truth has never been known
until revealed in these pages--except to the robbers themselves and to
the members of the police Bank Ring.

Furthermore, we sold all the government bonds without attracting the
least attention to ourselves, though Detective George Elder was at one
time pretty hot on the scent. However, his brother officers steered
him off. Yes, he was even sent on several wild-goose chases after
“suspected men” to keep him from interfering with us and our plans. The
disposing of these bonds will make a good story. I may tell it later.

All of the non-negotiable paper that we took, amounting to eight
hundred and fifty thousand dollars, turned up mysteriously one night
on the steps of Captain Jourdan’s station-house, in Franklin Street,
enclosed in the paying teller’s trunk, and was by the captain returned
to the bank. Therefore the par value of the property that we actually
realized on amounted to one million seven hundred thousand dollars. The
government bonds, though, were worth at that time about one hundred and
sixteen, if I remember rightly, which would make the real value of
the entire property one million nine hundred and thirty-six thousand
dollars. We did not realize this sum, however, as we had to sell the
bonds at some discount.

The proceeds of the robbery were distributed as follows:--

  Paid Insurance Agent Kohler                        $50,000
  Paid our assistants, etc.                           25,000
  Paid Bank Clerk Taylor                             275,000
  Divided equally between Shinburn and myself      1,225,000
                                                  ----------
      Total                                       $1,575,000

The amount paid to the police was divided as follows:--

  To James Irving, head of Detective Bureau                    $17,000
  To John McCord, detective                                     17,000
  To George Radford, detective                                  17,000
  To James Kelso, detective                                     17,000
  To Philip Farley, detective                                   17,000
  To John Jourdan, Captain Sixth Precinct (afterward
    Superintendent)                                             17,000
  To John McCord for Detective George Elder                     17,000
  To one other police detective                                  1,000
  To Inspector Johnson                                           1,800
  To John Browne                                                   500
  To Frank Houghtaling, Clerk Jefferson Market Police Court     10,000
                                                              --------
      Total                                                   $132,300

In addition to the above amounts paid police and court officers, James
Kelso, and Frank Houghtaling were each given a James Nardenne, Swiss
movement, hunting-case watch and long chain, bought at Benedict
Brothers’ for five hundred dollars apiece.

All moneys paid police and court officers, except John Jourdan’s share,
I paid direct to John McCord as early as November 1. Jourdan’s rake-off
was paid to him personally by me at his home in Prince Street on a
Sunday evening three days before Shinburn sailed for Hamburg. At this
meeting McCord was present, and it was arranged that McCord and Radford
should be at the Hoboken pier to protect Shinburn from the Pinkertons.

As to the money paid to McCord for George Elder, the latter claimed he
never received it. The five hundred dollars to Browne was paid after
he had been bounced from the police force, and while he was runner for
Mayor Oakey Hall. This money was not paid to Browne for services, but
for the following reason: He came to me some time after the robbery,
and, pleading poverty, said that he should have been “seen” in the
Ocean Bank affair. I told him that I did not know what I had to do
with that. He tried a bluff, but it didn’t work. Finally he came
down, said he was in trouble over a girl, and that she would have
him arrested if he did not give her five hundred dollars. Purely out
of compassion--more for the woman than for him--I paid her the five
hundred dollars and she released him. Later, Browne tried to hold me
up again--this time for one thousand dollars. We had some rather hard
words and he got nothing, and we have not been friendly since.

Many and varied were the episodes that grew out of this great robbery,
owing to the great notoriety it gained throughout the country. Messrs.
Linenthal and Co., wholesale tobacconists, had two hundred and fifty
thousand dollars in government bonds on deposit with the bank as
security in a lawsuit they had pending with the government. Linenthal
and Co. sued the bank for the value of the bonds, claiming that the
robbery was put up by some of the bank officials. To prove this claim
they obtained a pardon for a convict in Sing Sing who claimed to be
one of the burglars. He knew absolutely nothing about the robbery, and
what, if any, testimony he gave I do not know. But he got his pardon.

At another time a crook named John Irving, being stranded in San
Francisco and desirous of coming East, “confessed” that he was one of
the burglars. The New York police were notified, and the Commissioners,
not being in the “know,” ordered Captain Irving to go West after his
namesake. Consequently he started, accompanied by Detective Dusenbury.
About a month later I was at Suspension Bridge, on my way to attempt
the robbery of a bank at Goodrich, Canada. A train from the West had
just arrived, when I heard my name called. On looking up, I saw Captain
Irving on the platform of a car of the east-bound train.

“Come over here, George,” he said. I walked across to the car and shook
hands with him.

“Come inside,” said he. “I have something to show you.”

Together we went into the car, where we found a man handcuffed to
Detective Dusenbury.

“This,” said Irving, pointing to the prisoner, “is, it is claimed, one
of the Ocean Bank burglars.”

“You don’t mean it!” I replied. “How did you catch him?”

“Oh, he confessed, out in San Francisco, and the Commissioners sent
us out after him. But by the time we got out there he had changed his
mind and put up a fight. We have him, however; though, to tell you the
truth,” said Irving, winking, “I don’t believe he did it. His story
don’t sound right.”

And it didn’t sound right to the bank’s counsel, either; therefore the
prisoner got his free ride to New York and was not tried for the Ocean
Bank robbery. But, unfortunately for him, there was an old indictment
against him, and on that he got five years in Sing Sing.

There were lots of just such fake stories based on the robbery.

Then the pretended selling of the stolen bonds was another scheme.
Billy Matthews, my former gambler friend, in conjunction with one Jack
Sudlow, worked this game for some time. Sudlow was an East-side boy who
had gone to West Virginia and by some means become president of a bank
there. He finally wrecked the bank, taking everything but the safe and
a five-cent postage stamp. He overlooked the stamp and didn’t think of
it till he had reached Baltimore--then it was too late to go back after
it. The safe had been too heavy for him to carry.

This Jack Sudlow could lie like a bulletin board and make one believe
that black was white. Well, he and Billy juggled many a good dollar
out of the people’s pockets and gave in return a package supposed
to contain stolen bonds, but which, in reality, held naught but an
old newspaper or two. And it was not only “come-ons” that they beat,
either. They took fifteen hundred dollars out of Elias, the original
“sawdust man,” who was called the “king of swindlers.” And they “beat”
Banker Sam A. Way, of Boston, out of twenty-one thousand dollars. The
mode of beating Way was as follows: Way was president, and practically
the owner, of the Bank of Metropolis, 36 State Street, Boston. He was
widely known as a purchaser of stolen bonds if the price was right
and no risk, and he was considered a very slick man. Sudlow went to
him, and, showing a genuine one-thousand-dollar bond, said that he had
twenty-five more that he would like to sell, at the same time stating
that they were part of the Ocean Bank loot. Way bit, and finally
purchased the twenty-six at thirty per cent discount on the market
price, which was then one hundred and sixteen. Therefore the purchase
price was twenty-one thousand one hundred and twelve dollars. The price
having been agreed upon, Sudlow said:--

“Very well, I will leave this bond with you”--laying the genuine bond
on Way’s desk--“and will bring the other twenty-five to-morrow. Please
have the money all ready in large bills.”

The next afternoon, just before time for the bank to close, and when
business there was the liveliest, Sudlow rushed in and said:--

“Here are the bonds, Mr. Way. Have you the money ready?” at the same
time laying down a package marked “25--$1000--$25,000--U. S. Coupon
Bonds 5/20 of 1863,” and fastened with wax seals bearing the imprint of
the Park Bank of New York.

The successful pulling off of a swindle of this kind lies in the manner
of the swindler. Sudlow had the right manner, and Way paid over the
money without opening the package. Later he found that he had one good
bond and a collection of newspapers.

When the Ocean Bank robbery had become an event of the past, it can be
readily understood that I realized a comfortable sense of relief and
security, as far as wealth could bring about that satisfactory state. I
felt as though I was in that class of men known to the present period
as Captains of Industry. In accumulating wealth I had the same object
in view as have Russell Sage, John D. Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan,
Charles M. Schwab, John W. Gates, the United States Ship Building
Company, and similar financiers and corporations, whose scheming to-day
is to obtain something for nothing. I piled for myself earthly treasure
outside of the Golden Rule, and they are accumulating colossal fortunes
for themselves with the same persistent and bold disregard for that
biblical admonition before them. However, I proceeded on somewhat
different lines to gather in the shekels, though our incentives
sprang from the same parent--desire for riches. Instead of employing
expensive attorneys to keep me from getting into jail, I solicited the
valuable assistance of the inner Bank Ring of the Police Department,
whose services were expensive, I frankly admit, as was demonstrated
in the percentage I paid the members of the Ring from the Ocean Bank
haul. Nevertheless the Ring’s protection enabled me to remain in New
York without being compelled to hide behind the cellar door, which is
considerably more than some of my co-speculators of that period could
say for themselves.

No doubt there are memories able to recall how Jay Gould and Russell
Sage drove the Missouri Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad into
insolvency by playing Wall Street tag with its stocks, and then through
shrewd legal counsel secured for themselves the receivership of that
valuable property. The same memories will also recall how Messrs.
Gould and Sage so juggled the finances of that railway that the
original stockholders were practically frozen out of their holdings,
and how those stockholders rose in their righteous wrath and appealed
through the criminal courts for justice and the recovery of their
own. In that great crisis Jay Gould, the master wrecker of railroads,
suddenly found himself in ill health, and, hastily provisioning his
palatial steamer the _Atlanta_, sailed away on an extended ocean
voyage, thus making himself safe against the pursuit of the officers of
the law armed with warrants for his apprehension.

In closing this chapter I will add that the Ocean Bank is no more,
though the building in which it was still remains intact. The various
floors are now used as offices and small stores for tradesmen. The
bank itself went to pieces in 1876, several years after my handiwork
depleted its rich vault; but another class of crooks was the author
of its ruin. The Tweed gang of politicians got in their greedy work,
and when they were done, little remained to be divided among the
honest people who patronized the bank. It was long a trite saying in
Wall Street that the bank suffered much from the encroachment of the
burglars, but that was but a mere trifle compared with the blow given
it by the politicians.

The legend in great brownstone letters, “Ocean Bank,” may yet be seen
over the main entrance to the building, a vivid reminder of the burglar
craft and corrupt politicians of nearly twoscore years ago.



CHAPTER XIX

A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH


Shortly after the Cadiz burglary, having been able to insure myself
from arrest at the hands of the New York police by lining their palms
with gold, and the life of a criminal having been accepted as a means
of regaining my standing, if possible, in New Hampshire, I turned my
face east in the belief that all-powerful gold would purchase there
what justice, as dealt out at Keene, had withheld from me.

With this object in view I sent for A. V. Lynde, one of my attorneys
in the New Hampshire case, and we conferred at great length, with the
result that he assured me I would not be convicted should a retrial of
the case be had. However, I wanted to get a clean bill of health, and
felt disposed to leave no door closed through which I could obtain it.
I believed that money would prove the strongest argument. So, after
the ground had been thoroughly gone over, it was determined to offer
Herbert Bellows, the power behind the burglary charge, two propositions
from which to choose. One was that I would surrender for a retrial,
provided reasonable bail would be vouchsafed me, with the further
promise that if I were acquitted my confiscated property would be
returned to me. The second proposition was that if he would consent to
the quashing of the indictment a sum not to exceed ten thousand dollars
would be paid him.

With these propositions, Mr. Lynde returned to Keene and submitted them
to Bellows, through the latter’s attorney. The first was instantly
declined. The second would be accepted, provided the bribe was
increased to twenty thousand dollars. That price I would not consider
for a moment, and the subject was dropped until a year after, when
Bellows, through his counsel, sent word that he’d accept ten thousand
to wipe out the indictment. There was a meeting, but I declared I’d not
pay that sum.

“Well, what will you give us?” asked Bellows’s lawyer.

“Perhaps five thousand,” said Mr. Lynde, carelessly, speaking for me.
He added, “We’re somewhat like Judge Doe and his bail proposition--only
we subtract, while, as you’ll remember, he worked in addition.”

No agreement was arrived at, and so another twelvemonth passed. Then
Bellows’s counsel came to the front again and made Mr. Lynde an offer
to accept my last figure. I smile as I recall the sympathetic tone
my counsel adopted in replying to Bellows’s man: “Oh, really, I’m so
sorry, but you know that five thousand dollar proposition of ours is
outlawed--quite outlawed--in fact, a back number.”

The prolonged negotiations had brought the case to a point where
Bellows was no longer nibbling at the golden bait,--he was attempting
to swallow it whole, now that there appeared to be danger of it
vanishing forever.

“We’re open to a proposition,” said his attorney, feebly. “It’s time
the matter was closed up.”

Mr. Lynde and I had grown weary of the subject months before, and
decided that we would administer the other side a sample of its own
medicine. Mr. Lynde said, unenthusiastically, “So far as I’m concerned,
I can’t say that my client, at this late day, will pay a single
cent. At one time he decided to offer you ten thousand, but that was
thrown in his teeth. Then he offered to pay five thousand, but that
proposition Mr. Bellows declined. How he feels now I have no idea, and
will not know unless I write to him.”

“Suppose you let him know of our offer at once,” said the attorney.

“I’ll see what I can do,” answered Mr. Lynde, in a hopeless way; “but I
tell you I don’t believe he’ll pay Bellows five thousand now.”

The proposition was laid before me, but it was not until another year
had nearly gone by that I indicated any desire to act. The backing
and filling had disgusted me in the extreme. I’d made up my mind not
to discuss the subject again until there was a plain indication from
Bellows that he was ready to come to the point.

But I had no reason to complain at the next negotiation, for he was
willing enough to take my money. His attorney called on Mr. Lynde,
and a meeting was arranged in New York, between an attorney named
Pritchard, a New York friend of Bellows, and my representative Frank
Houghtaling, a clerk in Jefferson Market Police Court, who had served
Shinburn and me so well up in Steuben County, where we had our little
adventure with Sheriff Smith. As the result of the first meeting there
was a second, which took place at Delmonico’s. Bellows was present and
so was I. Amid a plentiful flow of wine, Houghtaling handed Bellows
three thousand dollars, and the indictment was handed me. That document
was destroyed. Thus, after three years, was I given a clean bill of
health in New Hampshire.

That winter I paid a hasty visit to my folks, and was astonished to
hear that there was a break-jail indictment out against me, and that I
was likely to be arrested at any moment. The indictment had been asked
for by District Attorney Lane, so I was told, soon after I’d made the
deal with Herbert Bellows. It was said that Lane had expected something
from Bellows at the quashing of the burglary charge, but had been
turned down. Unable to proceed against Bellows, Lane, out of revenge,
asked for the break-jail indictment more than three years after the
offence was committed, believing, in that manner, he could make void
what Bellows had guaranteed me. However despicable this was on the part
of the district attorney, it did seem to me that Bellows, who depended
upon Lane to quash the burglary indictment, should have been willing
to pay his tool a little of the blackmail money I had paid him. But,
as usual, I was the greatest sufferer, the centre upon which the storm
created by others beat hardest, and I turned about to face the fresh
trouble. Instinctively my hand went down in my pocket.

Summoning my brother, I told him I had only a few hours to visit
with the folks, for I must be back in New York, as soon as possible,
on account of important business matters. Carefully placing two
one-hundred dollar bills in an envelope, I sealed it in his presence,
handed it to him and said:--

“Go to District Attorney F. F. Lane, and say this to him: ‘My brother
George bade me hand you this envelope, and if you retain it, he expects
you will put that break-jail indictment in the after pocket in your
frock coat, and then sit on a red-hot stove.’”

My brother performed his errand faithfully, and I never heard from that
source again, except for an extremely unpleasant, though after all
amusing, incident.

In the following June I had completed a four-day visit with my people,
and was on my way home. I boarded the train at Bellows Falls, and we
stopped at Charlestown, not many miles away, when my attention was
attracted by an unusually long wait at the station. I was on the point
of asking for the reason, when old Sheriff Stebbins, the chap I met in
the sleighride party the night young Woods and I escaped from Keene
jail, came into the coach almost out of breath, and cried loudly:--

“I want ye, durn it! Ye’re my pris’ner, George White.”

I was thunderstruck for the instant, to be thus exposed to the other
passengers, of which there were quite a number.

“All right, sheriff,” I replied, as coolly as I was able, upon
recovering myself, “but isn’t there some mistake? It’s pretty rough to
accuse a fellow like this, and to interrupt his journey, too. I’ve been
home to see the old folks. What have I done?”

“Never mind--come outen this--I’ll sheow ye what ye’ve done,” he cried
excitedly. “There’s some folks as will be sheoutin’ when they git hold
on ye thar in Keene.”

So I alighted with him, but in passing, I met “Spress” Babbitt, whom I
well knew. He averted his face--purposely, I could see; and I wondered
at it. He was the express messenger on the train. I realized that
Stebbins had been notified by telegraph that I was a passenger on the
way to Charlestown, and that some one who knew me pretty well must
have been the informer.

“How did you know I was on the train?” I asked Stebbins.

“‘Spress’ Babbitt seen ye on the platform outen th’ car winder at
Bellows Falls.’”

“And telegraphed on to you?”

“Thet’s the size on’t,” grinned Stebbins. I felt like pulling his
whiskers, he seemed to enjoy the situation so much. I wasn’t alarmed
over the outcome, but I didn’t relish being held up to view in that
community after I had gone through so much trouble to fix things.

“And,” I went on sneeringly, “they held the train here until you came?”

“Thet’s wot ‘Spress’ sed he’d dew, an’ he done et, b’ gosh!”

I could have choked Babbitt had I had his little chicken neck in my
hands at the moment.

“I hed tew drive five mile, en like sixty, tew,” Stebbins said, as he
walked me to a steaming team at the side of the depot. At my request
he drove to Eagle Hotel, where I got him in excellent humor through
frequent libations in the bar-room.

“Wal, b’ gummany Christmus!” he finally said, with a silly grin, “I
give ye more credit ’an ye hev. Thought ye’d hev better sense ’an t’
run kerslam inter my paws. I’ve ben waitin’ t’ git my hooks onter ye
ever sense ye bruck outen jail.”

The rascal! I saw at once that he had his mind on getting a reward for
my capture, evidently not having heard that both indictments had been
done away with.

“Ah, Stebbins, my good fellow, I see you’re after the thousand,” I
said, after he had finished taking his measure of my shrewdness.

“Ye kin betcher bottom cent on’t--sartin! Why not?”

“That’s so, sheriff! Yes; why not?” I returned, laughingly. “But what
are you going to do with me first?”

“I ruther guess it’s on’y a bit o’ a trot fer my team back t’ jail
ye bruck from--sorter like twenty odd mile!” he said, grinning and
slapping his hands together in great delight.

“I hope you won’t be in too much of a hurry, Mr. Stebbins. Now, I’m
going to ask you as a favor to find out from District Attorney Lane
whether or not he wants me. It may be he doesn’t. Do you know?”

“Want ye? Glory and snakes! Sartin, he wants ye!”

“If you don’t mind, sheriff,” I suggested, “I’ll telegraph him. Do you
object?”

“Sartin no--no objecshuns!” He seemed to relish his liquor.

“I like your ways, Mr. Stebbins,” I said with a smile, and added,
“When we get through telegraphing District Attorney Lane, we’ll have
something to eat, and more to drink, too, if you feel like it.”

Then I wrote the following to F. F. Lane: “Sheriff Stebbins claims to
have me under arrest here--do you want me?--wire at my expense.”

While Stebbins looked on I signed my name to these words, and soon they
were being clicked to their destination. Stebbins’s little eyes were
wide open with astonishment and confusion. Presently he asked: “Is this
here biznuss a durned bluff, George?”

“We’ll let the district attorney be the judge of that, sheriff,” was my
bland reply. “Come--let’s go to the dining-room.”

In the meantime I had sent a messenger boy round town to look up Judge
Cushion, my senior counsel in the New Hampshire trial. I wanted him
near in case of an emergency. He arrived about the time we finished our
meal. He sat with us, and I told him of the fate of the indictments.
It was news to him, and I received his warm congratulations with
satisfaction. Then I told him of the arrest and of the message I’d
sent to District Attorney Lane. He smiled significantly. While telling
the judge all this, I took no little delight in watching the various
changes which appeared on the sheriff’s face. After waiting an hour,
I wrote another message, similar to the first, and sent it to Lane.
Another hour passed and still no reply from either. In the meanwhile
Sheriff Stebbins was getting more and more nonplussed and uneasy.

I wired to the telegraph operator at Keene to know if my messages
had been delivered to District Attorney Lane. I showed Stebbins the
answer:--

“Both messages were delivered, personally, to F. F. Lane.”

Stebbins was absolutely worried. He had serious doubts that he’d made a
smart move in arresting me. Finally, he opened up, with much confusion
of speech, a discussion with Judge Cushion.

“What ’u’d ye advise me tew dew, jedge?” he asked anxiously. I secretly
enjoyed his discomfiture.

“Well,” said Cushion, “you can hold Mr. White for twenty-four hours,
but let me tell you, if District Attorney Lane doesn’t want him, you’ll
be in a pretty pickle. It will be a clean case of lawsuit, and you’ll
be the defendant without a leg to hobble on. In view of Mr. White’s
statement, I can’t see any other outcome. It seems that you’ve arrested
him without proper authority.”

“B’ gummany Christmus!” ejaculated the sheriff, wiping his perspiring
face with a much-soiled handkerchief. “I hev cut a mus’ melon, an’ no
mistake! What’ll I dew, jedge, anyhow? Ef ye wuz in my place, what ’u’d
ye dew?”

“I prefer not to advise you, sheriff, but if, as you say, I had gotten
myself in your predicament, I’d confess I’d made a big mistake an’ tell
the prisoner to go his way in peace, as quick as he wanted to.”

Sheriff Stebbins jumped at this solution of his troubles, like a
startled rabbit to cover. I was set free, but I didn’t leave until I
had made the sheriff very contrite and fully understand that he had
seriously interfered with my lawful rights. Bidding farewell to Judge
Cushion, I was about to go, when Stebbins said I’d not be able to get
out of Charlestown that night, the last train having gone.

“But I’ll drive ye to Bellows Falls,” he volunteered anxiously, “an’
thet’ll help ye ’long a lot.”

I was truly glad to accept the offer. After a tedious journey, I was at
last on board a train _en route_ to the metropolis.

During these months I had tried in every way imaginable to get back the
property so unlawfully taken from me, but being handicapped by lapse of
time and by the prejudices of influential people, I signally failed.
It did me no good to make clear to the authorities that my property
had been taken from me by means palpably unlawful,--to show that the
suit in tort brought in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, by Herbert
Bellows, was never tried; for when I sued Sheriff White, who attached
my property, he had nothing to satisfy the judgment. All I accomplished
was to make plain the illegality of Herbert Bellows’s procedure, and
show belated, though ample, proof of the diabolical conspiracy against
me.

Two years after my experience with Sheriff Stebbins I accidentally
met “Spress” Babbitt on board a New London steamboat on the way to
New York. We met in the saloon cabin. He turned pale and was visibly
agitated as I strode up to him.

“Here, Babbitt,” I said, trying to repress my anger, “that was a nice
show you made of me at Charlestown.”

He sputtered considerably, mumbled more, and altogether I couldn’t
understand what he was trying to say. I went on, “I’ve a great mind to
throw you over the rail and make you swim ashore,” and I lunged forward
as though to grasp him. He shrank back and trembled violently.

“Don’t be alarmed,” I said; “you’re not worth it.”

He found his voice then and whimpered that he didn’t want to cause my
arrest, but that others had urged him to do it. The mean little imp
wasn’t man enough to admit his blame, but must shift it, if possible,
to other and innocent shoulders.

“Stuff,” I growled; “you see the error you committed--there was nothing
against me. Good night, Babbitt, and I hope for your sake we don’t meet
again on this boat.”

He disappeared into his state-room and didn’t come out until after we
touched the New York shore the following morning.



CHAPTER XX

TALL JIM MOVES FROM COLUMBUS PRISON


A letter came to me in the summer of 1868, two years after the Cadiz,
Ohio, bank robbery. It was in June, and upon opening it, with no little
curiosity, it proved to be from Mrs. Hammon, a sister of Tall Jim. As
will be remembered, Jim was sent to the prison at Columbus.

“If possible, come on to Ohio at once,” the letter said, among other
things, “for Jim has reason to think he has a plan to free himself,
George Wilson, and Big Bill. As for Jack Utley, he’ll be left to his
fate.”

“Well, I think so too,” was my mental comment as to Utley.

Having full confidence in the genuineness of the letter, I made a
hurried trip to Columbus and conferred with Mrs. Hammon. The gist of
the whole thing was that Tall Jim had found what we called a “right”
guard; that is, a prison official who is willing to betray his trust,
sell his honor, or do anything in that line provided there’s money
enough in it. The guard who promised to do the job said it would cost
twelve hundred dollars; that is, he could arrange matters in the
tier where Jim’s cell was so that escape to the roof of the hospital
would be easy. At that point, outside assistance would be available.
Something was said about getting Jack Utley out too, provided all hands
were agreed, but I flatly declared that I would not have anything to do
with the plot if Utley was to benefit by it. His mean, sneaking ways
had poisoned my mind against him for all time. I would not have allowed
his treatment of me in the Ohio expedition to stand in the way of his
freedom, but his later betrayal of the lads who trusted him was too
much for me to overlook. I was firm in this determination, declaring
that he must be left in prison, to get out the best way he could--which
was no more than a man of his caliber deserved. I had often heard, when
a lad, the expression, “Be a Man or a Monkey or a Long-tailed Rat,”
and I had placed Utley in the rodent class, with a bright chance of
carrying off all the honors.

“This ‘right’ guard will fix the cells of Jim and the boys on any night
agreeable to us,” said Mrs. Hammon, “and we can help them from the
hospital roof. After that it will be plain sailing.”

The plan seemed to be feasible enough, after I had been thoroughly
informed of it, and I told her so. Also I assured her that I’d go
to New York and with all possible haste put it in execution. I was
determined to do what I could in the way of paying for and working out
any plan that would get Jim out.

In a few days I was in Columbus again, with Frank, a trusted
lieutenant, plenty of money, and a lot of paraphernalia, including a
stout rope ladder. Sulphur Springs, a town about thirty miles away, was
made the base of operations, and there I hired a team for the escape
and perfected arrangements. The following Saturday night was agreed
upon as the earliest hour we could undertake the job. That night was
the most favorable one of the week, for on Sunday morning prison life
was apt to be more sluggish than at any other time. Friday evening I
met the “right” guard at Mrs. Hammon’s, and we discussed his part of
the plot from every standpoint, coming to what seemed to be a perfect
understanding. If he kept his agreement, I couldn’t see how there’d be
a failure. Mrs. Hammon thought so too. Would the man be faithful in the
deal? That was the question. I took Mrs. Hammon aside and questioned
her about the guard. She said there’d be no mistake in trusting him.
At this I handed him twelve hundred dollars, and he left, promising
to perform every detail of his part in the plan, by the clock. How I
seemed to distrust him! However, I hadn’t anything near tangible upon
which to base my suspicion, so I said no more about it. I had been
and was associating with many of the best crooks of the country, and
I flattered myself that I knew a “square” one the moment I laid eyes
on him. But the best of us are sometimes mistaken. However, I had paid
him the price, and we must trust to luck. It was a situation that
brought to mind the story of the old farmer whose horse was running
away downhill. His wife, Sally, was on the seat beside him. “Trust in
the good Lord, Joshua!” she screamed; and the farmer, tugging away at
the reins, cried out: “Yes, Sal, we’ll trust in Him till the breechin’
breaks, an’ then the Lord knows we’ll jump!”

The following afternoon Frank and I drove from Sulphur Springs to
Columbus with a spanking double team for the “get-away.” At nine
o’clock that night I was to meet the guard and get the final word,
and about midnight the job was to be put through. He was waiting for
me, but with much concern and profuse apologies said that the plan
could not work that night because a guard upon whom he depended for
assistance had been suddenly taken ill and was not on duty. He said,
further, that the best that could be done, under the circumstances, was
to wait until Wednesday night of the following week.

I left him, very much disgruntled and suspicious, with a promise to
meet him on Monday night, when the details of the next attempt would
be discussed. I was not at all surprised when he did not put in an
appearance then, and I was not much astonished, the following day, when
I learned he’d drawn his salary from the state, resigned his position,
and flown to parts unknown. We had been well gold-bricked. Swallowing
the situation with as much grace as I could, I gathered up my tools,
and Frank and I went back to New York, considerably wiser. Only the man
who wears the prison stripes can fully appreciate the feelings of the
lads when they learned of the “right” guard’s disappearance with the
twelve-hundred-dollar bribe. I wondered what would happen to him if Big
Bill ever crossed his path. Mrs. Hammon was given to understand that
any reasonable promise of money made in the future I would attempt to
fulfil, but not a cent would be paid until the lads were delivered on
the outside of the prison walls.

I heard no more of Tall Jim for twelve months, then another message
came, summoning me to Columbus; also the information that Charlie, the
son of Contractor Osborn, who did carting for the prison, had been
induced by Jim to assist in a plot to deliver him into friendly hands
on the outside of the walls.

“Charlie is of standard make,” wrote Jim’s sister, enthusiastically;
“and you can depend upon it he’ll deliver the goods or there’ll be no
coin.”

This, Mrs. Hammon said to me in the most positive vein, upon my arrival
in Columbus. After the first experience I was somewhat sceptical,
but I ventured the hope that the young man would do all that was
expected of him, and more. From the description of him, it seemed to
me he was worth a trial. Jim had conceived a plan by which he could
be put on the outside of the walls, provided the right sort of a deal
could be made with any one of the contractors who carted goods in
or out of the prison. It was a ticklish undertaking, and, so far as
reaching any of the contractors was concerned, a complete failure.
However, through the exercise of some ingenuity, Jim ascertained that
the son of Contractor Osborn was addicted to wild ways and seldom had
money enough to maintain the pace. Jim put out a “feeler,” and young
Osborn responded--responded like the needle to the magnet. Presently
he bargained to deliver Jim on the outside of the prison for two
hundred dollars spot cash, and the balance to be paid according to
any agreement between the interested parties after the success of the
undertaking.

I met Osborn, and we discussed the plan. It included the manipulation
of a “right” driver of one of his father’s teams, and as a teamster
was expected to resign in a few days, it was my duty to furnish the
new one to fill the vacancy. Making a flying trip to New York, I
perfected arrangements for the second time, and, returning, brought
my faithful Frank with me. He took lodgings at a working-man’s hotel,
disguised to fit the part, while I went to the Neil House. The day
after the teamster resigned Frank applied for the place, but was told
to return the following day, which he did, only to find another man had
been hired. Now, young Osborn had no control over the hiring of men
in his father’s employ, and had he, I doubt that it would have been
wise for him to assume the responsibility for a man who might later
be suspected of complicity in the escape of a convict. But Osborn was
made of the sort of material we wanted in this emergency; indeed, was
very much riper for the undertaking than I imagined he would be. We
were discussing what would be done next, when he suddenly declared
his determination to personally carry out his agreement and without a
“right” driver.

Accordingly, two days later, at two o’clock in the afternoon, my man
Frank was waiting with a fine pair of bays and a smooth-running buggy,
in a field not far from the rear of the prison wall and close by the
bank of the Scioto River. He was well out of the view of any one on
the walls, but when I came up at the rear of one of the storehouses of
the prison, where many of the supplies were kept, I could plainly see
him, and I waved the signal that all was progressing favorably. It was
the work of some of the teamsters in the employ of Contractor Osborn
to haul supplies and do other kinds of carting between the storehouses
and the prison. Charlie Osborn had planned to deliver a certain package
from the prison yard to a platform of one of the storehouses. This
done, his part of the bargain would be finished. I had not been long in
my hiding-place when I saw a team come hurriedly up to the platform.
Young Osborn, who was along, was seen to roll a barrel from the wagon
to the platform, and then to turn and direct the driver to hasten to
the prison again after another load.

No sooner had the teamster disappeared than Osborn cut the hoops away
from the barrel with a hatchet at hand for the purpose, and as the
staves fell apart with a clatter, I saw Tall Jim, his face looking like
death and gasping for breath, stagger into a standing posture, clothed
in the convict stripes.

It was as though Osborn had been a magician, and with one sweep of his
wand had smote a barrel and transformed it into a human being.

This done, Osborn was ready to take two crisp one-hundred-dollar bills
from me and vanish without a word. Then I turned to Tall Jim. In the
quickest possible time I had him in overalls and a linen duster which I
had brought along, and was half carrying him to the waiting carriage.
He couldn’t have walked there unassisted, it requiring all my strength
to support him, he was so nearly prostrated by his journey in the
barrel. He had been in it for nearly an hour, I afterward learned. I am
satisfied that we would have had a dead man in the barrel had it been
delivered one minute later.

In packing him, he had been so wedged in that breathing was nearly
impossible. He was in the most intense pain during his transit from the
prison yard to the storehouse. I wondered that he lived. But there was
no time for delay--five minutes after his release we were humming away
from the scene as fast as fleet-footed horses would carry us, and no
stop was made till we had put two miles between us and the prison. Then
we halted long enough to give Jim a stimulant and clothe him in a suit
I had provided to take the place of the convict garb, which we threw
in a clump of bushes. Off we went again, in the direction of Delaware,
where we intended to board a train for New York. At times I was worried
more than I cared to confess over Jim’s condition. It would not have
surprised me had he died on our hands. When we had traversed eight
miles, he began to show signs of improvement, and when presently he
began to evince some interest in his surroundings, I felt more hopeful;
and finally, when he asked where we were bound, I knew that he was all
right.

“We’re hustling for Delaware,” I explained to him, “as fast as hoofs
will take us there.”

“Now, George, you’re making a bull of it,” he whimpered, like a
petulant sick child; “that’s not right.”

I insisted that we were doing just what we ought to do, but he
persisted in telling me a plan he’d mapped out in his cell, which would
take us some forty miles back in the country, and in the very worst
direction we could possibly go. Not unlike most men in prison, he was
tiptop in building air-castles. He kept arguing until he was about
ready to shed tears of disappointment. But I wouldn’t give in an inch.
At last I could stand his whining no longer and determined to show my
authority. It required just thirty seconds to squelch him and his pet
scheme. He never again talked about it.

“See here, Jim,” I said, in a voice that he knew had a business ring in
it; “I didn’t come away out here in Ohio to make a blind ‘get-away,’
so there’s two things for you to do--lay aside your advice, or--” and
I produced a secret service shield, a United States warrant for John
Doe or Richard Roe, and a glistening pair of handcuffs. Amazed at the
completeness of my scheme to make certain his escape, Jim “took a
tumble to himself,” as the language of the crook has it, and subsided.

When we reached Delaware, the good citizens there who took any notice
of us at all, saw, as they believed, a bona-fide officer of the law,
stoutly handcuffed to a desperate criminal. We left the team with a
liveryman there and money to pay all the bills for its use. He agreed
to return it to Columbus, and we, boarding a train, in due time arrived
in New York without mishap. Tall Jim was free.

Four days later, to our astonishment, Charlie Osborn appeared in New
York, with the expressed determination to remain. He was a good sort
of a fellow, faithful and greatly to be depended upon, so I gave him a
bookkeeping job in the Brevoort Stables, where he remained until his
health, which was not of the best when I first saw him, failed, and he
had to seek another and more favorable climate. In relating this story
of Jim’s escape, I must not fail to say that I have not given Charlie
Osborn’s real name. I did not think it just to him, and again, why
should I harrow the feelings of his father, who was a most esteemed
citizen of Columbus.

Charlie had great nerve. Not only did he cast Tall Jim from the
prison’s interior, but he actually awaited Jim’s coming to the
storeroom, packed him in the barrel, put the head in the latter, and
personally ordered the teamster to do the loading. Tall Jim easily
found an excuse for leaving the shop where he was employed on state
contracts.

We saw no possible chance of obtaining the freedom of George Wilson and
Big Bill, so they served out their sentences. As for Jack Utley, his
father had him pardoned. Two years after Jim escaped, he was rearrested
in one of my enterprises and sent to a Pennsylvania prison. After
serving his time there, he was taken back to Columbus to finish his
unexpired term, but luckily was soon pardoned by Governor Foster.

I well remember how Tall Jim looked, though many years have passed
since I set eyes on him. He was of medium height, being a trifle
under six feet; of sandy complexion, blue eyes, and usually wore a
well-trimmed beard. His pleasing address and ready flow of language
made him wonderfully useful in our work of canvassing for lootable
banks in Ohio. The only son of wealthy parents in New York, he had been
given a thorough business training; but he early developed expensive
habits and fast companions, the outcome of which was a twenty-year
sentence in Clinton prison, New York. Five years later his father
secured his pardon from Governor Fenton, and obtained him a position
with Thompson & Company, at Broadway and Wall Street, New York, as a
solicitor for their _Bank-note Reporter_, a publication devoted to
the suppression of counterfeit money. This, with a magnifying glass,
which he sold on the representation that it was the best detector of
the counterfeiter’s art ever devised, was bringing him in plenty of
money, and he was on a fair road to financial success, when he met
George Wilson, whose acquaintance he’d made in Clinton prison. His good
father’s advice went to the winds, and back he fell into the old ways.
Finally, he entered into a partnership with Wilson, Mark Shinburn, and
Big Bill. They robbed a bank near Rochester, New York, which netted
them three thousand dollars. Not long after this I met Billy Matthews
and was introduced to Wilson, Tall Jim, and the other members of the
Ohio bank looting enterprise.



CHAPTER XXI

JIM BURNS AND HIS CONGRESSMAN PAL


Late in May of 1870, I was driving up Fifth Avenue in one of my finest
carriages, for an afternoon spin in Central Park. My name was called,
and, glancing toward the sidewalk, I saw Jim Burns, a pal of Hub Frank
and Boston Jack, three of the most successful sneak thieves of their
day. As an inkling to their right to this credit--from the professional
standpoint--I will say that in the fourteen years they conspired
together, Hub Frank and Boston Jack were never arrested, and Burns only
once. During that time they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, and
spent nearly as much.

“George!” called out Jim, and I drew up beside the curb, as quickly as
I could control my mettled horses.

“Glad to see you, Jim,” I said, shaking his hand. He was a happy,
handsome fellow, with dark hair and mustache, and on the under side of
thirty.

“I wish you’d help me out,” said he. “I’ve got ten thousand in
ten-dollar notes, fresh from the United States Treasury. Mind you, they
haven’t been in circulation--I’d like you to do that. There’s ten per
cent in it for you, without doubt.”

Then, briefly, he told me how he got the money. I thought well of the
offer made me and so informed him, and making an appointment at the
Sinclair House in Broadway at Eighth Street, we parted.

It seemed that a New England congressman Jim knew was much addicted to
the gaming table. They met at Willard’s Hotel in Washington, and later
on were gambling together. It was rather of a queer combination, this
United States legislator and a sneak thief, but they became chummy, and
therein lies the secret. Of cash the congressman had none too much,
without having to settle gambling bills, and when luck was against
him, there were moments when it would seem to him that the muzzle of a
pistol at his head wasn’t the worst thing in the world.

“A clerk in the United States Treasury counting-room tells me that
packages of new money lie around loose in there, like so much waste
paper,” the congressman said to Burns one day, when his funds were low
and his conscience hard; “couldn’t you get away with one?”

“Nothing easier,” was Burns’s assuring response.

In Jim’s room at the Willard it was decided what to do, and the
congressman was to get twenty-five per cent of the proceeds. His only
part would be the “stalling.” In other words, he would talk to the
clerk while Jim took the package.

They went separately to the Treasury Department, one morning about
eleven o’clock, to do the job. The congressman, who was well acquainted
with the clerk, did his part splendidly. Not a dozen feet away on the
counter lay two packages of greenbacks. That could be told by the
wrapping paper, though there was nothing visible to the casual observer
to indicate how much money each package contained. One was about the
size of a square loaf of baker’s bread, and the other a trifle larger.
The counter was of the old-fashioned open sort, with none of the wicker
windows of to-day.

Our congressman deftly talked the clerk’s face away from the coveted
prize, and at the opportune moment Jim slipped the larger package in
the big pocket of his top-coat--a pocket that was designed for the
purpose, and had been the resting-place, temporarily at least, of many
a “touch.” Jim walked from the building and so did the congressman
presently, having bade the clerk a pleasant adieu.

Jim and his accomplice met in the former’s room at the hotel soon
after, and the package was opened. There were in it two thousand
ten-dollar treasury notes, twenty thousand dollars in all; but an
unbeliever ought to have been within ear-shot to have heard the
congressman swear! He about made the room crackle with electricity.

“Why, my share won’t buy my cigars!” he cried, in angry
disappointment. “Sometimes those packages, the clerk told me, contained
a million dollars, in one-thousand-dollar bills.” Burns considered it
a pretty good day’s work, however, and, having paid the disgruntled
congressman forty-five hundred dollars, divided with his associates,
and left for New York.

Jim’s selection of the larger package was the most natural thing to do
under the conditions, but, as I was informed some months afterward, his
eagerness to get the most he could out of the job lost him a fortune.
The smaller package contained a thousand one-thousand-dollar notes.
Just think! A cool million to be had for the plucking, as easily
as was the twenty-thousand-dollar package! But Jim took the matter
philosophically. The congressman, however, was quite ready to tear his
hair.

I met Burns at the Sinclair House the next morning as we’d agreed,
and that night I paid him nine thousand dollars for the two thousand
ten-dollar notes. Two days later I gave two thousand dollars to my
stable partner, Charles Meriam, with instructions to liquidate some
personal notes that were about due. He deposited the money to the
stable account in the Stuyvesant Bank at Broadway and Astor Place,
where I was a large depositor, and with which I had had many cash
transactions. In fact, the cashier, James Van Orden, was my friend
and debtor. I considered he would do about anything in reason that I
asked. Two days after that I made a deposit of ten thousand dollars,
seventy-five hundred of which were the new ten-dollar notes. I passed
the money to the teller and went back in Van Orden’s office and told
him what I had done. I didn’t say anything of the deposit Meriam had
made. The Stuyvesant Bank cleared through the Mechanics and Traders’,
farther down Broadway, so I requested the cashier not to send the new
bills when he made the day’s clearance. He didn’t know why I asked
this, but no doubt believed there was something not altogether right.
However, as he was a reckless speculator in Wall Street, and I had
loaned him money at times when he was much in need of it, and in fact
he was indebted to me about five thousand dollars, he said it would be
all right.

“Mr. Miles,” exclaimed my second foreman, John McGurk, as I walked into
the stable a few days after my talk with Van Orden, “Charley Meriam has
been arrested by Colonel Whiteley, chief of the Secret Service men.”

I knew what that meant, and that there would have to be some pretty
tall hustling if I didn’t find myself in the same boat. No doubt
Washington had discovered Jim Burns’s steal, and had telegraphed on the
numbers of the missing bank-notes and a description of the series. How
the clew had led up to me so soon, or rather Meriam, I could not tell.
Warning McGurk to keep a close tongue, I hurried to my residence,
then at 206 West Twenty-first Street, took from the safe five hundred
dollars’ worth of the ten-dollar notes,--all I had left,--put them in
my pocket, packed my satchel, told the servant-girl not to admit any
one from heaven or hades, and went to a hotel. From there I made a
visit to a close friend in Thirty-fourth Street, where I found I could
hide, and did for more than two weeks. In the meantime I was kept well
informed as to what was transpiring outside. Frank Houghtaling, then a
clerk in Jefferson Market Police Court with Justice Cox, daily visited
my stables and residence, always returning to the court, thence to my
hiding-place in the evening. In this way I furnished bail for Meriam,
and laid my plans for getting out of the city on an ocean steamer. I
had determined to make a dash for Scotland, where my wife at the time
was visiting her mother. The good Scottish people had often invited me
to come to them, and I had always promised to. I had to smile when I
thought what a mighty excellent opportunity had come to help me keep
my word. In fact, I was being almost forced to. Among other things
Houghtaling did for me was to purchase a ticket on the Hamburg-American
Line steamer _Alimania_, which sailed from her Hoboken pier on the 5th
of July. I was listed as a first-class cabin passenger, under the name
of Edward Whittle.

In the meantime Colonel Whiteley of the Secret Service and a safe
expert had broken through the iron gate at the basement of my home,
having been refused admittance by the servant-girl, and, driving in the
rivets in the hinges of the safe, went through all my papers. Owing to
my care, Whiteley gained nothing for his pains.

As the time drew near for my sailing I had my Police Headquarters
friends clear the way. Jack McCord and George Radford agreed to be at
the pier an hour ahead of the steamer’s departure, and on the arrival
of my carriage I was to get a certain signal if everything was all
right. When the day came, I drove to Hoboken, not, however, without
some misgiving that Whiteley or some of his agents would be laying for
me. But McCord and Radford were faithful, and when the latter tipped
his hat that all was well, I went aboard and, safely in my stateroom,
was joined by them. They remained until the steamer sailed, wishing me
a safe voyage.

The trip was a fine one, so far as the weather and passengers could
make it. Of course I had no way of knowing what the Atlantic cable,
that great intercepter of criminals, would do in the way of providing
a warm reception for me on the other side; which naturally bothered
me considerably. The passengers were for the most part Germans, but
there was a sprinkling of Americans and less of Frenchmen, all of
whom went to make up a very convivial party, there being scarcely any
illness aboard. Next to my state-room was that of an exceedingly fat
German lady and her pretty daughter. They furnished me many pleasant
hours, the mother being a most amusing old soul and the daughter
a veritable young, but accomplished, chatterbox. Both could speak
excellent English, so I gathered that they were making a visit to the
“Faderland,” after prosperous years in America.

Well, we arrived in the English Channel, and I began to be more on the
watch for trouble. Not far off Plymouth a tug was sighted, and, our
vessel slacking headway, several officers in uniform climbed aboard and
went to the captain’s cabin. I was unable to tell whether or not they
were police officials. Presently they departed, when I learned that
some of them were customs officers, and others were officials of the
Hamburg-American Line.

They bore news of considerable importance to the German and French
passengers, and no less to the captain; that since our departure from
America, war had been declared between Germany and France. Before
I left the ship, the German and French men and women were ready to
pitch in and wallop or scratch the eyes out of each other. To me it
was amusing in the extreme. My good fat German neighbor, to whom I
expressed great concern over the declaration of war, rose up in her
might and exclaimed loudly: “Ach Gott! Have no alarm, for we’ll lick
’em! We’ll lick ’em!”

I decided to debark at Plymouth and go to Scotland by rail. I arrived
there safely and was received with open arms. I told the good Scots
that I had decided at the last moment to pay them a visit, but to my
wife I said that I’d got in some difficulty with the United States
custom-house officials.

When it was safe to do so I communicated with my police friends in
New York and learned that affairs were pretty hot there and that I
was a very badly wanted man by the Secret Service. But in September,
having made a good visit and being somewhat of the opinion that I could
return to America and “square” things, my wife and I sailed. I had,
however, sent a timely word to McCord and Radford that I was coming and
indicated on what steamer I might be expected. I knew that they would
be on hand to see me safely landed.

So when the _Europa_, of the Anchor Line, on a Sunday about noon, was
pretty near her wharf at the foot of Liberty Street, I had Albert
Wright, the purser of the _Europa_, a long-time acquaintance of mine,
on the lookout. I had previously confided to him that I might get in
some trouble with the custom-house officers. Presently Wright informed
me that two Police Headquarters detectives were aboard, having put out
in a small boat to meet the ship. They proved to be McCord and Radford.
I met them on deck, where they assured me I could land without any
fear of being arrested by the Secret Service agents. I thanked the boys
for their good offices, and presently my wife and I were let out at the
Ashland House on Fourth Avenue. Not long after this she went to our
home in Twenty-first Street, but I remained at the hotel.

It was not much after one P.M. that we arrived at the hotel, and but
mighty few minutes were allowed to pass before I was in ex-Judge
Stuart’s house looking for legal advice and urging him to assist me
out of my troubles. He said he’d see what could be done. Perhaps he
might be able to settle the case with Colonel Whiteley, the Secret
Service chief. Then I went to Cashier Van Orden’s house in Harlem. He
fluttered like a bird in captivity when his eyes fell on me. I presume
he had a mental picture of my arrest, and the possibility of his own
implication, vividly before him. I wanted a settlement of my account in
the Stuyvesant Bank. My visit was fruitless.

“Pretty soon,” he said, and I left him, intending to call again for
further information as to what he had done or would do.

My next call on ex-Judge Stuart met with some satisfaction. He had
seen Colonel Whiteley, and there was hope that I might fix the case.
I went to Cashier Van Orden again, and told him that I must get my
financial affairs in the Stuyvesant Bank settled; that I wanted to and
must withdraw my account, and that I was anxious to get hold of the
seventy-five hundred, Jim Burns’s money, I’d deposited there. Again was
confronted with procrastination. Van Orden said he hadn’t been able to
get to my account owing to the press of business in the bank. He was so
sorry, you know.

A week passed in this manner and I was beginning to grumble not a
little, when ex-Judge Stuart brought me further good news.

“I have arranged a meeting with Colonel Whiteley for you,” he said,
“and you’re to name the place and time.”

“That sounds like business,” was my reply; “but are you sure you can
trust this Secret Service man? Mind you, he’s about the hungriest
fellow after reputation in his business that ever came along. He may be
putting up a job to nail me. I’ve escaped the nab too long in this case
to have it come now.”

Stuart was inclined to be irritated if any one questioned his word or
intelligence, so I came in for a round scoring, which terminated in his
demanding to know whether I thought he was an infernal fool. I assured
him that he was the finest fellow that ever followed in the footsteps
of Daniel Webster, whereat he regained his good humor. I named a day
for the meeting in the last week of September, and added that I would
send my second foreman, John McGurk, with a carriage, to the Grand
Central Hotel in Broadway, near Bond Street.

“The carriage will be at the hotel not later than eight P.M.,” I
told Stuart, “and McGurk will be looking for you in the lobby or
reading-room. You and Whiteley get in the carriage, and my man will do
the rest.”

What was the Grand Central Hotel then is now known as the Broadway
Central. It got well advertised at one time, as the place where Jim
Fisk, the Erie Railway magnate, was murdered by Ed Stokes, who became
the proprietor of the Hoffman House, after serving a short sentence
in the state prison at Auburn, New York. Like the Metropolitan Hotel,
a few blocks below, the Grand Central was the resort of prominent
professional men and Wall Street speculators, and the class of cheap
men who trail them. In directing McGurk to drive ex-Judge Stuart to
me, I said nothing as to whom the other man would be, not deeming it
necessary, for I would have trusted my life in the hands of my second
foreman.

“Be at the hotel at eight,” I said to him, “and drive Stuart and his
companion to me at Eighty-sixth Street and Eighth Avenue. Turn in
Central Park, and I will be there. But don’t by any means tell a soul
where you are going. Do you understand?”

I knew he did. Then I told him, upon leaving the hotel, to drive
ten blocks north, four blocks east, five more up-town, seven blocks
down-town, and west to Eighth Avenue, where, if he was not being
followed, he might come straight to me.

“Trust me, Mr. Miles,” said John McGurk; and I did, knowing full well
that neither ex-Judge Stuart nor any one else in the world would be
able to make him disobey or prove unfaithful to his promise.

I was at the appointed place ten minutes before nine, with Gus Fisher,
a man of my profession. I brought him along to drive the buggy back
to my stables, in case I didn’t need it. With the same caution that I
exercised in getting Colonel Whiteley to the appointed place, I had
planned to outwit him, should he prove to be decoying me into his
hands. I had one of my fleetest horses in front of my buggy, and with
Gus Fisher for an assistant I felt pretty sure of getting ahead of any
game the Secret Service chief might attempt. Really I had considerable
confidence in Stuart’s judgment, but I couldn’t afford to proceed
blindly.

It was a beautiful night, light with the shimmering of more stars than
I think I had ever seen before. There weren’t many dwellings in the
neighborhood at that period, and Central Park was more like nature
intended it than now. All together, the night, with its calmness, was
of the kind that should bring forth man’s deepest gratitude for having
been given being, but I was too much concerned with my planning for
liberty unquestioned, to give way to the sentiment. I had left my buggy
in charge of Fisher and walked a few rods to a hill thickly covered
with trees and a small growth of bushes, where I was in waiting only a
minute, or such a matter, when I heard a great clattering of horses’
hoofs. I needed no better indication that my visitors were coming. Five
minutes later McGurk swung his team into the park and dashed up to the
spot where in the shadows I stood. The horses were steaming and their
flanks dripping with foam. McGurk had put them through.

Before he could alight from the box, ex-Judge Stuart, followed by
Colonel Whiteley, sprang from the carriage. He was delivering himself
of some very strong language, in which there was interspersed much
profanity, and the Secret Service chief was not leaving all the
swearing to the ex-judge. As I stepped out of the shadows and greeted
them with a “Good evening, gentlemen,” Stuart, bristling with anger,
exclaimed:--

“Do you take us for thieves, Miles? Are we blacklegs, liars, or what
not?”

“Be calm, judge,” said I, soothingly, but scarcely able to restrain
laughter. I was fully aroused to the cause of the profanity. They had
been given a much longer ride than they anticipated. Besides, the
ex-judge didn’t like my distrust of his influence over Colonel Whiteley.

“Damn it,” said Stuart, “why didn’t you drive us to Yonkers and done
with it? Do you think that I’ve got too much time on my hands?”

“Never mind, gentlemen,” I replied, in a most conciliatory manner;
“you’re here with your bones whole, and I’m ready for business. Of
course, when you examine the case from my end of it, you’ll not blame
me for being cautious, I know.”

“When I give my word to a man, it’s better ’n my bond,” said Colonel
Whiteley; “and this man of yours drove us to hades and back, so it
seemed.”

“Yes, and I wasn’t certain but that he’d shake my poor bones apart, at
times, with his infernal square turns about corners. Anything follow
him? Why, the devil with his cloven hoofs and wings thrown in couldn’t
have kept us in sight,” growled Stuart.

“A drink will smooth you out, judge,” laughed I; “and we can’t get it
here, so let’s go to Stetson’s.”

I directed Gus Fisher to take my buggy to the stables, and McGurk drove
us to the restaurant in Central Park. There we talked business over a
few dainties and a bottle of wine.

“By the way, Miles,” Colonel Whiteley was saying, “when did you get to
town?”

“About a week ago, on the Anchor Liner _Europa_.”

“And you were in Scotland all the time?” he continued.

“Yes, paying a visit long promised my friends,” I explained.

“And you left town--”

“On the 5th of July by way of the Hamburg-American Line.”

“Sorry I didn’t know it,” said Whiteley, with a laugh.

“I felt no discomfort at missing your _bon voyage_,” said I, joining in
the laugh. “But seriously, colonel, I can’t just realize why you were
so anxious to get your hooks on me. I got that money fairly through my
Broad Street office. I sold ten bonds to a customer, and he gave me ten
thousand in new money for them. I don’t know why I should suffer all
this inconvenience.”

“Miles is right, Whiteley,” put in the ex-judge.

“But why did you get out of the country?” inquired the colonel.

“For a reason--I wanted to avoid trouble. My man Meriam was
arrested--wrongfully, and I didn’t want to get in the same box. There’s
no telling what you United States fellows will do to a man, once you
get him in your toils.”

“Well, you gave us a good chase, Miles,” said Whiteley. “I had two
hundred men looking for you, and it was lucky that you kept out of
sight.”

“But you see I came back to you, colonel; that doesn’t look so bad in
me, does it?”

“If you were innocent, of course you had a right to feel safe in coming
back,” was his doubtful remark. “You were cautious enough in making
this meeting, too.”

“For the same reason that I got out last July. Now that we’ve met,
colonel,” continued I, “you will no doubt come to some sort of an
agreement, in which I can claim my money in the Stuyvesant Bank. The
judge, I presume, told you that a meeting between us would, in all
probability, straighten out this very disagreeable tangle.”

“You surely don’t mean the seventy-five hundred you deposited in the
Stuyvesant Bank?”

“I do, colonel--certainly.”

“You needn’t worry about getting that dust there,” said Whiteley. “It’s
at the district attorney’s office.”

“What,” I cried, “not in the Stuyvesant Bank?”

“No. I asked Van Orden about the two thousand your man Meriam
deposited, and he pulled open a drawer and showed me the rest of the
stuff. I took it.”

“The devil,” I cried. “So that’s the way Van Orden deals with his
friends. He didn’t tell me, in all my visits to him after a settlement,
that you had the money.”

“I didn’t know that,” said Whiteley.

I thought that it would have been a pure piece of scoundrelism on Van
Orden’s part to have sent the money to the clearing-house. It seems he
hadn’t, but had done worse--had actually betrayed me. Not because he
wanted to do me harm, but for fear of endangering his own neck, the
coward. All this I said to myself. Aloud I declared that Van Orden
would be held to account for his failure to settle with me.

“It seems to me that you played a pretty high-handed game,” I continued
to Whiteley; “about like the burglary committed on my dwelling and on
my safe.”

“I wanted the ten thousand five hundred still missing,” replied
Whiteley. “I had reason to believe the money was in your safe.”

“But you were mistaken,” said I, scornfully. “The thief who stole the
government money and bought my bonds didn’t pay me but ten thousand.
How much was missing?”

“A matter of twenty thousand dollars.”

“I suppose you’d been after me just as hard if your thief had bought
twenty bonds of me and passed over the whole twenty thousand dollars?”
said I, with an attempt at a little sneer, though not wishing to play
the game I was playing too far.

“Well, it looks as if you were the victim of circumstances, Miles,”
said the colonel; “but it’s too late now.”

“Not to get my money back,” said I, firmly.

“Yes, too late for that,” was his reply and just as firmly.

“You mean that I can’t have the ten thousand dollars that rightfully
belongs to me?”

“That’s it, Miles. The money was stolen from the government. It
has been identified by the proper authorities. You had it in your
possession. That you came honestly by it I shall not dispute. I’m
taking your word for that. If I didn’t, you’d have to produce the man
who bought the bonds, and perhaps you’d have to go farther and prove
what bonds you had to sell.”

“So I can’t get any part of the money?”

“No! It’ll have to go back to the United States Treasury,” said
Whiteley. I knew that it was hopeless to argue further. Stuart told me
it was.

“It’s mighty hard,” I said, “to shoulder such a loss, but I suppose I
must. As you say, I had stolen property.”

That end of the game was up. I had played and lost. But Van Orden’s
cowardice angered me. Here was a man who owed me five thousand dollars.
His fear had made him, without good reason, betray me.

“I’d like to ask a favor of you, colonel,” I said, as the interview
came to an end. “Meet me at the Stuyvesant Bank as soon after ten
o’clock to-morrow morning as you can. Will you?”

“I’ll be there.” With that we drove down-town. My man put the gentlemen
at their doors, and I went home, satisfied that I’d made the Secret
Service chief believe I’d come by the money honestly. But it had cost
me nine thousand dollars, not including other expenses, and the end
might not yet be in sight.

I was at the bank at ten promptly the next day, and without any warning
walked into Van Orden’s office. I thought he’d drop to the floor. His
cheeks grew white, and he clutched at his beard nervously. He thought
I was in danger of arrest and that he might be involved. I was glad to
make him suffer for his treatment of me.

“You--you--ought not to come here, Mr. Miles,” he said in a voice that
trembled. “The Secret Service men are likely to drop in here at any
moment. Please go away. I--”

“Let them, Van Orden,” I answered savagely. “However, I didn’t come
here for trouble. I want a settlement. I must and will withdraw my
account from this bank.”

“Very well, you shall, Mr. Miles--as soon as I can balance the books!”

The door of Van Orden’s room faced the main entrance to the bank.
As he spoke the last word, his face grew still whiter if that were
possible, and his lips had a purplish hue. I glanced over my shoulder
to ascertain the reason. It was obvious. Colonel Whiteley was just
entering the office door.

“Good morning, colonel,” I exclaimed, with all the warmth of a
long-time friend, for Van Orden’s benefit, and we shook hands
vigorously, the colonel not being able to resist my energy without
appearing unnecessarily rude.

“Let me introduce you to my friend, Cashier Van Orden,” I added, with a
wide sweep of my hands.

“We’ve met,” said Whiteley; “haven’t we, Mr. Van Orden?”

“Well, yes,” responded the cashier. Seeing that I was not likely to
be arrested, but still in doubt as to the meaning of the meeting, Van
Orden grew calmer and invited Colonel Whiteley to be seated.

Then I proceeded to make things as uncomfortable for the cashier as I
could. First I adroitly had Whiteley tell how he learned of my deposit,
and how unnecessarily, through it, Van Orden had lost for me the
seventy-five hundred. After grinding him with this sort of reminder,
not forgetting to upbraid him for failing to tell me that my account in
the bank had been tampered with, I demanded that he make a settlement
at once.

“I got that money,” said I, “through the sale of Union Pacific Bonds,
and deposited it with this bank. Now, I shall hold you responsible.
Colonel Whiteley, as a business man, doesn’t think that I’d take those
ten-dollar greenbacks, knowing they had been stolen. Do you, Colonel?”

“No, I don’t think you would,” agreed Whiteley.

“Colonel Whiteley tells me that, of your own volition, you told him
I was a depositor here and showed him the money I had placed in your
care. Now you must make good to me.”

I gave the cashier a look that made him fear I would inform certain
superiors of his of a number of questionable money transactions,
which, if made known, would ruin him, financially, professionally, and
socially. But that I would not do.

Van Orden was completely floored by the turn of circumstances. Though
I knew his promises would be worthless, I could do nothing more than
accept them. Colonel Whiteley left the bank presently, and I soon
followed. I had had revenge, but it was dearly bought.

Colonel Whiteley and I had met for the first time, though I had been
in the line of getting something for nothing about four years. He went
away believing me to be an honest man. As for him, I don’t know that
he didn’t turn the nine hundred and fifty ten-dollar notes over to the
Treasury Department. But I was to meet him again before many years, and
under most unusual conditions. Of this meeting I shall be able to tell
in another volume of my series of Bliss books.

As to my foreman, Meriam, when he came up for a preliminary trial,
ex-Judge Stuart, whom I retained for him, so confused the young woman
who came on from the Treasury Department to identify the bills that her
testimony was valueless. As the case depended upon her identification,
it fell through, and Meriam was discharged from custody.

All together it was a costly meeting that I had had with Jim Burns
in Fifth Avenue. I had started out to make a profit of one thousand
dollars, and it had cost me more than ten thousand, besides bringing
grief to my beloved wife; for until that time she’d been kept in entire
ignorance of the fact that I was a professional burglar.

The New England congressman got more out of the job than I. Lucky
congressman!



CHAPTER XXII

WILLIAM HATCH, ESQUIRE, DAY WATCHMAN


After the ingenuity of a master cracksman has been taxed to its
utmost in an effort to get the combination numbers of a presumably
impenetrable vault, and success seems assured, is it not most
provoking, and disheartening too, when the unexpected pops up and
thunders down failure upon his head? It was thus in my attempt to
possess the millions kept in the vault of the Corn Exchange National
Bank of Philadelphia in the winter of 1872 and the spring of the
following year.

In December of 1872 Detective McCord, my friend of the New York
Detective Bureau, asked me to call on Frank Gleason, the shrewd partner
of Andrew Roberts, the notorious bond forger and “fence” keeper.
Gleason, so Jack McCord told me, had a large job in the Quaker City, in
which I could use a “right” day watchman. I saw Gleason and was given
a letter of introduction to Peter Burns, a Philadelphia crook of no
small reputation in his neighborhood. I was informed that he possessed
a snug fortune at one time, though I will not vouch for it. I do know,
however, that he was a protégé of Detective Josh Taggart, of the
Quaker City Police Department, one of the slickest Hawkshaws of the
period.

As to my introduction to Peter Burns, it led to an acquaintance with
the day watchman of the Corn Exchange Bank. His name was William Hatch,
though I never called him other than Billy. He was a friend of Burns’s,
so you will observe that it was first through McCord, a detective, next
Gleason, a forger, then Burns, a crook, who was a friend of Taggart,
another detective, that I finally reached the man who was to play a
first-class crook part in my attempt to rob the bank. Perhaps it was
Detective Taggart who tipped off Jack McCord. Who knows? I won’t say.

Perhaps Billy’s early training made him a most intelligent crook. For
aught I know that was the case, though I won’t pretend to affirm so,
but I will declare, however, that he was a politician before he became
a bank watchman. He was of middle age, not over strong physically, but
passably good-looking, and perhaps a little proud of the latter. Now,
watchmen, as a rule, have to be corrupted _after_ becoming accustomed
to a life in a bank--which nearly always means mingling with those who
have much to do with large sums of money. There comes a yearning for
wealth, and temptation usually plays havoc with a fellow when it finds
him in that mood. With Billy it was different. He seemed to have been
corrupted before he alighted at the bank watchman’s station. At all
events, I found him ripe for almost any crooked scheme in which he
could use his position in a bank as a means to financial success. How
I employed his pliable talents and with what willingness he used them,
and with what degree of success, I shall in due time demonstrate.

The Corn Exchange Bank, one of the most conservative, yet strongest,
financial institutions in the Quaker City, was situated on Chestnut,
at the corner of Second Street. It had a large patronage and was never
without watchmen inside, two at night and one in business hours. The
watchmen employed at night were on duty from six in the evening until
seven in the morning, with the exception of Sundays and holidays, when
they were called on for day duty as well. But to business.

My first move was to learn something about the vault. It was on the
main banking floor, in the open, and constructed of heavy solid
masonry. This, almost impregnable because of its excellent workmanship
and thickness, was further guarded inside by a wall of steel T rails,
such as are used for railway tracks. Leading to the vault there was
an especially strong door of fine steel, and still another of steel
lattice work. In the vault were two steel safes, in each of which was
a strong box, or money chest. In these chests were stored the millions
of cash and paper constituting the entire funds of the bank.

The outer door to the vault was secured by an improved Yale combination
lock, and the inner door was guarded by a Yale key lock. The receiving
and paying teller each had charge of the combination of his respective
safe, and each had the key to the money chest in his safe. What I found
early in the game, of considerable import to me, was the fact that
Billy had, as the day watchman, practically entire control of the bank
for an hour or less every business morning. As I have said, the night
watchmen finished their work at seven A.M., when they were relieved by
Billy. The clerks reported for duty an hour later.

I determined to begin my scheme at once by making a call on Billy at
the bank, and it wasn’t an unexpected one either, for I had conferred
with him. Accordingly I journeyed there and was ready to be admitted
when the night watchmen took their leave. I was careful that they
should not set eyes on me, as there was a big job ahead and big game in
it, and I knew the greatest amount of caution was necessary. I waited
in sight of the Second Street door, the main entrance being kept locked
until the arrival of the clerks. Scarcely had the night watchmen’s
footsteps died away, when the Second Street door was cautiously moved
ajar, and Billy’s head popped out. Making a careful survey of the
surroundings, and evidently satisfied that the moment was favorable, he
motioned me to enter.

I grunted with satisfaction. It was a long way to success, it occurred
to me--getting inside of an institution of this character. The thought
was but of the moment, for I had work to do and precious little time in
which to do it. Directly I had taken in every detail of the bank room.
I made a clear negative of it, and, so to speak, stowed it away in my
optical gallery, for future observation when perhaps daylight might not
be at hand. The vault, as Billy had told me, was a tower of strength.
In fact, I can’t recall of ever having seen a stronger one. Added to
this was another obstacle to be overcome, and that was the situation of
the vault. It was in plain sight, through a window, of any one passing
in Second Street. I carefully examined its outside mechanism and took
pencilled notes and mental ones also. I did all I could before the time
arrived for the clerks to come on duty. Having made a general survey,
and, in fact, studied the situation fairly well, I knew that my next
move would necessitate a return to New York. Therefore, bidding Billy
be of good cheer and assuring him that everything looked hopeful, I
journeyed back forthwith.

First, I paid a visit to the Yale Lock Company’s salesroom,
representing myself to be a down-town business man in search of a
first-class combination lock of American manufacture.

“I want,” said I, to the gentleman who attended me; “an American lock
for one of my correspondents in Glasgow, Scotland. It is to be used in
a banking office.” The salesman was certain he could accommodate me and
did, by permitting me to examine many intricate locks at my leisure.

“This one will suit me,” I concluded at length. It was a duplicate of
the Yale lock on the outside door of the Corn Exchange Bank vault. He
offered to forward it to Scotland, but as that didn’t serve my purpose,
I paid him two hundred dollars and said I’d take it with me at once.

In a few hours I was back in Philadelphia, and the next few evenings
I made my headquarters at Peter Burns’s house. For the time being
I became the professor, and Billy, the day watchman, the pupil. He
was very apt, I must confess,--far ahead of John Taylor in the Ocean
Bank job, though the latter was most satisfactory under instructions.
I put Billy through the same course of study to which Taylor had
been subjected. I told him of the part Taylor played in the Ocean
Bank job and the profit that came to him through its success. In an
exceedingly short time I had the day watchman well taught and almost
to the bursting point with enthusiasm. Having him so well in hand, I
instructed him to try his luck on the vault lock. It wouldn’t surprise
me, I told him, if he wasted many hours before attaining success. It
was agreed that I wait near his house in Spring Garden Street, each
evening, in quest of his report. Accordingly I was on hand. Several
times I met the lad, only to know by his face, before he could tell me,
that he was meeting with disappointment. It was, perhaps, the tenth
evening after I had given him his first lesson on locks that I was in
the vicinity of his house, anxiously waiting for him. Presently I saw
him coming, a considerable distance away. The street lamps shed none
too much light, yet I could divine, from his general manner, that he
had good news. When he drew near so that I could see his face, it was
lit up with the fire of success. I knew it right away. He was excited
to the limit.

“I’ve got it, for sure. I’ve got it,” he exclaimed. His enthusiasm
would not have been inappropriate in a better cause. I hadn’t time to
ask him how it was accomplished, when he continued:--

“When they unlocked the vault this morning, I felt certain that I’d got
my eye on the right combination numbers.”

“And you’d like to have tried the door right away?” I asked, and my
eyes twinkled with mischief.

“My Lord!” he exclaimed, “it seemed I couldn’t wait till they all got
out. I wasn’t fit for my regular work the rest of the day.”

“Well, the clerks went away, and you--”

“When they’d all gone,” interrupted Billy, “I tried my numbers, and
they opened the lock the very first time.”

“How do you know you unlocked the vault door?” I inquired, half
seriously and half teasingly.

“I proved it,” he whispered in my ear; “I proved it. I threw back the
bolts and opened the door. Isn’t that proof enough?”

I admitted it was. Billy went on: “This getting combinations to safes
is dead easy. If I could only be inside the vault when the tellers
unlock their safes, without attracting attention, we could soon put the
Corn Exchange Bank out of business.”

Now, surely here was an enthusiastic bank employee with his enthusiasm
misdirected. I saw right away that I must cool him off if I was to
depend upon him for a level head in an emergency. Brains and coolness,
in my business, were the corner-stones of success.

“See here, Billy,” I said warningly, “you mustn’t let your shrewdness
in getting combination numbers give you a big head. Keep your skull
level and leave the combinations to the tellers’ safes to me. I’ll
devise some way to get at them.”

Encouraged by the lad’s good fortune, I began immediately to take
advantage of it.

“Get me,” said I, “a wax impression of the little key to the second
door of the vault; that will be your next job.”

Later in the evening I met Billy at Peter Burns’s, where I gave him the
right kind of wax to make the impression; and, too, I put my pupil
through another course of my art. I showed him, with extreme care,
how to get the impression of a key. Again was he apt in acquiring the
knowledge that all successful crooks, in the bank-breaking line, must
have. At the end of two days he brought me an impression of the desired
key, and from it I made a duplicate.

“It fitted at the first trial,” announced Billy the following evening.
“My work was fine and yours must have been better.”

“It was easy to make a right key from a fine wax impression,” I
replied, in a complimentary way.

The time had come when I must make my second visit to the bank, and
that for the purpose of sizing up the tellers’ safes; so it was agreed
that I should meet Billy at the Second Street door of the bank, as
before. Unto this day I haven’t forgotten that visit. Even now I marvel
at our escape from what seemed to be certain exposure. Withal, I wasn’t
sorry for what happened, as it served to prove the sort of metal out of
which my “right” watchman was made.

The night watchmen leaving the bank at seven A.M. and the clerks’ hour
being eight, it behooved us to keep tabs on the minutes in order that I
be allowed time in which to quit the banking office unobserved. We had
been working on the tellers’ safes for half an hour, so it seemed, when
a sharp rap came on the Second Street door. My hair rose on end, and
as for Billy, he, for an instant, shook like a leaf. I glanced at my
watch--it was just eight o’clock.

“Damn!” I whispered; “it must be one of the clerks. What’ll we do?”

I saw a fairly promising job knocked in the head. For Billy it meant
undoubted exposure, and that was as good as a failure--to me. I’d never
get another watchman of his caliber, I knew.

The main door leading into Chestnut Street was locked and Billy had
no key--which I well knew. As for going out the Second Street door,
the way I had entered, that seemed to me an improbability. I confess I
was stupefied. Though it has taken several minutes to jot down these
impressions, I assure my readers that hardly as many seconds were
consumed in the actual happening. It may have been the fix we were in
that brought to the surface the staying qualities possessed for the
emergency by Billy. The ague which had tackled him for the instant was
quickly shed, and, catching me by the shoulder, he shoved me out of the
vault.

“Close the vault door right!” he whispered, “and get in the vestibule
of the Chestnut Street entrance and wait there until you hear me in
a fit of coughing. Then out you go by the Second Street door. I’ll
let in the clerk--for it’s one of them, I know--and take him in the
president’s office.”

I was in Billy’s hands and so must trust to him. Really, I began to
feel safe. It took only a moment to lock the vault and less time to
reach the vestibule; meanwhile Billy leisurely walked to the door. The
knocking had become of the impatient sort by this time. When he finally
opened the door, it was with the air of one who’d been in a mighty
hurry. I could hear every word said.

“Are you dead, Billy?” was the greeting to the watchman, as the
impatient knocking one stepped in; “it’s after eight, and I’ve been
rapping an hour.”

“Sorry, sir; but I was in the cellar, fixing up the fires, when you
came. I heard you from the first, and hustled for all I was worth.”
This was a bushel-basketful of apology, and, being well put, had the
desired effect. The perturbed clerk calmed down immediately.

“By the way,” said Billy, as he stepped in President Noblit’s private
office, “I saw one of our old friends that used to be employed here. I
met him last night on the way home--poor fellow!”

It didn’t seem to me that Billy had chosen good bait with which to
catch the clerk, but it did the work, so what matter. In a moment I
heard them both in the private room, and Billy was saying something
about the former bank clerk being on his uppers, and that it was a case
sad enough to fetch tears to a marble statue. It may have been that a
shower of tears attacked Billy, for suddenly he was choking like a man
with a terrible case of tuberculosis.

“Good for Billy!” I thought, as, stepping out of the vestibule and
passing within a few feet of the office door, I quickly found myself
in Second Street. Out in the free air again and clear from exposure, I
felt glad, as can well be imagined. And as for Billy, he was a jewel,
from my viewpoint, doubt not. Afterward I learned that not a thing had
been left by us, in our hasty exit, to arouse suspicion. One resolution
I formed immediately, and that was, to keep a more accurate knowledge
of the passing of time. I don’t know that I had ever before, or have
since, been guilty of such palpable carelessness. It might have been an
expensive experience.

Not much was accomplished by the visit, either. I ascertained that the
locks on the tellers’ safes were not of the make to which my “Little
Joker” could be attached and the combination numbers purloined that
way. I confessed disappointment, no doubt, because everything seemed up
to that time to favor me. However, I adopted a unique method to obtain
the numbers, and it shall be seen with what success.

Perhaps it may be in keeping with my desire to assist the banking world
to say, right here, “Follow me closely, and benefit thereby, if I show
any carelessness on the part of those who had the keeping of the
combination numbers of the Corn Exchange Bank.” My varied experience
in manipulating combination locks and with those in charge of them
made me confident that I could find recorded, somewhere, the numbers
of the tellers’ safes. I had always believed that nine tellers out of
ten would not tax their memories with lock numbers, but would, instead,
record them on a slip of paper, or in a private memoranda book; so on
this supposition I determined to make an investigation ere I resorted
to the use of explosives on the money safes. What was more reasonable
than that the records were kept in a private drawer?

Again was Billy to be useful. I started him on a silent hunt with
instructions to “Wait, be patient, and take advantage of the simplest
thing.” For several days, he kept the keenest sort of watch. Finally,
to our joy, the paying teller left his key, quite accidentally, in
the lock of his private drawer; and Billy improved the opportunity
and most effectually. He got a wax impression of it, doing it slyly
enough, and I made a duplicate. It required a few trials and a number
of extra rasps of the file to make the key right, but, persevering, we
eventually were rewarded. One morning Billy opened the drawer, and, as
I hoped, discovered a slip of paper containing three numbers. He made
a copy of them, and when I tried the series on the paying teller’s
safe, the door came open, and we found ourselves right up to the money
chest. As to the latter, why, a bandbox would be no easier to break!
This much accomplished, my faithful Billy and I turned our attention
to the receiving teller’s safe. Ten days later we had mastered that by
the same methods. Naturally we felt elated--we were down to the two
strong boxes which contained the cash. No doubt we could have gotten
duplicate keys to the chests, but, as I have said, they could easily be
forced. Thus concluding, I wouldn’t put myself to further trouble on
that score. Besides, it was dangerous work--this frequent injecting of
my uninvited presence in the bank’s vault. By some unforeseen accident
I might be discovered in the midst of our secret work.

But to proceed. It seemed to me that the time was about near to plan
for the removal of the treasure. The surroundings on the outside of
the bank were such that I could see, from the start, that some smart
engineering must be done. One factor in the coming loot of which I
would not lose sight was my faithful Billy. If the success of my
plotting could be assured through the blame falling on him, then I
was prepared to forfeit all, though I had gone ever so far. He had
been too “square” in his dealings with me to be sacrificed. That I was
determined upon, no matter what others might think. Suspicion should
not fall on him. He was willing enough, though, that the trick be
“pulled off” in his time.

“I’ll take my chances of arrest, George,” he said, “anything to get
away with the cash.” I would not listen to him, though it was advanced
that in the event that he was arrested we might make a dicker with the
bank,--in other words, obtain a sacred promise of his release, provided
we returned to the bank a good-sized sum of money as a ransom.

The game was a big one, and, being set on making it a clean sweep, not
unlike that of the Ocean Bank, I held to my own ideas and proceeded
accordingly. Although it was thought by the bank officials that the
two night watchmen remained at the bank during the daylight hours of
Sunday, while Billy was absent on leave, it was not so entirely. One of
them occasionally would absent himself for several hours, usually going
to his home in Pine Street. My plan was to profit by this watchman’s
negligence--loot the bank in his absence. We would then have only one
watchman to deal with. Outside of business hours, as I’ve said, the
Second Street door was the usual entrance to the bank. It was secured
on the inside. The Chestnut Street door was never open on Sundays or
holidays unless President Noblit chose to use it, for he carried the
key. On an occasion or two, so I learned, he’d surprised the watchmen
by coming in that way. It happened seldom, however. So, with one of
the watchmen out of the bank for two or three hours on Sunday morning,
it seemed to me that the loot could be done. We could better get at
him, I argued, if one of my associates got inside before the victim
really knew who his visitor might be. If an entrance were gained by
the main door with a key, he might, momentarily, be thrown off his
guard in the belief that it was President Noblit coming in. There was
another argument which seemed to favor an entrance by that door: it was
infrequently used out of business hours, and therefore would get less
attention from the watchman. He would more than likely linger in the
vicinity of the Second Street door, if he had any inclination at all
to perform his duty faithfully. Thus believing, I planned to overcome
the lone watchman. Accordingly I made a duplicate key to the Chestnut
Street door from a wax impression supplied me by Billy.

About seven o’clock in the morning of a Sunday in February, two
associates and I were waiting near the bank. I had with me Tall Jim
and Little Dick Moore, both of whom I could depend upon in almost any
emergency. I had the Chestnut Street door key, and the surroundings
were such that I felt confident of soon having in my possession the
long-contrived-for cash. But it is the unexpected that is always
popping up to make one glad or disappointed, as the case may be. I had
schemed to overcome one watchman or possibly more, inside the bank,
but I hadn’t looked for interference from a watchman on the outside
who had no connection whatsoever with the bank. It so happened that
Tom Davis, in the joint employ of several warehouses not far from the
bank, was on his way home that morning after a night’s work. Confound
his eyes, I would that they’d been full of sleep, but they weren’t!
Upon seeing three strange-looking men lingering at different points
near the bank, he became curious. The greater his curiosity, the more
dangerous he was to our game, for soon he grew suspicious. It wasn’t
policy for any of my party to run, for that would set afloat the rumor,
or even worse, the truth, that an attempt was being made to rob the
bank, so we stood our ground. It didn’t avail my associates--they
couldn’t bluff it through. I did--somehow. They were charged with being
suspicious characters and locked up. When Tall Jim was searched, a pair
of handcuffs and a set of false whiskers, the latter very much like
those worn by one of the night watchmen of the bank, were found on him.
This, as I feared, gave rise to the impression that the prisoners were
plotters against the bank. To make matters worse, a few days later
another suspiciously acting stranger was arrested in the neighborhood
of the bank. He proved to be Big Kid Wheeler, an escaped convict from
the state prison at Auburn, New York. He was a well-known crook among
the grafting fraternity. The trio went to prison, and thus was my force
depleted.

But I didn’t let the lads go to prison without an effort to save
them. The day after Little Dick and Tall Jim’s arrest I went to my
influential friends, who introduced me to Colonel Bill Mann, the
district attorney. I had been told he was a very pleasant gentleman
and usually open to a deal. I had twenty thousand dollars, one half of
it for him and the other to put up as cash bail, but he declared it
was impossible to accommodate me. The bank officials, he said, were
pressing him too hard, and that to consent to bail for the prisoners
would seem like tampering with justice. With evident regret, he said:--

“I need the money, young man, but I can’t take it.”

I urged him with all the persuasiveness I possessed to come to my
relief, but he, with repeated regrets, said he must not. So Tall Jim
and Little Dick went to prison for two and a half years, and the Big
Kid was returned to Auburn prison.

Thus came to naught, for the time being, the energetic work of Billy
and my planning for three months. But I wasn’t discouraged--the game
was too large. I would not go down to defeat so easily.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE PLOT THAT FAILED


Despite the discovery by the bank officials that a plot was afloat to
obtain the riches of their vault, and regardless of the fact that I had
lost three of my trained men, I determined to push on to success. It
was in vain that I more than half regretted my decision not to “turn
off the trick” on a week-day morning, while Billy was on duty, inasmuch
as he had offered to take every risk. “But,” I said to myself, “why
wail over what can’t be undone? It’s up to you, George, to act.”

More than ever I needed success. My men were in jail, necessitating
the engaging of others, and I wanted to obtain the Corn Exchange’s
millions, knowing that I could, by a judicious handling of it, get
them to freedom once more. I prided myself upon never leaving those
associated with me in the lurch, when there was any way reasonable
to assist them. I must keep my record good in this respect--my
fellow-conspirators must be taken from jail. Therefore I continued to
scheme, assisted loyally, as before, by my faithful Billy. One thing
I was fully cognizant of, and that was, I must not be seen in the
vicinity of the bank again by any one who might prove to be a meddler.
I might not be so fortunate as to escape arrest a second time. To lose
my liberty would entirely undo my careful plotting of months. Thinking
how I must proceed next, my teeth came together with a click as I said:
“Tom Davis, I’ve got to reckon with you. Where’ll my heaviest guns find
you weakest?”

Well, I began to train the guns, and I soon found the most vulnerable
spot in Tom’s armament of honesty. If I say it was through his pocket,
I may be correct, but of that I’m not certain. He may have loved
money, but I ascertained there was something he loved more than that,
vastly--faro. He was simply infatuated with the game--not with the
money he might win. The excitement of winning money was, by far, more
pleasure to him than its possession. It hadn’t taken much shadowing
to inform me that he would feed his craving at the gaming-table until
every dollar he’d earned was gone, and then rise with a sigh because
he hadn’t more to satisfy it. He would play at no other game. No other
opportunity to place money in the balance could infatuate him. As the
serpent possesses the power to charm the bird, so had faro the power to
rob Tom Davis of his senses.

Well, I fired a hot shot at him, and it landed. Every one addicted to
gambling can be reached with money in one way or another. Armed with
this knowledge, I consulted with Detective Josh Taggart as to the
possibility of winning Davis’s friendship by a monetary consideration.
Taggart wouldn’t advise me at all, confessing he didn’t know how to
handle him. Having ascertained how thoroughly Davis was wedded to faro,
I, however, determined to fling final success on a turn of the card and
take the long, long chance.

I knew that Peter Burns was friendly with Davis, so at an opportune
time I, accompanied by him, went to the latter’s house. I say opportune
time, for the reason that a day or two previously he’d played at his
favorite game, and as a result wouldn’t for many days recover from
his loss. To find my victim in a mood like this, it seemed to me, was
fertile soil in which to sow the seeds of corruption. We called on
Davis on South Broad Street on an afternoon, and I was introduced to
him as Burns’s personal friend. I marked well how the day watchman’s
eyes opened wide when they rested on me. If I had thought he wouldn’t
recognize in me the man who escaped on that memorable Sunday morning,
it would have been too late, but as I didn’t care, I quickly let
him know that the recognition was mutual. Upon recovering from his
astonishment, he said, none too cheerfully, “Seeing that you’ve come
boldly to my house to see me, I’ll try to forget that we’ve met before.”

I replied that I was sorry we hadn’t met for the first time this day,
and it was very generous on his part to thus consider me, adding, “I
committed no overt act in being near the bank, and as my associates
have both been jailed for presuming to commit that act, there wouldn’t
be at this time any compensation to you for hauling me up.”

Several visits were made to Davis’s house, and we grew quite friendly.
Once he expressed the dread that some one would learn the identity of
Burns and myself, which might get him into serious difficulty with
his employers. I assured him that we would be careful. More than once
I broadly hinted that it was hard luck to be short of money, and
sympathized with him or any one else who might be in that predicament
when they needed it most. At the final visit we had an extremely warm
conversation on the merits of my case. Finally, having decided that I
could win Davis, I said: “All I ask of you is not to interfere with
strangers you may see hanging about the Corn Exchange Bank. You’re not
in its employ, and you’re not responsible; keep your eyes shut tight
when you happen to pass through that neighborhood. In fact, don’t go
there! You can find other streets with good sidewalks.”

“What you ask, I reasonably can do,” Davis replied, after some thought,
“but I may lose a chance of catching the bird in the tree. The bank
officials wouldn’t forget me then, I’m inclined to think.”

“Well, you haven’t got rich over interfering with my plans,” I said,
“and it’s true you might get a stake if you caught that bird in the
tree, but you haven’t got it yet. Now,” I went on, taking a big roll of
greenbacks from my pocket, “you must know something about bird-catching
when you play faro, and how mighty uncertain it is.”

Davis started from his chair. Not unaware was he of the fact that
employers who take the pains to ascertain what their employees do are
very apt to distrust those who gamble much. I knew, too, that he was
thinking hard, and I could see that his eyes curiously fastened on the
bills, as though he would fathom how much I had. I could have told
him that I held eight one-hundred-dollar bills in the roll, but said
nothing for fully five minutes. Before Davis spoke I realized that he
would fall. His eyes betrayed him.

“Since you look at it in that light,” he said, slowly, and in a
half-whisper--for, though we were alone, his wife, a goodly, honest
dame, so far as I could tell on short acquaintance, was in an adjoining
room hushing a babe to sleep on her breast--“since you look at it in
that light, I won’t see any one--”

“Since you look at it in that light, Tom,” said I, copying his words,
“there are eight hundred dollars,” and I forced the bills into his
hand. I must say his fingers trembled, and let me say it truthfully to
his credit, if credit it be, his hand seemed to close on the money
most reluctantly. But I had him, and no faltering on my part would
lose me the victory. To make the corrupt bargain more binding, I said,
meaning every word, which Davis knew full well: “If anything comes off,
you’ll get ten per cent of it; better promise I can’t give, for my word
is as strong as my bond.”

Davis sat rigid, grasping the money. His big fist shook, and there was
a dazed look in his eyes.

“No--man,” said he; “don’t offer me anything like that. I don’t want
the bank’s money. I’ll just keep away--that’s all.”

“Talk no more about that now, Tom. We will let time deal with the rest.
Just keep your hands off and your tongue dumb; don’t breathe a word
about money out there,” and I pointed to the next room, where came
sounds of a fond mother crooning to her babe. “Good-by, Tom,” were my
parting words. He was a sorry, pale picture, I trow. Many times since
I’ve been smitten with remorse; but then it was different then--years
change one so. It had not taken long to corrupt Davis, but he was a
hard proposition, much harder than I’ve been able in my poor way to
make clear.

Having been successful, it was time to resume my efforts to loot the
bank. I had the combination numbers of the vault and safes, and all
that I must do was to provide a means of getting into the bank unseen
and carry off the “dust.” During the days I labored with Davis my
faithful Billy had not been idle. President Noblit had been induced to
hire an outside watchman for the bank, whom we could use for certain
purposes. This advantage had been the result of the discovery of the
plot to rob the bank. I smiled at Billy’s cleverness when he told
me that he’d got the new watchman job for his brother, who would be
“right” for us.

In proceeding with my plans it was deemed wise to keep an eye on Tom
Davis. I comforted myself with the belief that he would not interfere,
but a vigilant watch was kept on him by one of Josh Taggart’s
underlings. Besides, Billy was to report to me if he saw or heard of
him in communication with the bank officials. Once Taggart reported
that Davis was acting very suspiciously at times, and that there was
some reason to doubt his good faith. Though bothered a little by this
turn of affairs, I kept on with my plans. Occasionally I saw Davis,
but I did not allow him to know I had any doubt of him. As a matter of
fact, I hadn’t seen anything to break my faith. To be on the safe side
I told him of certain plans, which were diametrically different from
those on which I was proceeding. In this way I hoped to steer clear
of an ambush. In other words, I didn’t tell Davis that I intended to
“pull off” the trick between half-past eleven o’clock on Saturday night
and two o’clock Sunday morning of the next week. During these hours I
knew that he usually stowed himself away to sleep in a Front Street
building, several squares from the Corn Exchange Bank.

At my first attempt on the bank I had shipped one of my teams to
Philadelphia as a means of “getaway,” so similar arrangements for a
dash toward New York were completed for the second attempt. I expected
to be well out of town by daylight, and, having a good start, the rest,
under ordinary conditions, would be easy. That there might not be any
mistakes, I went over the whole plan with Billy. He was cautioned to
see that his brother attended to his duties strictly, except on the
night of the robbery. In other words he must remain on his post, and
not wander to a near-by saloon for a great deal of whiskey, and a
little heat, the weather being cold. Billy promised that his brother
would not miss the chance to help make success for us. Among other
things I decided on, was to use Billy’s brother as a blind capture;
that is, take him in the bank bound and gagged as though he’d been
caught unawares on his post of duty. This would ward suspicion from
him and Billy as well. I had several new associates who’d come well
recommended to me, and I put them through the lesson,--at least, told
them all it was needful for them to know. Two of them had police
uniforms supplied by Josh Taggart. They were to enter the bank by means
of the duplicate key to the Chestnut Street door. Being in the uniform
of the regular police, the night watchmen would be thrown off their
guard, and to add to the tangle my associates would pretend to arrest
them for a violation of some one of their duties. When this part was
played correctly, I and the other lads would come in with the bound
outside watchman. At that moment the fake coppers would throw the night
watchman or men to the floor and do the gagging and binding trick, and
the way would be clear to the vault!

With these plans well in hand, it seemed to me that all that lay
between me and success was the wait for the important day to come.
For the second time, after months of scheming and counterplotting,
I had apparently surmounted many difficulties, and it seemed to me
that perseverance was about to earn its oft-boasted title of a reward
winner, in my case. It lacked only eight days of the Saturday night for
which I anxiously waited, when the unexpected again happened. I swore
roundly, not at President Noblit, but at another. With vigilance that
should be the possession of every high official in the banking world
impressed with the responsibility of handling the property of others,
the president paid an unexpected visit to the bank early in the morning
hours. Naturally, he wanted to know if his watchmen were attending to
their duties. And simply enough, he looked for the outside watchman
first. Billy’s brother was nowhere to be seen. President Noblit went
to the nearest saloon, and hadn’t to go any farther, for there the
watchman was, seated comfortably next to the stove. He was two blocks
off his post of duty. Thus ended the bank watchman career of Billy’s
brother, and with him went my second attempt to loot the Corn Exchange
Bank. A new watchman for the outside was engaged, and he proved to be
the right sort of a man--for the best protection of the bank. I wasn’t
the only one who cursed Billy’s brother, for Billy took a hand, and he
wasn’t at a loss for words.

Side-tracked again as I was, yet Billy remained stanch, while I was
still filled with determination to make the enterprise a success. After
a few weeks’ rest, I began to scheme once more. We saw that the inside
routine of the bank was about the same, the combinations to the vault
and safes remaining unchanged. The only noticeable move made by the
officials was the purchase of a building adjoining the bank on the
Second Street side. I suspected that President Noblit had done this to
defeat any tunnelling scheme that might be undertaken. This, with the
diligent new outside watchman, constituted about the only difference in
the outside conditions of the bank from those existing at the second
attempt.

“Three times and out” was an expression I had often heard when a
boy, and it seemed to me in this bank-breaking enterprise in which I
was having so hard a time, that the saying should have been, “Three
times and win.” At any rate I resolved to make the third attempt to
enter the door at which I had so long been knocking for millions.
Ay, time had become reckoned into months since I began the plotting.
Much thought, patience, pride, besides trusted associates, had been
expended in my efforts. I had reached a point where it seemed to be out
of the question for me to surrender, as long as I was free of arrest.
And the game most assuredly was worth fighting for. A goodly sum of
money already had been put in the enterprise, but I realized that more
must be used in the next attack. Weary of combating obstacles on the
outside, in the form of interfering night watchmen, besotted tools, and
the like, I was determined to strike from another quarter. I would work
from the roof of the bank. To further this plan, the leasing of a store
or an office was necessary. Not long after this decision I had hired
a second-story loft in a building at the rear of the bank, devoted to
the wool business. The loft, the roof of which was on a level with the
bank’s, appeared to possess just the vantage of which I was in quest.
Within a few days a very busy lot of wholesale dealers in tobacco
took possession of the loft, and it is needless to explain that these
active men were myself and followers. Having established the business,
I proceeded to provide a safe working road from the tobacco house to
the scuttle of the Corn Exchange Bank. Of course this was done at
night, when honest folk were, or should have been, in bed. The scuttle
on my building was easily manipulated; and after a night or two of
investigation I had succeeded in getting a clear passage from the
bank scuttle down through the various floors, to the iron door which
separated me from the banking office. This door was a pretty difficult
proposition to solve. It was ponderous and strongly bolted and barred
on the inside. To cut through it alone would have been a tough job,
but with two watchmen in the bank’s office it was out of the question.
An entrance would have to be obtained by quieter means. It might be
possible to corrupt one of the inside watchmen, but that would mean
weeks, perhaps months, of valuable time. No; Billy must come into play
once more. I would demonstrate how faithful to duty the inside watchmen
were. If they were watchful to the extreme, why, what I had in mind
would be useless in forwarding the enterprise.

Meeting Billy, I said: “Now, lad, I want you to leave the iron door
leading from the office to the upper floors unlocked when you quit the
bank at six P.M. I want to test the night watchmen. If they fail to
discover your neglect, why, well and good for us.”

The next evening Billy carefully left the door unfastened, and at the
midnight following I made an inspection. Good--the watchmen had not
locked it! There was hope of getting to the vault by this means. But
I would not depend upon one instance of oversight on the part of
the watchmen; three opportunities must be given them to prove their
negligence. If they thus condemned themselves, it would show to me that
they trusted to Billy alone as the caretaker of that door. For the next
two days the experiment was kept up. Upon making the nightly visits, I
found the door as Billy would leave it. This seemed to be the best kind
of proof that I might depend on getting at the vault through the iron
door.

With this favorable outlook I decided to “turn off the trick” the next
Saturday night, only forty-eight hours away. Billy was cautioned not to
fail me. His task would be to leave the door unfastened, without fail.
Incidentally, he was to take a look at the scuttle of the bank. About
that, however, I was not much concerned, for it had been left unlocked
every night since I began the work. Not over cautious were those inside
watchmen. In every other respect, so far as I could determine, I had
the plot well in hand. For the third time I had my team at the beck.
In order to make the “get-away” quicker, I provided a relay of horses
which would take the “dust” to New York, where it would never be in
the possession of the Corn Exchange Bank again. I felt confident that
a third disappointment wasn’t due. Surely perseverance such as had
been shown would finally be rewarded, even though the recipient was a
burglar.

Again a night for action came and found me ready. My associates were
well drilled. Billy the faithful one--to me--had obeyed, implicitly,
his instructions.

“The very last thing I did,” he assured me, that evening, “was to
examine the scuttle of the bank and the iron door to the office, and
both were left unfastened. All you’ve got to do is walk in on the
watchmen.”

A more favorable night for the loot couldn’t have been selected, had I
been the creator of the weather. It was as black as could be. In fact
it was as black as a black cat would look in a dark cellar, and the
moon, thanks to her queenly favor, wasn’t to put in an early appearance
that night. That our working across the roofs to the bank might not
be detected, I had provided thick woollen blankets, which were laid,
and soon there was a pathway as soft and yielding to the foot as you
please. It would have made a fine stepping for a dainty bride from
church to carriage.

In the neighborhood of two o’clock Sunday morning, I sent one of my
associates over the roofs to the scuttle of the bank, with a small
kit of tools in case we should need them. As to the hour for making
the strike, I thought I would wait until half-past four, instead of
earlier. The watchman who was accustomed to shirk his duty usually left
at that hour of late. And it seemed to me that we might meet with
better success by delaying, for there would be but one watchman to
overcome. My bogus policemen would be quite capable of dealing with two
watchmen, but there was less chance of failure, however, in handling
one. I hoped to be in the vault and have its contents over the roof and
in my loft at five o’clock, and soon after that on the road.

A few minutes before four o’clock I joined my associates, and we went
down in the bank building. A cold sweat broke over me as I tried the
iron door. It would not budge. The watchman hadn’t gone yet, but I
felt certain that something was wrong. Was another failure to be
scored? Good heavens! We lay low for half an hour, and then I heard
the departure of one of the watchmen. Then I went at the door again,
cautiously, that I might not alarm the watchman. I couldn’t move it. It
was locked and barred! Had Billy failed me? No; of that I felt certain.
He was true blue. But fastened the door was, and hope of getting into
the bank through it was dead, for the present. So angry was I at
the outset, that I was tempted to smash at the door, regardless of
consequences! Of course, that would have been madness and would have
meant discovery and state prison. Calmness came and good judgment
with it. There was nothing to do but retreat, and that we did, taking
our tools and gathering up the soft footway we’d made for only a
failure. Back we went to the loft. Heavens! but the third failure was
disappointing. My heart about failed me. Three times the iron door had
been left unfastened; and as many times, when I didn’t want to use it,
I had found it seemingly yearning to be used. At the critical moment it
had failed.

After a long consultation with my associates, including Billy, the
enterprise was hung up, but not entirely abandoned. I knew that
the bank’s officers were contemplating extensive repairs about
the building, soon, and that it would be too dangerous, under the
conditions, to proceed with new plans. Besides, there was that hidden
in the cellar of the bank that I would not have found there for a
considerable amount of money. Billy had carried in a kit of burglars’
tools, an article at a time, until a fair-sized bundle had been
gathered there for use in an emergency. If repairs were to be made,
the cellar would no doubt be cleaned and the tools discovered. The
blame might fall on Billy. It didn’t suit me, either, to have a lot
of high explosive found in the bank; it would cause too general an
investigation and perhaps a change of the combination on the vault,
and the safes as well. Of a truth, for several weeks there lay in the
cellar several powerful jimmies, a copper hammer, several steel wedges,
braces, and drills, and a number of smaller instruments for finer work.
Billy removed these articles, and I felt better satisfied.

As long as I had a level-headed fellow like Billy with me, I said I’d
not give up the plot to rob the bank, and I meant it. Through three
separate attempts to accomplish the loot he had stood by me, ready
to assume all sorts of risks; and he was just as anxious as ever to
continue. During the time I knew him, even at the beginning, he did not
appear to be any too strong physically, and along toward the last he
seemed to be rapidly losing health. It was perhaps a month or six weeks
after the last attempt, that he grew so ill that his retirement from
the bank was necessary. About that time I realized, with sorrow, that
he hadn’t long to live. Discouraged because of the many reverses I had
sustained, I at length concluded that I should be obliged to place the
Corn Exchange Bank loot enterprise on the “back number” list.

Of all the “putters up” of jobs with whom I had come in contact in a
long, varied experience, Billy, without a doubt, stood at the head. For
faithfulness and iron nerve, and a disposition to use both with the
hope of winning wealth by unlawful means, I believe he had no equal.
Many times since I have wondered how long the bank continued to use the
combinations which Billy purloined under my teaching. As he was the
only one, except myself, having knowledge of our visits to the vault,
none of the officials ever knew how we, on those occasions, surveyed
the interior of the money safes, into which we might easily have
broken our way and carried off a few hundreds of thousands. Perhaps
these pages may come to the attention of some one connected with the
bank three decades ago, in which case this history will no doubt prove
interesting. If I have gone too much into detail in telling of my
efforts to rob the bank, I trust that I shall be dealt with leniently;
my object in doing so being to clearly demonstrate what difficulties
I encountered, what watchfulness on the part of President Noblit did,
what fairly faithful service of inside watchmen accomplished toward
saving the bank’s millions to its stockholders and depositors, and how
nearly successful I was in my efforts to possess what did not belong
to me. And I would have come out victorious, there’s no doubt, had
the iron door been found as Billy Hatch left it. Without question the
inside watchmen discovered it unfastened. I will not say how they came
to do so, for I know not. Perhaps Tom Davis told them that the bank
might be robbed, and they became more watchful. Whether or not Davis
was faithful to me, I do not know. I am inclined to think that he was
faithful. I believe the door was accidentally discovered unfastened.
Had it been otherwise, it seems to me the bank scuttle would have been
examined and fastened. It was open all night. It is with regret to-day
that I meditate over the energy I put into the plan to loot the bank.
If Billy and I had worked together as energetically in a worthy cause,
we should have accomplished, no doubt, something that might have lifted
us to a higher plane of thought, and fame might have crowned us; but
instead naught came to us, save remorse and poverty, and at the end
oblivion.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE PERFIDY OF CAPTAIN JIM IRVING


“The hounds--interfering, sneaking hounds--I hate ’em!” roared Captain
James Irving, the head of the New York Detective Bureau in Mulberry
Street.

“The infernal meddlers--that’s what they are, cap!” said Detective
Sergeant Phil Farley, bolstering up his captain’s fury.

“I wish they were in ----!” continued Irving, as he paced--almost
ran--from one end to the other of his private office.

“That same, cap--and the devil keep ’em there till it freezes over.”

“By the eternal, they’ll not beat me out of my own,” fumed Irving.
“What right have these Pinkerton hounds to mix in my business? If
I feel like doing things my way, suddenly these devils of private
detectives poke in their noses. What right, I say, have they to
interfere with the regular police?”

“None--the d----d meddlers. But what’s the last knock from them
fellers, cap?” asked Farley.

“What? This: Scotland Yard has cabled me that George Macdonnell is on
board the _Thuringia_, which lands here from Havre to-morrow, if on
time. Macdonnell has got a lot of ‘dust,’ no doubt, and he’s cabled
that I’d better get to him ahead of the Pinkertons. He expects me to
help him out. That’s good enough; but what’s messed me up is the word
I’ve got that that devil, Bob Pinkerton, who some folks say is honest
and the police are crooks, has hired a tug and gone down the bay to
meet the ship--out at sea, if necessary.”

“What will you do about it?” asked Farley.

“What’ll I do?” cried Irving; “what I should have been doing, instead
of blowing here--order the patrol boat this minute, ready for a sea
trip if necessary, Farley. I’ll go them one better. Don’t waste
a minute. Get a double crew aboard, extra engineers and pilots,
provisions for three days--anything, everything, to get away and beat
out Bob Pinkerton’s mix-ins, curse ’em--the dogs.” Farley started for
the door, but Irving called him back.

“Now, Farley, it means dollars, thousands, perhaps, to us if we get
to Macdonnell first, so I can’t tell you to be too careful. Have the
_Seneca_ steamed up as I have ordered--in less than an hour. I’ll be at
the Battery long before that.”

“I’ll fill the bill, cap; did I ever fail you?”

“I’m warning you--that’s all. Now hustle!” And Farley was gone in an
instant. Immediately Irving called together several of his trusted
followers, and made hurried preparations for a race down New York Bay
after Pinkerton’s tugboat.

This was midway of the year 1873. Early in that year, the great Bank
of England forgeries by the Bidwell brothers, Macdonnell, Noyes, and
others almost as notorious, were first committed and carried along for
several months. Finally discovery came, and the forger band scattered.
Macdonnell fled from London to France and took ship for America, but,
having quarrelled with his mistress, was betrayed by her. He had
always acted “on the square” with the New York police Bank Ring, and,
believing them faithful, had cabled to Captain Irving to get first hand
on him. Macdonnell had something like eighty-three thousand dollars
in United States government bonds in his pockets and one hundred and
twenty-five thousand dollars in cash and bonds hidden in soiled linen
in the bottom of his trunk. This was his share of the million and a
half which the forger band had gotten from the Bank of England. It can
be readily surmised why Captain Irving was extremely anxious to reach
him before the Pinkertons.

Irving was at the pier, ready and fuming, before the _Seneca_ had been
properly steamed up and provisioned. He raced about, fore and aft, and
created more than a little confusion and consequent delay. Finally the
pilot believed he was ready, and Phil Farley said he was certain of it.

“Extra pilots and engineers aboard?” asked the captain.

“Plenty, sir!” replied the master pilot.

“Double crews, Farley?”

“Everything you ordered has been done,” said Farley, “and we’re waiting
for your word to be off.”

“What are you waiting for?” roared Irving to the pilot.

Within five minutes the _Seneca_, a fifty-foot steamer, was ploughing
down the bay under a good head of steam. Sandy Hook was the objective
point, for there all incoming steamers took on port pilots to guide
them through the dangerous channels. Irving paced the deck of the
_Seneca_ like a madman and growled because more speed wasn’t forced
from the propeller. He could not rest till he got where the Pinkertons
were and to the steamer which bore Macdonnell.

About the same hour Captain Irving heard from Scotland Yard, the
Bank of England’s attorneys communicated with their New York legal
representatives, empowering them to engage the Pinkerton detectives
to arrest Macdonnell. Now the chief of the agency men knew that the
Bank Ring was protecting the fugitive, and also were aware of the
extremely friendly relations between him and Captain Irving. More than
that, the agency believed that if by any chance the former had any
cash or salable bonds, the captain wouldn’t leave a leaf unturned
to get possession of them; that, such being the case, the Bank of
England might search ever so much for its property, but it would be
in vain. To defeat a move that might entail that outcome, the chief
of the Pinkertons decided to quietly steam to Sandy Hook and possess
Macdonnell and whatever property he might have. Accordingly, a few
minutes after this determination, a tug was chartered and equipped for
a sea trip. Upon leaving the Battery it was noticed that the police
steamer _Seneca_ was lying at her berth, with no unusual activity
aboard her. Which was good information for the Pinkertons, as it
indicated that Captain Irving had not received word from Scotland
Yard--otherwise he’d be up and doing.

It was sincerely hoped by the Pinkertons that their movements would
escape the attention of the police. But it was not so, for the spies,
ever ready to report instantly anything the agency detectives did, soon
had the news to the Bank Ring.

In those days this private detective agency was yet in its infancy
in New York, but had attracted a great deal of attention from the
public for its honesty. Strictly speaking, I hated the Pinkertons as
thoroughly as the police did, because of their interference with my
professional movements. Many a time I had been enraged and beaten
out of thousands by the popping up of one or more of the agency men.
Nevertheless, I had to acknowledge that they were honest, and that it
was dangerous for a crook when a Pinkerton was on his trail.

But the tug hadn’t been an hour on the trip when Captain Irving heard
of it, and dusk had just about set in when the Pinkertons realized that
either they’d been given away to the police, or the latter had steamed
down the bay without anticipating a race for Macdonnell. As for Irving,
his eyes lighted up with delight upon recognizing the Pinkerton boat
and learning that the steamer had not been sighted.

It was to be a game of vigilance and a test of the boats. Which
would make the better speed? Irving had in view a rich haul for his
incentive, and the chief of the Pinkertons wanted to get Macdonnell
and save to the Bank of England its property. It was to be a race of
corrupt purpose against common honesty,--the police Bank Ring, swift
after graft, and the Pinkertons, earnest to fight for justice.

If ever there was a born fighter, Captain Jim Irving was one. He looked
the part and acted it, was strong-purposed and revengeful. He wanted
Macdonnell for his money and he wanted to demonstrate his prowess over
that of the agency detectives.

“I hate them,” he confided to me once, “as the devil hates holy water.
I’d wade through the infernal regions to beat them out at anything.
They are too much on the level, and they interfere with me. They’d
better steer clear of Jim Irving, for I’m likely to be a peril to them
one of these days.”

Not the smallest detail essential to the furtherance of his plan to
get first hands on George Macdonnell was neglected. He ordered the
_Seneca’s_ boiler steamed up to the top of its capacity, and the
safety-valve was weighted down to an unheard-of degree. He would have
had the engineer take even further risk, but that the latter wouldn’t
do. The furnace was kept well coaled and the stokers were under orders
not to bank the fires. The extra crew was ordered below, that they
might be in readiness should the ship be sighted that night. He said he
wanted no weary men on duty at the critical moment.

“I’m going to give ’em a bitter race,” Irving said with an oath to
Phil Farley. “I swear to the imps of hades them Pinkertons won’t get
Macdonnell.”

One advantage that Irving believed he had was the _Seneca’s_ speed.
There was reason, he said, to feel satisfied that it was much greater
than that of the Pinkerton tug, and with an even start, when the ship
was sighted, victory would be certain to top his efforts. A watch,
consisting of two of the picked men of the crews, was ordered on duty
until midnight, when, the ship not being in sight, another watch would
relieve it. Irving offered a reward of one hundred dollars to the man
who’d first bring to him the news of the sighting of the ship, and
fifty dollars to the second man so reporting. He believed that this
incentive would obviate any danger of the Pinkertons’ getting a lead on
him in this respect. Regardless of this precaution, Irving resolved to
keep an eye out himself, and he smiled happily over nature’s favoring,
for the night was just what he would have it. The sky was cloudless
and the stars shone brilliantly, and as the night wore on to morning
the full moon swept up from the bosom of the ocean and spread a broad
expanse of silver which made it possible to discover anything within
a mile or more in shape of a ship. The deep-sea roll played roughly
with the _Seneca_, but the wind, which had blown treacherously in the
early hours of the watch, had settled to a breeze, and left the sea
very favorable to the _Seneca_ in a race. Irving had hoped that this
condition would prevail, for the big Pinkerton tug was as stanch as a
pilot-boat at breasting rough seas. In fact, it seemed as though the
infernal one, were it possible, had control of the night for the sole
benefit of Jim Irving’s scheming and was doing everything to crown him
with victory.

And thus the hours--mighty long ones to those on board the
_Seneca_--went by, but utilized by the captain to the best advantage.
Among other things, he drilled Detective Farley in the part he was to
play on boarding the ship. In this drama on the sea, Farley was to
follow a close second when Irving climbed to the ship’s deck, and when
Macdonnell was arrested, it was Farley’s part to cover Irving when
the Macdonnell package was passed. To insure success, the engineers
and pilots were promised a hundred dollars each if the _Seneca_ was
first alongside the _Thuringia_. As a matter of fact, talk of rewards
was reeled off by the yard, until every man on board was fired to a
pitch of enthusiasm that satisfied all the craving the captain had for
action. He was gloating over the prospect when at last a light, that
could only come from a steamship, hove in sight to the southward. There
wasn’t anything to tell whether or not this light came from the ship
Irving sought, but he wouldn’t take a chance of losing a minute. He
would know what ship it was that carried the light.

There was prompt action on the _Seneca_, and the Pinkertons were also
stirring. The anchors of both craft were quickly weighed and full
speed was ordered. Not three minutes had passed ere the race was on.
The morning--for it was close on four o’clock--was still flooded with
moonlight, and the sea was, perhaps, a trifle rougher than before
midnight. When the two vessels had gotten well under way, it was seen
that the _Seneca_ had the better of the Pinkerton tug by about an
eighth of a mile in the start. Again, the infernal one had scored a
point for graft as against honesty. Captain Irving patted Phil Farley
on the back and smiled gleefully. On dashed the police boat, throwing
the spray over half her length, as she plunged through swell after
swell and received each time a shaking from stem to stern.

“She’s doing well,” shouted the captain down to the engineer in charge.
“Crowd on all steam--remember the reward--a hundred to every man if we
win over them hounds behind us.”

Meanwhile the Pinkertons were forcing the race, too. The big tug was
ugly to look at, but in her machinery and tenacity to break through the
swells there lay danger to Irving’s success. Presently--perhaps fifteen
minutes after the start--the tug showed certain and startling gain on
the police boat. Irving was the first to discover it, and the glee with
which he had taken the previous conditions was suddenly turned into
concern. The ship’s lights were fully two miles distant yet, and if the
race continued under the existing conditions, the Pinkertons would win
beyond doubt. Irving had erred in estimating the speeding qualities of
the tug. Something must be done. He began to fume and curse--at which
he was proficient--and wondered if it were forgotten that rewards had
been offered to all hands if victory came to the _Seneca_.

“I’ll double them!” he cried down to the engineer. “Put on every pound
of steam you’ve got. More speed!”

The engineer gritted his teeth, realized that the boiler was doing all
and more than it should do, and that the furnace grates were white-hot,
despite the fact that the ash-pan was clean and well wet down.

“More speed down there,” repeated Irving, an oath puncturing every
sentence. “Crowd on steam; I mean to blow this boat to hell, but I’ll
get there.”

The engineer set the weight on the safety lever at the extreme end of
the rod and ordered the stokers to shovel in more coal and turn on
the blowers. Then the throttle-valve was thrown open wide. It seemed
as though the propeller would be torn to pieces. It flew through the
water, until every timber in the _Seneca_ was vibrating like a timbrel.
The vessel had never been forced to such work. The engineer was pale
and trembling, Captain Irving flushed and gleeful. The _Seneca_ was
gaining again. Her nose was fairly under water half the time, and
sheets of spray were flying everywhere. Those on deck were drenched to
the skin. The pilot had difficulty in keeping to the course, owing to
the rain of water on the pilot-house windows.

“At it, men--at it--we win,” cried Irving. “Five minutes more like
this, and if we’re not in hell, we’ll be alongside the ship and before
those cheap dogs.”

“It’s the ship we want, cap,” cried Farley, running up to Irving. “It’s
the _Thuringia_.”

“I know it, fool,” shouted Irving; “and we win, if this boat don’t blow
up or go down.”

At the same time the Pinkerton tug was gaining on the _Seneca_. She was
the better boat in the smooth sea as well as the rough. Her stack was
emitting clouds of black smoke, and her long, strong exhausts of steam
told what great work she was doing; but the fates seemed against her.
Would honesty win over corruption? We shall see.

As I have said, the infernal one seemed to have control of affairs
that time. The _Seneca_, losing at every revolution of her propeller,
had too much of a lead to be overtaken. With a shout from Irving, she
finally ran alongside the _Thuringia_. A deck-hand, under Irving’s
instructions, swung a line to the steamer’s deck, where it was caught
by a seaman. The pilot of the _Seneca_ ran her bow to bow with the
bigger vessel, and quickly they were travelling at one speed. In the
meantime, Captain Irving hailed an officer who came to the rail in much
wonder.

“Throw me a ladder,” he said. “I’m from the New York detective force.
I’ve a warrant for some one on board. It’s a case of life and death!”

In a moment he stepped on deck, closely followed by Farley. As he did
so the Pinkerton tug warped up to the _Thuringia_ and there was another
clamor for a ladder. A moment later the chief of the Pinkertons,
followed by a lieutenant, clambered to the deck, but it was too late!

Daylight had begun to show and a number of passengers, anxious to get
a first glimpse of America, were on deck when Irving came aboard.
Several men were grouped on the saloon deck, among whom was George
Macdonnell. He expected Irving would make a sagacious move and was not
surprised when he saw the police boat making for the ship. He was ready
to pass over eighty thousand dollars and more in gilt-edged bonds to
the chief of detectives, having great confidence in the result. The
instant Irving and Farley set eyes on the forger they went up to him.
The latter made the arrest, while the former, crowding near, received
a package from the forger, which he deftly slipped in his pocket. Just
as the arrest was formally made known, the chief of the Pinkertons
came to the group. He made but a feeble protest. He realized that it
was his play to await developments. Honest motives had been defeated
by the avarice of those paid to defend the rights of the people. No
one was more delighted over Irving’s victory than the forger himself.
Nevertheless, he didn’t tell, even the police, that on board of the
ship, was his small trunk containing nearly one hundred and twenty-five
thousand dollars. He would communicate with his sister, through his
forger friend, George Wilkes, and have her get the trunk at the
custom-house.

To say that Jim Irving was happy scarcely expresses his state of
satisfaction over the defeat of the Pinkertons. Some time after this
experience, in speaking to me of the agency men, he said: “As long as
I’m at the head of the Detective Bureau, it will be a cold day when
the Pinkertons get the drop on me in making arrests. They may have the
whip-hand in Chicago, but not in the city of New York.”

All hands came to the city with the ship, and before the close of
the day Macdonnell was securely detained in Ludlow Street Jail;
and not many hours had elapsed before the Bank of England’s legal
representatives here had extradition proceedings on foot.

I know whereof I speak when I say that the fight to take Macdonnell
back to England was one of the sensations of the day. It had its upper
current of interest which came to the public attention, but there was
an under current of which I had personal knowledge, and to that I will
turn the attention of my friends.

Macdonnell engaged Somerville and Mott, of 27 Chambers Street, to
defend him against extradition. This law firm was the legal adviser of
Colonel Hiram Whiteley, the Secret Service chief whose acquaintance I’d
made through the attempted sale of the ten-dollar bank-notes stolen
at Washington. Somerville and Mott decided to use Whiteley in the
interest of Macdonnell because of his great influence with high United
States officials. Mr. Somerville consulted with Colonel Whiteley, with
the result that there was a studious examination of the extradition
clause under which the opposing attorneys expected to send the prisoner
back to England. It was decided that this clause didn’t quite cover
the case, yet there was considerable doubt as to the outcome. George
Wilkes, who had been with the forger band in its early operations in
London, but who had scented danger and returned to America in season
to escape the result of the exposure, saw Macdonnell in Ludlow Street,
and it was agreed to consult with me. He and Wilkes knew that I had
considerable influence with Mr. Somerville, who was my attorney, and
also that I had a fair acquaintance with Colonel Whiteley. Indeed, in
the two years past my friendship with Whiteley had ripened wonderfully.
Accordingly Wilkes came to see me and detailed the circumstances. I
asked him if Macdonnell had any secrets which could be given to the
United States government, in which case I said I believed that Colonel
Whiteley would interest himself to an extent not yet indicated to me.

“Whiteley is a good fellow,” said I, “and will do anything reasonable
to make himself solid with the administration at Washington, provided
he can keep his skirts clear.”

“I don’t think that Mac would squeal--in fact, I know he won’t,” said
Wilkes, decisively; “so it don’t look like doing anything on that
score.”

“Tush for that,” I replied; “I’ll tell Whiteley that Macdonnell has
important information about a five-hundred-dollar treasury-note
plate that is missing, which I know is giving the government a lot of
trouble. On that ground he’ll make a fight for Mac’s release on bail as
a reward for the information. Once out on bail, and the rest will not
be a hard job you can rest assured.”

With this understanding I saw Colonel Whiteley at his office in
Bleecker Street, not far from Police Headquarters, and told him I
believed Macdonnell had information of the missing treasury plate
of which he was in search; that in the event the information didn’t
pan out, there were several thousands of dollars in the deal for him
anyway. With the incentive that he might add to his influence at
Washington by discovering a plate from which counterfeit money was
being spread abroad, together with the fact that there would be a fat
roll of money in the bargain, Whiteley agreed to take energetic steps
in the matter. At his first chance he went to Washington and placed
the subject before an attorney highly versed in international law and
who was a personal friend of George H. Williams, the United States
Attorney-general. The colonel also consulted with members of the
Department of Justice and, in fact, investigated at great length into
the merits of the case. He returned with the report that the consensus
of opinion of the Washington authorities was that the case, if properly
handled before the courts, would result in favor of Macdonnell. In
fact, the colonel made it plain that Attorney-general Williams would
advise the Department of Justice that an extradition warrant in the
case could not legally issue. I doubt not that great lengths would
have been traversed in order to obtain any, almost inconsequential,
information of the missing treasury plate. The mere construing of an
enigmatical treaty clause was as nothing. The Treasury Department was
in a heap of worry over the plate, not to mention others from which the
counterfeiters were ever sending forth treasury notes to the loss of
the United States. The recovery of the five-hundred-dollar plate alone
would be worth the price of Macdonnell’s freedom, a dozen times over.
Charles Ballard was serving a thirty-year sentence in Albany, New York,
for turning work from this plate; but where was the plate? It had been
so industriously used that it was becoming a menace to the financial
market. Ballard had been offered a pardon if he would disclose its
hiding-place, but he had scornfully thrown the pardon, so to speak, in
the very face of Uncle Sam.

Colonel Whiteley so wrought up the interest of the Washington
authorities with my story of Macdonnell’s alleged information that he
was empowered to offer almost any terms; was commanded, in fact, to
exhaust every plausible means to obtain the coveted secret. Colonel
Whiteley told me that he’d be sure to obtain the prisoner’s release on
bail, provided there was any kind of chance of getting a clew to the
plate.

“However, there will be some expense attached to it,” he explained,
“for I had to consult with an attorney in Washington, and his price is
pretty stiff. I’ll have to give him ten thousand or nearly that, and
there are some other charges.” I knew what he meant, but I wondered
if that wasn’t a pretty stiff law fee where there’d been nothing more
than a consultation. However, knowing Macdonnell had made money, I was
agreeable, and declared that ten thousand dollars would be placed in a
Wall Street trust company subject to the colonel’s order.

Immediately I sent for Wilkes, told him of the situation, and advised
him to get from Macdonnell twelve one thousand-dollar bonds and that
I’d see they got to the right place. Wilkes reported to Macdonnell, who
wrote to Captain Irving, requesting him to deliver the bearer twelve
of the bonds left in his keeping. A message came back that staggered
Macdonnell: “Let the matter stand as it is for the present--the
Pinkertons may demand the surrender of the property,” it read.

Macdonnell knew that no one besides himself, Detective Farley, and
Captain Irving had witnessed the passage of the bonds on board the
steamer. In desperation, another message was sent to Irving, but there
was no reply to it. Macdonnell was dumfounded. He’d always been on the
“square” with the Bank Ring. Finally there had come a “throw-down”--the
Ring had “done” him.

“It’s a freeze-out,” he gasped to Wilkes.

“What about the trunk at the custom-house?” asked his friend.

“I don’t dare have any one call for it. If it’s examined, that end of
the game will be gone, too.”

“I told Bliss about it,” said Wilkes, meaning me, “and he told me that
if you’d say the word he’d have the trunk sent to any address you
mention within twenty-four hours.”

“I’m afraid to risk it--Bliss is right, but I’m afraid to try it; maybe
a woman might get it. What do you think? My sister can try it.”

“Think you’d better trust to Bliss, George,” advised Wilkes; “he stands
high with Chief Whiteley of the Secret Service. If Whiteley asks for
the trunk on the ground that it will further the interests of the
service, he’ll get it without an inspection being made.”

“I don’t trust Whiteley,” said Macdonnell; “my sister’ll get it--Mrs.
Hosgrove.”

The next I heard from Macdonnell was that his sister had gone to the
custom-house, and, posing as “the wife of George Matthews,”--the
name tagged on the trunk,--put in a claim for it. The unsuspecting
inspectors examined the trunk in a perfunctory way and were about to
pass it, when some soiled linen tumbled apart and out rolled cash and
bonds. Of course “Mrs. Matthews” didn’t get the trunk. The Pinkertons
stepped in, claimed the property for the Bank of England, and it was
turned over to the latter. Poor Macdonnell was disconsolate enough. He
made another fruitless attempt to get bonds from Irving, and as a last
resort wrote to his old father in Canada. I told Wilkes what I could
have done--that Whiteley would have sent the trunk, unopened, at my
request, to any address that Macdonnell had given me, and that I was
sorry over what had happened.

“He ought to have trusted me,” I said.

“It wasn’t that, George, be sure; Mac was simply knocked out, beaten
to jelly, by Irving’s treatment. What a crooked crook that fellow is!”
said Wilkes.

“Now that you speak of it,” I remarked, “Irving wanted me to sell
the bonds for him--his share; they--he and Phil Farley--divided
them--something more than eighty thousand dollars’ worth.”

“And you wouldn’t help him out?” asked Wilkes.

“The devil, no,” replied I. “When I told him that it was Macdonnell’s
bonds he wanted me to sell, he denied it. I knew he was lying.”

“The sneak,” said Wilkes, at parting with me. “Of all crooks, Bliss,
the crooked cop is the crookedest.”

“Right, Wilkes; good-by. Wait one moment,” I called; “if I can help
Mac, I will, but I am afraid he won’t get out unless he can raise the
‘dust.’”

In the meanwhile Mr. Somerville had been doing his best to aid
Macdonnell, but Colonel Whiteley seemed to lose heart when no money was
in sight for the Washington attorney, and all together the prisoner’s
case took a most hopeless phase. Macdonnell was able to give a little
information about missing government plates, but it was so immaterial
and meant to be so, that, had Colonel Whiteley been disposed to
ask for his release on bail, he wouldn’t have dared to do it. When
this disheartening state of affairs had been communicated to the
prisoner, it was quickly followed by a tearful letter from his father,
telling how the old place in Canada had been mortgaged, and that the
amount realized, together with every dollar that could be scraped up
among relatives and friends, would not make half the sum asked for.
Macdonnell actually wept with disappointment. Not because he was in
sight of an English prison, for that didn’t frighten him; it was over
the perfidy of Jim Irving, his miserable betrayal by the man to whom he
had so implicitly trusted the bonds and his liberty. He resolved once
more to appeal to the chief of detectives, and wrote:--

“Jim, I appeal to your manhood, your past friendship for me, to give me
enough of the bonds to help myself out of this mess. If you must keep
more than your share, do so, but send me the twelve bonds I asked for.
Again I appeal to your manhood.”

It was as though the note had never been written. It was delivered to
Captain Irving by the faithful Wilkes, but nothing came of it. Wilkes
was told not to bother Police Headquarters too much, for it might be
dangerous.

Hopeless, abandoned, and beaten, when Macdonnell’s case came before
the courts, it was none the less so; and presently he sailed away in
the company of Scotland Yard officers, and in due time was tried,
convicted, and sentenced to what is called a life term in England. He
served his time, and is now back in America, in the West, a poor old
man, who, some folks say to-day, is honest and trying to redeem the
past. I hope so, for his sake.

And what became of the bonds stolen by Captain Jim Irving? Be sure they
weren’t turned over to the Bank of England. Be certain, too, that when
Macdonnell, in a spirit of revenge, at his trial told the court that
the New York chief of detectives had eighty thousand dollars’ worth of
the Bank of England’s property, Captain Irving, indignantly denying the
accusation, said:--

“What! do the Englishmen believe the word of a crook? Humph, damnable
of them, I say.”

Now the bonds, as I have stated, were divided between Irving and
Farley. The former sold his share in a Jersey City “fence,” and the
latter to Gleason and Roberts, the forgers, who sometimes dealt in
crooked bonds. Irving and Farley received eighty-five per cent of the
face value of the bonds. In view of the fact that they were gilt-edged,
these coppers didn’t do badly. Indeed, it was a mighty profitable race
at sea for Jim Irving and his faithful detective sergeant, Phil Farley,
but it was an unfortunate meeting for George Macdonnell. I have talked
many times with Captain Irving since that day, but I never heard him
say a word to make me think that he had a twinge of conscience over his
perfidious act.



CHAPTER XXV

SOME DETECTIVES I FOUND USEFUL


After the failure to capture the Corn Exchange Bank treasure, my Police
Headquarters friends were exceedingly anxious that I try to even up
accounts by obtaining the wealth of the United States sub-treasury
vault in New York City. They contended that there were plenty of other
banks in that city, at which I might take a hand, if the sub-treasury
was too hard a nut to crack. I knew that it was, and said so, whereupon
they insisted that I give it a trial.

“No, I will not,” I said; “it’s impossible to break through that wall
of night watchmen employed by the Treasury Department.”

“Well, make a strike at the Bank of America,” said they.

This bank was near the corner of Wall and William streets, and it was
a very sturdy job to contemplate from the start, but I consented to
the second proposition. My first survey of the field disclosed the
fact that there were two watchmen inside the bank, and that they were
there after banking hours. That meant we should be obliged to overcome
them if we captured the game. Besides the brace of pesky watchmen
in the bank, there were half a dozen private watchmen hovering about
the corners of Wall and William streets. While attending to their
respective duties, any one of them might, at an extremely critical
moment to me, pop on the scene and shuffle everything. It was apparent
that I must plan against a stiff game--evident that there must be
a base of operations established near by. With no little trouble I
obtained the lease of a basement in a building in Pine Street, at the
rear of the Bank of America. In this basement there sprang up, one fine
morning, a full-fledged Cuban cigar store. It was a wholesale business,
to be conducted as a blind. Strangely enough, though, money came in
from the venture in a surprising quantity. It proved to be the real
thing. However, we made it our rendezvous.

Having accomplished this, I turned to the important work of getting
a “right” policeman or two on the posts near the bank. This was not
difficult, for I passed the word along, and Patrolman Michael Conners,
one of the Bank Ring, was transferred to the Wall Street post. He was
just the man I wanted, having been faithful to me in a number of jobs.
This fixed to suit me, I turned to the night watchmen end of the plot.
It was like trying to walk through a stone wall. As has been pointed
out, there were two of them in the bank at night, and through the
police I knew these fellows were faithful--no amount of money could
bribe them. Finally, I determined to “stand” up one of them and walk
him into the bank, where I could get to the other. I found this in the
beginning to be a feasible plan from the fact that they made separate
trips to an ice box on the Pine Street end of the bank every night, for
something to eat. I believed that on one of these trips, which occurred
about eleven o’clock, I could capture the watchman. In the meantime,
Patrolman Conners would keep the outside private watchmen well away
from the bank. With my associates carrying the needful tools and others
of us “walking” the captured watchman into the bank, it would be easy
to overcome the other one and work our way into the vault.

I started out on this plan, and among other things kept tabs on the
time the watchmen paid the nightly visits to the ice box. I didn’t like
their actions from the beginning. They were disappointingly irregular
about it. One night one would do the trick and the next night the
other. Once it would be nine o’clock, and again eleven o’clock. This
wouldn’t do at all. Besides this obstacle, Eddie Hughes, the bright
chap who was one of my first associates in crime and who formed one of
the party which “turned off” the Cadiz Bank in Ohio, was terribly along
in his habit of eating morphine. In fact, he was useless to me, and I
had to replace him with Mysterious Jimmy, a young crook recommended
to me by Detective Josh Taggart of Philadelphia. Then, to add to
the trouble, the janitor and his husky wife and big family of boys
were frequently happening around the bank at all hours of the night.
Disgusted in the extreme, I threw up the enterprise.

Thus far, the scheme of my Police Headquarters friends and I had
met with disheartening results. However, they were still anxious to
make another attempt, so I took courage and pressed on. What better
encouragement could a fellow want than to have all the policemen
necessary at one’s beck and call?

It was very evident to me that I must have new material with which
to work, and get it I did. Detective Sergeants Tom Davidson and Joe
Seymour, a pair of Central Office sleuths who had been ward-men in the
First Precinct and knew the Wall Street district from beginning to end,
were detailed on what was called “Wall Street duty.” It is needless
to say that they played an important part in our loot enterprise,
and were, in every meaning of the word, “right,” as I looked at it.
I shall be frank too, and say that, while the first names given them
are correct, the surnames are fictitious. I feel justified in doing
this because of their faithfulness to me throughout our acquaintance.
I will, though, go a step farther and say that the initial letter to
each surname is the correct one. Beyond that I must not venture.

The next bank selected upon which to make an attempt was the St.
Nicholas, and it was through Davidson that I decided to try it. He
had suggested that his friend, a depositor there, might be turned to
our account; that through this friend, who would be innocent of it
all, I might get a chance to watch an unlocking of the vault. Getting
the combination numbers in this manner, we’d surely be able to do the
rest. Davidson was really adept in getting something for nothing, and
wasn’t afraid to use any means to attain his end. His friend, he told
me, had a large account in the St. Nicholas, and was on very familiar
terms with its officials. As a matter of fact, he was permitted the
freedom of the bank. I instructed Tom how to proceed, and he with great
alacrity did so,--indeed, persevering to the extent that I couldn’t
expect anything but success. He looked up his friend and spun him a
great yarn.

“Now,” said Davidson,--and he could tell a story well, as I
recall,--“Seymour and me are on a case of embezzlement by a clerk in a
Wall Street broker’s office, and we’ve got some of the securities back.
The question is, will you help us out?”

“Too glad, if only I can,” was the friend’s answer; “but the thing is
how?”

“Easy, very easy,” replied Davidson; “and in this manner--” Here he
unfolded the scheme. “Pending a hearing in the police court,” he went
on, “Seymour and me must take care of the securities. For reasons I
can’t tell--police reasons, you know--we can’t keep the stuff at Police
Headquarters, yet we must be able to put our hands on it any moment.
Now, can’t you suggest some one who will take temporary charge of the
stuff for us?”

The depositor hesitated. He couldn’t, for his life’s sake, seem to
think of a soul who’d fill Davidson’s bill; but the latter could and
progressed cautiously. His watchword was ever, caution. Should his
request for aid ever in any way be connected, even by suspicion, with
aught that might happen to the St. Nicholas Bank, he wanted to weave
the circumstances so that it would appear as though his friend had
proffered assistance.

“If I knew of a depositor with an account in a Wall Street bank, it
would be just the thing,” said Davidson, as a lead.

“Blast it!” cried the friend at once; “what a blamed fool I am--I can
help you out. I’ve got a strong box at the St. Nicholas Bank; how’ll
that do?”

“Do!” exclaimed Davidson, delightedly, “do, why, it’ll be just the
thing. It couldn’t be better, could it, Joe?”

“Nothing better,” promptly agreed Joe Seymour.

“But won’t it be bothering you too much?” Davidson asked solicitously.

“By no means, no,” enthusiastically returned the friend, and before the
close of banking hours that day, a box of fake securities was safely
stowed away in the St. Nicholas Bank; and thus another step in the loot
plot was taken by my very efficient detective assistants, who were
being paid by the New York City government to protect the lives and
property of its citizens.

A few days later Davidson told his friend he’d want the securities in
court for a few hours the following day. This was done, the object
of the withdrawal and return being to demonstrate the uncertainty of
the demands by the court for the securities. Presently there would
come a very urgent call at the opening of the bank. That apparently
very important demand came a few days later. Quite late one night,
Davidson, having informed himself that his depositor-friend would be
at home, rang the bell and was admitted. With much regret Tom said
the securities must be in court the next morning as soon after ten as
possible.

“It’s routing you out pretty early,” apologized the detective, putting
on a fine tone of regret; “but it’s the last time I’ll have to bother
you, for the confounded case closes for good to-morrow, and I’m blasted
glad of it.”

Of course an apology so deftly put brought out the usual response and
the query as to what the detective wanted his friend to do.

“If you’ll meet me at the Stevens House on lower Broadway and fix me up
again, why--”

“At what hour?” asked his friend.

“Nine-thirty,” said Davidson, “if you can get down so early.”

“I’ll be there promptly,” said the obliging depositor.

“Thanks; and then,” explained Davidson, “we’ll get the securities, and
that’ll end it. I’ve asked a lot of you, my boy, and I’m sorry--hope
I’ll be able to reciprocate sometime.”

He didn’t turn a hair at uttering this last falsehood--the crowning
one of many. The next morning, not long after nine o’clock, Davidson
and I were at the hotel, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our dupe.
We’d reached the critical stage of our plans. The combination numbers
were to be gotten. I was sure of it. Laughingly, a few days prior, I’d
staked my reputation as a burglar against the temperance pledge of
“Silly Billy,” a ne’er-do-well known to the headquarters police. This
lad’s pledge was worthless. He would go before a priest at noonday and
solemnly promise never to tipple again, and within the hour he’d be
tipsy. When called upon to explain why he’d broken his solemn word,
the silly fellow would put up the novel plea that he’d left his pledge
at home in his other trousers’ pocket. I had staked my reputation thus
that I’d get the St. Nicholas Bank combination numbers, if I were put
within ten feet of the vault at the unlocking. This morning Davidson,
through his friend, was to put me there. We hadn’t long to wait, for
the latter came in smilingly, and evidently delighted to befriend
Davidson at any cost. It being the first time I’d set eyes on the
fellow, he came in for a close inspection. I satisfied myself that
he was rather soft, as is said of some men when they appear a trifle
womanish.

“Shake hands with Agent McCantry,” said Davidson, in accord with
our plan. Being thus formally introduced, we shook hands. My new
acquaintance seemed to be wondering what sort of an agent I was, and
Davidson enlightened him.

“He’s a Secret Service detective--a United States official,” he
whispered, first looking around mysteriously, as though careful that no
one should hear him. Then he added, “Don’t say anything about it--it
mustn’t be known he’s in the city--we had to call him in our case.”

I cautiously, but opportunely, displayed an elegant gold Secret Service
shield, which had been given to me by Colonel Whiteley, the chief of
the service. It clinched matters. This shield had done me much good
service on many occasions. After lighting cigars,--my companions,--all
being ready, we went to the St. Nicholas Bank. We arrived there a
trifle too early. The man in charge of the vault hadn’t come in, but
we were admitted to the rear room, where the vault was, Davidson and
his friend in the lead. I got a seat at an angle favorable to my
purpose--I could get an excellent view of the lock. We didn’t have to
wait long, for the employee we were awaiting came in presently, and
our dupe told him Detective Davidson wanted the box of securities. The
unlocking began right away. With a trained eye and a ready perception,
rendered acute by experience because there was much depending upon
them, I took in each turn of the hand at the lock dial. Now it went
forward, now backward, and again forward, while I took careful mental
notes by which to figure out the combination numbers. When the vault
door had been thrown open, I knew I had the number at which the dial
spindle had been placed at the beginning of the unlocking, and where
it had stopped at each reverse. The remainder of the task could be
accomplished outside the bank.

As I saw the great safes through the open vault door, I wondered about
how many days would pass ere I could be the master of all I surveyed
in the vault. How different would be the conditions then. By the time
the box was in Davidson’s hands, I signed him everything was lovely,
and, bidding his friend adieu, we went away. What a dupe the man had
been, but of how much use after all. We walked up Broadway toward the
court-house to Cedar Street, where we turned to Nassau, and from there
we doubled back to our rendezvous.

While we’d been scheming to obtain the combination numbers, a close
watch had been kept on one of the bank’s night watchmen, William Price,
the one upon whom the success of our enterprise much depended. It
was essential that we know his habits; and in fact, we soon had him
well in hand and knew he had at least one bad failing,--he frequently
absented himself from duty and spent an hour, and sometimes two, in a
neighboring saloon. It was ascertained, also, that he was the watchman
who guarded the inside of the bank. That knowledge had been gained
from the vantage of a stairway on the outside of the Stock Exchange
building. One of the landings afforded us an excellent view, through
a rear window on the New Street side, of the interior of the banking
office. This window, we ascertained, was seldom locked. It was our
opportunity.

The day that Davidson got the fake securities from the vault marked
the beginning of the real active work of the anticipated loot. That
evening, under instructions, Tom was in Wall Street, not far from the
bank’s main entrance, ready for business. His part was to hold the
attention of Watchman Price, should the latter return earlier than
usual from his regular visit to the saloon, and Patrolman Mike Conners
was to patrol in front of the bank. With my professional associates
assigned to important posts for my protection, I was to enter the bank
to prove beyond doubt the correctness of my morning’s work in getting
the combination numbers; in other words, I was to try the numbers I’d
figured out from my notes taken in the bank at the unlocking. Detective
Seymour was to take a stand at the corner of Wall and New streets, with
the understanding that he was to tap on the bank’s rear window, in the
event that an over-zealous watchman appeared on the scene.

Thus guarded, I went into the bank and was soon at the coveted
combination lock. It will be sufficient to tell that my watching of the
unlocking had not been in vain; my deductions were correct. I had the
combination perfectly. In less than half an hour I had opened the vault
door, was through, and back in the free air again.

The period in the game had been reached where I must arrange its last
points, and with this knowledge we repaired to the rendezvous to
discuss the next vital move--when to “pull off” the trick. The first
stormy night was agreed upon, provided, however, Patrolman Conners
would be on post. Should it be, unhappily for us, his night off, then
we’d have to await a stormy night when he would be on duty. I wouldn’t
proceed without his good nerve to protect me. Having settled this, I
decided to make up the list of experts who would go into the bank with
me. Tom Mead and Johnny McCann had been in the Bank of America plot,
and, as I’ve said, Eddie Hughes. I wanted the latter badly for the job,
but couldn’t have him, it seemed, so Mysterious Jimmy Lough, Josh
Taggart’s friend, must be taken on. Taggart thought a lot of Jimmy, but
I knew absolutely nothing of him. I took him on speculation, mostly
with a desire to please Taggart. The latter said Jimmy was an extremely
intelligent and active young fellow.

The kind of night we wanted came in a few days. It was in March
of 1875. How well I remember it. The time set for the “trick” was
immediately after the midnight shift of the First Precinct police.
Every man had his set task. Johnny McCann and Mysterious Jimmy were to
capture the night watchman, Price, Detective Davidson was to be at the
head of Wall Street, and Joe Seymour in New Street to sound the alarm
of approaching trouble from that side. I believed I’d planned a master
“trick,” and cannot to this day, despite my best effort, keep down a
feeling of pride. I wish now most earnestly I could altogether rid
myself of such feelings.

The last thing I did, before the start, was to warn Patrolman Conners
to perform his part well, though I felt that he’d not fail me, if man
could succeed. I saw McCann and Mysterious Jimmy go through the New
Street window, and waited for the result. Time enough having been
consumed to capture the watchman, I also entered by the bank window.
The lads hadn’t yet overcome the watchman, but were about ready to.
They’d found him asleep in a bunk. I heard sweet music as I drew near
them. I said music, and I mean it from my point of view; for if snoring
by a night watchman in a bank isn’t the sweetest sort of music to a
burglar, then I don’t know what is. I threw a bull’s-eye flash full
upon the owner of this nasal avalanche of sound, long enough to show
the lads just how the ground lay. There was no doubt that this faithful
night watchman was asleep. Verily the walls seemed to jingle with the
loud sleeping of the bank’s night guard. How kindly, indeed, was fate
flinging wide-open avenues through great difficulties. Not a word, thus
far, had been spoken--of a truth, none was to be spoken under my strict
orders. It was a time for action, not talking. McCann grinned as he
drew near the unconscious man. He would have throttled him to death,
only he knew I wouldn’t countenance such doings. Mysterious Jimmy
looked cute, and when his face was lit up for an instant, I could read
what he would have said, “It’s a pity to wake him.” But Watchman Price
must not be harmed, and he must be awakened, and, according to the
plan, McCann was to be the chief performer in this act. So with a quick
movement he caught the sleeper by the shoulders and dragged him from
the bunk to the floor, while Mysterious Jimmy clicked a handcuff on the
nearest wrist. Then I shut off the light. In the meantime McCann held
the watchman by the throat to allow the placing of the other handcuff.
I stood by, ready for an emergency. All this had been accomplished ere
Price realized what had befallen him. When he did, a fight was on,
though he was no match for my lads. A man taken unawares and in the
dark hasn’t much of a chance with two strong men. However, he succeeded
in getting his mouth open for an instant, and asked, as though he were
in a dream, what was the trouble. It occurred to me that he thought he
was in some bar-room squabble. Then occurred the very worst thing that
could have happened at that moment. Mysterious Jimmy blathered to the
prisoner in direct violation of my express commands.

“Keep still!” he whispered hoarsely, “and we won’t hurt you. We’ve got
to git the dust in this here bank, and if ye holler, it’s all day wit’
ye.”

Now, this gave the watchman the first real knowledge of the situation.
Perhaps, too, he was strengthened by thoughts of duty! Wriggling his
head away from McCann and before Mysterious Jimmy could stifle him, a
yell rang through the bank that must have been heard for two blocks.
It was a lion’s roar! Jimmy stuffed his fist in the man’s throat, but
it was too late--the mischief had been done. The cry had been heard.
Detective Davidson heard it at the top of Wall Street. More, a regular
sergeant of police, out on patrol, rushed up to Davidson and demanded a
reason for the outcry.

“What’s up?” he called; “where did that noise come from?”

“I heard it, too,” answered the detective, innocently enough, “but I
guess it came from the west side of Broadway.” This was exactly the
opposite direction from which it did come.

“I’ll be d----d if it did,” blew the sergeant, as he ran down Wall
Street toward the bank. Davidson followed him--was obliged to for
appearance’ sake.

In the meantime Detective Seymour knew that trouble had broken out, and
a moment later was tapping out a warning on the New Street window for
us. Then he ran to Wall and saw, in the light of the street lamps, the
sergeant, Davidson, and Patrolman Conners coming toward New Street. In
a moment there would be a pursuit.

Realizing that blather-mouthed Jimmy had spoiled the game, we, in the
bank, left the handcuffed watchman and climbed or tumbled out of the
window through which we’d come, and scattering as best we could, made
toward the East River. At the moment of leaving the bank we were almost
in the hands of the police. We did some tall dodging, but it would have
availed us nothing had there been any one in the police party anxious
to catch us but the sergeant. Davidson, Seymour, and Mike Conners had
to appear like honest coppers under the conditions, but favored us as
much as they dared. There were five minutes of lively racing, at the
end of which we had reached cover. Anyway, there wasn’t much chance
for our capture when, out of five policemen, only one was honestly
trying to do police duty.

Ten minutes after the yell of Watchman Price, the neighborhood was
swarming with policemen. When the sergeant and the pursuing party
returned to the bank, the hapless watchman was discovered by his
calls for assistance, and marched out of the bank handcuffed, volubly
trying to explain how he came to be in the predicament. Not one of the
officers had a key that would unlock the cuffs, and it was necessary to
march him thus to the New Street station-house. I cannot but smile, as
I recall that spectacle in Wall Street, the centre of finance,--a night
watchman being escorted to the police station, handcuffed by the very
burglars who made their escape. I trow Detectives Davidson and Seymour
and Patrolman Mike Conners must have had an odd set of thoughts that
early morning in March.

It was too bad that I used Mysterious Jimmy Lough without knowing more
of him. My willingness to oblige Detective Taggart, I have no doubt,
ruined the St. Nicholas Bank job. Yet one can’t have everything coming
one’s way all the time. But Jimmy Lough was a mar-plot!



CHAPTER XXVI

THE MICROBE “CALLOUSITIS”


It has been, and is yet, claimed by companies which make it a business
to supply banking institutions with burglar-alarm systems, that while
bank clerks and night watchmen may be corrupted, the alarm, if kept in
excellent repair, can always be depended upon. While it is true that
the incorruptible cannot be corrupted, nor can the ever inanimate be
imbued with life-blood, yet I shall endeavor to show beyond question
how, in my experience, the burglar-alarm system, with all its boasted
infallibility, was utterly useless. Indeed, one of the thought-to-be
points of wisdom in the device, that which had been conceived as
the most inviting trap for the unwary, was betrayed by the very
over-cunningness of the thing, if I may so express myself.

In the village of Port Jervis, in 1869, Shinburn and I “turned off” the
bank, despite the fact that Holmes’s burglar-alarm threaded the whole
building. Moreover, there was a wire from the bank to the residence of
the cashier, not more than three hundred feet away. And, believe me,
the alarm was in prime working order that night. The whole trouble
was that the banking people placed too much confidence in the efficacy
of the system,--in that instance, at least. This I will make clear;
for, by my faith, the directors rubbed the sleep out of their eyes one
morning, only to look upon a great financial loss. That is, they awoke
to find the big doors of their steel vault and money safe lying on the
floor, and every dollar of the bank’s capital gone.

We forced an entrance through an iron-shuttered window, and the first
thing within the range of my bull’s-eye was an ordinary-appearing
chair. It was close to the window, and seemed a most inviting stepping
from the sill to the floor. In fact, it seemed as though it might
have been placed there for the sole purpose. Be sure I did not avail
myself of this comfort, and my good associate Shinburn was cautioned to
have similar wisdom. Being a young fellow and agile, I sprang to the
floor, my sneak shoes standing between me and any unnecessary noise.
Immediately I was astonished by what I saw at every window and door,
and even in front of the vault. I discovered, with one round sweep of
my bull’s-eye, that an apparently thoughtful hand had supplied these
comforts for the use of those who might, without warrant, visit the
bank by night or day. There was seating accommodation, indeed, for
us and half a dozen guests, had I, perchance, invited them to the
performance. However, as this gathering had in view great retirement
and unostentation, my good Shinburn and I, not having an over-stock
of time, refrained from occupying these much present and hospitable
furnishings.

When I saw an upholstered rocker or an ordinary chair left with such
insistent convenience, that alone was a sufficient indication to me
from my point of view that all was not right. And again, when I saw
a chair left, as by neglect, in front of the vault door, there was
sufficient reason in that for entertaining suspicion. Know that we
didn’t disturb their quietude.

All doubt of the wisdom of my caution would have been swept away, had
I had any, when, upon making a careful examination of these chairs, I
discovered that they were all cunningly attached to the burglar-alarm
system. Be sure that we met the mute, though pathetic, appeal from
these appliances to make ourselves comfortable with a stolid disregard.
I will not assert that this was not a cunning device, though it might
not thus appear to an inexperienced one after something for nothing.
To me, the experienced bank burglar I prided myself on being, it was a
danger worth counting.

At the moment we were loading ourselves with the bank’s funds, this
question came to me: “Do the burglar-alarm people really believe that
a ‘professional,’ once past a window or door alive with their system,
would be stupid enough not to comprehend the meaning of a chair left in
front of a vault door?” I felt as certain as that I was in the bank,
that if I, or my associate, sat in any one of those chairs, even before
I made a close investigation, there would have been a jangling of bells
and the pouncing of police down on our heads. It was a cunning device,
but I must contend that it was very much overdone, and because of it
failed of its original cunning.

In August of 1874, the New York sub-treasury had a burglar-alarm
connected with the First Precinct station-house, now in Old Slip near
the East River, but then in New Street, in the heart of the Wall Street
financial district. Regardless of the fact, I went ahead with a plan to
loot the very rich vault of that institution. It was, on the surface, I
must admit, a scheme sufficiently bold to make the ordinary cracksman
apprehensive of success from the outset. But being a young fellow, as
I have said, and wildly infatuated with the idea, I couldn’t get it
out of my head. The burglar-alarm system in the sub-treasury was the
least of my concern, and for that reason I have taken the pains to
mention this subject at all. I knew that I could cope, handily, with
it, for I had only to pass the word along to the First Precinct police
station that I was ready to “pull off” the trick, and my friends there
would put the wire out of commission. So much for the efficacy of the
burglar-alarm in that case.

A greater problem to be solved was the force of inside night watchmen,
of which there was an extremely complicated system. Each time I
made an investigation, there seemed to have been conjured up another
watchman. Finally, I found I’d have to overcome six--too many by far
for me to surmount. Therefore, with the police at my beck and the
burglar-alarm under control, I found myself confronted by an obstacle
beyond my surmounting. It sadly injured my pride to acknowledge that I
must discard the idea of looting the sub-treasury.

Electricity can and will eat its way through the hardest chilled
steel, high explosive will open the strongest door of a vault ever
manufactured after the most ingenious plan of the master mechanic, bank
clerks and night and day watchmen of easy morals can be corrupted,
burglar-alarms may be put out of service by detectives like Tom
Davidson and Joe Seymour of the New York City Detective Bureau, but
there is one safeguard which cannot be broken down by the burglar
craft, and that is Eternal Vigilance!

Eternal vigilance! That safeguard, which should ever be employed by
the high officials of financial institutions, is potent to combat the
greatest genius possessed by a safe-burglar. Eternal vigilance should
be the keynote of safety, struck in every banking house in the world,
if its funds would be kept from the hands of the craft which seek ever
to gain something for nothing. It was this kind of watchfulness that
President Noblit of the Corn Exchange Bank of Philadelphia employed,
and it saved more than three millions of dollars from my clutches and
created within me a profound respect for him. I declare, with all the
earnestness in me, that no shrewder plan was ever devised to loot a
bank. I would have ruined it had it not been for President Noblit’s
vigilance. He, and not high-class steel bolts and bars and faithful
watchmen, stood between me and those millions.

A long experience in studying how best to “beat” steel vaults and
safes has demonstrated to me that real security for personal valuables
doesn’t depend so much on high-grade safes, superior combination locks,
heavily bonded employees, and the most efficient burglar-alarm system
extant, as it does upon a common-sense use of the simple precautionary
methods of protection with which any well-conducted banking institution
should be equipped. Among the safeguards in mind is a systematic
espionage upon the employees of a bank. Their habits should be known
to the president under whom they serve. The fact that cashiers and
tellers are members of a corporation in control of the bank ought not
to exclude them from espionage. In proof of this, I will call the
attention of the doubting one to the columns of the daily newspapers.
Scarcely forty-eight hours pass without its being recorded that a
bank cashier or teller in some part of the country has absconded with
the bank’s funds. A thorough knowledge of the social and business
relations of every man holding a responsible position in a bank should
be had. His habits and general character ought to be an open book
for the daily perusal of his chief. The habits of the associates of
cashiers and tellers should be known. The old saying, that birds of a
feather flock together, ought to be considered in its fullest sense,
and therefore a bank president should know what sort of a flock his
cashier or teller seeks after business hours. That a cashier has been a
faithful steward in a bank for many years is not a valid reason why he
should not be kept under surveillance. Almost every bank employee who
falls into corrupt ways was a “trusted” employee.

A careful espionage upon any one of these fallen cashiers or tellers
would have preserved the bank’s funds, and more than likely would have
prevented a fast and furious downward career, which terminated behind
the bars of a prison cell. Many and many bitter tears of stricken
and shamed wives and disgraced children might have been unshed, and
many happy homes might have been preserved and not have been forever
blighted, had timely warning and strong hands been laid upon the erring
husbands and fathers of these firesides.

In my mind there is no question that scores of former cashiers,
tellers, and other employees of banks are alive to-day, terrible
examples of the wild pursuit after costly pleasures. I do not
hesitate to say that if most of these men had been kept under proper
surveillance, they would not have departed from the narrow path of
rectitude. It is true that this is paying anything but a tribute to
their manhood, but I assert that commendation or condemnation will
not blind the argument, in view of the fact that most men are liable
to fall under great temptation. No man may know what he will do until
the fatal pitfall is reached. If he escape--well, thank Providence.
Were these fallen ones called now to witness to the fact, they would
unhesitatingly declare that espionage upon them would have been
providential. Much woe would not now be upon them and their loved ones.

I know whereof I speak, when I say that a bank’s executive should know
whether or not his bright young men are habitués of the pool-room,
the horse-race track, or are in the habit of taking a “flyer” in Wall
Street stock gambling. Expensive living in a bank clerk is a sufficient
reason for suspecting that he is not a desirable employee. It is
his province to prove his fitness under the circumstances. The mere
statement of a bank cashier or a teller, that the money he spends so
lavishly for luxuries far out of the reach of his salary comes from his
wife’s private fortune, ought not to be accepted as an all-sufficient
reason for his extravagance. The bank’s executive should know whether
it is true or false; it should be known beyond any possible doubt just
what money he is spending. If a cashier or a teller objects to so
severe a scrutiny of his affairs, the wisest thing in that case is to
declare a vacancy, and fill it with a man whose life is not weighted by
secrets. Having cognizance of the solemnity of the obligations resting
upon a bank president, an honest, trustworthy cashier, teller, or bank
clerk will not object to the closest scrutiny. Neither will he consider
that his honor has been trampled on, when a careful inquiry is made as
to his habits and as to those of his associates. On the contrary, an
honest, upright employee will be pleased to have his trustworthiness
put to the test and found not wanting. Beware of the bank employee
whose honor is so tender that it can’t be handled without gloves.
There’s sure to be a screw loose in almost every case. It’s an honor
with a subcellar, and dark things are hidden there.

I have already said that lax business methods, as practised at the
Ocean Bank in New York City, and the expensive habits of John Taylor,
one of the bank’s trusted clerks, were the prime factors in making my
plan to loot the vault an assured success. There is no doubt of this,
therefore I would call especial attention to that chapter. That I may
more deeply impress the fact upon the minds of those I would advise,
permit me to mention yet another marked laxness in providing protection
for bank funds, and that is the selection of the numbers used on
combination locks.

Experience taught me to observe the custom of banks, as to the manner
in which the combination numbers were used, and I soon found it to be
the prevailing rule among cashiers to use figures easily divisible.
For example, a train of numbers selected would be four, sixteen, and
thirty-two, or twelve, twenty-four, and thirty-six. Such trains should
be avoided if first-class protection against robbery is desired. I
will give a sufficient reason for thus advising my friends. In a
certain bank robbery, the identity of which I purpose not to disclose
at present, I was reasonably sure that I possessed the first number of
the train used on the vault-door lock. The number was twelve. I tried
it at the first opportunity with twenty-four and thirty-six, and in
five minutes was inside the vault. Finding that the numbers easily
divisible seemed to be the custom of the bank, I tried four, sixteen,
and thirty-two on the inside money chest. The result was not at all
astonishing to me, but the officials were undoubtedly panic-stricken,
the next day, when they learned that a large amount of ready cash had
been carried away. No holes were drilled, and no explosive was used.
Therefore I would advise more care in the selection of combination
numbers. Do not think it a task to change the combination often.

The old Louis Lillie combination locks, where the spindle dial could
be unscrewed, and a few other makes of the present day, most of them
antiquated, could be successfully manipulated. In fact, these locks
were what I termed a “dead walk-over.” I must assert, however, that if
it is necessary to work out a properly arranged, first-class, three or
four tumbler combination lock, it can be safely said that it is, in
nearly every case, a physical impossibility to master such a lock in
forty-eight or even seventy-two hours.

In using combination locks, it is best to change the numbers
frequently, especially when a clerk is about to leave the bank’s
employ. Of course what I am speaking of now, more particularly, has to
do with small banks in the villages and small cities, where clerks are
loaded with greater responsibility than are those in the institutions
of large cities. As an illustration of what might happen to a safe,
I’ll mention the case of a New York business house. There had been
a pestiferous leakage of money from the safe. Small amounts ranging
from five dollars to four times that sum disappeared, leaving no trace
of the thief. About all the employees were suspected. Every one was
wondering if every one else wasn’t the thief. Finally the firm hired a
private detective, and, behold, one night a man was detected red-handed
opening the street door with a duplicate key, and the safe with a
secret combination. The person proved to be a discharged clerk. Had
the combination numbers been changed at his leave-taking, he couldn’t
have opened the safe, and perhaps, having failed the first time, he
wouldn’t have been tempted again. It doesn’t pay to be lax in business
methods.

I was introduced to a “right” watchman in Boston once upon a time, and
having in view the looting of the bank in his charge, wanted the vault
examined. The outer door of the vault was of wood and was next to the
steel one. The watchman reported to me the next day what I wanted and
more. The president had asked him if he’d opened the wooden door. He
promptly denied it. But the president knew the door had been unlocked
and opened and, not suspecting the watchman, believed that burglars,
in some manner, had been tampering with the vault. How he knew it was
this: Every evening before leaving the bank, the president closed the
wooden door and put a certain kind of paste on one of the hinges.
The morning after the watchman opened the door, the paste was found
scraped back by the turning of the hinge. It was a faithful witness to
the fact. Had the watchman admitted that he’d heard suspicious sounds
which led him to open the door, the president would have thought no
more about it undoubtedly. As it was, the watchfulness of that bank
official spoiled my plans. It was a simple obstacle in my way, but it
was effective in preserving the bank’s funds.

Jimmy Hope, a notorious bank burglar, got into a certain bank in
Bleecker Street in New York City, and, taking off the dial of the
vault lock, drilled a hole through the door to strike the steel dog
in the lock. The object was to get at the dog and break it. Bad aim
resulted, and the dog was missed. Too much time had been consumed to
drill another hole, and putty was used to fill up the useless one. For
months the tampering was undiscovered, not to mention the marks on the
dial plate caused by the unscrewing of the dial. Not to have discovered
these plain evidences of tampering seemed to me the rankest sort of
neglect. The bank was afterward robbed.

I will mention the American Hotel in Hartford, Connecticut, as the
scene of another robbery which emphasizes what I’ve already said as to
carelessness. The hotel changed hands some thirty years ago, and one of
the retiring partners retained a key to the office safe. Not having the
“nerve” of the “honest” crook to do the work himself, he confided in a
“putter up” of crooked jobs, a native of Wayne County, Pennsylvania.
Now this “putter up”--though the telling may perhaps call forth a
doubt as to the veracity of this tale--was a justice of the peace. His
brother was a well-to-do, respectable physician. The justice of the
peace was given the key by the ex-hotel man, and it was passed along to
a man with whom I had been acquainted many years.

The next move to win was when a pair of expert safe burglars appeared
at the American Hotel in the guise of two extremely busy business
men from New York. They quite captured the good will of that Yankee
hostelry. When they left instructions at the desk to be awakened in
time for a two o’clock train the following morning, the porter, the
only employee on duty at that hour, knew he’d lose his situation if
the travellers were allowed to oversleep. He wasn’t dilatory, and
the “guests” were up betimes. While one of them kept the porter busy
searching for a mythical piece of baggage, the other, with the key,
cleaned out the safe and locked it again. Presently the guests were
bound toward New York. Meanwhile the obliging porter hugged a generous
tip for his faithfulness, and when he slid off into a dream that seemed
to occupy the rest of his watch, he thought himself a millionaire. His
awakening, however, was sad. The haul was more than the crooks had
anticipated, and they were well paid for the journey. It was long a
mystery to the hotel people how the money vanished from the safe. The
moral is: “Keep tabs on the safe keys when partnerships are dissolved.”

The laxity of bankers in conducting their business affairs was ever a
mystery to me. I have given the subject much thought since renouncing a
criminal career, and have arrived at this conclusion: That a criminal
has a much better opportunity to judge whether or not the success of
his unlawful projects came through the carelessness of others, than
has the man who leads a life within the pale of the law. I must say
that a great deal of the success which came to me was the outcome of
gross carelessness on the part of bank cashiers, tellers, clerks,
and watchmen. Therefore I would urge upon those in charge of public
funds to look well after the little things, in the way of providing
protection.

Kindly do not think it my purpose to coin words or phrases for the
use or misuse of posterity, but I would, in all sincerity, warn the
bankers of the land against a microbe which I will call “callousitis.”
Keep it out of your business. See to it that bank employees be not
infected with it. It is germinated in the rush of financial affairs--is
given life through the constant handling of immense sums of money.
Afflicted by the “callousitis,” the bank employee, who once realized
a keen responsibility in handling one dollar of another’s money
intrusted to his care, feels no added responsibility when he, through
promotion perhaps, is called upon to manipulate a million dollars. In
other words, he becomes callous to the fact that large sums of money
are passing through his hands. As the laborer’s palms become callous
through constant contact with rough surfaces, so the brain of a bank
employee arrives at a stage of indifference through his daily mental
contact with millions of dollars. The wood-chopper’s hands, once
blistered with the friction of the axe helve, at last became hardened
to the work and there was no more tenderness. Thereafter he wielded
the axe industriously, without pain to his hands. The bank employee’s
brain was awed at the first handling of a million dollars, but that
sensation gave place to indifference, when in time he came to handle
ten times a million dollars. And so he became, eventually, a victim of
“callousitis.” Thus afflicted, the victim may or may not be aware of
it, but in the majority of cases he is, and such a victim is very prone
to be lax in business affairs, and such laxity eventually leads to
disaster when thieves abound.



Transcriber’s Notes


Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Text contains many occurrences of dialect and non-standard contractions.





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