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   Chapter 8 No.8

The Expressman and the Detective By Allan Pinkerton Characters: 13477

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Nothing occurred worthy of note until they arrived at Natchez, but here Roch was much amazed to see Maroney's trunk being put on the wharf-boat. He knew it was the custom of the managers of the wharf-boats to allow baggage to be left on the wharf, and to collect a small sum for storage; so he took his satchel and placed it near Maroney's trunk.

He left the boat just in time to see Maroney take the only carriage that happened to be at the river when the steamer arrived, and drive rapidly up the hill. He knew that he could get plenty of carriages in a few minutes, but by that time where would Maroney be? His only sure method was to follow him at once, and trust to finding a conveyance on the hill. He followed as fast as he could, and just as he got to the top of the hill was fortunate enough to meet a negro driving an express wagon. He immediately struck a bargain with him to drive him around town for a dollar an hour.

Roch, in his excitement had dropped his German accent, and spoke uncommonly good English for an immigrant; but the negro, being a very good talker himself, did not remark it. By Roch's direction the driver followed on straight up the street in the same direction Maroney had taken.

Maroney got out of the carriage and went into a store.

It would not do for Roch to wait on the express wagon for Maroney's reappearance. He, therefore, instructed his driver to await his return, and stepped into a store, from which, while he was examining some goods, he could also keep an eye on Maroney's carriage.

What Maroney was doing in the store, was a problem which Roch would have liked to solve.

In about fifteen minutes Maroney came out, and appearing familiar with the town, directed his driver where to take him. He was driven to a comfortable looking house; the negro driver saying something to him, and motioning toward it. Maroney answered, and the hackman drove away, while Maroney went into the house.

Roch was now at a loss what steps to take. The hack driver had not been paid, and in all probability would return for Maroney. If he watched the house, he might be discovered from behind the blinds; so he determined to keep his eye on the hack driver. The hackman drove leisurely down to a saloon, fastened his horses, and went in. Roch opened conversation with his driver, and found that he was a slave, but that he had got permission from his master to hire himself out, for which privilege he paid one hundred dollars a month. After working for some time he had been enabled to purchase the horse and wagon he drove, and as he was making money, hoped in a few years to have enough to purchase his own freedom. Roch concluded he could gain from him some information as to Maroney's driver, so he carelessly asked him if the hack driver was also hired out.

"Yes, sah, him ib my cousin," said Sambo.

Roch supposed the negro must have had his quasi freedom, from seeing him go into a saloon, as the planters never allow their slaves to go into drinking-places; not because they think it immoral, but because the slaves would most likely become unfit for work.

Roch asked the negro if he knew where they kept good brandy.

"Golly, ib you want good licker, dis yer sloon is de place to find it!"

"Drive up, and we will sample some of it," ordered Roch.

Sambo willingly obeyed, and they went into the saloon. Roch again assumed his German accent. The two negroes at once recognized each other, and Roch, in his broken way, said:

"Vel, poys, vat vill you haf?"

The niggers grinned from ear to ear, and replied:

"De same ab you, boss."

"Barkeeper, you haf any lager got? Nein? Och, mine Got, dis ish von h-l of a blace! Notting put prandy und vhisky! I pelieves I vill go by Yarmany the steamer next. Vell, give us dree prandys! Trink hearty, poys. Mine frient," continued he, turning to the hackman, "your peesness ish goot? No?"

"Yes, sah! I always dribes the gemmen what comes on de steamer. Ya, ha! Dey nearly all goes to de same place. Dis mornin' a gemmen come on de steamer, an' say, 'Here, you nigga, dribe me as fas' as you can to Mudder Bink's.' I'se yer man, says I; an' golly, didn't I make dose hosses trabel! I was gwine like de debil when he stop me, an' went to de store. Den I took him to Madam's, and he say, 'Here, Sambo, you jus' go down town, an' come fur me in two hours;' an' I's gwine back, an' if dis yer nigga don't get a fiver for his trouble, den dis court don't know itself!"

"Mudder Beenk's?" exclaimed Roch. "Who vas das?"

"Yah, yah, yah," roared both the darkies. "You don' know Mudder Binks! Why, she keeps de finest gals on all de ribber."

"Yah, yah, yah," roared both the darkies, "you don't know Mudder Binks! why she keeps the finest gals on all de ribber."-Page 69.

Roch was happy when he heard this, as he was now positive that Maroney was not taking any action to cover up the robbery; so he settled with the expressman, and returned to the wharf-boat to look after Maroney's trunk. He saw that the trunk was still where it had been left, and on going on board of the steamer, found that most of the passengers had taken advantage of their long stay, and were visiting in the town. Roch took a seat on the wharf-boat, near the office. He puffed away at his pipe for some time, staring vacantly around, when he heard a carriage rattling down the hill. In a moment it stopped, and looking up Roch saw Maroney almost leaning over him and conversing with a gentleman in the office.

"Are you the agent of Jones's Express?" he asked.

"Yes," replied the gentleman.

"I thought your office was up the hill. Have you received a package for ----?" (Roch did not catch the name.)

The gentleman looked over his book, and said:

"No, nothing; but it may have been detained in the New Orleans office."

This was the substance of the conversation.

Maroney went into the office and remained some five minutes, then came out, and seemed debating some subject in his mind.

The first bell of the Walsh was rung. He hurriedly ordered his trunk on board, and embarked, closely followed by Roch, "mit his satchel." They proceeded quietly on their journey until they reached New Orleans, where Maroney secured a hack and was driven to the City Hotel. He passed the day walking around, lost in thought, and studying some subject deeply.

During the day Roch concluded that Maroney was going to make a decided move. But what would it be? He had no one to advise him; none from whom he could seek counsel, and he was at a loss what to do.

In this strait he telegraphed to me, in Chicago, detailing his predicament, and asking instructions. He was much surprised at receiving an answer from Philadelphia, wh

ere I then was. I telegraphed him in cipher, congratulating him on his success so far, and told him not to mind the loss of his baggage; but to change his disguise, and rig himself up as a dashing Southerner. Accordingly, the first thing in the morning, he took a bath, had had his face clean shaven, and, going to the clothing and other furnishing stores, soon procured a fashionable outfit.

When he was dressed in his new clothes, what a metamorphosis had he made, from the clod-hopping Dutchman to the gay, genteel and courteous citizen! I telegraphed to him that I thought success was almost in his grasp, and to keep a constant lookout.

He took a room in the City Hotel, and was very much pleased, on coming into the breakfast room, to find Maroney there. He had to look twice before he was certain of his man, as Maroney had also changed his appearance. He had donned a suit of city clothes, had changed the cut of his whiskers, had had his hair cut short, and had altered his entire appearance. Now commenced the chase in earnest.

Maroney walked around the hotel, with his hands in his pockets, occasionally glancing out of the window. Finally he went out on the street and walked rapidly around. He would walk hurriedly up one street, cut across, and come down another, and then pass to the point from which he started, always retracing his steps, and doubling on his track.

The thought at once flashed through Roch's mind that he was endeavoring to discover if he was followed; and, seeing through his movements, Roch took up his position at the base of operations, and, as Maroney started up one street, he waited quietly on the corner, and always found that Maroney would come around past him in a short time. Maroney spent the whole morning at these man?uvres, trying to discover if he was followed, Roch having much the advantage of him, in being able to keep watch of him by walking only a fourth of the distance.

I kept the telegraph working, and Roch would take advantage of Maroney's doublings on his track, to rush to the telegraph office, send a despatch to me, and, in a short time, rush back for the answer. I informed him that I did not believe that Maroney had any suspicions of him, but was keeping a sharp lookout for any of the employés of the Adams Express Company who might know him, and who were numerous in New Orleans. He knew the New Orleans detectives who had been employed on the ten thousand dollar robbery, and had everything to fear from them. He might run across the General Superintendent of the Southern Division at any moment, and wished to avoid him if possible.

I impressed on Roch the necessity of the strictest watch. I must confess that I felt feverish and excited at having Roch all by himself watching the movements of Maroney, in a place of the size of New Orleans, and if it had been possible I should have placed more men around him; but that was now out of the question, and all I could do was to rely on Roch. I communicated all the facts, as I received them, to the Vice-President, who was with me.

In the afternoon Maroney strolled down the street and turned into the Adams Express office. Roch knew no one in the office, and, as this last move of Maroney's greatly puzzled him, he telegraphed to me for instructions. I consulted with the Vice-President, and replied: "Trust no one. Rely on yourself alone." Roch got the answer in about an hour, during which time Maroney remained in the Express office.

On leaving the Express office, he went to a daguerrean gallery, remained some time, and then went to the hotel. On Saturday Maroney again went to the daguerrean gallery and received a package, which Roch supposed contained his pictures. He telegraphed me to this effect, and, on a moment's consideration of the incident, I ordered him to procure a copy of the picture from the gallery if he possibly could. From the gallery Maroney proceeded to the amphitheatre of Spaulding & Rogers, on St. Charles street, and Roch, feeling certain that he would remain at least an hour, went to the telegraph office, sent the above despatch, and as soon as he received the answer, went directly to the daguerrean gallery.

He was now the dashing Southerner, and as he gaily entered the gallery, twirling his handsome cane, he was welcomed by a pleasant smile from a young lady, an octoroon, who was the only occupant of the room. Although of negro extraction, it was scarcely discernable, and moreover she was possessed of most engaging manners. Roch entered into conversation with her, in the course of which he asked if his friend who called up the day before, and whom he described, did not have his picture taken. She said he did, and that she had one left, which was not a very good one. Roch asked leave to look at it, and she hunted it up and handed it to him. He immediately recognized it, and giving her a five dollar bill, became its owner. So much for brass. Thanking the lady, and also thanking his stars that the proprietor of the gallery was out when he called, he returned to the amphitheatre. Maroney came out and went to the hotel, where they both took dinner. After dinner Maroney walked up and down the reception room, pondering deeply over some subject, and then took some paper and a pencil from his pocket. Roch watched him closely as he seated himself to write, and concluded that he was trying to disguise his hand-writing. Maroney finished and folded the note, and taking his hat, walked out on the street. As soon as he reached the sidewalk, he began to limp badly, as though it was almost impossible for him to get along. "Strange," thought Roch, "he cannot have met with an accident!" In a short time a colored boy came along. Maroney stopped him, talked to him a moment, then gave him the note and the boy ran off, while he remained in the same place.

"As he gaily entered the gallery twirling his handsome cane, he was welcomed by a pleasant smile from a young lady, an octoroon."-Page 73.

What would Roch now not have given to have been able to cut himself in two, leaving one part of himself to watch Maroney while the other followed the boy? This, however, being one of the few things that he could not do, he was obliged to let the boy go while he watched Maroney. The affair seemed to have come to the sticking point. Maroney's face showed deep anxiety, and his limping was all a sham. The boy had taken a note to some place, but where, was the question.

In about twenty minutes the boy returned and said something to Maroney, but what it was Roch could not find out. Maroney handed the boy some money and he immediately ran off, while the former dropped his limp, walked to the hotel, and went at once to his room.

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